"Mistakes have always been my best friend."
We've talked at length about how stepping out of your comfort zone is one of the best ways to stimulate creativity. Playing safe isn't always the best option, and it is sometimes necessary to take risks in order to succeed and excel in what you do. Easier said than done, of course.
But Manabu Kudo, strategic planner at Havas Japan, has embraced mistakes as part of his life since he started playing football in his early years. Havas aims to make a difference and help its clients make it too – something you clearly can't do by playing safe. And so, Manabu often chooses to dive into chaos, challenging that stability that is the worst enemy of creativity.
Today we are Getting to Know a talented strategist and a great creative leader, shortlisted as one of the Top Creative Industry Influencers of the Year for Annual 2020.
Tell us about your current role!
I am currently working at Havas Japan as Strategic Planner to make a meaningful difference to clients.
Havas aims to make a meaningful difference to brands, businesses and people. Every day I keep this mission in mind as I build my clients’ Meaningful Role across cultures, people, industry conventions, and the strength of the brands.
One of the most exciting moments of my work is to see how our Meaningful Role turns into the clients' growth driver.
How did you get to your current position? What was the biggest challenge?
Stay open-minded and curious. Think outside the box. Keep learning.
Stability easily spoils me. So I always choose to dive into chaos, because there are lots of challenges about why, what and how. Making strategy is to think the best way to fight and the best way always comes from knowing something new.
Being a part of the Havas group allows me to work in both global and domestic projects, which gives me various points of view and fresh knowledge.
What is your personal background and what role did it play in your career?
I started playing football at the age of five and continued to play at university while studying science as my major. Since then, mistakes have always been my close friend.
Mistakes won't come from nothing. I believe mistakes are proof that I am trying, so I appreciate them in positive way no matter what the results are and try to learn from them as much as possible, to have success tomorrow.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
Zoologist. My interest in wild animals and insects definitely developed my curiosity when I was little boy. Reading Seton and Darwin, or watching BBC Earth, Animal Planet and National Geography are still my favourite pasttime on weekends.
What’s your secret to keeping the team inspired and motivated?
Encourage team members and even myself to be open-minded. Everything goes smoothly in good times, but when the team is stuck in a certain tension, people need new inspiration and motivation.
I believe my responsibility as a leader is to convert the tension into a chance by inspiring and motivating the team, and elevating them to the next level.
How has COVID-19 affected you as a leader?
The Covid-19 crisis has had a huge impact on the creative industries. Simply, it changed many things and also revealed what is really important and what is not. During these uncertain times, more than ever, I am feeling a sense of commitment for leading and inspiring teams to build truly creative and meaningful roles for clients that will work persistently, not provisionally.
What is your one advice to aspiring creatives looking to be successful?
I myself am not successful yet. Let's be successful together. Let's be creative and let's not stick to industry conventions. Keep asking yourself why you work and what you can bring to the work.
How do you recharge away from the office?
Movies give me great energy and inspiration. While I enjoy Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, I still like going to a movie theatre to immerse myself in the huge screen and sounds.
What’s your one big dream for the future of the industry?
Creative can play a more meaningful role in our whole society, not only as a business driver.
As an industry filled with such brilliant people, I would keep working on the redefinition of advertisement, contents and media.