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My Biggest Lesson: Rob Kottkamp



Partners + Napier's CCO on working by the 'Three H's' - Be Hungry. Be Humble. Be Hard-Working

My Biggest Lesson: Rob Kottkamp

Rob directly shapes our work across all clients and disciplines, spanning creative, digital, content, and design. Since joining Partners + Napier in 2019, Rob has led breakthrough campaigns and concepts for NYU Langone Health, Smashburger, Xerox and more, and welcomed new clients, including telehealth leader MDLIVE.

Rob joined us from MullenLowe, where he oversaw creative for Google Cloud, US Cellular, and Royal Caribbean. Previously, at Arnold Worldwide, Rob worked on Volvo, Timberland, Carnival Cruise Lines, and Santander Bank, and spent seven years creating national campaigns for the iconic Truth anti-smoking platform — named one of Ad Age’s Top 15 Ad Campaigns of the 21st Century. Two of Rob’s campaigns now reside in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection.

Rob’s work has been recognised by every major award show globally, including Cannes, D&AD, the Effie Awards, and the One Show. His campaigns have been featured in Creativity, Fast Company, and GQ.


LBB> Is there one event / piece of wisdom from your career that's always stayed with you? 

Rob> Yes. 


LBB> What is it? 

Rob> As a creative, always abide by the Three H’s… Be Hungry. Be Humble. Be Hard-Working. I’m aware that Dwayne Johnson uses this as a guiding principle, but this occurred way before The Rock coined it…


LBB> Set the scene! How old were you when you learned this insight, where were you working, how long had you been there, what year was it, what was your role and how were you feeling generally about your career at this point?

Rob> I first heard this phrase during a review given to me as a senior art director at Arnold Worldwide in Boston. I had been there a few years so it was probably around 2007. I was having the time of my life, career-wise. Our creative group was filled with amazing talent and equally amazing brands to work on. Truth / Timberland / ESPN / Celebrity Cruise Lines / etc. 


LBB> Tell us about the chain of events that led to you learning this insight… be as specific as you can!

Rob> Roger Baldacci was my supervisor at the time. Anyone who knows Roger knows he is an extremely talented and demanding mentor / CD. We used to call working for him 'Baldacci Boot Camp', because of the bar he set for the work and the amount of effort it took to get there. I had a ton of respect for Roger as a creative and as a boss, but this was a very different side of him that he shared. His three H’s were the way he measured a creative both personally and professionally. It was also the way in which he measured himself as a creative and as a person.


LBB> Why do you think it struck such a chord? 

Rob> I think it struck a chord because it was such a simple, effective way to operate in our industry, no matter what level you’re at.


LBB> How did it change you as a person and in your career? 

Rob> I never forgot it. I use it in reviews I give now. I use it to make sure that I’m doing things right as a leader, as a mentor and as a person. It’s a reminder that working hard is table-stakes in our industry. You only get better by doing. Period. It’s a reminder that you should never rest on your laurels and always be looking for that next opportunity. Make the opportunity if you have to, but keep pushing yourself, your peers, and your clients to be better. It’s a reminder that no one wants to work for an asshole. No matter how talented they are. You want people to want to work for you, not work for you because they have to.


LBB> And as you’ve progressed in your career, how have you re-evaluated this piece of advice? 

Rob> The only re-evaluation of it comes in the form of understanding the longer I do this, the more timeless it becomes.


LBB> Is this insight or piece of advice something you now share with other – if so, how do they respond to it?

Rob> I share it all the time, and it always positively impacts whoever I share it with.

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Partners + Napier, Fri, 19 Nov 2021 11:07:16 GMT