How to Escape Meaningless Work

“How do you build a studio? There isn’t a map. I think the trick is to keep your eyes open, seek opportunities, execute really, really well, and find your own path.”
—Josh Goldblum

We’re excited to share Bluecadet Founder and CEO Josh Goldblum’s sold out talk at CreativeMornings PHL, which took place on October 13, 2017. Titled “How to Escape Meaningless Work,” his talk provides insight into how to build a thriving creative agency.

CreativeMornings is a global lecture series for the creative community and has included speakers such as Michael Bierut, Tina Roth Eisenberg, and Seth Godin.

You can check out a short video excerpt and edited transcript below, or head over to CreativeMornings for the full-length version.

Josh Goldblum:

We managed to go from doing microsites to doing a range of these different types of products and things. And obviously, a lot of these things have to do with building a team and building capabilities—it’s a long pivoting road—but I wanted to take you through how I think about them.

This is sort of the Venn diagram of Bluecadet. We have amazing content, viable budget, and moves the studio forward. A lot of times, we’ll spend most of our time in this sort of space: It’s a viable budget, it has amazing content and maybe it moves the studio forward but in kind of an iterative way. And then sometimes you sit there and you say: Well, we have to stay pretty true to who we are. This is very intentional, this amazing content thing. If we neglect that, we lose the heart and core of what makes the studio unique and you lose the culture.

This is a different way of looking at it. Here is high opportunity, no opportunity, low-potential profit, high-potential profit. Up here again, is that sort of unicorn land,  this is where we’d love to be and I think from the outside it totally looks like we’re there all the time — you know and you’re like “Bluecadet gets all this great work!” or maybe you don’t say that, I don’t know (laughter) I don’t know what you think!  But, I think we get great work.

This, right here, low-potential profit, high opportunity. We’ve done a bunch of these. Here’s the thing — this right here, we did one a couple years ago and it was an amazing opportunity. It almost put the studio out of business. Because low potential profit is actually a little bit of a nice way of putting it—because it could also mean catastrophic loss.

And this right here, I call this the “Gilded Cage.” No opportunity, high-potential profit. And I meet a lot of people who are creatives who just find themselves here, they want to be up here but they’re here and they’re like: “Let’s start a labs department,” and then they’re back here. And honestly, I pass no judgement, you know, sometimes I wish I could be a person who lives here all the time.

This right here is just stupid. If you find yourself here, work on your systems, get some Post-It Notes, figure some things out. You’re doing something wrong.

And then right here is actually a lot of what I’ve been trying to explore recently, which is we’ve been doing a lot of strategy projects and we’ll try to engage them and say: “Okay, don’t pay us everything up front. Give us a little bit of money, let’s feel it out a little bit.” 

I kind of promised you a little bit of a map: “How do you get there? I’m sitting here with my desk, my computer and my software. How do you build a studio?” There isn’t a map. I think the trick is to keep your eyes open, seek opportunities, execute really, really well, and find your own path. I believe you guys can. Thank you.