Friday, June 11, 2010

Have the guts to hire someone creative!

Back when I was an advertising creative director, there was a truth that all creative people knew: there just aren't that many good creative people. So we, as creative directors, knew that the only way around that elemental truth was: you find somebody good who fits the culture, you hire them. Fast. Before your very good friend and brother or sister creative director down the street does.

A good friend and writer who used to work with me has been looking for a job in a new town that she and her family have moved to. She had an interview last week with a small ad agency (albeit the biggest one in the town). She wrote me this morning:

so after postponing the interview twice, they emailed me to tell me they hired a guy. then I get a call from a company I had sent a resume to to come in for an interview. which I did. this morning. LOVE my book. want me to come back next week. to take a copy test. it will consist of a 300-500 word press release. a boring question that I need to answer creatively. and a paragraph with grammar errors that I need to correct.
this, after I showed them my book. filled with 25+ year's worth of work. did I mention award-winning. results-driven. compelling. grammatically correct (for the most part. a few sentence fragments and sentences beginning with and and but.)
I wrote back (in part; names changed to protect the guilty, profanity excluded):

Rule Number 1: Don't work for jerks. So the good news here is: now you won't be. Their (large) loss. You wouldn't have liked it there and would've quit anyway. Rule Number 2: When you love somebody, love them. Don't second-guess yourself with CMA stuff. Tell them (and this is true): there is software that will write a 300-500 word press release for you. Software that will create interesting answers to boring questions (I teach a graduate-level course in innovation, remember). And software that will correct grammar.
Either you want a creative person or you don't. If you do, shut up and hire them as fast as you can because there aren't that many of them. If you don't, stop pretending that you do and face up to the fact that you are a loser who doesn't have the balls to take on the personal responsibility of hiring someone. It's one or the other, no in-between. I realize that this doesn't help with the income issue, but no one should have to work in a job they hate. It's bad for global karma.
The point: if you find someone that you think is good, fits with the culture, and will add value, hire them. Period. If you find someone who is actually creative -- who thinks differently, passionately, who thinks beyond solving this little problem or that little problem, hire them fast. Step up. Use your gut. And have the guts.