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March 7, 2016

Recap: Creative Mornings with Stephen Kertis

“Don’t Be An Asshole.”

That was the message during the most recent Creative Mornings: Louisville session held at the Henry Clay. While it may sound like a cheeky take on living life (because it is), keynote speaker, Stephen Kertis is serious about the message and his take on ethical design and business practices are surprisingly refreshing and comes with a delivery that leaves nothing to the imagination.

According to Kertis, ‘Don’t Be An Asshole’ is the foundation of building good and lasting business relationships and maintaining positive ethical standing. But if ‘Don’t Be An Asshole’ is the foundation of the Better Business House then Kertis’ other points are the walls, the roof and the BMW parked out front.

In the words of Method Man, “If you keep it real with me, I’ll keep it real with you!” Kertis —who began his career at PBS working as an Emmy winning producer on documentary projects before piloting Kertis Creative— says it really is that simple. But, he was nice enough to elaborate.

The big question is, aside from remaining charming and in-charge—how do you create products and processes you can be sure are ethically sound? On a very base level ethics is taking the high road when it comes to human interaction and the Golden Rule comes into play a lot here.

Think about it, if everyone takes the high road, no one is left in the mud. Here are Kertis’ observations on ethical business, and below is the video from session.

Be Empathetic. Don’t Exploit people.
“How do we ethically produce work when telling stories? Be empathetic and don’t exploit!”
Empathy is key to great storytelling. Make an effort and attempt to understand where your clients are coming from by putting yourself in their shoes—great stories don’t need embellishment.

Be Honest.
This is a big one because everyone makes mistakes sometimes but over time you are able to establish guidelines so you begin to make less and less of them.

Slow Down And Listen.
Slow down your work, when you rush there is the possibility of accidentally crossing ethical lines.

Aim for Accuracy.
Sometimes the cosmos align and you have a story that is both perfect and accurate. We spend so much time pursuing perfection that accuracy is lost in the flow of multiple iterations and translations of a project—sometimes intentionally but more than often not.

Trust Your Gut. Don’t Work for Evil People.
“There’s work you WANT to do, work you DON’T want to do, and work you WON’T do. The last is off limits.”
Divide your work into three categories and never compromise on the work you won’t do.

Don’t Fight With Other Creatives.
“Don’t fight with other creatives. We are cultivating this creative community together.”

In short, don’t be an asshole.