Creativity + Business Sense = $$$$Posted: September 8, 2011
In catching up with my RSS feed this morning, I read a great blog post by Kellie Sheehan on B2B Bliss relating traits of Top Chef contestants to the PR world. Just the sort of creative and thought-provoking post that I love! I adore drawing insight from a comparison of two seemingly unrelated things.
In the post, Sheehan linked to another great article by Laura Ramos about shortcomings C-levels tend to ascribe to marketers. This is not really *news*, of course — we’ve all known for years that marketing budgets are the first to go when times get tough, and negative perceptions of the value marketing and public relations teams add to the company must contribute to that fact.
It got me thinking of the reasons I opted to get a business degree. Bear with me here.
Now, obviously marketers and communications people love the sexy side of their profession. Most of them love to write, and be creative, and obsess over branding and events and images and copy and fonts, etc. etc. etc. And certainly there are a lot of people (and I mean A LOT) who are indeed talented and want to make their creative drive their livelihood. We all prefer to use the muscles that we enjoy flexing.
But, as with all creative professions (music, theater, visual arts), there is very little room at the top, and that space is pretty much reserved for virtuosos, geniuses and visionaries. OR — people who can mold sound business sense and creative talent into a juggernaut! Madonna comes to mind…
I have certainly felt this throughout my career. It’s all fine and good to be a talented writer, to have an eye for design, or to know how to throw a great party. But there are a million people who have those same interests and talents. And therein lies the catch! If you want to stand out, you have to know how to translate creativity into cold, hard cash — or at least explain the value of your creative work in terms of — again — cold, hard cash. Cash is king, and if you can’t demonstrate a positive relationship between your creative projects and revenue, you’re gonna be first off the court.
So, applying this concept to my most recent industry (non-profit fundraising) I can identify those professionals who are clearly enthralled with branding, communications, schmoozing, and spreading the gospel of an organization’s mission at parties, but clearly don’t know their way around a budget. And I can identify those who are shrewd businesspeople, but can’t hold a conversation … or spell. Both have value to add, but the professionals who marry creative talent with business skill are the ones who stand out — and succeed. They feel comfortable flowing from budget forecasting to crafting communications and developing a brand, and in doing so they make good decisions that raise a lot of money to fulfill their organization’s mission.
So that’s why I decided to get training in the fundamentals of business. I wanted to be stronger. I wanted to flex muscles I didn’t even know I had. I realized that I was heavy on the creative side of things, but I was in the dark about business concepts like accounting and micro-economic principles. And on my new career path, I want to stand out! I want to be able to say, YES I am a creative talent and YES I can get you the numbers. I want to be a juggernaut.
And especially as someone making a career shift in his 30s, I need to stack the odds in my favor. I’m very excited about the decisions I’ve made and the direction I am heading in at the moment. Here’s to success! And here’s to knowing when *not* to hire the $5,000 talent for the party!