February 28, 2014

Jumping off the cliff!

In the last week, I've had two interviews. Both for full-time. Both not quite the 'right' job, but certainly interesting and doable. Both went well overall, though I've yet to hear about next steps. As I drove home from one of them, I realized that I will have a life regret if I don't freelance and get to know the design scene in Dallas.

Now, one of my policies is to try to avoid 'what ifs' and regrets. Go far enough down a road that interests me until I realize I don't need to explore it anymore. Fine Art? I'm good, but not compelled enough to fill blank canvas without a deadline. Foster care? I would love to do it, but my life partner is worn down enough by life/work that it's not fair to impose on him. Graphic Design? I'm very good and love it, but I'm ready to move into management/client-facing elements of it. Work from home? Great fantasy, but doesn't fit my personality.

Ironically, doing freelance actually ties in well with trying to do the big jump that Go Go Woman is encouraging. It allows me to go to a competitor without violating the 'no poaching' agreement. Yet, in the meantime, let's me figure out where I fit into the Dallas design scene.

Three weeks ago, I fasted and prayed about the job/future and that day, a woman emailed me from a big Dallas agency to see if I'm ready to freelance. I told her she'd be my first call. Yesterday I fasted and prayed again. And drama ensued back at the office!!!

One of my co-workers, Tigger, came to my company specifically to work with me. He asked me point blank in December if I'm looking for work. When I said yes, he kicked into over-drive looking for work. He's about to get an offer letter. Our company global Creat1ve D1rector is in the office this week and he pulled Tigger into the office for a heart to heart. Tigger was honest. Yesterday, our local CD called Tigger and they had a super honest meeting. Looks like our company will now do a counter-offer. Part of the issue is not having the money to hire the people Tigger needs to do his job. Yet they are looking to hire a new Exec CD for new business without hiring more people to implement the big ideas. That would mean there would be FOUR CDs and two 2D designers. One of them remote.

Not good.

Two of the current CDs have no idea what to do with me. They don't pick up the phone, don't do WebEx, write cryptic non-informational emails and expect me to deliver. When I don't, they assume I'm a bad designer or I don't get it. I have no desire to continue working with either of them, but I'd be happy to work with a few other groups in my company. If I freelance, I think everyone is happy.

So, this thought that's been growing came to a tipping point this morning after talking with Tigger and hearing about yesterday's drama. I just sent an email to the global head of creative to ask if he'd call me to discuss freelance vs full-time.


February 10, 2014

Autocratic vs Democratic Leadership

During our date night Saturday, Jrex helped me clarify my thinking in terms of how I see myself as a leader and what my vision is for running a creative department.

We were discussing my recent job interview with Christian Agency. It went fine, but he asked me a few questions that were getting at what my vision is for running a department. I felt like I didn't have one! All my answers were tactical vs big picture (a tendency I have anyway. Too pragmatic...).

As I told Jrex, "I feel like I'm more reactive than proactive in terms of vision. On FB, it's rare that I initiate a hilarious post, but I can be funny in reaction to someone else's post. With clients, I don't come in ready to tell them how it should look, rather I trust that as we talk, we'll find that vision together and then I'll help mold it into a viable solution. For a team, I want us to do the thinking together and then I'm happy to be the one who sells it to the client and comes back to interpret for the team.

Jrex then put it this way, "You do have a vision. However, it's not an autocrat who comes in to dictate the way it should be. Rather you envision a democratic process where the group is involved and then you make the final decision. You don't want to be the one with the vision who then has a crew of robots cranking it out. You are comfortable being surrounded by a strong team and helping to channel their energy and creativity in strategic directions."

I keep selling myself short by thinking that I'm not the big idea person therefore I'm not really a Creative Director. Someone I respect at my current job told me I was full of it, and Jrex agreed. I keep thinking that in order to be a CD, I need to have the big picture (which seems to mean being an Autocrat in my head) and I'm completely uncomfortable with that idea.

Perhaps it's a piece of the old and new overlapping. Old school advertising and marketing was/is driven by a male model for the BIG sell/pushiness whereas I think my generation and younger are more driven by consensus, involvement and authenticity. The current leadership in most agencies is still somewhat informed by the old model, which doesn't fit who I am or how I lead a group.

I'm also thinking that I need to accept the gift I'm being given to regroup, rethink and re-envision what I want to be doing professionally. I've just been trying to get a new job without really considering where I want to end up in 5-10 years. So, it's back to my Dad's question, "If you were guaranteed $100,000/year the rest of your life, what would you do?"