Where Ideas Come From: My Conversation with an Ad Man
I was curious about something: Can good ideas emerge in uncertain times amidst uncertainty and chaos? I have a simple theory that some of life’s best ideas, best opportunities and greatest successes emerge during times of unpredictability, uncertainty and chaos. My gut tells me that the complexity of today’s world, chaos at work, chaos at home, is not all that bad. That there must be a silver lining somewhere in there.
So I asked someone who is in the creative business, namely Jim Tenny, what he thought about chaos and the role uncertainty and unpredictability play in his line of work – advertising.
Jim Tenny is Chief Operating Officer of Della Famina Rothschild Jeary and Partners Advertising agency. He runs an ad shop where creativity and ideas are THE heart of their business. Companies go to them to find the right idea communicated the right way to the right audience. They NEED creative people. They NEED good ideas. And they have lots of them.
I sat down with Jim recently and asked him: Where do good ideas come from?
“Good ideas come from insight”, he told me as we talked about life, work, health, advertising, business and the nature of creativity. “Some of the best creative people are informed by the data and evidence but are not weighed down by it. They think differently.” I was curious about getting to the heart of what he thought about my theory so I dug a little deeper and asked, “If you think about the future of advertising, where are the most creative minds, the most creative and innovative people going to come from? What do you look for when you hire?”
Jim answered, “What advertising will likely need more of are generalists. I’m not likely going to hire someone with an advertising degree but I will likely hire people with a broad range of experience. There are too many specialists out there who may be really good at one thing but as the advertising business (like many other businesses) is transforming, we need to find creative minds who are more versatile.” He explained even further, “Creative people are not linear thinkers. They see the ‘order’ in things but are not tied to it. They may use a methodology. They may even look at facts and data to drive their idea but they are not weighed down by it. They have no fear. They are not threatened by the status quo and have a tremendous amount of self belief and confidence.”
So, here’s what I learned from someone in the creative business, someone who is entrenched in the business of “ideas”: Creative ideas come from people who seem to acknowledge and understand “Order” but are not weighed down by it. Breakthrough ideas emerge from individuals who come from varied experiences that may have given them the ability to think in a non-linear fashion.
Can I imply from this that creative minds “Embrace the Chaos”? Perhaps. I thought about this a little bit and here’s my conclusion…
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What I realize is that sometimes we look at chaos as a bad thing. Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t We look at the disorder “out there” and at home as something that we are suffering under. We associate an unexpected outcome with our life or an unwanted surprise as an awful, terrible occurrence…and we scream WHY ME???
But what I learned is that it appears as though when you dig down into chaos—-that it might just be a good thing sometimes because it teaches us about things in life we could never have imagined. And it is exactly this learning, this new experience, this varied and diverse path….that leads to a more fertile and creative mind that is wide open to the possible.
By saying YES and embracing the chaos at work, at home and in our daily lives, I believe we may be able to gain something valuable. And that is the rich and deep experience we may never have experienced had chaos not showed up at our door. And it is exactly this diverse, unique and often difficult and unpredictable experience that serves as the source of some of our greatest strengths and innovation. A creative mind full of ideas is not born from order and predictability. Rather it is groomed by the forces of chaos which we choose to embrace.
Go ahead, Embrace the Chaos…because it could lead you to your greatest idea, your greatest success or your greatest life!
Rule #2 Say YES and DO New Things | Embrace the Chaos! | Bob Miglani