Meredith manages an incredibly vast pool of talent across a wide range of creative industries, and somehow has to keep track of individual faces. Beyond her natural knack for it, she does share what helps certain creatives shine through the crowd. She tells us, “I look for relevance of ideas (not just great execution), distinctness and originality. Great creatives stand out because they show me something I haven’t seen before but which is still commercially relevant. If two portfolios are similar in standard, intelligence and personality will be the deciding factors: who’s the most committed and articulate? Who truly understands the business issues? Who understands transmedia? Who’s the most curious? And, quite simply, whom would people like to spend more time with?”
Meredith is in the unique position of understanding both the needs of companies hiring creatives, and the challenges that creatives face in managing their careers. In terms of the former, she explains what makes a creative indispensable to his/her team: “Creative talent brings new, innovative thinking, insights, and ideas to the table, often turning existing perceptions or ways of doing things on their head. In an industry where changing an audience’s beliefs and/or behavior is the objective, this is imperative and adds real value throughout every part of the process.
Also, all great brands should tell a story and indispensable creative talent knows how.” So how can creatives continue to generate innovative ideas and insights, thereby ensuring their value? “By staying curious, interested and involved. Get out of the office and back to ‘the street’. The most effective creatives are those who really ‘live’, continually investigate new things and truly understand the cultural zeitgeist by being steeped in their audience’s world. All that, and sleep.”
Of course, there’s the other half of the equation, which is how creatives – who thrive on what’s new and different – can continue to stay stimulated and engaged with the companies that hire them. Meredith offers some advice: “A lot [of companies] do sadly far too little to keep top talent engaged. So do it yourself! Define and manage your own career or stimuli – it puts you in greater control and bosses love being presented with a solution rather than a problem. Working in one place can limit the amount of new, inspiring experiences but the upside is that you know the rules of the game. Make the most of the latter and find more of the former out there in the world.”
She also offers these insightful and encouraging words. “For those starting out, trust your judgment and be bold in it. At its heart, this is a subjective industry where there are no right answers because everyone’s looking for the next big thing. So have conviction about what you do, what inspires you and what you create. At the same time, don’t be cocky – no one wants to deal with that on a Monday morning.
For those more seasoned and seeking a spark, get out there. Talk to 10 people you admire or who impressed you. Get inspiration from new experiences. Look more closely at the world you live in and observe more closely the behavior of those who live in it with you – there’s nothing like your fellow man’s foibles and eccentricities to stimulate the mind…!”