Thinking Time

Whenever I’m working with creative entrepreneurs anywhere in the world, one of my mantras is ‘Give yourself thinking time’. The first reaction is usually a despairing, mirthless laugh: who on earth has time for thinking, we’ve got to be doing, we’ve got to be earning…… Of course, I empathise with that hugely – sometimes, in CIDA, it seems to be a madhouse, with both Keith and I rushing from client to client, project to project, sometimes seven days a week. And yet ..and yet…The creative industries are at the heart of the global Knowledge Economy. We are in the vanguard of the innovation, the excitement, the imagination, the ‘expanding the possible’……..and our creative thinking has massive ‘spillover’ impact on everyone else coming up behind us. (This isn’t romantic nonsense – all verified by EU research – so it must be true!) So if we are too busy doing and not doing enough thinking, we’re not just short changing ourselves, but everyone else around us – ‘no creative business is an island’ and all that. The fact is that, whatever field of creative practice we’re in, we draw inspiration from what goes on around us – other people’s thoughts, actions and work inspires us, sometimes unconsciously, sometimes quite deliberately. If we shut ourselves off from that, then we are actually limiting our own capacity for creativity. And that of course impacts on our work. I interviewed five companies last week for a piece of work that CIDA needs doing. All bright, young but with reasonable experience. Some had been running their own companies for a while, others were newly set up having been made redundant from larger creative companies. As is so often the way with these situations, the differences in approach to presenting your work and being interviewed is remarkable – even in such difficult times as now, some people still seem not to have understood that an interview is your chance to sell yourself and your work. More significantly, there seems to a lack of understanding that the interview is the chance to start creating the relationship, building rapport. There’s really no point in sitting there telling me it’s all about content marketing and then abjectly failing to find any ‘content marketing’ to inject into the discussion that will capture my interest or stimulate new thinking in a way that makes me think you might be fun to do business with! The person who got the job (actually, there were some very good ones too in the mix but it’s the boring interviews that make you want to pull your hair out that you remember!), she was bright, articulate and both interested and interesting. She had made some study of our work to date and made some intelligent assessments of what was good and what might be done differently. She was able to put our work in a wider context, giving us a perspective of where CIDA is as a player in our field. She was able to demonstrate new approaches, new thinking and where and how they might be applied to CIDA’s practice. Inevitably, CIDA, in its long established practice of never standing still, is moving into new, complementary and challenging areas – we are almost always in a process of exploration and discovery and that has significant impact on our work, on our approach to our work and on our expectations. She picked up on this. Even in a short-ish interview (which inevitably became longer because she was so engaging), she was able to add significantly to things I have been thinking about. The interview was both stimulating and fun – of course she got the job!