Day 4: How to Build an Agency
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- I spent much of the day Thursday talking with members of the creative staff at Buchanan&associates. This directly relates to the mission of my trip since I teach copy writing and creative strategy at Texas Tech.
We did talk a lot about creativity. I wanted to know what they thought that students should have.
Their responses surprised and impressed me.
More than skills, more than software, they talked about fit. They wanted the personality to fit.
If the new person can get along, the employees here largely felt that creative skills could be improved. It was more important to be a good person than to have a great portfolio.
Being creative was more about a walk along the river than some natural ability.
Oh, and get an internship. Several people who work here started as interns.
I finished the day with a couple of books. One was Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko. It has an interesting quotation:
The CEO of a major publishing house was concerned about the lack of creativity among his editorial and marketing staffs. He hired a group of high-priced psychologists to find out what differentiated the creative employees from the others.
After studying the staff for one year, the psychologists discovered only one difference between the two groups: The creative people believed they were creative and the less creative people believed they were not (p. 7).
It's an interesting idea. It ignores the possibility of a third variable: I believe that I'm creative because I am.
The focus on people here is impressive. If you work in advertising, you should want to work here. Really. If you run an advertising agency, you should want it to run the way that things run here.
The focus is on the people. This elicits a much greater attachment among the employees.
In many ways, this place reminds me of the family agency where I grew up. My dad always tried to do the right thing for the people who worked there. He tried to do the right thing for the clients.
He was an ethical advertiser, believe it or not. It seems to me that this place is full of ethical advertisers. They like what they do, or they seem to.
At the end of the day, these are the kinds of people with whom I'd like to hang out. And that seems like a pretty smart way to run a company.