*Eunoia is the shortest word in the English language that contains all five vowels. It means beautiful thinking. This blog is a collection of just that, beautiful thinking from the worlds of art, advertising and culture.

I asked Kevin Roddy if he would talk about his thoughts on climbing the ladder to creative leadership.

I first heard Kevin Roddy speak at the One Show’s Creative Leaders Retreat last February. He spoke of the difference between a Creative Director and a Creative Leader. It was as if he’d opened my journal (if I had one) and read through my questions and challenges with the transition I was experiencing. He has the most nuanced grasp on the topic of anyone I know, because he’s lived it. I asked him to reprise some of his talk here and he has done so in spades. He challenges us all to think twice about taking that promotion.

I’m going to talk about “career suicide.” You know, that oh-so-happy topic dealing with the self-imposed extermination of your day job—when you turn it from a successful job in advertising into a successful job folding fleece pullovers at Old Navy.

How does it happen? Why does it happen? And how on earth can someone like yourself stop it from happening to someone like yourself?

Believe it or not, most career annihilation doesn’t happen because of a lack of talent or a lack of ambition or even because you take too many tequila shots before noon (although, don’t get me wrong, those are all bad things for a career), it happens when you bite off more than you can chew. It happens when you believe you’re better than you are and that you can do a job before you actually can.

Too many creative people in this business want to climb the creative ladder ten rungs at a time. And too many advertising agencies are happy to help them try.

But why the rush?

Well, I can imagine that the promise of more money is a compelling reason. Or more power. Or a bigger office and a window. Or a sexier title on a business card that you can hand out at the bar. I can imagine there are all sorts of wild and wonderful things that people believe come with the next rung up the ladder. 

But none of those things actually matters if it’s only a doorway to Old Navy.

The truth, as I’ve seen it, is that when a creative person in advertising takes a higher job before they’re truly ready, and they fail (which happens more often than not), they almost never recover. Because when they fail they lose confidence in themselves and the industry loses confidence in them—and confidence is a necessary additive to the potion that makes success.

A wise man once told me, “It’s a marathon not a sprint.” He also said, “Build a strong foundation and things will last longer.” That wise man was John Hegarty, so if you don’t believe me, believe him.

This business is notorious for putting creative people on a career rocket sled without a seat belt. And creative people are notorious for letting them. This business is very good at seeing a creative person doing one or two great pieces of work and then saying, “Hey, here’s a new job where you can help other people do what you just did.”

But it ain’t that simple. Believe me.

The way to avoid it actually is quite simple … control your own destiny. But do it with open eyes and an honest self-appraisal of your abilities. Not to mention a true understanding of what success looks like in that job above. Because then, and only then, can you decide if you’re ready and want to move up.

You need to understand that moving up the so-called creative food chain of advertising means moving into very different jobs—different jobs that require very different skills to be effective. Being a writer or an art director is a whole lot different than being a creative director. And being a creative director is a whole lot different than being a creative leader. They may seem alike but, man oh man, they are far from it.

So if you want to be effective, if you want to be successful all along the way and actually last longer in this business, do what you’re good at. You can always be looking at the next job, but just don’t take it before you are truly ready. And the first step to knowing that you’re ready is to really know what success looks like. To know what will be needed of you so that you can decide if you’re good at that … can be good at that … want to be good at that … or are better off staying put and not even trying.

Generally, my advice is that while you are learning about the job above you, you should spend more time than you think getting “great” at the job you’re currently in. Think of it this way, the better you are at your current job, the better you’ll be able to help the person who gets that job once you’ve climbed a rung. And helping the people below you will always be one of the most important parts of any job you have on the ladder. The people below you are even more important to your success than the ones above you, because they are the ones that make you look good. Or not.

Career suicide is often just that, suicide. I’d like to believe it’s murder, but it usually isn’t. And that’s because you have more control over your own success or failure than you think. As I mentioned before, agencies will offer you the moon to move up the ladder, but you are the one who does it when you’re ready (success) or not (suicide).

At The One Club’s Creative Leaders Retreat (an event I would highly recommend), I gave a seminar on knowing the difference between Creative Direction and Creative Leadership. I won’t bore you with it now, but knowing differences like that and how to be successful at either or both is critically important to your trip up the creative ladder. I suggest you learn all that you can and be patient along the way. Know what will be expected of you on the next rung and be honest with yourself that you want it and can do it.

If you do, well, that job at Old Navy can just go screw itself. You’ve got better things to do.

image Kevin Roddy Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, Riney, San Francisco
Chairman Emeritus, The One Club
Metro: “News worth sharing”
karenhurley:

Metro: News worth sharing
Agency: Rethink Via

Genius new product innovation. A shared newspaper. Rethink is always fresh and original. 

Metro: “News worth sharing”

karenhurley:

Metro: News worth sharing

Agency: Rethink Via

Genius new product innovation. A shared newspaper. Rethink is always fresh and original. 

LG vacuum: “Finds the dust you can’t see”

helloyoucreatives:

Y&R (Brazil) for LG Hombot

I love it when ads take me a second or two to get it. And then you can’t imagine how you didn’t see it right away. That visceral moment is the one we toil for. The one we work late for. 

Becoming Culture: Two Ways Brands Try To Become Part Of Our Lives

One A Magazine:

The Holy Grail for brands is to become a part of culture. The increased and sustained exposure can extend awareness far past a paid media campaign. How can a brand make this happen, though? How much is in our control as marketers—and what should we be doing to help our clients become culturally significant?
 
While some brands are iconic enough to actually drive culture, most attempt to become a part of culture by co-opting celebrities, and borrowing the excitement that surrounds their fame in the music, entertainment or sports industries—usually a short-term solution.
 
Others seek The Grail by becoming a fashion brand.

This is an article I just wrote for the One Club. I am passionate about the topic of how brands can permeate culture from beginning to end. I hope you enjoy the article.

Pentagram’s Abbott Miller: “Branding Has Become Oppressive

FastCo Design:

I think the phenomenon of branding has become oppressive. As “brand” colonizes more and more experiences and places (and even some people who have achieved brand status) you get a zombie-like effect, a placelessness and over-determined experiences. I prefer the word “identity” to brand because it suggests something more mutable, more contextual. Branding is about a consistency of impression and experience, whereas identity can be about a sense of personality or a sensibility. I think people use the word brand for most things involving design for services and products, but often the things they are referring to are really individual instances of design: a package, a sign, a website, and yet they all get swept into a bigger abstraction called brand.

One of the best letters I ever got was from Woody Pirtle when he was at Pentagram in NYC in the early 90’s. It was right before I started at Y&L. I sent him my work. He said there weren’t any positions open, but that if I came to NY he’d hire me to do freelance. I started at Y&L the next week. I’d mentally packed my bags and driven cross country to work for my design hero, but David and Jeff were so unusual. I had to stay and see what they were all about.

I haven’t looked back. But I still think Pentagram is leaps ahead of everyone else in this industry. They have always gotten it and their philosophy is pure and clear. Even things like here where they talk about identity vs branding. I totally agree. Branding is generic. Identity is specific. And personal. I’ve already ordered my copy of this book. 

Reebok Classics ‘Give Me Your Classics And I’ll Show You The Future’

Wonderland:

The film works perfectly off the understanding that Reebok has been a landmark brand in the celebration of youth culture, embracing change and supporting each generation as they seek to progress creatively away from their predecessors. It’s a stunning acknowledgement of the importance of the past and present, and a rallying cry for the future. 

With all of the “heritage” work that brands are doing right now, it’s a breath of fresh air to see Reebok talk about the future and reject the past. The film is shot beautifully and captures the transition from the grown up safe haven of the suburbs to the gritty youth underground in the city. 

A History of Apple’s Product Launch Marketing

Mark Bergen for Ad Age:

The first iPhone spot, “Hello,” debuted during the 2007 Oscars. It showed the Apple logo, but not the iPhone name — Apple was battling Cisco over the rights. That year, Apple reported an increase of $129 million in ad spending, to $467 million.

Apple is one of the few brands that has been a part of culture from the beginning. If they’re not driving it, they’re flawlessly capturing it. This spot is is the perfect example. They created the spot for the context in which it ran, so the movie scenes made perfect sense. It’s one of the rare occasions when borrowed interest was a good idea.

Featured Artist: Ryan Hewett

anitaleocadia:

Ryan Hewett

It’s rare to see really beautifully painted pictures that haven’t been digitized or photoshopped today. These took my breath away. What a talented guy. 

(via withclosedeyes)

Moleskine: “Detour” Project

The Detour project has been out since 2006. It’s a beautiful living installation of how artists/writers all over the world fill their moleskines. They have a new exhibition happening in London this month. You can find   all the authors since the beginning of the project on their site. Moleskine may be the coolest old school brand in modern culture. They’ve stayed cool by not changing. More brands could learn from them.

Watch Gisele Bündchen Kick Butt in This New Under Armour Commercial

Eliana Dockterman for Time:

For its next commercial in the series, Under Armour turned to a more familiar face: supermodel Gisele Bündchen. When the company initially announced the partnership, some responded on social media with skepticism: A ballerina is arguably an athlete, but a model? Under Armour embraced the controversy in the new ad, which shows the insanely fit Gisele pummeling a punching bag while critical tweets like “Stick to modeling, sweetie” and “Gisele is soooo fake” flash behind her.

Brands who embrace controversy real-time and turn in their favor are rare. Damn-I watched this ad several times feeling my stomach tighten with admiration, and envy. The closeup of her punching the bag is as real as anything I’ve seen in a long time in an ad.