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Cultivating Lifelong Creativity: A Conversation with Tim Strube

Tim Strube

What does it take to maintain your creative energy as your career matures? That question remains front and center in the mind of Tim Strube, Creative Director and Founder of Sequence Creative and Sequence Media.

Tim’s career was initially inspired by his childhood adoration of movies and storytelling, from Spielberg to Goosebumps books. But after moving to Los Angeles to attend film school and become a “big Hollywood director,” Tim discovered that his passions spanned more than just film, from design and technology to marketing and activism. And it’s those wide-ranging interests that’s led him along a path of everything from live TV and feature films to broadcast ads and branded content, using storytelling and emotionally-driven aesthetics to guide the way.

On the surface, Tim’s young age is what sets him apart from others leading the charge in entertainment marketing. But deeper than that, his emphasis on cultivating healthy working environments alongside a culture of high creative standards is what truly distinguishes him from others in his industry.

Tim has a firm belief that people can both create great work and also lead a meaningful fulfilling life full of friends, family, and love. He believes that there’s often too much focus on “cracking the whip” and keeping people busy for the sake of maximizing productivity. Instead, he advocates for a more understanding, empathetic approach to collaborating with artists and clients. In other words, you don’t need to sacrifice your well-being or be cruel to others in order to create unforgettable work or successful products.

He likes to echo the words of Paul Rogers, recent Academy Award-winning editor of A24’s Everything, Everywhere, All At Once: “There’s a problem in our industry that the more you kill yourself for a movie, the braver you are and that’s bullshit. We can do our jobs and we can live our lives, and the more fully we can live our lives… the better we can do our jobs.”

One of Tim’s most formative moments in his career was being given some brutally honest wisdom from a producer when he was a young production assistant in live TV. After demonstrating his naïveté with a team-wide email, an experienced producer pulled Tim aside and gave him some tough love and honesty about how to work in a collaborative team environment. The producer was frank, and to-the-point and he essentially told Tim to think about others on the team, and not just the task at hand. Sometimes, he said, being right about something doesn’t matter so much as treating your teammates with respect. It’s a lesson that’s stuck with Tim to this day.

Over the years, Tim has developed a firm belief in aging gracefully, especially as it relates to creative fields. A lot of creatives fall into two buckets as they age: either they become hostile to new ideas and close themselves off from anything new or unfamiliar that may upset or alter their worldview, or they desperately try to cling to relevance by chasing any and every trend or hot new thing. Instead, Tim sees it as important to balance one’s wisdom with the drive to be a conscious, lifelong learner, forever maintaining an open mind and spirit of exploratory curiosity. “Just because someone told you ‘that’s the way it’s always been done’, doesn’t mean that’s the right way to do it,” he says. At the same time, “just because something is new and suddenly popular, doesn’t mean it’ll make a long-term impact.” The key, he says, is to “be thoughtful, knowledgeable, and deliberate in prioritizing the need for hard inquiry over the desire for easy answers.”

Tim’s advice to most creatives in this regard is to not over-focus on their own field or the concept of specialization. New ideas and inspiration can strike from anywhere, and sometimes putting on the hat of a generalist can lead to discovering solutions and ideas you didn’t know existed. In his mind, everyone should embrace the discomfort of not knowing and the exciting possibility of finding something where you least expect it. If you’re stuck, he says, don’t bang your head against the wall or re-read, re-watch, or re-look at what you’re working on. Step away. Take a walk. Do something that has absolutely nothing to do with the task at hand. Instead of chasing the idea or the solution, let it come to you. And instead of thinking you know everything there is to know, remain open to the fact that there’s always more to learn and room to grow.

Tim’s unique perspective on cultivating both a healthy working environment and a culture of high standards is something that should be emulated by all industries, creative or not. And at the end of the day, his advice to remain a lifelong learner can be heeded by anyone in order to grow in their respective field. “When we’re young, we all have this habit of asking questions. I mean, everyone knows the toddler that incessantly asks, ‘why?’ about everything they can. But for whatever reason, most of us grow out of that and insist we have all the answers, when that’s anything but the case. In my mind, whether in work or in life, it’s important to never lose touch with this child-like curiosity, and the humility to accept that ultimately, we all know very little.”

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