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Open to change

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”

– Lao Tzu, Chinese Philosopher

“Yes, we’re open to change.”

Often times while sitting across from clients I’ve heard those words. Yet when presented with ideas and concepts that hint at change they refuse to act. Why?


When someone says they’re open to change or new ideas they may truly believe they are, but they still have problems pulling the plug. So why the cold feet?

Fear: a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined;

We all interact with this primordial human emotion. Whether it’s the presentation tomorrow, the loud, obnoxious parent at the soccer game or seeing the red and blue lights appear in your rearview mirror (I’ve heard). Fear arrives unannounced, without warning, like sister-n-laws on Mother’s Day. It is the mechanism that pushes us to escape or avoid a perceived threat. It’s quite normal to fear the unknown. Often times when a client objects to our idea it stems from their own uncertainty of whether or not this idea will be a success. Not knowing if the idea will work or not will weigh heavily on their decisions. Instinctively we all protect and perserve our own worlds. A bad decision on their part has internal ripples that could affect their jobs. A perceived fear is still a fear we must address when we present our ideas to a client. As creatives, if we truly asked ourselves the same question about our work, we’d arrive at the same conclusion. We don’t know whether or not the idea will succeed. Our experiences from past successes give us the confident inklings of whether we think the idea will succeed or not, but remember your clients won’t have those. When presenting your ideas take the time to reassure your clients by restating your experience and know-how, use industry data that supports your concept. A cliche’ is a cliche’, is a cliche’. Put yourself in their position. Face the fear. Deliver the goods.


Com·mu·ni·cate: to express thoughts, feelings, or information easily or effectively.

If the eyes are the window to the soul why can’t a client peer into our imbibed pupils and jack into our idea mainframe? If only. Sigh. More times than naught our ability (or inability) to communicate our idea to clients is the issue. (Note to the clients. You need to understand you’re not dealing with a typical person. A true creative doesn’t acclimate well to corporate settings. The brain (thought processes) of a creative resembles a dinner party (emphasis: party) with the Pope (Pope must have red Pope shoes on), Sponge Bob, the color indigo,   shiny metallic shoes, the original Van Halen in astronaut suits playing all their songs at once and a bowl of applesauce. That’s just the first course of guests.)

The failure to communicate is probably the biggest reason creative ideas aren’t embraced. Creatives must, and I know it’s difficult, put themselves in the “mundane” shoes of the clients before they present their amazing, super-fierce, best-evah, ideas. You know the idea is solid, but they don’t. Take your time. Breath several times. Explain, express and encourage when you present your creative to the world. You’ll find, when you do, that client fears and apprehensions will be lowered. And one more thing. Clients don’t always choose your ideas. That’s just life. Develop a thicker exterior and move on.

“Face it. Trace it. And erase it.” – Stewart Smalley