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Create your own ‘cool place to work’

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

Dan Wieden launched his advertising career in the basement of a union hall in Portland, Ore., with nothing more than a pay phone and a borrowed typewriter, on which he tapped out a slogan: “Just do it.”

White-hot creative agencies usually cool off after a few years, but Wieden + Kennedy last year raked in about $873 million worth of media billings for advertising. W+K has kept its edge through wisecracks and hipness, but also because Wieden takes some pains to keep talented creative people at his headquarters in Portland, which is not exactly an advertising mecca.

What does he do? What any leader can try, especially if you’re in a creative industry:
  • Wieden + Kennedy regularly hosts artists-in-residence so the staff can draw on their ideas and enthusiasm.
  • Wieden encourages—and sometimes underwrites—his staff’s extracurricular creative projects, including films, books and plays. It’s not charity. “I want people outside to think, ‘Geez, that would be a cool place to work,’” Wieden says. “And I want the people already here to have a creative outlet, so they won’t leave and go off to Hollywood.”
— Adapted from “Entrepreneurs we love … because he’s a true independent,” Warren Berger, Inc.

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