Ramblings from the Black WolfCreativity + Planning + Planning for Creative Campaigns Heidi Hackemer / @uberblond
a little about my path grew up in the woods ofWisconsin amongst a von Trapp-esque family ofmusicians, Bach and pigeons, wanted to be anastronaut, ran a lot, studied Advertising and EnglishLiterature, came to NYC, waitressed for two years,started at FCB as a copywriter, two years later Iflipped to planning, went to Fallon London, decided Iliked the sun, came back to NYC to BBH, loved it, quitmy job, bought a big black truck (the Black Wolf),drove around the country for four or five months,slept in the back of the truck most nights, met aspiritual guru in the swamps of Louisiana, came backto NYC and now I’m a freelancer. got it?
after the journey of the past year, the good news for me is that... I love planning
the obviousI love cultureI love peopleI love cracking a problemI love working with creative, smart people
but the real reasonplanning is a wide playground where, once we get our corecraft down, we get to define what we’re all aboutprofessionally... and many definitions are valid
we’re a motley bunchbeyond the craft, great planners seem to havesomething in common: they are brave enough embracewho he or she really is. that leads to a pretty diverse andinsane communityI love that
planner megut instinct plannervery inspired by primal human truth and culturelove the big story of a brand + culture; love making it worklove the possibility of digital (it’s so human)love the creative processlove winning*this will be important-ish in about 15 slides
In the past I’ve talked about the Mother Effin’ Wolf Pack*...teams of smart, amazing people bouncing in andout of a collaborative environment, all workingtogether to slay the problem at hand * yes I have a thing for wolves.
wolf packs work when each individual brings somethingunique to the process and has an output that they’re solelyresponsible for creative wolf account person wolf production wolf planning wolf and media wolf and digital experience wolf and legal wolf ... you get it.
let’s be incredibly simplisticaccount peeps uniquely bring an understanding ofprocess as well as the client’s/biz POV...creatives uniquely bring the capacity to turn a strategicsolution into magic...and what do planners uniquely bring to the table?
we bring thedivergent thinkingin from the outside
divergent thinkinghelps us createprovocative lensesfor problems
divergent thinkingis the oxygen thatfuels exceptionalcreativity
why?creation has been democratizedanyone can put an idea out therethere are more ideas fighting for attention than ever beforeas ubiquitous computing rises, this is only going to bemore acute of an issuenow, more than ever, we as an industry have to be really,really good at what we do: making ideas that people payattention to and are motivated by
creativity isn’t cutecreativity is how we win and our clients win(read Sir John Hegarty’s book)
I don’t believe we can be truly creative and win when we’re all working off of similar, processed inputs
we have an industry probleminstitutionalization
Black Wolf Epiphany #1I was very close to becoming, if not already, a fraud (wyoming)
remember this?planner megut instinct plannervery inspired by primal human truth and culturelove the big story of a brand + culture; love making it worklove the possibility of digital (it’s so human)love the creative processlove winning
feeds, back rooms andMintel reports hadbecome 90% of mycultural understanding(pretty arrogant)
personally, I waslosing my perspective,my gut. for my teams,I wasn’t authenticallybringing the oxygen
Terminal 5 & MoMAwere the primarybrain stretch venues(they’re about five avenues away from one another btw)
not only was I not bringing the divergentperspective, I had a hunch that I wasn’t living a life where creativity could really happenso how does that make me good at what I love, ie planning?
Black Wolf Epiphany #2it’s in the dots stupid (south dakota)
the south dakota crisis“It’s been two months on the road. what do I have to showfor it? I don’t know what I’m doing with my life... should Ibe blogging more? writing more? tweeting more?instagram’ing more? networking more? will I ever workagain? will I have to leave NYC? will I be homeless soon?will I really have to live in the truck? maybe I could be workin a meat processing plant. I can’t work in a meatprocessing plant!! Maybe I should get just my shit togetherand get back on that advertising path. or I will end uptoothless and living in my parent’s back yard in Florida... ina truck.”
when I was in South Dakota having thismoment, Steve Jobs died.and I, like everyone else, spent some time going through his life
“The minute I dropped out (of college) I could stop taking therequired classes that didnt interest me, and begin dropping inon the ones that looked interesting...Much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity andintuition turned out to be priceless later on...”
“You cant connect the dots looking forward; you can onlyconnect them looking backwards. So you have to trust thatthe dots will somehow connect in your future. You have totrust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma,whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it hasmade all the difference in my life.” Steve Jobs
“Daydreaming and boredom seem to be a source forincubation and creative discovery in the brain and are partof the creative incubation process.” Jonathan Schooler professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara
if I owned the world versionBill Gates schedules regularThink Weeks - times where hegoes off in seclusion, shuts downand allows his mind to take invaried creative inputs and wander
“Without great solitude,no serious work is possible” Picasso
reality versionJosh Linker / Blogger for Fast Company5% Creativity Challengeschedule 5% of your time for thinking (2 hrs/week)companies that have done this reported zero drop inproductivity, a “flood of new ideas into the organization”and happier employees
“Being able to step back and view things as an outsider, orfrom a slightly different angle, seems to promote creativity.This is why travel frequently seems to free the imagination,and why the young (who haven’t learned all sorts of rules)are often more innovative than their elders.” Jonah Lehrer, author: How Creativity Works
Johannes Gutenberg transformed his knowledge of winepresses into an idea for a printing machine capable of mass-producing words.The Wright brothers used their knowledge of bicyclemanufacturing to invent the airplane. (Their first flying craftwas, in many respects, just a bicycle with wings.)George de Mestral came up with Velcro after noticing burrsclinging to the fur of his dog.Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed the search algorithmbehind Google by applying the ranking method used foracademic articles to the sprawl of the World Wide Web; ahyperlink was like a citation. from “How Creativity Works”
Dalai Lama talks about ourthinking as paths. Go downthe same paths too much, andthey turn into ruts. Rutsaren’t good. Awareness helpspeople divert out of ruts andmentally explore new spaces.
reality versionfind your dots, the things you’re just curious aboutexplore and invest in them, even if it doesn’t make sensetake some time to think about your own ruts - do theyneed to be broken?
net netI don’t believe you can plan for breakthrough creative work if you don’t ruthlessly value creativity in yourself
my net netright now, I’m more valuable to agencies if I keep myself out of the agencies it gives me space it gives me divergent inputs I’m more creative, more focused I’m more energized when I’m in I’m better at my job (that makes me happy)
after Droga, back on the road for a few months this summerbetter, richer, fuller exploring the American Dream in 2012
this is scaryit’s scary to walk out of an ad agency at 6:00 (I do believewe call this the “half-day”)it’s scary to stare at the ceiling or go for a walkit’s scary to not take the next big, logical jobit’s scary to trust the work will come as a freelancerit’s scary to take off for a few monthsit’s scary to not be one of us
I’m not advocating for everyone to quit their jobs, become afreelancer, buy a truck and travel aroundI am advocating for more personal thoughtfulness:what do you believe in?why do you do this job?are you creating the best conditions to make that happen?your answer may involve being in an agency; that’s okay
if I were one of thebigger badasses inthe industry, I wouldmore eloquently putit like this:we need to blow it upand start again1) identify what you lovedoing. be ruthless2) identify theconditions under whichyou love doing itThen design an agency, Cindy Gallop IfWeRanTheWorlda job, a life around it make love not porn
if Dumbledore would have told Harry everything that Harry ultimately needed to know on Day One, Harry’s head would have exploded the constant conversation, however, made for a deep relationship
the iterative briefrooted in the immense complexity of the communication landscape today - but it also, nicely, creates a lovely rhythm on a team
define the problem you’re make a wall of your trying to solve. define thinking/hypotheses/do the planner thing: dig brand and marketing goals. interesting stuff. set out adeep, read a lot, research gather a slew of emotional nice cake. invite team and behavioral insights. members to come round make some hypotheses and chatwrite a brief. lay out the if it’s modern, the solutionemotional story. have some will probably be complex. (this brief shouldn’tengagement planning nod to the complexity. surprise anyone because ofthoughts. get some media promise more cake and step three)suggestions in there. make discussion once they’vea tumblr cracked an ideawait. feed bits of thinking,wait. inspiration, deliverables -help. shoot for something helpful build the strategic fortress.wait. to give them every day. sell itwait. build, shape, make better.idea cracked. yay. every day
net netopen your own process upbe respectful of the space that everyone needsfeed, think, talk, be present
word of caution: don’t collaborate to death “The most spectacularly creative people inmany fields are often introverted, according to studies by the psychologists MihalyCsikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist. They’re extroverted enough to exchange and advance ideas, but see themselves as independent and individualistic.” The Rise of the New Groupthink, NY Times
I believe we really need to be sensitive to this as planners
as @mrbsmith so beautifully articulated and @EMMACNYC got super excited about so she and I talked about it a lot and thus I was influenced positivity is one of the strongest planning tools that you can build... especially when it comes to working with creatives
be positive, be into it(if you don’t feel it, fake it until you do)
think about creative reviews as building sessions not winning sessions
when you’re giving feedback, lead with the bits that you thought were good/smart
keep venting sessions short and move themaway from devolving into bitching sessions
speaking of venting... if you’re a director, find someone off the teamto vent to; coach your planning team to vent to you and not at the team
the Positivity/Negativity (P/N) ratioin a 2004 study, high performance teams had a P/Nratio of 5.6, medium performance teams a P/N of 1.9and low performance teams a P/N of 0.36 (there was more negativity than positivity)
net netgrow upmake it about the work, not about yoube someone that other people want in the room