Musings From a Mountain Top
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Musings From a Mountain Top

What happens when you lead creatives to a mountainside retreat in the Adirondacks during the peak of fall foliage season? Flaming s’mores, creative solutions, and shameless leaf admiration. With creative talent from agencies and in-house teams representing Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca, Buffalo, and beyond, this year’s Create Upstate generated curious conversations during our panels, around the bonfire, on hiking trails, during workshops, over meals, and while toasting to our teams.

So, what did we find on our creative escape?

Transparency Is Not Commonplace

Approaching new relationships with clear communication, honesty, and transparency is essential to transform agencies from being vendors to our clients to being strategic, reliable, and collaborative partners.

As we do in our personal lives, we tend to go above and beyond for those that we have a relationship with vs. those we do not-this applies in a workplace setting too.

Size Sometimes Matters

We’ve all been there. Major projects, tight deadlines, limited hours, eager stakeholders, and a seemingly endless need for more resources. But what if that’s the problem? Sometimes bigger teams don’t necessarily mean better teams. We’re often tempted to hit the ‘all hands-on deck’ button when we really need to step back, reflect, and pinpoint the key individuals needed to deliver a product that is accurate, consistent, and cohesive. Too many voices in a loud room may drown out those ‘angelic choir’ or ‘light bulb’ moments.

Knowing when and where there are too many or too little resources on a project can be key to it succeeding and performing above expectations.

Fight for Your Ideas

Checking the box can be tempting and sometimes requires little creativity when paired with excellent execution. But is checking the box easily and quickly worth the possibility of missing ideas that could lead to innovation and growth? Allow your team to fight for their ideas that not only check the box but reach creative ideas and applications not yet explored. Sometimes, it takes just one person to invest in an idea to elevate it into an excellent creative solution.

Based on client feedback alone, don’t be quick to dismiss creative ideas. Connect with the client to learn more about what parts are working and what parts are not. Then with your new insights and creative expertise, go back and dig in even deeper to find an alternate creative solution that aligns.

Failure Means Progress

If you did everything perfectly on the first try and never failed, you would never improve. You wouldn’t become an explorer because you’ve never had to try something different, take a new path, or figure out a problem through learning from your mistakes. Sure, the first answer is the correct answer, but what if the second answer you found while learning from your mistakes was not an answer, but a solution, and not just a solution, but an innovation. Trying something new and not succeeding on the first try doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it’s an opportunity to figure out a solution that succeeds for you.

Failures are more so lessons and trail markers on your creative adventure, something to help guide you on your journey, but never to block you.

Timing Is Everything

The world, in this case your client, may not be ready for your ultra-innovative and strategic benchmark busting plan, and that’s okay. Your priority is building trust with your client and creating a meaningful relationship. Consistently showing up for your clients and learning their communication style can elevate your understanding of their needs and expectations, which helps you set your team and client up for success. Once that trust and partnership has been established, when the timing is right, circle back to that ultra-­innovative and strategic benchmark busting plan of yours.

In this now post-pandemic era, conferences are another part of our world that is getting revitalized. With everyone striving to connect again, conferences like Create Upstate, have shown us we need less traditional conferences and more retreats. These retreats give attendees a more thoughtful approach to learning and connecting. With a mix of expert speakers and hands-on workshops in the mornings and evenings with the afternoons dedicated to exploring and spending time with fellow attendees to develop relationships that will go far beyond the conference. This new set up gives everyone the ability to not only come away with new learnings, but feeling rejuvenated and ready to return back to work and apply their newfound knowledge. 

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