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Why meetings kill creativity

Posted on Categories BrandonomicsTags

David Brady, CMO of the Houston Zoo, discusses with Robin why creativity needs to be organic and what that means for meetings.

Robin: Hello, and welcome to this edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at top brands and their marketing strategies. I am Robin Tooms, vice president of strategy at Savage and I’m here today with David Brady, chief marketing officer at the Houston Zoo. So David, welcome back.

David: Thanks, Robin. Glad to be here again.

Robin: Great. So last time you were here, you talked some about your creative process and how you stay edgy and creative in your business. But what I want to learn more today is how you actually do that. What barriers are you getting out of your way to do that?

David: Well, the most important one is meetings. Meetings kill creativity and it’s a simple mathematical equation. Have a meeting, no creativity. It’s gonna happen. So for me, I’ve done everything I can to eliminate meetings. When we do have meetings, they’re very structured and come in with an agenda – who needs to be there, why they’re gonna be there, what are we gonna have as the outcome of that meeting? So there is a place for meetings, but they’re very specific in what the goal is. Not to be creative. That’s not gonna work. So creativity to me has to be organic. It has to happen at the water cooler. It has to happen when I’m walking around with my Fun Go bat talking to my directors. Just going from office to office talking about things and hoping something sparks your creative moment.

Robin: Okay. So meetings kill creativity so what should we be doing instead?

David: You should be out. You should be out. For me, at the Houston Zoo, I walk the zoo. I go visit a different animal area. I see what our guests are looking at. But even if you’re not in a great environment like that, you can get out, talk to your coworkers, go out, drive and look at billboards. Go and read a paper at lunchtime. Do something that’s going to give you ideas and spark creativity that you might not have had from just sitting at your office or in your cubicle, looking at emails, talking on the phone and in a meeting, especially.

Robin: Yeah. So don’t be in meeting.

David: Don’t be in meetings.

Robin: Okay. Great. That’s great inspiration. Thank you for that tip so much, David. This has been another edition of Brandonomics. Stay tuned next week for another inside look at top brands and their marketing strategies.


The Houston Zoo provides housing, meals, medical care and education for more than 6,000 permanent resident animals. Its mission is to provide a fun, unique and inspirational experience fostering appreciation, knowledge and care for the natural world for each of their more than 1.84 million annual guests.

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