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Creative Directions

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Creative Directions

Mastering the Transition from Talent to Leader

HarperCollins Leadership,

15 min read
9 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

You think working as a creative is hard? Try managing creatives.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Concrete Examples
  • Engaging


In this crisp, engaging guide, Facebook Reality Labs creative director Jason Sperling walks creative workers through the fraught transition into management. He advises that your first order of business is to forget about doing your own thing and to focus instead on advocating for those in your former job. In each artfully designed, well organized chapter, Sperling gives brief remarks on a topic, then serves up relevant quotes and anecdotes from executives in Hollywood, Manhattan and other corners of the creative universe.


The transition from creative contributor to boss is challenging.

If a writer, designer or artist succeeds in the commercial creative sector, a promotion into management may result. This shift nearly always proves difficult for creatives. 

After years of honing a craft in training and on the job in art, design or film making, the talented creative person suddenly must run meetings, set budgets, and hire and fire. Companies typically thrust creative workers into this unfamiliar role with little training. One accurate critique of this process holds that fast-food restaurants offer better management training programs than film studios, ad agencies and major publications.

The skills that successful writers or artists possess may not be the same traits that make a good boss. By definition, creative employees are individualistic, even idiosyncratic. They come up with original ideas and work in unorthodox ways. Creative workers, such as writers, often toil alone rather than in groups. Sometimes, ego and insecurity drive individual creative contributors, characteristics that can linger after a promotion.Yet when the promotion comes, it’s up ...

About the Author

Jason Sperling, author of Look at Me When I’m Talking to Youis global executive creative director for Facebook Reality Labs.

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