Collaboration Is the Key to Creativity (Pharrell Williams + Ryan Seacrest)


Collaboration Is the Key to Creativity (Pharrell Williams + Ryan Seacrest)

Scott Donaton

Collaboration is the key to creativity. That was the main message the artist Pharrell Williams delivered to his interviewer Ryan Seacrest and a packed auditorium at Cannes. And the key to collaboration, he said, is the ability for each partner to learn from the other.

“It’s all based on what you feel you may be able to bring to the table,” said Williams, who talked often of “energy” but was noticeably subdued in a morning session that followed a late-night concert. “I consider anyone I collaborate with to be better than me, and I want to learn what makes them tick. You have to learn something.”

Williams said the fastest way to kill a new idea is to subject it to focus-group testing.

“Of course people won’t like it” the first time they hear, say, an experimental piece of music. “There’s nothing else like it out there. Sometimes an idea may be completely different but if you give it a shot, it may work.”

Williams’ key piece of advice to creatives: “Do things based on what you love, and what doesn’t exist.”

Such authenticity, he said, is the foundation on which an artist builds a relationship with an audience.

“If you do things for money, they will know and they will turn their backs on you in two seconds. Make sure the main ingredient in everything you do is that your intentions are pure.”

Asked by someone in the audience where he finds the confidence to try his hand at so many different things, from music to fashion to art, Williams drew laughs by saying, “It’s not so much confidence as blind, delusional ambition.”

Regardless, things seem to be working out quite well for the multi-hyphenate sensation. As iHeart Media CEO Bob Pittman said in introducing Williams, “He’s the most creative and coolest guy in any room he walks into.”

Scott Donaton

Scott Donaton


Scott leads our content practice, partnering with clients to tell their stories in innovative ways. Donaton launched and leads Digitas Studios, which develops unique custom content initiatives, strategies, and business models for clients.


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