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Directives, Part III: What They’ll Do For You

Visionary leaders share their tips for keeping top talent engaged, focused, and invigorated.

There’s that one person you know — regardless of their career field — who seems like they’re wasting their time at a firm that doesn’t appreciate their talent. It’s hard when you’re put in the position of having to compromise your own goals in order to make a living, but luckily, top visionary leaders are committed to keeping their top talent engaged, focused and invigorated.

The environment at POKE, which includes a willingness to donate time, labor and efforts to personal projects, helps to foster a strong, family-like dynamic to their team’s pursuit. Tom Ajello explains: “What POKE aims to do is offer each and every POKER the full force of our team’s time (within reason) to help them bring their own ideas (product, business, app, etc.) to life. We’ve seen it several times now and the feedback from the team is that it works.  Team members have launched an episodic technology series, a funky new iPhone app, a Vespa Scooter customization tool, the list goes on. We have a great team.”Zach Canfield at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners counts diversity amongst the key elements to creating a work environment ripe for creativity. “We try to keep this place a playground for passion. I look around me and constantly feel like I’m in a really cool art school. There are so many new ways of creating innovative work surrounding us at all times and it keeps everyone inspired. Creativity doesn’t just end at work, and I hope that everyone I hire adds to the value of this place. That’s why I spend a lot of time looking outside of ad schools for juniors. The more diverse this place is with different characters and talents, the better.”

At Trumpet, Robbie Vitrano is also committed to the personal and professional goals of his creative team. “We try to provide big, focused challenges. Creative people recognize interesting things and the good ones understand how to make that discovery interesting to others. We want creative people exploring and sharing their stories about personal or professional inspiration.  At Trumpet we set aside times for people to share something they found interesting or inspiring.  The only rule is ‘don’t be boring.’  We also support side projects whenever possible.”

Saatchi & Saatchi’s Jessica Kolski believes that cross-pollination is an invaluable asset to creatives, clients and the company as a whole. “We give our creatives the opportunity to work on all of the agency’s brands, and treat teams of all levels equally. We love giving creatives a chance to do something they’ve never done before — for example, designers taking a stab at art direction. To add value, creatives can always be working on something they weren’t asked to work on, like presenting ideas on brands they aren’t familiar with because…why not?”

Doug Jaeger of thehappycorp understands the detrimental effect that boredom can have on one’s creative process and actively thwarts such situations. “One of the frustrations that I have heard from top creatives is the lack of variety in the work and type of work. At thehappycorp I deliberately cross-train my staff across branding, design, digital, and creating experiences.  We also do a lot of cross-team reviews of work, so that teams can be inspired by other teams.”

Jaeger also works hard to make sure that chain of command doesn’t place undue stress on a creative’s personal and professional goals. “Hierarchy is always an issue where you work.  Although I founded the company and act as the creative director, I try very hard to act more as a coach and a cheerleader as opposed to being the star player myself.  I actively encourage my teams to take ownership on their projects so that they can learn more about themselves and their work.”

Tom Ajello is the Founder and Creative Director of POKE New York. He’s an interactive design specialist, developing interactive marketing strategies since 1996. He aims to use Creativity and Value over Intrusiveness to implement experiences that start lasting conversations for honest brands.

Zach Canfield is a Creative Recruiter and Manager at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco, California, whose vast client list includes Hewlett-Packard, Adobe and Hyundai.

Doug Jaeger is the erstwhile digital creative guru of JWT and TBWAChiatDay and currently finds himself the founder of thehappycorp global. There, his team delivers brand design, websites, & experiences to their varied client base, and organizes secret NYC events through an off-shoot project, LVHRD.

Jessica Kolski recruits creative talent for Saatchi & Saatchi in New York City, where she’s been for three years, and whose client base includes JCPenney and Wendy’s.

Robbie Vitrano is the President and Director of Brand Design at Trumpet, which is a thriving example of how the world-renowned creative culture of New Orleans is being leveraged in the communications, innovation, media and technology field.

Comments (3)
  • alixandra

    sure it sounds great – where is there a place like this on the West coast ??

  • heather

    Goodby, Silverstein & Partners is in SF =)

  • GCSchmidt

    If you’re always searching for talented people and can help them find the opportunties for them to shine brightly, you’ll not only be very successful, you’ll be happy. And so will they.

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