How to keep your creative team and yourself motivated - Executips


Sunday, May 24, 2015

How to keep your creative team and yourself motivated


How do you motivate a creative team…especially when you are not motivated yourself ?


I recall that in the movie Crimson Tide, Capt. Frank Ramsey (played by Gene Hackman) told an operator that if he was unable to fix the radio within a few hours, a nuclear war would begin. Millions would die. The operator was so compelled to find the solution.

My creative division today does a lot of advocacy campaigns and also promotional support for news and public service shows.  I would usually tell them,  “this is the situation of the country, this is where the company stands, and this is what we can do. “

The others are promoting entertainment shows. To them I say “this program affirms the good values of our viewers. Our work will help inspire these people to face life’s challenges. “

In other words, I give context.

I believe that creative people can be driven by a good pay, by their concern for the company and their team mates, by recognition, etc. But I think that artists are most inspired by meaning. If they know how their work can help change people’s lives, they will find the nobility in their profession.

To pursue a meaningful thing is more motivating than to just fulfill a task.

Creative directors are naturally self-motivated, that’s why they reached a high position. But I can agree that things like routine, frustrations and stress can also make them lose interest at times.

My suggestion is for you to appreciate your work again. Not in terms of how many awards you have won, but in terms of how many lives you have touched and how many more you can help change. It’s always good for the soul. And it always rekindles the fire.


You have been working for about 30 years now but you’re still productive and enthusiastic. How can you do that ?

Jo Anne

I think the best way to avoid burn out is to break routine.

Sometimes it’s not a matter of choice that our job orders are so similar. To keep myself from getting bored, I try to approach each project differently. Routine makes us fall into the trap of templating our solutions. It will be best to resist such temptation.

My enthusiasm is also sometimes diverted into other interests like painting, playing in a band, boxing, serving in a kids ministry, performing magic tricks, writing blog articles, etc. So, when I give my attention back to my work, I would have missed it like an old flame.

We also stay passionate at work if we remind ourselves that a career is a journey in learning.

I know some people who say “ I know that already. That one ? I know that, too.” These people may not really look arrogant, but they surely sound tired.  I see more energy in people who are humble enough to admit they can still learn and discover things even at 40, 50 or 60. Even Steve Jobs reminded us to “stay hungry.”

We had  a corporate document at Saatchi & Saatchi back in the 90s. Two encouraging lines, I recall, were like these:

“to do our job with the enthusiasm of the first day at work” and  ‘by not relying on old glories, we continue to build new milestones.”

If you have concerns about your job or if you wish to suggest a topic, you may email me at

I would assume that you’re giving me permission to publish your email ( if chosen) and my reply. Your identity will not be disclosed.

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