Michael O'Neill
Sep 20, 2011

Todd Sampson: Balancing creativity and fear

In his session at Spikes Asia 2011, Leo Burnett Australia's Sampson argued that creativity is the last remaining competitive advantage that companies have at their disposal today

Todd Sampson: Balancing creativity and fear

Todd Sampson, CEO of Leo Burnett Australia, began his session with a bold and provocative statement, arguing that creativity is the last remaining competitive advantage that companies have at their disposal today.

Sampson used the Leo Burnett ‘Earth Hour’ campaign for WFF as an example of how creativity can solve any problem, be it political, personal or environmental. He also highlighted various approaches to creative problem solving, including Pizza Hut’s opening of a virtual store in the EverQuest online game, Mattel’s opening up of the accessories market for its Barbie brand and Canadian legislature’s attempts to lessen factory pollution in its rivers.

But as much as creativity  solve problems, Sampson said that this is often negated by a culture of fear – fear of the unknown, fear of failure and fear of looking bad. “Fear in your heart and in your organization undeniably has the power to damage,” he said.

The key, Sampson said, was to learn how to balance creativity and fear. The danger, though, is that organizations are not traditionally very good at being creative and resisting fear. "Fear keeps us small. Nothing happens without creative courage. We are all born with it but it gets knocked out of us.”

Sampson stressed the importance of being brave for five minutes more than everyone else. “The majority of people who make big decisions will err on the side of conservatism,” he said. “When faced with important decisions, are we able to be brave for five minutes longer than our competitor?”

Using the example of his own ascent of Mount Everest, he talked about how he learned the most important lesson in life: action. “In business, progress is more important than perfection,” he noted. “I had to deal with my fear and the thing that helped me overcome that was moving forward.”

This article is part of a collaboration with Campaign Asia-Pacific for our Spikes Asia 2011 coverage

Campaign India

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