Inspira Marketing Group’s Treasure Neal on being an effective leader to creatives
This is part of our 100 Creative Directors interview series. It has been edited for length and clarity. To return to the series homepage and browse other interviews, click here.
What kind of creative director are you?
My name is Treasure Neal. I am a Creative Director for Inspira Marketing and Enthuse Marketing. The two are partner agencies that specialize in brand activation and hospitality. In my role, I'm expected to lead, inspire, and push creative.
That boils down to a few things: Being able to get in the weeds, getting my hands dirty and leading by example, pushing and pulling people and getting them inspired to do really great work. I have to be a communicator and connector, whether that's with my creative team, between departments or clients; regardless of whether it's with a more junior person versus a seasoned vet.
I think the way that you tap into your circle's potential is by making people feel invited and good about the work that they're doing.
What would you say the most difficult part is about shipping great creative work?
A lot of our work is people-powered: it relies on the power and talents of individuals to make the work happen.
Situations and sometimes even people can be difficult (laughs). Whether that’s people you’re collaborating with or briefs that aren’t very clear. The challenge is always keeping everybody aligned and engaged. If you’re at very least engaged in the work that’s happening then it becomes a lot easier: you feel like you have equity in what is going on and you're a part of the process.
You have to remember the people you work with all come from various backgrounds, work experiences, and disciplines. Involvement is the great equalizer and being aligned as a team is the key to success. I do find a lot of the time you have to overcommunicate to keep alignment.
How do you measure the success in your work? How do you know that your creative operations practice is working?
It really depends on the project and the client. KPIs can always vary from hard numbers to soft goals.
As a creative, it's easy to be judged on the surface-level like “what does it look like?” "How does it sound” “Is it punny?” Those face value elements are important but the work is not limited to that. In the end you want to make an emotional connection and motivate people to take action.
The reality of it is that you really want to be successful on a business level. The work you're doing as a creative, you want to make sure that it translates over to success in the business and that definition can range.
I love working closely with strategists whenever I get the opportunity because it always brings a level of assurance. I’m sure when I work with a strategist that the work is going to be successful because you're getting gut checked consistently.
I think a lot of the times when it comes to creative work, it's really about how I feel. And to an extent, how my team, clients, and the accounts team feel about it. But in my gut of guts, if this is going to be good work, I kind of know before it ships. Once it's done, I may have a little bit of nervous energy but that's always good for me — not to be too confident. Hitting the mark as far as the strategy, and pushing strategy as much as strategy pushes creative is always a really good marker.
What are three tools or three things — could be tools or systems — you could not do your job without?
Any tool that is collaborative and real time really works for me. I use Google apps a lot. You have the ability to work in a document with multiple collaborators in real time. You can organize your files in whatever ways work for you. It makes the work — not easier — but more free-flowing. I also use SharePoint but any type of application that gives you that type of power where things can work seamlessly, in real-time, I’m all on board for that.
Instagram has become a tool for me as far as research in a way where information, methods and inspiration are coming towards me. Because of who I follow, who I comment on, the things that I save, etc. — it all just becomes part of the algorithm for me. Having content shoot at me consistently as I’m doing my normal scrolling through has been really helpful.
YouTube. Back to Google, YouTube is really good too. It’s a good tool to go out and seek specific topics you want to learn about.
What is either the best piece of advice you've ever received as a creative director in your work?
This is a tough one.
This is kind of outside of work but it’d be to have grace on yourself.
A lot of times I can be pretty critical of myself; so just having grace and being like, “You know what? It's okay. We did enough for the day or the week. We can come back and fight again tomorrow.”
Feel good about the steps that you're taking as far as not having to be perfect, instead lean into the process.
That's been one piece of advice that I’ve gotten — actually through therapy — that’s helped me in my work.