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Adam Morgan

What does a creative director do exactly? What skills do they need to do it?You might think that being a great creative director is all about honing your craft and having a creative vision for your work. In other words, it’s all about you and your creative decisions. But is that true?

How to Become a Creative Director
How to Become a Creative Director

How to Become a Creative Director

Ep
128
Apr
07
With
Adam Morgan
Or Listen On:

How do you become a creative director? Start by asking a different question.

What do you think it means to be a creative director? It’s not a trick question. Take a moment to think about it.

What does a creative director do exactly? What skills do they need to do it?

You might think that being a great creative director is all about honing your craft and having a creative vision for your work. In other words, it’s all about you and your creative decisions. But is that true?

This episode comes from a livestream we held in early 2019. It’s all about answering the question: how do you become a creative director? And it comes from good authority.

Our guest, Adam Morgan, is an Executive Creative Director at Adobe. Adam outlines nine steps to take on the path to becoming a creative director.

And guess what? Eight of them have little to do with the quality of your work.

We won’t spoil anything for you, but we agree with Adam. What makes you a great creative, won’t necessarily make you a great creative director.

So instead of asking, “How do I become a creative director?” The more important question might be, “Is this the right path for me?”

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Episode Transcript

Greg:
Welcome to The Futur podcast, a show that explores the interesting overlap between design, marketing, and business. I'm Greg Gunn. What do you think it means to be the creative director? It's not a trick question. Really, just take a moment and think about it. What does a creative director do exactly? And what skills do they need to do it? Now, I used to think that it was all about honing your craft and having a creative vision for your work. In other words, it was all about me and my decisions. But after spending the last 15 years as a creative director, I can confidently tell you that ain't it.

Greg:
The following conversation is from a live stream we held in early 2019. It's all about answering the question, how do you become a creative director? And it comes from good authority. Our guest, Adam Morgan, is an executive creative director at Adobe. They're a small software company, perhaps you've heard of them. Adam outlines nine steps on the path to becoming a creative director. And guess what? Eight of them have very little to do with the quality of your work. Now I won't spoil anything for you, but I do agree with Adam. What makes you a great creative doesn't necessarily make you a great creative director? So instead of asking, how do I become a creative director? The more important question might be is this the right path for me? Please enjoy our conversation with Adam Morgan.

Chris:
Today's episode is going to be gem packed because we're welcoming Adam Morgan to the show. If you don't know who he is, here's a quick bio for you guys. He's the executive creative director. He just recently got a promotion at Adobe. He's also written a book, congrats on that as well. Sorry Spock, Emotions Drive Business. I'm a spock person myself so I want to know more about this. He's spoken at many events, including Adobe MAX America, the AAF, Sioux Falls conference, and so many more. He's also been given the title of Advertising Professional of the Year for Utah in 2014, by the AAF. Also named top 40, under 40 by Utah Business Magazine, which is where he's at right now in Utah. He's also worked in marketing, strategy and a self-described pitch man. We're going to be talking about how to become a creative director. Welcome to the show, Adam. Look at that. Oh, my God. We are color synced today.

Adam:
Yes, we are.

Chris:
Feeling the vibes, right?

Adam:
Yeah, [crosstalk 00:02:40].

Chris:
The frequency is good. Okay, so without further ado, I know that a lot of people in our community always ask, how do I become an art director? And more importantly, how do I become a creative director? It's such a beautiful, glorious, glamorous title and I believe you have a deck that you're going to share with us today, right?

Adam:
I do. [crosstalk 00:02:58]

Chris:
All right. So Adam's preparing his deck. I just want to remind everybody who's watching us live on YouTube as you listen in, Greg and the team will be monitoring your comments. So go ahead and start commenting and we'll be reading them and asking you the questions when appropriate. Okay. Adam, take it away.

Adam:
All right. No problem. So this is an interesting topic. I'm not sure if you can see the screen, but I'm going to start out with a story. This was the early 2000s. I was working at an ad agency at the time. Before I joined Adobe, I did 20 years of ad agency life. And at the time, there was this core of four guys, art directors and writers that whenever there was a big pitch that came in, we were always the crew that was working on it. And I was working hard at the time doing my best in my craft and then one day in December, we had a huge all hands meeting with the whole creative department. And during that meeting, all the other three people of us four, they were all promoted to CD and I was the only one that wasn't.

Adam:
And at the time in my career, it was really heartrending. I was like, what's going on? I was one of the glorious four, right? We were the pitchman, the people who were coming up with all the great ideas, but I was passed over. And so it was a really, really hard day for me to figure out why. Why did all my cohorts become creative directors and I didn't? I thought I was doing all the right steps. And first I want to talk about what the internet teaches you about becoming a creative director. If you look out there, there's all these articles you know, five steps, 14 steps, 12 steps, but the truth is what they focus on is something like, "Oh, you need to be really, really good at your craft whether you're an art director or a writer," You just need to be awesome. Just become a rock star and that you just keep getting better and better at it and then all of a sudden, one day you'll become a CD.

Adam:
And it's really, really light on the guidance of how to do that step. Years later, as I've gone through it, I've been a creative director for a long time now. It's eyeopening to really describe to people what it takes, because it really is our perspective of it is, Oh, as a creative director, you just have to be really good at your craft and then you get to finally be the one that leans over the shoulder and tells everyone else what to do. The whole campaign at Adobe about this over the shoulder art director campaign. It's really not about that. It's a totally different perspective and it's really hard for people to grasp. I didn't grasp it back there on my dark day in December.

Adam:
There are some truths and what I'm going to go through are like nine steps throughout my career because I've had this conversation with a lot of people. A lot of people saying, "Hey, I wanna become a CD or why am I not a CD?" And they're just doing their thing and they just expect it to come. There's a lot that you have to understand. First of all, number one truth is what makes you amazing in creative does not make you a great CD. I mean, let's be realistic. How many of us are out there reading books on leadership or taking skills or listening to podcasts on leadership, and on design. There's so much content out there on becoming a great designer or becoming a great writer, but there's not so much out there on becoming a great creative leader.

Adam:
That's the real question you've to ask yourself is, is this the right thing for me? I'll give you an example. I was at a conference for developers six months ago. And in our world, everyone wants to be the creative director. You want to be the person in charge, the one to be able to call the shots, to pitch all the ideas, right? And at this conference for developers, they were doing a session on how to become a manager and in this huge room of all these developers, they asked who wants to be a manager and nobody raised your hand, but like one. In their world, it was like, forget that who wants to do that job, right? But with us, it's like, everyone wants to be the shiny object.

Adam:
So you really have to think through, and I'm going to give you a lot of pointers on these nine steps of the real insight behind the job of a creative director and what it really takes to cross that gap. So we'll get into that. So here we go, nine things to consider. I'm going to go in order of top to bottom of what I think are really important things of becoming a creative director. So this first one is the idea of relationships. This is a really hard one. I've had many, a senior creative come to my office and say, "Hey, I want to be a CD." And the first thing we talk about is like, "Okay, but you're always off on your own." As creative people, we like to be introverts and crawl into our cave and just zone in and get flow state and start creating stuff. But if you really want to be a CD, you got to get out of that habit. You can't just be the quiet lone wolf that just goes off and does your stuff.

Adam:
You have to be there and you have to build awesome relationships with stakeholders, clients, others who are going to be a strategic partner with. And it's not just knowing the name or doing a drive by every once in a while. It's becoming so expert in their space and understanding their world that they come to see you as the expert on creativity and they really feel like you're the go-to person. So relationships are critical, critical, critical. It's not, you have to be an extrovert, but you have to be outgoing. You have to push it.

Adam:
Number two, you have to be able to talk khaki. And this is a big insight. There's actually a great book out there on learning to talk business for creatives by Douglas Davis. He just got it out a little while ago.

Chris:
He's a fun of this show.

Adam:
Yeah. So it's this idea that you can't just learn to speak creative stuff. You have to learn business. One of my old bosses who owned one of the agencies I worked for said, "You have to know how does your client, or how do you make money?" Once you understand that, then you have to make sure that all of your work aligns with that. You can't just create beautiful stuff and it's not making the business grow. So learning to direct executives. We keep thinking, "Oh, creative director is all about directing other creative people." I can speak their language, but it's not. We call it talking khaki at Adobe because it's all about articles and thought leadership on how do you speak business casual and really understand what they're all about so that you're on the same playing field. Because think about it all the people you're dealing with.

Adam:
When you're wanting to move up to a creative director, the people making that decision, whether they're an ECD or it's the executive, the CEO of your company, they have grown up with their MBAs, learning all about finance and numbers and that's what they understand. And we speak a totally different world emotions and ideas. So you have to be able to speak all that and speak smartly about it. Otherwise you're toast. They're not going to see you as a creative leader. They're going to see you as a great creative person and they want to keep you as a senior creative. All right. Next, vision and leadership. That's the next step. It's not just a matter of... Unfortunately in many instances, most creative directors they become a creative director just because of attrition or they've stuck around long enough, or it's a strategy for the company to keep them from leaving, right?

Adam:
"Oh, we don't want to lose that person. We'll make him a leader." And it's a terrible, terrible system. And really, if you want to become a leader and a creative director, you need to understand the vision and leadership. You need to step up and have a plan, a point of view. What are your thoughts on content development? What are your thoughts on whatever your product is and details about it? What are your thoughts on product design? Like you really need to know and understand, and with a lot of people I will go back and say, find a passion or figure out what you care about and really get in deep on it and understand it. There's a term I say, it's like, you've got to read to lead. You can't just sit back and watch your cool Netflix shows and look at your design websites.

Adam:
You have to be out there reading books, articles, things. Really figuring out the world around you so you have a point of view and then you can give that vision and leadership. That's critical. Next, presenting and selling. Any good creative as you grow up in the field, you need to be a master of meetings. And I know that sounds lame, but man, if I showed you my calendar, they're just meetings after meetings, after meetings, and I've seen creatives get into meetings and just craw back up into their ball and just let things roll and they're not leading. They're not guiding the work. They're not defending the work. You have to be a pitch person. You have to be able to get out there, present, guide on the room, read the room, understand it, and just speak the language of meetings.

Adam:
We're so used to when we quote-unquote, get work done is because we go back to our cave and work. But as a leader, work gets done for most other people in those meetings. So you have to be able to represent, and you have to be onstage and have a presence and be able to drive and guide that. So you are a meeting person, whether you like it or not. Next is managing the creative machine. This is a part that you also don't think about. It's structure and process. I can't tell you throughout my career, how many times it's been decks about how the department's organized, or how are we going to do the process of organizing files? How we are going to keep it on the servers, which technology we're using, how are we going to connect with all of our other partners and people and help the flow of content go throughout this whole machine.

Adam:
And beyond that, how do I manage all these different creative teams? How do I keep the workflow balanced? There's a whole article on this idea of the whelm scale that I came up with where it's like, you don't want to be underwhelmed or overwhelmed. So how do you find that you're perfectly welcomed and balanced and it's really tricky to keep all these different creative personalities in line, right? So managing the creative machine is a huge, huge, deal. And creative ads just what we're talking about right now is part of that. How do you know where everyone is at on their path and what's the right path for them? Maybe management is not the right path for some people. Here at Adobe, we have levels for a management track and levels for individuals that go far into the same level and above of what a creative director would be.

Adam:
So it's not always, you grow the old process of start out as a production designer and move up to an art director, and then the creative director and beyond. There are different paths. So organizing all that and understanding structure and process is a big part of it. So if you don't like that, you've got to prepare yourself for it. Next is resourcing. So what most people don't think is... A big part of my job or a job as a creative director is getting all the work done and who's doing what and how are we doing it and how do I manage team and resources and the flow of work. And so whether it's working with outside help and agencies or other freelancers, or just balancing the workload within, that's a big, big process that goes into that step above. Resourcing, huge, huge deal.

Adam:
Here's an example of that whelm skill just real quick of something I used at one agency of just to find that sweet spot of how are you totally overworked versus underworked. And there's different types of personalities. I've got creatives who either one, they'll do it if you ask them, but they're never going to come ask you for more. And there are some that will never ask you and they'll do it, but they'll complain. And then the last one, they'll come and be very proactive and want more work. And they're usually the ones that take on more work and more willing. So how do I balance those personalities and make sure I use the right number of projects and presentations and all that good stuff. All right. Number seven, the hustle. This one's a really hard one to get across because I'll have people who are saying, "I'm already doing the job of a creative director, right?

Adam:
I've got relationships, I'm in meetings, I know how to talk about stuff, I can pitch and present. I'm doing all that stuff." But they're not present. And so there's really this element of you have to be aggressive. You have to be a go getter. You have to go out and find where the work is going and why and how the business works and makes money so that you can integrate that design process into it and really hustle. That's really the idea of being present, pushing yourself and others. If you are work adverse, then you're not going to be a great creative director. You've got to get out there and push it and be a champion of creativity. Then we finally get to number eight, managing other creatives. I mean, that's really what it's about. And some people early in careers, I did too before that day in December, it was, "Oh, I just get up and I finally get to have the say and I'll tell everyone else my vision or how I like ideas or ads or content, whatever it may be."

Adam:
But there's so much more to managing people. Really understanding their hopes and dreams and needs and all their fights. I tell you, at least weekly there's going to be some employee problem that you're going to have to deal with. So how do you deal with personalities, egos, and all that other stuff and make sure everyone's happy and growing in their careers. So there's a lot more to than just telling creatives what to do. It's all about really being a good leader and understanding their path. And then finally is working CD anymore today, it's not like the glory days where you became a CD and then you stopped working and you just run around directing people.

Adam:
I think most CDs that I know are still a working CD, which is what you started in this business in the first place for, right? It's the craft. So being in a working CD, you still have to keep up with it. You still have to understand it. You still have to be good at it. So you can't let that slide. And that's really, really important, but it's funny in my interpretation early on in my career, I thought number nine was the most important thing of all. So this is the list, but I'm going to talk to you about this important point, which is most people, at least early in our careers we think that the way to get to a creative director is all about steps eight and nine. It's all about the craft and managing other creatives. That's what we think it's about.

Adam:
And we don't see all these other levels of vision and talking business and relationships and presenting, and structure and all this stuff that becoming a project manager, it doesn't seem like what we got into business for. But as a CD, you're a project manager, you're a process manager, you're a business manager, you're all those things and you have to balance it all. So here's a good rule of thumb to see if you're ready to become a creative director. So not too long ago, we were interviewing for a creative director spot here at Adobe. And I went through, there was like 700 people applied and I had hundreds of interviews and whatnot. And it was so interesting as people got inside the room, I could tell instantly if they really were ready to be a CD or a CD based on what they're talking about.

Adam:
If they come in and you're saying to your boss in your next interview saying, "Oh, it's all about me and all the work in this agency or in this company. All the best stuff usually comes from me. I'm the one that drives it all. It's my craft and I'm doing an awesome job and I'm really, really talented therefore, I should be a CD." Or, "I'm ready to start managing the people, I'm ready to start thinking about how I can guide them and help them along the path." But you're just thinking about steps eight and nine. That's like the base. If you're coming from the top, if someone comes into my office or starts talking about all right, "I've been talking with so-and-so over this department or this client, I've got this big idea of this vision. Here's where we're going to take things. I know we've got some process things to work out, but I really have this big vision and this is where it's going to go and I know all the players and I know how to talk to them and get them online."

Adam:
And you're coming from number one down to nine. I totally get that you understand the job of a CD and you're ready for it versus just thinking that I have to be awesome at the craft and that makes me automatically a creative director. So it's just an interesting process. Where are you at? And sometimes when I'll talk to people, I'll say, tell me where you are on this scale and if you are missing some skills or if you're missing the hustle and you're not present, let's figure it out and start working on those skills. So that's the big answer is if you think about making that next step, going to the creative director, put yourself in the perspective of whatever leadership is in your company and how they perceive you, are they just seeing you as eight, nine? They're not going to promote you. They're going to keep you as a senior creative because you're doing an awesome job.

Adam:
But when they see you as a player and understanding all the relationships, you speak business, you understand the vision and how the business works. Of course, if you're doing that already, then the idea of making a creative director is easy. It's already there. So before you make the leap, answer these questions. First, is it the right path for you? Do you have the right makeup? Do you have the right skills? Are you ready for that? If you don't, go to step two, learn all those skills. Figure it out, and then do it effectively until you forget that you're even doing that and it's just a flow of what you are. Then the promotion will come. Too often I find people still step one and two figuring out and just assuming, "I'm a rockstar, I should be a CD."

Adam:
We got to stop that and start learning about the real craft of leadership and the real craft of being a creative director, and then go for it. Because then after that, I promise you, if you take on the mantle of the company and not talk about your portfolio, that's when you have finally crossed that gap and you look back and you won't even know that you've made the jump. So moment of truth, it all hinges on you. If someone is sitting there complaining about, "Oh, this company doesn't appreciate me. They don't see me as a CD. Maybe I'll move on." Stop thinking about it in that perspective and start thinking about, "What is the perspective from leadership to me? And the truth is this, the only person holding you back is you. It's up to you to decide, "Am I ready? Do I have all the skills? Am I doing it all? Am I involved? Am I making all those things happen?" Then it's going to happen no matter what. So that's my advice on becoming a creative director.

Chris:
That was excellent. I think for a lot of people who are tuning in, they are probably working their way up from the bottom of the list, towards the top, thinking exactly what you said. That's probably the wrong focus. Thinking about the craft. Thinking, "If I get better at the craft, I should become a creative director. If I hustle more and if I art direct or I'm the over the shoulder creative director, that should warrant me getting the title and the position." So I imagine there's a lot of people and we'll give them a second to process information, but they're shocked right now thinking, "Wait a minute, everything I thought in the order in which we should approach it is all wrong."

Chris:
So we're probably going to get challenged a little bit here and I just want you to take a minute to reflect, Adam, on when you were passed up for the opportunity of becoming a creative director. Looking back on that now, were you also thinking about it the wrong way?

Adam:
Oh, absolutely. I totally see it now and that's why I said I've had that conversation with so many and it's hard to get that sea change, that perception change, because I was thinking like, "I'm the rock star of this agency. I do awesome work. It's always the work that goes to the clients, always the work that gets sold." The more and more I focus on becoming awesome at the craft and understanding the world of creatives and how to help and guide them. That's what I thought the next step was, "Oh, now I just need to manage people." Because I figured out so that I can help them be awesome.

Adam:
It was just so shallow and when I looked back later, the other three guys that got promoted, of course, I looked back and I was like, some of them were actually better creative directors than they were art directors or writers. That's the truth. Like they are really at all these other things and we just have this perception that it's just the most rockstar artists are the ones who inadvertently become the leader and that's not true. There are different skillsets. So that's the point. And I figured that out.

Chris:
I want to do a deeper dive on some of the points that you brought up and how you could potentially give some advice or coaching to the community that's watching this video. I'm going to ask you this question. You said, "At the very top, you need to learn how to build relationships not just internally, but externally as well." And a lot of people got into design or the creative arts, because we don't want to talk to people. So for the introverts, is there any hope?

Adam:
Yes.

Chris:
Talk to us.

Adam:
That's what I'm talking about career paths. That first thing I said is ask yourself the hard question is this really the right path for me? Because I know a lot of super talented people. Maybe they're really, really good at the particulars of production, or maybe they're really, really good at illustration. You can make an amazing career and be a senior creative and go on to have an awesome career path and you don't have to become a creative director. That is an old model. The old model of the only way I show success in my career is by going from a junior creative, to a senior creative, to a creative director and beyond. That's not true in the least. I know so many people who are paid more than maybe like an ACD or CD. They're paid well, they have awesome job and it's just a matter of figuring out what their true calling is. And you don't have to feel like you have to become a manager. That's not the case.

Adam:
But I would also say, don't think that you can hide in your hole and be a woolen wolf. That's not going to work as a CD. You're going to be a mediocre CD. You've got to be a leader and not everyone may want to do that and come out another cave. If they want to be an introvert and do an awesome job at their craft, they can still find a great career and get paid well, but that's not the same thing as a CD.

Chris:
So back before you were a creative director, would you describe yourself as that shy lone Wolf introvert or no?

Adam:
There are times that I thought I was more of an introvert. I don't know. I've taken the tests and my [crosstalk 00:22:54] disagree. Yeah. But I'll say this, my boss, he's an introvert, but he knows when to turn it on. He knows when in meetings he's got to own it. So I know people who are introverts and extroverts. I'm certainly more of an extrovert, so it makes it easier. Sure. But it's just a matter of knowing when, and you can be a quiet leader. There are plenty of books out there for you to read and understand that. You can do it through action and through a few words, you can make a big wave rather than being a big loud mouth like someone like me.

Adam:
So there's different leadership styles. That's great. But that doesn't mean you can't not be a leader. You can't just assume that you have a diverse style because you're a lone wolf and therefore that's the right style for a creative director. I don't know. We've tried it sometimes, but it's just hard because there's so much more to the job than just doing the craft. That's [crosstalk 00:23:39].

Chris:
Okay. I think there's a video it's either called is it TED Talk or the genius of introverts or the power of introverts. Maybe you guys don't want to dig into this a little bit more. I am an introvert and I've learned how to work with people and to be comfortable in my own skin and to develop the language and the communication skills and the interpersonal skills to be, I think, comfortable building relationships with people both internally and externally. Okay.

Chris:
So you're an extrovert, so it's a lot easier for you and so you saw the path and you're like, "Okay, even though I love designing the craftsmanship, I need to get out there because that's going to limit my career path." But just to put a point on it, you've said very clearly that the end of your journey, in terms of the highest possible position for you doesn't have to terminate as a creative director. That there are many viable options that will pay you well, that will give you the respect and the responsibilities that you're looking for that doesn't end with you being creative director.

Chris:
Okay. Let's move on to the next one. Speaking the language of business, you're talking about language right now, right? Because we talk about, we teach creatives, the business of design and the book that you were talking about by Douglas Davis is called Creative Strategy and the Business of Design. And just based purely on that title, I bought that book, read it and then I got to meet Douglas Davis. And he said that we need to think how they think. That he learned from his grandfather. Think how they think, because the business people, usually the big drivers of decisions in companies, they're thinking about something very different than aesthetics and design. So we have to build that bridge between the creative side and the business side. And some of us are able to do that really well. So what tips do you have besides, "Hey, go read the book." What else can you tell us?

Adam:
Oh here's something that I've seen. It's really, really important. If you look at business strategy and there are books on this, there's like three basic types of business strategy. Either one, you're all about operational efficiency. Think like a Walmart. Like it's all about moving something through really efficiently and getting the best prices or there's businesses that are all about relationships. So it's like the local bike shop that you go there and buy it, even if it's more expensive because of the experience that you get from them. And then the last one is product innovation, which is like what Adobe is. You're just out there creating new, cool products and getting them out in the world.

Adam:
This may be controversial, but my point is that there are some business models that do not fit with great creative or pushing the boundaries of creativity. So if you're in a relationship type of a company or a product innovation company, then I often can see how a designer can be on the board of directors. How they can help design and guide the vision for that company, but operational efficiency companies, there are a lot of them out there and I see over and over creatives in house, or agencies trying to drive that operational efficiency business into a creative showcase, and it's not going to happen. Sure. You can have beautiful design within it. Walmart can have great design. I'm not saying that, but it's not going to be design led. It's operationally led.

Adam:
So don't beat your head against the wall if you're in the wrong type of business. There are so many people that are trying and trying and trying, and just hitting the wall and you just got to realize, look at the board, look at the leadership, what's the background, what's the vision of that company and just see either if there's a chance that you can make design a creativity, a part of that, or if you need to find something else, because you're just going to kill yourself trying.

Chris:
Time for a quick break, but we'll be right back with more from Adam. Welcome back to our conversation with Adam Morgan. I want to say hello to everybody who's tuning in to watch this live with us on YouTube. A lot of people like to work and listen to what's going on. There's like good vies being thrown out there. I want to let everybody know in case you guys are a little uneasy about this, the way that we're doing our live streams now is you have to join us live to participate in what we're doing. And after a couple of days, we will take the live streams off air and that's your opportunity. We're trying to do very different pieces of content. So you guys make sure you tell a friend right now to tune in. And I see the audiences growing quite a bit here. Since we started, we grew from 60 to 204 of you guys watching us live. And Greg, I just want to prime you or prep you. Are you ready with the questions or do you need a minute to think about the questions that the audience is asking us?

Greg:
Let's take a minute. I think I'm going through them.

Chris:
Okay, you keep doing that. That's fine because I can continue to talk to Adam about the different points that he brought up. Let's just keep moving down the chain here. Vision and leadership, when you say read to lead, I like that first of all, read the lead. What kind of books or what kind of things is going to do besides the things that you said in terms of watch videos, attend workshops, seminars, et cetera. Was there something in your life that you read or saw that you thought, "Wow, now I'm starting to understand what leadership means."

Adam:
I'll tell you, the first time I saw it is I had a creative director, I think it was like [inaudible 00:28:45] back in an agency years ago. He would walk into a room as a creative and yet he had been staying up on whatever your favorite is Harvard Business Review or some cool articles and different thought leadership on leadership or business or a specific industry. Like, let's say, if you're in travel and hospitality, what are the trends? What's really going on? And he would keep up with that and he was a voracious reader. And when he'd come into meetings, it was really clear that he knew what he was talking about and he could hold his own just as much as everyone else and all the strategists and leaders in there. And then therefore they saw him as a viable force of understanding the business, just like speaking business.

Adam:
So I realized that, wow, that was really, really important. And it made him not just be like, "Oh, he's just the creative who's going to make it look nice at the end. Let's not talk to that person and give their opinion." But it was really critical. So for me, it's like, if you're an author you have to read and read and read, so what's out there. If you're going to be a leader you've got to read and read and whether it's finding different podcasts, finding different topics like this video cast, that's just helping inform you about the space, right?

Adam:
So whether it's books, there are tons and tons of great books out there. Great articles, great medium articles, whatever it may be, but you've got to just soak up something. I have on my staff, we have a monthly staff meeting and I'll randomly pick two or three different people to just stand up and report back what they're reading lately and what they've learned. Whether it's at a conference or a book or whatever so that everyone's just a little bit on edge knowing I've got to be ready to present and talk about something. So I can't just not do it. I've got to keep going and keep learning or else I'm going to regress. So it's really anything.

Chris:
Are there favorites of yours in terms of podcasts or resources besides SPR?

Adam:
I'm more of a book person.

Chris:
You like books. Okay.

Adam:
I have tons and tons of books. A huge library at my house. So just advertising, marketing, vision, whatever it may be, leadership. There's a lot of great stuff out there.

Chris:
And when you were first dipping your toes into the leadership world and immersing yourself in those books, did you find them to be boring or interesting?

Adam:
Oh, absolutely. Are you kidding me? Just look at the book that I just wrote. It's all about proving the value of creativity to stakeholders, because I had so many problems with some CFO comes in and says, "Oh, creativity is just fluffy stuff. We don't need that. That's stupid." And so in that journey for five years, I read so many neuroscience science studies that were so dry and so terrible, but there are nuggets. You get nuggets in there. And I'll tell you, the other thing for me that has taught me is of reading all that stuff, I can see what's good content and what's engaging in good storytelling. So as we create stuff here at Adobe, I don't want something dry and boring that sounds like a white paper from some professor at university. No chance. I want to make sure that it's got a good flow, a good story and it's interesting and still gets you that great data and that great concept.

Chris:
Well, I think this is a good point to just let everybody know, because people ask me this question all the time. What design books are you reading? I was like, "I don't read design books." First of all, most design books were pretty terrible. It's mostly a portfolio showcase, so you're not going to gain a lot of insight. And if you really want to advance in your career and your understanding of things, forget about even aspiring to be a creative director, just to be a better creative person. David Trott writes about this in his book one plus one equals three. And I'll just take a moment to talk about it in that creative people are really good at connecting dots, finding relationships between things that most people can't see and that's the beauty of being a creative person.

Chris:
So it's not that that's the issue. The issue is you do not have enough dots to connect. That all your dots seem to line up in one very narrow column. That we need to expand the dots that we can connect. So if you learn about philosophy, psychology, about business, about marketing, about positioning, and negotiations and pricing, all those things make you a much richer person and then you could dialogue with more people. So when you study only designed, only graphics, topography, "Oh, that's the greatest newest trend in design." You are most likely only going to be speaking to other creatives and designers and that's the problem. It's like, even if you're the most gregarious person and you're just speaking to designers, well that's it.

Chris:
And you could be the Pied Piper designer which some people are out there, but if you want to build different relationships, if you want to be more interesting, you got to be able to connect more dots. So it's about going out there and broadening the things that turn you on. So I'm glad to hear that you're reading these books and that you say they're totally dry and just lifeless, but you slogged through it and you mined for gold and here's a couple of things I can use. That was a waste of two days of reading, but otherwise I was able to use that, right?

Adam:
Oh, totally.

Chris:
You got to put in the work.

Adam:
A good example of that. I went to a writing conference this last weekend with my 18-year-old son. It was a science fiction and fantasy con. And I don't write in that genre. I mean, I went to a class on romance writing and horror writing, and it was just so interesting. You connect those dots, you get more and more dots and so super fascinating. Push yourself to try different things. I mean, not everything, but maybe.

Chris:
Well, I think I read on your site that you're also working on a piece of fiction, right?

Adam:
Oh yeah. Like all of us. Any creative I've seen, someone's got a book or a movie or a something you're working on. There's always these patterns of projects. I've got one that I wrote that is a humor book, a fiction book about all of my white trash relatives and a week of craziness that basically happened at this trailer park with... I took a lot of these real stories and then just put it in the narrative arc and gave it something fun. But yeah, there's that or young adults, other stuff. Why not?

Chris:
Right. Is that fiction or nonfiction? Your white trash family.

Adam:
Well, it's fiction because I took all the stories and then changed like sequence and when it happened and who's doing what so that it had a normal novel flow, even though they're all based on real crazy stories.

Chris:
I see. I think the book is called, like My Family Tree Has Termites or something?

Adam:
Yeah. And the best part is I had to go out because I went to talk to a lawyer even talking about my crazy family. First of all, he's like, even if you change the names, they can still come after you.

Chris:
Really?

Adam:
And I know they probably would. So I went to a family reunion and had them all sign a non-suing clause. That's how I had [crosstalk 00:35:07]

Chris:
What family reunion is that? "Uncle Joe, Billy, Bob I just need you to sign this document here."

Adam:
Yeah. And you know what the answer was?

Chris:
What's that?

Adam:
The best was my uncle Paul who's like in and out of prison all the time. He's like, "You can tell whatever story you want as long as it doesn't put me back in prison. Totally fine with it." [crosstalk 00:35:28]

Chris:
Oh my gosh. That's a colorful family history you got there. Oh my goodness.

Greg:
I'd read that book.

Chris:
Yeah. Is that available on Amazon?

Adam:
Sorry, we're totally going off a bit. Here's my idea on this. I don't want to sell it on Amazon. If you ever heard speakeasies where it's like you only know about the restaurant if you've been hurt. You hear about it through word of mouth.

Chris:
Yes.

Adam:
I want to make a secret website and it's only available if you happen to get an invite for someone and then you can go and buy it. So it's all just behind the scenes and it's like a book easy. You just get a book easy. You've got to wait for an invite and then get into it. So I'll have a seed list. When you're on the seed list, I'll let you know. But that's the plan with that one.

Chris:
Okay. We are going all over the place. I do want to say something. I was in Barcelona and I went to the speakeasies. I'm like, "Hey, why are the only three people sitting up front?" I was like, "Oh my God, it really is a speakeasy." And you open up the refrigerator and you walk through this corridor. So I love the book easy concept. What will the facade be? Alcohol?

Adam:
Oh, some terrible website that's built from 1994 technology and then there's happened to be some Easter egg that gets you into the rest of the whole site.

Chris:
Nice. I'm looking forward to that. Greg, are we ready or do I just keep going?

Greg:
Oh yeah, we are ready.

Chris:
We are ready. So now the questions are coming in. All right. So Greg, Mr. Creative director, as I'm evaluating you now based on this new nine point list.

Adam:
Where is he on the chart?

Greg:
Shut up, Do.

Chris:
Where's he falling short?

Greg:
All right. Let's take it from the top here. So and I apologize in advance if I butcher any of your names. It's my bad.

Chris:
You mean when you butcher their names not if.

Greg:
Thanks. So [Shafi 00:37:06] asks, "What is a good career path for someone who likes the process of designing in itself with the goal of becoming a creative director?"

Chris:
What?

Greg:
From what I get from that question, it sounds like...

Chris:
Are they watching your live stream?

Greg:
Yes.

Chris:
Didn't Adam already answered this question?

Greg:
Welcome to my list of questions.

Chris:
Okay. All right. Adam, go ahead. Drop the hammer on him.

Adam:
Oh, that's easy. There's a lot of different paths. Maybe what they're asking is not, what are the things I do in the skills I need, but where do I go get jobs? And that's an endless list. You could start out in agency world, you could start out at a company, you could start out in whatever industry you want. There are so many different ways to learn and grow and you just have to look for places where design is valued or writing is valued and then find ways to learn and grow and start. You've got to do nine first. So however, you're going to get the craft figured out. We don't just walk out of college having perfected the craft, it takes a lot of hustle and figuring it out.

Adam:
So wherever you find that you can have the best opportunity to stretch your creative wings, whether it's even on your own. I know a lot of people who would just go out and build their own portfolio and their own site and then get a job at a certain place. So there are many ways to the end goal.

Chris:
All right, next question.

Greg:
So The Jock Hoop asks, "Is it more important to have technical art skills or people skills as a creative director?"

Adam:
That's an excellent question. So let's go back to career paths. In my last job, I set up these career paths because it was based on your skillset. Again, going back to the old model of you start out as a production assistant, then you move to a designer and then you move to an art director and then a creative director. So eliminating that career path, there are multiple paths to the top. You could start as a writer, or you could be maybe a more of a long form writer. You could be a technical designer. You could be more of an art director or like a classical designer, or even like a motion graphics person. And each of those different paths you could be as junior, a senior, a mid-level, whatever it may be.

Adam:
So I've seen people make it all the way up and then jump over to the management track from being a great art director or being a great writer, or even a great production person. Someone who's really good at the technical aspect, but not necessarily at the concepts and ideas. So it's all based on where are you working? Where do you want to be a CD? What role at that company is important? If it's an agency, you're probably in better luck if you're a copywriter and art director, because it's all about concepts and ideas and selling them to clients, right?

Adam:
But if you're in house or at a different company where there's a lot of technical design, then absolutely that's the right role for you to move up that company and get that job as a creative director, because you understand that part of the craft. So I don't think it's a one-to-one. Let's stop looking at career paths as a singular path. But looking at it as like dozens of different paths that we can move up and still be happy and grow and then maybe one of those paths is creative director.

Chris:
Okay. I got a question here, Adam, because we're about online education. So if you had to create a school curriculum for creative directors, what classes or resources, or how would you design this school so that people who are interested in creative, but also want to be good leaders? What classes do you think we would need to have in this school?

Adam:
Let me ask first, is this more of like a graduate level class where people already have the craft figured out?

Chris:
You're the ruler of the world. You get to design what the school is like.

Adam:
All right. But I would say, yeah, if you want to figure out the craft, there's different classes for that. If you're talking about just leadership, then I would say, boy, there would certainly be things on leadership styles. I'd go through the basics of figuring out what your leadership style is and what that entails. There are a ton of great books. There are a ton of great TED Talks and other content out there on figuring that out. There would have to be some class on figuring, finding your voice. Meaning maybe someone just really understands content or someone really understands events. You need to dig in deep and find that voice and find the thing that you care about so that you can lead from it. You have to have a point of view on some things.

Adam:
So that would be really important. I think there'd have to be several classes on just process and resourcing. And if you went to get any good MBA or whatever degree, you'd have to figure out, how do I understand people's skills? How do I understand organization of teams and how do I balance all things, balance the load, all of that stuff. I think there should be a class on, we could bring Douglas Davis in and talking khaki and learning to speak business. I think that would be critical. Those are some of the things. I know it looks like I'm just reading off the list here, but just dig deeper into those and then imagine how do I get those skills and what are the ways to get there and that's probably what I would explore as a creative leadership.

Chris:
Super. Greg, do you have another one? Otherwise, I have my list of questions too. And it might take us a little bit off topic, but I know that these are things that you're passionate about, Adam. So Greg.

Greg:
Yeah, I got a big old list.

Chris:
Okay. Let's fight for the list. You go. We'll play tennis. It's your turn.

Greg:
Okay. I wish I knew some tennis lingo that would make sense here.

Chris:
You can follow it back to me.

Greg:
Natalia asks, "What are some good ways to establish connections with others? How do I approach someone?"

Adam:
That's a great question. So if I were in her shoes, the number one thing whether you're at a current job or starting a new job is to first understand the goals and hopes of your partners, your strategic partners. So if you're a CD, go talk to your main strategy person, go talk to your main process or your finance person. Whoever it is in the business that you're going to be partnering with and going to be a strategic partner with, go and sit down. And here's the important part, a lot of times you'll get into discussions with people when there's heat on the line. There's a big project, something's due, a big event is coming up and you're working with this person, but there are problems and you're working through it and there's just too much fire. So don't do it then.

Adam:
I would do it when things are calm, go set up a meeting with them and just talk through and say what's your vision, what's your goal and how do you see creative playing a role with your with your goals? And then let's work out a way that we can meet my goals as well and we can start to formulate a plan. So being a strategic partner is critical. I find that over and over and over with those relationships. You have to make people see you as that creative strategic partner, not a set of hands.

Adam:
So if you just go off and create something and tussle the fence, you're always going to be a set of hands. That's where you go back, you present, you own it, you talk through it, you figure out what they're going after. Teaching them how to give you good feedback, telling the types of feedback, telling them what's important to them or what's important to us. So I think that those conversations are the first step that I would take. I'd go establish that relationship when there's [inaudible 00:43:54].

Chris:
So Greg, was the question about how do you establish relationships with other people?

Greg:
Yes.

Chris:
Okay. I'll give you my take on it. I'll make it a lot shorter, which is empathy. Empathy. If you want to relate to somebody, try to look at the world through their eyes and walk in their shoes. So many of us are very egocentric. We just think about our life and what we're trying to do that we forget this is another human being in the room and just take yourself out of the equation. Kill the ego, be of service to somebody and empathize with what they're going through. And asking just a few smart questions is all that is needed to open up the dialogue. All right? Here we go. There's a question here from The Jock Hoop, and I think it's relevant. Whoever this is, is asking you, "Can you tell us about your academic background?" Did you study certain things? Did you have an art background? How did you develop into this creative director?

Adam:
That's fair. I actually started out in college wanting to become an engineer. I wanted to create something, invent Kevlar, something like that. And then I found that I had both creative and a data background, but being in a lab would have been the most boring thing on the planet. So I wanted to come up with stuff more often. I switched over to advertising and marketing, and I got a degree in advertising as well as business. And then just the way I function, I'm a central brainer. So I really like both halves. It's really been a lot of looking at the creative field, but through that logical lens of how do I break headlines? How do I create better headlines? What's the structure.

Adam:
I'm less Zen of a creative and more of that middle ground. Finding great ideas, loving all the emotion, but still also finding the logic behind it. So that's where my background is. I have a master's degree. Instead of getting it in creative, I started one in creative writing and then just got really frustrated with that program and ended up switching over to a master's in strategic insight and integrated marketing just because I thought being well-rounded is really important. I've always been like the creative guy in my whole career for 23 years. So adding that to it would seem to balance it out.

Chris:
Did you do that back-to-back? Get your undergrad and then grad, or did you work for both and think.

Adam:
No.

Chris:
Okay.

Adam:
No. [crosstalk 00:46:06]

Chris:
Okay. Let's rewind the tape there.

Adam:
Mid '90s, early '90s was the under grand.

Chris:
What school did you go to?

Adam:
Brigham Young. It was a local school and they've got a pretty decent advertising program. And then Northwestern is the one that was grad school.

Chris:
And how far apart were those two?

Adam:
Oh, Northwestern is like the last few years. Recently.

Chris:
Oh, really, very recently then.

Adam:
Just doing it at night for fun just because you're on up with the latest stuff. I don't think that's going to change my career necessarily because it's pretty well established, but why not? Go back and get a degree just to... For me it helps when I'm writing articles and thought leadership. It's like, "Oh, that's an interesting topic I hadn't thought of."

Chris:
Yeah. Oh, here's an interesting question from I Pro Tanner, he's asking common creative director interview questions and how do you answer them? I think they're approaching this the wrong way, but I'm going to ask for them just in case.

Adam:
Like what's the secret question to get me past all this stuff?

Chris:
Yeah, pretty much like what questions can I anticipate being asked? And then maybe if you have a couple juicy executive creative director level answers.

Adam:
Okay. Well, first of all, usually when I'm in an interview, it's mostly filling out the person. I've already looked at their resume, looked at their portfolio and get an idea. I want them to know how they work and function and just their personality. I'm just going to have them talk about, "Tell me about your work or what you've done." And it's an easy open question and it can quickly get into my portfolio. I did that versus here's what's really important. I love figuring out all this other stuff and really understanding how I'm going to add vision or maybe talk about your vision, your passions. I'll always want to talk about passions and what got you into this business? What keeps you excited and what wakes you up every day and really know deep down what their emotional connection is to the work and then to me because I think that speaks so much more.

Adam:
For me, it's not amount of a secret question. I know all over the internet. It's like, here are the cool secret questions that you can learn to answer. It's not that at all. It's like being authentic and real. And I can tell from your responses just what your level of experience is and what your level of leadership is. And that's going to say so much more than a secret answer to a question.

Chris:
So you're basically saying you're screwed. He's going to give you an open-ended situation and just see how you respond. So this is not one of those things that you can memorize, like a robot.

Adam:
Nope.

Chris:
You can't hide the fact that you either know it or you do not. And the way that you approach a problem, or maybe even the way that you ask questions will reveal everything. So there's nowhere to hide. All right. Next question, Greg.

Greg:
Yeah, I was just going to say that sounds less like a quantifiable and more like a personality check test in a way. That makes sense.

Chris:
Maybe how you process and think about things.

Greg:
Yeah, totally. Okay.

Chris:
What's up [Sheema 00:48:53], I see you in there. Welcome to the live chat. Ms. Sheema. What's the next question?

Greg:
Okay. Chuck asks, "What are some ways that I can prove my value as a leader to my employee or employer?" Sorry.

Chris:
To employer or employee. Those are two different questions.

Greg:
Let's take them both. They're both good.

Adam:
Okay. All right. I think this goes back to what we just said a little while back empathy. Like if you're going to your employer, talk to them about what they're concerned about. Like figure out what their goals are, figure out what they care about and then see how you can use creativity to reach their goals. That's easy. Solve their problems with the creative solution. As far as your employees, help guide them, help them feel like they're getting new skill sets. If any of you have read the book Clayton Christensen, How to Measure My Life, where it's all about we do all these great things for businesses, and we find these strategies for business, but we don't find them for our own careers. So as a leader go back and help them see what are the things they need to learn?

Adam:
Where do I need to go? What do we need to do? Because it's not a straight line all the time in a great creative career and go back and figure that out and help guide them. But you can't drag them along. I've also learned as a leader, it's not like 80% me pushing people along and 20% of them. It's more them and I'm there to guide and help them. So you've got to see people who are aggressive and willing and have some hustle and then you can help point them in the right directions.

Chris:
If you guys want to, you should definitely check out Dr. Clayton Christensen's videos. He has a couple on the internet and he's pretty fantastic. I believe he was the one who originally coined the term disruption. He gives some really powerful talks in business and understanding what disruption is in its true sense. Now we're it using left and right.

Adam:
Oh, we're using it.

Chris:
Yeah, in the wrong context too, but whatever. So Clayton Christiansen. Greg, next question.

Greg:
I have a good one. I like this one.

Chris:
I like the set up.

Greg:
Okay. So this is I Pro Tanner asking again and they ask, how do you create growth for team members as a creative director?

Adam:
Great question. The trick is first I need to assess where they are along their path. And let's say they're on that level. We're talking about making that jump to creative director. So they're senior creative and they're just ready to start making the jump. The things that I would start to help them with is number one, what are they going to own? They've got to own something. Figure out a big project, an event, something, a category of business and let them go. One that's not like the big main one that if they wreck it, it just tanks the business, but let them own something and then be there as their guide to help see how they're doing it and making sure they're doing all these things.

Adam:
They're understanding the flow, the process, the relationships, managing the creative, selling it all. Just give them an opportunity to own that and then move up from there. That's where I would start. I can't do it for them. You don't want to micromanage them. So it's just give them ownership of something. Give them a category to own and then they can run with it.

Chris:
I think it would be extremely helpful, especially if it's someone that works within your organization to say, why don't you shadow me for a week? Don't ask any questions. Just shadow me and see what we do. So when you're in those big meetings and you're giving the pitch, they can just make observations like I don't know how to do that. And so then you can say at the end of the week or whatever, I want you to write down the top 10 things that you think you need to learn. Okay. Pitching... go ahead.

Adam:
I was going to say that that happened recently. It was funny. One of the guys on my team watched and did a shadow for a day, just in some meeting and it was really eye opening to him. At least he got a good self awareness that he's like, "Holy crap. Like there are certain things that I just don't even know how to respond in those situations." And it helped him see where the gaps were that he needed to learn.

Chris:
Right. I'm a big believer in teaching people how to learn. Learning how to learn so that you're not waiting around for people to tell you the answers because the answers are there if you're just willing to ask the questions, right? So if you see that there's a goal that's out of reach, try to identify what that goal is. And then try to dissect it down into little bite sized pieces and Matthew talked about this as a project management course is you want to break it down into chunks. So imagine that if you're eating a candy bar and you just ripped it up and let's say it's a kind bar.

Chris:
Well, before you eat it, you'd look at it. It's like there's almonds, there's caramel nuggets, raisins, or whatever is in there. Just make an observation. Like what is this? And then take one bite and try to break it down in your mouth. Like what are the flavors I'm feeling and do this for everything in your life. If you want to learn more about business, just begin there and just go down that rabbit hole and be a lifelong learner and just be eternally curious. And that's going to take you very, very far. All right, what else have we got?

Greg:
Okay. I'm going to combine two questions because they're related here. So this is a combo question from both a Luca and Bamboozled. Interesting combo. Let's see. So what are the hardest decisions and the most common decisions you have to make as a creative director?

Chris:
What are the hardest and most common? Okay.

Adam:
That's interesting. I mean, one of the hardest, and this is true to any creative is what's the next big idea. You can't just go look it up and grab it. You got to find it and so as a CD, you have to look for those big ideas, the diamonds in the rough. And so one of the hardest thing is finding those, making sure that when you find that idea, it's one that works for the business. It's one that works creatively. It's one that works for the team. There's so many different levels to that.

Adam:
A lot of times when you look up at a CD and they choose something that you don't like, you're always like, "Oh, he just chooses the lame ideas." But no, there's really a lot going on behind it of finding what are the right ideas that hit the strategy and that are on target and work and are creatively brilliant. That's hard. So finding those are really challenging. And then what was the other thing? The easiest questions?

Greg:
Common and hardest.

Adam:
Common?

Greg:
Yeah.

Adam:
Oh, I mean, common stuff is just the lame ankle biters that'll eat you alive all day. That's just like meetings, meetings, meetings. There's just follow up on this and that. It's almost like process stuff, process stuff just eats you alive. Just information to people, emails, following up on whatever. So that's the stuff that eats me up.

Greg:
Do you find that it's hard to be a creative director and still get that time on the machine and get your hands dirty?

Adam:
Oh, of course. Balancing all of it is really, really hard. And if you look at that list of nine things, how much time do I spend on number nine? How much time do I spend on whatever else it is. That's extremely challenging. And there are a lot of tricks. Sometimes I've started just block out chunks of my calendar. I know I've got to focus on just writing something really cool or designing something really cool in that time. I don't know. The more you move up in CD land, the more people want your time. And I just find like sometimes I joke to my children when they say, "What does your dad do?" It's like, "I'm just really good at meetings." That's my superpower.

Chris:
That does not sound that sexy though.

Adam:
It does not but that's what I do. I mean, a ton of my life is just giving vision, guidance, helping, listening. It's just meetings, meetings, meetings.

Chris:
Well, talking about meetings, our meeting is almost over here. Just like, Oh my gosh, the hour's almost up. Greg, I'm going to give you the ability to ask the last question. Otherwise, I'm going to take it.

Greg:
Oh man. Okay. Let me see if...

Chris:
You've got a good one?

Greg:
Let me see. Yes.

Adam:
Five seconds.

Chris:
Okay, here we go.

Greg:
We'll change it a little bit. So Tony asks, "What do you still want to learn?"

Chris:
Good question, Tony. All right. What do you still want to learn, Adam?

Adam:
Right now I'm super fascinated in just book writing and novel writing and ideas and character development and storytelling. There's so much to learn with all of that. I don't think anyone's like the master storyteller. So I think how do you figure out what content is awesome and how do you build that content? That's that's intense.

Chris:
Good answer, man. Good answer. I can see where you're going with this. Do you want to be a writer and write all kinds of things and share your thoughts? And speaking of writing, I was on your website and your blog, and we'll tell people how to find that in one second. But this question really intrigued me. Now I'm going to ask it and you're like, "Chris, that's going to take too long for me to answer." Then we'll end it on the cliffhanger, but I'm hoping you could at least stir it up a little bit. I want to end on a little controversy. All right? So here we go. Why are time sheets an enemy of creativity? I want to hear this. This is a good one.

Adam:
You're right. That's something that I'm going to go off on for 20 minutes, but the short answer is I wrote a huge-

Chris:
Okay, tease us. Give us the trailer.

Adam:
... yeah, I wrote a huge article on this.

Chris:
Yes, you did.

Adam:
You can find it on Medium or LinkedIn. And it's gotten a lot of views, thousands and thousands of views, but the truth is for 20 years in that agency life, I was living under a time sheet world where you had to keep track of your time constantly. And even being, not just me doing it, but being on the management side at several agencies, I've seen how my creative teams handled time, how they dealt with it. The truth is this, we think from a business perspective, that the best way to find the value from a creative act is by putting it into a time increment. And that's totally flawed. It should be on the value of the object that comes out of it because you all know creativity strikes in different ways.

Adam:
There's different times and when you put pressure on it, and you're using too much of your prefrontal cortex and your logical, you're going to lose all your creative. So it's a real tough balance and I just feel like it's a flawed system. And when you really dig into it, it's all fake data and there's nothing real coming out of it. I mean, I know I did, and everyone just eats out their time sheets and makes them whatever they need to be to fit the needs of whoever's hounding him for it. So go read the article and then let's have a conversation and email me and I'm happy to chat about it, but yeah, that's a bit perfect.

Chris:
Okay. I mean, I want to just expand on that just half second here. I think corporations and sometimes artists and designers measure success in inputs. Like how much input do I put into it? How many hours, what resources do I use? But in truth, most people measure success by output. So we live in this conflicted system where maybe as a by-product of the industrial revolution, how we quantify peoples value by having them clock in and clock out and it's a meaningless measure, right? Because as I was reading a different article, not yours, they said that if you ever just want to raise, all you have to do is be slower, create less and use more time basically. And so the whole system is upside down. If you don't understand, like say if you had to do two logos under the system of measuring time, if you want to raise, just do two logos in four months. And that's a really messed up way to measure success or productivity or efficiency.

Chris:
Okay. It's time now for the summary of the show. Before I say goodbye to Adam, I want to summarize a few things there and there's lots for me to break down, but here's a few things that floated to the top. We have to understand that this is a myth. Being a better creative will not keep you to being a creative director. So don't just keep doubling down on the creative skills. As you can see, they were at the bottom of Adam's chart. Learn to be a better leader. That's where you want to begin. And because a lot of people don't always speak English, sometimes they have a hard time figuring this stuff out. It's Clayton Christensen, How Will You Measure Your Life? I think that's the book you mentioned, right?

Chris:
Okay, good. Okay. Now, if Adam were to create a school to make creative directors, and this is not a prompt for us creating a course, you guys relax. He said, these are things that we need to talk about. Defining your leadership style, finding your voice. I added your voices your why, your purpose, understanding process, designing process, learning how to resource and balance teams and just to get a general knowledge of business. So I just wrote in Business 101. So here's the summary of Adam's nine points in my words and his. That you need to learn to build relationships. That the idea of the lone wolf, the lone creative is going to hurt your ability to become a creative director. So you need to learn how to build rapport, to be empathetic, and to learn how to serve others on your team, as well as your clients or your boss.

Chris:
You need to learn to speak the language of business, which is all about think, how they think. We need to learn that. And if you want to excel, you have to start thinking of yourself as a leader and to have vision. And Adam's perfect phrase is read to lead. If you want to be a leader, you need to read. I was going to say, you need to be a reader. I guess that works too. And what a lot of people don't understand, and this is going to be the barrier to entry for a lot of people is you have to learn how to present. You have to learn how to pitch and sell concepts and ideas. You have to learn how to master the meeting. And there's lots of books and videos to help you do this. That means you have to learn how to communicate, articulate your ideas, to be present and to have presence.

Chris:
You need to learn how to manage the machine, which I just wrote down is systems design, understanding how everything works and making it really efficient. Resourcing, you talked about balancing the workload. You have to hustle. You can't be complacent. You can't just show up. So we're really going to push the limits. You have to manage and this is what most people understand how to manage other creatives, to empower them and also to help resolve conflicting personalities and issues. And last on the list, surprisingly, for some of you guys is you have to work on the craft. That you have to be a working creative director. You can't just be somebody who phones it in a telephone designer as Paul Randall would call it. And the path to being a creative director begins at the top of this list to go down the stack.

Chris:
Adam W Morgan, that's his name. He's the executive creative director over at Adobe. And you can check them out on his website adamwmorgan.com. There's a book, even though he may or may not want us to help him push it or promote it. It's called, Sorry Spock, Emotions Drive Business. You can buy it on Amazon. I just want to let you guys know because people keep asking about this in the spirit of PBS or Sesame street. This episode was brought to you by the typeface Knockout. People keep asking about that. And don't forget you guys, if you liked this episode, leave us a like comment and subscribe. Love you guys. The sustaining members and the donation. Adam Morgan, thank you very much for being on our show. Guys, give him a round of applause. Thank you Adam.

Greg:
Thanks for joining us this time. If you haven't already, subscribe to our show on your favorite podcasting app and get a new insightful episode from us every week. The Futur podcast is hosted by Chris Do and produced by me, Greg Gunn. Thank you to Anthony Baro for editing and mixing this episode and thank you to Adam Sanborn for our intro music. If you enjoyed this episode, then do us a favor by rating and reviewing our show on Apple Podcasts. It'll help us grow the show and make future episodes that much better.

Greg:
Have a question for Chris or me? Head over to thefutur.com/heychris, and ask away. We read every submission and we just might answer yours in a later episode. If you'd like to support the show and invest in yourself while you're at it, visit thefutur.com. You'll find video courses, digital products, and a bunch of helpful resources about design and creative business. Thanks again for listening and we'll see you next time.

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