Next Creative Leaders: Neisha Tweed
on May 04, 2015
Three words you'd use to describe yourself?
I took an online quiz and it said Ambitious. But I think I can do better. I’ll try harder next time.
What piece of work are you most proud of and why?
Tie between working on Citi Bike and the Verizon Rule Your Legacy Black History Month campaign. Both were greater than just “buy me,” greater than one type of media and greater than the brand. The work was more about creating a connection with people and had a greater purpose. I love doing work that matters.
You often face challenges by asking "how can I change this?" Why that approach?
My biggest fears are around things becoming stagnant or me becoming complacent. I need movement and progress—I can never settle for “good enough.” So with creative briefs, I always think “what could this be?” Opportunities to do something great don’t present themselves that often. And it’s hard to motivate other people to push for greatness when it doesn’t feel like it matters or is possible. But if we go from D to C+ work, that’s progress. Next time maybe we can get to a B, then an A. I want to do good work and I want to feel good about the work I do. You have to push yourself and push for change to get there.
Throughout agency life, you felt a strong need to “feel like you were a part of something.” What does that mean to you?
Creatives put a ton of time and energy into work. We need to feel like all that time and effort matters. Money is nice. Awards are great. But it takes time and a whole lot of sweat to get those. And then when you get it, you still sometimes wonder, was it worth it? Agencies are designed to focus on profits not people, budgets and bottom lines, not culture or community. Everyone, especially millennials and multicultural women, want to feel like their company stands for something. That they are joining an agency that believes in change, creativity, progress, people—something.
Any advice for agencies looking to make their creative people feel more valued?
Start giving people reviews more regularly—and give bonuses and raises and promotions. Encourage people to take time off to volunteer or travel. Support their side projects. Allow them to put a percentage of their time against pro bono work or a passion project (Google does, why can’t we?). Invest in young people: Send them to conferences, workshops and panels. Talk to the people who are out there sweating and find out how you can help them. Sometimes it’s as simple as bringing in beer and a foosball table. Other times it’s something bigger, like sharing the creative vision for the client or the agency. Be honest. You’d be surprised how many people will be behind you if they knew you had a greater goal or understood some of the obstacles out there.
Can you tell us about your choice to go freelance after working full time?
I needed to slow down. For 8+ years, everything was urgent and important. I pulled a record scratch and said, Self, let’s take a moment. When I started working again, I only pursued projects that made me feel good and helped other people. Now I know I’m making a positive change—and that’s valuable to me.
If you’re not doing work that feeds your soul, find something that will. Can you add a cause to this campaign? Do some social good with this brand? Choose agencies and bosses that believe in the same things you do and that encourage you to have passion projects. Find ways to give back: volunteer, mentor, join organizations, use your writing or design skills to promote donations for something you care about.