The Crazy One podcast’s biggest lessons of 2017

I wanted to close out 2017 by looking back at some of the most important themes and issues we discussed over the past year of the podcast. In this episode, we will look at the show’s common themes of creativity, your career and leadership to dig deeper into the things that I think are important, where I see a lot of creative struggling and the things that were in the most popular episodes over the past year.


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I wanted to put a cherry on 2017 by looking back at some of the most important themes and issues we discussed over the past year on the show. I also wanted to do this because I know not everyone listens to all the episodes so I wanted to be sure we recapped what I think were the most important things every creative should be thinking about or working on. I continue to be blown away at the huge reaction and support for what I am doing with this show. I have never pulled and punches about the fact that this show was going to put the burden on you to be the one to step up and make some changes. I love to getting the emails and seeing the photos of people leaning in and taking charge of their careers and their creativity. Its made me understand the power and reach we all can have if we put ourselves out there and share what we know.

2017 themes

Not surprisingly the main themes I wanted to revisit are creativity, your career and leadership. I wanted to try and distill it down to just 5 big themes I think everyone needs to work on. Those themes came form what I think it really important, where I see a lot of creative struggling and which episodes were the most popular over the past year.

Creativity: The role and importance of emotions in creativity

I continue to try and push this show into the places and topics that we don’t talk about enough but are critical to our success as creatives. This year we talked about fear, frustration, happiness, and empathy.

In episode 41 we talked about fear and frustration. These are two powerful emotions that are linked to creativity yet they are the ones we talk about the least.

In episode 27 we talked about the importance of happiness. Your concept of happiness will change as you go through your career.

In episode 47 we talked about the critical need for us all to have empathy. Empathy in that as a commercial creative you need to be sure that you design from the outside in and not the inside out.

Creativity: Inclusive vs. exclusive creativity

There is a rift that cuts across the entire creative industry right now. The rise of the in-house design team has also brought the rise of Design Thinking and new way for creatives to work with their clients. Listen to episodes 33-35 for more information on Design Thinking and episode 38 for more information on better ways of working with your clients.

Creativity: Great design is a visual expression of great thinking

We talked a lot this year about how creative have the opportunity to influence in ways we haven’t seen since the industrial revolution. But one of the byproducts of this trend is that creatives need to be able to show companies that they have the skills and leadership to do this work. They need to build their personal brand and its the one this most of them are horrible at doing. Its understandable why this isn’t something more people concentrate on because we are in a weird situation. The company we are with wants a great team member who will do anything to help out the company. But your next company wants a strong and unique individual who industry credibility and a strong sense of self. Its a really hard line to walk. But we all need to do it and we need to take the time to get it right. Listen to episode 50 for more information on this from my session at Adobe MAX this year.

Leadership: The desperate need for leadership for in-house design teams

Tribalism either within the creative team or between creative, tech and product teams never lead to a good outcomes. You may win your internal battle but the audience of your work will be the ultimate loser. Listen to episode 49 for more information on this from my session at Adobe MAX this year.

Final thought

I thought for a while about how I could try and sum off all of this into one final thought for the year. Its tough since we have covered a lot of ground together on a lot of different subjects. We were looking at what makes creative people successful over a really long arc of time. Artist to ruler and cycle to remain successful. You start as an artist. If you find success you become a ruler and an authority at your company, your community or your industry. But you have to cycle between the two if you want to stay successful. You have to push yourself and you have to stat honest with yourself.

But also make sure you take some time to reflect back on how far you have come. Some of the most interesting conversations I have every year at with people I used to work with. I see how they still have the same process I used years ago but I can also see how much I have changed and evolved. My process, thinking, tools and so much more has grown and changed since that time. So if you have been working to change be sure that you have one these moments where you can give yourself some credit. If you struggle with it then write down your process, main thoughts, tool, etc. and seal it up till next year. Its important so you have a gauge to see how you are doing and take an honest look at that process.

I think that honesty was the biggest theme of all this year. I have to admit that I find it sad when people call me out for being honest – because I think that should be the cost of entry for being creative and not something that is exceptional. It is the one think I want you all to think about – why are we so afraid to be honest? What can we all do next year to be more honest, share more, help other creatives more and step up to take those opportunities more. It is a challenge I need to make more seriously too. But if we all recognize these themes, understand them and start to figure out what sustainable changes we can make – then we can all make progress. That’s all I could ever ask for.

Thank you for the support this year.

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