Be a happy warrior

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Co-Founder at Outside Of Ordinary. Specialist outdoor and active sector creative director. 25 years of going around the block, over the hills, and occasionally up the creek.

Biggest fuck up? 

I was in a senior role many years ago. There was quite a bit of toxicity flying around in the studio. I was in a position to do something about it, but it took me far too long. I adopted the ‘oh, let’s not make a fuss’ position.

Toxic behaviour seeps into everything and everyone in a work environment, and my lack of action was tantamount to tacit support for it. Big lesson learnt. I have actively worked to be a far more watchful manager since. 

Another fuck up has probably been informally agreeing to things but not getting stuff in writing. As a creative person, it can feel a little twattish to say, ‘can we get this in a contract, please?’ But I have lost time and money because of this. It’s good to be helpful, but it is much more important to know your worth and say ‘no’ to the ‘it’s a great opportunity for exposure’ crowd.

Rant

Well, since you asked, I have a few things to call out…

So, number one. I’ll maybe be accused of creative on creative violence here, but whinging creatives really grind my gears.

Being paid to create, to design, to strategise, to imagine possibilities and then help them become reality is unequivocally fucking amazing. 

I’ve worked with creatives who’ll spend hours complaining about the brief, the deadline, the account handler, the client, the industry, other creatives and just about everything. 

Occasionally I suspect this is some sort of defence mechanism in response to the ‘terror of the blank page’. 

I’ll, of course, acknowledge that professional on-demand creativity can sometimes be very hard, and building a thick skin is a must, but wallowing in the whinge is never a solution.

Becoming like Wordsworth’s ‘Happy Warrior’ is a good aim. Fight for your ideas and worth but with a smile on your face. 

My second piece of ‘wanky bollocks’ is marketing’s weirdness about anything new.

When any new method/tech/platform/thingy comes along, half the marketing profession rail against it with deep hatred, with lots of snarky hot takes about how the latest thing is idiotic, puerile, and to be steadfastly ridiculed. 

The other half of the profession dive in fully and become obsessed: cue lots of ‘XYZ marketing is dead, you should be XYZ instead’ posts.

I think this confused mess of opinions contributes towards marketing’s reputation in some parts as being a bit woolly. Measured, nuanced voices seem to be missing (maybe that’s because algorithms aren’t fans of ‘reasonable?).

My third piece isn’t actually wanky bollocks, but it is something which I find quite sad – it’s when people say, ‘I’m not creative’. Have they been told that? Every child is creative, so at what point do adults decide they aren’t? Stop saying that, people. Everyone is creative.

Useful advice

A few here, these have really benefited me over the years:

  1. It’s not your project. It’s the project.
  2. Learn to present better. It’s terrifying but necessary. 
  3. Don’t be just a worker, be a practitioner. Engage and learn. All the time.
  4. Go into huge natural landscapes as much as you can. Your problems will seem tiny when you can see to the horizon. Perspective is a good thing.

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