Memories of a Mad Man

Pretty Page Turner book review Memories of a Mad Man

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It’s been a while since we said goodbye to Don Draper and Sterling Cooper, the politically incorrect and dysfunctional firm in AMC’s Mad Men. That TV show made everyone a little nostalgic for women’s foundation garments, office sex play, guilt-free smoking and liquor-soaked lunch hours. Don Spector, who in my opinion, owns the perfect name for an ad man, shares his real life story as an ad agency exec in his memoir “Memories of a Mad Man“.

Of course, it wasn’t as sophisticated and glossy to work on Madison Avenue as the show represents. In fact, reading his book, it sounds like work was then as it is now-often grueling. Don began his career as many do, in the mailroom, until a fortuitous break lands him an actual desk. He progresses proficiently at his job, sharing the fun of developing commercials set in exotic locale for the chance to indulge in a little business travel. But, the collaborative process of developing advertising seems spot on and a fun way to make a living. The perks are varied, from lodging at the Beverly Hills Hotel to casting a family friend in a campaign and realizing that swimming with sharks may be a part of the job description.

Don has a wonderful conversational style that makes the book an easy read. You feel as if you are sitting around the living room with your uncle as he tells you about the ‘good ole days’. The glamour is slightly glossy, as advertising work was based on real locations and real testing before green screens and computer technology ended it all. The most fun of the book is the name dropping. Not in a grandiose way, but just as happenstance, Don met many well-knowns when they were just beginning their careers and basically taking gigs to move forward. Who can imagine the institution known as Ed McMahon doing simple voice work or the legendary Kasey Casem wanting (or needing) to expand his career into front camera work instead of behind the microphone? What I found most refreshing is that Don introduces us to a kinder, more humble celebrity, always relaying these figures are nice, respectful and professional. Oh…how it feels like times (and celebrity) have changed.

I ended the book charmed and that’s the best way to describe it. It is a charming book, told by a deft wordsmith and salesman. He had me sold that during a politically turbulent time, people were handling business and life with gentility and decorum. The sexual horseplay of the television show did not show up in the book, and it is no worse because of it. It seemed as if the ideals mattered a little more than the bottom line, although the budgets were bloated and often bottomless.

It’s a fun read, with a warm look into a time gone by. I commend Don on writing a book that feels different and just makes you happy. It’s okay to slow down a little and reflect; thank goodness Don has a wonderful career and life to look back on. As a legend from that era used to end his shows with: ‘Thanks for the memories!’

What other professions would you like an insider look into? I’m always looking for great ideas…

Disclaimer:  I am extremely honored and grateful to receive a complimentary copy of Mr. Spector’s book. However, my opinions are, and always will be, my own.