10 Ways to Get Creative in School, Business, and Life

Last Friday, Fred Raillard shared a few principles that have guided his creativity throughout his career in advertising and marketing.  Here’s a summary of his 10 thoughts on creativity that anyone can learn from and use.


  • Find the subject behind the subject. In reality, every product itself is boring. But there is always a subject behind it that is more interesting.  A TV remote control is itself uninteresting, but if we think of it as an ode to laziness, we could celebrate the history of laziness throughout humanity.
  • Focus on memorable emotions.Humans are monkeys. We are defined by basic instincts to survive and reproduce.  As monkeys, our primal desires are satisfied by specific emotional moments in our lives.  These moments are the electric sparks that allow us to create the memories that define our existence.
  • Start from the other, not yourself.If we begin with ourselves, life is defined by its relation to us. The world becomes limited to our narrow conceptions. If we open ourselves to the other, like in moving to a new country, our limits expand and we can grow as big as the world.  By starting with the other, we are brought into spaces we normally wouldn’t go.
  • Reach out with truth.We live in a society of lies. Governments hide the truth. Companies commit fraud.  Singers lip-sync their performances.  But this gives way to truth.  By telling the truth, you become different and as a result, you can touch people.
  • Be like water. Creativity is contradictory to a logical, rational world.  In response, we must be fluid like water, as in the understanding of fēng shuǐ. Creativity is about flexibility.
  • Approach and deliver with depth.As society becomes increasingly saturated with stories, we are losing interest in them. Now we are fascinated by the idea behind the story.  We don’t care about the election, but the story behind it.  It’s not the idea itself that is impactful, but how we talk about the idea that touches people.
  • Stay on track.Our world is plagued with information overload and it is becoming more difficult to stand out. When we do manage to do something well, we must identify the elements that made it successful and stick to them.  Creating a successful brand has a lot to do with being consistent.
  • Don’t treat people like babies. Society responds to nuance.  You don’t have to paraphrase or hand-feed people at every step. Netizens will react positively to sarcastic humor about 16,000 pigsbeing dumped into a river.  Don’t underestimate your audience’s capacity to understand and appreciate subtlety.
  • Be mature and responsible. Marketing is a medium through which advertising companies are essentially paid to tell their own version of a story. Unlike artists, this transforms their platform from a small gallery to the entire world.  With this comes the responsibility to inject positive and interesting stories into our world.  We must be prepared to leave a positive legacy in all that we do. 

  Who is Fred Raillard?

Fred is the cofounder and executive creative director of the eponymous firm Fred + Farid. He currently lives, works, and ideates in Shanghai, China, where he opened his third office two years ago.

Fred’s unusual approach to marketing has landed his team some of the biggest brands in the world - Porsche, Giorgio Armani, Orange, Schweppes, Xbox, and Garnier among many others – and some seriously coveted awards and distinctions from the advertising, creative world – MTV Award, Cannes Lions, D&AD, and many more.

[Via Elite of Shanghai]