Real world stuff creative practioners don't necessarily master in grad school
10 lessons I've learned…
You quickly learn to manage and prioritize your most precious asset:
Your time. Once it's gone, it ain't coming back. Rule #1: Minimize your daily distractions. (Any distraction list is way too lengthy to itemize. You know what's on yours.). Don't allow those aging to-dos to impede your main priorities: assisting your clients or customers, improving the output of your fellow associates — and driving revenue for your enterprise!
You earn mutual respect and longevity by anticipating your clients’ evolving needs, then acting on them, even before they show up on a creative brief.
You understand that deadlines are not made to be broken, or missed. Same goes for budgets. Renegotiate if you can, but do not equate size of budget with effective creative results.
If writing and designing are your principal
skill sets, mastering words and visuals will
make you an efficient and effective business
communicator no matter your life's pursuit.
A good idea doesn’t care who has it. Your
clients as well as their customers often wax eloquent. You discover that wisdom by
merely talking with them, then enhancing their wealth of experience by writing down and applying what you've learned.
However, ideas and concepts are often a dime a dozen. It’s great executions that are valuable. So don’t settle for being just a good writer or a good designer or a good "brainstormer." Start by being a good listener. Then aim for becoming a great writer, then a great designer — and ultimately a persuasive communicator. Think of yourself as a doctor, a surgeon of sorts — always in pursuit of solving, or at least diminishing other people's pain points — then enhancing their passion points.
You’re a team player, but often a
team captain, whether among
staff or freelance contributors.
A creative director’s ideal
function among a team: First,
listen to all parties. Then lead —
or follow — but definitely get out
of the way of any perceived obstacles. Your ultimate goal: Stay passionate about every pursuit, and motivate those around you to do the same.
Read and learn from the masters that preceded you: "Whatever can be imagined can be achieved. Success usually consists of 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration. Your failures are often among your most valuable lessons. Success is merely a collection of problems solved."
Thank you for your priceless, timeless reminders, Mr. Edison and Mr. Pei.
Those looking for contemporary genius inspiration, try Stanford wiz-kid Tom Peters, McKinsey alumnus, Navy veteran and co-author of "In Search of Excellence" and his timelier-than-ever "Thriving on Chaos." Also, take a listen to fellow YouTuber and motivational speaker Simon Sinek's current videos "Find your WHY" or "How Great Leaders Inspire Action."
You learn to appreciate the art & science of research, media selection, SEO, KPIs, and the plethora of marketing metrics. Test. Modify. Then
In the world of creative output, there are
those who work to live (these are mostly the
logical left-brain thinkers) in search of a
harmonious life/work balance. Then there
are those who live to work (often the
emotional right-brainers). Put me down for
the latter. I was nurtured long after the
"Mad Men" advertising era. I managed to
avoid most of the showboating, boozing and
skirt chasing. Only the medium has changed.
My influencers were icons like Leo Burnett, David Ogilvy, Shirley Polykoff, George Lois, Mary Wells and Bill Bernbach. All were exemplary writers and art directors — big idea people — who likely shared, with much delight, the feelings of a fellow legendary ad man of their day, Jerry Della Femina, who fervently believed in one of his most memorable industry observations:
"Advertising is the most fun you can have with your clothes on."
My sentiment exactly. I say, enjoy the pursuit, and celebrate all of your accomplishments along the way. But mostly, enjoy the pursuit.