5 Days of Work Doesn’t Fit into 4 Days

The no-work-on-Monday-because-it’s-a-holiday workweek. (Thanks, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.)

Ah yes, another wonderfully-long weekend that’s benefits wear off once we’re back at work.  Let’s cram 5 days of work into 4 days now, shall we?


Why should the fact that we all had permission to take one day off mean longer hours and more stress for the next four or more days?  It shouldn’t.  I don’t need to argue this point any further, do I?  You’re with me.  Simply put, we can enjoy our day(s) off and not pull our hair out when we come back to work.


Well, the best way is to PLAN AHEAD.  If you’re reading this after the holiday, the next best ways – PRIORITIZE & CLEARLY COMMUNICATE.

What can you cut from your workweek?  We’re looking for a 20% cut here.  Prioritize what you can realistically handle during the short week.  Delegate to someone else, streamline the process, delete the item or delay the task to next week in order to make your few days in the office more manageable.

PRIORITIZE –> Delegate – Streamline – Delete – Delay – Do

Right now, take 14 minutes and write down everything you thought you were going to have to tackle this four-day week (including your dentist appointment, happy hour with the client, etc.).  Then mark each task with delegate, streamline, delete, delay or do.  For each, jot down a note of whom else needs to be involved in order to make this happen.  Remember, we’re shooting for a 20% cut here – saving you 8 hours of time or more.  To clarify, your list is going to have a lot of “Do’s” still on written on it.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure that your priorities are also your boss’s priorities.  It’s a good idea (not imperative) to check in with your Creative Director, Creative Manager, whomever necessary to confirm that you are focusing on what they would also deem as the top priorities.  The key to successfully delegating, streamlining deleting and delaying tasks is clearly communicating with those involved what you are doing and why (more on this point later).


Advertising Creatives, can you delegate anything to the production studio, an intern or the account team?  If so, clearly communicate with those involved in the project what responsibilities have been transferred and to whom.  Freelancers, can you delegate any tasks to a virtual assistant or webmaster?


Are you able to streamline your day by not attending a meeting and asking the account manager to e-mail you the key points that will affect the creative?  Before the meeting, let all the attendees know of this plan and the reasons behind it.  Can you get on the phone with the strategy team, account team and project management/operations team all at once instead of meeting with each in person separately?  How can you set up your files on your computer this week to save yourself time?


What can you delete from your day: Designing nine comps before checking in with your Creative Director?  Answering that call from your long-winded brother-in-law?  Getting caught up on the latest celebrity gossip?  Checking Twitter every hour?


Creatives, what can you delay until next week that won’t negatively rock your world next week: Being briefed on a project that has a long lead-time?  Updating your Adobe software?  Posting your Monday-was-a-holiday photos on Facebook?


Yes, it may seem like a bunch of back-and-forth will be necessary to delegate, streamline, delay and delete tasks.  When choosing these tasks, keep in mind which are more likely to go smoothly and which will save you the most time.  If missing a 30-minute meeting is going to take you 15 minutes to get out of, is it worth it?  It might be a better use of your time to walk over to your Creative Director’s office and unofficially meet with him about the direction your comps are going before you spend the next 3 hours on them.  You may not need to do all the strategies mentioned above.  If you’re lucky, you may only need to negotiate around two tasks on your To Do List.


Trouble – you will run into it if you neglect clearly communicating.  Inform the people you work with that you are prioritizing and appropriately managing your time for the short workweek.  You’ll get bonus points if you throw in some phases like, “the attention this project deserves,” “focused, quality effort,” “to respect your time as well,” if they are genuine.

Please know that this doesn’t mean that you have to walk every assistant account manager through the list of what you are prioritizing to do this week and what items you’re delegating, streamlining, deleting or delaying.  Share what is necessary with who is necessary.  This is all about saving time.

Also, using the strategies above does not give you permission to be difficult (not that you would).  Keep the delicate balance of creating boundaries while remaining flexible.


I’ve been there; I know what it’s like to have 5 days worth of work that is expected to be crammed into 4 days.  By prioritizing and clearly communicating, you can shift those expectations. 

After all, you shouldn’t be expected to make up the labor that you missed celebrating a holiday like Labor Day.  By shifting and managing expectations this holiday week, you set the new standard for holidays and shortened weeks to come.

By the way, the next Federal holiday in the U.S. is Monday, Feb. 19, 2018.  That gives you time to plan ahead.

How NOT to Manage Creative People

The Harvard Business Review published the blog post “Seven Rules for Managing Creative People” by professor Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic.  And wow, was it wrong! 

The professor starts by over-generalizing and negatively portraying creative people. Here’s how the blog post begins:

“Moody, erratic, eccentric, and arrogant? Perhaps — but you can’t just get rid of them.”

What a way to preframe the readers’ thoughts about creative people.  It continues…

“In fact, unless you learn to get the best out of your creative employees, you will sooner or later end up filing for bankruptcy. Conversely, if you just hire and promote people who are friendly and easy to manage, your firm will be mediocre at best.”

For someone who is an “international authority in personality profiling and psychometric testing,” it’s surprising that he hasn’t met the friendly, easy to manage, innovative, and award-winning creative types that I have worked with.  There are no two types of creatives – decent people verse innovative people.

I’ve worked with hundreds of creatives and if categories of creatives were to exist, the number of categories would be in the double digits.  A very small percentage may be “moody and arrogant,” but the majority are brilliant, kind people.  Many of which I call my friends.

The Harvard Business Review blog post feels like an attack on my friends, on my previous co-workers, on my clients, on the advertising and design industry as a whole, and on me personally.

Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic might be able to get away with writing something like this if it pertained to teenage private art school students (maybe), but this article is slamming professionals.

And does the professor not know that competition and deadlines push creative people to actually create?  Not only does he state, “The worst thing you can do to a creative employee is to force them to work with someone like them — they would compete for ideas, brainstorm eternally, or simply ignore each other,” but also he goes on to say that creatives shouldn’t have to follow processes or structures.  No competition and no accountability.

Then he advises to pay creative people poorly because the more you pay people to do what they love, the less they will love it.  WHAT?!  But while you’re paying them poorly, make them feeeel important.  And remember, that you should not let them manage others because creative people are rarely gifted with leadership skills.  WHO IS THIS GUY?!

More than 350 people have commented on the blog post asking the same thing.  My favorite comment is: Looking forward to your follow up “How To Survive Extraordinarily High Turnover.”  You see, because if this professor managed creatives hands on according to his tips, he would be fired based on the extremely high rate of creatives running from the building.

The scariest part is that Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is the co-founder of metaprofiling.com, a company that is designed to identify employees’ creative and entrepreneurial potential.  I’d hate to think of how he’d treat those who score the highest on metaprofiling’s creative scale.  As a “leading authority in talent management” according to the metaprofiling website, think of the advice he’s giving to the companies he’s consulting.

As for how to manage creative people (from someone who has managed creative people for years), here are my rebuttal tips – 

Eight Rules to Managing Creative People:

1.  Ask them what motivates them and then motivate them that way

2.  Create the best synergy possible by surrounding the best creatives with the best creatives and encourage competition as well as collaboration

3.  Don’t waste their time and talent on meaningless briefs

4.  Have real deadlines and accountability otherwise little will get created and/or you’ll lose their respect

5.  Pay creative people what they’re worth and then some knowing that creatives are in high demand and no two people are the same

6.  Make them feel important because they are

7.  Give them the opportunity to lead and encourage the growth of their leadership skills

8.  Treat Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic’s blog post as if it were written for The Onion 

Why Are Freelance Advertising Creatives Failing?

Why aren't freelance advertising creatives making the money their talent deserves? (photo credit: efffective.com)

Why aren’t freelance advertising creatives making the money their talent deserves? (photo credit: efffective.com)

Freelance advertising creatives – art directors, copywriters and graphic designers – have great potential but often fall short in creating and maintaining a successful advertising freelance business.  Getting enough clients to sustain a full-time, lucrative business is the main challenge.  CLIENTS = MONEY  Freelance creatives aren’t landing clients so they aren’t making money (or enough money to continue freelancing and maintain their lifestyle).

Why is that?  Why are many talented advertising creatives unable to make money as freelancers?

Because of their brains.  Some of the best creatives are much more creative-minded than business-minded, much more right-brained than left-brained.*


Because they don’t connect one on one.  While advertising art directors, copywriters and graphic designers have perfected the art of  connecting with the masses through, let’s say, a print ad, they aren’t experienced in generating client leads person by person.


Because they go straight for the jugular…I mean…sale.  It’s a rookie mistake to pitch your services to a potential client before understanding if the individual and/or business is even interested and if so, what their true needs are.  Imagine pitching a serious brochure when a business wants a funny microsite.  Now imagine overwhelming an individual with talk of social media, web banners and mobile apps when they haven’t the slightest idea of what they want their logo to look like.  Freelancers must understand a potential client’s needs and then communicate how as an advertising creative professional they can meet those needs.


Because they offer everything upfront.  Many creatives can do it all; they can create fully integrated campaigns and they can art direct and write.  Even if they can do everything, there are certain things they do better and enjoy doing more.  The freelancers that are having a harder time making money, are the ones who are offering everything upfront and not specializing.  Whether it’s designing packaging or writing radio scripts, freelancers who market themselves as an expert in an area are sought out by clients who need their expertise.  Once a freelancer is hired for what they’re known for, they can offer the client everything else.  For instance, a designer who is hired because of their specialty with packaging can also recommend he or she designs the business cards, brochures, print ads, landing pages, etc., in the same look and feel.


Because they don’t target their ideal clients.  Ideal clients are the individuals or businesses that the freelancer is genuinely interested in and THAT HAVE THE MONEY TO PAY the freelancer.  As an advertising creative career coach, I primarily coach and consult senior- to executive-level creatives.  While I have a soft spot for helping students and juniors (and I do as much as possible), younger creatives aren’t my target audience. As a business owner, I must market to those who can afford the services I provide.  And currently, more than half of my clients freelance or own their own businesses, which I work with them to grow.

OR many talented advertising creatives are unable to make money as freelancers…

Because they don’t follow up.  Freelance creatives aren’t politely persistent – calling, e-mailing, stopping by in person, etc. – until they get a yes or a no.

As a freelancer, which of these is holding you back?  Post it in the comments below.

The good news is that while inherent creativity can’t be learned, business and sales skills can be learned.  Freelance creatives can succeed if they invest more of themselves in learning that left-brain, business side.


(*Side note: I am almost equally right-brained and left-brained. My creative side is a notch above my business side. Both sides came in handy when I was managing the creative department at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, and now both benefit my clients as I coach and consult them to get unstuck, reach their goals and finally feel satisfied.)

Color & Branding

Color.  It plays an important role in design, branding and our everyday lives.

Color affects us.  It affects our emotions, our heart rate, our choices.

PBS released a mini documentary in its Off Book series entitled “The Effect of Color” [included at the end of this blog post].  The 7-minute video produced by Kornhaber Brown features color experts Thomas Bosket of Parsons The New School for Design, Leslie Harrington of Color Associate, Doty Horn of Fashion Institute Technology and representatives of www.mr-gif.com.

3 Main Takeaways from “The Effect of Color” Documentary

1. Color affects us physiologically and psychologically, soulfully and mentally

2. The 3 Types of Color Associations:


Often physiological: When in a red room, our heart rate increases, we talk more and eat more. When on the red carpet, we walk faster.


Often a learned response


Connected to our experiences

3. Economic, social, political, technological and environmental influencers drive the ebb and flow of color trends throughout history.  For example, during an economic downturn, people gravitate toward colors they perceive as safe.

Color in Your Branding

When creating your own personal brand, freelance business, or start-up company, consider your color choices carefully.  In The Effect of Color documentary the point was made that when you choose to wear a color, you are saying to the world, “This is me because I’m wearing this color.”  The same goes for your branding.

Color Affects Your Potential Clients

The colors of your logo and marketing materials will affect your potential clients.

Recognize how your potential clients universally and culturally associate with certain colors.  Unless their experiences are closely related to yours, cut out what you individually associate with a color.  (e.g., The color yellow may only make you think of your grandmother.)

Look at the colors of the branding your target audience is already respond to.  Are they responding to colors that are calm? Colors that convey luxury?  Funky, uncommon colors?  Safe colors? A certain combination of colors?  How do your consumers react to the simplicity or boldness of black & white?

One of the guys from Mr. GIF stated that, “You can make anything as long as you make it look intentional.”

Countless resources exist about the meaning of colors.  When searching in Google for “meaning of colors,” 92,100,000 results come up.  Knowing that, do some research, notice what your potential clients are responding to, play around with different colors, ask people you know in your target audience specific questions about the colors you are considering, and go from there.

E-mail Me for Color Advice

If you’d like my opinion on possible color choices, then e-mail me: angela@definingsuccesscoaching.com.  After all, I did my honor’s thesis in undergrad on “The Effects of Color in Advertising Across Generations.”

“The Effect of Color” Documentary


Invest in Yourself

“School is never out for the pros.”

This last weekend I was at a conference south of LA.  This weekend it was in the low 80’s with an ideal slight breeze.  The conference was minutes away from Huntington Beach; I could have happily lounged the day away on the sand, hypnotized by the lull of the waves.  Instead, I was in a grand ballroom of an upscale hotel sitting in smack dab in the middle of 250+ people.

It was a training conference with my sales mentor Eric Lofholm, his mentor Dr. Donald Moine (who I’m pictured with above during the conference), and Eric’s coach, Jay Abraham.  You may not recognize these names but in the areas of sales and marketing for small businesses and even some Fortune 500 companies, these men are the millionaire (and multi-millionaire) examples of how to be an industry leader through serving others.

Results from my Sales Certification

The weekend conference was a self-imposed deadline to wrap up my certification requirements (including a written and verbal exam) as one of Eric Lofholm’s Proteges.  Since late November I’ve soaked up the materials on a weekly basis.  The last five weeks I studied on a much deeper level and before my test date arrived, I noticed a change with my one-on-one coaching clients.

Not only was I implementing the “Sales = Service” in my own business model, but also I was starting to teach my clients with advertising freelance businesses sales systems.  I was coaching and consulting on a level I hadn’t before and my clients reaped outstanding results.

Then on the Monday before the conference, I passed the final requirements – both the written and verbal exams – to earn my certification.  The feeling of accomplishment for earning the certification pales in comparison to the joy I get when my clients share their sales victories because of what I’m now able to confidently teach them.

You invest in you.  I’ll invest in me.  Then, we’ll invest in each other.

At the conference, one multi-millionaire stated “School is never out for the pros.”  It was Dr. Donald Moine, and he was right.

While I encourage others to invest in themselves, it’s equally as important that I invest in myself in order to continually give my clients and those around me more value.  As Ben Franklin put it, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”

What are you doing this summer to invest in yourself?  Maybe it’s a class, maybe it’s reading a book filled with business concepts, maybe it’s jumping on one of the free teleseminars I’m offering this summer (wink. wink.  You can request all the information about my teleseminars for advertising creatives here.)

The Challenge

I challenge you to add one thing to your summer schedule that’s sole purpose is education.

Share the one thing you will do this summer to invest in your own education.  You can leave a comment here; I’ll start. 

Ask For What You Want

Time and time again I’ve heard clients, colleagues, friends and even strangers wish for the most achievable of things.

“I wish I had more money.”

“If only I had a steady stream of income from my freelance business…”

“I wish I had an extra week vacation.”

“Working this much would be tolerable if I sat near a window.”

“I don’t know what to do next because I don’t know where that company is in the hiring process.”

“I wish I knew how So-and-So did it, because then I could be successful like that.”

“I wish I knew what So-and-So had to get that promotion over me.”

“Why hasn’t that person given me what he or she should know I really want?”

Can you relate to any of these?  What do you wish for?

How can you get what you want?

As creatives we often think so far outside the box that we forget the box itself.  What if it doesn’t take the next big idea or an elaborate plan, sweat and hard work to get what you want?  What if all you need to do is ask?  Ask for what you want.

If you want more money, ask for it.  Ask your boss for a bonus or a raise.  Ask your freelance clients for more money, more projects and more referrals.

Ask to sit by the window all day or even part of the day.

Call the company you applied to two weeks ago and ask where they are in the hiring process.  Then ask that company for any next steps you can take.

Ask So-and-So what they did to get where they are.  Ask your boss what So-and-So had to get promoted over you and what you can do to be the promoted person next time.

And please ask – that person that hasn’t given you what he or she should know you want – for what you want!

What if others should know what you want?

Many times other people simply don’t know what we want, what we’re wishing for, what will make us happy.  To put it bluntly – they are too busy wishing for themselves and doing everything else that they have going on in their lives to stop and consider what you may be wishing for.  Or, worse yet, they may assume you are wishing for the same thing that they want.

For instance, I’ve seen it happen all-too-often, advertising creatives reach a certain point in their career where they don’t care as much about the money as they do their vacation time.  Yet, employee review after employee review they end up unsatisfied because more money was thrown at them instead of that time off that they so desperately desire.  And why?  Because they haven’t made it clear to the decision-makers that they value vacation time the most.  They don’t get what they want because they never asked for it.

What happens when you ask for what you want?

When working with my clients one-on-one, we create a clear plan on how to best ask for what they want so not only do they have the confidence to ask but also 9 times out of 10 they get what they want.  (There are best practices when asking and things you can do to improve your odds of getting what you want.)

Can you guess what the #1 response is when my clients ask for something from someone?  What do you think that someone says?

“Oh, you could have had that sooner if you’d only asked.”

Imagine you had what you are wishing for.   Now, go ask for it.

If you’d like to share, please post a comment.  






When “Just Do It” Doesn’t Work

That big project is weighing heavy on your shoulders. That little task is nagging at the back of your mind.

“I’ve just got to make myself do it,” you tell yourself.

Days later, weeks later, a lifetime later, you continue to tell yourself, “Just do it,” and it remains undone.

The majority of experience proves that people can’t push through obstacles, blocks, limitations, fears and beliefs with willpower alone. 

Maybe you have before or maybe you’ve seen someone else accomplish something against all odds based on what you assume is their desire alone; those are the exceptions to the rule.  If you have pushed through an obstacle before to achieve what you truly wanted, have you been able to consistently do this throughout your life?  It’s hard especially when you find yourself trying to recreate how you mustered up the extraordinary willpower before.

One way to overcome obstacles, blocks, limitations, fears and beliefs is to first acknowledge that “just do it” isn’t cutting it.  Acknowledge there is something in your way and choose to understand it at a deeper level.  Dr. Donald Moine, author and financial advisor, teaches, “Recognition is 80% of the solution.”

Why can’t you “just do it” and be done with it?  Because:

  1. An experience has taught you a behavior or habit.
  2. You’re using an issue as a protective mechanism.
  3. The issue has a payoff or benefit that you value.

When “just do it” doesn’t work, acknowledge what is in your way, understand it and have compassion for it.  Mastering this process may create a breakthrough for you, take that weight off your shoulders, and silence that nagging in your mind.

Speak Your Mind and Comment

Share the one thing that you’ve been telling yourself to “just do” in the comments (by clicking here). Is it starting your novel, finishing that painting, reading that book, visiting a family member, organizing your office, scheduling your vacation, sending your portfolio to your dream company, revamping your resume, requesting that favor, recording that song you wrote, asking for that raise…?  I’ll start with the first comment. 

Happiness in Advertising?

Advertising People are Leaving Agencies

Research shows that 30% of advertising employees will leave their agencies this year. (This is one of the main reasons I’m working with advertising agencies through presentations and high-level career coaching.)

Driven to Help Advertising People

When I saw the question, “How Much Do You Utterly Despise Working in Advertising?”, I immediately wanted to reach out to miserable advertising people, GRAB THEM BY THE SHOULDERS and tell them it doesn’t have to be this way – THEY CAN BE HAPPY! I know the vicious cycle too well; I lived it and I have the solution. I can help whether it’s through an agency presentation, agency-sponsored coaching program or working directly with an advertising art director, copywriter, designer, ACD or CD without the involvement of his or her agency.  It’s my passion.  It’s my purpose.  And it’s also my biggest frustration to know that there are people in the advertising industry that don’t want to go to work in the morning and don’t know that they can change that.  When I get all fired up (e.g, this very moment), I have to remind myself that I can only help those that want the help (like my past and current clients)…oh and those that know an advertising career coach like me exists. And with that, I’ll end this public rant of sorts (which can’t quite compare to the intensity of the rant in the video below created by Deutsch LA) and get back to telling the industry I exist and I want to help.

Cannes Session

It’ll be interesting to see what Deutsch LA proposes and what they share about their “ownership culture” during next Monday’s (June 18, 2012) Cannes session “Ending The Agency Talent Rotisserie.”  Deutsch LA created a series of videos as a teaser including the video above, which were included in the AdFreak article with the subtitle Deutsch wants to make you happier.

What I Do – Money and More

Yes, turnover is costly to agencies and money is important to a business, but it’s not all about money.  Keeping talented creatives is a must.  Attracting talented creatives is a must.  And a certain level of happiness is a must if you want to create great ads consistently.  Deutsch LA recognizes that, “this agency talent rotisserie has real costs, on recruiting, creative excellence and business development.”

I push my clients to make substantial shifts toward employee satisfaction (custom to each agency and  advertising creative individual’s needs), so that each can be fulfilled when they were previously stuck.  So they can dramatically slow down or stop the agency talent rotisserie.  I guide them to the balance of efficiency with palatable culture.  They go from talk to action.  They go from their employees leaving to their employees being happy to work there again.




Creative Week 2012 Highlights


One Show Interactive Awards

Enjoying the company of my long-time friends, Creative Recruiters from GSP (Linda Harless and Zach Canfield) and DraftFCB (Rafi Kugler) was a personal highlight during Creative Week 2012. Here we are the final night of Creative Week at The One Show Interactive Awards.

Creative Week 2012 was a whirlwind, an incredible whirlwind.  Each day started with a breakfast presentation at 8:30a.m. and ended with parties that lasted until 3:30a.m.  (Note: That’s 19 hours of inspiration, networking and good times, and it’s impossible to do it all for 5 days straight.)  Here are some whirlwind highlights:

  • The people that think the Big Idea is dead are outnumbered.  No one is arguing about the Big Insight (as a replacement) yet.
  • Curate the funny.  That’s advice from Ron Faris, the Director of Brand Marketing for Virgin Mobile USA.
  • When an audience full of want-to-be authors are asked if they’ve ever wanted to write a book, 2 people will raise their hands – the guy who’s written a book and me.
  • Adobe’s VP of Experience Design, Michael Gough, never mentions the word “creativity” to his people.  For Adobe, it’s about the alignment of 10,000 people and getting them all moving in the same direction.  Imagine the “creative” alternative…
  • Every 7 to 10 years puppets become viable again.  The people of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop believe we’re on the onset of that.
  • The best networking happens after the events.  While business cards can be exchanged during pre-scheduled networking times, the most natural, genuine (and fun) networking takes place when people are hanging out because they want to.
  • The concept of “collaboration,” with its best of intentions, continues to be the black sheep in discussions on creativity.
  • People want to work with cool people and do cool stuff.
  • If phone chargers are gold, finding an outlet to use in Manhattan is platinum.
  • 72andSunny sat on a panel for provocative advertising and then swept The One Shows (yes, plural, both the advertising and interactive awards) with their provocative ads.

Coming soon: Advertising Week the first week in October 2012.

Creative Week 2012

The eve of Creative Week 2012 is upon us. This week, May 7 – 11, Manhattan and Brooklyn will be buzzing with sessions on creativity, panels on storytelling, and awards for the best design, advertising and interactive work in the country.

As a Creative Week Contributor, I will be tweeting from events live @DS_Coaching and posting blogs on the Creative Week Tumblr throughout the week. I’ll be attending everything from The Freelance Shift panel to Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Legacy session to the Education Summit to the highly-anticipated Creative unConference to The One Show’s Design, Advertising and Interactive Awards as well as The 91st Annual Art Directors Club Awards. It’ll be a wild and creative ride. Stay tuned.