John Jay of Wieden Kennedy + Creativity

John Jay of Wieden + Kennedy was recently named one of the most creative business people in 2011 by Fast Company. His position as W+K’s executive creative director takes him between all of the W+K offices in an effort to breed those cultures into the main headquarters in Portland.

In this video John Jay talks about his creative process. He takes a step back and approaches his interpretation of process from a wise view. What I’ve drawn mostly from this is that it’s about conversation. Most importantly it’s about listening to what people have to say and then taking that to make it relative and understandable to other people.

The last thing that I’ve drawn from this that I agree with is that you should always place yourself around people that you aspire to be. It’s really about surrounding yourself with positive energy. It sounds cheesy but it makes a world of difference.

The greatest thing we can offer is to be great listeners.

Also shared on Wanken

8 Comments Leave A Comment


Kyle says:

August 9, 2011 at 9:11 am

Really inspiring. Immediately changed my outlook towards clients. Would love to learn more from this man. He seems to be one to teach through doing.


Ryan says:

August 9, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Sorry but I’m really not all that impressed with what he said. I felt a little contrived and for the most part just common sense.


Shelby says:

August 9, 2011 at 7:30 pm


That’s a good thing. If this comes as common sense for you that is great. Unfortunately though it doesn’t come as common sense to everyone which is why I chose to share this one. It’s great to know that others are thinking much alike him.


TF says:

August 10, 2011 at 9:47 am

I am with John Jay on his point of listening to the client. Common sense that designers often forget or ignore.

But: “You don’t hire an architect to have his style imposed upon you.” Tell that to Frank Gehry, Frank Lloyd Wright, Arthur Erickson … “You don’t hire an agency to have their style imposed upon you.” Tell that to Paul Rand, Saul Bass, or even Paula Scher. Style is the product of one’s process. Every architect, agency has a process.

I think Jay’s statement sounds ideal but overlooks a key fact (and in my opinion strength) in design; that the imposing of style (even if this is a style of thinking rather than execution) is utterly unavoidable.


David Beasley says:

August 11, 2011 at 2:54 am

TF, I agree, but even the greats would listen to an interesting brief and be inspired to seek something new from what they’ve heard. That’s why they have variations on their so called styles, that their process evolves and becomes richer from stepping out of their preconceived notions and comfort zone. That is a true creative partnership.

Of course, there are other’s who let free will run just to have a “Gehry” or a “Bass” in their possession. And sometimes that process becomes a revolution, or is seen as just another more-of-the-same


d|| says:

August 11, 2011 at 8:49 pm

“Put yourself yourself in an unusual position, put yourself into unusual cultures where you don’t belong. Put yourself among people you don’t normally hang out with…or out of your comfort zone, culturally.”

This so describes what I strive to do.