Letter to My Younger Self – Dino Baskovic

The blog post you wait all month for is here-PR current and future pros reflecting on their careers and lives in a “letter to my younger self” format. This month we feature Dino Baskovic, principal at Vincena, a digital communications agency in Rockford, Michigan. 

Take a knee, Baskovic. You’re 22. I’m 42. That’s 20 years I have on you, er, me. Us, I guess.

A lot’s gonna happen in the next two decades. Can’t tell you any of it, sorry. I would, but we’ve both watched enough time-paradox movies to know that never ends well.

Anyway, you’re a smart kid. And confident. A lot of people are going to mistake that for cockiness. Some, downright arrogance. They’ll be half right.

You were smart to ditch your architecture degree in college. I can safely tell you now, without blowing up the space-time continuum, that you would have made a lousy architect. Go read “Fountainhead” and you’ll understand why.

Your switch to a public-relations degree was fortuitous. Still, you earned mediocre grades and barely got in at your first real agency gig. They hired you because could cobble together websites when no one else at the agency could, thusly making you 100-percent billable from the get-go. It wasn’t because of your “PR prowess” or “good looks” I assure you, that you found this cushy job of yours. I say quote-unquote lovingly. You beat out some Ivy Leaguers because you could code. That’s it. That’s the only reason. You weren’t even your professor’s first choice, when your agency called him asking for a candidate. That guy always was and will be one of the best things to happen to your career, but don’t you ever forget you were second prize.

And you’re here now, in Michigan, away from your family and friends back in Ohio. And, like a complete nincompoop, you’re using convenience checks to pay your rent. Baskovic, I can take you out of Cleveland, but I can’t take the Cleveland out of you. Cut the crap and get your finances in order. DO NOT SKIP OUT ON YOUR 401(K). What’s one less case of beer per month. You’ve got a gut, anyway. Lose it.

Back to you being a cocky S.O.B. Look, you are really good at what you do. You could stand to be more disciplined, though, and humble yourself in the presence of others. You’re working for one of the top PR firms in the freakin’ world, and your client is Fortune ONE. Do you have any idea how lucky you are? How others would kill to be in your position? Don’t mess this up, man. You are surrounded by some very seasoned business pros that can show you plenty how the world works, and not just how you think it should work. Communications, collaboration, diplomacy, strategy, infrastructure. It ain’t always sexy, but damn if you won’t get access to some really neat toys along the way, even some travel perks, if you listen. That’s a privilege, not some inalienable right. And none of it is owed to you. Not one iota…

…but you DO owe it to your peers, your supes, your clients, your industry, your teachers, yes even your priests and especially your parents to be the absolute best version of yourself you can possibly be. Make your damn bed every morning. Get to work early. Stay late. Write the best copy, the cleanest code. Save every penny, for your clients and for yourself. “Clean those ash trays” as another agency pro will one day explain to you. Maybe not eat Taco Bell twice a week. Join the Y sooner. (Okay, I at least let that one cat out of the proverbial bag. Just looking out for us both. Don’t go blowing up the universe now.)

I can see your eyes rolling, pal. You’re ready for this talk to be done, aren’t you? I get it. Me, too. So much more I want to tell you. Relationship stuff. Family stuff. Health stuff. Ooh, this last one is good, so pay attention: At more than one juncture, you’re going to find yourself in the middle of a very toxic work culture, with absolutely horrible people telling you completely wrong shit. Afraid I can’t be more specific, but it’ll happen. Workplace culture, office politics, management styles, human motherfucking resources… I can’t even begin to prepare you for the impending shitshow. Best I can say is to keep your eyes open, and not to be too distrusting, yet not completely trusting of anybody. That sucks, I know. But it’ll get you much farther along in your career, and life in general. And it won’t be all bad. Most of it will be really, really good. In your favor.

All right, I’m done. Poof, I’m gone. Go make due. Kick some ass, Baskovic. And ferfucksake, stop swearing so much.

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