Bob Guccione, Jr. says fostering confidence among employees cultures creativity
Guccione: That’s a great question. Part of it is blind luck. By the way, part of everything is blind luck. You know, really, you can just rewind everything we said in this interview, you can have blind luck. Certainly, in my career, I’ve been incredibly lucky. I always say I wasn’t as good as Spin made me look or wasn’t as bad as Gear made me look when it failed. I had a lot of great luck with Spin as well as some good hard work and some good instinct. So, you know, I think luck is important even in creativity, because people walk in the door, and if they like it, they will call their friends and they’ll walk in the door. You know, sometimes you meet somebody randomly and you said, “Why won’t you try writing for me?” or “How would you like to be a photographer for me?” You know, it happens. The environment though to sustain the atmosphere of creativity is you have to have the balls to risk doing something edgy and having it fail. I used to say to all my photographers who came to work for me, you know, I said, “I love your portfolio. Take pictures that you would put in your portfolio. Do not give me middle of the road, average photography that you think is safe, so I’ll hire you again. I’m telling you that three assignments, I don’t care if the first two are crap but you still got a third.” So [when their] confidence go out and take your pictures because that’s the voice I want in the magazine. I said to my writers the same thing. Don’t give me a safe middle of the road piece. Give me an edgy piece. Find the truth. The truth may not be pleasant, we’ll publish it either way if it’s true. But go out there in the confidence and I’m still going to hire you unless you steal from us, then I’m not going to hire you, and that happen. But, you know, basically, one has to foster a confidence amongst ones creative people. There’s nobody less creative, I mean, less confident in creative people and I say that to myself when I’m writing, less confident to anybody on the planet, I’m sure. But, you must foster confidence. People must feel they can actually go and be artists for you. Now, lot of editors and publishers don’t want artistry. They want straightforward industrial views of product as to fill the space. Don’t upset your advertisers. A complaint I have about Conde Nast is that they are more concerned about not upsetting their advertisers than they are about delivering edgy pieces. You know, then we feel... Well, of course, deliver great pieces and sell in New York, those are two exemptions. But you have to foster confidence that people can go out and actually reach the brass ring in each assignment and then you get credibility and that begets other creativity.