Monday, August 1, 2011

Book Review: Creative Director: Year Zero

The premise:

“A collection of thoughts for first time CDs from those who have been there.” That’s the cover blurb from publisher ihaveanidea. I would add that the major theme running through the book is, “being a creative director requires a completely different skill set than the one (writer, art director) that got you promoted in the first place.”

The good:

A quick, simple book that can be read cover-to-cover or just picked up from time to time for some quick inspiration. You get the sense that everyone was sincere in their desire to help new managers, although some CDs were much better at following the premise than others. My advice would be to pick the thoughts you like and disregard the rest. (On a side note, Jim Haven and I crossed paths for a month at an agency in Seattle. Or I think that was Jim. It’s been a while.)

Most of the advice can be narrowed down to a few common themes:

-Be a coach

-Stop working and start delegating

-Set clear expectations

-Create a culture of trust

-Learn how to listen and motivate

-Take care of problems early

-Get comfortable selling ideas

The bad:

Apparently the folks at ihaveanidea don’t know any women or proofreaders. I was disappointed that they didn’t find at least one female CD to interview and that there were a number of typos. Also, some of the CDs took long walks down memory lane didn’t go anywhere. And the advice got to be a bit repetitive near the end of the book. What I’m saying is that the book could have used better creative direction.

The verdict:

Buy, read and pass along. While it’s not a reference book you’ll go back to time and again, it is worth reading if you’re just starting out or have been at it for a while and want to look like you’re doing something billable while you’re slacking off.