Newhouse’s EMA Forum: Learning to be Relentless with Anomaly’s Jason DeLand

The penultimate Eric Mower Advertising Forum of the semester took place on a sunny Friday afternoon, in the kind of weather that reminds you summer isn’t that far away at all. It ran half an hour over schedule, and I don’t think anyone even fidgeted. We were hanging on Jason DeLand’s every word. I’ve attended every single forum this semester, and that was the only time I’ve ever seen that unwavering focus from the audience.

That’s the kind of speaker DeLand is.

DeLand is one of the founding partners of Anomaly, Ad Age’s 2017 Agency of the Year, and a 2012 feature on AdWeek’s 20 Under 40 list. Anomaly’s client list includes familiar names like Panera Bread, Major League Baseball and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Today, the agency is composed of over 600 people in seven offices around the world. DeLand captivated The Herg with his personal story and advice on how to be relentless in every facet of our lives, since that’s the way he cultivated his own work ethic and founded his agency.

One of DeLand’s earliest points was about setting goals for yourself and determining the standard by which you want to perform. Whatever level you think you need to work to to be successful, he says, erase that line, draw it a mile farther away, and maybe you’ll be close to how hard you need to work.

Another of his points rang very true for all of us deep in group projects and presentations. While speaking about his role models and first jobs, DeLand emphasized the significance of who you surround yourself with, because that’s one of the best predictors of where you’ll end up. He suggested spending time with people who have the same ambition as you, or you’ll regress to the mean of the group. It’s also about the stimuli you surround yourself with; throughout his talk DeLand referenced his voracious reading habit and recommended a handful of books on a multitude of topics.

DeLand closed his talk with his suggestions for us as students – things we can work on and habits to develop before we really enter the workforce. We all took intense notes, as there wasn’t a person in the room who didn’t dream about a job with Anomaly. As an employer, he looks for candidates who are always thinking, naturally uncomfortable with the status quo, sweat the details and take risks regularly. He is drawn to someone who is a heat-seeking missile, running towards trouble instead of away from it. He likes someone who knows how to write down an argument because, to be successful in an increasingly complex world, you must be clear. He looks for someone who is continually reading,learning and listening, and has a love for liberal arts, because every educational discipline is important.

My biggest takeaways from his list of recommendations were his final three points. The ideal Anomaly candidate takes and gives criticism without it being personal, is honest and good, and most importantly, is high talent/low ego. There’s no room for big egos in advertising, no matter how good you are.

-Laurie Silverstein is a graduate student studying advertising

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