Last night I sat on a panel for the Business Design Club at Rotman Business School along with Helen Pak, EVP and Co-Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi and Mary Jane Braide, a former Boston Consulting Group consultant who is now an independent Brand Strategist. Helen and Mary-Jane are impressive, out-of-the box thinkers and do-ers (I was lucky to be included in this group!).
We were asked to think about some of the lessons we had learned around pursuing creativity in our own lives and careers and share them with the audience, who were all MBA students on the brink of re-entering the work place with newfound aspirations and a little trepidation. Some common themes emerged and I left feeling inspired:
1. Creativity is about taking risks. Most creativity involves some kind of risk - risk that you will be laughed at, criticized, judged or even fired. But there is also no great reward without great risk. So in order to innovate, taking risks is absolutely necessary. Helen called this blind bravery - the idea that sometimes you have to jump without a net and have faith that one will appear if you need it!
2. It is all about the hustle. I heard Gary Vaynerchuk speak at Rotman a few years ago - he is all about hustling in order to create. For those of us seeking more creative career paths, hustling is a pre-requisite to success. It means reading, researching, cold-calling, cold-emailing, meeting with hundreds of people to get the introduction or information you need. Mary-Jane added that as you become more focused you will learn to be more strategic...strategic hustling, if you will?
3. Develop your personal brand. Know who you are, what you're great at, what you love and what you believe in. Weave all that into a fascinating story about yourself and carry it around with you. People want to work and connect with you, not your resume.
4. Seek out like-minded people. It is hard to follow your heart when all you hear around you is "that's crazy - why would you want to do that", "it's not stable", "what if it doesn't work" etc. You spend all your time shielding your resolve from everyone else's point of view. Since I've decided to take the entrepreneurial route I have been in touch with so many entrepreneurs and the support and like-minded thinking has been incredibly invigorating! Make a point to find people who think about life and work like you do.
5. Look at your career and life like an adventure. There is no set path so nobody can tell you exactly what, when and how to do something. Leverage your passion, listen to your gut and have a vision and you will have quite a ride!