LA-born George Gottl is the Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder of UXUS, a leading global strategic design consultancy. But it’s so much more than that. When Gottl and his team are working with a client they are cultivating a one-of-a-kind experience.
George and the UXUS team have created innovative consumer experience solutions for clients such as McDonald’s, NIKE, InterContinental Hotels Group, Tate Modern and Bloomingdale’s Dubai.
When George takes on a project, he starts by diving into the psychology of the customer. And it’s this understanding of mindset that allows him to operate at such a unique level.
Let’s get to know him, shall we?
Tell us a bit about your role! Is there a “typical” day?
I am Chief Creative officer at UXUS and for me there is no typical day, everyday varies including different challenges and responsibilities. It is my job to ensure the creative integrity is maintained, always guiding the team towards the end goal. I personally decided to step down from CEO to focus on the things that I enjoyed when I first started UXUS.
What was the biggest challenge in getting to your current position?
There were no real challenges as I was able to choose what I wanted as the founder, however finding someone to take on the CEO role was something I found difficult handing over as I needed someone I could trust, which I found in Queenie Lo..
What is your personal background and what role did it play in your career?
I personally grew up as an outsider in California, I never really felt like I fit in until I moved to Europe back in 1998. Moving here was a whole revelation for me as I consider myself a global citizen.
Working at Nike gave me a greater understanding of consumerism and what it took working in a market where the turnover is extremely quick while spotting key industry trends. This was a huge asset to UXUS as I was able to spot trends within consumer behaviour.
What is your biggest career-related win? What is your biggest loss?
My biggest career-related win was opening UXUS, it has given me endless opportunities allowing me to work in different places giving me more freedom, creativity and insight into the sector.
Despite having its challenges when I started the business 20 years ago, like many new businesses, I am grateful I started it when I did as the world is a very different place now to what it was back then. I never look at things as ‘losses’, rather lessons because it allows us to see how we can do something different next time.
Which individuals and/or agencies do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?
I don’t look at other agencies for inspiration, I focus on our work and give 110% to everything we do. I admire individuals that are savvy with pinpointing consumer mindset, an example that comes to mind is Balenciaga – they understand how to navigate in a fast-paced market while revolutionising a brand that appeals to the younger generation.
If you could go back to your teenage years, would you have done things differently? Do you have any regrets?
I have no regrets, I was unhappy when I was growing up which is what gave me strength in my adult life pushing me to be successful. If I could give one bit of advice to my younger self, it would be don’t worry, what you are going through is part of the growth.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
I have had 3 careers, so I am extremely flexible and can adapt myself well - I am very happy with what I am doing at the moment.
What’s your one big dream for the future of the industry?
It is important to look at how we can reinvent the industry and keep up with consumers. They dictate what we as designers need to provide and consider, which is exciting as it encourages the industry to keep an open mind and take on new challenges that can better not only experiences but outputs.
What are your top tips for aspiring creative professionals?
Inspiration comes from the most unlikely of places, so look outside of what you are already doing, try to observe different things and make connections with things that aren’t necessarily obvious. Don’t be afraid to reinvent yourself!
What are your top tips for other creative leaders?
Things are constantly changing; I belong to a different generation, so it is important to have empathy and understanding when people have different opinions and values. Their reason to work is very different these days to how it used to be. Understanding mindset is important.
When you think about your team, what is the thing that matters to you the most?
I am extremely proud of my team, many started as interns and it is great to be able to help them develop and progress in their careers.
Do you have any websites, books or resources you would recommend?
I read 4 different newspapers a day in order to stay up to date with key industry trends, it is vital to understand what is happening within your industry.