Being born on December 31 makes me excited about new things. I grew up thinking of a new year. New resolutions, friends, trips and the unknown. That feeling of “new” excites me. By the way, you can call me Dani.
I grew up as a super shy kid and it was a long road to get to the place I am today. The path started with the first big trip I made, it changed everything for me. It made me realize how addicted I am to the new.
At the age of fourteen I flew to California to learn English and stayed with some friends of my family. They became a huge part of my life. The first time I visited them, it was a three month stay. Somehow that was enough time for me to start picking up the English language. I was so fascinated living in a different culture where everything was new. I loved everything I heard, saw, tasted, and experienced. I needed to understand every single thing. So, I guess curiosity made me learn English quicker, and this new way of communication came with something that made that shy kid turn into something better. It was the first time I understood that life has so many different viewpoints. Anything could be new if you experience it in a different way. I got addicted to that feeling.
I wanted something bigger.
I went to college in Quito. Got my degree in advertising and started doing freelance work as an Art Director, which I loved, but I was also a copy-curious guy. So, I did my first internship as a copywriter in Ogilvy – Quito with the Coca-Cola team. I remember it used to be really scary to sit in front of a blank page trying to write stuff that would impress my Creative Director. At that time nothing I did impressed him. Then my grad-thesis director hired me as a community manager, then content manager at her digital agency called Latinmanagers. Long story short: I ended up managing a small team from Quito and Buenos Aries. Things seemed fine, but I wanted something new and bigger, I wasn’t getting any excitement anymore. So, I applied to the Miami Ad School, the copywriting program. I took out a big loan that I’m still paying for (and heck, totally, oh, so totally worth it) and I couldn’t be happier I took that new road.
At first it was kind of scary to be by myself in a different continent. Now, I can’t get enough of that “scary” feeling. Sometimes I think, “You’re not are ready for this. Don’t do it“ Then suddenly I see myself all exposed to chaos and somehow always manage to get through. So far, no big fails, but I know there will be a first time. That makes me nervous-laugh but I’ll just keep pushing for new things just to see what happens. So, I moved to the school in Madrid and things changed, a lot! (again). At first, I was super excited about the whole experience and knowledge I was going to get. I never thought it was going to be so much bigger than it was: a life lesson every day. In two years, I got so much confidence and support by incredible mentors, I made an amazing family around Spain, United States and the Netherlands. I got to live and work in totally different cultures, adapting to all kind of situations, I got my heart broken a trillion times having to say goodbye to amazing people. (You’d think I’d get used to it but I haven’t.) I learned how to cook in languages I barely understood with ingredients I never knew existed. I tirelessly walked and explored places I will never forget. New things are always unforgettable. We never forget a first time, right?
Suddenly the world became my home.
Being a creative turned into a way of life. At least that’s what I realized after creating a new life in Madrid and San Francisco, then working at the agency BeyenMeyer in Amsterdam and living for another month in Switzerland, where life was so much different from the three last jungle cities I just mentioned. Suddenly the world became my home and the school turned my life into a roller coaster of new things to be explored.
While training my creativity in all those places, I learned I’m able to create this feeling of “new“ for others and that thrills me about this industry. I love playing with different perspectives, words, particular thoughts that would make others feel in a certain way or even change their mind about something. This is what excites me the most. Those years at Miami Ad School were, without any doubt, two of the most amazing years of my life. They opened the doors to incredible new things that keep on coming.
At some point I started choosing the types of “new” I wanted to experience and accomplish. It made me enjoy this industry even more and it has been taking me to the places I need to be. When I arrived back to Ecuador I moved to a new city: Guayaquil. I joined JWT Ecuador as a Sr. Copywriter, then moved to Maruri Grey, my current creative home. (Yes, I have made another family here.) I have been learning a lot of new things here with Andrés Maruri, my ECD Pipo and my twin pal Jimmy Cobos as the head of art, they are the coolest guys. This place has no limits. I joined the team a couple of years ago. There is a lot of pressure, but I have managed to build a lot of confidence with the group, and you can see it in the work we are putting together every day. It’s a great feeling!
The real world is way more complicated than class, but Miami Ad School is still my center of confidence when I jump into something new. Whenever I have doubts, my head drives me back to the lessons I learned, and things start to make sense again. “Everything will be alright” is what I always say to the team even when we are surrounded by fire, tiredness and chaos at the agency.
I think that when you erase the borders you get a feeling that everything is possible and great things come along. After the MAS experience, I won the very first Cannes Young Lions Medal in Ecuador’s history with my pal Josue Granda in 2017. That was my first time at the Cannes Festival of Creativity and it was the best experience. I felt at home at the festival because I saw a lot of my MAS friends there and even got to interview David Droga, founder of the agency, Droga5. Some shortlists and other awards have come my way, but my actual goal is always to create this feeling of “new”. I guess I’m always going to be pushing for new.
I learned how to create this feeling of “new“ for me and for others. It has been really hard to put down a lot of experiences for this story. While writing I have been texting some old friends as tons of memories run through my head. Looking back at my Instagram, I just realized how weird it is, all the IG Stories are a mix of languages, places, cultures, weird people with even weirder ideas.
I’m so happy life has taken me to this point. So far I have learned how to adapt and take control over the “new”. To never stop learning. To take my time with the things that need time. To pick my battles. To build a family wherever I go. To have my best friends on WhatsApp and FaceTime because they live in faraway places. (I always send them texts that say, “Send me a picture of whatever you are looking at right now.” The replies never let me down!) The most important thing I learned is how to create this feeling of “new“ for me and for others.
Advertising has brought me a lot of joy and a lot of stories, I’m really grateful that it is more than my job, it has become my way of living. I can’t wait to see what comes next and new in my story.
This pretty much summarizes my story in short.The only thing to add is that “The best is yet to come!”
—Dani Zaldumbide, graduate, Copywriter, Maruri Grey
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