Creativity alone is not going to work for you.


Everybody has ideas.

Not everyone makes them happen.

I have been fortunate to work with a number of clients who are consummate creative entrepreneurs, people like Dr Tom Mulholland – who is never satisfied with his accomplishments and so keeps adding more, Maggie Eyre whose boundless enthusiasm and empathy infects others. Maggie’s talents helped Helen Clark present an acceptable face to New Zealand voters and become the first woman elected directly into parliament as prime minister. Here’s what I have noticed about people like Tom and Maggie.

Creativity alone is not going to work for you.

Their business is a passion. When they get up in the morning the first thing they think about is, “How do I advance my business today?” When they go to bed at night the last thing they think about is, “What do I do to advance my business tomorrow?”

They have an innate talent for marketing. They sell constantly and promote themselves and their business. They are not pushy or obnoxious.

They understand the value of persistence. Rejection is a part of the process. Few of us are given everything on a silver platter. They realize, in the face of rejection that a single ‘no’ might simply mean that they just didn’t do a good enough job of explaining…yet. Or that the time just wasn’t right. But they don’t give up! Some things take time.

Tom and Maggie and other successful creative people show up. Tom actively promotes his books. He has sold enough of them to be one of the most successful authors in New Zealand. You won’t see the sales of the books on the usual lists¬–because he buys them directly from Reed, his publisher, and resells them himself.

If you’re not there, it won’t happen. Tom has publishing deals in Europe and India. Not by accident. He backs himself and goes to the Frankfurt Book Fair and the London Book Fair. His success is not accidental. Will yours be? Quick answer: No, never.

Once you have created your invention, brought your ideas to life, made something…it is now time to make something happen.

Commercial creativity isn’t art for art’s sake. You cannot stand back and admire your work.
The misunderstood artist gig didn’t work for Van Gogh, why do you think it will work for you?
Now that you have something you will have to sell it.

Time for your creativity and innovation to select a new gear.

David MacGregor is a founder and creative director of Idealog. He teaches design students at Massey University to ‘think different’ and has a creative coaching business:

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