Last summer, I stepped off the graduation stage and into the role of copy intern. Little did I know I was walking straight into a career as a full-time creative at Digitas Health. It took a lot of late nights, a four-hour daily commute, but I’ve officially made it through my first year in advertising. And I couldn’t have done it without the caring and passionate creatives who took the time to teach me. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way:
In the last year, I’ve come to realize much of life (and advertising) cannot be taught within the confines of a classroom. Similarly, innovation cannot be limited to the confines of a conference room. That’s because our power to push the envelope begins with the ability to be enthusiastically curious. Regardless of title or time spent in the trenches, we stand to learn if only we look beyond ourselves and listen closely to the world around us. And where young minds may lack experience, they lend invaluable insights that can inspire us to create what’s-next-worthy work.
“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” – Bill Nye
From fearless thinking stems compelling creative. And as far as I can tell, the most authentic work comes from the organic chemistry of multiple minds working in tandem to make a message meaningful. But while respect is earned, respectful collaboration is learned. With this in mind, it’s up to us to foster an environment that not only enables free-thinking, but also encourages it. So, teach by example, and embrace the notion that there are no stupid questions (or ideas).
“The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.” – B. B. King
Great work can only be grown in an environment that keeps fresh ideas (and the minds that make them) well-fed. That’s because creativity thrives when nourished by energy and enthusiasm—the differentiating factors between a green mind and a jaded one. So next time you’re called on to breathe fresh life into your brand work, try tapping into the minds of those outside of your wheelhouse. Reach across your organization. Look outside your industry. Explore what is happening in the social sphere or community beyond your workplace. I think you’ll find that fostering this free-flow of fresh thinking will ultimately bear the fruit of brilliant work.
“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” –Unknown
Looking back at the past year, it’s safe to say I’ve come a pretty long way. If not for the mentor who went the extra mile, or the colleagues who kept me laughing through late-night pitch work, I wouldn’t be where—or who—I am today. And no matter what the future may have in store, these three things keep me honest: Stay Humble. Be Kind. Work Hard.