Unlocking the power of creativity: Insights from Jonathan Pease

With a diverse career spanning across creative industries, University of Sydney alumnus, Jonathan Pease (MBus ’10) shares his insights into maximising your creativity with the Sydney Alumni Community Network.
Jonathan Pease standing in front of a cream brick wall. He is wearing a white shirt and black jeans, with dark brown hair that falls past his ears. He is looking into the camera.

Jonathan Pease undertook a Master of Business to help him bridge the gap between creativity and commerce.

With a professional background in marketing and creative direction, Jonathan Pease has always been clear on his desire to combine creativity with business acumen. Throughout his career, he represented global brands like Nike, Disney, Coca-Cola, and Chanel before making the leap into his own ventures. He is the co-founder of Delorean Partners, a creative consultancy business, the author and founder of ‘Winning the Room’, publisher of Oyster magazine and the Chief Creative Officer at charity, We Are Unity. Oh, and he directs his own short films.

This wealth of experience has earned him a reputation as an innovator and out-of-box-thinker. As part of our ‘Ask Me Anything’ alumni series, members of the Sydney Alumni Community asked Jonathan about creativity, career development and the art of finding a niche. Here, we’ve summarised some of his best tips.

Crafting compelling content

In a crowded attention economy, professionals are often tasked with ‘creating engaging content’. Knowing where to go from there is a separate question entirely. With this in mind, an alum asked, “Where do you start?”

For Jonathan, this is the question.

“The best piece of advice I ever received on this subject was to make content for myself, not for an audience, not for an investor, not for a publisher. Trying to second guess what other people want or like or dislike is a road to doing nothing!” he says.

The key to being satisfied with what you create is authenticity, according to Jonathan. Ask yourself what type of content you like? Once you know what you want to see, you can start to create. Jonathan suggests starting with volume, generating as many ideas as possible and putting them out into the world. When you engage authentically with your creative output, the content will find an audience.

Navigating career development

Jonathan describes his career as a “random patchwork”, having applied his creative sensibilities to business problems for everyone from Coca-Cola to Chanel. He credits his diverse career with having a clear vision of what he would like to achieve – doing creative things that resulted in commercial outcomes. One alum pursuing a marketing career asked, “Between a candidate who excels in one field and a candidate who has broad skills at a surface level, who would you be more likely to hire?”

Jonathan advocates for specialisation.

“Candidates need to come into job interviews with a strong point of view. Explaining what you can’t do while demonstrating what you’re an expert in would be a fresh approach,” he says.

For recent graduates who might be new to the industry, he recommends developing a point of view through experimentation and learning by doing. Once again, it comes back to authenticity.

“The key is to see through the noise of options and information, and find something that actually moves you,” he says.

Cover of the book 'Winning the Room' featuring a green rectangle and a white face in profile. There is black font on the cover which reads 'Road-tested by thousands of executives around the world. Winning the room. Public speaking skills for unfortgetting storytelling by Jonathan Pease, creator of the Winning the Room method"

Jonathan’s book Winning the Room is available now through Booktopia.

Delivering the perfect speech

Though public speaking is a common fear, it is also a regular part of professional life for many. On Jonathan’s LinkedIn profile he describes himself as ‘obsessed with the art of pitching’. This obsession led him to develop ‘Winning the Room’, an executive training program aimed at developing attendees’ presentation skills.

Acknowledging Jonathan’s extensive experience, an alum asked, “What do you think drives an effective presentation?”

The most important factor, according to Jonathan, is the understanding that audiences are not obligated to engage with the speaker. Rather, it’s a nuanced relationship that is more akin to a trade. Generosity is key.

“Many pages in my book are dedicated to the word ‘generous'”, he says. “An excellent presentation is filled with generosity and sharing; the pursuit of adding value; and spontaneity and chance (like a successful experiment).” In response to another alum’s question about his personal preparation for a speaking gig, Jonathan offers the following tips:

  1. Get physical – Jonathan makes sure he moves or exercises in the lead up to a speaking engagement. “I’m often seen limbering up backstage or in executive lobbies.”
  2. Decide on a tone – According to Jonathan, the tone you set for the room should be a conscious decision that is informed by what you know about your audience and the desired outcome. “To be clear, this isn’t about what you’re going to say, or even your content. It’s about the feeling you’re going to create in the room.”
  3. Positive self-talk – Jonathan recommends getting into detail about what a great outcome for your speech looks like and how you’ll achieve it. “Talk to yourself and your team in positive terms… I’m always shocked by how much negative dialogue [people] have with themselves as they prepare for a presentation.”

The ‘Ask Me Anything’ alumni series is designed to unlock the Sydney Alumni Community, bringing together esteemed alumni and industry leaders to share their expertise and insights via the Sydney Alumni Community Network on LinkedIn. Join today.

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