Introducing Best Advice, a New Column From Jack Neary and Kevin Spreekmeester

*The photo is not about advice, but is about the author. We’ll explain below. 

Welcome to Best Advice, a regular column devoted to those of you starting out in the arts, in marketing communications, or new fields of creativity where you might feel a little unsure of how to take that first step.

As anyone who’s done it will tell you, the first step is always the hardest. The question is, who was there to help you get started?

Best Advice offers useful, practical pointers from industry leaders who’ve been there and have learned a few things along the way. It’s the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Schools offer knowledge, Best Advice offers wisdom.

Wisdom learned in the real world and passed on for the benefit of people starting out. Wisdom that’s delivered in simple, straight talk.

This column is a place where you can find advice from the minds of those who have survived, thrived and are ready to share the lessons they’ve learned.

We are keen to help others avoid the traps and pitfalls that we have encountered on the journey to success.

It’s the inside skinny on what to watch out for—a navigational nudge that gets people headed in the right direction.

We’ll focus on fields where, unlike math or science, there is a certain amount of subjectivity that can lead to uncertainty. Best Advice aims to help creative people better understand the “business” end of their vocation.

Together, we will share some of what we’ve seen and learned in our careers, while showcasing best advice from the dozens of industry leading lights we’ve met along the way, both here at home and from around the world. Our columns will be wide-ranging, exploring topics like how to shine in an interview, finding the proper work/life balance, and the best way to go freelance.

We’ve all been there—poised to take that intimidating first step into something new and afraid that our next step might be off a cliff. And we’ve often thought, if only there was someone who knew better, someone who could take you aside and offer their best advice on how to do it.

Well, now there is.

Who’s behind Best Advice?

Jack Neary is a respected advertising creative leader who has mentored many of the top names in the business. A former journalist with both daily newspapers and magazines, Jack made the career leap into advertising more than 35 years ago. He subsequently led the Toronto shops Chiat/Day, Cossette, TBWA and BBDO, and served as executive creative director with BBDO New York.

Kevin Spreekmeester recently retired from his job as the chief marketing officer of Canada Goose, the made-in-Canada success story in Arctic luxury apparel. Over his 10 years with the company, he helped drive the brand from a utilitarian parka popular among film crews to a fashion icon desired in more than 60 countries. Under his marketing leadership Canada Goose went from sales of approximately $17 million to close to half a billion a year. He is also is an award-winning photo-journalist whose work has been featured in titles including National Geographic, The British Journal of Photography, The Globe and Mail and Detroit Free Press.

*Both men are also accomplished artists, and we’ll be including some of their creative with each column. The photo at the top is one of Kevin’s, taken from his Guestbook Earth, online, on Twitter and Instagram. Inspired by the expressions of gratitude left in his cottage guestbook, Spreekmeester wanted to create some way to share his gratitude for the planet. “It will survive all of us, and I am so grateful for the wonder and beauty of it all; at this time in history when there is so much misery, I’d like to encourage people to take note of what’s great, stop and say thank you,” he says. His goal is for the hashtag #guestbookearth to catch on, but if it doesn’t, that’s okay, too. “As long as I can keep expressing my appreciation for what we have, I’ll feel like I’m doing a very small bit.”