Judging creative competitions is a positive experience for me mainly because I get to spend time with other creative directors. After just a few minutes of talking, it is obvious that we all share the same obstacles in leading our agencies to the creative promised land. I realize I have no reason to feel sorry for myself about microscopic budgets, trouble recruiting top talent, or gaining the trust of clients that aren't buying our best work.
We all have these problems.
The friendships I have made over the years have been a huge help to my personal improvement. Owning a small agency in a small market can leave one feeling isolated. I fear that being off the beaten track is causing me to miss something. These fellow judges are my peer group. We keep up with one another's progress. I ask their advice and they mine. There is also a friendly competition between us. I suggest you find friends like these because if you hang together you'll all get better.
Talking about this brings to mind those in particular that inspire me continually. John Boone and David Oakley have a nice little agency in Charlotte. I admire that they have worked together for so many years, become agency owners, didn't kill each other and still are excited about the work. Kevin Lynch, founder of Hadrian's Wall, now Zig, is another very talented creative that has given me a lot of encouragement.
It's interesting that some of my peers I've never met face to face but still consider them friends in the business. Kara Goodrich and I became acquainted long distance years ago when she was at Leonard Monahan in Providence. Kara is arguably the best writer in the business and she has a standard that is in the ionosphere. She cares about the work being great and she won't lie when it's not there. We all need a friend like Kara. Even if they make us cry.
There are dozens of people like these that have helped me grow professionally -- too many to name here unfortunately. But I want them all to know that I remember them when I've done my best. I remember it's because of their example that I've been able to push past where I've been. They made me want to be better. What makes them special is that they root for you to do well. They know that doing well is not easy.
My biggest fear is doing things the way I've always done them. I owe my attitude to those who have taken the time to show me why their work is among the best.
Some of us do ads to sell stuff. A few are trying to change culture. Those are the few I want to be friends with. I don't think one can make an impact in this industry without being encouraged to keep trying. That's why friendship in this industry is important. When we know that there are those of like mind and desire, it makes all the challenges easily surmountable.