Tom CarrollCEO, TBWA Worldwide

What did you wake up thinking about this morning? I'm always thinking about those three biggest things that I have to weigh in on in some way. Someone might be in China, someone might be in L.A., someone might be in New York--it's always one of those three big issues that requires my attention. I'm one of those people who truly believes in the clarity of a shower. It's a weird thing for me. If something's in the back of my mind, sometimes it becomes clear to me what the answer is, [then] I walk out of the shower and get someone on the phone as soon as possible and articulate my point of view. Not that it's necessary, but there's something about that time of day where you see things really clearly.

Describe a lesson you learned from a failure. Over the last few years the whole business environment has changed, because with the financial crisis, growth has been very hard to come by for our clients. And if there's no growth, then you squeeze costs, and that means you squeeze your suppliers' costs, and we're a supplier. Plus, our clients are under far more pressure than they've ever been before. The whole business has a different character than it had six or seven years ago. And that includes agency-of-record models--people are being forced to do something through a less fixed relationship. And then there's the whole issue of advertising at the speed of culture, because the culture goes so fast, then you have to advertise that fast. Where you used to have three months to produce an ad, sometimes you have to produce it in five days. What you used to produce for $2 million now might be $100,000. It's a back-and-forth kind of conversation.

What will define your career in the coming year? By further bridging the gaps between creative and media. You can't not have it. You need to get closer together. The whole culture's changed, as have the ways media and brands behave. Because of the way that media's evolving and social media, the creative department is still a creative department, but media has to be creative and has to match up sooner than in the past. If you're relevant and distinct, you win. Music can sometimes deliver both of those things. Look at [TBWA/Chiat/Day client] Apple's iTunes work. When iTunes first came out, you took bands that weren't even on the charts, and they were instantly on the charts because the sound, the proposition was so relevant and the music was so distinctive. It didn't have to be retro to work.

Name a project that you're not affiliated with that has most impressed you in the past year. Nike+ FuelBand. But the whole M&M's franchise blows my mind, the way they've consistently evolved that brand. The content's great, the advertising's great, the product's great, the retail's great. To me, that's just an impressive way to evolve a brand.

Name a desert island disc. It would have to be Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush." I listened to that the most when I was a teenager. It's still my favorite album.