Diego Bertagni EVP, Executive Creative Director at BCW North America

If you could attribute one other person or life event to your success, who or what would it be and why?

I could name people that have been pivotal in my career in a direct or indirect way: The Gaston Bigios, the Fede Garcias, the Josh Steins of the world and even my 10 year-long copywriter partner Ignacio Jardon… but I think my “success” has been mostly fueled by starting from the very bottom of the food chain. My very first ad ever was a real estate ad with multiple office listings. I personally took the CD-Rom and the signed print proof to the newspaper by subway in Buenos Aires. Even though it was a bland and definitely horrible ad, a week later I held the actual newspaper with the ad on it and said… I did something that other people will stop and interact with. That was the moment that I knew I wanted to do bigger, more emotional, and complex things for people to stop and interact with.

What is the very best career advice you’ve ever received?

Be Relentless. Be F*Relentless. Creativity is like being single and going on first dates every single day of the year and 99% of them don’t call you back for a second date. It is frustrating. Stupid as it sounds, Rocky’s quote is pretty much spot on “It ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” I’ve seen top creative leaders present for an hour and receive complete silence from the client in the room. Be comfortable feeling like you are the only one that believes in you. But when you find mentors that believe in you, embrace them like a comet. 

Until that happens, keep going at it, because comets don’t show up every single night.

And whenever you are full of doubts and need doses of empathy, just listen to Bukowski’s “So You Wanna Be A Writer” in Tom O’Bedlam’s voice.

What part of your role as a leader do you find most rewarding?

The most rewarding thing: Making leadership decisions that are not just career-changing but life-changing. You have many rockstars and divas in this industry who are full of themselves and bulletproof, feeling like they can take on the world. Although I’ve worked with them, as a leader, I am not motivated by those talents. They are not the ones that make me wake up every day. I am passionate about those who cannot own the room, the wallflowers. 

Probably because I have always been one. 

I’ve helped people stay in the country they really wanted to work and live in. I’ve gone back to HR to bet on people who wouldn’t even made it through an interview because they were too shy. I’ve discovered a glimpse of creative potential in someone in the production department and 15 years later had coffee with that same person because they became a Creative Director in New York.

Creative leads: Go and talk to the wallflowers.

What are you most proud of in the last 12 months? Or, what milestones do you most look forward to over the next 12 months

Starting as Quixote and becoming Cinderella in 12 months. I’ve joined BCW with the goal of making BCW a place for creatives to thrive, to be respected by clients and to reach award winning work. But I didn’t BS people around. During interviews to bring talent on board, I was honest, saying if you want a place that just works, this is not the place for you. But if you want to achieve goals no one else thinks are possible, then this is the place for you. We were mad Quixotes against the windmills. In the last 12 months we have won BCW’s first Cannes Lion, not just Lion but Lions. First Clio, First NYF and many more firsts. We became Cinderellas. 

What has been the most challenging moment so far in your career?

I haven’t had one, but I think retirement will be that challenging moment. Tough to think about this craft as just A JOB. Our daily is closer to pro athletes than office workers. Athletes struggle when they retire. I think we will too.

By Sasha The Mensch