Whenever you’re talking about creativity, you’re never just talking about what you’re talking about.

Creativity is like water, it flows everywhere.

Here’s an example.

When I talk to students about what they should do to get a job, people think I’m just talking to students.

But actually, the same principles apply to any situation that will benefit from creativity.

See, most students trying to get a job are terrified of doing the wrong thing.

So they sit around and think about it.

Someone suggests something different, and straight away they think of how that might piss off creative directors, so they’d better not do it.

Imagine that for a creative person.

Their major goal is to not piss anyone off.

Well how you do that is by not doing anything.

And that’s what they do.


So that’s what happens.


Simple equation: no risk, no reward.

Another example.

Winston Churchill decided to take up painting.

So he bought the paints, the easel, the brushes, the stool, everything.

And when he’d bought it all he sat in the garden, looked at the view, and tried to paint.

But he couldn’t quite decide where to put the first stroke.

Should he put the structure in first, or should he put the biggest object in?

Should he put the dynamic perspective lines in, or decide the parameters of the picture first?

3 hours later he still hadn’t put a single stroke on the canvas.

His wife brought him a cup of tea and saw him looking at it.

So she just picked up the brush and put a big black stroke down the middle of the white canvas.

Churchill said, “What have you done, you’ve ruined it?”

She said, “Well now you’ll just have to fix it, won’t you.”

And he started painting.

And eventually he became a really good painter.

But like most of us, he was looking for a risk-free way to start.

Peter Wood, the guy who founded and built Direct Line, and then founded and built eSure once told me his motto.

He said, “Do it, then fix it as you go.”

In other words, don’t just sit around waiting until everything is perfect, because it never will be.

Just jump straight in and get started.

And as you notice things that aren’t right you can change them.

But if you wait, you’ll think of too many reasons not to do anything.

The film director Alan Parker said, “On a film set you’ll always have to choose between two ways of shooting something.

The worst thing you can do is sit around thinking about it.

Because you’re wasting time and money, while the actors and crew sit around doing nothing.

And when you’ve done all the thinking you’re no nearer to solving it.

So the best thing is just pick one route and go for it.

Then you can change it as you see whether or not it’s working.”

So doing something is nearly always better than doing nothing.

The American General, George C. Patton said, “A good plan today, is better than a great plan tomorrow.”

Because, by waiting until everything’s perfect, we lose the opportunity.

And we lose the two most important things we’ve got: time and energy.

That’s why I always tell the account men and planners, “I’d rather have a wrong brief early, than the right brief late.”

That way, we can at least be working on it.

So we’re not wasting time.

The chances are the eventual brief won’t be a million miles away from what we first thought, anyway.

And meanwhile, the creative dept can be having ideas, and researching executions, that might also work for the different brief.


When students ask me what they should do, I tell them the answer is always the same.

“Everything” and “Now.”


And the answer for students is the same as the answer for all of us.