Skip to the main content

Four Impactful Takeaways From the Creative Leaders Retreat


Last week, VSAers Carrie Richardson and Evan Thompson escaped the Chicago winter and attended the Creative Leaders Retreat in Scottsdale, Arizona. In addition to some much needed Vitamin D, they also got some great advice from some of the most innovative, successful and celebrated Creative Directors in the industry.

Here were some of their favorite takeaways from this unique industry gathering:

One person can change it all.
A lot of people think that in order to change the creative culture of an agency, everyone has to be involved from the get-go. During the Creative Leaders Retreat, session leaders shared their experiences that prove just one person behaving in a certain way can affect the creative output and culture of an entire agency.

The best Creative Directors are generous.
During one of the sessions, the groups addressed the dynamic and symbiotic relationship of CDs and their teams. One thing that came out of this discussion was that the best CDs are always generous—With their time, in giving credit and with their ideas. Carrie and Evan heard some great input on how not to tip over into becoming an “asshole CD” including: Finding something you love about each of your people, and being brutal to the work rather than the people doing it.

Fewer decks, more stuff.
Another topic that was brought to light was that designers and CDs often live their lives in the continuous form of a deck. It sounds weird, but there’s a lot of truth to it. At every point in the creative process, it’s easy to get caught up in what’s going to be in the deck, how things will make it into the deck, who is making the deck, when will the strategy be put in the deck, who is presenting the deck, etc. And maybe this leads to a great deck, but did the team make good stuff for the deck? They talked a lot about how it’s so easy to get caught up in the clients and account people’s minds, but it’s important to set that aside and make stuff; not everything needs to be perfect.

Risk failure.
Possibly the most impactful conversation the groups had during the event was about letting go and embracing failure as a good thing (one of our favorite mantras at VSA). If you don’t give someone a chance to fail they will never get better. Take a chance on people. Growth happens when trust is present, and if you don’t have trust within your team, no positive growing or mentoring is happening. So, allow yourself to build trust in yourself and your team if it’s lacking.

Looking forward, the Creative Leaders Retreat sent these VSAers home with some enlightening and inspiring food for thought that we’re excited to make a bigger part of our day-to-day work at VSA.