Ad Exec, Given 'Two Weeks To Live,' Blogs About Work Regrets, Lessons

Ad executive Mike Hughes, Martin Agency presidentBy Laura Stampler

For almost two decades, Mike Hughes has had to come to terms with his own mortality.

The Martin Agency president was diagnosed with lung cancer in the 1990s.

Back in January, Hughes was given "two weeks to live" by his doctors, but he's fighting on.

"When I got my diagnosis and was told there was an 85 percent chance I'd be dead within five years -- I needed to make choices about both personal and business things," Hughes told the graduating class at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2010 -- the year a building at VCU's advertising and marketing school was renamed in his honor, he was named one of the 50 most influential creative thinkers in Creativity magazine, and was inducted into The One Club's creative hall of fame.

Hughes has continued to be active in the advertising community, even responding positively to younger people from small shops' requests to grab coffee and learn about the industry.

More: Linds Redding, Fatally Ill Ad Executive, Blogs About Wasting Life On Work

He also began a blog called "Unfinished Thinking" and a sister blog to chronicle his battle with cancer.

Poignant, heartbreaking and inspiring, Hughes discusses facing death, his wife Ginny's fight with cancer (although she was recently told she is in complete remission), regrets, life lessons, and celebration of life.

Martin Agency chief creative officer Joe Alexander also created a tribute website for Hughes called "We All Love Mike," complete with pictures of his life, celebrations of his creative work, and messages from his peers.

We have compiled his blog post on regrets in the industry, and some of the life lessons he learned.

6 Notable Quotes From Mike Hughes On Office Efficiency And Fun

1. "We're told nobody on a deathbed ever said, "I wish I'd spent more time at the office." Maybe, but I confess that I wish I'd somehow magically had more time to spend at the office -- time that wouldn't subtract from my other times. A 30-hour day would have been perfect."

2. "For long-term happiness, enable short-term successes. We work in advertising. We expect to see the fruits of our labor out in the real world within a few months, weeks or days of their creation. If we had patience, we'd be architects. No matter how successful he or she has been, every person with a long career in this business has gone through painful stretches of a year or more in which nothing was produced. ... Creative companies need the room to fail occasionally, but failure is exhausting and debilitating when it's not buffered by successes."

3. "It's the responsibility of every person at the agency to bring joy to work at least four days a week. (We all have bad days.)"

4. "By the way, make the fun visible to the people around you."

5. "Friends tease each other in affectionate, public ways. That kind of banter can reduce tension for everyone."

6. "One note: don't leave anyone out. The etiquette for teasing women is still a little different than for teasing men, but don't ignore the woman in the room just because she's not as ripe a target as, say, Earl Cox or me. There's a bias that accrues from making the men always the center of attention."


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