• May 2012

Andrea Keating on the Art of Creativity

By Andrea Keating
Founder and CEO
Crews Control

Hey all you entrepreneurs out there: Whether you know it or not, you are engaged in highly creative activities.

Indeed, every successful entrepreneur I know is creative with messaging, visual arts, negotiating relationships, and—without doubt—managing budgets in a highly creative way.

So how can you maximize creativity at your office?

These are a few of our Crews Control Creativity Secrets:

1. “Surround yourself with people who are going to lift you higher.”

That’s a quote from Oprah Winfrey, and I couldn’t agree more! Indeed, the best way that I know to keep myself and my business fresh and new is to surround myself with other highly creative people. Not only do they bring a fresh perspective, they never cease to amaze me with their original ideas, unique solutions, and ability to see the world in new ways.

Granted, this approach may scare entrepreneurs who aren’t fond of change and think they have all the answers. (See my article on the E-Myth to see why that may not be the best approach to managing your business.)

I realize that in today’s stressful business climate—where the economy in the United States and the world is still struggling, and we don’t quite know what the global landscape will look like in the coming years—the safe thing to do is spend the majority of our waking hours at work, doing the same old thing.

I tried that. It bored me. And it didn’t help my business grow the way I wanted it to. So I made an executive decision. Now, my goal is to make my office as non-work-like as possible.

I tried that. It bored me. And it didn’t help my business. So I made an executive decision. Now, my goal is to make my office as non-work-like as possible.

2. Surround yourself with whatever inspires you.

Art does it for me. So not only are the walls of the office in Maryland are hand-painted and look like parchment.

To adorn them, I commissioned artist (and former major league baseball player) Brain McCall to create fabulous, oversized 3-D sculptures of videographers, cameras, and other components that make my industry tick.

My favorite sculpture that he created is called “The Board,” (see above). This giant, colorful sculpture is filled with a representation of people who have been influential in my life, and in the evolution of Crews Control.

It’s a brilliant memorial to the people in my life during the decades I have spent building my business, and every time I look at it, I feel joyful. On the back wall of our office is a sculpture depicting the entire production process, which reminds us all that we part of a creative team in the crazy production process.

We also have several other pieces that inspire my entire team, including a 5-foot globe with our Crews Control “Cam” shooting on continents worldwide, a 4-foot magic hat that is symbolic of some of the magic my team pulls off every day, and a cameraman getting the perfect shot.

The rest of our walls are covered with original antique advertising art. The colors are vibrant and inspiring. My favorite is the Kina Lillet by Roby, which hangs in my office. The colors, and her expression, make me smile every time I look up that them.

3. Create a cool, creative hub for your employees to congregate.

In the center of our office, under the McCall sculpture of our logo, is a 24-foot bar. Yes. There is a humongous bar in my office.

This is our unique breakroom, sans the florescent lights and confining walls. My goal was make the center of the office an inviting hub for lunches at the bar, a place to sit and have a cup of coffee, and an alternative spot to do paperwork and get a break from sitting behind a desk. We spice it up with pizza parties, “Oreos of the World” taste tests, and the occasional Friday afternoon Happy Hour.

After all, if my employees aren’t happy, my clients aren’t happy. And while pleasing my clients is important, my employees are equally important to me. I want them to be inspired, growing, and building something with me. While entrepreneurs must keep clear boundaries, being supportive of the team that supports the company is fundamental to all of our growth.

4. Celebrate your own success.

I have two fabulous chairs in my office, chairs I love. Ask anyone who has sat in them and they’ll tell you that they are less than comfortable to sit in, hard to get out of, and impossibly heavy and hard to move.

But I bought and keep these chairs because every time I look at them, they inspire me. I love their sleek design, long, lean edges, and impeccable construction. Truth be told, they are the trigger that reminds me to edit myself, streamline as much as possible, and simplify things on a daily basis.

Here are a few more ways to add a heaping helping of creativity to your workday:

  • Try something new for lunch today.
  • Drive a different way home twice this week.
  • Choose a different path when you walk around the neighborhood where you live and work.
  • Go on a 15 minute web safari and poke around different industry links and see where it takes you.
  • Sample a new brand of coffee. Better yet, ask a team mate to join you for a little break.
  • Learn how to use a new app for your iPhone.
  • Check out website of a industry that is similar to yours yet not competing, how do they market themselves?
  • Tape a new inspirational saying to your monitor every month. Here’s my quote for May: “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood.”

On a weekly basis, I try to stretch a bit more because I know that it makes my boundaries bigger—and my business better.

My goal in all of this creative boundary-pushing is to keep myself open to new possibilities and opportunities, because that’s what helps Crews Control to grow, morph, and change as needed.

I am proud to say that 2013 will be the 25-year anniversary of Crews Control, and I can honestly tell you that we are still around, and making money, because I have been committed to making each day unique.

I love my life as much now, if not more, than when I started the company. If you find fun ways to keep things fresh, you will never stop learning and growing.

What are your secrets to creative success? Please share them with me at Andrea@crewscontrol.com. I’d love to add them to my list of ideas.

About Andrea Keating

When Andrea Keating founded Crews Control in 1988, it was the country’s first film and video staffing agency. Since then, the company’s focus has been to match each client with the perfect local crew for each specific shoot.

“That means we can offer our clients the quickest response time when they need to book a crew, and then provide the most dedicated customer service in the business,” she says.

Click here to learn more.