This month we would like to introduce you to a special client at The First Ward. When Wendy comes in for a haircut it always seems to end with us siting in a circle bouncing a thousand ideas around and feeling like we can take over the world. Wendy has worked on Broadway, in television and film production, and as a Walt Disney Imagineer (!) After a circuitous journey, Wendy now calls Tulsa home and we are so glad she does. Jessica did a quick interview with Wendy so that we can share with you some of the creative fuel that she gives when she comes to see us.
Jessica: When you're in for an appointment, I love that we talk about so many types of projects. How do you know if an Idea is any good?
Wendy: I like to bounce ideas off of a variety of people with different interests. When an idea gets a positive response from a large percentage of folks… I feel better about it’s success to speak to enough of an audience to make it worth the effort. I also like to talk about a variety of ideas in the hopes that those “mini brainstorms” might connect the ideas in ways that I can’t see on my own. With all that said, I do think it is equally important to fail, just fail small and early. So if I’m really passionate about an idea, I might put together a mini version to “play-test". Play-testing is something we did at Imagineering quite a lot. We would work on a project/new technology or creative idea for about 6 months to a year, then invite a limited audience to view it and give us honest feedback. The honest feedback part is really important, we didn't allow ourselves to “fall in love” with any idea. We believed to be truly collaborative the idea must still be malleable, it must be able to change and form into a better idea or you are wasting valuable collaboration time.
J: Where do you go in Oklahoma when you are looking for some inspiration?
W: I like to go to the coffee shops around town. I feel a certain entrepreneurial energy there. There are all these folks either meeting for the first time or working on a project… sipping coffee and sharing. There is a certain excitement and optimism in the air. I also, love my office area. We have a co working environment in the Kendall Whittier area and the feeling there is very inspiring for me. It reminds me of some small areas of New York before they got discovered. Artists and Innovators can afford to be there, so some really cool stuff is being created behind those walls. It’s a little forgotten and undiscovered… so the canvas is ours.
J: How is the creative process working here different than it was while working with Disney?
W: With Disney each of us was a specialist in our own area, so we had many people on projects and would work on many projects at the same time. I would have up to 30 projects I was working on at one time. On my own, I need to wear a lot more hats, which I enjoy. It has allowed me to be a student again and learn some new skills.
I try to model my creative process off of what I learned at Disney and what Ed Catmull taught us from Pixar. Couple of important points that I try and remind myself of when working are: (1) It’s important to fail (2) Development and creative follow a process, but you can get out of order sometimes and that’s okay, just get back to the process as soon as possible to make it to the end. But remember that getting the process right is not the goal, getting the idea or product right is. (3) Address all problems and challenges when they come up, don’t push them to the side or deal with them later. (4) No one person on the team should have more authority than the rest, I believe in a true collaboration that all folks must feel like their voice is heard and valued. If someone or group of folks is controlling too much of the idea then the idea suffers. (5) Do post mortems right away - 5 Good and 5 Bad. (6) Lastly, do the hard stuff first, then the rest of your day can be less stressful.
J: You know I'm a major Disney nerd. How can I get my other dream job as an Imagineer?
W: I would say, studying engineering in school and apply. I am always encouraging students to pick Engineering…. I know so many smart folks with theater backgrounds and engineering educations that are doing amazing things at Disney…. Imagineering is always looking for smart folks… it’s never too late.