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12 Lessons from Peter Holden


Peter Holden is a creative heavyweight with more than 45 years of experience in advertising. Some might call him an “old school ad man”.

Today he runs Holdens Agency, a family business with his two sons and champions Big Ideas. There is no stock standard style of Holdens, as “every solution is different, distinct and has real depth.”

We were fortunate to have Peter join us at #shilloman for a guest lecture. After the talk, he left a real buzz in the studio—the students knew they had witnessed something special (and the teachers too). Peter’s brain works at a million miles per hour, but we tried to keep up, frantically writing notes at the back of the studio in order to capture his words of wisdom. Here are some of the gems we captured from his incredible talk.

  1. “The candlemaker didn’t invent the lightbulb. The Post Office didn’t invent email. Don’t try and solve today’s problems with yesterday’s solutions.”
  2. “Some of my best friends are typefaces. However, you know they will let you down because of their quirkiness.”
  3. “The old school ad days we’re just like what you have read about them. Everyone had a bottle of Whiskey in their bottom drawer. The copyrighters all wore bow ties. And the Suits were just bullies. To keep get the suits on my side, I used to sketch nudes from magazines and give them away as gifts. I started getting the good work after those.”
  4. “The best ideas sometimes come out when your backs are to the wall.”
  5. “Making your clients money is a powerful way of making friends.”
  6. “Mix business with pleasure.”
  7. “Always ask questions—you never know where it will lead.”
  8. “Always show clients sketches. If you show them Mac’d up pieces, you’ll back yourself into a corner, as the client becomes committed to that one idea.”
  9. “Try to think the opposite to everyone else in the room.”
  10. “Not even Rocket Science is Rocket Science anymore. Keep ideas simple.”
  11. “Everyone can draw. The trick is to draw with your eyes, not with your hand.”
  12. “At the core of every good project—there’s a bloody good idea.”

Enjoy that food for thought. 

Huge thanks to Peter. We look forward to welcoming you back to Shillington very soon!

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