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Everyone’s an Artist: Interview with Ron Tite

Everyone’s an Artist: Interview with Ron Tite

Relevant, engaging, and interactive, Ron Tite exceeds expectations each and every time he takes the stage. Named one of the “Top 10 Creative Canadians” by Marketing Magazine, he’s been an award-winning advertising writer and creative director for some of the world’s most respected brands, including Air France, Evian, Hershey, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft, Intel, Microsoft, and Volvo. And now, Ron can add “author” to his impressive listed credentials. Ron’s new book, Everyone’s An Artist (Or At Least They Should Be), co-authored with  Scott Kavanagh and Christopher Novais, looks at how today’s successful companies are those that are original, creative, and innovative. Dx3 Digest sat down with Ron to find out how everyone can be a little more creative in their everyday lives:

Dx3 Advisor and CEO of The Tite Group, Ron Tite, released his latest book in September, “Everyone’s an Artist (or At Least They Should Be)”. The book is all about how to approach work and creativity the same way that an artist would.

“You’ll discover how artists’ habits, attitudes and behaviours can help foster your own creativity, innovation, communication and problem solving. And you’ll learn how these artists’ tools can help you to achieve your goals, develop something new or be successful in your professional and personal life. In other words, you’ll learn how you can think like an artist.”

We sat down with Ron last week to chat about this concept and got his take on how everyone can be a little more creative in their everyday lives:


Ron Tite: My background is in comedy and I’ve always felt that my experience and the skills that I have developed as a stand up have helped me in my advertising life, and vice versa. My advertising life has always helped me on stage. I started exploring the notion of: “Hey, what can we learn from comedians? Are there things there that we can incorporate into our own professional lives that will help us be more creative and help us be more effective?”

It’s not about being funny, but it’s about following the same behaviours and the same process that a comedian would follow. I later decided to expand the concept of the book from “everyone’s a comedian or at least they should be” to “everyone’s an artist or at least they should be.” That actually gave me more flexibility to look at different skill sets and different methods or different forms of artistic expression.


Ron Tite: There’s a number of different angles and behaviours that artists have, there’s also a number of different things that artists do to be successful. Depending on whether it’s for your personal or professional life, in a creative industry or not, they’re not all going to apply to everybody.

It’s about customizing the behaviours to your own personal situation. Typically, it’s either about the creative process on how you get interesting ideas, or it’s about how to sell and execute on those ideas. It’s either concept or it’s completion, it’s either idea or it’s execution. There are some fundamental things there that apply to all of those. I think the main one is just the confidence to do it.

I think we, as people, are more creative than we give ourselves credit for, in terms of generating ideas. When it comes to execution however, we fall flat. We fall flat because we just don’t get around to it. We fall flat because we are afraid of failure and what that will mean to us. We’ll fall flat because we’ll run out of time to actually be creative. A lot of this has to be about getting it done and committing to actually being creative. It’s about committing to doing it and realizing that it’s work.

Far too many people think that those who identify as being creative wake up one day and just have these ideas that flow from their brain and their fingers, and that it comes so naturally to them. It’s work. That is offensive to me as somebody who is creative, because it’s as if you’re saying that it comes without any effort, and that’s not true. I have to sit down and go through the process, not enough people understand that, so they give up way too early.


Ron Tite: You can look at companies like Airbnb, Uber, as well as something as simple as a Dyson hair dryer. Those people, when you look at the new disruptors in a lot of categories, you’ll notice that they aren’t really following the rules. So, who says that a hotel has to be in a big building and all the rooms on the same floor? An artist would take a look at that perspective and go, “What’s a new way to redefine that?” I think the most creative things that are happening right now are companies who are solving problems that the establishment can’t or won’t. They’re doing that because they’re not following the same rules as the establishment. That is a very artistic thing to do.

This is really important because it moves creativity from being something that used to be identified only by communication. We used to identify creative companies as those who had creative commercials, funny advertisements, compelling art directions, and beautiful designs. Now, we are applying creativity to the creation of organization and to the establishment of entirely new business models; or to establishing entirely new processes that nobody had thought of before. That has way more significance to the end customer than the pretty ads.


Ron Tite: One of the things that stands in the way of people being really creative is that we don’t see ourselves as creative. We identify creative people in marketing and advertising, and the art collectors, the writers, the people in creative departments. They dress a certain way, they act a certain way, they smell a certain way. Because we don’t look or sound like that, we don’t identify ourselves as being creative. We have to get completely beyond that. We, as creative people, don’t have to look, sound, or act in a certain way. We are creative in thought, not in external presentation. That is one of the first barriers to creativity. People just don’t identify with being creative.

The second barrier is that we run out of time. We have some ideas, but we run out of time, and just default back to what we did last year because it’s really efficient. It’s really efficient to do what we did last year, both from a time standpoint and a financial perspective.

We have to make our most mundane tasks the most efficient things we do on a daily basis, tasks like email, expense reports, Excel spreadsheets. We have to establish a simplicity roadmap in all those menial tasks, so when it comes to the really important stuff, we can spend more time on those. You have to invest your creativity in places that have significant impact for our customers and email is not one of them, so let’s get more efficient with that.

The third barrier is a fear of failure. A fear of failure comes with “How am I going to be seen by other people?” When we used to be creative, and the first time we had something that didn’t work, and we got this negative reaction, we took it as about ourselves as individuals not being creative or successful, rather than the idea.

Know that any failure is not a failure of you as an individual, but of the idea. Know that there’s never been a better time to fail. Because, if something fails in the marketing stage now, it failed because nobody saw it. Nobody saw it, and you didn’t spend a heck of a lot in production of it. Fail faster, fail forward, and you’ll have a much better time, you’ll get a much better idea.

Eric Mercer/Dx3/October, 2016