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5 Things I Learned While Working At CreativeLive

by Kelsey Graves
creativity

5 Things I Learned While Working at CreativeLive

It’s tough to start out a piece like this, because like all things: it has an ending.

My name is Kelsey Graves and I am–and soon will be was—a line producer at CreativeLive. Line producers are the ones who run the show from behind the scenes. We are the ones who work on the prep and logistics, run the floor during a live broadcast, and wrap the production budget.

It’s rewarding because you get to touch the project from beginning to end while balancing expectations throughout the process. As with all jobs, there have been major learning experiences in this role and I humbly appreciate every single one of them, as they will carry on with me well after my departure.

Here are a few of my biggest takeaways from my experience at CreativeLive.

1. Screwing up is okay, as long as you learn from it.

We’re all human. We’re prone to screwing up, but it’s how you fix your mistakes that goes on to define your capability in your role. As a person who learns through trial by fire, CreativeLive gave me many opportunities to fix, grow, and learn in my role. I’ll spare the horror stories of the many mistakes I made in my job, but it’s what I learned from CL that made me a stronger producer today.

In the end, the secret ingredient to recover from failure is: a solid team. Working in production gave me the chance to work with an exceptional crew from all backgrounds. They all pitched in to pull me back up, put me on my feet, and dust off my shoulders. We would talk about the screw ups, own them, make new strategies, and let go of the mistake quickly. The same issue would rarely be made again after using this technique and we would move forward stronger than before.

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One of my first large-scale photo workshops at CreativeLive. I made a lot of mistakes, but had a kick butt content producer to help me along the way. Photo: Kelsey Graves

2. You are capable of things you never thought you would be good at.

One could say that I took one of the furthest trajectories away from the hard sciences (aka the math world) and graduated with a degree in creative writing.

When I stepped into this LP role, it would involve a heavy focus on budgets—a lot of accounting, numbers, and dare I say: math. At first, using the producer’s budget system was a nightmare and finding out where things went took longer than it should have, but once the system was figured out, over time, I gained confidence in the tasks I dreaded most.

The best part is, the development is at a comfortable pace and while you are learning, you are also picking up other tips and tricks to help you out along the way. In the end, your skills are honed, and you are now a budget-enthusiast, which is something I would have never thought I’d become.

3. Turning off your email is important in order to be objective.

This may seem trite and the complete opposite of what you should be praising about your work, but hear me out.

CreativeLive is very accommodating to your personal schedule as long as you have a good grip on your current workload. I cannot stress enough how thankful I am to have had a community of like-minded, wanderlust-infused folks to work with who shared the same temperament of how to treat work.

The first encouraged step, and the most important one, is turning off. I am an out and proud workaholic. I checked my email many times while traveling Europe, making arrangements in Switzerland, working on a budget in Germany; it wasn’t until I had a slap on the wrist from the executive producer who told me: “no, you are on vacation, do not respond to your emails,” that I finally turned off. It was that permissive comment that made the knots in my shoulders slightly undo themselves and taught me that stepping away from the devices, sometimes even your work, is necessary to elicit objective thinking.

It’s difficult to be objective and see your project from a 40,000ft view when you are in the trenches and can barely see at eye level from all the other distractions going on. You have your team to pick up the remnants of information you may need when you get back, so, the world will not end if you do not answer an email or two within a day.

4. Delegating tasks is the best thing since sliced bread.

Even in a great community, there are clashes of personalities, mine included, but when you are working towards a common goal, put your ego aside and look for the strengths your co-workers possess that you may lack.

I remember having a few classes where I felt I needed to horde all of the information for one reason or another—keeping everything close to the chest—but after some screw ups, a few candid conversations, and a genuine apology, you realize that your team is there to help you. The individuals in your team can do things that you can’t.

Trust them and let that control go! In the workplace it is important to delegate specific tasks to specific people, because in the end it streamlines the workflow ten-fold, and your looming worries melt away.

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The end of the West Coast Bus Tour, a huge and innovative undertaking by the CreativeLive crew. Everyone had their specific tasks and it helped make this complicated shoot seamless. Photo: CreativeLive

5. Be creative.

I think this was the most important lesson I have learned while working here. I’ve always considered myself a “creative” but the older I get, and the more experiences I have, the word creative takes on new forms.

It’s not necessarily how well you can draw, take a picture, or produce a song; to be creative here (and from here on out in my life) means you incorporate your personality into your work to own it. Being creative is having ownership of your own expressions. This is an important distinction from creating things for the sake of making an end product.

You own your process of creating, not just the end result. As a producer, I have come to appreciate the process it takes to get something done, the people that help that expression thrive, and in the end, I’m proud of the journey with a great product as a bonus.

In the end…

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Brene Brown wrote this in my journal after an interview with Chase Jarvis about how failure and authenticity can unlock your creativity. Create bravely. Photo: Kelsey Graves

The last year and a half at this company has been an awesome ride.

I’ve encountered great people, amazing instructors, and of course, incredible adventures.

My time here has prepared me to take on bigger challenges, bigger adventures, and the desire to learn what is out there in the great unknown.

CreativeLive fosters self-worth, appreciation of the creative-spirit, and encouragement to learn in your own way, and I could not be more appreciative of those who make this company what it is: inspired.

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Kelsey Graves

Kelsey Graves is a writer, motorcycle enthusiast, and a producer based in Seattle, WA.