NEW YORK—Suppressing all memories of his childhood dreams, DDB Worldwide marketing executive Gene Strassman reportedly spoke aloud instructions to himself to confront the day and begin his normal work routine Tuesday morning. “Here we go, just four hours until lunchtime,” Strassman murmured while booting up his office computer. “You can do this…you can plan and facilitate a rebrand meeting with the Applebee’s team.” After 30 minutes of stoically responding to interoffice e-mails, Strassman dutifully boarded the elevator to the 26th-floor conference room, momentarily hoping the doors would open on an empty shaft.