Channeling your inner 4th grader.

“Grow up!”

This is a phrase that my parents would use repeatedly when breaking up sibling squabbles when I was a kid. An order meant to stop the incessant yelling I’m sure, but were my parents growing impatient? Was I? Up until I graduated college, I was hell-bent on becoming a “grown-up” and getting a grown-up job, income, husband and house. Even as a child playing with Barbies, I had these wonderful fantasies of what this grown-up world was like. It was pretty simple. There was the fancy house, the Barbie Corvette, Ken and his sweater vest, and (me) in my power suit and briefcase. I would work my 8-hour day in my corner executive office and come home to a gourmet meal Ken prepared. Being a grown up seemed pretty cool.

Then reality hit… like a ton of bricks. Shortly after graduating from college, school loans needed to be paid and I had to hustle if I ever wanted to land in that corner office and drive the Barbie Corvette. Everyone starts at the bottom and works their way up. We all pay our dues. It’s the natural order. When you start out though you still have this fresh take on the world and sense of invincibility—even when faced with adversity. It’s easy for that fresh perspective and creativity to diminish with the onset of 15-hour workdays, weekends spent in front of a computer instead of in the Barbie hot tub, and eating all your meals from a microwave at your desk. Before you know it, the grown-up you so eagerly wanted to become has officially consumed and destroyed the inner child.

How does one go about rediscovering the youth and creativity that helped get you to where you are today?

Number one, surround yourself by kids. At WDFA, I can say I work with “kids” of all ages. While we are often serious about the work, we always manage to have these spontaneous outbursts of immaturity and silliness. See Brian Nagore’s chair bowling as an example. Even when I’m feeling overwhelmed and not-so-creative, I know that at any moment I could see Liz roll by my office singing rap songs, Raj roaming the halls wearing his WWF belt, or Jess will send me some insanely cute pony video and immediately I’m forced to withdraw from boring and serious grown-up world and remind myself to “lighten up.” It’s these moments that help you to look at things differently.

Number two, collaborate. Surround yourself with people brighter and smarter than yourself.  I unfortunately don’t always have the time to do this nearly as much as I’d like, but I look to my fellow colleagues here as often as I can for their input and expertise. I guarantee you this collaboration always builds better and effective advertising.

Newsweek recently published an article, “The Creativity Crisis”. The article discusses how creativity is declining in younger generations and the negative impact that can have on society. Creativity isn’t just about “making things pretty” or taking an art class in school. Creativity is an integral part of everything we do—from building bridges to tackling global warming.

I see how creative collaboration can pay off for both the client and the agency. It requires flexibility from all parties though. The ability to compromise, to collectively achieve something greater.

“There is never one right answer. To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result).”

Number three, have fun with it. Sure, not every project is an award winner or something you brag, but try to see beyond that. Maybe you learned a better way of doing something, or perfected your skill set even further? Maybe it drove you to seek out additional creative hobbies in order to fulfill something missing? Maybe it drove you to the nearest bar and the world’s largest margarita. Whatever it is, be sure you have fun along the way.

It’s a journey. Being a grown-up can be as good as you expected it to be when you were a child, you just have to revisit where you started from time-to-time.

Lindsay Hull
Director of Creative Services

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