Creative Direction & Leadership

A new year, and compared to my state of mind in Jan 2007, I feel like a different person. Last year was packed full of learning curves, mostly in the form of perspective shifts in the achievability of my goals for FuturLab.

I’m an artist at heart, so running a business and thinking in a way that puts business decisions first doesn’t come easily to me. Around this time last year I was in a right old state, and realised I needed some training and guidance.

1) Get a business coach

I was introduced to a great chap named Bob Kessler based in Brighton, and we had an hour’s session each week to bash out the issues I was having with the company.

In my case, most of the problems came down to self perception, ie. I am not a business man, I never wanted to be the Director of a business, I just wanted to make cool stuff… etc.

Getting that mindset out of the way was the biggest hurdle – coming to terms with the fact that, whether I like it or not, I’m responsible for what we’re doing here – it’s my vision, my drive and creativity that’s put me here.

So, why not enjoy it and make the most of it?

What started with those meetings turned into a radical burst of energy and determination, to put our ideas in front of the people we really wanted to work with. I can’t talk about any of this in detail yet, but I can say I realised one of my dreams in 2007, and the world will see the results in good time 😉

I can’t stress how important it was to have Bob on my side for one hour a week, coaching me and helping me focus on what was important. Big ups to Bob yo.

2) Get some training

I was fortunate enough to join a course in 2007 that blew my face off it was so illuminating. The course was called Creative Leadership and Management, run through UCCA by a couple of very cool people; Donna Willis and Mandy Irons.

Donna and Mandy are occupational psychologists and development specialists who believe that creative leadership is about understanding and maximising the potential of people, and the best way to understand that is to start with yourself.

Their programme Creative Leaders is designed to create new understanding and inspired action in business owners and leaders – it gives individuals who are crucial to the success of their business some much needed space to reflect and develop new ideas.

To be honest I was dreading the typical corporate training days that we’re all aware of. Not so. Donna and Mandy created an imaginative, fun and supportive environment for the group, using brief theoretical sessions followed by simple games that really illustrated the concepts. Over the course of 6 days (and a period of three months), I had a completely new understanding of my team, the relationships that had evolved between us, and how best to deal with difficult situations.

As my experience was so positive, and the skills I’d learnt so valuable, I thought it was essential we arrange for Donna and Mandy to take the rest of the team through the same training. We arranged a day trip to Brighton, and as expected a few of the guys were pretty wary of a ‘team training day’, but by 10am they were sold, and by the end of the day quite invigorated by the experience.

Our great year of business development has been in large part due to these people I’ve mentioned, and I recommend that anyone that’s a bit confused about their business direction seek out similar opportunities when possible.

If you’re based in the UK, check our Donna and Mandy’s company Creative Interventions, and if you’re based in the South East, give Bob Kessler a nudge.

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  • Jonathan Frye at Leadership Jot
    Posted January 12, 2008 at 7:49 pm 0Likes


    I am not an artist, but I have learned the value of creativity in business – especially when it comes to problem solving. I wrote the article Creative Problem Solving for Leadership to put forth the idea of training your creativity to find better solutions for problems. Someone who is more bent toward creativity would probably be at an advantage in certain aspects of business.

    Jonathan Frye

  • Brycen
    Posted January 29, 2008 at 9:37 pm 0Likes

    Thank you for the helpful tips. I will keep them in mind once I start my own business. The Young Entrepreneur Society from the is a bountiful resource for entrepreneurs.

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