Jared Chelf

Jared Chelf

I worked for an advertising agency in my first years out of college. The opportunity to work on innovative projects for big, nationally recognized brands sounded so promising, but the reality was that the work the clients chose was never our best. It was lackluster, predictable filler comps that the client felt comfortable with. The agency and I lacked the ability to demonstrate and communicate what made the new and innovative design a better fit for their brand. It turns out that there is a lot more to great creative leadership than being good at design.

Being a creative leader begins with listening and empathy. What inspires one employee or one client may fail miserably with another. Having confidence in your design and yourself is absolutely necessary, but practicing listening and trying to understand where someone is truly coming from aids in the process of leading rather than simply pushing pixels. A great creative leader does more than create the design, they demonstrate how design solves the clients’ problems and why this is the right solution for them. This combination provides clarity, builds trust and helps your innovative work get approved with less effort. You and the client win, what’s not to like?

Happy folks enjoy work and are better at it. Being human, showing employees and clients the real you feels good and it makes the work relationship more fun. Not everyone has seen Super Troopers, or even likes the movie, but bellowing out quotes occasionally is more likely to cause a smile than a frown. We’re professionals but acting like one all the time is boring, so let it out my friend. Right meow.

Inspiring others requires understanding about what truly motivates them. The same is true for the websites I work on. Being a creative leader in web design requires a deep understanding of the end user and the client, and working to build that ever-important emotional connection between them through design. Listening, research, intuition and experience are critical factors. Bringing that all together is something you have to practice everyday. It’s hard work but you get better results.

Personally, I find that I am more creative and at my best when I balance my time outside of work. Work smart, minimize distractions and you can spend less time at your desk and more time doing the things that you love. Travel, break in a barstool, hang out with friends or family, build a house, fly a kite, I don't know, whatever it is you enjoy most. As long as it's not directly related to what you do at work, you'll be amazed at how much better you are at your job when you're not always doing it.

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