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What makes a great CCO? What makes a terrible one? If CCO currently, how has your transition gone from your previous role to this one? What was that previous role?

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The job is to use all of your previous experience to nurture and protect an environment where all people (not just creatives) can do the best work of their lives. It’s all about building others up. Making everyone else important. Making everyone else the hero. The best CCOs serve those they lead.

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A great creative is not necessarily a great cco. A great cco has to be able to inspire and support ALL of the work, not just the work of a few. A great cco believes every creative is valuable—award winning or not. A great cco is paying attention every day, getting to know the people and how they are contributing. It’s demoralizing for an agency when a cco only knows/cares about a few. Sadly, that’s the situation at my agency and it isn’t going well.

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👏

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What makes a terrible CCO is putting your agency out of business like the dipshit former CCO at We Are Unlimited.

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likefunny
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ECD1, he’s never laughed in his life. Also wtf is Optimist?

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funny
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Good CCOs walk the halls.

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I’m def nowhere near that but I’ve seen many come and many go. Todd Tilford was the cco of Fcb CHICAGO and was great at creative output and winning awards. When it came to the politics and dealing with clients not so much. His successor, Liz Taylor was not so good with winning awards, but had the politics of the position down.

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Good CCOs compartmentalize very well. They can have a fight with their significant other AND receive frightening client feedback yet still look and act absolutely fine around the agency. They take shit in stride and have a vision. It’s also very true that adding all the baggage and politics of agency life (becoming a CCO) can ruin a talented person. A good creative doesn’t mean a good creative director...and that scenario works it’s way upward as well. You gotta be ambitious, sneaky, a great interview AND be able to handle stress welll.

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CCOs need to understand creativity, they need to have a track record of great well-known work to deserve the position in the first place. Which is far from being the case in so many agencies. CCOs who made their way up thanks to politic or relationships alone are the worst that can happen to a business.

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A great CCO knows how to play politics but ultimately makes it their business to know where the creative opportunities are with clients. And then making sure the best creative leads and creatives are on those pieces of business. Also has to make sure the PR team is the best in the game.

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likesmart
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Amen to the PR team comment

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My bad CCO experience: At my last agency. They only lasted a year and we ended up letting them go. We were 0-20 for new biz - won nothing but claimed they knew all of these clients that we were definitely going to win business from. Sat us down one time and said that we don’t work enough hours. Which would be fine if we actually had work to do but, given the no new business, we were very slow. I’m not the kind of person to stay late just to be there, happy to if there’s actually work to do. They also said inappropriate things about employees/former employees. Their favoritism was THROUGH the roof. Was always on new biz before they started, once they did, it was the same teams on every pitch. They were trash and it’s very clear when you have a bad CCO. Lost about 7 creatives in a small agency within 6 months because of shitty leadership.

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A good CCO doesn’t come in, say everything you’re doing is wrong, get on a soapbox and say the whole biz is being reinvented and we must reinvent too, disrupt the entire dept, alienate the people who do the day to day work, lose biz, be forced to lay off established veterans, then bail for another gig barely a year later.

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As a designer designer I’m glad people are understanding what designers can bring to the table. It’s not there yet, but the conversation is happening.

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Sure, a great CCO needs to be a great creative and know how to run a department, mentor juniors, etc. but they also need to understand the actual business and have basic financial acumen. So many brilliant creative minds have zero business sense and ultimately fail their agencies because of it. 

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Incredible book with tons of valuable insights on what makes a great CCO and nurturing a creative culture. Worth a read! https://www.amazon.com/Great-Work-Without-Being-Asshole/dp/1786273918

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A good CCO should first and foremost have a series of stellar work. Then they could be trusted by everyone. They can’t just be a nice person to be around with or able to “inspire” if they don’t have some big famous work under their belt. So next time you work for one, find out what they’ve done. Otherwise clearly they are still faking it to make it.

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Yes break it down for us.

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