What conditions make great work possible with Katie Dreke

Katie Dreke has a lot of experience helping people get above the bar. Better thinking, better work, better outcomes. In agencies and global brands, she has tested ways to get people to feel and do their best work. In this conversation, Katie and I explore the conditions that help people perform and some of the specifics Katie has tried in her career at Nike, Adidas and others.

If you haven’t already, you should go back right now and listen to my earlier conversation with Katie.

You can find Katie here on Twitter: https://twitter.com/katiedreke
Or on her website: https://drke.co/

Find your host, Adam Pierno at www.adampierno.com

The Strategy Inside Everything is the podcast for people who thinkfor a living. If you have an idea, a question or you want to push back on something you hear in this episode, go to https://thatsnotaninsight.com and leave a message or a voicemail for me. The best and most interesting messages will be added to future episodes, and I can’t waitto hear from you. Music for The Strategy Inside Everything is by Sawsquarenoise. Host Adam Pierno is an author, speaker and strategy consultant. Learn more at adampierno.com.

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Transcript of this conversation:

Adam Pierno 0:00
This is The Strategy Inside Everything. I’m Adam Pierno. The Strategy Inside Everything is the podcast for people who think for a living. If you have an idea, a question or you want to push back on something you hear in this episode, go to thatsnotaninsight.com and leave a message or a voicemail for me. The best and most interesting messages will be added to future episodes. And I can’t wait to hear from you. All right, welcome back to another episode of the strategy inside everything. It is my absolute pleasure to have one of our very few repeat guests on Katie Dreke. She’s the founder of Dreke – a consultancy helping agencies, companies, people think about their offerings in a more meaningful way. I would say Katie, how’re you doing?

Katie Dreke 0:00
Yeah, good. Yeah. Thanks for inviting me back.

Adam Pierno 0:00
Are you kidding me? I frequently get comments you know about the episodes. But your episode in particular, where I think when we met and when were you were thinking about your own path in your career that has stuck with me. So I when I had the chance to talk to you again, I was like, yes. Let’s do it. Yeah. Would you give people if they had our new listeners, which there are many, would you give them a kind of a quick rundown, they can go back and I’ll tag the old episode with with the advance, but I think your background is important for the conversation we’re about to have.

Katie Dreke 0:26
Yeah, I’m originally from Seattle, Pacific Northwest local. I’ve got, I don’t know, 25, almost 30 years now of agency background. But I’ve also worked client side in a couple of different instances, I worked at DDoS in Europe, and also seven years at Nike here in Portland, Oregon. I’ve also had the great joy of moving around the world quite a bit. I spent four years in the Netherlands, a little over two years in Sydney, Australia, and I got a chance to work across some clients in like Southeast Asia, do a lot of research there. And then also spent time working with Nike in Tokyo, Japan, which was a wicked highlight of my career, I have to say, now I’m running my own consultancy, I’m based in Portland, Oregon. But by the silver lining of the pandemic, I’ve managed to do all this, you know, through the computer screen, largely due to the timing of everything. And I’ve had clients all around the world. I’ve worked with Oatly and Klarna of Sweden, and I have larger clients like Google and Nike, but I’ve also worked with some startups. And I’ve started getting into doing some advisory and coaching as well. I met with the startup founder yesterday, who I’ll be working on coaching assignment for about three months. Yeah, it’s it’s been a very wide swath of interactions, some very strategic, most pretty strategic, but a couple of my assignments have been really fun in that they’ve been the opposite end of the spectrum and very consumer facing. One of the things I’m most excited about this fall is I got a chance to work on the 60th anniversary marketing campaign for Steamboat Springs ski resort, I got a chance to actually go ski with the team and work for two days and have a web workshop with the new marketing lead. And we made a classic advertising campaign, it’s gonna be coming out this fall calendar, those I know. And I also got to re connect to an amazing creative, Richard Bullock, and some other folks that I worked with at one at Amsterdam, which, which we feels like a million years ago now. But it was a nice full circle. And like one of my few sort of consumer bases assignments this year, so I got a chance to do really just about everything.

Adam Pierno 0:26
Your your background, and the diversity of the org organizations and companies agencies and that you’ve worked with in your past, and that you still engage with now is part of why you’re the exact perfect person to talk about this topic with today. You and I have been going back and forth on what are the conditions for good work, you know what, what has to happen in an office or on a zoom with 20 screens for and I don’t think we should talk about whether that matters or not. But what are those conditions that you have seen that I have seen that tend to generate more either prolific or just higher quality thinking higher quality work? And you know what of that is repeatable? And one of that is sort of accidental Good luck. Yeah, and I’m cases

Katie Dreke 0:26
Yeah, I mean, when I’ve thought back on the times that I have been a part of a team or I felt like the Mojo was happening. So much of that almost feels intense. tangible and really hard to make happen? Yeah. But I do feel like there are some things you can do to create fertile territory for the mojo to flow, if you will. And one of those things, I think, is this dichotomy of chemistry. Chemistry that’s really working. And but also, and also friction, and I think chemists, the tension of chemistry and friction being, you know, personalities, people are a little chemistry sets themselves full of chemicals and adrenaline and certain electrical impulses, electrical impulses, some of them are restrained, some of them have no filter, like there’s a lot of chemistry,

Adam Pierno 0:26
some of them swing back and forth across those. Yeah, in a

Katie Dreke 5:49
meeting, yeah. But there can also be really positive or negative or difficult or easy chemistry with a client, or even with a brief. Yeah, you know, sometimes a brief will land and everybody’s like, Oh, my God, it’s gonna be good, you know, this is gonna be great. Or people are like, shit, what are we going to do with this thing? Like, it lands on the table with a thump, and you’re like, Oh, man. So chemistry, when I think it’s really working, there’s it’s like bubbling 80% of the way. And then there’s maybe a little bit that’s kind of a little tough. And that kind of leads into the friction part, like, not every member of the team should be BFFs. You know, somebody does need to be at time cop. Somebody does need to be pragmatic, somebody does need to do to to dream. And there’s friction there that’s naturally introduced into the system

Adam Pierno 6:41
chemistry where the push for, you know, if we’re talking about traditional or non traditional, like an ad agency model, it doesn’t matter that there is a role for someone who is pushing the creative and trying to make it amazing. And let’s make it a mini film. And let’s do this thing that is not pragmatic at all that needs to happen. And the person who says right, that’s cool. But remember, before we build a tic tock account, we the assignment is for this single page print dad, like, Yes, I’ll put that in slide three. But slide one, we got to cover this thing. Yeah. And both of those need to be in the room. Otherwise, you end up with checkboxes.

Katie Dreke 7:24
Yeah, that, you know, I think I love working with production people. Because that’s where the rubber hits the road. Yeah, they know, how can we actually make that? How do we actually make that what sorts of feats of strength do we need to engage in to like, make this thing that we all really believe in, and you’ve, I’ve worked with producers who are dreamers as well, and they will go to the ends of the earth, and they will turn themselves inside out to try to figure out how to make something happen. And they will invent new methods or find other geniuses to create with and those are the producers I want to work with. But there’s also producers who kind of get a bad rap as being like the person who says no to everything. No, we can’t do that. No, that’s too expensive. No, we don’t have enough time. And, you know, to be fair, that’s part of their job is to be real. To be real, the seeds are is no, and sometimes the answer’s no. But I don’t like when people’s first reaction is no. And that’s usually a signal to me that I’m working with someone who’s just not gonna be able to create the level, the highest bar that we all want to really put into the world. We’ve got a we’ve got a naysayer on our hands. Oh, you know, like we, we, we actually needed like a crazy, crazy scientist, you know, who’s like, yes, I want to put this out in the world. And I will do anything in my power to make it happen. Yeah,

Adam Pierno 8:48
that’s true of producers. But also true. Developers are technologists as well. Yeah. Yeah. Early internet days. I remember being frustrated as a creative because they would say, I would say we have this idea. I don’t know how it works, because I don’t understand the back end. But it should do this. The person does. The user does this. And this is what happens, they would go that’s not possible. That’s not technically you can’t do it and be like, alright, send in someone else. Because I need someone else to say, oh, you can’t do exactly that. But let me go read this website. I think I can do this thing that’s close, or

Katie Dreke 9:21
or we can invent it. Yeah, it’s been done before. So we’re going to do it for realsies. Yes, there’s like time and cost implications to that. But if we actually want to do it, we can. This is how it gets done. And here’s the compromises you have to make. And so I like it when producers as much as they’re able to say yes first and show what the trade offs are. There. Yeah, and that’s an important element

Adam Pierno 9:50
and we I didn’t qualify what is good work. But yeah, I think good work meets the assignment, but also exceeds the expectation. Asians have what’s possible, and that that of someone being able to say, Okay, here’s some trade offs, like, oh, look cooler this way, but be a little less functional and deliver more impacts from an ROI standpoint, but it’ll not look as good.

Katie Dreke 10:15
I agree with you that there’s, there’s, there’s good creative, which is you answered the brief and the work performs, that’s really good. And then great is you deliver on the assignment, the work performs, you’re pushing the industry and the medium into a new space that makes it really difficult for others to follow. That means for other brands to replicate it, but also for other agencies and creatives to replicate it because you have mutated it in some way that you’ve created distinction that can’t be replicated.

Adam Pierno 10:50
Yeah. I used to think about it as as work that makes the competitors jealous.

Katie Dreke 10:55
Yeah. Yeah. I used to say, Oh, my God, that’s so good. I want to spit.

Adam Pierno 11:02
This is much more passionate, better.

Katie Dreke 11:05
Friend at an agency, we’d be like, Oh, I’m so mad right now.

Adam Pierno 11:14
How do you I mentioned that you mentioned the energy of a brief hitting the table. And there is a time when someone when you’ve cracked a brief and you know it and you share it with the team. And they’re they’re reading it, and you could see their eyes moving? And you could see, you could see them, like, the physical response, you can sense like, oh, they they’re plugged into this thing, they get it? And then there’s times where it’s just like, you know, maybe I didn’t deliver or I thought I did, but what went in? Yeah, and makes that leap? In a brief from the, yeah, okay, you filled it out. But it’s not transcendent, it’s not generating the emotional response you want or that they don’t understand enough to get excited about it.

Katie Dreke 12:00
Yeah. I, I can remember the times in which I have delivered like a clanger of a brief, like it didn’t, so well. And in my junior pneus, at the time, thinking of a couple of specific examples. I didn’t have the seniority and the experience level to understand whether it was the brief as religious, or these other these people who’ve come into this room are bringing their garbage with them. And because as you know, anything is interesting to, to someone who’s interested. And it is also the responsibility and the job of creative teams receiving briefs, to become interested in everything that’s being placed in front of them. Sometimes you’re just not getting the partnership from the creative team. They’re like, I don’t want to do this credit card thing, you know, I don’t believe in credit cards, or whatever the attitude is that they bring in maybe it’s just like a, you know, combative sort of mood. And so things can claim because of that, I think, in my early days, I always thought it was my fault at the brief. But you know, as I stood on the table, I still do. Sometimes, you know, sometimes I leave the room going, oh, yeah, I can see all the flaws now. And what I wrote, and I can see all the opportunities I’ve missed, I’d love another go, you know, sometimes you get another chance, because there’ll be a first creative review, work will come back and you have an opportunity to sort of modify the brief a little bit to still keep it on the on the path, but add a little more context, to give a little more creative elbow room. But a lot of that comes back to that first point about chemistry and friction, you know, like needing the right chemistry with the ECD. So that you you can talk about these things on the back channel and kind of set the creative teams for success. But yeah, I’ve also had amazing briefings, but a lot of those times. Some of it is just the context of the brief. Like it’s just a sweet situation. Yeah,

Adam Pierno 14:10
I mean, some projects are better than others. Yeah, everybody was

Katie Dreke 14:14
learned, even if you don’t get a chance to leave the building, on the day of the briefing, and like go and have a full bodied experience that connects the team kinetically and emotionally to the work, which is usually the best case scenario. Like if you’re selling lawn mowers, like, go out and mow a lawn and like have a glass of lemonade and go who the very like, there’s things you can do that are like, really solidify the idea in people’s minds, puts them into the literal footprints of the consumer. Also, some creatives are really excited by the business aspects. You know, we’re trying to turn the business from here to here, or here’s the kind of outcome that we want to see to the p&l. Some of them don’t give a shit about it. So it sucks. Sometimes. It’s just A little bit about knowing your internal audience as well, knowing your creative team and knowing how to wind them up. Yeah, it’s back to that chemistry thing, specific people, somehow some creative need to be challenged. No one’s ever done this before. I don’t know, can you guys do this as a really hard brief, I don’t know. You know, it kind of, you see doubt. And then they get excited by that. Others are like, I just need to understand the emotion, you need to make it very emotional. Make it empathy, you know, this, this sort of like empathetic, mind meld with the consumer. And then they go away inside the mind, you can see them kind of walking out of the room with kind of glassy eyes. They’re just occupying the consumers that are leaving the room. And they’re going in to do their brainstorming at the coffee shop, or wherever.

Adam Pierno 15:45
And it’s Yeah, you see chemistry intention, the way you were describing it at the outset, I thought right away of walking into a bar. And somehow they give off an energy like you can walk into somewhere you’ve never been, you go to a new city, you walk in and right away, you say, oh, I want to get out of this. Like, I don’t feel safe here. Yeah, I don’t this isn’t my thing. I don’t want to be here. Or, Oh, I have going to be here all night. Like I have not leave, I’m going to find a stool and I’m not moving around. And energy is so good. And it’s not all because chemistry is positive. And everybody’s the same. There’s a there’s some tension in there of like, oh, look, it’s like there’s different types of people or there’s different conversations. We’re all there’s a game on over there. And there’s a jukebox over here. And as people are are pulling different parts of the energy to create something unique in here.

Katie Dreke 16:35
Yeah, and I think you’re kind of hitting on the other thing that makes it possible for these other team players to do their play their role. Because what we’re doing is theater, essentially. So you need like all the players, the creative players, the time caught players, the, you know, dollars and cents players and production realists is you need that level of safety and you need that level of belonging, like a producer isn’t going to feel safe saying yes, but if they know they’re gonna get clobbered, if it doesn’t work out, or if they have to change what they said, if they if they’re in a defensive position, they’re like, No, we can’t do that, because I don’t feel safe. sticking my neck out in any degree here, because I need to tell you what the safe answer is what we definitely can do in the time, and, you know, capacity that we have, I don’t feel at all comfortable making a risk. So I think some of that is around belonging, a sense of belonging that teams need to feel with each other that, that regardless of whether we’re BFFs or not, I want you here, because I recognize that you’re talented, and you’re talented in a way that’s different from the way that I’m talented. And you, you belong here, you have a role to play, and I want you in the room. Yeah. If you don’t have that, and I’ve been on teams like that, where I don’t feel like people want me. Sometimes it’s because I’m the planner, and they think I’m a wasted body, you know, or I’m new and they don’t trust that I know the work as well as they do, or whatever the case may be, you can feel that vibe. And so there isn’t the level of safety to really stretch from good degrade. And as you know, like there’s been a lot of conversation last couple of years about some of the problems in the agency world, or in the creative space or in the tech space. And that not everyone has been held to the same level of accountability. And not everybody has been given the same accessibility to the opportunities. And all I’m here to say is like more safety means more creativity, you know, if we can, if we can kind of kibosh some of those things and neutralize some of those negatives. The I think that creative output is really what wins. And when the creative wins. I mean, like, that’s where the, you know, the Holy Spirit is in the world of agency, like everyone wants to deliver the best creative and they want to, they want to wow, their peers, and they want to push the mediums and the industry forward. So I think safety is really one of the critical conditions.

Adam Pierno 19:16
Do you when I was in, in my dealings with agencies, like when I was in agencies, I think I was more worried about being embarrassed by saying the bad idea on in corporate environments either in front of clients or in house. I am more afraid of being like told I’m wrong. You know, it’s there different types of fear, but most of them are back. Yeah, I believe limit you from saying like, what about this crazy idea?

Katie Dreke 19:45
Yeah, I’ve actually also clarify like, safety can mean different things to different people. I don’t mean Creative Safety, like we should all be taking risks there and we should be pushing ourselves out to the, to the end of the ledge. But what I do mean is like what you just described, like social safety, I’m not going to be humiliated emotional safety, that I feel this is a place that lifts me as opposed to tears me down, or places undue tensions with me. Yeah, there’s not a lot of smoke and mirrors like we’re, we’re on the same team and we’re marching to the same drum and we’re going to the same destination. And we are going to take risks together creative risks together, we’re going to actually strip our take off her seat belt creatively and work. But that the puts so much more responsibility on the emotional psychological side and the social side. Because that allows the creativity to really unleash itself and to be unsafe as possible.

Adam Pierno 20:50
Yeah, I’ve never had that conversation, have you in your work? Have you talked to people about that I’ve never, it’s never come up for me. Now. I’m like, I must have been the worst I’ve

Katie Dreke 21:00
ever spoken. I’ve never been like in an agency setting which in which that has been spoken about openly. And frankly, in those sort of like terms, it does feel like a new phenomenon. And the last maybe five or 10 years that we even have the language to talk about this in the work environment, it’s fear, especially during quarantining times, and Pandemic times, we’ve all been talking more about like, work, wellness, and taking care of ourselves during this, you know, unprecedented moment, more than ever, more than ever. But I do remember going through some corporate training at Nike in which they were trying, it was very new, but they were trying to get teams to be very vulnerable together. And I’ll just say the first one that I went through, they were they really wanted us to be vulnerable. I did not feel safe being vulnerable. I did, I really wanted to connect to my teammates in a sort of like stripped back, see me for who I am. But I also felt myself hedging. You know, I wasn’t actually being 100% unveil. I didn’t

Adam Pierno 22:12
20 seconds of those kind of icebreakers. I am like, I was

Katie Dreke 22:16
exhausted at the end of that day, it was nerve racking. And that’s hard for me to do. So I left me wondering like, is that really honest, to ask people to do this in a high pressure corporate environment to be stripped back? Is that even fair or honest to ask people to do that? Will people ever really reach that level? Because you know, you’re going into a performance review with the same human beings and few months later, you know, it’s a high stakes, it feels like a high stakes situation. And yeah, we do need to do some level of that. And so maybe it’s about just finding the right modulation.

Adam Pierno 22:52
I don’t like it, going through it as a as an employee. But I appreciate I would rather have organizations try it than not try it. Like, I think it’s important that create the opportunity to do it and connect and if it’s in a different format, and I hate every minute of it when I’m doing it. But I say what’s the option?

Katie Dreke 23:13
And I think maybe the discomfort is kind of part of it. You’re meant to feel the discomfort. Be aware of it, and learn from what you see in yourself.

Adam Pierno 23:25
We’re all embarrassed together.

Katie Dreke 23:27
Yeah, yeah, we’re all feeling comfortable in this room together. But also, it’s like, what about what about it is making you uncomfortable? And also, do you need to feel uncomfortable, maybe it’s a little bit self imposed, you know, so safety is an interesting thing around the creative and excellent work space, because to be most excellent. And to push the bar forward, you have to take your seatbelt off and make yourself unsafe, which puts more requirements on the other types of safety, which is pretty cool.

Adam Pierno 24:00
Yeah. What are your what are some of the conditions for that safety? I mean, what is it that makes, like in those environments, where you were just like, Oh, I could just be myself? What do you have you ever thought about what made that work? What was the what was the ingredient in the soup that made it

Katie Dreke 24:16
feel okay? Yeah, I mean, for me, there’s a couple dynamics of clay. One is the classic, you know, work environment top down, you do need sort of permission. I have been on teams in which we didn’t have quote, unquote, permission from senior leadership to work the way we were working, we just kind of decided we were going to work this way. And then we put on our game face when we go into reviews and, you know, senior leadership that has no idea that we’re operating in a different way. But that is silly, because it almost feels I mean, it creates like, collegiality, which is also really awesome, but it’s also kind of a farce. But I think it’s more Are for when from top down, you’re given like the agency to solve the problem in the way that you think is best. And the encouragement to go as deep and as interpersonal into the work as you possibly can or feels right to do on any given brief. And then the other bit, I think, is some simple things like humor, when you’re when you’re in a really formal environment, and you can’t just crack a silly joke, or make a silly voice, or make some of the tension out of the work, you know, it doesn’t feel safe. Like it doesn’t also doesn’t feel real, because you know, the real world is messy, and it’s silly, and it’s and humans are weird. And so you kinda have to have some humor. And so a lot of some of the best projects I’ve worked on we’ve we’ve made up our own little catchphrases. Maybe there was even like, silly artifacts that came out of it like a mascot or like a T shirt, or I’m still in touch with people where we sometimes will send each other little text messages with these

Adam Pierno 26:14
texts, Shane to wear those like stupid things as like the tribal, the shared, yes, is like yeah, thing that I can share with five people. And they all give me the thumbs up or the heart back, you know, really quickly.

Katie Dreke 26:25
And I think that there’s something about, you know, humor that makes things feel very textured and real. And it takes tension out of a tension. But at the end of the day, a lot of these briefs are time bound. There’s moments where you’re being reviewed and critiqued. We get accustomed to that tension, and it no longer, you know, causes a lot of stress. But the tension is there for a purpose, you know, and sometimes you get a break. So I think, humor and levity. And yeah, bringing some levity,

Adam Pierno 27:04
you mentioned time, talk a little bit more about how you think about time, and there’s more than one version of how time is experienced.

Katie Dreke 27:13
Yeah, I I’m, I like to dork out on time, quite a lot. And I think for great, not a good but a great creative output. There’s ways in which you can leverage the mechanics of time to give yourself a better chance of showing up in the world in a distinctive way. One, one of those ways, is to stretch time. And I usually just use the phrase, you know, look back to look forward, and there’s a ton of history that we can see and dive into, to understand human beings. We’re not that different from human beings that just showed up, didn’t just show up, that evolved, and had civilizations and struggles and needs. And you can see through history, like these really interesting markers of just what is true about people? And what are some of the examples like working on a beer brand, once I looked back was like, what is the first one where people wanted fermentation? Start when do people start doing this, you know, it’s, it’s like 1000s of years, you can slack in the desert. And there’s like these evidence of like, these beer gardens and festival, places where there’s no water, there’s no city, there’s a structure, and you can see that they were brewing in this location, and that 1000s of people would come. And you’re like, Oh, dang, this is like Coachella from like, years ago. You know, we’re not, there’s, there’s wonderful things that you can see to reinforce what we already kind of feel, and it feels good. It’s, it’s, I don’t know, it’s grounding. And then you kind of use that to stretch into the future and to think about, well, what sort of macro things or technology things if we spin them out to like, the next 100 years, or I am a card carrying member of the Long Now Foundation, which which decides to look back 10,000 years, which is kind of the time box of civilization, and then try to look forward 10,000 years, which is an insane amount of time. But you listen to their podcast series, and you start to really see the world through a very elastic view of time, geological time. And so I like to bring stretchiness of time into creative exercises. We know this is like a campaign that’s gonna run over holiday 2023 or whatever.

Adam Pierno 29:45
Some people are gonna get through eight hours, right? I was like,

Katie Dreke 29:49
look for the moment allow ourselves to kind of play with with time as a construct. The other thing I’ve just kind of stumbled upon recently is this idea of of Chronos and Kairos. And it’s this kind of old Greek way of looking at time by saying there’s two types of time and Chronos. Time is like the clock. It’s, you know, 60 minutes is an hour. And then another 60 minutes is another hour and 24 hours a day, and then another 24 hours another day, and they are units of time. And they’re structured and they’re static, predictable build, and they’re predictable. And, but then there’s this other construct of time called Kairos. Which means in any moment, that moment can feel like, you know, a day can feel like an hour, you can lose track of time. I remember one time I got a new video game, and my husband had taken the kids camping. So I was in the house by myself. And I was like, I’m just gonna get into this game and check it out. I started playing around like, five o’clock, six o’clock, and suddenly realized I might my stomach hurts. I wonder if I’m getting sick. And then I realized it was one o’clock in the morning. And I played sir dinner. I was in I was in Kairos, by the way, like, my time had totally lost all meaning.

Adam Pierno 31:12
I’ve done that with books or streaming a show where all of a sudden, you’re on season three. And you know, you’re like, wait a minute, did I just read 18 days in a row?

Katie Dreke 31:20
Yeah, what’s what has happened? And sometimes I got really good brainstorm, can feel that way. You get in there. And you know, ideas are building on each other, and the flow is happening. And we can feel that we’re not getting to a destination, we’re not getting sharper, but we’re getting clear with every hour every minute. And then the time starts to fall away. And you’re not thinking about time anymore. You’re thinking about the builds. Oh, that build was really good. Let’s keep coming up. Oh, look, we got another build. Let’s turn the idea this way. Oh, now we can see this other facet. Oh, wow. It’s somebody hungry? Let’s order pizza. Let’s stay here. And then before you notice, like one o’clock in the morning, yeah. And, and you’re like, oh, shit, that was really great. We lost track, we lost track of the structured time. And so I think like really great creativity needs needs both. You do need to get there on time ya need to deliver in time for what the client is paying you to do. And it’s planning to like, feel with a whole bunch of media and get get a bunch of eyeballs on it and interactions. But the Kairos time is really important. For the creative to marinate, and develop.

Adam Pierno 32:33
Have you been able to figure out what creates that that potluck? I think we have all worked at places that you want to be there until three in the morning in places where it’s like the theater of being there till late because that’s the culture and we are here. We don’t stop working, but nobody’s really working. They’re all just standing around and hoping the boss sees traveling for good checks. Yeah,

Katie Dreke 32:57
yeah, sometimes you go in that into that realm. wanting it to be Kairos. But it doesn’t happen. You know, like there’s a struggle bus that you’re on. And you do feel like you need to give it the Kairos time but nothing like the the the magic isn’t happening doesn’t click Yeah, yeah. And some of that is due to the earlier points we made around chemistry and safety and some of its you know, some of it is just like the Muse doesn’t always come to the party even though she has been invited so that and and if you have chemistry and safety, sometimes what you can realize is, you know what the struggle was has gone on long enough. Yeah, it’s all it’s not happening today. We’re gonna try again tomorrow, you know, but I think there are things you can do that may you know, beyond chemistry and safety, that invite the muse in and she might have a better chance of showing up. And some of that is present. It also depends a little bit on the creative teams, what they thrive in, but I’ve found like, some protection, like some cocooning either, like giving them a physical space, either in the building that we’re no one can find them, or giving them license to go off building like a couple of times. Like I’ve rented a penthouse hotel room for a creative team. And I’m like, go use the gym, have a swim, order room service, and spend the full 24 hours in this beautiful place. It’s not our office, it’s not where you live. Looks like and it also feels like you’re doing important work and we’re making you comfortable and so you choose like an a vibe of a particular hotel or a building or whatever. Or like if I have a friend who I know is working at a different company. Can my team come and sit somewhere on your floor today and just hide them? You know, so sometimes it’s a cocoon. Mm.

Adam Pierno 35:01
physical space of Yeah, or separation.

Katie Dreke 35:04
Sometimes you give them something to do. And like, hey, I need you guys to go to this theme park and ride roller coasters all day long, and just talk with each other. Or, hey, I need you to go to this cooking class. Big because you know, maybe it’s a food related brief or something, I want you to get your hands into the work and go and like, Don’t brainstorm like you’re not you kind of tell them you’re not supposed to think about the work, but we know it will happen. And it will somewhere back there. You’re

Adam Pierno 35:34
right, it is happening more

Katie Dreke 35:35
along the way a little bit. Like, you know, while we were making noodles last night I or you know, to two hours ago, you’re not having a beer at the end of the day. And you’re like, I had this idea while we were doing that class. And so sometimes it’s yeah, like cocooning the work and giving it that protection it needs and sometimes it’s about giving the creatives distance from the work so that the work enters

Adam Pierno 35:58
in. So it’s not like oh, get get the creative people away from the email and the account people that are bothering them, it’s more get them in a place where they’re separated from the work altogether. So their mind can wander.

Katie Dreke 36:11
Yeah, that’s hard. You know, we might even take their phones, get on walkie talkie and just be like, what? Beat me when you need the Uber to come, you know, we’ll send a car for you. And then you can, you know, come into work the next day. And we can start, you know, but by that point, though their their brains will have been scrubbed their palate cleanser, they’ll come in in the morning, like, oh my god, I had all these ideas while I was riding roller coasters, because nobody asked him to it’s people are naturally creative. And so sometimes you just need to get all the other stuff off of them.

Adam Pierno 36:45
Yeah, the double edged sword of deadlines, you know, the deadline, always make something something is delivered. But sometimes it’s the Freedom The that elastic time that makes an idea pop into your mind.

Katie Dreke 36:58
And as a strategist, I see my role is being this this sort of entity that flutters around the perimeter. And if I see a struggle that’s happening, I won’t necessarily tell the team I’m doing this. But I’ll work on some additional architectures in my, in my bat in the background, because it’s like, well, if they’re getting a lot of ideas, but the ideas aren’t clicking, or they don’t know what to do with them. At the next meeting, I can just pull out of my back pocket, a bucketing system. So we can start to organize the thinking. And it won’t be about refresh, ranking it it won’t be about critiquing it, it’s just about like a mind mapping it a little bit, kind of creating bundles. Because sometimes when you really reorganize the work, that’s what click something for them, you’re like, Oh, I didn’t even think about it in that room. Now I want to go over here. Now I know where I want to go. So I tried to think about what are the different tools and structures without boxing anybody into a cul de sac without making anybody feel judged or measured or critiqued. But just that I’m this extra appendage that can be applied to the hand, you know, and to help the Grasp happen a little bit better or

Adam Pierno 38:15
more like a second thumb button on the phone.

Katie Dreke 38:20
Yeah, put a ring on me a cool thumb ring. And I’ll come to the party and try to help the creatives, imagine what their imaginings in different landscapes. And then of course, once time starts, the Chronos, time starts moving. And we’re getting closer and closer to moments where we need to show up in front of the client. I do that translation. And almost strategists do do that translation of dream space and ideas space into action space, and projecting outcomes,

Adam Pierno 38:54
either through your own insights or through the secondary insights that you’re like, Oh, this is this is how we lead this. This is how we explain this. And

Katie Dreke 39:01
when it really works. It’s so satisfying, I think. And I witnessed it in the faces of my creative partners. And I also feel inside myself that I have given them. If I do my job really well, I have given them the license to continue to dream. I’ve taken all the tension, they might feel out of responsibility for the p&l. I’ve taken it on my shoulders, and I’ve connected their beautiful dream to you know, the impact and the performance that needs to happen. And so now they’re free. They’re free to go into how do we make this the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen before and how do I work with my producer to invent and design? You know, the impossible because now we’ve been given license to do so because the creative idea has been made legitimized in some way. And it’s legitimization not because it wasn’t a great idea or didn’t. We didn’t believe in it or something. It’s that client who’s buying it has to see it for the for their performance review of them ending their budget on our work. So as much as we need to create a motion and you know, excitement and inspiration without that tether to the true to true, true, they will always doubt they will always be, you know, they’ll question and when a when a creative feels doubted or questioned, there’s armor, you can you can see the calluses come up on the skin and you know they’re in there, they’re in a, they’re not in their safe place. So it is a kind of a way of actually providing safety, to the creative idea itself. And

Adam Pierno 40:46
to proving to them, you’re gonna support the idea and you’re gonna support it.

Katie Dreke 40:50
I’m gonna legitimize the hell out of it, that client isn’t gonna love this. You go be amazing. And I’ve created a moatso that you don’t have to feel in danger. Yeah, that kind of gets me to the last thing I wanted to add there, like ideas need most. The last thing I’ll add is also the classic thing that I think strategy people often care about the most. And that’s probably their role on the team is around perspective. And context, trying to be the empaths of the team. To Yes, understand the client and the business needs, of course. But really what is happening in culture? Why is it happening this way? Why are these weird people doing these suddenly? You know, bewildering things. And where’s the emotional center that we can tap into in our audience? Is it about their age, you know, they’re old, or they’re young? And they feel a fear or a weakness there? Or is it that they’re high earner? And there’s some sort of like a confidence, but maybe it’s a false confidence? Or they’re an underserved member of society because of their gender? Or because of their color? Or because of their immigration status? And what can we understand about that, like, really, really understand about that. So that when our messages land, whether it’s a PSA or it’s a Superbowl ad, it’s getting getting right in there very quickly. And very poignantly, and we’ve all seen ads, that especially during the Superbowl, I’ll say, the music comes on, there’s some slow motion video. But it’s don’t know in the first five or 10 minutes, anybody could be saying that’s a butter brand, a beer brand, a bank, like anybody could be doing this sort of like an unprecedented times. We saw a lot of that in the last couple of years, right? It’s hollow. And it feels Yeah, it feels false. I’m just making a little film here, you know. But I think if you really get into the, under the skin of stuff, you probably won’t turn it into a Superbowl ad, you’ll turn it into some sort of impact program, where you’re doing something real in the community. And then maybe you’ll tell some people about it, to make sure that they know that they can contribute and they can feel proud of you as a brand as a customer of your brand. And that there’s ways for them to get involved. And that just kind of goes more into the you know, when you have really good perspective, what do you do with it more that leads you more into like, well, what is modern marketing look like? And a lot of it is you know, less static, vacuous storytelling and more rolling up your sleeves and getting some sweat equity into the game.

Adam Pierno 43:59
Yeah, less less ads. Yes, less often. Yeah, cuz

Katie Dreke 44:03
that one of the perspectives is the audience’s see through all that veneer now, it’s not med men anymore. Where you’re playing a very different storytelling game in this world. Yeah,

Adam Pierno 44:15
yeah. So even what what does work look like? What does good work look like? What even is the work? Yeah, different than it was right? Yeah. Yeah. Katie drakey. Thank you so much for making time for me.

Katie Dreke 44:27
Oh, yeah. Thanks for inviting me to talk about fun stuff like I I get excited about this to

Adam Pierno 44:35
new new show idea. Just I just talked to you every week and we wish you could make time for that.

Katie Dreke 44:44
Well, you can call me again and I will always pick up yeah, let’s say

Adam Pierno 44:47
that’s happening. You’re gonna be my first three time guests for sure. Awesome. Where can people find you online? Katie?

Katie Dreke 44:54
Um, I’m on all the all the things it’s usually first name, last name. So like Twitter. is @KatieDreke. I have a little web page, not even a website web page, which I am going to try to not I’m going to say it in public. So I have to do I’m going to up level it.

Adam Pierno 45:12
committed. It’s on it.

Katie Dreke 45:14
But it’s drke.co. Yeah. Thanks for inviting me. It’s great.

Adam Pierno 45:20
Thank you for joining me. I appreciate it. The Strategy Inside Everything is produced by me, Adam Pierno If you like what you’ve heard, leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Actually, I have no idea if that helps, or if it’s ever done anybody any good. If you really want to help the show, and you liked what you heard, share it with someone else who you think will dig it. That’s the best way to help the show and keep the conversation growing. New Music for the strategy inside everything is by Sawsquarenoise. If you have an idea, a question or want to push back on something you hear here, go to thatsnotaninsight.com and leave a message or a voicemail for me. If you want more information on your host Adam Pierno you can find it on adampierno.com and learn about my books, speaking and consulting practice. Thanks so much for listening.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai