As long as it’s awesome, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Last week I finally made it to one of the Caffeinated Mornings that my Twitter friend Matt O’Donnell (@odog) organizes with Jay Ferracane (@angrybovine) in Boulder.

Jen Hohn (@jenhohn & of Vladimir Jones was the speaker this time – she’s brilliant. I really enjoyed her talk. She offered the kind of tips that are immediately useful on a daily basis.

Stuff like, “Think when you’re not thinking.” She talked about the nature of that magical creative flow we all get into at the very last minute or other inopportune times. That flow isn’t something you can force, but if you let your subconscious work on a creative problem while you’re doing some repetitive, mostly mindless motion like running or washing dishes you’ll make a surprising amount of progress.


She encouraged thinking about it before you go to sleep, too, so that your brain toils away in the background while you snooze. I think this could be a dangerous one, however, for the insomnia prone like myself.

At VJ they have an insights team that provide the creatives with essential information about a project’s audience. Jen spoke to us about some ways we could sharpen our own insights like watching the films our audience would, visiting places they might frequent, or reading a biography of a person within that demographic. In summary – get outside of your own viewpoint. Travel. Take a different route to work. Make a mood playlist to match that of your audience’s attitudes.

Beyond the realm of projects, Jen also encouraged us to understand whatever it is we don’t do. Whether that’s photography, development, or traffic ops the point is to learn some about more than just your part of the body. Be as well-rounded as possible; you’ll become better at your own role, and an invaluable member of the team.

And outside of work, go ahead and make things you like even if they don’t have a practical purpose yet. Jen pointed out that at times your personal work might outshine anything you do at your day job. Embrace it because it could lead to a great collaboration down the road.


During the Q&A after the talk the conversation turned toward the tendency creatives have to stay up all night chasing that “even better” revision. It was kind of a continuation of the earlier discussion about creative flow never failing to show up in the middle of the night, at last minute, when it’s aaalmost too late. Jen reminded us that generally the only reason the creative team ever finishes something is because someone from accounts comes in and says STOOOOOP!

“It’ll never be perfect. Don’t let the lust for perfection get in the way of awesome.”

I think I need to write that advice on the board 100 times.

Update: I just stumbled across this full recording of the talk. It’s about 40 minutes long, but worth the time in my opinion. Enjoy!


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