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How to Push

Posted on October 11, 2011 and read 1,598 times

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pierno How to PushAdam Pierno
Creative Director
Partners + Napier, Atlanta
Hunting the Spark

No one gets into this business to be average. Or at least no one would admit that to anyone. Including themselves. I’ve never met a young person trying to get into the creative field just to coast for while. We want to be great. If no part of you aspires to greatness, stop reading.

The truly great are able to overcome the issues that make the rest of us complacent, and turn the compromises that are a part of every project into strengths. Excellence in concept and in execution rarely shows up as a responsibility in a post on a job board. Those who want to be great understand that we have to go above and beyond. Start by adding these items to the bullet points already written on your job description.

Put all feelings aside without hurting feelings.

Put the concept first. But really first. Take out egos. Take out feelings. When you are talking about the project, be honest even with yourself. As stated above, every project comes with compromises; don’t make more to make someone feel they did a good job when they needed to do a better job. Don’t make it about people. Make it about the project only. That said, the best leaders motivate people, not demoralize them.

Give people a reason to be passionate.

None of us can do this job alone. And none of us are able to will people who don’t wish to produce something excellent to do so. The trick is to motivate those with that drive to activate it, to do the extra research, to sit in the extra meeting, to try the extra method to get through the compromises to the excellent results. It’s your job to find out what makes the people around you tick, and to find a way to relate their passion to your project. Invite people with an interest in the brand, project, style, technique or other elements to participate. Find a way to get the best possible contributions from the best possible people.

Make bold decisions.

That is to say, make decisions. Over the life of a project, a series of small but critical decisions add up to a bold choice. When confronted with a choice, consult with the right people, but make a choice. Then, communicate with everyone involved why you made that choice. Why you didn’t choose another path. Remind them of the vision and explain how this choice feeds that vision. In a leadership position, it’s easy to become arrogant about people questioning your decisions, but don’t give in to that feeling. People don’t stay passionate when they’re kept in the dark. More communication will encourage people to keep pushing.

Demand more.

From your team. From yourself. From your clients.

Compromise. But don’t compromise.

You will have to find workarounds for obstacles that fall in your path throughout the development or production process. The vision for the project is in jeopardy now. Work with your team to address and solve those issues by reminding them of the vision and allowing them a chance to adapt or redefine the vision in light of the challenge. Give them a chance to provide a solution that honors or improves the concept.

Make a case.

You are a genius. Given. There are about 50 creative people in the world who can ride that genius reputation to an un-challenged approval of a bold idea. And none of them would ever think to try. So neither should you. Once you set the concept, go to work with your team outlining all of the reasons you have come to believe this idea is the idea. Data, insights, numbers, interviews. Prove it. Your clients are more terrified than ever of making a bad call. Your presentation should be the safety net that allows them to make a leap with you. It should comfort them and arm them to go forward and inspire others.

Can any of us control all of these factors? Of course not. It’s merely an ideal. An ideal based on the soft spaces between the ironed out roles of agency disciplines. You know, the roles that no one is sure how to fill. But you don’t need to make any of these things your job. Someone else will probably handle it for you, or at least you can always assume someone else is doing them and coast. Any predictions on how that will turn out?




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