Design is sexy. Creating content is sexy, and writing words is sexy. If it wasn’t we wouldn’t aspire to get better at it everyday and convince people to pay us for it. However, there are some things that suck the fun out of the room faster than Grandma walking in on you and your prom date and blasting you with a fire extinguisher.
So here’s some advice to keep the spark alive and keep your creatives sane.
Throw out your templates, they suck.
As with anything, there is a spectrum at play here. I’ve had jobs where they gave you a template for everything; a template for your press releases, a guide to writing an email soliciting a potential new client, even a fucking template for your website bio on the corporate page. All it does is kill your enthusiasm for the work you are doing which in turn makes you create shitty work.
I’m not saying you can’t have some kind of example to start from, but that should be the lowest common denominator. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
Inefficiency is not sexy.
Let’s have that sink in for a moment, because whether you know it or not, there is some level of inefficiency in your organization. If you think that there isn’t, you are either the most successful company in the world or you’re wrong.
Let’s talk about a hypothetical corporate hierarchy (that I’ve actually seen before many times)…
In this story, we have Manager, Middle Manager, and Employee. Employee writes a page to send to Middle Manager, which Middle Manager then proofs and sends back to Employee with changes. Employee makes those changes, and then sends to Manager. Manager sends the page back to Employee with changes to the Middle Manager’s changes, and asks Employee to make those changes and then send them back to Manager.
Does your head hurt yet?
This is what’s called a hierarchical organization, and it’s an incredibly inefficient way to run any sort of creative or media-focused enterprise. I could go on about this for a whole article but instead I point you to a helpful explanation by Mr. Howard Guttman:
Consider our example: if Employee’s work needs to be checked and triple checked, do they feel like the final product represents their original work? Is that an efficient use of the Manager or Middle Manager’s time?
The answer really doesn’t matter at this point. The moment is gone, and I’m going to roll over and play on my phone for a bit until I fall asleep.
Don’t tie my hands.
I know your first thought is, “How is having your hands tied not sexy?”
Get your head out of the gutter, we’re almost done here. Going back to point numero uno, Manager needs to seek out creative input. Nine times out of ten the newest person on the job has the most innovative ideas. Why? Because they aren’t accustomed to systemic praise.
Systemic praise is the idea that status quo=success, and it’s toxic.
What were the least creative and most creative ideas of your first job? Which one landed the big client? Before you are around long enough to worry about pension and benefits, you are fresh into the work force where you can flop an idea that is batshit crazy. That is your power.
It was the point where you ran into the CEO hopped up on a quad shot of espresso and told them that ge0-fencing could change their marketing strategy. Then they asked you, “What the fuck is geo-fencing?”
Employee should always be on the lookout for ideas that Manager never would have thought of, and Manager needs to be prepared to accept and encourage ideas that don’t fall in line with the dreaded “way it’s always been.”
If that doesn’t get them hot and bothered, then you might want to consider a new company. Lord knows I’ve been fired and hired enough times to pick my clients carefully, but no matter what never compromise your ideas for a paycheck.
What are the things that your company or clients have done to kill your creative mood? Let me know in the comments below.
I’m Josh MacEachern, on the later side of my twenties and doing my best to help brands communicate better in Las Vegas. Check out some of my work at www.joshmaceachern.com and follow me on Instagram @josh_maceachern for mostly pictures of my friends and my dog.