How to Manage People and Your Own Career: 4 More Top Creatives Tell Us the Best Advice They Ever Got

Jan Jacobs, Margaret Johnson, Brent Choi and Kevin Brady weigh in

Managing the work is one thing. But eventually you have to start managing people, as well as your own brand in the marketplace. What then?

Our video series “Best Advice I Ever Got” continues today with four more top creative directors—Jan Jacobs, Margaret Johnson, Brent Choi and Kevin Brady—revealing the best tips they ever got in their careers.

See the video above for their insights, which are also excerpted below.

“The real secret of success is enthusiasm.”

—Jan Jacobs, chief creative officer, Johannes Leonardo

“It was a quote that I saw at my very first job,” Jacobs says. “This is 1992, I think. I worked at Young & Rubicam in Cape Town. And there was a Walter Chrysler quote on the wall about enthusiasm. … It’s beautiful because he basically says you can do anything if you’re enthusiastic. And it’s proven accurate, you know?”

“Work on your brand.”

—Margaret Johnson, chief creative officer, Goodby Silverstein & Partners

“I had a meeting with a recruiter,” Johnson recalls. “It was funny. She said, ‘You are way more talented than a lot of guys at your level. But they’re way more well known than you are. You need to work on your brand.’ I think, just as a creative person, it made me kind of take a step back and work harder, not just as a creative, but also be better at promoting myself.”

“Get to the next level of thinking.”

—Brent Choi, chief creative officer, J. Walter Thompson New York

“The best advice I ever got was from a creative director I had about 15 years ago. His name is Jeff Roche,” says Choi. “He really pushed me hard, almost uncomfortably hard. And he taught me to never settle. Not even just for the work, but for myself. He really drove what was possible by getting past that first level of thinking, and getting to the second and third and fourth and fifty-seventh level of thinking. You always ended up with something better, and it’s a great lesson that I still hold today and try to pass on to the younger people.”

“You don’t have to be a different person when you become a manager.”

—Kevin Brady, executive creative director, Droga5

“You make that leap from senior creative to creative director, or ECD. And there’s not a lot of training for that leap,” Brady says. “I had a lot of big-personality ECDs in my life. Blustery, big, forceful people. And I was like, that not me, really. And David [Droga] was just really supportive of the idea of … in managing something, you can manage it soft. You can manage and give people room to come into that space. You can manage by asking opinions. You can manage by your own way of doing things. That’s true for all creative. But I think just having that weight off my shoulders, that I didn’t have to be a different person when I started to run stuff, was kind of liberating.”

Below, check out the two earlier installments in this video series. And for all of our videos about creativity, including “Advice for Young Creatives” and “Best Ads Ever,” visit our “Creative Thinkers” video hub.