01 10 / 2013

Does over stimulation affect our creativity?

It’s safe to say that as a society, we are over stimulated. We spend our days searching on Google, creeping on Facebook and playing with mobile apps. Or we’re doing a combination of the three (all at the same time). Doing one thing at a time isn’t the norm anymore. You eat while you work. You watch a movie while you play a game on your phone. Some people even text while they drive (please don’t do that!). Think about how many times your computer has crashed because you had too many tabs open in one browser? The world that we’re living in moves fast. Sometimes I feel as if I wake up, blink and my whole day is already gone. 
There is no doubt that we’ve adapted to the speed. We’ve become more efficient and more productive. But what is the cost when it comes to our creativity? 
Mozart, Picasso, Einstein, they all spoke about the benefit of silence when it came to creating. Rollo May said In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.” Bob Dylan came up the lyrics for ”Like a Rolling Stone” while he was completely alone in a remote cabin. There’s no question in my mind that Dylan’s solitude was partly responsible for his insight.
How we live affects how we create. The things we do in life, the people we meet, every interaction that we encounter can stimulate us in a positive or negative way. Our brains are being exposed to thousands of content a day. Thanks to the Internet and the media, our minds process all this information almost instantly. With this influx of data, is there a point when the brain says “enough is enough?” 
The need for quiet in a creative office environment (whether it’s a marketing company, ad agency or other) is diminishing. The office space is changing to encourage more interaction and less separation. Do you find that being in a crowded space allows you to get your creative juices flowing better than surrounding yourself in quiet?
The absolute best brainstorming sessions that I’ve ever participated in have been ones that start out by myself. Being on your own first allows your brain to focus on the task at hand and gives you the freedom to expand your thinking. You jot down some ideas and then collaborate with others. What usually ends up happening is that the original, good ideas that people had turn into better ideas with others involvement. These are comprehensive ideas that you wouldn’t come up with by yourself. But in the beginning, it starts with just you. And that’s the most important step. 
If this over stimulation continues to rise and our attention span continues to decrease - where does that leave our creativity five or 10 years down the road?
Here’s my recommendation: Don’t forget to appreciate the quiet moments in your day. Take more time for yourself. Sit in a room and clear your mind of everything in it. Meditate. Do whatever you need to to get some peace and quiet.
Your brain is what holds your creative potential. And it needs rest. Without it, it won’t recuperate. 

05 4 / 2012

Is Pete Campbell at your agency?

I can’t stand Pete Campbell. The silk pyjamas, beanpole figure and slick haircut just say “sleazeball” to me. But most of all, I don’t like what makes Pete Campbell really Pete Campbell: his character.

Now I know that Pete Campbell is fictional - created to make things more interesting at the ad agency of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. But what I realized is that many of the characteristics of this make-believe man actually exist in some real-life ad folk. And it’s a shame because who really wants to work with that guy? 

In my opinion, here are some things to watch for that could be categorized as being Campbell-ish: 

  • Selfishness
  • Greed 
  • Deceitfulness
  • Manipulation
  • Discontentment
  • Smugness
  • Jealousy
  • Ambition 

I know the last one sounds like a positive quality, but in Pete’s case, this “good” attribute has an adverse effect.

The good news is that the Pete Campbells of the world usually don’t last long in one place. At least one of the qualities mentioned above will intentionally put him on the path that he’s determined to go on. 

If you have a Pete Campbell in your agency, just remember: he’s a silent partner. Let your creativity, talent and passion be your voice.