I’ve been very lucky when it comes to the clients I’ve worked for and the teams I’ve had the pleasure of leading. The role of a creative director is to create the optimal environment for great work to flourish. But the real work is nurturing people and careers and living a creative life. I started my professional career as an environmental researcher at the Natural Resources Defense Council, working with a small team of highly dedicated lawyers and scientists bringing citizen lawsuits against polluters. That experience taught me to be disciplined and humble. I then followed my heart and became a musician, playing as a singer songwriter in clubs in New York back when that was possible. I found my way quite accidentally into advertising when Bob Greenberg gave me my first job at R/GA as a designer.
It was early days for the Internet. I quickly found my place as a creative director running the Nike account, which meant doing every possible job in the shop - producer, designer, interaction designer, coder, etc. That gave me an amazing appreciation of just how varied the skillsets of a team need to be to make great work. The rhythm of a high-performing team is thrilling and head-spinning. As the Nike team grew, we found success with a combination of co-locating multiple disciplines that benefited from being close to each other (developers and designers, writer, producers and creative directors) and hiring subject matter experts who knew their shit and were passionate about basketball, running, or whatever they were working on. The awards came fast and furious.
Skip ahead a few years and I found myself in Los Angeles working at TBWA/MAL on Apple. I can’t say enough about the experience of working with a brand like Apple and a leader like Lee Clow. We had a crazy routine of concepting all week and then pitching ideas to Steve Jobs on Wednesdays. He was everything he’s been made out to be and more. After a year, we landed on a winning idea - Get a Mac – personifying a Mac and a PC in order to highlight the differences between the two types of people who use these computers (beautiful photo books vs big spreadsheets). But more than that, this was an almost perfect advertising campaign. We were disciplined in developing the rationale behind the campaign - there were ten reasons why Macs were better for creative people than PCs - which became our bible. Every spot and ad unit reinforced this storyline and made it even stronger. But it was the constraints of the format and those ten reasons that gave us the freedom to tell great stories.
Skip ahead again and I found myself back in New York as Global Chief Creative Officer of iCrossing, a search marketing company wanting to be a full-service creative agency. I built a great team and we won dozens of creative assignments from big brands. The experience culminated in a global roadshow after redesigning the identity and mission of the agency.
My next chapter was co-founding and running a startup called Props. It’s a platform designed to help creators (filmmakers, photographers, designers, writers, etc.) profit from their creative work online. We allow creators to publish their work and by letting brands source creators and sponsor them for content campaigns in social media and on their own sites. I helped raise $4 million from private investors and we built a stunning publishing platform. After hiring a CEO to run the company, I stepped away and returned to the agency world I love, back at R/GA again, this time running Verizon.
I am always looking for interesting challenges and opportunitites to live a creative life and help people and brands tell great stories