Learning to quit while you're ahead.

When all you can do is f it up.

Knowing when to quit is a rare talent.

One of the places its most vital is in a creative presentation.

If things are going well, and the room is smiling and laughing and nodding at your favourite scripts or territories, then you better make sure to Seinfeld and not Simpsons.

What do I mean by that?


How many good things have you seen diluted or ruined because the people involved, talented as they may be, didn’t know when to quit? (Thank god Succession knew when to pull the pin.)

When you’ve got a room in the palm of your hand, and they’ve bought into your idea, often the best thing to do is shut up.

Because all you can do from there is fuck it up.

So often I’ve seen agency people from all persuasions, creatives, planners, suits, keep selling and selling and selling after an idea has already been sold. (This goes for internal presentations as well. If the CD likes the idea, and is sold on it, put the cue in the rack.)

All you’re doing is providing opportunity for holes to be poked. You’ve evaded the firing squad and instead of just getting out of the way are now standing around waving your arms in the air like a wacky inflatable flailing tube man with a death wish.

Now, to clarify, I’m not saying just go completely stone cold Easter Island statue on everybody. If the client is playing with the scripts (not tearing apart, playing) and having fun with your idea, then by all means, join in. But don’t keep selling.

It’s a hard thing to master. And I totally get why we do it. The majority of our working lives is spent defending our ideas. Deflecting inane commentary. Arguing with destructive feedback. So our natural response is to push, push, push, defend, defend, defend, sell, sell, sell. But in the rare event that you present an idea and it sails through, my advice is to just zip it.

If anything, let the client speak. And when it comes, agree with the positivity and acknowledge it. Let them keep selling it to themselves.

Especially so if you’re not the creative who’s spent day, night, and weekend working on it.

Doubly so, if you’re a junior.

I say this because when the mood is good in the room, and the tension dies down, people who are otherwise nervous to speak up tend to feel like it’s safe to say anything. So they decide this is the time to ‘chime in’.


Chat about it internally post-meeting.

Wins are rare in this business.

When you’ve got one on the end of your line, just quietly reel it in.

Don’t keep casting out into the sea.

Because all you can do is fuck it up.


or to participate.