If you are creative and want to Create; follow your heart.
Your best work will be done when you apply your full self to a project…and that includes your feelings. Creating through your emotional tools, creating to move your own, emotional Self, is the best method for creating an Experience with Resonance; compelling, memorable, effective.
This will require, more often than one might like, the making of difficult decisions.
Even today, on some of the Professional Networking sites and message boards, are conversations and discussions about the ramifications of taking a client or project in which one may not believe. These choices will come; especially for those who seek to make a career of their Creativity. The choices made will affect not only the quality of the product or project, but also the deep-seated human need to be happy and satisfied with one’s work.
This is one of those Big, Life Decisions for which there is no easy answer; not the first time(s) the dilemma arises. I can only offer my own course, the path I took.
Early on, I did take clients in whom I didn’t necessarily believe; seeking to make my business “successful” and to remain objective…to be a “good businessman.”
This made me miserable. I found myself procrastinating, having to push myself to deliver. Those clients were happy, certainly, but I wasn’t; I wasn’t able to conceive or create powerful moments of emotional connection…and that was my trademark!
I know that, when I am moved by a project, mission or message, I can move most any audience with and connect them to it. Working through my own, emotional filters, using my methodological Tenets of Experience Creation, I can find ways to connect an audience on a deeper, emotional level.
Most any competent Brand Expert will tell you that it is the emotional connection to a Brand or Message that makes the bond last, makes for the most productive (and profitable) relationship between that and the audience or target demographic. The disparity comes in the form of how many interpret Emotional Connection.
‘Tis one thing to thrill and excite; there are many who are good at startling and colorful message or theatrical experience, and they sell that as Emotional Connection. They probably believe that this is accurate.
True Emotional Connection is rare; it takes finesse, acuity, nuance, study and – above all – the willingness of the person doing the Creating to open oneself to being moved, engaged, connected, oneself.
There is a price for this.
I would say that there likely exist far more people who enjoy great, financial success by taking any client and just doing the work than there are those who take only clients in whom they believe. They, the former, do good work, have happy clients and very likely have significant, financial security.
There are a rare and wonderful few who only accept work in which they truly believe, communicate messages that they, themselves, personally embrace and through which they are able to build financially secure businesses and keep people working while keeping their personal muses nurtured and exercised.
I laud and often envy these people.
There is a worldwide army, a community of Professionals that work and live all over the globe, who only take work that thrills them…projects to which they feel personally connected and committed to fully realizing, to manifesting the best that is humanly possible.
I work with these guys.
With most of my projects, when describing the vision to the producing team or, later, a room of professionals; I find myself moved, again, by the experiences am able to help create. When all is said and done, I embrace my ability to move audiences, and I cherish the fine calibration of my personal barometer such that I can discern what it is that moves me and distill that into an Experience that moves others.
In a sense, I’ve paid the price for this freedom and, in retrospect, the price is worthwhile. Thus, I will continue to embrace my muse, my sensitivity to the world around me and my creative integrity as I continue to seek, accept and share clients and projects.
Just under a year ago, I had a series of candid conversations with an associate of mine; a man who has expressed great respect and appreciation for my work and who has been quite vocal and complementary about the unique nature and effectiveness of some of my larger projects, and who works for a company I’d been approaching, regularly, for nearly a decade. In the course of these conversations, I asked him why I’d never been brought on to one of the Creative Teams of this company for which he works; the principals with whom I’ve been friends since its founding.
What I learned was that, during an early interview, I’d made one of the Execs uncomfortable as I became, in response to his query of which of my projects I am most proud, I became a little weepy in recounting the final moments of the CandleLight Ceremony for the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt at the Lincoln Memorial in 1992. According to my friend, the interviewer didn’t like that I “became emotional.”
My immediate reaction was to laugh, and to breathe so much easier. I have to say that this took all the pressure off my quest for work with this company, as well as dissipating any desire to be a part of their team(s). With this information, I realized that this meant was that I simply would not fit-in with this company and, while I do and will continue to think well of them – they are at the top of the business, worldwide, of creating experiences – my strong emotional connection to my work would probably not be considered an asset, there. Off the table.
As described in an early post on this site, we were able to emotionally move 250,000 people – bringing them to complete silence and eliciting an intimate gasp from that crowd, a gasp that was palpable when shared by so many – as the skyrocket hit the sky during Joel Grey’s final note. I almost always become moved when I describe that event in detail.
I’m good with this, and it is my own Emotional Connection to the Story through which I can effectively create Experience that can connect, almost universally.
So, what I knew at that moment is that I could relinquish my desire to participate in the great projects of this company; I would not fit, there.
Counter to the above experience; twice in the past six months, in meetings on entirely different projects, I’ve encountered men whom I’d not previously met but who are familiar with my work. These two gentlemen, at meetings months apart, took the opportunity to tell me how moved they were by that Ceremony on the Washington Mall, 20 years ago. They shared with me that they’ve never forgotten the feeling they experienced when, surrounded by so many others who were experiencing the same thing, they were touched to deeply in an intimate place. Then, each of these gentlemen thanked and hugged me.
I’ll take that, and be happy with that.
So, there are the choices. Play it as you will.
Life is a tradeoff.
I’d love to say that I’ve been overwhelmingly financially successful. What I have been, what I am, is a man with a reputation for moving people in a way that they are seldom moved; for connecting people to a message or Experience, to one another, along pathways that are inherent in the human animal and deeply-seated.
These past 20 posts of “imho,” now compiled into an already-popular eBook for iPad, have been the sharing of my basic methodologies and perspectives. This post represents the final chapter of “imho #1,” but I ain’t stoppin’.
I plan to continue doing the work that inspires and nurtures me, so, and sharing with you how I do it.
Stick around, participate, ask, share…you can do it, any way you like.