Response to Eric Hirshberg Talk

I came out of Eric Hirsberg’s talk feeling inspired, but also confused as to what we the things that he actually spoke about. The bulk of lecture was mostly about why it is important for creative people to become CEOs. This is an interesting thing to discuss since, to me, it seems very obvious why a lot of creative people do not want to dedicate their lives to the business of their craft (or not, as in the case of Eric’s). In my experiences, creative people want to be creating content, and surrounded by others who are also creating content; not managing the people who create the content. While I do have some reservations about the lens that he chose to give his talk through, I do think that he made some good points along the way, and gave some good suggestions to use as young artists.

The first one that really stuck with me was for us not to forget that creativity extends far beyond the actual content that we create. The creative mind does not fit into this small spot that society has assigned for us as solely content creators. There are many ways to use our creativity to come up with new ways to do things in our everyday lives. Inevitably, we will all have to face moments throughout our careers where we are managing how was create content as opposed to actually creating it. A point he made that I think we often forget it that our mission is often to change the world – to make things a little nicer to look at, a little more pleasant to experience, a little easier to consume, overall to just make the world a better place to be in. We spend most of our times as designers identifying problems that we feel strongly about and figuring out how to solve them. Eric made it clear that managing a massive company is not different. His entire mission as a CEO is to identify the problems that stunt the growth of the company and make it as easy as he can to be as successful as possible. It made me think a lot about the kind of work that I personally do and the systems and processes that I surround myself with. It seems worth it to invest time in updating those systems in order to make my workflow easier.

I think that it was nice to hear advice like this coming from someone who came from a creative background and is not extremely financially successful. Perhaps this is the goal for a lot of people, but it is not personally my goal. For a large portion of his talk he gave blanket statements about how to incorporate the business world with the creative world. The intent was probably for everybody to take these snippets of advice and incorporate them into their own life. However, I found it hard to be engaged when there was nothing personal or of any actual value to grasp onto as he was talking about these things. For example, something that he said is that we should never compromise the greatness of our work. Well yeah, that seems like a pretty obvious goal – I’m not really sure what he wanted us to learn from that. It appears inevitable that at times every creative person will find themselves in a situation where we have to compromise in order to survive, or even just in order to achieve some other goal that has higher priority. I feel that these kinds of challenges that we face now, and will face later as designers are actually what lead us to critical learning experiences about ourselves, our work, and the world around us. Greatness is such a relative term that, without being defined, doesn’t really mean much.

Although Eric definitely did say things that spoke to me and made think about how I want to shape my career in the future, especially in terms of how and why I want to make certain decisions today that will have an impact tomorrow, perhaps the idea that left me feeling the most empty inside was that he defined the creative person as this “type” of person. This kind of categorizing seems counterintuitive to the nature of the word itself. To me, creative implies someone with a lot more range than what he seemed to be suggesting.

The way that Eric was talking about a lot of the issues he has faced in the world was very inspiring. It is evident that he is a very successful person who is very capable of motivating others to do things. To the creative people who want to go into business, his words were probably very meaningful. However, if that is not your goal (as in my case), there were certainly some things to learn from what he was saying, but ultimately I was not the audience that he was speaking to. Nevertheless, I think that people who have his mentality and his motivation to influence the world in a positive way are very important for society, and I was happy to have gotten the chance to see him speak.