Knock The Hustle: Simply The Best Ad Book I’ve Read In A Long Time

I’ll readily admit that I’ve been waiting for my copy of Hadji Williams’ new book Knock The Hustle: How to Save Your Job and Your Life from Corporate America for 3 months now, since I first heard about it and saw the excerpts on his website.
And now that it’s here and I’ve read it, I can honestly say that this is the most provocative, eye-opening look at the advertising industry that I’ve ever read. Sorry, Luke Sullivan. Sorry, Sally Hogshead. Sorry, Phil Dusenberry. Sorry, David Ogilvy, Jerry Della Famina and Howard Gossage. Hadji’s got you folks beat by a mile.
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Hadji Williams spent 13 years as a writer in various Chicago agencies, including BBDO and Uniworld (and if you’re in Chicago, you HAVE to get this book, because Hadji isn’t afraid to name names, or slightly disguise them and call some people out on their actions). By not being from an upper middle-class white neighborhood, the ad industry and how it operates turned out to be a revelation to him, although it was strangely familiar: pimping, whoring, hustling, drug-pushing, gambling—all thrive in corporate America, albeit in unique forms.
What’s really great is that Knock The Hustle isn’t just a rant about minorities in advertising or a personal memoir. It’s a transparent account of how the ad business operates—from creative concepting to client billing, new business presentations to office politics. And Hadji has plenty of concrete ideas on how the ad industry could change its practices, where most people in the business just give lip service to the notion of progress. Actually, there’s a good amount of wisdom that nearly any business in any industry can apply. If that weren’t enough, many parts of this book are funny as hell.
It’s 378 pages long, and Hadji stacks it full of personal stories, business history, pop culture references and attributable quotes that range from The Bible to John F. Kennedy to Mya. But he also writes something on nearly every page that’s a nugget of genius (and if you’re not good with slang, keep Urban Dictionary handy). My words can’t do this book justice—you just have to read it and experience it. Much like Matt Beaumont’s e from a few years ago, everyone familiar with advertising will find something in KTH to relate to. Only here, it’s all true.
I think Hadji self-published this book, so you probably won’t find it at your local bookstore. But you can order Knock The Hustle through the KTH website and on Amazon. Either way, get it. It’s a must-read for anyone in the advertising industry, particularly the people who want to be in the industry next week, or next year, or next decade.

About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for TalentZoo.com and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.