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Day in the Life: Scott Smith

Step inside the day of this creative director and learn more about his many talents inside and out of the office.

As a creative director at Leo Burnett Chicago, creativity is Scott’s forte. Alongside his partner, John Kistner, Scott is responsible for overseeing and crafting the creative campaigns for Allstate’s corporate and CSR intiatives, such as corporate advocacy, agent recruiting, catastrophe relief and youth empowerment.

But that’s just one side to Scott. He’s also a filmmaker, a writer, a director, an artist, a lunch-making master, a musician, a mentor, a father and more. His film, “Chasing The Blues,” is currently making its rounds on the independent film circuit and won Best in Show at Lone Star Film Festival in November. It’s clear Scott is a natural storyteller in any form.

So what does a day in the life of someone bursting with all that talent entail? Well, you’re about to find out.

Follow along all today on Instagram for an inside look at all the ways Scott gets creative throughout the day (hint: It’s not just advertising). And check out his Q&A below to learn more about his career and what keeps him inspired.

Describe your role in one sentence.
I believe my role as a creative director is to lead, guide and do what it takes to creatively solve a client’s brand initiatives beyond expectations.

What is your favorite part of your job?
Getting lost in the creative process.

Where do you find creative inspiration for your work?
Everywhere. Curiosity and open eyes are a creative person’s best traits.

How did you get your start in advertising?
I started in graphic design, working on integrated promotion campaigns, direct-mail and a lot of print. A group creative director took a chance on me after I showed interest in doing what was called “mainstream” advertising and took me into his group as an art director. That then provided me the opportunity to jump into doing TV and learn that whole side of the business.

What advice do you have for those just breaking into the creative industry?
This is always a hard one to answer, especially these days since the creative industry is so vast and there are so many ways in. I’ve always found that the most successful people understand what their strengths and their weaknesses are. You nourish your strengths and focus on what you love about being creative and the weaknesses usually take care of themselves.

Describe the creative brainstorming process for you and John.
It’s really hard, in general, to describe brainstorming or the creative process, and it varies from person to person. For us, it feels like that curiosity of asking “what if,” or “wouldn’t it be cool to” helps keep the process fresh. And we’ll usually keep steering it back to insights and the question, “What’s the human need we’re solving for?”

Why do you think you and John have made such great partners for so long?
One of us always remembers when our meetings are. And just like Laverne and Shirley, our strengths and weaknesses balance each other out. We certainly value each other’s opinion, especially when we know we’re wrong about ours.

Both you and John are known for being go-to mentors in the building. Why is mentoring important to you?
I always longed to have a mentor, but have never had one. So, I don’t know if it’s out of that void that I enjoy giving back, or what, but I just kinda like being there for young creatives or anyone who’s interested in our field. John and I have a lot of patience, and a genuine interest in seeing people succeed, so I guess that’s part of what makes us, as you say, “go-to mentors.”

How do your passion projects like “Chasing the Blues” help inform and inspire your work at Leo?
I think it’s kind of a creative reciprocity. Not only does my work outside of Leo inform my work here, but my work at Leo also informs and inspires what I do outside of here. With regards to my movie, I think “Chasing the Blues” has definitely honed my storytelling skills, which essentially is what our business is all about.

Best piece of advice you’ve received relating to work or life in general?
My dad once told me, “Every flower blooms in its own time.” Which has been very valuable to me, because I’m a very, very late bloomer.

January 18, 2018