Everyone talks about how great it is to work in an agency: cool atmosphere, cool people, big-name clients. But there are only so many agencies, so many big clients, so many designer and copywriter spots out there, and every year it seems like there are less and less as shops lose accounts, lay off staff or shut down altogether. That’s why I was surprised and delighted to run across “How to be corporate and still be creative” by Jason Bowden.
A mantra on how to survive being a creative professional in a corporate job, this post offers suggestions that anyone–not just art directors, graphic designers, writers, media folks–can use to infuse more creative thinking into what can be a mundane, rote job if you do it long enough and do it exactly like the Human Resources template tells you. Bowden argues, in essence, that you make your own creative life–you can let the job define you, or you can inspire yourself, inspire others, and make the job into something unexpectedly enjoyable, fulfilling and meaningful.
Don’t get me wrong–corporations are no strangers to reorgs and layoffs. But they need creative minds today more than ever simply because they do have boundaries and corporate templates and guidelines and rigid ways of doing things. Thinking outside of the box is what helps any company get started in the first place, but it’s creative thinking, among other things, that helps companies grow and stay ahead of the competition. With a global economy, creativity is one of the few differentiators we have left.
Of course, if you’re just not into corporate life, these suggestions won’t convert you. But I love Bowden’s perspective because it’s so unlike the millions of rants out there about the evils of corporate life and how it kills creativity. Jason’s strategies can work and he’s living proof, but a company’s culture can stifle even the most creative thinker with the best intentions–it drains the creative spirit and enthusiasm right out of you, leaving you too depressed to take any step in a positive direction.
While these suggestions can’t change the culture of a company–no one person can do that, no matter how many positive thoughts you send out–it can definitely change how you as an individual can approach the company, the problems, the job and your career. It’s a refreshing reminder that people who work in corporate environments should not be perceived as “less creative” than our agency counterparts, or that we couldn’t “hack it” in an agency environment.
I would argue that creative folks in corporate environments are just as creative–if not more than–agency creative professionals because they have more limitations and barriers to overcome and that is where true creativity is born. The creative life is what you make of it, no matter where you work. What will you make of yours?
Get creative: Think of one aspect of your job that you dislike, perhaps intensely. What is one attitude adjustment or creative action you can take today to change how you feel about it?