Five Pillars for Working With Creative People

“I fell in love with him first over the phone.” So begins a personal essay on what it was like to be a young editor working at the elbow of Howard Zinn, who died last week. Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States, bravely challenged a lot of cherished ideas about American life and culture.

I often get asked to explain how to best engage a creative talent. Many of the answers lie in this touching essay by Rachel Toor. If you’re short on time and want me to break it down for you, the five pillars are these:

Teach me. Tell me the things I never learned in school about how business really works.  In this case, it was editing and publishing.
Be compassionate. When I screw up, tell me so, but don’t grind me down with it. Rinse, repeat.
Set very high standards. And refer back to number two.
Treat me like a human being. I have a life. I care about things. I am not a drone.
Encourage my contribution. I need to see my hand in the work.

The entire essay is here.