24 Hours with… Jaz Lee of Leo Burnett Malaysia

From an early start to a late finish, via a failed client pitch, Leo Burnett Malaysia creative group head Jaz Lee takes us through a day in his life

5:30am: My absolute favourite time of the day. In such a hectic industry, where we’re churning out creative work, the peace and quiet you get from this time is a lifesaver.

Sometimes, it’s nice to just be able to stop and listen to your own thoughts for once. So, with a hot cup of coffee, a blank piece of paper and absolute freedom, I scribble on the page with as many ideas as possible before work.

8:30am: I’m in the office, having breakfast while still indulging in the peace and quiet before the busy rush kicks in. I like to spend this time surfing the net for stupidly funny videos, latest ads, dramatic football rumours and up-to-date trends.

I believe it’s important, especially in the creative industry, to know what’s going on out there and what people like. Because this are the kind of entertainment that we are competing with on a daily basis.

More importantly, this content serve as inspiration to create work that’s lateral, disruptive and entertaining. Basically, ads that don’t look like ads.

10:30am: The rush kicks in. Most days, it starts with me giving a red or green light to thoughts and ideas.

But on this particular day, I sit with the team to do a final run through on work that we’ve prepared for weeks before a big client presentation later in the afternoon.

Now, more than ever, with integrated agencies, it’s important to align and show clients that we can work smoothly as one no matter how many departments are involved.

12:30pm: While most people are having lunch, I often forget to, amidst the creative process.

So, with the half the office out, I take this peaceful time to do other things like award submissions, case studies and so on.

Little minor distractions like this make a major difference in the process. Because as creatives, we often find ourselves spending hours or days trying to crack a problem when the best thing to do is to get your mind off it.

It’s hard to find a different perspective when you’ve been staring at the same thing for hours. Compartmentalise. One of the greatest pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten.

2.00pm: One sip of water. Two deep breaths. It’s showtime.

5.00pm: It’s back to the drawing board. Weeks of work so close to heart, but so far down the drain now, through a simple rejection.

In all the glamour and glory of this industry, I think it’s important to note that these rejections happen more often than the successes people see.

Rejection makes us better. Before great work comes hard work. So, kudos to the ad people who fight on.

7:30pm: While it’s been a pretty disappointing day, life goes on. And we live to fight another day.

But right now, I take the two most important women in my life out for dinner and celebrate them for keeping me grounded, driven and most of all, happy.

By that, I am referring to my mum and my girlfriend. It’s hard enough to find time between all the early starts and late endings in our industry life. So, when I’m with them, I try to make the most out of it.

9:30pm: Just a note that this doesn’t happen every day. But hey, I needed it. I go for drinks and board games with my childhood best friends, to get my mind off things.

The childhood legends that have kept me grounded in the great times and in the awful ones. I forget it sometimes, thanks to advertising. But I try to be a normal 23-year-old whenever I can.

12:30am: I lie in bed attempting to finish an installment of Ted Talks, but my mind is already back at work trying to figure out what went wrong and ideas on how to move on.

Funny enough, most days, that’s what I fall asleep to – ideas. I don’t know how I’ve survived with four to five hours of sleep every night over the last four years but well, I did.

Business as usual, we live to fight another day. Most important lesson? Most great ideas were born out of rejection.

So, chill out. Go do something else. But don’t ever give up.

Jaz Lee is the Leo Burnett Malaysia creative group head


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