In this post series I’m looking at the world of the creative professional from the perspective of a father offering his best advice and insights to a daughter who’s exploring it as a potential career option. Part 1 looked within the profession – at the toys we get to play with and the other creative professionals we get to work with. Part 2 looks outside – to the companies and people who hire us.
Note: I’ve had my fair share of experience with the Client from Hell and with people who are uncooperative, belligerent, uncooperative and worse – who hasn’t? But just as we parents try to teach our kids how to deal with bullies and other troublemakers, we also don’t paint everyone with the same brush; we treat the bad apples for what they are – exceptions to the rule – and we focus on the positives. That’s what I’m doing here.
In Part 1, I wrote about Amazing Perk #1 – the toys we get to play with – and Amazing Perk #2 – the people we get to play with…
Amazing perk #3: The companies and people we get to meet
As much as I love the creative arts, and in this case by way of the marketing world, there’s a great big world out there that’s taught me an awful lot more about life and living and the things people do to earn their keep and provide for their families and make their dreams come true.
Creative professionals certainly aren’t the only people whose work horizons are broad and diverse and endlessly fascinating, but I think the nature of our work gives us an intimate and unique vantage point. This applies even if you work full time for just one employer, or for clients in a single vertical sector. If you free-lance or work for an agency (or run your own), you’ll see many times more industries, companies and people.
The hats we wear
The creative professional’s work touches virtually every facet of a business organization’s day to day operations. So for a day or a week or a month or two at a time, you get to see what the world looks like from the CEO’s corner office, or the shop foreman’s desk, or the engineering team’s CAD workstations. To do your job – that is, to communicate creatively and effectively to any or all of that organization’s audiences – you need to try on all these hats and probably others.
A lot of the things people do that you get to see and experience firsthand aren’t particularly enjoyable, let alone glamorous. But in my experience, it’s from these kinds of insights that I’ve gained so much respect for the people who were doing them: How they take the ugly along with the good with the bad. How they overcome challenges, how they conduct themselves with their peers and colleagues under pressure. These are life lessons, applicable any time, anywhere, by anyone.
The shoes we walk in
The most important among these many excursions are the ones that you walk in when you’re wearing not just your client’s (or employer’s) shoes but those of their customers. You need to feel their pain, understand their needs and interests, because they’re the ultimate audience. Now you’re into a whole other parallel universe, where none of that internal strife or operational challenges matter. Your focus shifts to the user experience, and to the business’s service and price and quality issues. This also takes you into your competitors’ world and off you go on another journey: What are they doing well that we aren’t and vice versa? What’s our advantage? What’s theirs?
You do all these things and then at some point you come back to your own desk or your own studio or whatever and you sit down to do your job. Now just stop and picture that for a moment: Look at where you’ve just been, who you’ve just met, what you’ve just learned, quite possibly for the first time. How amazing is that? How inspiring? And here’s the best part: Now it’s your turn…
Please stay tuned for Part 3… Making a difference.