'You really have to care more about the process than the outcome': Erwin Penland's John Cornette on what it takes to be a great creative

The Drum recently caught up with John Cornette, EVP and executive creative director at South Carolina-based Erwin Penland, to find out what he thinks it takes to be a great creative.

Cornette, who is based at Erwin Penland’s New York office, thinks that great creatives are the ones that more interested in the process of creating a campaign than in the final result.

“I think it comes down to almost having a little bit of a safecracker’s mentality about you and wanting to solve problems passionately,” he said.

He also said he thinks that successful creatives tend to treat their ideas like a “rapidly renewable resource,” meaning that can quickly come up with new or evolved ideas if their previous ones weren’t working out for whatever reason.

“Growing up, I hated math because there was a single finite answer. I think the best creatives sort of revel in the fact that this is a business where there’s tons of good answers,” he said. “Maybe there’s a few really excellent answers, but there’s definitely more than a handful of really, really good answers, and that’s why this is fun.”

Before joining Erwin Penland in 2013, Cornette served as executive creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi in New York. Throughout his career, he’s also worked at BBDO, JWT and R/GA. In his current role, he works with brands including Denny’s, L.L. Bean and Lenovo.

His full interview with The Drum can be viewed above. Find out what Jack Morton's chief creative officer Bruce Henderson said when we asked him what it takes to be a great creative.

Minda Smiley

Minda Smiley is a reporter at The Drum covering creativity and advertising. Based in Philadelphia, she primarily covers independent agencies and B2B marketing. She also oversees The Drum’s “Independent Influence,” a weekly series that spotlights the work, perspectives and inspirations behind independent agencies. During her time at The Drum, she has covered industry events including SXSW, ANA Masters of Marketing, 4A’s Transformation and C2 Montréal. She is a graduate of the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism.

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