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Thinking Out Loud

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January 9, 2017


women in leadership rolesWithout all three are we setting up our newly minted female creative leaders to fail? 

I have been watching with a great deal of interest what has been happening in the industry of late. I’m talking specifically about the spate of women being promoted into leadership roles.

It’s exciting, and I think we all have General Mills’ CMO Ann Simonds to thank for it.

What I’m talking about specifically is that on August 31st, 2016, her brief to agencies while undergoing a review was to inform them that General Mills has some very specific diversity requirements: It wants its agencies’ creative departments to be staffed with at least 50 percent women and 20 percent people of color.

Since then more brands have publicly put pressure on the agencies they work with to hire and promote more women and minorities.  The response has been swift. 

BUT WAIT.  Are we SIMPLY promoting the women that could have promoted before? Are we promoting women purely for marquee value? Is it finally authentically happening? How do the women feel? What’s going on?

I know what’s going on.
The right pressure got put on the right part to make it all start to happen.

To quote Bobbi Fleckman, “Iannnn.  Iannnn. Money talks, Bullsh*t walks.”

What now?

Now there is doing the job.
How are these newly promoted women doing?
How are they being supported in their new roles?
Should they be supported?

I’ve mentioned it before but I’ll do it again. I did a survey of creative directors and they confessed to me that it took them 18-24 months to get comfortable in their first creative director role. Help them feel confident and comfortable and every body at every touch point wins. In plain English. Do the math. Expensive tuition.

With that in mind, consider these three words:

Almost every leader, creative or otherwise needs all three to thrive.


The grooming needs to start. At least 18 months before the promotion.

Grooming = Talent Retention.

Who quits a job when their employer is grooming them for a promotion AND a pay increase?
No one.

Preparing needs to be methodical. It needs discipline. It needs to happen regularly. It needs to have momentum. It needs to take into account that your groomee is still doing their current job, and has a life.


Follow through on your word IF the groomee develops into the new role you were hoping s/he would occupy.  If you realize your groomee isn’t quite right for this position, tell them. The sooner the better. You might lose them. You might even keep them. Straight talk is worth sticking around for.

Before you promote that you’re promoting, allow the person being promoted to have a say in how the announcements will be made. Come up with something that works for everyone.  Take the time.  Brand management is very important to everyone. Whatever the brand is, consistency is key. Not everyone being promoted wants all that razzamatazz.


The new job is overwhelming. It’s a whole new set of skills. Some of these skills will be skills the person already knew they needed. But from my experience, there are many more skills the person didn’t have a clue they needed.  Skills that are critical day to day, month to month.

Time Management is one of the biggies.
Talking about money is another. To the department. To the CEO. To the CFO. The way grown ups do.

Planning, budgeting, hiring, goal setting, department building, new business winning, agency brand enhancing, getting approvals, schmoozing, PR’ing, lunching, networking, what else is on that list, are you done yet? Almost.

The good news is you’ll only be judged by your colleagues, your peers and the entire industry on the quality of the creative output.

I wondered if women have specific additional needs relative to coaching and support in their new role.  Yes and No.  The job is the job regardless of the gender of the person doing it. But there are nuances that women face that men don’t even know exist.


For there to be success, you need all three.

Just one, PROMOTE without the other two, more often than not, doesn’t end well.

I’m happy that women are making it to these positions.
Now that it’s finally happening let’s keep them there, and help them shine.

~ heidi

September 6, 2016



Creative leaders get good at leading faster when they have a Coach.

Creative leaders are even rarer than creative award winners. Just because you have one, doesn’t mean you’re getting the other from Day One.

A survey done of creative leaders in 2015 taught me two things that I wasn’t expecting:  The first is that creative leaders believe they were primarily hired for their charming personalities. That’s part of it. It’s important, but it is much farther down the list of priorities when a CEO or a CCO goes to market to find a creative leader.  What is higher on that list of priorities is what anyone with aspirations of becoming a creative leader needs to know / and more importantly, needs to begin developing now.  If the creative leader you’ve hired is strong on the book but soft on the leadership, a coach can help. (Leadership coaching can also play a role in Talent Attraction, as coaching and training is cited by employees as an influencer in the decision to join one company over another.)

The second point is that (thank you for your honesty) 65% of those surveyed said they weren’t comfortable in their first leadership positions for the first 18-24 months that they held that position. Do the math. That’s expensive tuition. Shorten the learning curve. Get your new leader a coach.

Read more about The First 90 Days: Leadership Coaching for New Leaders and schedule a no-obligation introductory conversation.

In addition to severance, coaching – support and a market proven job finding process during a tough time.

HR with HEART – Downsizing with Humanity

On the other side of hiring is the inescapable moment in agency life when you have to part ways with an employee.
It happens.

To help your employee get back on their feet faster and find employment quicker, have you considered including coaching in their severance package?  (If you have been recently downsized, have you considered asking for it to be included?)

Coaching for The Creative Class is different than coaching for account people.

My GET THE JOB program follows a disciplined approach and shows creatives how to mount a strategic job finding campaign that includes recruiters, agency recruiters and doing it alone. It builds their brand, helps it to stand out in The Job Applicant Sea of Sameness, teaches them how to interview and covers every aspect of job hunting from beginning to end.

82% of the people who have worked with me through a career transition, have found new jobs before their severance expires.
(Can you tell I like data?)  

For the Creative Class

Whether you’re employed, a freelancer, junior, senior, very senior, young, older, starting out, winding down, frustrated, sad, happy, wondering, confused, angry, and any or all of the above AND want something in your career to be different, I can help.

I say this with confidence because I help people just like you every day. I can help you too.


The only thing I haven’t been able to do / is get you to do the homework.
Man I wish I could.
Because when I do, you ALWAYS get the results.

HEIDI CONSULTS 2.0 has packaged your most common requests and created video courses, training modules, coaching packages, and white papers for you.  Most of them are completed, others are still getting the final finishing touches, more will be added as new requests arise with consistency.

Facebook 1200x900_fortune 500If it’s your first time having a Coach, and it will be for most creative people, you can try it slow and see how it goes.  You can learn for as little as $45, or you can purchase blocks of coaching time that range from one call / one hour – to a monthly call to keep you on track.

You can purchase The Premium Career Bootcamp – designed to stop you in your tracks, make you re-look at, re-think, re-consider and re-examine everything you’ve known to be true about your career / evaluate if it still works for you, then move it all to the place you want it to be / the place you imagined it would be when you were in school.

You will remember why you entered this crazy creative world to begin with and get pointed in the direction you were always meant to be pointed before you got sidetracked by a too-good-to-be-true pitch from that agency that so badly wanted you.

Enthusiasm is Intoxicating.  Don’t fall for it more than once in your career.  Of course they want to hire you.  But is this good for you?

For Recruiters 

We’ve all had that interview.  This person would be so great if ….

But do you have the time to coach them?  No.  You don’t.  Not to REALLY coach them.  You have time for a few pointers and then off they go.  When I was a recruiter I really did want to help everyone, but that wasn’t my job. (Now it is, yay me.)  I am assuming you are the same.

What if you could send them to me, ask them to take my GET THE JOB program, which would teach them what they need to know to get to market quickly and with a great presentation, a solid interview and a clear understanding of where they are headed?  Then…five weeks later, they’d be back to you in much better shape to go to market than they were the first time you met them.

Now you have a candidate you can introduce to your clients and get hired!

For everyone


Beyond Coaching, there are Experts to Help you!

For the past five years, I have been working with a group of individuals, each of whom might help augment my Coaching Services by providing services that can go hand in hand with Career Coaching but aren’t Career Coaching.

Please meet my Team who can help you with everything from:  Building you a new website, helping you with that outfit to build confidence, teaching you to become a better presenter, writing you a TED worthy speech, helping you build an online presence through content, and helping you with that website you have now to make it better, or hack it in the way only a super developer can.

Any TEAM service booked through HEIDI CONSULTS, will receive a 10% discount. So click through on the website via the link above, schedule a no-obligation call with the TEAM member you’d like to speak and get started!

It’s been a long time coming, this relaunch.

I hope it’s what you need to stop ‘meaning to get in touch’ and getting in touch and learning what fun it can be (never mind fruitful) to navigate a career with someone in your corner helping you through every move and helping you win.

I can’t wait to meet you.

~ heidi


August 16, 2016


Man Hitchhiking on a Country RoadLosing a great employee is never fun.  Company culture takes a hit.  Clients get grumpy. Senior and junior talent surrounding that person get on edge, and wonder if they should also be leaving.  It causes upset all around.

While some people will move on despite your very best efforts because they’ve reached the end of their life cycle with you, some jump prematurely.  It’s those people that we want to focus on today and what, if anything, can we do to keep them engaged and inspired longer?

1.  It’s Christmas.  Again.  It’s Summer.  Again.  It’s Back to School.  Again.

Creative people get bored.  Big surprise.  But not only do they get bored working on the same piece of business, they get bored working on the same projects on the same piece of business.  So the next time it’s time to do the Christmas ads, it gets harder for them to get excited.  And excited is what a creative person wants to be.  Excited is also what you want your best creative people to be, because excited creative people are more creative. Read More

July 13, 2016


You want to change jobs and don’t know where to start.
You need help negotiating your raise.
You need help negotiating your salary for your job change.
You’re not sure your online portfolio tells your story.
You don’t have a career plan mapped out.
You have a career plan mapped out, but you’re not sure it’s an effective one.
You don’t know which questions to ask on that upcoming interview.
You don’t know which questions YOU will be asked on that upcoming interview and you want to rehearse.
You manage a department and need some help managing a troublesome employee.
It’s your first time managing a department, and you are not sure you’re doing ANYTHING right.
You want some advice on how to attract better people to your agency.
You’ve never had to fire someone, and you’re terrified, and you need to talk it through with someone.
You’re not sure you know how to identify great talent.
You have to structure a department, you’ve never done it, and you don’t know where to start.
You want to transition out of this career into a new one and you don’t know where to start. Read More

June 17, 2016


Croisette POSTThe week of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is always special for me.

Lots of fantastic things happened in my career related to Cannes. The first year that I went was 2001. That year, I deployed a newsletter from Cannes every day – at a time when it wasn’t easy to deploy a newsletter. Sending the newsletter required sneaking into an internet café with my clunky 250MB hard drive, discreetly putting software onto the internet café’s hard drive, then uploading all the photos I had taken that day to send to my team back home who would then deploy a newsletter to the entire creative community – also known as my database. As far as I know, I was the first person to do this. Certainly the first recruiter. Now everyone can do it from their phone. It’s not nearly as exciting as it was then.

It was a turning point in my career as a recruiter. People figured if I cared enough about the work and creativity to invest and go, then I couldn’t be ALL bad.

Six years later, BLACK BAG (my former recruiting business) and I became the first Canadian to host a Cannes seminar: Diary of a Creative Director. On June 20th, 2007 Marcello Serpa, Tony Granger, Erik Vervroegen and I talked about what they believe contributed to their resounding success as creative people. Standing room only. I was afraid no one would show up. Over 1000 people did, filling the Dubussy Theatre, ranking third in seminar attendance after Al Gore and Saatchi’s Young Director’s Showcase. I can take third place to Al Gore any time.

I went a total of 9 times, I watched a lot of commercials, I met a lot of people that I am still in touch with. No one sent me, no one expense reported me. Every time I went I paid. I’m a big fan of investing in your own education. So I went. What changed every year was the work, what won, who won, who was there.

What didn’t change was where the pasta salad was after the gala on Tuesday evening.

What will never change is how you will feel after this week depending on what you’ve been doing with your career in the past year. Let’s talk about that now.

My Cannes Predictions and what will – and in some cases should – happen in your career after this week in Cannes. Read More

December 22, 2015


straws-PostThis article is not for everyone.

It’s not for the people who are loving their careers, working with people who inspire them, challenge them to push beyond their comfort zone daily, making the salary they feel they rightfully deserve, getting seductive calls from their favorite headhunter every six months or so.

It’s for the other 83% of you. (Yes that’s the number – according to our recent survey of over 10,000 creative people across North America who were asked to rate their current career and job satisfaction and gave it a rating of Good or less. Grim.)

That 83% of you for whom the alarm goes off every morning and the first thought you have is “Ugh.

It’s for those of you who work with people that you’ve fantasized about punching in the face. Even once is too much.

If you’ve somehow landed in a job in a city with a boss on a piece of business that is sucking every last morsel of self dignity out of you, what I’m about to say is for you.

If, to survive your ‘fate’ you have convinced yourself that this is it, as good as it gets, and fame, creative expression, being valued and appreciated and understood is for other people with other careers – then what I’m about to say, is also for you.

In other words, it’s for those of you that have careers that suck. Or those of you who wonder if you suck. If you’ve been wondering for some time, you may have progressed to the next stage: Believing you suck.

Have I got your attention? Let me challenge your belief.

You don’t suck. You’re stuck. Stuck because you believe you suck. Read More

November 26, 2015


Sunflower-POST You’re well into your career, you haven’t won any awards that anyone cares about, your salary is woefully behind where you thought it would be at this point in your career not to mention – at this age.

Your title is the most creative part of your job, which by the way, is at some no-one-has-heard-of-it agency whose biggest account is a ball bearing manufacturer.

Where? You’d rather not say. Think you’re too old to fix it? Convinced you’ve blown your one big chance at a great life and a great career? Figure there is no way out of this?

Wrong on all counts.

This industry makes a big deal out of the wunderkind who wins 5 Cannes Gold Lions their first year in advertising, makes the title of ECD before they turn 30 and is Global Creative Director long before they are in denial about reading glasses.

Just because you aren’t one of those aforementioned golden people doesn’t mean a thing.

You might be a Late Bloomer. You might even be a Normal Bloomer. Someone who is blooming right on time. Maybe your career is normal, and those people we just spoke of, are in fact, Premature Bloomers.

Premature Bloomers. Those that oftentimes peak early and fizzle off into oblivion, lured into danger paying crappy jobs by unscrupulous headhunters, impatient spouses, and an underlying belief that there is only one iron, it’s only ever hot once, and it’s now or never.

Blooming requires the convergence of all four of these things: Right agency; right partner; right client; right time.

Late Bloomer, your time is now. Read More

November 3, 2015


POST-Tor-HeadshotADC and Heidi Consults are thrilled to present Diary of a Creative Director: Tor Myhren, the latest iteration of the long running interview series.

This captivating event unfolds at the ADC Gallery on Thursday, November 12, and will feature Tor Myhren, Worldwide Chief Creative Officer for Grey Global Network and President of Grey New York.

Join us as we deconstruct his career steps and choices and what he did to transform and revilatize the Grey network, one that brought home an astounding 113 Cannes Lions this past June.

Since its debut in 2005, Diary of a Creative Director has strived to ask pointed questions and receive starkly candid answers from creative leaders whose career paths have been truly aspirational.

Do they think differently about those careers than most of us do about our own? What do they believe are the greatest keys to their successes, and what might hinder the successes of others? What questions do they want answered when they are considering a move? How do they know when it’s time to change jobs or even venture into a completely new direction? Does a killer portfolio matter? Does a killer salary matter?

To date, Diary of a Creative Director has featured numerous creative luminaries, including ADC Hall of Fame laureates Alex Bogusky, Jeff Goodby and David Droga, as well as such renowned professionals as Susan Credle, Gerry Graf, Tony Granger and Marcello Serpa.

To purchase tickets to the event, click here.

Thursday, November 12, 2015
Doors Open 5:30 p.m.
Event Begins 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

ADC Gallery
106 West 29th Street
New York, NY

I hope to see you there!

~ heidi

September 28, 2015


Remember that wonderful time in your career before you thought you knew everything?

The time when you still read voraciously and thought everyone was a genius, all clients’ products were the best on the market, and your boss was the most remarkable person who had ever spoken to you? You took courses, and studied award annuals, and said these words out loud, “I don’t know, can you explain it to me?” A lot. Everything was exciting — you knew what you had to get better at and you did get better at it. Whatever it took.

You went to award shows, you experimented with your camera, you went to art galleries and exhibitions and way-far-out-there experiential weird shows that made no sense but you were pretty  sure they were going to stimulate your creativity to  dizzying heights.

That’s what you did. That’s what we all did. That was when we were “hungry.” Remember hungry?

For the past couple of months I’ve been asking myself, “What is the one attribute that can make a career? And what is the same attribute whose absence will prevent any career from really ever getting off the ground?”

Read More

July 20, 2015


There’s Plan A.  The Plan you are currently following.  The one that is supposed to have a happy ending.  The one you are committed to.

Then there’s Plan B.  The one you choose when Plan A isn’t working out so well.  Most of us don’t even have a Plan B, because Plan A is going to work, and it’s negative and bad woowoo to even consider anything other than the best case scenario.

At least that’s what all the woowoo sellers would have us believe.

Let me share something with you.  If you have a Plan B, you are more likely to be able to choose it when Plan A doesn’t work out.  If you have a Plan B, you’ll likely spend a lot less time on Plan A.

Every relationship in your life needs a Plan A and a Plan B.

In your personal life:  your spouse; your friends; your siblings, and the people you interact with regularly. Namely, the guy that cuts your lawn, the place where you buy your milk, your dog walker, your manicurist, your hairdresser, your dry cleaner.

Professionally speaking those relationships include:  your boss, your employees, your partners, your reports, your assistant, your suppliers, your clients, your colleagues. Read More

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