Are you THE Creative?

Cartoon - I'm thinking of hanging into a white shirt...(surrounded by lots of people just like him in white shirts)...don't you dare.

“Oh yeah, we have someone like you.”

I remember when I first heard that.  I thought to myself, “really, you have a cartooning sociologist techie and blogger who also happens to have a decade of experience in research and evaluation?”

That’s not what they meant of course.

What they really meant was that they had a creative.  Or rather, someone who was THE Creative in their professional or personal world.

It’s not a position.

Your resume looks good, but after our Google search we're not totally sure you actually exist.

Being THE Creative is not a position, at least not most of the time.  It’s more like an essential team role in our overwhelming digital world.

Teams that have good ones, rely on them heavily.

Teams without good ones, struggle.

If you can be THE Creative, you should.

If not for the education system crushing the creative spirit of so many of my peers, I wouldn't get to be so unique.

THE Creative doesn’t usually run out of work.  When times are tough, they rarely find themselves on the chopping block.

And the best part, they get the fun assignments.

It’s a pretty good role if you can successfully take it on.

Are you THE Creative?


Here are a few questions you can ask yourself.

When a new challenge comes up, does everyone look at you?

Overwhelmed Cartoon by Chris Lysy

When something new comes up, like designing a web survey, building the Facebook page, writing blog posts, designing Thank You cards, fixing the conference room Webcam, producing that short video, or crocheting some doilies, does everyone look at you?  Even if you have no specific experience that qualifies to do any of that.

Do you like to try things out just see if they might work?

Discover new tech, spread the news, overestimate colleagues technical capacity, become disillusioned with technology, repeat

You might also have an email address that you use exclusively to try out new web applications.

Do you understand the real hard part of creative work?

Handling Vulerability

It’s not the tech or the fresh ideas.  It’s in building something that might not work and might not have turned out the way you would have hoped.  But you feel like it could help, so you push aside your fears and deliver.

Does knowing that there is probably a better way stop you from moving forward?

Formative Feedback Loop Cartoon by Chris Lysy

There is always a better way.  You just don’t know it yet.

But you do know that you can’t wait until you find it.

Are you really good at Google?

Will this be open smartphone cartoon.

Real life creativity is open book.  Take as many shortcuts as you can possibly take.  And appreciate the generosity of people sharing all they know on the web.

Do you make it all look like magic?

Simple is an illusion

Maybe your work is an illusion.  A “simple” trick that looks impressive and draws ooos and ahhhhs from your employer.

There is nothing wrong with that.  Being an expert means making stuff other people can’t do, look effortless.

Being THE Creative is a lifelong pursuit.

It’s a pursuit for which we’re all capable.  I provide guidance through my workshop.  If you’re interested, I suggest you sign up.


  1. Amanda Makulec on June 14, 2016 at 11:23 am

    I LOVE this post Chris. The willingness to be creative, try new approaches, and be a resources to teams is the biggest reason I got to reframe my role last year within my firm: I had already proven that they needed those skills within our more technical data-centered teams, and we just needed to formalize it. Some may brush off the importance of creativity being embedded in technical job descriptions, but one of the best ways in a large firm to start cultivating more creativity and hire more creative staff is by putting it in ink as a valued proficiency in job descriptions.

    We benefit when everyone is inspired to be more creative (if not “the” creative on their team), but it’s a skill set that can be a struggle to hire for particularly in technical roles where technical trumps visual/creative/design-y. And I truly mean hiring not just for creative/design abilities, but creativity in problem solving and creative potential.

    • Chris Lysy on June 14, 2016 at 11:43 am

      Thanks Amanda 🙂

      I also find that organizations are not very good at developing their employee’s creative capacity or encouraging creative growth. They often have low individual creative expectations, because the people who manage don’t really understand what’s possible, and there is limited funds put into helping creative employees reach their full potential.

  2. Melissa on June 14, 2016 at 11:33 am

    Aww it’s like an Internet cheer for us creative geeks. Yay! My favorite. 🙂

    Ps. Why are the creatives always the ‘fixer’ too?

    • Chris Lysy on June 14, 2016 at 11:48 am

      That’s definitely true.

      Project team works on report for 4 weeks. 24 hours before it’s due they frantically call the Creative to fix all the ugly visuals.

      This used to annoy me, now it doesn’t so much. Fixing ugly visuals is my super power. And if you do it right before the due date, they’re much less likely to nitpick 🙂

      • Amanda Makulec on June 14, 2016 at 12:37 pm

        Replace “report” with “slide deck” and it’s equally true…agreed that people are much less apt to nit pick if you’ve come in as the knight in shining armor just before deadline, but I always struggle with the fact that using that approach doesn’t allow any time for building in some basic capacity development. By working together with a team, sometimes you can help them think differently, and that experience can flow into new activities.