On not being a fear-driven tyrant: creative direction from a happy place.

March 26, 2012

Thank God not me…

Try your best. Ask for help. Trust in others.

The other day I gave the above advice to a copywriter. I had tasked him with running point on a significant job. It was Friday afternoon. The next week I would be away for my kid’s spring break. Given it was only my 3rd week on the job I felt dodgy about leaving it. And so did the copywriter. However, there was nothing either of us could do about that. I’d planned this trip long before I took my new job. Undoing it seemed way wrong. My grandmother (Yes, my grandmother!) had booked a condo for all of us in Nassau. Telling her “no” has never been easy but, honestly, how many gatherings does she have left?

Later that evening, I found myself reflecting on the “creative direction” I’d given that writer: Try your best. Ask for help. Trust in others. Obviously, I’d given him more precise instructions but it was about work that hadn’t been created yet. Try this. Try that. And he will. But I wasn’t going to be there to manage its creation and handhold the other agency people who were dying to see it. This makes everyone nervous.

In addition, helping “deliver” new creative is a key part of a creative director’s job. Yes, it’s fun and exciting but it’s also perilous. We have a great idea yet it’s only in the first trimester. By next Wednesday it has to be presented to the client. That baby better be damn cute and happy!

Another tricky day in Adland, right? We’ve all had them. But I have to smile at what I said to my colleague. Not too long ago I might have been less elegant with the man. And with myself. A voice would have screamed in my head: “Don’t fuck this up!” Then I likely would have canceled the trip, copped a resentment and made a lot of people miserable, including myself.

But instead of fear I had grace. The advice was for me as much as it was for him: Do your best. Ask for help. Trust in others. I did all three!


7 Responses to “On not being a fear-driven tyrant: creative direction from a happy place.”

  1. wil wilcox said

    Very nice.insightful for all managers. maybe a couple
    will have read it, and may listen…..Wil Wilcox

  2. Bill Stone said

    great advice for all of us.

  3. casey said

    Nice message for my production teams, too. Thank you for sharing. And I’m so glad you didn’t bail on your grandmother. Life is too short.

  4. Tracy said

    Way back when, Dear Abby would suggest clipping this column and sending it on (perhaps anonymously) to certain individuals…

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