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Rod Petrie

Crazy times call for courageous creative thinkers

Seize the opportunity, understand the context, change the context and create the impossible.

Management and clients alike hate uncertainty and unpredictability, a space we all find ourselves in today but creativity in itself is surely an unpredictable process so the creative mindset should have an advantage with the events that now affect us all.

Creative thinkers tend to have a sunny personality, a characteristic now more critical than ever before, a disposition that can only be achieved by taking the high road and not the easy option of the low road of pessimism. As one Olympic coach told me many years ago, “winners live on the high mountain tops, losers live in the lower darker slopes,” maybe a tad too harsh but it makes the point about having the right mindset.

Do you as an agency or an individual have the mindset and the fire within you to pursue your vision with passion and purpose when some around you might be anxious and cautious?
If you are a creative thinker working within this environment, will the nervousness and anxiety of others rub-off on you and make you more cautious?

If your vision is to be a great visual communicator it strikes me that you will have to be even more creative, even braver in tough times and the key to this is not to let the fear and doubt in others hinder your creative progress as you keep looking for the gift within every problem, even in these crazy and unpredictable times.

Is there even such a thing as a cautious creative I ask myself or are they contradictory terms and uncomfortable bedfellows? Surely no creative worth their salt can be timid and lack the courage to take creative risks that solve and go beyond the expectation of the agency and the client.

From experience creative thinkers tend to ask intuitively the age old, “What if?” question, the “Why not?” question. The minute they ask that question there is a mental shift to find a reason that you can do it and open up the possibilities but be prepared to answer some negative and at times daft, even crazy questions along the way. Great creative thinkers understand that context makes sense of everything but they have that added ability to reframe it, turn it on it’s head and look at it in a new light and create the impossible.

In these disruptive times more than ever before it is about learning to live with doubt and insecurity but never shy away from doing what you believe in, even if this means making mistakes. The thing about mistakes, only you can say if you learned anything from making them, some people don’t give it a second thought.

With this in mind, sadly there are still too many smart people in the creative business that are held back from achieving their potential by the fear of failure and not always their own self-fulfilling fears but other people’s.

For me it’s always been about blending naivety and experience so finding a place; that agency to learn, that team of like minded people to succeed, to make those mistakes and to fail is more critical in challenging times when there appears to be no right or wrong answers.

As we enter the new year and even deeper into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or 4IR there is no point in adopting a siege mentality and minimizing risk as the knock on effect will hit your creative bottom line and you will sink into blandness and mediocrity.

The facts are that a lot of agencies and great start-up businesses were born during tough economic times. They didn’t decide to dig in and see it through. They decided to turbo charge their vision and business strategies and hold the creative mindset in spite of nervous colleagues and clients.

They had the confidence to go out and hire the creative talent that might well rock the boat and challenge positions unlike a lot of people who fool themselves that they can handle the star players who have that extra edge about them but soon convince themselves when in a crises real or imaginary that there is no place for them.


My advice is as follows:


Don’t dig in. Tough times and challenges help to create the opportunity space to take advantage.


Change leadership. Some leaders stall and hesitate while others seize the moment to take the space and go to the front.


The right mindset. Having a mindset or culture of creativity and innovation can improve your position more quickly.


The more challenging and disruptive the times the more creative and innovative the requirement so new solutions are discovered and discussed.

About: Rod Petrie

Rod started out in 1971 as a junior designer before design was considered as a serious career path. During that time he had had two jobs, the first with Allied International Designers where he became the first practicing designer to be on the board of the first publicly quoted design consultancy and then as Founding Partner and Creative Director of Design Bridge.

The buzz for Rod was creating and building teams and he had a real understanding of what makes the suits, the t-shirts and clients tick.

Rod has worked across most design disciplines and been involved in the creation and development of some of the world’s biggest brands.

Rod never however saw himself as a Creative Director in the traditional sense of the word but as a coach for creative thinkers. He has now re-invented himself and has taken his industry experience and learning into the creative community as a coach and applied it to people who want to achieve success and the results they want.

Rod is a trusted DBA Expert. Learn more about how he could help you and your business here.


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