How to become an adland A Lister

Next week, Campaign publishes this year's A List, featuring the great and the good of the ad industry. Here, some of the biggest names in the business offer their advice on how to make it to the top.

- Mark Roalfe, chairman, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R

My advice would be work harder than anyone else. Remember, stuff goes wrong, but there's always an opportunity to make it better. And never forget that what we do can help change a client's business.

- Bob Scarpelli, worldwide chairman and chief creative officer, DDB Worldwide

Credibility, respect and trust are the keys to success as you move up in your career. But you must never forget that those things are earned, not given. You have to earn them every day from everyone you work with. Also, a massive fear of failure usually helps.

- Moray MacLennan, chief executive, M&C Saatchi Worldwide

There are two ways to get to the top in advertising:

1. Work a bit harder, think a bit deeper, care a bit more.

2. Grab hold of famous coat tails, drift upwards unnoticed and then ruthlessly hack away at anyone who threatens.

I've done a bit of both.

- Stephen Miron, chief executive, Global Radio

To succeed in this business, it's a very straightforward recipe. Just mix the client skills of Nicola Mendelsohn, apply the business acumen of Mark Craze, sprinkle a load of creativity from Tony Davidson and garnish with the networking ability of Claudine Collins. Put in the oven for about five years and present beautifully. Simples!

- Johnny Hornby, founding partner, CHI & Partners

I found that getting as close as possible to people who were exceptionally talented and studying what they do was the most valuable learning for me on the way up. Simon Clemmow, Carl Johnson, Paul Bainsfair, Ben Langdon, Charles Dunstone. I am like a business version of a tribute band to them.

- Liz Harold, managing partner, LizH

Don't focus all your energy on the politics of trying to find your way to the top, focus on being great at what you do now and the top is more likely to find you. Ensure you truly understand what the people directly above you do in their roles and set stepping-stone goals to be achieved to bridge the experience gap.

- James Murphy, founder, Adam & Eve

Someone brilliant once told me to stand as close to as many brilliant people as possible in the hope that some would rub off. I stood close to that person and have nuzzled up to every other talented person I've met since.

- Farah Ramzan Golant, executive chairman, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

To thine own self be true. Follow your instincts in business, as in life, and you'll be heading in the right direction. Merit is everything, hard work is unavoidable, a sense of humour is always handy. If in doubt, remember why you didn't apply to be a nuclear physicist.

- Rory Sutherland, vice-chairman, Ogilvy Group UK; president, IPA

Develop expensive tastes when young. Acquire overdraft to match. Find you have no choice but to work hard. The other trick is to read extensively. As far as I can see, no-one in advertising or marketing reads anything, ever. Hence, even if you read nothing more than back issues of the Daily Express, you will be better informed than almost all your colleagues.

- Nigel Sharrocks, chief executive, Aegis Media Western Europe

Chris Powell, my then boss at BMP, thought the key to my success was due to playing the professional Northerner - a self-deprecating sense of humour combined with a strong Northern accent, which, of course, got even stronger the more trouble I was in.

Well, that and a very unhealthy obsession with wanting my company to be the best.

- Brett Gosper, chief executive, McCann Worldgroup EMEA

The goal is to accelerate your opportunities to be noticed. We are in the "point of view" business so the idea is to demonstrate that you have an original perspective on a critical industry subject. Prepare the most spectacular presentation that positions you as the oracle. The agency will fund your piece and you will get a golden career podium in front of key agency people, prospects, clients and media to demonstrate your eloquent powers of persuasion.

- Stef Calcraft, founding partner, Mother

Head, heart and gut. When you start out, you tend to look up and learn from those above you. At some point, your instinct for how to do things better means you start learning how not to do things. Enter decision time. Tow the line or act on your gut and change things. Success always comes from acting on your gut and changing things. As an aside, if you rely too much on your head, you will over-intellectualise; if you follow your heart, you will over-sentimentalise; but with your gut, you physically feel if something is right or not. Trust and act on that feeling above everything else.

- Russell Ramsey, executive creative director, JWT

Most of these Harvard MBA types don't add up to dogshit.

Give me poor, smart, hungry and no feelings.

You win a few, you lose a few but you keep on fighting ... and if you need a friend, get a dog. It's trench warfare out there, pal.

- Steve Vranakis, creative director, VCCP

"Seemingly outrageous."

Two words first muttered by George Lois and since lived by, by me. That feeling you get that something isn't quite right, but that it could be.

The audacity. The unfamiliarity. Stupidity? The fear. That ridiculous, nonsensical and even plain absurd idea that goes on to change the way we look at things - forever.

But at first sight, was seemingly outrageous.

- David Abraham, chief executive, Channel 4

There's no such thing as getting to the top - there's a journey. For the journey to be rewarding, it helps to stay passionately curious about creativity, to keep the right company, to work very hard, to be patient, and resilient, to take calculated risks and keep smiling.

- Robert Senior, UK chief executive, SSF Group

60,000 hours and as many mistakes. And stimulants. And luck.

- Sir John Hegarty, worldwide creative director, Bartle Bogle Hegarty

All roads lead to the work, so make it brilliant.

- Helen Calcraft, executive chairman, Dare

Put your lipstick on and walk out like you mean it. Many of the best people in this industry suffer from a terrible condition called Imposter Syndrome. They work incredibly hard, because they think they're on the verge of being "found out". To cope with this and succeed is to fake the confidence you otherwise lack, with the help of Viva Glam by Mac.

- Dave Trott, creative director, CST

1. Energy beats talent. 2. It's better to be different than better.