'Like-hearted' people are my secret work weapon

The director of Time Inc's The Foundry finds collaborating with polar opposites in pursuit of a common goal results in the best work

The hot yoga class that clears the noggin before the day begins; the pep talk muttered in the lift on the way up to the office; the sneaky bag of Monster Munch ploughed through by 10am (you know who you are). Everyone has a secret work weapon, right?

I realised very early on in my career that if I were ever going to have a future in a world where creativity, fresh thinking and the ability to make magic out of an anodyne brief were must-haves, my secret weapon would need to be a person. Not the same person, of course – otherwise, over the couple of decades I’ve worked in the creative-partnerships space, that person would be a mere husk by now – but a type of person, and one who, in every conceivable way, is my polar opposite.

Everywhere I’ve worked I’ve stumbled across an individual so completely unlike me that they have become a treasured inspiration-provider, idea-challenger and, probably most importantly, bullshit-caller. At Condé Nast, it was the wildly talented copywriter, sitting across from me, still glassy-eyed and dishevelled from the night before. At The Telegraph, it was the tenacious-as-hell display salesman, talking at warp speed and negotiating the leaves off trees. At Say Media, it was the production manager with a ferocious eye for detail who’d look at a pair of new Kurt Geigers and sigh "yes", but read through a campaign schedule and quick as a flash snap "nope". At Time Inc UK, it's go to be the creative director who, somewhat distractingly, sits in meetings and draws diagrams of our discussion. Many a time he has turned his book of pencil-drawn magic around to me and said: "Yeah, I really like that, but what if we did this?" To which I’ve shouted in reply: "Yes – that’s it".

When yin and yang collaborate, great stuff happens.

People talk about collaboration as though it’s something you can do with one eye on your Insta feed. It isn’t. True collaboration needs effort and care. It needs a commitment that comes from truly loving what you do and knowing that it is absolutely irrelevant who gets the glory. Good work is good work. However, the best work comes not when like-minded people work together, but when "like-hearted" people who think differently come together and dare to challenge each other, and that challenge is welcomed with equanimity.

Carla Faria is director of The Foundry, Time Inc UK


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