EPISODE #5 || William Yu, Freelance Senior Strategist (formerly at TBWA\Chiat\Day & SapientNitro)

Will Yu

William Yu is a Freelance Senior Strategist (formerly at TBWA\Chiat\Day and SapientNitro), who recently leapt into film making and writing full-time. You may know him from his impactful project #StarringJohnCho, which garnered over 1 billion impressions worldwide and continues the conversation of how Asian-Americans are perceived in society today. Hear William's advice on getting new initiatives off the ground at your agency, pursuing strategy, and applying strategic thinking to your own side projects.

Heads up: Know someone who'd make a perfect guest? I'm looking for people from all agencies, roles and levels with stories to tell and advice to pass on. Get in touch by emailing natalie@we-are-next.com.

Topics Discussed

  • Trying a bit of everything when you’re in school.
  • Tips on launching new initiatives at your agency, even as a junior.
  • Applying strategy and hustle to your side projects.
  • Using the physical feeling of fear/excitement as a signal to pursue something.
  • Resources he uses to keep up with technology.
  • How much of a “numbers person” you have to be as a strategist.

Mic Drops

“One of the biggest things that people often forget when trying to sell their own ideas to executives is that the executives need to get something out of it as well. As much as you have your passions and to you it’s a worthy cause, on the receiving end of that I’m probably thinking, ‘How much time do I need to commit to this? Is there a budget for this? Do I need to find money for this? Do I need to sell this in to other people?’ Once you’re getting into that pitching session, it's about nurturing that trust, saying, ‘Hey, senior director, I know that you probably have all these questions. By the way, I’ve already thought of the answers to all those questions. I’ve got all that stuff handled.’” [On selling in new initiatives at your agency.]

“I’ve started to sense this feeling that I get when I get excited about something. It’s this weird—it’s right beneath my sternum, and it’s like someone’s squishing a sponge, and your palms get a little tingly. A lot of times when I’m in those kinds of conversations, that’s my trigger alert to be like, oh wait, there’s something here. There’s something worth pursuing now. It’s trusting yourself that when I have that reaction, it’s a good reaction. And if it’s scary, it’s good scary.”

“Honestly, we care less about if you know the tools [...] I think those are all things that in your first year at an agency you will figure out. For me, it’s more about how you go about approaching problems and coming up with creative solutions. How do you make your passions intersect with the work that you do? Those are more of the features I’m looking for when I’m looking at resumes and portfolios.”

Resources Mentioned

Keep in Touch

About William

William Yu believes in blurring the line where passion and discomfort meet. He is currently a freelance writer and former advertising brand and digital strategist. During his experiences at TBWA\Chiat\Day and SapientRazorfish, Yu worked on projects for brands like BNY Mellon, Accenture, Verizon, and Mastercard.

Yu created #StarringJohnCho, an award winning (2016 Shorty Award for Best Use of Hashtag) social movement that calls for greater Asian-American representation in film. The project has garnered over 1 billion impressions worldwide and continues the conversation of how Asian-Americans are perceived in our society today.

His work has been featured on major media outlets such as The New York Times, BBC, CNN, NBC, CBS, The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and The Hollywood Reporter, among others.

He is based in New York City.