Joel Kelly's Blog

Joel Kelly's updates about his latest writing, his process, and his life as a Halifax-based author and marketer.

Creativity is not the product of compromise

Adam Morgan said advertising "is like a knife-fight in a phonebox."

You don't compromise in a knife fight. You fight to win.

Creativity doesn't come from compromise, from taking one idea and mashing it with another. It comes from ruthlessness. Killing one's darlings.

We compromise when we're afraid. When we don't want to step on toes. When we fear going too far, so instead we don't go far enough.

Bill Bernbach said, "If you stand for something, you will always find some people for you and some against you. If you stand for nothing, you will find nobody against you, and nobody for you.”

Creativity means standing for something, acknowledging that you might rub people the wrong way. Because if you stand for nothing, no one will stand with you.

Not your customers. Not your clients. Not your coworkers. No one.

What if you mess up? "Failure shows us the way – by showing us what isn’t the way," says Ryan Holiday.

Be ruthless. Don't compromise. And learn from your mistakes.

That's the path to creativity.