You've Got Nothing To Learn

Bogusky Says

I'm not learning anything, Bogusky says

So I thought this was interesting. Alex Bogusky saying he’s got nothing to learn from his mistakes. “I don’t learn anything from my failures” he says. If you don’t know much about Bogusky, this is a typical bonehead statement from him. A sweeping dumb statement, which lingers, if only to make you question how the hell did this guy become so successful and form such an industry leader of an ad shop—a man described as the “Steve Jobs of Advertising.” So this thing he said, a corker of an idiotic thing to say, lingered with me beyond the usual questioning of this man’s career, and made me wonder if he had something of real importance here.

The video, in which Bogusky promotes this notion, was shot at a Fast Company event where they all spoke about Innovation Uncensored. Bogusky describes that while he thinks he might be alone in this, he’s got nothing to learn from his mistakes. He then describes how, at Crispin Porter Bogusky, the shop known for making brands famous with weird and idiotic commercials or experience touchpoints, if they don’t win a pitch, then they move on. They consider the pitch wasn’t meant for them—they shouldn’t have gotten it. No mistake made. If they lose an account, he says he’ll personally go around the office tearing down any shred of evidence that the account existed, and that it’s a fear-based culture to ponder your mistakes and try to figure out what you can learn from them.

In a way, I half believed him. I thought it was rather liberating to hear someone so prominent, so successful, be so non-reflective. Something doesn’t work out? Move on. Nothing to see here. It wasn’t meant to be. It is what it is. I liked that he said they won’t even stop to recognize the mistake. No harm done.

Dance you––

Dance chicken, dance... CP+B's early viral campaign for Burger King.

But then you have to consider the guy only does one thing. Over and over again. Make brands famous. Sure, you have to come up with a million different ideas about how to make that brand famous. One day it might be a guy dressed in a chicken suit jumping to your command—online. The next it might be a Mini Cooper on an SUV on its way over the Golden Gate Bridge. But it seems that if you’re not willing to change if you make mistakes, then you’re suggesting everything else has to change in order for you to stay the same. Doing the same thing over and over again. I’m right, he seems to be saying, and they’re wrong.

I’m still undecided. I can’t let myself think that Alex Bogusky really is that much of an idiot. He seems to have loved his work. Enjoyed life. Pretty much changed the industry. So he must have something to say about it all. Oh, that’s right: He just quit advertising recently. With nothing announced in the future. He’s 46. So he definitely is learning something. Just clearly from being so successful. And never wrong.

Watch the video below:

So what do you think? Do you make mistakes?

6 thoughts on “You've Got Nothing To Learn

  1. Lyndia Zanchez

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  2. Dave

    Imagine if that philosophy was applied in the context of history and culture. I like his attitude and thinking, however, if we don’t learn from the past we are bound to repeat it. Right?

  3. aaron kenedi

    Maybe he just said it to get a reaction. Isn’t that sort of what he does? And it’s certainly something that people will take notice of. In this day and age of “larger-than-life”, buffoonish company heads, who essentially get paid exorbitant amounts of money to be eccentric, it’s getting harder and harder to come up with the next boneheaded statement that will stir the industry pot.

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