Next Creative Leaders: Katie Brinkworth

Posted on Nov 02, 2016

What's your "How I broke into advertising" story?
It was mostly by accident, actually. Right after college I was working as a recruiter, which I was very awkward and terrible at. My office just happened to be right next door to the Creative Circus. They had a vending machine, so I'd wander over there frequently to get candy. I don't know if it was a Pavlovian response or something, but when I'd pass by the work on the walls while eating my candy I would get excited because it seemed like much more fun than what I was doing. Within a few months, I left that job and started school at this amazing candy paradise. Things just worked out after that.

What made you put yourself forward for Next Creative Leaders?
I'm not gonna lie, I love attention, praise and Facebook likes, and I'm proud of the work I've been able to accomplish in advertising. But I'm also a feminist and think it's nice to be an example for other women in the industry who are just getting started or might feel frustrated about the imbalance in female leadership. So I'm grateful for the opportunity to show other women that they can do whatever they want in this industry, just like the bros. I was also encouraged by Liz Cartwright, a former winner and all-around cool/wonderful person with a great dog.

What piece of creative work are you most proud of and why?
I have the most fun working on comedy, but I'm most proud of the work we did for skype because it actually had a real impact on the people involved in the films. In the Born Friends story, which was about two girls who had never met in real life but were best friends on Skype, it really was the first time the two girls had ever met, and it was a pretty amazing experience to be a part of it. Since then, Sarah, one of the girls from the film, has used the publicity to raise awareness and acceptance for other people with disabilities.

What do you want your legacy to be?
That's a heavy question, because it makes me think about being dead. Fortunately I watch a lot of teenage vampire tv shows, so I still feel very youthful mentally. I'd like my legacy to be that I made people laugh, but for a reason, like "hahaha that's so funny because it's true and sad and we should change that."

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?
I was pretty excited when I was published in the New Yorker. That was one of those things I always thought was crazy unachievable.

If you could go back five years in your career, what advice would you give to you?
Don't be so worried, it'll be fine, but also be worried because it makes your work better. Which is actually pretty useless advice.

How do you balance the highs and lows of working in the creative field?
Advertising can be frustrating, things die all the time and you have to figure out how to move on so it doesn't affect the good opportunities. If you don't, the negativity can become a poison. It's easy to wallow in it, and complaining can be fun, but you have to cut it off at some point or it will overwhelm you. I give myself a time limit of a few days to be bummed about something. Also I think trying to focus on enjoying the process instead of just the outcome helps. After all, it's a fun and weird job. I've had conversations about how to fit a human inside of a snake puppet, and have created a custom polo t-shirt for a bull&helip;"the t-shirt cannot cover the bull's genitals or he will likely pee on it" is a line written in an actual work email. What other job is this ridiculous?

What was your biggest learning experience in the past year?
This past year I was promoted to ACD, a leadership role that came with several surprising learning experiences. I knew there'd be more responsibilities, but I didn't realize how much of the job is about understanding the psychology of different types of people. Juniors aren't lazy millennials, they're usually just nervous about their work, and clients aren't monsters, they're just worried about keeping their jobs, so trust is a big thing for both.

Any advice for those who haven't yet found their creative stride?
Try to work across a variety of different projects. Once you start to work with different groups of people you'll see who you mesh with creatively. When I was starting out, I'd jump onto any assignment I could get my hands on. I ended up working on almost every account in the agency, and eventually found a team that I fit in with.

How to you fuel your creative soul out of the office?
I write a lot for other things, mainly satire for humor magazines. It's freeing because I can write whatever crazy thing I want without much pushback, and I think it also helps me think about work in different ways.

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