Jeff Roach | Crain's Los Angeles

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Jeff Roach


Schiefer Chopshop is a full-service content and media agency with a 10,000-square-foot in-house studio. The agency has conceived and executed campaigns with brands including Blizzard Entertainment, Prestone, BlackBerry and Boost Mobile.


The Mistake:

One of the key mistakes I made earlier on in my career was not understanding the importance of collaboration and the time needed to build consensus in the creative process. 

I remember a pitch I made years ago on the Scotch tape business at 3M. I went in feeling like I had the most perfect creative solution that absolutely nailed the ask. I was devastated when I got a lukewarm reception in the creative pitch, along with a classically trained marketer scolding me on the finer points of communication strategy.

The idea was still solid. The creative concept absolutely met the challenges outlined in the brief. But I presented the idea as being too rigid and I was too confident. I delivered the concept as the only way forward. 

The client declined on the direction and I had to go back to the agency to re-tackle the brief, feeling disappointed that the near-perfect solution wasn’t a home run.

Socializing of the creative idea is a critical step in the process.

The Lesson:  

What I learned was that great ideas don’t necessarily translate directly to execution. The creative process doesn’t end once you ready your solution for presentation to the client.

As a creative person in advertising and design, you tend to internalize your creative process so intensely, or view only your close creative collaborators as the people who can influence the output. But I’ve learned to view the first creative presentation to the client as the beginning, not the end, and I recognize that time is needed to collaborate through the creative process with the client to ensure that political, product, design and business needs are all being addressed.

The presentation of the creative idea to the CEO, to the sales team, to franchise owners, to brand partners—this socializing of the creative idea is a critical step in the process. The bigger the idea, the stronger the idea, the longer and harder this journey can be.

You have to learn that with creative ideas, there are many, many, many of them, and to get to the good one you have to be ready to throw away a lot.


Follow Schiefer Chopshop on Twitter @SchieferCS

​Photo courtesy Schiefer Chopshop.

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