Food For Thought: The Creative Aspect

I remember having a class in college whose primary textbook was entitled: “Why Man Creates.” What stood out were psychological and social assessments, with spiritual overtones explaining that a person must be creative for the survival of the psyche. This resonated with me. The textbook said nothing about being creative for its own sakeor, being inventive to make money. The thrust was that they creative personality within a person shouldn’t be stifled.


If anything, you are your own cheerleader. When at a public interest law office, I wrote four instructional books. They weren’t very long, but explained how one could go about representing themselves in Social Security disability matters, unemployment insurance, license hearings.), handling a divorce without an attorney, the nuances of proving discrimination and sexual harassment, and one of the subject. In truth, I’d forgotten them until I sat down to write this essay.


How they play into the creative aspect of the person, and the imperativeness one must have, is rather basic. As someone once told me when I was interviewed for a potentially lucrative position at a law firm, “No one else will toot your horn for you.” Simply put, it’s best just to speak on the things that go into your creative makeup. Those pamphlets were a prime example, but I glossed over it. The people interviewing me told me they were aware of by accomplishments. That I didn’t speak to what I’ve done, was false humility. I didn’t get the job but, learned a valuable lesson.


Law school taught me to develop ethics. Seriously. Later, business told me I needed to make money to support my family. Sometimes the two of them clash. It does not mean one must be a self-consumed moneygrubbing SOB, but it was false humility got in the way, it had to be set aside.


This may surprise some. When you are in business, the prime motive is to do what is necessary to fill its purpose – money comes with the territory. That’s the trumpet sound on the horizon — I have talent for marketing and I must be paid if you decide to hire me. Having the opposite attitude, cause me to transition from being a mediator.


Now, this brings me to working for or operating a creative agency. It is false humility to apologize for being able to use your imagination to idealize how a brand will benefit targeted consumers. I interview people that I want to put on staff who suffer from blushing and bashfulness. They have the refrain: “I just want to learn.” There is a bigger challenge than that, contribute something to the effort to promote a client. If you can’t, or feel that it’s a sin for you to use your gift of dreams and ideation, the creative arts are not for you. I have told clients that I respect their ideas, but from where I sit, what I offer is the best. In other words, listen and learn. Let me do my thing. If I’m going too far afield, let’s discuss it because I’m not serving you properly.


I can’t make apologies for believing people that work for agencies should have a common purpose – create the best advertising and calculate it to sell a client’s product. Clients aren’t impressed with how well a creative can turn a phrase, or design out of this world graphics. It is and always been the bottom line. ‘How much money am I making?’ Most advertising graduates don’t know what I’m talking about.


People believe that their independence must be disruptive of the agency itself. So, this type of baloney and infighting wounds both the psyche and work product. Everybody suffers. A talented staff helps an organization grow, but its compassion that rules the day. If we want to be ahead of the next agency – we will be smarter, leaner and be purposeful.


I will start the long interviewing process for Spring. I expect many will say their book of work is fine. Careful, I am setting real parameters now. Understand though what will be asked is that you must bring ideas to the fore that is better than the stuff that passes for “advertising.”


Most of it is crap. Everybody knows it.

Bernard Alexander McNealy

Bernard Alexander McNealy

Advertising agency owner and creative director. Married and published writer of mystery novels.