How to Become a Creative Director
The Creative Director Skill List
It’s not enough to just be a rockstar.

Here’s the hard truth: even if you’re the best writer or designer in your agency, it doesn’t mean you’re cut out to be a creative director. To lead a creative team you need to have a handle on everything from managing relationships to controlling workflow to, according to Adam Morgan, “making things happen.”

In this episode of Real Creative Leadership, Adam Morgan shares how he became a creative director and how, by mastering both the hard and soft skills, you can, too.

Tune in to learn:

  • Nine critical skills to become a creative director
  • How to manage relationships, even outside your team
  • What it means to resource, talk khaki, and “hustle”
  • How to know you’re ready to become a creative director
mentioned in this show:
adammorgan
Adam Morgan
Executive Creative Director Adobe
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The Stoke Group
Digital Marketing and Full-Service Content Agency

Comments (3)

Hey Adam–
thanks for another fantastic episode.

tom

This was so incredibly helpful. I’m at a place where I’m assessing my career path ( I found this through the Adobe MAX talk that you did), and the points made me realize I’m not where I need to be, but also gave a clear direction on where I need to go. Thank you for creating such wonderful content!

Great message, Adam. I’ve been Brand-side (in-house) my entire career. And, unfortunately, with the structure of some organizations, I’ve been acting in a Creative Director capacity for much of that time, yet been labeled Creative Manager. I’m now looking for a new opportunity as a legit Creative Director, and this session reassured me I’m on the right track—while also highlighting some opportunities for growth and improvement. Thanks for the great insights!

Leave a comment

Transcript

Adam Morgan:

So I'm really excited today to talk about what it takes to become a creative director. And in more simple terms, I'm going to talk about the nine steps it takes to become a creative director. As always, thank you for listening and please subscribe, share this with your friends, I'd love to hear a comment as we get into this topic. But I'm just so grateful for everyone who joins us on this podcast and video blog.

Adam Morgan:

All right, well, I'm going to start out with a story. This is what I call my Dark Day in December. And this was years and years ago, when I worked at McCann Erickson, it was the mid-nineties. And the way it worked is, back then, I was just a hot writer, creative. In the agency, there were actually four of us, it was kind of like two teams. Two writers, and two art directors that worked together. And it seems like everything that we did was in the limelight for the agency, all the campaigns that clients bought, all of the big campaigns that we worked on, it always came down to us four. We were the four core creatives that were always working on things. And this is in a big agency, there's hundreds of employees.

Adam Morgan:

And so I thought we were just, like, on top of the world. We were the four best, all the work that we did was always the best. And then this moment came in December where we met as a creative team, and I found out that the other three had all been promoted to Associate Creative Director, except me. And it was a really, really hard day for me. I was really confused, I was like, "What? We were all doing the great work, all four of us. We were all there, we were all participating. Why me? Why did I not get the promotion and everyone else got the promotion?" And I'll tell you, I didn't understand until years later, why. And I can clearly see it now, but back then I was stumped. I was like, "I thought I was on top of my game. I was doing the best. And here I missed out on a big promotion and everyone else got the promotion."

Adam Morgan:

So that was my dark day in December. And it took me years and years to figure out what was going on. And now with the blessing of hindsight, I can look back and say, "Oh, of course, of course I wasn't ready. I wasn't ready to make the move to become a creative director." And that's the thing is, a lot of us want to become a creative director. And maybe many of you who are listening to this show right now are looking to make the jump, you're ready to take the leap, to become a creative director. Or maybe some of you are already a creative director and you're just looking to double-check, to make sure you're doing things right.

Adam Morgan:

But what I want to do is, I'm going to go through really what it takes to become a creative director, because I think we have some misperceptions. Just like I did on that dark day in December, we really get it wrong. In fact, let's start with this, the internet gets it wrong. As I was preparing for this, just doing searches out there of like, what does it take to become a creative director? What does the internet teach you? And there were many articles that were, the five steps, the 14 steps, the three things it takes to be a CD. But I'll be honest, really what all of them were talking about, they said things like this, like, "To be a great creative director, first, you have to learn the tools. You have to get really, really good at the craft. You have to find your style. You have to really understand what makes your style different and then you just need to produce it and do well. And then suddenly you'll become a creative director." And that is absolutely false.

Adam Morgan:

That is absolutely the myth that the internet teaches us, that it's all about improving on the craft. That's not it at all. Like, that makes you a great senior creative, a great designer, a great writer. That's what those steps do. They don't make you a great leader, they don't make you a great creative director. So I think we need to get the record straight now, and really talk about what it takes to become a creative director. And I'm not talking about a creative director, like, if you own your own company or whatever, this is like, if you're at an agency or a company and you're leading a team, what does it mean to be a creative director?

Adam Morgan:

Because what the world... Back then, when I wasn't ready, my perception of what creative directing was is that, "Oh, now I get to be the CD. I get to call the shots on which creative we're going to run with. I get to go present it." Adobe, we did this fun campaign a year or so ago. It was all about this creative, and as he was designing something and the creative director just came in and hovered over his shoulder, and it was called The Hovering Art Director Campaign. Because that's what we thought, we think when you become a creative director, what you’ve got to do is, "Now I get to manage a bunch of other creatives, and I get to be the rockstar and call the shots on what creative gets to work and what gets to be presented." Right? That's what we thought it was.

Adam Morgan:

I think another myth that I had back then was, if I just work really, really hard at the craft and I become a rockstar at the craft, then they'll make me a creative, because I'll be the best in the room, right? That's how you become a creative director.

Adam Morgan:

And what I want to back up and talk about is you have to... When you're making that jump to creative director, you have to completely change your perspective, because everything I just explained up until now is completely wrong. And as I walked through all the things that it takes to become a CD, suddenly you'll realize that those things are so low on the list, and those are not the most important things.

Adam Morgan:

So, first thing you have to understand is, take the perspective of upper management or leadership on all this. Don't take the perspective of being a creative person. Think about, what are they looking for? When they're promoting someone to a creative director, what do they need? They don't need just the rockstar creative, they'll just keep you as a senior creative. If you're really, really good at the craft, why would they need you as a creative director? They need you to do your job as a rockstar, senior creative, period. That's it.

Adam Morgan:

So, number one, start with the perspective of upper management. What are they looking for? And then I would say the next step is to really take a strong look at yourself inside and really think about, what is it that you want out of this? It's funny, I was at a conference a year ago before this whole COVID thing hit, and it was a developer conference. And at this developer conference, it was this presentation on how to become a manager. And it was so funny for me because I went in there thinking, "Yeah, in the creative world, everyone wants to be the creative director, everyone wants to be the CD. And we're all raising our hands and saying me, me, me, me, let me be it."

Adam Morgan:

And then I went to this developer conference and it was like, they were just pulling teeth out of all these developers to try and convince one of them to be a manager. When they said, "All right, who here wants to become a manager and manage people?" No hands went up in the room. And the lady who was presenting was like, "Yeah, me too." Years ago. There's just this perception that they just want to just do the coding and not have to deal with people problems. Where with the creatives it’s like, "We want to be the star." Right? It's such a different world.

Adam Morgan:

But I've had this conversation with so many people in agency, at Adobe, everywhere I've worked, and I've sat down and talked with them about, "Okay, if you're ready to make the jump to CD, let's look at it realistically." By the time I talk them through all the stuff you have to do, the skills that you really need to have, what your time is going to be spent on, all the things that you're doing, it's not what you got in this business to do, right? And there are several of them that have looked at and said, "Yeah, you know what? I don't want to do that. I don't want to deal with all of those other things because I love the craft."

Adam Morgan:

In fact, I interviewed a lot of people later on in their careers for a session on creative careers. And there are many of them that after becoming ECD at a big company, they kind of...they're done with it and they go back to just being a freelancer, because they just want to be closer to the work. They want to be closer to creating things. That's what we love, that's why we got into this business.

Adam Morgan:

So that's the next thing to do, is like, really take a good look internally. Do you really want it? Really look at all the stuff that a creative director is doing and make sure that's the right path for you, because let me tell you, there are other paths. This is not the only path, management is just one path. And that's a separate topic. Come back and listen to the session on creative career paths. But anyhow, so take a hard look at what you really want out of it. Then I just want to point out two insights that are really important. Number one, what makes you an amazing creative is not what makes you an amazing creative director, they're two completely different things.

Adam Morgan:

Your skills, your talent, your dedication, your ideas, those are all great, but they're low on the list. That's the craft. The craft is not what makes you a great creative director. Then the second truth is, being a rockstar doesn't qualify you to be a leader. So even if you're the best at it, at your company, that doesn't qualify you to be a great leader.

Adam Morgan:

I mean, here's the truth. How many creatives are reading books on leadership or taking a course on leadership, or listening to podcasts, not just on design or writing, but are you listening to podcasts on leadership? Hopefully you are today. This is about creative leadership, so good. But really think about how you're preparing yourself for this role, versus preparing yourself to be a great creative.

Adam Morgan:

If all the stuff you look at and read and absorb is about the craft, then you're missing a lot of the skills. Because all the hard skills that you have as a creative, that's one thing, but when you become a creative director, there are so many soft skills and they are completely different skills. So, keep that in mind.

Adam Morgan:

Here's the problem. In our industry, so often we end up promoting the person who's the rockstar into a leadership role and it's a failure, because they are ill-prepared to take on that role. They're good at making stuff, designing stuff, writing stuff, whatever it is, but they have no idea the skills, the soft skills it takes to become a manager and a creative director. So it's not about hard skills, it's about soft skills. So make sure that, A, you're ready to do this. You know you want it, you're preparing yourself for all of these things, and then you're actually striving to be good at a completely different set of skills.

Adam Morgan:

All right, enough with that, now let's get into the list. So this is the nine things, the nine steps you need to take to become a creative director. I'm going to go through them one by one, talk about them a little bit. To be honest, I think these things are so important. Chances are, we'll most likely do a separate show on each one of these steps, right? I won't be able to spend a half an hour going through all of these in great depth if I do them all at once, so we're going to have to do them one at a time. But I will at least give you a flavor and talk you through the list, and give you a vision as to why this is important and why this matters in terms of becoming a creative leader.

Adam Morgan:

All right, number one. At the top of the list, the thing that you need to be good at are relationships. Here's why this is hard for a lot of creative people. Think about it, when you were in the flow, when you're doing your best work, when you're in the zone, chances are you're most likely alone. You're the lone wolf in the cave, really, really focused on the work, doing that deep work. You're designing, you're writing and you're really focused on creativity, coming up with ideas. That's what we've done our whole lives in the craft, is we've been the lone wolf. Then we come out and show the big shiny object and say, "Look what I've done, waah, tada." Then that's the thrill of the hunt, of finding the idea and then presenting the idea.

Adam Morgan:

But when you become a creative leader, I've seen so many people fail at creative leadership because they're so used to staying on their own, and they go back to the cave and they do the lone wolf thing, and they're just not ready. As a creative leader, you need to be out there building relationships, building trust, becoming a strategic partner, getting involved with so many other things. You can't just wait for people to come at you, you can't just have your checklist of things to do and the project manager tosses one on your list and you just go into your cave and do your thing. You have to actively seek out and build relationships, period.

Adam Morgan:

This is not an introvert, extrovert conversation, this is just saying if you're going to be a leader, you have to go out there and build those relationships. You have to go out and build the trust and you have to become that partner. Because if you no longer want to be a set of hands, this is step one, is making sure you build those relationships and making sure it's multiple relationships, with leadership, with IT, with finance, with other marketers, with other strategists. You are going to be the representation of creativity at your company, so you have to be able to hold your own toe-to-toe, and be able to build and grow with all of those people.

Adam Morgan:

Here's a good test. Here's a great test to know if you have done step one well enough, and that's that you don't have to keep asking to be added to meetings. You no longer have to ask to join a meeting, it just happens automatically. They know that when there's a meeting, we need the creative expert to come and weigh in on this, and they'll just invite you to stuff. So, that's a good rule of thumb. Step one, relationships.

Adam Morgan:

All right, number two, this is what we call speaking khaki. Let me explain that a bit more. So what I'm really saying is, you need to learn how to speak business, you need to learn how to speak strategy, you need to learn how to speak the language of everyone else. Back in the day, everyone else used to wear a suit and us creatives, we wear clown suits, right? So it used to be talking to the suits, but now it's business casual, so we call it talking khaki. You have to learn how to speak business, and this is so critical. There is no way you're going to build those relationships, understand the business, know where to drive and give a creative vision if you don't understand what they're talking about.

Adam Morgan:

Again, we have a completely separate session on this. We talked with Douglas Davis about learning the language of others and how to speak business. Please dial in and listen to that one. But think about it, you've trained yourself on aesthetics, you've trained yourself on fonts and spacing and words and story, and everyone else has trained themselves on business and numbers and finance and strategy, and all these other things.

Adam Morgan:

And if you get in the room and you want to be a leader and you can't speak that, you don't know how your company makes money, you don't know how you're going to move forward because you don't understand the business strategy. If you don't understand those things, then you're worthless. You're just, again, making things look pretty. But if you want to be a leader, you got to get past that, you got to step above that. So as you are the defender of design, you've got to be up there and understand and speak strategy and speak business, in order to lead it and guide it, right? That's super, super critical.

Adam Morgan:

All right, step three, vision and leadership. So once you have relationships, once you understand how to speak business, now this is the hard work of the leader, right? The creative leader. This is where you have to go back and say, "Okay, let's look at the vision of my team, let's look at the vision of the company, where do we need to go? What are the things that we need to do? Where are the gaps?" This is really, think about back when you used to use creativity to come up with ideas or creativity to come up with campaigns or a good story, this is where you're going to use creativity to come up with a vision.

Adam Morgan:

You have to be able to think deeply about the environment, the resources, the vision of the company, and then map that to a creative vision of, how can I have more emotional experiences? Creativity is the new differentiator for business. If experiences are the new differentiator, how am I going to influence those? How are we going to make those better at our company? That takes really digging in.

Adam Morgan:

I remember when I made my first step to ECD in an agency, the way I did it is, I came to the company with a plan and a vision. It was multiple pages with clear steps of, here's what I'm going to do with the creative department, here's how I'm going to handle training, here's how I'm going to handle all of those things. Here's what our “why” is, our just cause, understanding where we need to go and where the destination is. I just listed it all out, because that's exactly where I wanted the creative team to go. That's what they're looking for.

Adam Morgan:

Upper management, when they're looking on, who's going to be the next creative director, it's, do they have a creative vision? When they come to meetings, when they come and represent creativity, is there a vision, is there a plan? Do they express leadership and showing where we need to go and how we're going to get there? And understanding the why and the how and the what. All of those things, that's what you need to do when you have a vision. So that's number three, creating a vision.

Adam Morgan:

Number four, presenting and selling. So one time years ago, my kids asked me what I was really good at, and I thought deeply about it, and I thought, "You know what? I'm really good at meetings. That's what it is, that's what I do." Honestly, I can say most of my job of being a creative leader for the last decade is, I have six to eight meetings a day. I'm talking with people, whether it's managing down with the team, managing sideways with peers or managing up to the board, whatever that is, that's what I'm doing. I'm in meetings.

Adam Morgan:

So you just have to understand, your job as a creative leader is to present, to sell, to present, to sell, and you have to be able to own the room. Again, you can't just back off and sit back and let things happen, because the reality is, at the leadership table, decisions are made in those rooms, in those meetings. And if you're going to be the defender of design, the champion of creativity, you have to be there and you have to be present, and you have to be, not aggressive, but you just need to be engaged. And you need to be able to present and understand and speak their language, and talk about things, and then bring it back to the vision and plan and then sell and say, "Here's why, and here's what we're going to do. And here's how we're going to make it happen," and get people excited. Part of presenting and selling is really motivating people. That's really what it comes down to. You can't be passive. You're like a salesperson. You have to get them excited. You have to motivate them and show them the vision and get them going and altogether. You have to become a great presenter and part of meetings.

Adam Morgan:

All right. Number five. Everything we've talked about so far has been all the work managing up and sideways. Now we get to the process of managing the team a little bit. And I call this managing the creative machine because, really as a leader, your job is to set up the systems and the structure and the process and the environment. You have to get all of those things figured out. To give an opportunity for those who are on your team, the writers, designers, the videographers, whoever they are, for them to have the space and the environment to be able to create amazing stuff, right? It's not going to happen on its own. In normal business, business doesn't understand creativity very well, and it doesn't create the environment and the process and the pieces for that to happen. That's your job.

Adam Morgan:

You are now in charge of org and structure. There's so many times that I'm doing PowerPoint decks or we're figuring out how are we going to save the files on the server? How are we going to organize our fonts? How are we going to organize our files? There's so much that is involved, just the nitty-gritty backend of it. But then it's also like the environment, how am I going to defend and make sure that there's space, so there's not too many meetings, there's not so many things going on that the people can't focus on and do the craft, right? You have to do all that stuff, all of that organization.

Adam Morgan:

The technology, the needs, the budgets, the training, the best practices and improvement. What is, how you create the work? That's super important. Templates, standards, do you have a design system? Do you have a storytelling system? Workshops, training, keeping your people excited? How do [inaudible 00:20:25] the team, like all of that, that machine, that's everything you have to do and create, to create that environment. And let me tell you, building the machine is a lot of work. It may seem like, "Oh, okay, I've been doing this a long time. I know what the right answer is." You may not know all the answers. There's so much going on with it. Just be ready that you need to balance all of that and be able to build the machine and focus on that, because that is your job is to make sure that that’s humming.

Adam Morgan:

All right, number six, resourcing. This is a fun one, because so often you think, that's just what the project managers handle. But let me tell you, you have to become a project manager. You have to become a traffic manager. A lot of the job is still like, all right, I've got the team, but is everyone on the team busy? Are there people who aren't busy? Are we managing the workload? Are we balancing the workload? Are people doing all the right things? And do they have the tools that they need to do it? Doing all of that is really critical. Something that I've come up with is what I call the Whelm Scale. And there's a separate session on this. But it was all in my effort to understand and balance the workload and make sure everyone's working well and doing all the right things and not overloaded, is this Whelm Scale, because I didn't want people overwhelmed, but I didn't want them underwhelmed.

Adam Morgan:

How do we get people to be perfectly whelmed? And it's different for every company. That's the tricky thing. You can't just say, "Everyone should have five projects," because the truth is, some people can take 20 projects and some people can take three before they're overwhelmed. Some people, if there's too many meetings, they're not going to get all their work done. It’s not a matter of hours, time sheets, that's not the answer. They'll be like, how many billable hours are they working? It's really a balance of all of these things, of projects, presentations, hours, how busy we are with all these things. And I created this scale to kind of harness it all together, and then you can self-select on the scale of where you're at. Okay. I won't go too much into it, but just know this, part of that is, how do I manage all of the workflow and how do I keep it humming and not falling off the rails, but also not be, we don't want people bored or just not effective.

Adam Morgan:

Okay. Next, step seven is what I call the hustle. Now a friend of mine also calls this rattling the cages. Part of being a creative leader is, you can't just sit back and let things happen. You have to make things happen and it's passion. And I've interviewed a lot of other creative leaders, they just say, "Passion will show beyond even just talent." You could be super talented, but if you don't have the passion, you're not going to move up. You're not going to take on that role. You're not going to be actively engaged in doing all of these things I just talked about, right? There's so much to do. You've just got to be engaged, engaged. And so the hustle is where it comes into it.

Adam Morgan:

Sometimes this means more work, right? I guarantee, as I moved up into the creative director role, it was a lot more work than when I was just a senior creative, 100%. Because I may still have to do all of my work and still do all those meetings, and still have a vision and find time for all of it. And let me tell you, there are so many ankle biters that will attack you, and you have to learn to just balance the load. I know, I have a friend who was like, "You just need to become an essentialist." And I'm not an essentialist. And I don't know if I can get there, but I do believe in the philosophy of it, right? That you need to somehow find all the right things that you need to do and then get past things you don't, but in order to get there, you just need the hustle.

Adam Morgan:

You're going to have to be just thinking and going and being five steps ahead on everything. And if you want creativity to have a shot, you got to use that energy to get your team going, to get your company going, that hustle and that energy has got to just be present. And if you're out there rattling the cages and making change and making a better world, it all starts with that inner hustle. If you don't have it, find ways to... There's another way of thinking about it. It's like, how do you manage your energy levels? Are you eating the right things, exercising, doing whatever it takes so that you can be on top and ready to go when it matters. That's critical.

Adam Morgan:

All right. Number eight, managing other creatives. Number eight and nine are the two steps at the bottom of the list that I talked about in the beginning, which is what we all thought, that's what creative directing was all about. You got to do the work and then you got to manage the team. And that's true. You do have to manage other creatives. And I tease that it's like empathy meets anger management because, people think, "Oh, managing, I can tell them what to do. That's great." No, it's so much more than that. Now you've got to deal with the people problems. All this other stuff was structure and process and organization and vision and selling, but with the managing other creatives, we are a wonderful emotional group of folks. And it takes a special breed to be able to manage other creatives.

Adam Morgan:

You have to learn, what are all their paths? What are all their dreams and hopes? How are you going to train them? How are you going to recruit them? How are you going to mentor them? How are you going to deal with HR issues and office moves and all the other things that have to do with people problems? And that's what managing other creatives is all about. How do you do that in an emotional way and still have empathy for them, and still do it in a nice kind way, so that they trust you and care about you and that you show that you care about them. You're not micromanaging. You're giving them freedom. You're giving them autonomy and authenticity and ownership and all of those good things. There's just so much to think about in managing other creatives. Don't kid yourself, it's a big job. And again, remember, this is one of nine and it's like a full-time job right there.

Adam Morgan:

And then finally, let's talk about nine. Nine is the actual craft. And the reality is, you need to become a working CD. Gone are the days where you could just run things and not stay close to the craft. You still have to do it. And so that you stay sharp. And I'm not saying that you have to take on all the projects, but you just can't ignore it, you can't forget it. If you become a creative director and you never do anything, then you're toast because you're not close enough to it. And you've got to be able to stay close enough to it, so that you can make good decisions on what's the right creative to use, what's the right creative to go forward with. The craft is still there, and teaching the craft to everyone else in your team, super, super important.

Adam Morgan:

But now that you have the list, let's look at the whole list here, of all the nine steps from relationships, speaking khaki, vision and leadership, presenting and selling, the creative machine, resourcing, hustle, managing other creatives, and then the craft. That's the full list. And again, when we talked in the beginning, everyone thought, or at least I did early in my career, that being a creative director was all about numbers eight and nine, and it's not, those are the lowest things on the list. All these other things above, that's where it comes back to that perspective. Put on the hat of upper management. When they're looking for a creative director, they're not looking for someone who's just good at the craft. If you're just awesome at video or you're awesome at whatever, like that's just one thing. And the problem is, too many of us got moved up in the position of CD for that and it was just a retention strategy. It's like, "Oh no, we don't want to lose our rockstar. Okay, fine. We'll make them a creative leader." And then they fail at it and they're terrible at it. And we have a lot of prima donnas, people with egos, people who are moody, and all these other problems in leadership that I think it's finally come to the surface and we want to get past that.

Adam Morgan:

Leadership has a real different quality and you've got to focus and work on it. So all of those other things, number one through seven, those are the things that a creative leader needs to be successful. You have to have all of those and you have to be working on them constantly. I fail at it all the time. That's okay. But that's just my point is like, from the perspective of upper management, when they're looking for the next person to come up, it's not about the person who's just great at the craft, it's, do they get these other things as well? You still have to have the craft, don't get me wrong. You can't be like the worst creative in the world and then move up. Maybe, although to be truthful, I've known of a couple of creative directors who were mediocre art directors or writers, but amazing creative directors, right? So it's a completely different set of skills.

Adam Morgan:

But here's a quick test. So what's a good test to know if you're ready? I would say, look at your next performance review or your last performance review. If you came into that performance review and you were talking things all about like, my work's the best at the company or the agency, or I've been a senior creative director, or a senior creative forever and it's about time I get the reward of moving up, like at this entitlement step. And it's all about me, me, me, my work and how I'm doing great, that was me on that dark day of December. All I thought about was like, "Oh man, my work is always the one that the client buys. It's always the best." I was so focused on my work and my portfolio and I wasn't worried about any of those other things.

Adam Morgan:

So think about that. If you went into your review and you're just talking about those things, you're not ready. You're talking about only step nine, right? If you're talking about your portfolio, your projects, your ego or complaints about all the other things and the problems that people are doing, you're not ready to become a creative director. But let's say that review, your performance review is all about, hey, I've been thinking about vision, right? I've been thinking about these relationships with these stakeholders. Process. How we can fix these problems, how we can change our process to do this and this and that, how we can improve to get better. Like, if you come into a review and you're talking about all of those things, the stuff at the top of the list, then I'm going to say that person is ready. That person is ready to take on the role because you're doing it. You're thinking about all the right things. 

 

Adam Morgan:

So last thing, keep that in mind. I promise you the moment you start taking on the mantle of the company and not the mantle of your own personal portfolio, you will see the gaps. You will see like, "Oh, I see the skills that I'm missing. I need to get better at presenting. I need to get better at vision. I need to get better at leadership. And I need to go back and start reading books and taking classes and being better at those things, the soft skills." That's when it'll start to change for you. And then you'll look back and you'll be like, "I'm already there. I'm already ready." Because here's your moment of truth, right?

Adam Morgan:

So many times, people think it's the creative director that's holding them back, or upper management doesn't see their skills and they're not making the creative director and they don't get it. But the truth is, who's really holding you back? It's probably you. Just like me on that dark day in December, I was holding myself back because I was focused on the wrong things. I wasn't showing leadership. I wasn't showing vision. I wasn't showing anything. I was thinking about me and my portfolio. So when you become a creative director or a creative leader, it's yourself. Like you can look back and you can assess this list and say, "Am I doing well at all of these things?" And I guarantee if you're doing it already, you'll be ready. You'll be ready to make the leap.

Adam Morgan:

And if you're already in a credit position or a creative leadership position, I hope you're doing all those things because that's how you're going to get better. That's where we need to be as creative leaders is, getting better at all of those things and improving the environment and the opportunity for creativity to have a chance to live, right? That's where it's all about.

Adam Morgan:

So I hope this was helpful. I hope you got something from at least looking at the list, thinking about you, your own personal experience, where are your own personal gaps? What can you do better? And then really digging in deep and trying to make those things happen. I think it's super awesome. But anyhow, thank you for listening. That was my nine steps to becoming a creative director and the important things it takes to become a creative leader. I hope you found it valuable.

Adam Morgan:

Again, thank you so much for joining us. This is Real Creative Leadership. You can find this on all of your favorite podcasts or streaming channels. Please, please subscribe. If this content is really helpful, I would love to have your feedback. So please share, share comments, share it with your friends, come back and subscribe. That's the big ask to make sure we start to build this community. If you have a question or you just want the latest news on Real Creative Leadership, please go to realcreativeleadership.com, drop us a line.

Adam Morgan:

And in fact, here's one last thing. One last, I guess we'll call it homework. For those of you listening, if you go to realcreativeleadership.com and check out the show notes for this session, we're going to put a PDF, a well-designed PDF with the nine steps. And all I'm asking is just go download that list, so that you can print it out, put it on your desktop, whatever you need to do, and just put that up to be thinking about it all the time. Like what are those different things? And am I doing all of that? So that's the ask. Join us, come subscribe, join us on the list, but go download. In the next 72 hours, go download that list off of realcreativeleadership.com, and then put it somewhere visible so you can just be thinking about it.

Adam Morgan:

Again, you can find us on YouTube. You can watch it on YouTube, the video versions of this. Check us out on LinkedIn and Twitter and Facebook. You can find The Stoke Group at thestokegroup.com. Again, this is produced by The Stoke Group. Super grateful for them. We wouldn't have it if it wasn't for them. So if you need help with any of these things as a creative leader, they're the agency that can help you. And if you want to connect with me, you can go to adamwmorgan.com. You can see where I'm speaking next, information about my book, or articles that I'm writing. But as always, the best place is realcreativeleadership.com. Thank you so much. And we will see you next show. Take care.