Eric Thomas, Senior Partner at Detroit’s Saga MKTG, posted a thought to LinkedIn that we were killing our creative people. Though he and Adam had never met, Eric agreed to come on the podcast and discuss this issue. His perspective on the ever-tightening timelines and expectations placed on creative people and knowledge workers is stunning. Enjoy this conversation.
[00:00:27] Adam Pierno: All right. Welcome back to another episode of The Strategy Inside Everything. We got a very interesting topic today and an interesting guest. Interesting is probably the wrong word, it’s more than that. I was super engaged, of all places, on LinkedIn. Eric Thomas is our guest today and he posted something on LinkedIn that I immediately connected with him and said, “Hey, you got to come on my show. I want to hear more about your perspective on this.” Please welcome today the senior partner at Saga Marketing, Eric Thomas. How are you doing today, buddy?
[00:01:07] Eric Thomas: I’m pretty good, man. How are you? Thank you for having me.
[00:01:09] Adam: I’m good. Dude, thank you so much. I reached out to you and you said, “I’d be happy to do it.” Thank you so much for making time. The topic you brought up is really interesting to me. Before we get into that, give me a little bit of sense to your background. Where you started and how you got to where you are and how you founded Saga Marketing.
[00:01:33] Eric: I grew up in the City of Detroit, in Detroit proper, as in the confines of where people pretend that it’s so scary that they couldn’t survive. I started off doing graphic designs, learning it with my friends and on my own and on the Internet, graduated to doing branding by following some people that I really respect, became partners with a couple of guys. Now still partners with one of those guys, Marcus Burrell. We eventually, a couple of years ago, maybe about three years ago, started this agency called Saga that we call a storytelling agency.
Though my background is in graphic design, I read something from David Ogilvy that said, “The basis of all advertising has got to be the written word.” It really made me rethink my approach. I started writing and blogging on LinkedIn, of all places, really to figure it out. I dropped out of college. I graduated high school with a 1.8. I’ve always been able to speak well, but I don’t know exactly what to do with commerce. I figured I would just learn on the public stage.
[00:02:44] Eric: Three months into that, my first blog post went viral, about 1.5 million views on LinkedIn about Steve Harvey. I’ve got about overall above three million reads to my blogs on LinkedIn. I’ve had the opportunity to speak in colleges I wanted to attend. I spoke on Detroit on a panel in MIT. I’ve spoken for the IDSA, Industrial Designs Society of America. I was sandwiched between the head of global branding for Coca-Cola and the head of design for Phillips. I’ve had some really interesting opportunities come up from just writing and speaking and talking about the things that I’m passionate about.
[00:03:26] Adam: I have not read your post, that first post you mentioned about Steve Harvey. What was your take on Steve Harvey? Was that around the time of the Miss Universe pageant?
[00:03:34] Eric: Yes. I wrote about how bad design is the reason why he misread that card. I redesigned it pretty quickly like that. I didn’t even watch it. I wasn’t even interested. My timeline goes crazy like, “Oh, look at these flubs.” Charlemagne Tha God, he post a picture of the card. I was like, “That’s design flaws.” I pretty quickly, it was in about 15-20 minutes, designed what I think it should look like hierarchy-wise, wrote up a piece about why design is important, posted it to the Internet at maybe around 12 o’clock at night and went to bed, woke up and– My normal blogs were doing maybe about a thousand reads of post.
By the time I woke up, it had about 5,000. I was like, “This is pretty cool.” By the middle of the day, it had about 100,000 reads. I was like, “This is pretty crazy.” Four days in, I’ve got a million reads. [chuckles] It was republished all around the world, in the Philippines, all these kind of stuff, cited all over the place. It was pretty nuts. That was before I started writing my name at the end of the thing and linking it to my property, so I missed a lot of impressions. It was a learning experience and it was really cool.
I’ve gone from that to writing my first piece for the Financial Times that just came out about gentrification in the City of Detroit and economic revitalization.
[00:04:55] Adam: That’s crazy.
[00:04:56] Eric: It’s been a wild ride. Three years has been a wild ride for me as a person who, by all means, by all statistics, shouldn’t be writing for the Financial Times. [chuckles]
[00:05:04] Adam: Yes. Well, it’s obvious that you have a lot of ideas that are valuable just from my quick scan from the first post I saw and from my quick scan of stuff you’ve written. Do you think you would have kept writing as much as you did if you didn’t get that response to that first piece, that Steve Harvey piece?
[00:05:25] Eric: I had a goal and that goal was to get at least 2,000 reads per month. I would write and write and write until people added up to that. Maybe I would get 200 reads and then 400 reads and then 500 reads and 1,000 reads. I would just do that and I would stop at 2,000. Eventually, everyone’s about–Because that thing, the post, had only got about 5,000 reads. I would just continue to do that and write again the next month.
What really made me stop writing on LinkedIn was the fact that LinkedIn started to hide the post. My normal post would get between 2,000 and 5,000 views. I get about 250,000 impressions or views to my post per month on LinkedIn. When I posted an article, it would only get 500 reads and 500 views. I noticed that LinkedIn was artificially suppressing those posts. So I would just write my ideas into the body of the post, which doesn’t allow me to be as thorough or put as many sources, but it does allow me to have more dialogue and talk to more people.
[00:06:38] Adam: Yes. I think that’s probably more valuable anyway, alternately, because you get to– people can ask questions and you can give back and say, “Well, this is what I meant by that,” or, “Good idea, I should have added that,” or whatever. There’s more to it than you’re not just broadcasting. Interesting.
[00:06:56] Eric: Absolutely.
[00:06:56] Adam: The post that got my attention was something that you wrote about how we are wearing out creatives. I think that’s the exact phrase you used. It was like this.
[00:07:07] Eric: We’re killing our creatives.
[00:07:09] Adam: You went into this idea that it’s like we think as just a light switch for creatives but we never turn the light switch off. It’s always like, “Well, you got 10 minutes to design this. Then when you’re done with that, take a four-minute break and then get back and give me more logo designs in another three hours.”
[00:07:26] Eric: Yes. Okay, there’s two problems here. The way we treat creativity is all screwed up. We treat creativity like it’s magic. People will say to you, “Just make it great. You’re the creative.” They’ll say, “I’ve got this idea to start this business. You’re the creative. Make it work.” Creativity is work. It requires a lot of work to do that. On top of that, we treat creatives like they’re just cows. Like we could just pump them for milk forever. What we forget about creatives–
Hell, you can’t even do that for cows. You have to artificially impregnate– You have to impregnate them and steal their babies in order for them to continue to produce milk. There’s never been a segue to do anything. What we also forget about creatives is that the reason why the work we do is unique is because the way we see the world is unique. We have this duplicitous idea that we want creatives to act like the rest of us while seeing everything differently. That’s not how this works.
Many creatives, and I’m not saying that most people don’t, but many creatives suffer from either mental health challenges, bipolar disorder, depression. They’re trying to find a way to sink back into the world in a normal way, but when you spend your entire life seeing it differently, it’s hard to feel like you fit in to it. We tie a lot of our self-worth to our output in the work that we do because that’s when people celebrate us and they say that you’re great.
When we’re pumping and pumping and pumping and trying to turn creatives into a factory, and then people are just turning it down and telling you that it’s trash or telling you it’s not great or not paying you for your services or telling you that their nephew could do it, we’re forgetting that we’re telling people that their entire self-worth is something that their nephew could do on a whim. We’re telling people that not only is their being creative a part of their identity, but it’s not all that good. It’s not all that special. “Why should we have to pay you for that?”
Then we’re telling you to do it on a dime instantaneously. We want you to see all of the cracks and all the scenes and all of the things in the universe that everybody else can’t see, and we want you to spit that out immediately, while we spend really most of our life finding those little moments and nuggets. It’s dangerous. It really is. It’s really dangerous. We expect creatives to work at different hours than everybody else. Graphic designers get called at 12 at night. Like, “Can you turn this thing around by seven in the morning?” As if it’s not strange. You don’t get that from people who work at desk jobs, really.
[00:10:20] Adam: No. You would never call an accountant and say like, “Oh, hey guys, this is 9:30. We need by 8 AM. I got a meeting tomorrow. I need you to really quickly just get all the books ready.”
[00:10:30] Eric: Just quickly knockout that accounting, “What?” “Wake up all your friends, I need you to shoot me a movie really quickly.” “What the hell?” “I want you to do it for lesser money with lower cost equipment.”
[00:10:44] Adam: Well, there’s always that. The price thing of how much it should cost or, “My– the kid down the street can do this, so why should I pay you.” It’s a whole different battle. I want to unpack the– was there an event that happened that made you post this thing? Was there a project or something you saw or you were just thinking about it and recognizing it all of a sudden?
[00:11:06] Eric: It happens at least once per project. I always find myself fighting for my creatives. The people that I contract out to, the people that have worked for me. I’ve been doing graphic design for about 10-11 years. I’ve been experiencing this for my entire career. I have the added pressure of people calling me, “A creative genius.” Which I don’t really identify with. I think a lot of the stuff that I’ve been able to do comes from the fact that I agonize over things that maybe most people don’t think about.
I’ve been on a rant about two very different things. For the last few weeks I’ve been ranting a lot about how terrible men have been in society and how we haven’t really taken account of the things that we have done, and how women are forced to live in relationship to us. I’ve been ranting and raving about how incredibly well-crafted the movie Avengers: Infinity War is. Those two things are my current rants. It’s all about things that we don’t realize that we say that don’t make any sense. I’ve always seen the world like the first time it’s been said.
Case in point, there is this idea that women who have sex with a lot of men are bad. That they’re sluts. Well, for me I think it’s really weird because having sex with a lot of women taints the women but it doesn’t taint the man.
[00:12:45] Adam: It’s a very weird statement that has gone forever.
[00:12:51] Eric: Here’s what we haven’t thought about. In any other instance in the world, the thing that pollutes is the problem. The men are polluting the women. The snakes are venomous, so the snakes are bad. But in this culture, only the sex part is bad to the woman. The men are not the poison. When technically, in this case, men are poison. I sit around and I agonize about things like that. I think about them and I talk about them. I think about them and I workshop them. I talk to them. I work on them. I write about them. I bring them back and I dialogue about them.
Then when I say them on a stage, people go, “Oh, what an instant moment of clarity.” Well, I’ve been work-shopping this idea for five or six years.
[00:13:36] Adam: [crosstalk] till it actually makes it to your fingertips and you key it out. I’ve been thinking about the idea of, we’re killing our creatives and we’re wearing them out. Do you think that applies to all knowledge workers?
[00:14:00] Eric: I think so. I think it applies to a lot of different people at a lot of different scales. I think humans, for the most part, probably aren’t meant to do factory-style work. Just monotonous, overly routine things that don’t exercise their minds. Now, I’m not saying that some people are not fine to do that work. I’m saying that shoving everyone into those roles is dangerous. I think just about all people who do the knowledge work are subject to that. I think creative is not a unique position.
I think it’s simply because it’s a creative’s job to see the world differently, and in order to do that you have to be a little different. You can learn tricks, like constantly asking why. If you really want to do a creative exercise, keep asking why until you get to the core of it. One of my biggest things I hate in the world are doors. I think doors are a waste of an opportunity. We’ve been using doors the same way since the Middle Ages. They’ve always had a hinge, they’ve always turned, they’ve always had a knob. The question becomes, what is that for? How did the door get here? Why does it exist?
Well, in my opinion, a door is a semi-permeable membrane that allows you to move between spaces, but also give you some privacy. The door is. Why is it what it is? If you continue to keep asking why, that’s an exercise that will help you get there. What you meet in creatives, is you see these very kind of strange people who’ve always been asking why. Since they were like three years old, they’ve been trying to find out. That why never ran out. They weren’t beaten into submission by the fact that the world just is. That creates a typical outcast type of scenario for those folks or for us, really.
[00:15:58] Adam: That’s interesting. I think creative people may not even verbalize the why. It might be internalized and turns into the output of– They get to a conclusion that leads them to some kind of a creative idea that they can put out through design or words or whatever their format or medium is. That takes time.
[00:16:23] Eric: It takes time. You’ve got to think about how much time that takes. Even just the process of becoming a great painter requires you to understand how form, shape, light, color, and all of those fit together in a space. How do you translate that into a two-dimensional plane. You’re really questioning size and scale in the context of depth versus relationship to each other on a flat canvas. Most people don’t have to think about those things. The TV is over there and the couch is over there.
[00:16:51] Eric: It’s not– what is the space between them? If I had to translate to that, that was something that was two dimensional, how would they then relate to each other? If it’s something that is black, black, if it’s further enough in the distance that it’s shrouded by atmosphere, so creates a blue tint because light’s reflecting off the particles in the air. This is a different type of understanding of space. [laughs] That’s what you have to deal with. Then when you’re doing all of that and somebody goes, “My nephew could do that.” [laughs]
[00:17:28] Adam: Nuts. Is it the time crunching or the– it’s not the time crunch necessarily, it’s more that it’s on-demand and the demand doesn’t move. It’s, “I need this by tomorrow and that’s inflexible,” but you’re going to come up with something out of nothing and you have to do that in this tight-time window.
[00:17:50] Eric: There’s a couple of things. I think you have the time crunching, you also have the fact that I don’t think a lot of environments are conducive to creative thought. Sometimes we get to the place where everything becomes really utilitarian and so you just stuff everybody in cubicles and boxes. Then you create a system, because your clients have certain expectations, you create a system or process by which you create things. You have a lead creative who’s directing all of your creatives and then they have to bend to the will of that lead creative.
The biggest challenge for that is, how does your environment lead up to creative exploration and execution? If your job is to understand the world differently, how do you continue to create if you haven’t been exposed to the world, if you’re sitting in this cubicle this whole time? Unless you’re expected to solve cubicle-style problems, you may not ever solve any of the big challenges that you want to.
[00:18:53] Adam: That’s a pretty interesting way to think about it. Now that you’re saying it, look at how few people make it from beginning of the career as a creative at age 20 to retiring in the creative industry. It’s so easy to burn-out because of those factors that you just laid out.
[00:19:16] Eric: People are literally killing themselves. If you look at– hell, if you look at somebody like Elon Musk, who I do count as a creative, I think the way he sees the world is in that way. He’s also an engineer, so he’s deconstructing and finding ways to put it back together, but he’s also questioning the fundamental fabric of what we live in. When he said, “We need a new battery for this car,” he didn’t just question that there’s a battery, he questioned all of the individual components of the batteries.
He rebuilt the battery almost his self and then got his team to help them with it. He reconstructed rockets and how we even get in the outer space. He’s also being expected to do that and manage that and manage the business and do all those things. We’re watching a very public meltdown of what it looks like when a creative runs out of steam. I think Kanye West is suffering the same thing. Mac Miller already killed his self. Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain.
These are creatives who have ascended to the highest of highs, but you look at somebody who, like Kurt Cobain, who was divorced from his own reality. He started his career rallying against a system that he rose to the top up, and he couldn’t reconcile himself within the structure [crosstalk].
[00:20:43] Adam: It became an overwhelming– Now this I’ve thought about. I’ve thought about this a lot. Not in relation to Kurt Cobain, but the idea of somewhere– Mark Pollard was a guest on this show a while back, has talked a lot about depression and done a little research into it, he was on and we were talking about the idea of depression for strategists and for creative people indirectly.
One thing I think that leads to depression for people in agencies is a lack of control of the output. It’s you’re creating this thing but you really, once you share it with the first person, it becomes something that’s not yours and so then you just become someone who’s pushing buttons to get the thing done. You’re working in these strict timelines and these structures that you don’t control to produce an output that is not yours and you’re kind of trained to not be passionate about it.
[00:21:48] Eric: Yes.
[00:21:49] Adam: Do you think that’s what someone like Kobe wanted that same thing where it’s– now it’s the first album they recorded songs they loved, and then by the third album that they were expected to make it was just like, “Now we need you to keep feeding the meter here because we’re expecting to make this much money for the record company.”
[00:22:08] Eric: It’s crazy, I always wonder about that. You see these artists that blow up in– they talk about overnight, but you know these people are working on stuff for their entire life. The first album is a culmination of everything they’ve experienced in their entire life, all called down into the perfect example or version of that. You take 20 years leading up to this album and then your next album will come out next year.
What more could you grow within the next year except for the experience you’ve had within that year? That’s why I think you see some depth drop off, but once again, you’re putting people into that creative charge and you’re doing it within the context of touring for the first album and promoting and doing social media now, and adding all these other layers on top of it.
I think you’re seeing a lot of very intense, very clear creative burnout, but you also see people– there’s suicide and mental health epidemic in Silicon Valley where there’s incredibly high amount of suicide in their high schools and in their startups because they’re expected to change the world every day, but within the parameters of this confine. That’s not how this works. That’s not how you create.
[00:23:27] Adam: You’ve thought about this a lot, I can tell. So you’ve mentioned the idea of environment as one of the factors that you were just kind of running through. Have you thought at all about what could change in environments to make them more conducive to creative people, or just mental health in general, I guess?
[00:23:52] Eric: I have this new rant I’ve been on. I’ve got [crosstalk] I hate is company culture. I’m a man of rants. I think company culture is some BS, and I’ll tell you why. I think we’ve gotten to the place where company culture is starting to supersede individual culture. So we create these companies where we’re like, “Okay, we’re about this thing.” So it’s about fun, and joy, and bright colors, but what it really does is it creates an environment where you get to say, “This person doesn’t fit my company culture because they are different than the 17 white guys who we hired into this place.”
That’s not fair. A Bangladeshi guy and a Nigerian woman and a trans-Filipino woman might see creativity entirely differently. So to say, “All right, come into this place. We drink beer every Friday and that’s our creative execution,” or, “That’s our creative opportunity,” that might not be the same, say the person happens to be Muslim.
[00:25:08] Adam: How do you build culture to be more inclusive or to be more– not inclusive of culturally inclusive necessarily, but I guess different approaches to creativity.
[00:25:23] Eric: Creatively inclusive? I think you have to create a much more malleable space where people feel safe to bring themselves to work. When I talk to a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds, they’re not bringing their entire identity to work because they think it would either scare their peers, or they’re ashamed of their customs in the greater content.
What happens when you say, “On Thursday we’re playing all of Maher’s Music. Anything he brings in, we’re going to listen to that and [unintelligible 00:25:53] we listen to that, he’s going to tell us about it at 4 PM, and we’re going to really get an understanding of what growing up in that household was like. We’re going to do that for everybody and we’re going to just let people and new recruits come in and they’re going to play their music.” Music is an incredibly great way to bond.
Maybe you share that with food on Friday and we begin to build a– and then we can say, “Hey, everybody who really shares this experience, we want you guys to get together and do whatever you want to do on Friday so we can then share that and we can understand where you come from and why, and what is that world experience like and what is your grandmother stories, what are they about?”
That’s how you really build a culture that’s inclusive. That’s how you talk about culture in the context of lived and shared experiences. Just having bean bags doesn’t make you culturally sound and relevant. Painting the doors green and shit, that’s not changing anybody’s life. It’s really going to have to come down to what is the human experience, and how do we start making people feel safe to explore?
[00:26:54] Adam: Do you think the more we can understand each other individually, so if I understand you and you have stories about your grandmother or you have stories about coming from some other city than Detroit today, wherever you lived or wherever you are moving to, if I can understand that person as an individual, then that’ll help me interpret signals from them when they’re getting an assignment or when they’re getting stressed or when they’re trying to explain an idea?
How I can kind of shortcut it to understand like, “Oh, okay. This is the part they’re hung up on,” instead of just looking at everything as black and white and saying, “No, that idea is off and you have 10 minutes to fix it”?
[00:27:38] Eric: Imagine how different your creative damnedest conversation would be, and really all of your life conversation would be, if you went into a conversation about solving, maybe you were selling a hamburger helper or something, and you were introducing a new product to the market and Shreyas says to you, you had a conversation with Shreyas, maybe your Indian coworker, about what dinner times were like.
You got to have a conversation about dinner from maybe a suburb in Wisconsin, and all of a sudden it’s not lining up and Shreyas is coming up with these ideas that are not really matching anybody else’s, but then you remember something he said about his meal time. Then you remember the massive influx of Indian Americans that are moving, that are immigrating here, where they’re settling and where they live because what you find out about immigrant communities is they tend to live together because it makes it easier.
You say, “Man, have we considered this as a option? Have we considered all of the things that are different about our dinner experiences as well as are similar?” Then you could really create opportunities for reflection. That is why I think it’s more interesting. You are able to share your customs and then to talk about what we have in common by celebrating those things that are different.
[00:29:01] Adam: I have been thinking a lot about inclusion and how to create diversity in advertising and creative fields. I don’t think that it is an objection to– I don’t think the largely white staff at most ad agencies is a product of intentional bias, necessarily. I think it is because agencies have been so steered towards being efficient. This isn’t an excuse, this is actually a bigger problem.
They’re so steered towards having– being efficient that they’re afraid to make 10 extra seconds to have someone with a different story that they have to figure out throughout the day that it’s like, “No, that lady looks just like the rest of us. This is going to be faster.” It’s easier to understand them. That’s messed up.
[00:29:56] Eric: Think about it this way. How hard must it be for someone to be creative while trying to consider if their peers will understand their culture? They have to try to– Most minorities and women, we get what white guys want because that’s what we’re advertised. That’s how we’re advertise to. That’s how we blend in. That’s why we code switch. That’s why we changed the way we speak, because we’re trying to get in. We’re trying to get along to go along.
We’re doing a double duty on our creative work where we’re trying to get into the headspace and character of someone else, and then be creative at the same time. That’s makes it infinitely harder to be creative.
[00:30:41] Adam: How much does your creative change from the way the idea is born in your brain to when it gets down on paper when you’re doing something for a white audience or for a white client that– do you translate it? Do you change the tone of it? Everybody who’s writing something should be changing the tone for the final customer, but how different is that for you from the genesis of the idea?
[00:31:12] Eric: I try not to change it too much. What I’ve discovered is, this is funny, when I watch commercial right now, the entire idea of funny in media is literally just a white person doing a black person thing. All the commercials are just like a suburban mom rapping.
[00:31:28] Adam: 100%
[00:31:29] Eric: That’s the whole joke. That’s the entirety of the joke. I’m like, “Well, fine then, what if I just let the person that would be rapping rap? What if I just let that come from the community from which it came?” Let people own their own identities. Of course it’s not always as gangsters I would necessarily live it in my life, but I try to do what I call a subversive media where I put the person in the scene that you wouldn’t necessarily expect. If I’m going to do something about a doctor, I’m going to have an Indian woman as the doctor.
Which is crazy, because there’s so many Indian women doctors, but you don’t see that on TV anywhere. It’s insane. You would think that doctors are only beautiful white men. That’s not what any of my hospitals look like. You’re hard pressed to find a tall white guy in there. They’re older or they’re young immigrants [laughs]. Why is that not reflected in my media? Why are they not reflected in my commercials? Why is it not reflected in my advertisement?
[00:32:44] Adam: Why is that, though?
[00:32:46] Eric: Billboards and posters.
[00:32:51] Adam: Why is that?
[00:32:52] Eric: I can tell you why. I spoke at an ad agency about cultural appropriation. A guy asked me, he says, “What if the marketing says, or the market research says that our audience is older white audience?” What people tend to do is they tend to reflect the audience in the advertisements so that they will attach themselves to them. My argument to that is two things. A marketing isn’t just a reflection of culture, it imprints on culture too. It creates it while it’s being made.
The second one is, if Marvel can make you care about a giant problem monster who snaps his fingers and disintegrates the entire universe, I think we can get you to identify with somebody who’s at least a color that exists on this earth.
[00:33:45] Adam: I grew up in Queens and I worked at hospitals and I don’t remember too many white staff at any level in the hospital. It was all African American, Indian, Puerto Rican. It was everything but essentially white. You’re right, when I watched Grey’s Anatomy, it’s like there’s one black dude who’s in the background. That’s not what a hospital really looks like.
[00:34:12] Eric: At all in any way. I think if you look at The Good Doctor, The Good Doctor is actually very diverse. The lead character’s an autistic kid. It is interesting when you see that because they’re trying to reflect back what they think their audiences want to see. What we have to come to grips with the fact is that audiences want to see relatable motivation and intention, not necessarily just skin tone and name. Black Panther made a billion dollars because the intentionality of the movie was relatable, not because there’s that many black people in America to watch the movie 15 times.
Infinity War, like I said, my rant right now about Infinity War, all of these people are superheroes, aliens, and monsters. If you cried when Thanos sacrificed his daughter, it’s because you understand what it would mean to lose someone that dear to you, especially when you have to do what you feel like you need to do for the greater good. That’s a universal emotion. It has nothing to do with the shade of the character.
That takes us back to our original point, how do you arrive at those insights? I think you have to give creatives time to arrive at them, and space and exposure to understand the complexity to the universe. That’s what the job is.
[00:35:38] Adam: I think it’s a combination of time. More time would be good. Agencies have really just been struggling with that, just time for people to think and time for people to not think. Just time for people to pace around and background process. Then also it’s how agencies allow creative people to express themselves and share ideas. Because it seems like in the creative department, there’s a lot more open conversation about an idea and why it’s good or bad and what’s working, or maybe if we did this, or I’d like to have this kind of person in it because of this reason.
But then once it moves out of the creative department, it gets boiled down into the, “Well, we got a PowerPoint to put together. I need a key frame. What’s it going to be?” It becomes the production, then it goes back into, “We’re counting every hour. Get your idea buttoned up so it can be presented.”
[00:36:37] Eric: It’s an interesting problem. The first thing, I think, is always dialogue. Having these conversations and just not sweeping under the bus because it’s hard. Depression is real, anxiety is real. I haven’t met a creative today that doesn’t deal with depression and anxiety. When you tell a creative, “If this doesn’t go on today, something horrible is going to happen,” they really feel that and they feel it in a way that is not just like, “Oh, maybe this is my job.” They feel it to a suicidal degree. There’s an epidemic of graphic designers who just disappear in the middle of projects. Especially when you have a freelancer.
They just disappear in the middle or towards the end or in the beginning when they become overwhelmed, because they don’t want to disappoint the person. Of course they are disappointing you by disappearing, but they don’t have to face the disappointment. That all comes in with an anxiety. In a world where we don’t have enough conversation about mental health, to begin with, how are people even able to manage that conversation? I’m not saying you got to treat grownups like children, but you do have to understand you’re asking something unique so your actions have to be unique in return.
[00:37:51] Adam: All right. Well, that was a point well made, Eric. I’m really glad that I saw your post on LinkedIn. I don’t remember who shared it and I’m glad that you were willing to come on and talk. This was time well spent. Thank you so much.
[00:38:04] Eric: I appreciate you having me in this. I’m always open to talk about stuff that matters.
[00:38:09] Adam: I have a feeling you and I are going to talk more, because you have a lot of interesting ideas. Tell people where they can find you online and where they can read your blog. I want to make sure you get your 2000 monthly views, which I’m sure you’re [unintelligible 00:38:23] now.
[00:38:25] Eric: [laughs] Finding me on LinkedIn is pretty simple. Eric S Thomas on LinkedIn or ericsthomas.com. I’m also Eric S Thomas on Facebook, but I’m maxed out on my friends. LinkedIn is usually the best. I’m starting to use Twitter again. I’m trying to get back into that since that’s where I can really hold my rant sessions.
[00:38:53] Adam: I know. You got to have to keep them short, though. You got to keep them tight.
[00:38:56] Eric: Well, now they have threads so I can just rant into infinity. That’s Eric_ S_Thomas, until I get that Eric S Thomas back under my control.
[00:39:13] Adam: Got it. I know you’ve got a lot of speaking going on. Any speaking coming up?
[00:39:19] Eric: Funny enough, I think this is my mental health month. I’m speaking on entrepreneurs managing, when they have a lot on their plate and they don’t know what to do with it. I’m also speaking about millennial entrepreneurship and mental health Saturday at, I think, Tycan. [crosstalk]
[00:39:42] Adam: If you send me links I will put them in the show notes for you.
[00:39:44] Eric: All right, cool.
[00:39:45] Adam: All right, man. Thanks again. This was really a great conversation and I appreciate you making time.
[00:39:51] Eric: All right, thanks for having me.
[00:39:53] Adam: All right, buddy. I’ll talk to you soon.
[00:39:54] Eric: Yes, I’ll do.
Find Eric’s thoughts on his YouTube channel.