Outside of the BoxMay 31, 2012 / by Jason Tsai / Categories :
One of the biggest misconceptions in my industry is the following thought: “Get in where you fit in.”
I don’t fit in. I don’t make sense. I’m a walking contradiction. I’m a rebel without a cause in the corporate world. I’m a radical kind of working mom. I’m not even as cool as some of the guys on my team. But guess what, IT DOESN’T MATTER when it comes to the creative business.
I actually used to try to conform. I had a family member, who had engaged my firm to assist on a major fashion commercial due diligence (market research) project, scold me pretty thoroughly during the project. He didn’t like my way too high heels, unprofessional ponytail, my big hoop earrings, and too girlie/frilly black skirt. It was a very tough moment for me. To be told that I should “Tone it down. Wear a basic black suit. Get some professional classy shoes. And don’t wear those earrings.” While we were at the client meetings, I was momentarily mortified.
But my pride kicked in, I stood my ground. I came from fashion, btw. So I was not out of place with everyone, just the “suits” I came in with. Honestly, the question should not be, “What am I wearing?” It should be “How was my work?” It was stellar. The client loved our findings and recommendations, btw. That was probably the first time, I learned the valuable lesson to fit my own skin, not someone else’s.
Another more recent instance is I had a referral to a NYC based small new business potential, which didn’t pan out. I was told through our mutual contact that I didn’t fit with the brand and its culture. The small business owner didn’t think I was the target audience. The business was still in its infancy, so probably not the right fit for Pulse. But still, I found it ironic. The target client was actually a non-conformist, at least on the outside. Apparently, my non-conformity didn’t fit their idea of acceptable.
Logically, I thought upon hearing the feedback, if I had to reflect the target audience of all of my clients to get business, I’d be out of business. I couldn’t really sustain and grow by only fitting one box, their box. But even non-conformist personalities can still pigeon hole themselves inside a box and have prejudice. This was another harsh reality lesson learned. This lesson didn’t hurt or make me defensive like the first lesson did but it saddened me.
You see, to me, marketing and creativity by nature is pushing beyond what is today, here, now, or even acceptable. It is simply creating “out of any box”. The only rule that exists in my world is be passionate about your work.
These days, I walk with cyber pink hair in a ponytail into a room full of “suits”. Some people initially mistake me (a mother of 4- the oldest being 14) for a twenty-something fresh out of school creative type. But when I speak, they all listen. All of my team looks about twelve years old, even when they “dress up”. We have a tendency to act like ourselves: silly, energetic, loud, even argumentative, and always pretty familiar.
I no longer see the box others who view us may still be living in. I/We (idiot savants at Pulse) don’t even attempt to fit it. Instead, our whole team focuses on the task at hand: connecting with our audience; providing insight to our clients; and adding value to their product. We see the world as multi-dimensional. Beyond the surface of things is thought, inspiration, a story.
I’m a creative through and through, and admittedly, a sensitive one at that. So I believe passionately in what I say, know, and do. That’s all that really counts in the end, to me. Not what we look like or seem like but what we do and what we create.
We don’t need to be immersed in my client’s world to see what makes them different.
We don’t have to reflect the target consumer demographic to be able to build something that connects with their consumer.
We don’t have to understand their business down to each internal issue and agenda to be able to create an amazing campaign for them.
We DO have to tap into what makes them amazing, channel it into a concept, and find the best method of connecting with their demographic.
Here’s my personal reality today:
I don’t watch cartoons anymore yet I work w/the biggest kids entertainment company.
I run a very small boutique company in this industry working yet I win billion dollar accts for one the biggest agencies out there.
I don’t ballroom dance yet I work with some of the best dancers in the world.
I don’t create code or program yet I work with the best techies and programming partners in creating apps for the most cutting edge products.
I am the antithesis of corporate yet we help one of the best in financial services firm in the world.
If you think you have to fit in to succeed, don’t!!!
First, look to partner with smart people, good people, open people, and people with the ability to still grow.
Then, tap into what makes you great.
I love to create.
I love to define that essential vision.
I can relate to what I don’t understand or practice.
I research and analyze my clients world to understand them in ways they don’t even understand themselves.
I pour my heart into creating, refining, accentuating, and connecting.
I am passionate.
And when clients hire me and my team, they are getting the best. How do I know? Because that’s who we are. We give 150%. Because what we create is a reflection of our clients “secret sauce” AND also ourselves/our passion to find the Pulse of a brand.
That is why we are Pulse Creative.
Who are you?