Why passion trumps talent - With Global CCO Matt Eastwood

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You'd be surprised how many doors just being naturally curious can open for you. Curiosity and passion can push you farther than any creative director ever could. Proof of that be the journey and ventures of McCann Health Global Chief Creative Officer, Matt Eastwood.

Matt was the Global Creative Director of J. Walter Thompson when he started becoming more and more interested in health. His endless curiosity led him to receive an opportunity by Rob Reilly at McCann, and Matt has been there ever since. His passion was all he needed to get this far – learning things every day, and not being afraid to ask a dumb question.

A passionate interior designer and a lover of dirty martinis at the end of a busy week, we like to imagine Matt just like he described himself: unwinding in a beautiful lake house, while he thinks of the next adventure for a team he deeply cares about.

Today we are Getting to Know one of our four 2020 Influencers of the Year, a driven leader who believes passion will always win over talent.


Tell us about your current role!

I am Global Chief Creative Officer of McCann Health. We are probably the most awarded agency network in the world. Currently, we are Cannes Health Network of the Year, Agency of the Year (Shanghai) and winner of the Cannes Pharma Grand Prix.


How did you get to your current position? What was the biggest challenge?

Previously, I was Global Creative Director of J. Walter Thompson. During my time there I was becoming more and more interested in health, so when Rob Reilly approached me about the role at McCann Health it seemed like the perfect opportunity to dive in. The biggest challenge has been learning the language of health. But, I am a curious person by nature, so it’s actually a lot of fun to feel like I’m learning new things every day. And I’m never afraid to be the dumbest person in the room.


What is your personal background and what role did it play in your career?

I grew up in one of the most isolated cities in the world, Perth, Western Australia. As I started to venture out across the planet (Melbourne, Sydney, London, New York) I always felt like I had a lot to prove. I guess you could call it underdog syndrome. But it gave me the desire to push myself harder than any creative director would ever push me.


If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

I’m a passionate interior designer. I’ve designed several of my own homes, which have all been featured in various magazines. So, I have no doubt I would be an Interior Architect. My husband and I actually have a furniture company, Gestalt New York, which he runs full time.


How has COVID-19 affected you as a leader?

This pandemic has made it more important than ever to be visible as a leader. It’s made frequent check-ins more important. It’s made the emotional side of leadership more important than ever. It’s made connecting more important than ever.

What is your one advice to aspiring creatives looking to be successful?

Passion trumps talent. Sure, you need talent. But it is your passion that will ultimately set you up for success. Never look at someone and think, “they are more talented than me.” Simply look at yourself and think about applying your passion in a way that no one else can.


How do you recharge away from the office?

We have a lake house in upstate New York that is my ultimate happy place. Unwinding on the dock with a dirty martini at the end of a busy day really helps me relax and recharge. Luckily, we’ve actually been living here since the pandemic began.

What’s your one big dream for the future of the industry?

My belief is that this pandemic has redefined the geographic needs of agencies and talent. We’ve realised that we no longer need really to be located in the city where the office is located. That has really opened up the world of global talent. 


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