Takeaways From Matthew Weiner’s ‘Mad Men’ Talk And Other Vivid Ideas

Photographed and produced in association with the show-stealing new HTC One M9, available now at Virgin Mobile.
Right now truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

That is, it’s the most wonderful time of the year if you live in Sydney and took full advantage of at least some of the cultural and phosphorescent offerings; courtesy of VIVID.

You will all be familiar with the ‘lights’ portion of  the festival but the ideas part can sometime slip by without notice. For anyone who didn’t make it down, here are a few insights we gleaned from the Weiner’s of the world:


Sure, Matthew Weiner has a very particular set of skills and has earned himself an incredibly specific job that not many people are lucky enough to find success in. But honestly, so much of what he said is 100% transferable and can hopefully be applied to your own life/hopes and dreams. 

This advice comes up a lot but from the mouth of a multi-Emmy winning writer who worked on The Sopranos and created Mad Men, it does hold a bit more sway. Especially considering Weiner knows what it’s like to find success after years of wanting to quit – he was hella out of work for four years, being supported by his wife and dismissed by everyone around as a deadbeat freeloader before he got his first writing gig. 

“You can’t give up on this stuff, you need a certain kind of delusion.“

“I never finished anything all the way till the end until I was 30 years old.”

“The best thing you can do to sell yourself as a writer, is to write things and finish them.”

Everyone, not just those hoping to tread a creative path in their life, can always do with a reminder that practice is key. In the talk Trust Me, I’m Creative the point was raised that “great creatives are sometimes not great doers.” (In workplaces this can mean that trust breaks down between those creating and those keeping the creators on track). 

One of the panelists said of this struggle: “coming up with ideas is not ‘the creative process’ – making ideas happen is.” And so, for someone like all of us, just by plugging away and actually d o i n g we’re already well ahead of the pack. 


At ‘The Startup Revolution,‘ a talk on ‘the reinvention of business through technology, culture and design,’ the panel quoted the Co-Founder of Airbnb Brian Chesky who said:

“Ever notice how families or tribes don’t require much process? That is because there is such a strong trust and culture that it supersedes any process. In organisations (or even in society) where culture is weak, you need an abundance of heavy, precise rules and processes.”

The whole idea of ‘work life balance’ gets thrown around a lot and is kind of screwed, when you think about it. (Not the sentiment, but the semantics). It implies that your life hits pause as soon as you walk through the door at work and then resumes at knock-off time. Meaning there are a lot of minutes of your life that you’re wishing away, which = bummer.

It is thought that what creative people do in their spare time is what they should be doing as their job. Then again, on the other hand, there’s also a strong push to go after ‘real’/$$$ careers

At the aforementioned ‘Trust Me, I’m Creative’ talk, the idea of trusting in creativity was obviously integral and they brought it back to the practical, and spoke in terms of economics. Increasingly it is too expensive to manufacture in Australia and so, a lot of our production industries have shrunk. Moving forward our knowledge – i.e. our delicious brains and synapses – and expertise will be our most valuable assets. 


Another classic – with reason – and Weiner’s thoughts on the topic:

“Get accustomed to rejection.”  

“See if ‘I’ll show them’ can become your motto.” 

“Other people’s success can be devastating, especially if you think it’s not deserved.”

In ‘Leading For Creativity,’ a talk centred around getting the best results out of a creative team, Nicole Velik of The Ideas Bodega told of her very simple equation for a satisfying career. She believes “contribution + recognition = happiness at work.”

Getting negative feedback is obviously the pits, but do try and remember that sometimes that can have more to do with the person giving it than you realise. Meaning, people project their bullshit. Meaning, people are people. Meaning, J.K. Rowling was straight up rejected by 12 publishing houses pre-Potter Mania.

Appreciate it, someone took the time to think about your work; let the constructive criticism spur you on. 


It’s always interesting listening to creative people and gauging how they see themselves and whether they fully understand how jealous everyone is of their achievements. When it comes to Weiner, at one point throughout the evening, he said “the success of the show has made some kind of an imprint on my idea of my abilities.” Whether he’s being faux-humble or not, it will do us all well to realise that even those at the very top of their game have to overcome self-doubt.

When it comes to creating Weiner said: “The worst thing you can do is to chase the marketplace – don’t write for the audience, you are the audience.”

Or, to paraphrase the great English poets ‘Supertramp,’ don’t let the world make you too sensible. 

You do you.

All ideas events were documented by the brand new HTC One M9 – via its epic 4K video and 20MP camera.