The Creative As Seer

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Our new mission statement at CFC (Center for Faith and Culture) is growing on me. “To illuminate the bridge to God through creatives and the culture they create.”

It certainly appeals to my fondness for creatives and my friend Marty O’Donnell insists my passion for “creatives” is at the heart of who I am. Because I hate it when he is right, I resist his categorization, but then why do I get like spending time with Pat Hanlon? (Both Marty and Pat’s ads have appeared in the Super Bowl). Why do I get pumped just reading an article like the one I’m excerpting below?

Yesterday the NYT profiled Robert M. Greenberg. He’s been on the cutting edge of digital technology for years, creating the 1992 commercial with Paula Abdul dancing alongside digitally inserted clips of Groucho Marx & Gene Kelly; Tom Hanks on the White House with JFK during “Forrest Gump” and more. I read with fascination the following–if you connect you may be drawn to creatives too!

¢â‚¬¢ The Apple Computer Ad of 1997: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes – the ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules and they have no respect for the status quo. You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing that you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things.”

¢â‚¬¢ Correlating what other people do not connect: “The creative thread linking all these efforts these kindlings of mood, persuasion and pitch takes shape in Robert M. Greenberg, a 57-year-old with the spectacles and visage of Benjamin Franklin; the eclectic, Renaissance interests of Leonardo da Vinci; the fashion sense of a well-turned-out ninja; the obsessive tics and serpentine conversational habits of Woody Allen; and the legerdemain of a hands-on businessman whose first job was running his uncle’s mirror factory in Chicago.”

¢â‚¬¢ Whimsey: “In addition to working and living in Hell’s Kitchen, Mr. Greenberg owns a weekend getaway in a Fire Island community called Lonelyville. A few years ago, he considered buying property in Death Valley in California. The sole purpose, he says, was so that the letterhead at the top of his personal stationery would read: Hell’s Kitchen/Lonelyville/Death Valley.”

¢â‚¬¢ Embracing Change: “I think technology is going to wreak havoc on the agency business,” Mr. Greenberg predicts of an industry that plans to give him its most prestigious award, a Clio for lifetime achievement, in May. “Because of advances in technology and communication, we’re surrounded by information we see and hear. Overload is a huge issue. “I think things are going to get infinitely more complex,” he adds, “and the challenge is about taking things that are infinitely complex and making them simpler and more understandable.” All of the corporations, agencies and marketing professionals who jointly hone and fire off a fusillade of messages across the commercial landscape each day, he says, need to overhaul both their organizational structures and how they relate to consumers particularly the 20-something buyers called “millennials.” “It’s not about linear communication, and the millennials understand that; it’s about symbols and icons and you click here and you click there and you control it,” he says. “Corporations have to create products that people want and customers are going to help them make that decision and that means quality, imagination and transparency.”

¢â‚¬¢ Outsider: ” If you’ve had a freakish education, use it…. An artist’s only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else’s.” J. D. Salinger Franny and Zooey. “The connection between becoming an artist and people who are outside the mainstream is important, particularly for people who are self-taught like me,” Mr. Greenberg says, noting that he loves outsider art because he feels that it is the “most individual and unmediated creative response to the world.”

¢â‚¬¢ Overcoming Odds: “He clearly recalls his high school teacher warning his mother that her son was “never going to amount to anything,” an evaluation unencumbered by the knowledge that Mr. Greenberg was struggling then, as now, with dyslexia.But, he says, he doesn’t think that dyslexia ultimately held him back. “Dyslexia may be one of the key elements of creativity, if you overcome it, for people in art, architecture, filmmaking and other creative fields,” he says. “I’m not an expert, but I think dyslexia can give you enormous powers to previsualize things.”

¢â‚¬¢ Educating as he goes: “Mr. Greenberg ideates and germinates through collaboration, and he likens R/GA to a campus where people embrace what is new rather than feel afraid of or betrayed by change. “I think of our company as a university people come in and go out and they spread the knowledge.”

My advice? Find people like this and spend more time with them.
Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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