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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Creativity as Told by Pixar

Okay, so where am I?

I'm preparing for the annual father's day trek to the new Pixar release. Only a couple of days away and I'm wondering if this will be the annual pilgrimage of sibling fighting that I have to referee or if my kids (now adults) will stop bickering long enough to make me feel like I did a good enough job as a dad raising them to get me to the next holiday. Like I say, media bonds the family and all you have to do is put in the time. I'm putting the odds at 50-50. Yet, I am already digressing.

Aside from the greatness that Pixar movies provide from an entertainment point of view, they go much deeper for the Media Guy. They seem to focus on the genesis of creativity and collaboration. It's hard to fathom that Pixar has drawn some of its finest inspiration from napkin sketches. The democratic collaboration methods that Pixar has chosen to adopt.

Design thinking enthusiast John Spencer has penned down 10 lessons from Pixar that touch on creativity and collaborating with other professionals.

Creativity Isn’t A Solitary Effort

via GIPHY

People often romanticize creative people as loner types feverishly scratching papers each time they get an ‘aha’ moment. However, Spencer believes that the greatest creative ideas root from entire teams.

Pixar empowers its people to offer their input. Its non-hierarchical structure, “from the meetings to the decision-making to the fact that nobody gets a special parking spot,” is possibly one of the reasons why its ideas flow so smoothly but vividly.

Critique Doesn’t Have to Wreck Creativity

via GIPHY

Spencer describes that when you have trust and transparency, constructive feedback can inspire creative thinking. This is in line with what Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull famously said: “We believe that ideas—and thus, films—only become great when they are challenged and tested.”

There is Power in Pivoting

via GIPHY

Pixar first started as a technology firm before branching out to filmmaking. It’s characteristic for the company to focus on a concept, and then pivot out to new ideas until the overall result works.

“I loved seeing how movies like Monsters, Inc. evolved over the years of planning,” remarks Spencer, “…pivoting doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It means you are being flexible and willing to improve.”

Play is Important

via GIPHY

Pixar isn’t an all-work-and-no-play enterprise—celebrations, parties, and retreats, are integral to its culture. The company even encourages employees to decorate their desks with little trinkets.

Some of Pixar’s greatest accomplishments are derived from producing short films. These shorts are typically avenues for testing out new ideas, as well as a means to having small teams pick up a wide range of new skills.

“If you’re working on a long project, you will get tired,” Spencer admits. “It will become a grind. But play allows you to find energy, reconnect with your group and ultimately hit creative breakthroughs.”


Trust the Process

via GIPHY

Pixar might work pretty flexibly, but it also comes with its own structures and rules. Without these, creativity becomes an overwhelming process.

Spencer highlights a quote from Catmull: “People who take on complicated creative projects become lost at some point in the process.”

You Can’t Value Risk-Taking and Unless You Allow for Mistakes

via GIPHY

This theme popped up often but in a way that was much more meaningful than the typical “embrace your mistakes” mantras that you see on social media. It’s the idea of having a growth mindset and knowing that experimentation means mistakes will occur. This is such a sharp contrast to a story in the book where Steve Jobs fires an Apple employee in front of the entire company. By contrast, Catmull wanted Pixar’s employees to feel the freedom to make mistakes and grow as a result.

Art and Science are Complimentary

via GIPHY

This was one of the earliest themes. I’ve seen STEM folks who bemoan the A added in STEAM. However, I am struck by the fact that there is artistry in science and so much science in the art of storytelling. A similar thought is that you can create something innovative and timeless at the same time. So, as students engage in creativity, we need to explore how your collaborative processes honor both art and science.

We Need Mental Models to Battle Fear

via GIPHY

Creativity is scary. I have had moments in creative work when I felt terrified. I worried about what people would think. I worried about entering the unknown without any assurance that I would create what I wanted to create. What I loved about this book is the reminder that the fear never goes away. If anything, it intensifies with success. There’s a section in this book where they explore the fear that the directors face and the mental models they use to make sense of everything. This is important for creative collaboration because an entire group can get stuck and grow risk-averse in their creativity.
The goal of creative collaboration isn’t creativity. With Pixar, the goal is always storytelling and, I would argue, highly emotional myth-making. Creativity isn’t what drives the storytelling. Rather, storytelling drives the creativity. This, by the way, is why I rarely talk about creativity with students. I don’t assess it. I don’t place it on a rubric. I don’t tell students, “Go out and be creative.” Instead, I encourage groups to focus on the purpose and the audience and to feel the freedom to take creative risks.

People are More Important Than Ideas 

via GIPHY

There was a great quote here, “Ideas come from people. Therefore, people are more important than ideas . . . too many of us think of ideas as being singular, as if they float in the ether, fully formed and independent of the people who wrestle with them. Ideas, though, are not singular. They are forged through tens of thousands of decisions, often made by dozens of people.” This has a few big implications for creative collaboration. First, it means trust and relationships are more important than the products we make. Second, it means we need to be okay to abandon ideas without taking things personally. Finally, it means our success in generating ideas does not define who we are as people. Ultimately, the success of a group isn’t the product they create so much as the way that they relate to one another.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

First World Problems: Wearing Jeans with a Sport Coat

Okay, so where am I?

I'm standing in front of my closet pretending to be choosing what to wear when I am really wondering why Roseanne Barr didn't call me ahead of her Ambien tweet that got her rebooted hit TV show booted off of ABC.

I mean...saying you didn't know someone "was black" is no excuse for racism. Letting The Media Guy handle your social media could have allowed her to avoid losing a giant platform that was booking $40 million in ad space, not to mention the upcoming added syndication, and now all of the lost jobs.

All of this on the day Starbucks is closing early for diversity training day. I might be up late waiting for Ms. Barr to call. How will I do it without an afternoon Venti? Will Coffee Bean do the trick? Will I have to resort to 7-11 or gas station coffee? Oh man, first world problems!

Speaking of first world problems, I laughed as I was standing in front of the closet because I wear the same thing every day: uncollared black shirt from Nordstrom, Michael Kors jeans, Armani or bespoke sport coat with a silk pocket square, and expensive shoes. That's been my look for a long time and I can get away with it being in the advertising field.

As a younger Media Guy, I wore a dress shirt and tie every work day...and hated every minute. Now it's en vogue not to wear a tie. The decline of the necktie as a mandatory accessory in the corporate workplace is in full effect to the point there is debate about weather Wall Street guys should skip it too. Stay tuned.

Let's be clear about one thing: this style works in my industry and you can get away with it it you are an engineer in Silicon Valley or if you’re a start-up wunderkind just learning to shave. However if you’re an a big wig in regular corporate American, expecting the support of the Bigger Cheeses, then respect the code of propriety and wear a tie.

Robert Redford was a style trailblazer in 1975's Three Days of the Condor.
If you want to be casual in a suit, remove the jacket, not the tie, and roll up the shirt sleeves if you must (but only mid-way between wrist and elbow, never higher … unless you’re a vet).

With a tip of the chapeau to Brett and Kate McKay of the Art of Manliness, I ran across a guide on how to wear a sport coat with jeans. For those of you looking to launch a high-end casual look, this seminal guide is a must read...

The sports jacket is one of the best, most versatile items a man can have in his wardrobe. The benefits of this piece of clothing are myriad. First, it enhances your silhouette, broadening and heightening your shoulders, slimming your midsection, and giving you a more masculine appearance overall. Second, it offers a good number of pockets, so you can lighten the load on your trousers and have what you need ready at hand. And third, it affords you an opportunity to be a gentleman; should a lady friend become cold, you can remove your jacket and lend her its warmth.

Thus, any way to extend the times and places in which a sports coat may be worn is a win by me. And one such way is to pair one’s jacket with jeans.

Too formal top + too casual bottom = business mullet.
Wearing jeans and a sports coat is a somewhat controversial move; it has been called “the business mullet” (formal up top, casual on the bottom) by its critics. And it’s true that done wrong, the look can come off quite poorly.

But executed well, pairing a sports coat and jeans results in a sharp, casual look that will easily become your go-to getup for a variety of situations. The key to pulling it off is simply to choose the right jeans, the right jacket, and the right accessories. How to do that is what we’ll be covering today.

The Overarching Principle for Successfully Pairing a Sports Jacket With Jeans

The main reason the sports coat and jeans look fails is that the two pieces are too jarringly matched. Generally, the jeans are too casual, and the jacket is too formal. And often both pieces are too baggy. The solution of course is to make sure that top and bottom complement each other well — that your jeans are a little more formal, your jacket is a little more casual, and everything fits well. Remember, fit is the foundation of style!

Choose Your Jeans

This is the easiest part of the equation: choose clean, dark, well-fitted, trouser-esque denim. Avoid ripped, baggy, faded, and distressed jeans. Lighter denim can sometimes work, especially if you’re Robert Redford circa 1975. But to keep it simple, go with a nice, deep indigo.

(In the photo) Baggy, over-casual jeans (left), look incongruous paired with a sports jacket, while jeans with a more tailored look (right), complement the jacket nicely.

Choose Your Sports Jacket

This is the area where you’ll have to exercise more discretion.

The first question that often arises is whether one’s coat has to be of the sports variety, or whether one can pair jeans with a suit jacket or blazer.

When it comes to wearing a suit jacket and jeans, the answer is, with very few exceptions, decidedly no. A suit jacket is more structured, spare in details, smooth in fabric, and formal in appearance; thus, paired with the casualness of jeans, the resulting look is simply too discordant and jarring.

The blazer jacket sits in-between the formality levels of the suit jacket and the sports jacket. It can work with jeans, especially if it is made of a thicker, more textured fabric like flannel or serge, rather than the fine worsted wool common to suit jackets. But it can still come off as too formal to pair well with denim.

When it comes to style, most men are better off adhering to fairly simple rules, rather than delving into nuances and exceptions, so when it comes to donning a jacket with your jeans, I recommend sticking solely with the sports coat. It’s hard to go wrong with it. The sports jacket was created in the 19th century for gentlemen who needed a more rugged, utilitarian garment for active pursuits like shooting, hunting, riding, and golf. The jacket was thus constructed of thicker fabrics and adorned with patch pockets for cartridges, elbow patches for durability, and slits in the back for mobility. These rustic, casual style details are what make the sports jacket a quite fitting companion for the rustic, casualness of denim. In fact, the more casual the jacket, the better it will complement your jeans.

A jacket in a color that contrasts with your jeans (right), generally looks better than a jacket in a similar color (left)
Here are a few things to generally look for in a sports jacket that will pair particularly well with jeans:

  • Unstructured and soft-shouldered.
  • Casual, textured fabric. Linen or cotton in warmer months; tweed, corduroy, etc. for colder weather.
  • Casual style details like patch pockets and elbow patches.
  • Two buttons over three.
  • Thin notch lapels over peak lapels.
  • Well-fitted. Sports coats are cut roomier than suit jackets and blazers in order to allow for layering underneath. But you don’t want the fit to be too baggy.
  • High color contrast with jeans. Sports coats, unlike suit jackets, aren’t supposed to match your pants, and in fact look best when they form a sharp contrast with them. Thus a light-colored sports coat generally looks best with dark denim.

The Accessories

The other pieces you pair with your sports coat and jeans will go a long way towards ensuring your getup works. You can choose to go with a slightly dressier look, or a more casual one.

Examples of layering possibilities
Sweater/vest. A layered look goes great with jeans, so don’t hesitate to pull a v-neck sweater or casual vest over your dress shirt, and under your jacket....or, if you're a Marvel anti-hero / married to Blake Lively, then your waist coat can be your jacket...:


Shoes. When dressing up the look, choose a brown pair of brogues or oxfords. For a step down from there, go with leather loafers or double monk strap shoes. More casual still, would be to don dress/work boots (like my personal favorite, the Wolverine 1,000 mile) or chukkas. And of course cowboy boots with jeans and a sports coat is a classic look that transcends categories and works well in certain regions of the country.

Pocket Square. Another sharp addition if you’re going for a snazzier ensemble. Just like with ties, choose a thicker, more rustic fabric rather than silk, and it’s usually best to go with a simple, low-profile fold rather than a puffy, flowing one.

In incorporating all of these elements, stick with a consistent theme; that is, if you’re going for a slightly dressier look, rock brogues, a crisp oxford, and a pocket square. If you’re going for a more casual look, pair leather dress/work boots with a chambray shirt and no tie.

When to Wear a Sports Coat and Jeans

One good time to wear a sports jacket and jeans is when you’re running from the FBI, who mistakenly believes you’ve killed your wife. These are the only circumstances under which you’re allowed to wear black sneakers with your getup as well.

A sports coat paired with jeans is not a formal or semi-formal look. It’s inherently casual in nature. That being said, it’s an extremely versatile outfit that’s particularly perfect when the dress code is a little squiggy — events where you know things aren’t going to be very dressy, but you don’t think it’s going to be super casual either. Sports coat + jeans bridges the gap between causal and dressy, town and country, and is thus a highly adaptable outfit that will allow you to seem neither too dressed up nor too dressed down in a variety of situations, including:

First date. A handsome look a lady friend is sure to appreciate. The sports jacket provides plenty of pockets to hold the essential items in a man’s first date arsenal, and you can offer your coat to your gal should she get cold. Plus, as ladies often wear dressed-up denim out on the town, this getup will allow you to look sharp without outdressing your date (something a gentleman strives to avoid).

Casual/creative job interview. When you’re applying for a job in a very casual workplace, where employees wear t-shirts and hoodies to work, the sports coat/jeans combo can be just the right sharp, but not-too uptight look for an interview.

A job that straddles field and office. If you work a job where you’re sometimes in an office, and sometimes out in the field (at a construction site, for example) the combination of durability, functionality, and put-togetherness of a sports jacket + jeans will allow you to move comfortably between different sites and roles.

Traveling. The sports jacket’s pockets come in handy when you’re traveling, while the jeans will keep you comfortable. Together the look ensures you’ll arrive to your destination in style.

Other situations where a sports coat and jeans would fit right in include casual business functions, casual church services, dinner at a steakhouse with friends, parent/teacher conferences, etc. Tinker with the formality of the accessories listed above to arrive at a look that’ll best fit the particular situation.

Jin Rockford...another trailblazer.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Pimping Out Atlanta

Okay, so where am I?

I’m out on vacation from my 60 hour a week marketing gig working my other media job that I can only do when I’m on vacation. Good thing my 60 hour a week career has a liberal time-off policy akin to the countries of France and Brazil. Ah, the things I do to make commercials and extra scratch for the folks in Japan!

So, I’m at Atlanta and I made the mistake of letting my office handle the arrangements and I wound up in the bad part of Atlanta…called Atlanta. Take a look in the header of this blog and picture this friendly, All-American face wondering in Atlanta and gasp, “Ohhhhhhhhhhh Noooooooooooo!”

Not great, Bob!

I don’t know if you’ve ever been driving around a sketchy neighborhood and you do what I do and tell yourself, “It’s me.” Yep, it’s me judging the neighborhood inappropriately.

I do it a lot and I cannot lie.

My inner dialogue went something like this:
“Stop it…it’s fine…it’s different and I like it…thank you! What a vibrant community to let my rental Mercedes idle at these loooooooooooooooooong, long lights. Nope! No danger here….24 hour check cashing places? What a wonderful service. Yes, those should be on every corner!…Oh ‘Cash for Gold’ you say? Yes! Thank you very much, let me scribble a note down just in case.”
I knew it was a bad area because I saw a pimp strolling around/ How do I know it was a pimp? Close your eyes and picture a pimp. Yep, that’s him. Do not, I repeat, do not alter your first draft of mental pimp in the least. A man in a Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat suit, a furry fedora, a glass cane, platform shoes, and a pinky ring.

Indeed, I saw a pimp.

Listen, I’m not babe in the woods but seeing a pimp outside of the movies (*) in 2018 where all such activities are reserved for the world wide web is a clear indicator that I was in the wrong part of town.

A mile away I arrived at my hotel and, I don’t know if you’re still playing the picture game, but it wasn’t looking like a Four Seasons. It was more like an abandoned building here someone spray painted the word “Hotel” on the side of it. So there I am checking in behind 20 inches of bulletproof Plexiglas and imagining what a delightful stay this is going to be while asking what the Wi-Fi password is but not being able to hear though the muffled sound of an apathetic front desk clerk.

It was then when it hit me. It doesn’t have anything to do with me or or my perception of the area. This is just a messed up area and I need to get the hell out of here. So there I am in the middle of the transaction, wallet in one hand, roller bag in the other, I was like: “Never mind all of this!” as I kept rolling back out hoping my Mercedes wasn’t on blocks at this point.

I roll out to the parking lot and this whole thing is playing out like a Jeff Foxworthy standup routine and jump into the my car with my bag on my lap pretending to be Snake Plissken,  but really more like George Costanza facing a fire.  All I knew is I need to get somewhere more bougie.

With my handle trembling towards my GPS system I proceeded to search for the most bougie place I could think of in Atlanta: Barnes and Noble. (**)
(**) I feel many of you reading this are wondering if you can laugh at this one, while others are you are quietly filing this away mentally to use at a later time when you find yourself in the wrong part of town. Other businesses that will work for this get out of sketchy scenario include: Panera and the Apple Store. 
Whatever you think of this strategy, just know that in 22 minutes I had a scone and an espresso while getting a foot massage at The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead. (***)

(***) - AD OF THE WEEK/MONTH/WHATEVER
Glico
Agency: Me, The Media Guy, Michael Lloyd

Here’s the work that came from the Atlanta meetings and that scone:


(*) - Top Ten Movie Pimps:


Monday, May 7, 2018

Ink on the Soul: The Psyche of a Copywriter


Okay, so where am I?

I sitting in my hotel room staring at a keyboard that doesn't move and won't move as a wrestle with my inadequacies that only copy can deliver to an imperfect mind. It both frightening and paralyzing. I have four books in print, countless commercials still on air, and a straight from Korean theater to DVD movie I've penned and yet, one client shakes her head at some ad copy and I freeze up.

But why?

Digging around the mind of anyone in this odd cricket-herd we call advertising and marketing is a virtuous way to see some bizarre and dreadful things. So, to poke a manicured finger into the hornet’s nest that is your own professional essence is less the subject of a quirky column and more the act of a dodgy madcap.

Nevertheless, the psychosomatic makeup of the regular Joe copywriter comprises the kind of struggle, hallucination, and outright hysteria that coerces us to peel away the aluminum foil helmet and renders the delirious truth. (I’ll warn you though, this column contains a daring amount of wild generality and no trivial degree of hypocrisy).

In most copywriters there exists an abnormal sense of privilege. Not that we demand a powder blue dressing room filled with green M&Ms, pricey writing instruments, and precisely-chilled Perrier, but more a obligation to be listened to. The very nature of the job is to be, not the loudest voice, but the most gripping – to say something predictable and common in a way that feels extraordinary and compulsory. How often have you seen a copywriter punctured by a message that, within the promotional vortex, whines timidly to be noticed?

We’re also guilty of a festering exasperation, a moral disrespect for those who believe that anyone with fingers, eyes and direct access to ink or Microsoft Word is capable of writing serious prose. And, we see these characters everywhere, even prowling in the shadows of our finest and most fruitful client relationships.

A sentiment that our contribution isn’t quite as valued by some as we know it should be is perhaps the energy fueling another common apprehension: a compulsive, crippling, infuriating conscientiousness. Leave some copywriters alone with a flawlessly erected headline and they will rip it to shreds, splattering the walls with a spray of progressively unsatisfying substitutes. I’ve met many a writer chase down a final draft on its way out of the door, paralyzed by a fear that there may be not enough, or indeed too many, commas.

Your typical, well-fed copywriter is also unsettlingly contented with their own professional schizophrenia. We are personas with endless voices and takes clattering around in our minds, with the aptitude to debate for, and against, any exact point with identical persuasion. And yet, while we’re capable of nurturing all kinds of dissimilar voices, we never truly release our own. Even in that 2200-word manual for a digital camera, our own unique style clicks quietly around the onscreen shutter speed menu.

We are, I suppose, beasts of inspiration trussed inescapably to authenticity. We define success by artistic genius, knowing ultimately it is only properly defined by commercial performance. And amongst all this, we bungee jump in and out of an offbeat state of absorption – spellbound by a brief about insect repellant, or chewing gum, or coffee drinks all the time knowing that none of it really exists. Writing, like advertising, is the art of sculpting fog.

That’s just a few of the phobias and idiosyncrasies I can identify in myself and other writers with whom I’ve interacted. There are some of us who share these, just as there are some with no recognition at all, for this somewhat lumbering picture of our vocation. There are some, I’m quite sure, with an even more complex relationship with the job.

Whether it’s the foundation of abnormality that the job that sends our way, or whether it’s our inherent foibles that direct us to this weird working life, I’m unsure.

Ink on the page, ink on our hands and, without doubt, ink on the soul.

AD OF THE WEEK/MONTH/WHATEVER
The Olivetti girl

Advertising legend George Lois crafted the "Olivetti girl" ad for electric Olivetti typewriter in the mid 1960s. But just who is the Olivetti girl? (From the George Lois website:)

WE HAD TO MAKE THE OLIVETTI TYPEWRITER FAMOUS FOR SECRETARIES TO ACCEPT IT.

Olivetti, the great ltalian typewriter, had been advertised in America with a primary emphasis on the beauty of its design. Among industrial design cognoscenti, Olivetti was always synonymous with beauty, but most people wouldn’t recognize good design if they tripped over it. Sales of Olivetti’s splendid line of electric typewriters had gone stagnant while mighty IBM had the market locked up. IBM was so dominant that purchasing agents of large corporations would rarely even consider buying another brand. We had to breakthrough the IBM barrier. To plot our strategy, Jim Callaway interviewed many key buyers and found that while they regarded Olivetti as a top-notch typewriter, their hands were tied. Secretaries, they explained to Jim, felt that IBM gave them status. So we conceived the Olivetti Girl, who would out-status everyone. We told secretaries that Olivetti was the typewriter to type on. And we were putting across a message that was being seen by her boss, her girl friends, and all those reluctant purchasing agents. We produced six ads and nine TV spots that showed the Olivetti Girl as the star performer in her office, as the secretary who typed faster, neater, sharper, as the girl most I likely to succeed. (One of our headlines summed it up: “When you want to do something right, give it to the Olivetti Girl!”) In a few weeks, brand awareness of Olivetti leaped, and sales of Olivetti typewriters went through the roof.

THE NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN VS. BROADWAY JOE NAMATH

Believe it or not, these ads were the genesis of the first #TimesUp movement.  The Olivetti campaign burst on the scene in 1972, just as the National Organization for Women was flexing its muscles. NOW attacked the campaign for stereotyping women as underlings (they were furious that only men were shown as bosses while only women were shown as secretaries), and they called me a male chauvinist pig.

They picketed the Olivetti building on Park Avenue and sent hecklers up to my office to un-n-n-nerve me. Something had to be done. Who can fight a woman’s fury? I capitulated. I would do an ad and a TV spot, with a woman executive giving orders to a male secretary. I cast an actual woman exec (not an actress) as the boss. I cast Jets great Joe Namath as the secretary (because he could type).

Lois invited the women of NOW to view the spot, but when they saw the boss ask her secretary for a date at the conclusion of the spot, they were aghast. (You do very good work, Joseph. By the way, what are you doing for dinner tonight?) “It’s an old story,” I said. “The boss always tries to make the secretary.” They cursed Lois, walked out, and never bothered that male chauvinist pig again.

From “Rebel Secretaries,” Time magazine, March 20, 1972:

“This infuriated a group of New York City secretaries, backed by members of the National Organization of Women, a feminist organization, which picketed Olivetti’s headquarters. The 2,000,000 U.S. secretaries —nearly all women, many underutilized and underpaid—would seem to be ideal recruits for Women’s Liberation. Yet few so far have joined the cause. Nevertheless, with new pages being turned almost everywhere else, some are being flipped over in shorthand notebooks too.

Last week, responding to complaints from employees, the U.S. State Department ordered its executives to stop treating secretaries as “char help,” to show a little more diplomacy toward them and to encourage independent secretarial decision making.”



Thursday, April 26, 2018

Pantera: The Art of Sculpting Fog


The de Tomaso Pantera. Around $10,000.*
In Italy, men build cars with passion. One of them is Alejandro de Tomaso. And this is his car. Pantera.
-------------

The evolution of the print ad is something that deserves its own dissertation (I am sure there are many) and today too much copy scares away even the most avid reader. Today, any print ad worth its media uses four key components: 
  • A headline
  • Visual-grabbing design elements
  • Snappy copy or even as short as a tagline
  • A call to action. 
I miss the days when copy dominated print ads covering up to seventy per cent of the page. You simply can't get away with that now. Looking back through my ancient Sports Illustrated enearthed some treasures, namely an ad for the Pantera.  If I asked a thousand of my readers if you knew what the Pantera was, my guess is that two or three would know what it was. For the other 9,997 of you, take a mental walk with me and let me tell you...

Elvis Presley was car enthusiast known for his love of Cadillacs. After all, he owned nearly a hundred of him during his lifetime. But in the 1970s, the talk among car buffs was a sleek Italian-made sports car called the Pantera (aka Panther in English). Elvis bought one and was never the same. One day when he fancied a spin, the car wouldn't start. After some frustration, he took out a gun and shot it a few times. 

The Presley Pantera is now in a museum...respectful visitors count the wounds.
It might be thought that the incident, enthusiastically reported around the world, would damage sales of the Pantera...nothing was further from the truth. Why? Perhaps the love affair for automobiles was best described by William Faulkner in "Intruder in the Dust":

“The American really loves nothing but his automobile: not his wife his child nor his country nor even his bank-account first (in fact he doesn't really love that bank-account nearly as much as foreigners like to think because he will spend almost any or all of it for almost anything provided it is valueless enough) but his motor-car. Because the automobile has become our national sex symbol. We cannot really enjoy anything unless we can go up an alley for it."

It was felt that even the king of rock and roll had no right to take shots at a car. The Pantera, a car previously confined to the specialist market,quickly gained notoriety. Pantera fans sympathized with Alejandro De Tomaso, its creator, when he explained that his design, like many an Italian prima donna, could be temperamental and should be treated with kindness and patience. The starting problem was a minor matter, he said, to do with overheating, and could be simply remedied. 

As for the Presley Pantera, it is now in a museum. Respectful visitors count the wounds.

If, as Faulkner and other writers claimed, America has had a love affair with the car (now possibly fading, as affairs do), this may explain why the Pantera became an object of special affection along with the country's own classics stretching back to Henry Ford's Model T. De Tomaso's achievement was to get his Italian job into a pantheon largely made up of American models. He had an unusual combination of gifts, that of innovator and salesman.

Immortalized in plastic...a sure sign of a classic....
Yet, I digress...

When Ford president Lee Iacocca wanted a sports car that his dealers could offer to match the Corvette, he turned to the De Tomaso Pantera to do the heavy lifting. Growing up in the the seventies, Iacocca was a bit of a business folk hero. No one knew CEOs and Presidents of big companies back then, but everyone knew him. Even a 10-year-old from Los Angeles. He said once, "You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can't get them across, your ideas won't get you anywhere."

This statement was never so obvious as him turning to his Lincoln-Mercury ad agency Kenyon & Eckhardt to create the materials that would get his big idea across. By the time the Pantera was ready to find its way into Lincoln-Mercury dealerships the ads were ready and immediately made an impact. The copywriting itself deserves a special spot in the pantheon of copywriting. Each word carries the weight of ten. Consider the following paragraph: 
"Conceived without compromise. A car so carefully built (it is virtually handmade) there will only be 2,500 made the first year. Mid-engined like a racing car. An ultra-high-performance sports coupe that stands a little higher than the average man’s belt buckle, it seats two (and only two) and it’s priced in the neighborhood of $10,000."
And then the ego grabbing hook-line:
"Obviously, Pantera is for the few who demand something extraordinary."
Today, this would be enough copy for two ads, but in the 1970s, they were just getting started:
"The body is the inspired work of Ghia, the renowned coachbuilder. It is Italian craftsmanship at its finest. Monocoque construction fuses the steel skin and frame into an incredibly strong and rigid structure.
"The engine is a 351 CID, 4-barrel V-8 placed just ahead of the rear axle, which gives Pantera some huge advantages over conventional sports cars. Better vision forward. Less power-loss. Better weight distribution. And the tightest, most satisfying handling characteristics you’ve ever experienced."
And if all of this mindblowing car jargon (easily retained and digested as you read) isn't enough, they his you with the cherry on top of the sundae:

"With five forward speeds fully synchronized, independent suspension of all four wheels (die-cast magnesium wheels are optional), rack and pinion steering, power-boosted disc brakes — even an ingenious system to prevent you from inadvertently selecting the wrong gear while shifting, the de Tomaso Pantera has to be one of the most impressive vehicles ever offered here at any price."

Copywriters are, I suppose, beasts of imagination tethered inescapably to reality. They define success by creative brilliance, knowing ultimately it is only properly defined by commercial performance. And amongst all this, they yo-yo in and out of an odd state of immersion – rapt by a brief about chewing gum, or shoes, or Japanese lemonade, all the time knowing that none of it really exists. 

Copywriting, like marketing, is the art of sculpting fog. This is never more apparent than in the Pantera ad above.

--------------

The Flip Side

Of course, the ad agency cut some corners too and resorted to the 1970s Mad Men-style of advertising...sigh:





Monday, April 2, 2018

Seriously: The Best Places to Eat in Poland Right Now

Okay, so where am I?

Move over, Paris. Get a taste for one of the most surprising food destinations on Earth: Poland.

This European nation is located at a geographic intersection that connects the forested lands of northwestern Europe to the fertile plains of the Eurasian frontier and sea lanes of the Atlantic Ocean. It often flies under the radar, but its food scene is starting to cause a stir.

Order up the Grey Goose Nest at the Szara Gęś.
Seldom do I get to worry about the right things to eat in a normal work day. I mean grab and go is the staple of the day. And, when you're on set, the only things left on the craft services table are the dry peanut butter granola bars, Oreo cookies, and apples. So, when I hit the road, I spend a lot of time trying to figure out the best things to eat. When I heard about the hidden treasures of the culinary delights found within Poland, I had to get there. What follows are the best places to eat in Poland—from Krakow to Warsaw—and where to go to burn away the calories

KRAKÓW

Szara Gęś
Rynek Główny 17
31-008 Kraków
Phone: +48 12 430 63 11

In the middle of Old Town Krakow is an amazing restaurant and we only recommend it if you want to be spoiled.

I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that Szara Gęś easily ranks amongst the best cuisine choices in all of Europe. The restaurant has it all: excellent wines and spirits (essential for closing those big deals), exceptional service staff, inviting decor, innovative and well-plated dishes, and incredible desserts. Order up the Grey Goose Nest, which resembles an actual large goose egg in a nest. This gastric invention is an unexpected, over-the-top delight that must be sampled if you get anywhere near Poland. Seriously, it’s worth a special trip.

Delectable salmon at the Restauracja Pod Baranem.
Restauracja Pod Baranem
ul. św. Gertrudy 21
31-049 Kraków
Phone: +48 12 429 40 22

The Michelin Guide 2017 says this about the Restauracja Pod Baranem:

"Traditional family-run restaurant set over five rooms, with rug-covered stone floors, homely furnishings and contemporary artwork by Edward Dwurnik. The large menu offers classic Polish cuisine; sharing dishes must be ordered in advance…"

... and did the meal ever live up to the guide’s recommendation.

The modest façade is seemingly like every Europe eatery on a quiet street. Yet, the minute you enter the restaurant, you’re greeted to a full house with enough energy to power a small town. Once you check your coat, you are certainly ready to try the vast menu.

The salmon (pictured) and duck main dishes are exquisitely prepared and the friendly staff is on point during the entire meal. Add some delicious mulled wine and bespoke vodka martini and you're in business.

The loin of venison is comfort cuisine that leaves a lasting impression.
Pod Nosem Restauracja
Kanonicza 22
31-002 Kraków, Poland
Phone: +48 12 376 00 14

After a long, long stretch of less than impressing experiences while testing new restaurants this spring, all we wanted to eat was a full menu at Pod Nosem Restauracja in Kraków. There no place else we’ve found where fine dining feels so cozy while being so surprising, inspiring, and taste-bud-pleasing. Their approach is definitely fitting the ongoing trend of focusing on local food sources without ever being overly intellectual about it…

…and if you’re in the mood for Polish game with a modern twist, this is the just the place to come. Take a look at the entrée selections offered:

Baltic Salmon with vegetables and broth
Rabbit and polenta with beetroot
Guinea Fowl, steppe boletus, buckwheat and Brussels sprouts
Loin of Venison with chestnuts and kale

The flavor and texture profiles of their dishes are spot, yet unusual enough to leave a lasting impression. Add in the homemade dumplings and fois with figs and you just want to stop and go to heaven. Wait, you’re already there! Oh, and their rhubarb pavlova with pomegranate dessert is heavenly.

Where to Stay in Kraków

A five-star hotel and spa on a quiet corner of the Wisła, the Niebieski is a fantastic boutique hotel with a harmonious holistic interior arrangement and philosophy of wellbeing that extends from the sumptuous Vanilla Spa and throughout the entire hotel. The spacious rooms feature wide, comfortable beds, unique modern furnishings and soothing colors, while the Vanilla Sky restaurant serves light fusion cuisine with certified organic ingredients, and features great views of Wawel Castle within walking distance of the main attractions.

Niebieski Art Hotel & Spa
Flisacka 3
30-114 Kraków
Phone: +48 12 297 40 00

Niebieski is a fantastic boutique hotel with wellbeing at its core.
Go out of your way to try the sumptuous Vanilla Spa (above and below).

Don’t Miss While In Kraków

I went there for the food, but stayed because of the steeped historical significance. The main draws of this European city are its Old World architecture and connection to World War II. History enthusiasts will appreciate seeing the planes at the Polish Aviation Museum and revel in walking around Oskar Schindler's Factory, Old Town, and the Jewish Quarter. The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum will leave you utterly and emotionally drained, while architecture aficionados will love eyeing the Wawel Cathedral and St. Mary's Basilica.

If you have a few hours in the afternoon, a must see is the Wieliczka Salt Mine, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where salt was churned out for centuries. The mine's undisputed climax is St. Kinga's Chapel, a full-blown underground temple made out of salt. A visit to the mine also doubles as a workout—during a typical visit, you'll navigate down 800 steps, 350 of which are part of your initial descent.

WARSAW

ELIXIR by Dom Wódki
Wierzbowa 9/11
00-094 Warszawa, Poland
Phone: +48 22 828 22 11

Also known as The Vodka House—there are currently over 250 vodkas ready to pour—we sadly skipped the alcohol during the lunchtime visit. This fine dining restaurant, in the heart of Warsaw near the National Opera House and Museums, has pushed the local Polish food scene to a new level. Their kitchen showcases the diverse flavors and textures of Polish cuisine with a unique drive and ambition. Specially prepared by Tomasz Małek, a four-time Flair Bartending world champion, the menu is fully paired with cocktails, wines and liquors.

Since it was lunch, I stuck to soup and salad, which both ate like a meals of their own. The Krupnik soup arrived at the table with the millet and vegetables, free-range chicken meatballs, and dill, looking delicious, yet lonesome in the bowl. The broth was added tableside and it couldn’t have been more delightful. The goat cheese and beetroot salad ranks among the finest meal salad I've ever tasted

One can only wonder how amazing this meal would have been at night with some vodka. Bravo!

Warszawski Sen Restaurant by Mateusz Gessler
ul. Hala Koszyki 63
Warsaw
Phone: +48 22 221 81 76

Really good food gives me the shivers. I also kind of want to clap my hands, when I eat it, and sometimes I even do (like, a silent mental clap, but still, we’re applauding the chef).

Eating at Warszawski Sen, located in the trendy Koszyki Hall, gives me that feeling. Their cauliflower cream soup with truffle oil is very, very high on my list of absolute Warsaw faves. It’s made with the best local truffles and so creamy and delicious that I (almost) lack the words to describe it.

But I also love all the other veggie dishes like the super creamy risotto with mushrooms (as you can see we were on a cream kick in Warsaw!) and the baked yolk, sour cream and roasted spring onion salad.


GDAŃSK (via WARSAW)

I cheated a little bit when it came to visiting Gdańsk. Rather than switching hotels and staying outside of Warsaw, I opted to take the two-and-half hour train ride from Warszawa Centralna (see Where to Stay in Warsaw to understand why) to Gdańsk.

Gdańsk is a hidden treasure and once you step off of the train you immediately why this town in a must see. Start at St. Mary’s Basilica and the 46-foot tall Astronomical Clock that is both a work of art and highly-functioning information source. Its complex dials show the time and date, phases of the moon, the position of the moon and sun in relation to the zodiac signs, and the calendar of saints. Adam and Eve ring the bell on the hour, and at noon the Three Kings, the Apostles, and Death join them in a historic precession.

Visit the Amber Museum to see hundreds of interesting ways the most rare amber on Earth’s is used in everyday life. Without a visit, you might never know that as much as 90% of the world's deposits can be found near Poland, with some of it extremely valuable. Exiting the museum there is a huge street where you can buy an amber treat of your own (I opted for the petite lamps with the fashionable amber shades).

Lunch at Brovarnia in the Hotel Gdańsk
Szafarnia 9, 80-755
Gdańsk, Poland
Phone: +48 58 320 19 70

After a longish walk past the shipping canal, a small respite was in order and I stumbled upon the Brovarnia and just like Gdańsk, it was secret gem that exceeded expectations. The five-course lunch was a mesh of local delights that excited the palate:

Veal Loin Carpaccio with arugula and truffle olive

Young spinach salad with goat cheese, beetroots, pine nuts with lemon-nut vinaigrette

Wild mushroom consommé with truffle dumplings

Beef cheeks confit with roasted vegetables, potato dumplings and red wine sauce

Apple Crumble with Baileys sauce and ice cream

The famous 21 demands of the 1980 shipyard strike (click to enlarge).
After lunch, I immediately proceeded to The European Solidarity Centre for one of the best museum experiences anywhere. In 1980, the American news media caught wind of Solidarity, a Polish labor union led by the charismatic Lech Walesa. Every night, the national news would show this David standing up to the Goliath of communism.

Who would have guessed that this union would be instrumental in the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union, and the primary catalyst that would transform Poland from a repressive communist satellite to the EU member democracy it is today?

My visit to the Solidarity museum reminded me of the daily anti-commie rhetoric, which fueled our nuclear fears and dislike (hate) of the Soviet Union. The museum's 'Roads to Freedom' exhibit is centered in the Gdansk shipyards where Walesa rose to lead the shipyard workers. Inside, elaborate dioramas and props recreate the bare cupboards and empty shop shelves with only lard and vinegar of Poland in the ‘80s. Slideshows and crackling film-reels tell the stories of the political uprisings and the nightmare of martial law.

The famous 21 demands of the August 1980 shipyard strike, handwritten on plywood boards and honored by UNESCO's World Heritage List, are also on display along with letters of support from all over the world.

Winne Grono Restaurant
ul. Mikołaja Kopernika 17a
80-280 Gdańsk
Phone: +48 60 221 88 17

Winne Grono: The smoked duck is the best in Europe
Before catching the train back to Warsaw, dinner was slated for the Winne Grono Restaurant and it seemed to take forever to get there. More than once I thought about getting by on the first class train meal that awaited. Boy, am I glad I didn’t skip this restaurant.

If you want to know why the Polish food scene is as good as it is today, come here. The modest restaurant tucked into a residential area was a gastronomic delight. The smoked duck breast with celery salad, walnut, Roquefort cheese, red beets, and apple sorbet is easily the best duck we had in Europe. If you want a vegetarian option, there’s nothing better than the fried goat cheese with pear in red wine, marinated pumpkin, rocket and sunflower pesto.

KOZLÓWKA / LUBLIN / KAZIMIERZ

The search for cuisine continued with easily the most intriguing and emotional day of the trip, starting with a two hour forty-five drive to Kozłówka. Here, you will find picturesque Zamoyski Palace, the only remaining authentic Polish aristocratic residence in the region. In a miracle of fate, the palace was not destroyed in World War II. Time has stood still at the palace since Count Konstanty Zamoyski had it rebuilt and redeveloped at the turn of the 19th century. Not only did he order numerous copies of the finest paintings and original works of art, but also equipped the place with modern bathroom, waterworks and sewage system. Opt for the private tour and request Magdalena as your private docent.

Traveling further southeast to Lublin marked another day of remembrance to those we, as a people, let perish through racism, ignorance, and indifference. Majdanek was a concentration and forced labor camp that evolved into a death camp. It was located in a suburb just three miles from Lublin in Poland in the center of the General Government area.

Majdanek opened in September 1941, initially for Soviet prisoners of war, and was liberated by the Soviet Army in July 1944. During this time approximately 360,000 victims died or were murdered, 120,000 of them Jews.

The inmates of comprised people of 54 nationalities from 28 different countries. They included Soviet prisoners of war and Jews from Poland, Germany, Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, France, Hungary, Belgium and Greece. In addition, many non-Jews from Belorussia, the Ukraine and across Poland were taken to the camp as political prisoners or slave laborers.

Ego Restaurant at Hotel Alter
ul. Grodzka 30,
20-112 Lublin, Poland
Phone: +48 601 902 800

With Majdanek draining me of all available energy, the Ego was just the remedy to recharge. The brilliance of Chef Karol Zając lights the way through a rediscovery of the long hidden secrets of polish cuisine merged with flavors from the far-reaching corners of the world. Nothing can compare to the beef tartar with anchovy-sephia emulsion and pickled boletuses.

As a matter of fact, the pumpkin ravioli with burnt butter foam is worth the 11-hour flight and three-hour drive alone. The wine was so good that I packed two bottles of wine and brought them back in my suitcase.

After Lublin, I zipped over to Kazimierz Dolny for a night tour. It is one of the highlights of anything in the general vicinity of Warsaw as one of the most beautifully located little Renaissance towns in Poland. Its greatest prosperity dates back hundred of years and has become a popular holiday destination, attracting artists and summer residents. The tour featured visit to their iconic 16th century Parish Church, the ruins of medieval castle and tower, and Old Town filled with studios and local artisans. The highlight of the trip was the torch lit hike in the driving rain through the Jewish cemetery followed by local liqueur tasting—a tour of a lifetime.

Zielona Tawerna  
Nadwiślańska 4,
24-120 Kazimierz Dolny, Poland
Phone: +48 81 881 03 08

Photo: Poland_015.jpg

I had heard the buzz around Zielona Tawerna and were curious about trying it. Now I cannot stop thinking about going back. It’s simply that good; some of the best Polish flavors you will find in town.

The moment you enter the old house, with a garden, the scent of herb—sage, mint, rosemary, and lavender—engulf your senses. Since it was the forest mushroom season, our hostess recommended the chanterelle soup, fried cabbage, and Ruskie pierogi (dumplings with cottage cheese and potatoes) and it was if your aunt from the old country spent all day cooking in her own kitchen. A wonderful meal before a long trek back to the hotel.


Where to Stay in Warsaw

Located in Warsaw’s beautiful Nowe Miasto (New Town) whose origins date back to the 15th century, the Mamaison Hotel Le Regina is housed in the Mokrowsky Palace. One look at the hotel’s terracotta-colored façade and you know you couldn’t possibly find a better place to stay in Warsaw (and you won’t want to leave either as evidenced by our affinity to take long train rides so at the end of the night we could rest our heads there). Standing on a narrow, quiet street, this 61-roomed hotel boasts luxurious interiors, a year-round pool, a quirky good spa, and the acclaimed La Rotisserie restaurant.

Mamaison Hotel Le Regina Warsaw
Kościelna 12, 00-218
Warsaw, Poland
Phone: +48 22 531 60 00

The Mamaison Hotel Le Regina is housed in the Mokrowsky Palace
A view inside the penthouse (above and below).

Don’t Miss While In Warsaw

Poland's capital city is filled with educational attractions—the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and the Warsaw Uprising Museum focus on the country's history, while The Royal Castle in Warsaw and the Copernicus Science Centre feature art or science collections. Music lovers can admire Frédéric Chopin-focused sights along Krakow Suburb Street. No visit to Warsaw is complete without wandering around Old Town where the charm overwhelms you no matter where you look.



Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Managing Creatives


Okay, so where am I?

I'm still recovering from the red carpet at the Oscars. Every year, for seven straight years, the photographers pit takes a little more from me. This year I may have brought back the flu bug from either the hundred or so camera clickers or the one of the beautiful people who lined the frenzied madness of the 9Oscars Red Carpet. I mean take a look at this:


In this time after awards season, I reflect on the year ahead and the year behind me for a strategic gut check. It's important to self reflect and make sure the you keep rowing your boat in the right direction. Age has its advantages, but complacency it often the plague that diverts you from your goals. I like to circle a huge goal and assess my talents. The last couple of years netted me some great accomplishments: lots of gold and silver statues (read some of the 2016 and 2017 columns for details), some brushes with getting the Media Guy Struggles script made into a pilot (close but no cigar), and a fourth book published (pretty good). This year I'm gunning to complete the framework of a documentary I've been eyeing for a few years. I'm not sure it will be as good as Icarus or Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405, but go big or go home.

I used to know I was great at a few things, namely being able to create great ad campaigns and crafting superior media buys. This still applies today, but after careful reflection, I realized my greatest talent was politics. Not the House of Cards style politics, but the kind it takes to managing creatives and all of the drama that surrounds them. Come to think of it, the process of managing creatives extends to employees that are high performers and high potentials.

In my younger days, I was very totalitarian with a "my way or the highway" approach to managing, but today I like to say: “teams made up of diverse members who are open to taking each others' perspective perform most creatively.” I guess that's when totalitarianism meets socialism. Laugh all you want but look at my staffs for the last twentysomething years and you see one thing: low staff overturn and massive productivity.

Back in the day, I wanted everything done in a few minutes. That didn't work then and it doesn't work today. I think I finally realized that watching an episode of Mad Men where Don Draper defended his creatives to new management calling them out for being lazy:
“You came here because we do this better than you, and part of that is letting our creatives be unproductive until they are.”
So simple, and yet it pretty much says it all when it comes to effective talent management for creative people. Let them be unproductive until they are. A very difficult pill for task-oriented managers to swallow, but an absolutely crucial prescription for the creative potential.

So for those stuck on how to get the most out of your creative team, keeping them happy and motivated, let's drill down a little bit more.

The Creative Workplace

Having a creative workplace is critical to great work. I mean some agencies or departments really go to town with central meeting spaces looking more like a spoiled teenager’s bedroom with big screen televisions, PS4s, pool tables, and Slurpee machines. This where staff emerge from their office to unwind, brainstorm, bounce ideas off each other while bouncing racquet balls off the wall. Does this mean the creatives are a bunch of immature lunkheads who play all day and get very little work done? Maybe. But I say let them be unproductive until they are. The math of it all usually works out and the clients are always more than happy with the results no matter how hard they fight the process.

Employees need a work environment that inspires their creativity. This can sometimes be as simple as positive performance appraisal or by giving them the right personal music to listen to. Daydreams and pie-in-the-sky ideas produce the best inspiration because we are relaxed, calm, out from under the weight of managerial pressures.

The right colors, lighting, furniture, all have tremendous impact on our moods, energy, productivity, and creative ideas are often a reflection of the mood we are in. This is why a lot of musicians prefer to live in darkness, as it helps them tap into their anger and sadness to create some of those head banging or tear jerking songs.

Motivating the Creatives

Creatives are not paid huge salaries, and yet we often work into the evenings and over the weekends to meet important deadlines. But why would anyone do anything if the cash isn’t there? It has been proven again and again that creative people are not motivated by money. For simple tasks, yes. You offer a cash bonus to the employee who can lick the most stamps, and watch as the tongues start to fly! But offer the same incentive to whoever creates the best jingle for your company’s new cereal, and you’ll get some really lousy jingles.
“People will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself, not by external pressures.” 
The Public Relations Society of America did a survey where they asked, “What matters most to you about your job?” If this were an Olympic event, money would have gone home empty-handed. Challenge and responsibility, flexibility, and a stable work environment took gold, silver and bronze respectfully, leaving money in fourth place. In fact, nine out of the top ten answers were about the work itself, the work environment, and the people they work with.

No one is given a bonus for impressing the pants off their clients with incredible ad campaign ideas. But they all beamed with pride for having worked so hard and would celebrate whenever their creativity was rewarded with a simple “Good job, the client loved it.

Be Like Garbo

Creatives work their best when there is no one hovering over them, micromanaging their every move. They like to feel autonomous, like their own boss, independent and without distraction. This can be very difficult in an open office environment, where anyone can just walk up to you and ask you a question, or where you can hear conversations happening right next to you, or constantly getting bombarded with emails and instant messages. When creatives aren’t working together to brainstorm ideas, they need to be left alone.

Want to crush someone’s creativity? Get them to fill out a progress report before they’ve finished a project. Not only will this interrupt the process, but it will make them feel watched, managed, stifled.

This is not to say that creative people don’t respect deadlines, they very much do so, but they don’t need managers on their shoulders every step of the way. They want to channel their inner Greta Garbo ("I want to be alone.")

Of course not all interaction is negative. Your employees should be encouraged to brainstorm with others as often as possible. Creation can be a lonely journey sometimes, and ideas grow exponentially when more than one brain is working on something.
“Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise” – Dale Carnegie
While creative employees give off the impression of being extremely strong and proud, lone wolves who ‘don’t need nothin’ from nobody’, who can just brush criticism off their shoulders like too much dandruff, are actually the complete opposite. They are like delicate egg shells, and can very easily crack if not handled with care.

Creatives are very sensitive, especially where their work is concerned. And while they don’t need extra money to do a good job, they definitely need a pat on the back for a job well done.