Inside every Creative is a raging Gorilla-Beast dying to be free.
This beast does his own thing, ignores all advice and criticism, and makes whatever he wants for whomever he wants whenever he wants.
There’s an obvious problem here:
Even Gorilla-Beasts need to pay the bills.
That, my friends, is how we end up with the eternal struggle –
Creative vs. Corporate.
Muse vs. Machine.
Breaking Free vs. Buttoning Up.
The truth is, most (almost all) Beasts like yourself will be forced to work for a Corporate Tamer from time to time. And although your art is your soul, you’ll have to turn tricks for cash to keep from going hungry.
Here’s how to sell your soul without losing your mind:
Step 1 – Give Your Paycheck Some Purpose.
Here’s a cool thing about working for a company:
They pay you.
They pay you whether you come in and sit in a chair or you come in and check emails for 8 hours or you come in and actually (wait for it) do your work.
Do not use this money to pile up needless junk you don’t need. Use it to build your catapult. The one which will launch you over the walls of the corporate prison. Money gives you leverage. Build enough leverage, and you can pretty much do whatever you want all the time.
The only goal of accepting corporate money is to purchase a key that will free you from the cage, not buy more bars for it.
Step 2 – Go Wild or Go Home
If you start out boring, your work will always be boring.
Play it safe at first, and people will say – “This looks good,” but they don’t know how good you could be. They don’t know the full potential of the Beast.
Your Tamer didn’t hire you for you to crank out the same old crap they could have gotten anywhere. Push the envelope. Go a little too far. A Creative who edits as she goes is one who will never produce anything of value. Give them what they didn’t know they were looking for.
For the first few months, let your Gorilla run rampant. Make bold and shocking work.
Warning: this advice will earn you a lot of criticism. Which leads us to step 3.
Step 3 – Take Criticism Like a Champ
“I don’t get it.”
This sentence will rock you if you’re not ready for it. Your whole goal is to express your creativity. Their goal is to send a message. So when it’s not exactly what they expect, they’ll say:
“I don’t get it.”
Here’s the deal: Of course they don’t get it. If they got it, they would do it themselves. If you were a button-pusher, they wouldn’t need you. Computers push all the buttons now.If you were a button-pusher, they wouldn't need you. Click To Tweet
Whenever your work is picked apart, the Gorilla-Beast will roar in shame and indignation. Stroke him gently and calm down. Every time you tweak your message, you learn a little bit more about about what your Tamer wants.
Companies need creators, but they don’t need Prima Donnas.
Create. Listen. Adapt. Repeat.
And then move along:
Step 4: Become the Company
If you’ve been able to control your Beast this far, congratulations! You are starting to earn some trust. People (foolishly) are starting to assume you are a normal human being.
You have earned their trust. This is good.
Once you know where all the lines are, you can bump right up against them. You know what they people want, so give it to them. Give them everything they expect and add a sprinkle of your own flair.
There is no “me” there is only “us.” You make your teammates look good. You make your boss look good. You make the company look good.
Become the voice, hands, and face of your company. Become irreplaceable, knowing what clients need before they even ask. Become indispensable. Become the Beast everyone knows and loves.
Step 5: Leave
Not in a blaze of glory with both middle fingers extended, as the Beast might prefer, but graciously. Leave them happy you ever made it into their lives.
Leaving is a critical piece because when the Beast sits in one place too long and his fire will go out. Don’t kid yourself: you are a restless soul. Don’t trick yourself into thinking your habitat is too dangerous to leave.
No great work comes from safety.
Step 6: Repeat until you can free the Beast
If you took step one to heart, you should be using that cash to build something that matters. If you’re not to the point where you can let your soul run wild, take a job that pays more money. Then repeat this process.
No Creative was meant to be put in a cage.
Let’s make sure you don’t stay in one forever.