Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Entrepreneur/Business Owner/Creative Director: How Many Hats Can One Person Wear?

I wear one hat size. But I wear many hats. Do all those hats fit on my one very tired, sometimes relatively stressed out head? Something to ponder for those of us who multi-task in our professional lives.

It’s easy to say to someone, “Yes, you can have it all,” but what is harder to say is, “Yes, you can do it all.”  Better yet, “You can do it all well.”

So how do we prioritize, or do we?


Creative Director

Without clients, there would be no business to be entrepreneurial about, so of course it is hugely important to focus on how to develop and nurture a creative environment that concentrates on making each and every client feel like they are your only client. And then to come up with creative solutions to the marketing/event/strategic needs so that they can't live without you. A tall order. Add to that all the research it takes to stay ahead of the trends, and time will be a much sought-after commodity.


Entrepreneur/Business Owner

Being an entrepreneur/business owner takes just as much creativity, perhaps even more, because it's far more subjective and usually more personal. Every day is comprised of problem solving, combined with diplomatic skills which rival the United Nations. First of all, most of us have a variety of age groups within our own companies, and each of these groups has a different way of communicating. As a "boss" you need to find ways to communicate your needs but in a way that each generation might understand differently. Then of course there are different views of productivity, time management and, ah yes, commitment.

Creating a team approach is the ultimate in creativity. Much like developing a team approach when working on a project where you have a producer, creative director, associate producers, technical directors (and the list can go on from there), you need to create a functioning office team. How? Patience. Perseverance. Organization. And simply listening and giving every team member the opportunity to be heard and  respected. Though flow charts are updated and are replaced by a circle concept (the circle shows that everyone is on an equal playing field and connected to every other person), it is important to be a combination of leader ... but a leader with an open mind.

The Commonality

So this "hat" I wear really is the same for both clients and employees. Am I not using my creative skills to solve problems both externally with clients and internally with employees? Same process; different participants, right? With one aspect that transcends both ... how you communicate, which is the most creative element of all.


Your client wants the world without the budget to deliver what they dream of; your employee wants a huge raise but hasn't earned it; a producer puts forth an idea which really doesn't work for your brand; a vendor's truck breaks down, and they are late to deliver the goods. In all cases, how you communicate to each of these people is key to continuing a healthy and productive relationship. I give full credit to Susan Allan for teaching me about the six-part conversation which is a combination of listening, restating, empathizing, asking for permission to share my own thoughts and needs and then creating a solution that is win-win. It is a matter of respect for the other party at all times combined with clarity of thought and clarity of wording. Ambiguity doesn't work here.


Try these Words

I understand (client) what you are asking for… and then repeat what they’ve asked and ask them to clarify. The result is that they are heard and you can then offer some alternatives to help them reach their objectives.


I understand that you are asking for a four-million-dollar increase in salary (20 year old associate producer … I exaggerate of course). Would you be willing to let me share my thoughts on how you can ultimately earn this much of an increase? You are not saying, “You’re nuts!”


I appreciate that you have offered up such creative thoughts for our project. These might not fit into our client’s objectives, but I think it would be wonderful to have this in our arsenal so we can find the right client for this very creative idea and make it come to life.


I understand that your truck broke down and you will be running late. I understand that this situation was out of your control. And then you can discuss how to solve the problem … call another vendor; send out a truck. But you’ve eliminated an argument, a guilt trip, etc. which solves nothing.

And in All Other Aspects of Life

I take that same hat off to those who juggle parenthood, spouse-hood and a job. This is much the same.One person plays many roles. My question would be if any of them suffer, and so I pose that question to all of you. What do you think?

Andrea Michaels is the founder and president of Extraordinary Events, an award-winning, international meeting and event planning and production firm based in Los Angeles. She is the author of Reflections of a Successful Wallflower - Lessons in Business; Lessons in Life, a sought-after speaker and a pioneering and highly awarded leader in the events industry. To learn more about Andrea or her company, visit To contact Andrea, email


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