A Word to the Wise

Over the past decade, I’ve had the privilege of meeting, speaking with, encouraging, (hopefully) inspiring and generally mixing with a number of brilliant, talented, inspiring (to me) and committed young people at institutions in the US and the Emirates where I’ve worked, lectured and conducted workshops as well as through my work with the Themed Entertainment Association’s (TEA) NextGen program in the US.

These people are entering the work force at the perfect Moment; it is a time in our industries wherein the Old Guard and the Current Guard are actively aware of the importance of bringing youth in and developing their talents and skills now, while we’re all still active in the Force and are around to share our own experience and expertise anecdotally and in practical settings as situations arise in the course of development and production.

It’s fantastic. Good people are being recruited and swept up, given great responsibility on good projects and brought to Burbank and Orlando or sent to sites around the world.

The portent is virtually palpable.

A Word to the Wise, Guys.

I’m seeing titles being bestowed such as “Creative Director,” “Lead Creative,” “Head Writer” and any number of high-ish level monikers suddenly appearing on business cards and email signatures (and FB posts). Great stuff; Congratulations…


(…and I may not need to say any of this…)

These are titles that indicate years of experience that you simply do not have…yet.

It’s fantastic that you’ve landed this title at so young an age and so fresh on the job. Take care, though, to appreciate that you’ve been in a vacuum of academia for the past several years. Use this opportunity to continue to learn, and be careful of thinking that, if you have the title, you are done learning.

We are never done learning.

This is an opportunity to be embraced and of which the most must be made; just keep in mind that to truly fulfill the role of Head of Anything, a lot of miles must be clocked, a lot of limbs must be ventured onto, a LOT of risks must be taken, limits discovered and overcome, obstacles surmounted, histories learned and absorbed.

I hope I don’t sound like some “…well, in my day…” grandpa; as I heartily applaud the opportunities being presented you and truly envy the (R)evolution that is germinating, just now, with your collective futures.

Simply put; I’m cautioning y’all to not get Cocky.

Remember that one must keep learning in order to be and remain relevant. When one stops learning, one immediately becomes irrelevant; and you are far too young and far too smart and far too cute to become irrelevant so soon.

So, don’t.

Look around, there are plenty of Cocky Young Guys (of all sexes) in this industry; watch and see how they actually relate to their audiences in the boardrooms and presentation theaters. Observe how their peers regard them when they are not looking. Don’t be that. That stuff shows up in the product.

Guard against complacency and smugness. These are Ugly things.

Remember that, even in positions of Leadership, one is surrounded with experience one may not readily see.

  • So, seek it out.
  • Mine it.
  • Ask for it.
  • Only offer The Last Word when you’ve heard all the rest.
  • Listen and hear.

Don’t let this fantastic opportunity go to your head. Take it to Heart.

Grab every opportunity with which you will be presented in these new roles to learn, learn, learn.

Do not be afraid to Ask Advice…ever.

Trust me on this, the more you ask for advice and opinion from those above and below you, the more respect you will garner and the more you will learn; the more loyal you will find your team becomes; the better will be your toolbox and the better will be your product.

Fear not being seen as not knowing; fear being seen as pretending to know. (Those guys are the worst!)

That’s it; that’s all.

I’m proud of those of you whom I know and have watched leave school and head for working with the Big Boys. You whom I know are brilliant and inspire me. I learn from you (See? Never stop learning!). My sense is that the number of you “kids” whom I know is just the smallest part of a great population of Next Generation Creatives and Producers flowing into these industries. This is exciting and heartening.

Just please strive to be a Leader by whom you would want to be lead.


“IMHO” the eBook is a free download from iTunes. Take advantage of it.

7 thoughts on “A Word to the Wise

  1. Very good advice Kile. This one especially relevant to my circumstances 🙂 A few hard knocks in the real world sure took the ‘cockiness’ out of me, but still an absolutely long way to go.

    Cheers and thanks for being such a model of humility to all of us ‘creative’ people!

  2. Nice article. Well put indeed. If I might venture forth a suggestion as a follow up piece addressing the companies that actually bestow these titles on individuals that are not yet ready and why (money, mostly) and the actual individuals that make the hiring decisions in these firms that are, perhaps, promoted beyond their experience…or capability.
    It is one thing for someone that finds themselves in a position they aren’t prepared for to act responsible and do their best to adjust and learn, but it’s another for a company or person that puts them there to question what the end goal for the business is and if the short-term decisions they make are truly in the long-term interest of their company. Failure of anyone, affects us all.

    • Thank you, Eric — and that’s a great suggestion; one upon which we believe we shall act, actually. (It’s gonna rankle a few of my peers who do foster this practice…but that’s not stopped us, before…)

  3. Pingback: Reality Cannot be Taught… | imho

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