The Self-Proclaimed Creative
I’m the smartest person in my company. I’m the most muscular dude at the gym. I’m super intuitive. I’m the funniest person I know. I’m a fantastic listener. I’m so freaking cool.
If you have to tell someone you’re cool, odds are that you’re not—life doesn’t work that way. I sense that everyone reading the above list instantly thought of a specific someone who verbally purports to be something they are not. And, as the list suggests, you can substitute the word “cool” for just about anything: funny, smart, witty, brave, thoughtful, romantic, forward-thinking, etc. However, the word I want to focus on for this blog is “creative.”
Lately, I’ve noticed quite a few people declaring how creative they are on various social media platforms. Usually, these come in the form of a humblebrag while they snidely deride the work other people are doing. In other words, it’s your run-of-the-mill social media stuff—stuff I usually do my best to avoid. At this point, you’re likely asking, “then why write about this at all, Bill?”
I’m writing about this because I find it fascinating that while they spend time and energy jeering others for a perceived lack of creativity, they post all manner of quotes and memes that aren’t original at all. Usually, they are lifted from real creators like Gary Vaynerchuk, Seth Godin or Casey Neistat. To be clear, most of the quotes and memes are positive, supportive, and uplifting—nothing negative about them at all. I find it interesting that they use others’ words and graphics to support their own “creativity.” These, my friends, are the False Creatives.
Here are two truths:
• Simply saying you are “something” doesn’t make it a reality.
• Your audience decides if you are creative, not you .
When I think of promotional products distributors, many of them are trying to convince their audience they are creative by telling them that they are. For example, if you have a “creative” idea to use a specific phone charger for Prospect X’s internal sales contest, how creative are you when your competition showed them the same product last week? Even though you’ve told Prospect X how creative you are, you just proved the opposite and are just another False Creative to them.
Creativity (or being a good listener, or being smart, or possessing coolness) is proven over time with tangible examples of work well done. Furthermore, it's not self-proclaimed—it's bestowed by your audience. Creativity takes time, effort, thought, and the ability to slog through the 100 horrible ideas to get to the outstanding ones. It also takes boldness to share to a world that can be very harsh with criticism. False Creatives would rather share the work of others and hope that it passes as something they conceived and are happy spending time lamenting how “lucky” others are than merely doing the work necessary to create.
There are people who quietly do, and there are people who will work tirelessly to simply convince you they do. Which one do you want to be?
Bill has over 20 years working in executive leadership positions at leading promotional products companies, always working collaboratively to achieve the “wow” desired by the target audience.
A Managing Partner at brandivate, a full-service marketing services and advertising agency, Bill is featured speaker at numerous national and international events, a serial creator of content marketing, and co-host of the industry-leading podcast, Promo UPFront. Bill has extensive experience defining brand strategy, creating successful marketing campaigns, creating and developing winning RFP responses, and presenting winning promotional products solutions to Fortune 500 clients.
A fierce advocate for the Promotional Products Industry, he is the Immediate Past President of the Regional Association Council (RAC) board, has worked closely with senior leadership at Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) on many committees and work groups. In appreciation of his years of service to the promotional products industry, Bill was named as an inaugural PPAI Fellow—a program designed to recognize influential individuals who have actively supported the industry through personal involvement.
Bill lives in Franklin, TN with his wife of 26 years, Sandy, and their 17-year-old twin boys, Drew and Mitch.