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Joan Jett; Joan Rivers; Joan of Arc; Joan Baez. What (besides a first name) do all these women have in common? According to Jaime Robinson, chief creative officer and co-founder of Joan Creative, each of these “Joans” is a particularly strong, beautiful, inventive woman who dominated her field. It was this realization, along with a spirit of “joyful rebellion,” as Jaime would call it, from which she derived the name for Joan Creative, a New York based creative advertising agency.
Jaime shared this anecdote, along with other perspectives and tips about forging your own path at the “Joan Creative Presents: Jaime Robinson in Conversation with Rock Icon, Joan Jett” seminar on Monday. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Joan Jett also offered a variety of stories and advice about how to achieve your dreams and reach your highest potential.
Early on in the discussion, Joan pointed out an initial misconception about success. Moderator Katie Kempner had noted how Joan has seemed so “fearless” throughout her career in the choices she made and the ambitious risks she took, and asked what motivated that fearlessness. Joan responded that early on in her musical career, it wasn’t so much a case of fearlessness as it was one of naivety and teenage drive.
Yet according to Joan, as she learned of all the barriers that can hold one back in the industry, she did have a sense of fear inside. She credited this inward fear as a motivation to break through those barriers and achieve her goals. As Joan put it, “Even if you’re fearless, there’s still fear involved…fear can be a good motivator sometimes.”
Next, Katie noted that both Jaime and Joan had a partner of sorts in their business ventures (Jaime had Lisa Clunie, co-founder of Joan Creative, and Joan Jett had Kenny Laguna, with whom she has worked extensively during her music career). Both Jaime and Joan credited much of their success towards these partnerships. They both stressed that having this type of support system is crucial if you intend to meet your end goal.
But one of the most interesting parts of the discussion was the role of females in the advertising industry and in the rock ‘n’ roll industry. Joan expressed her annoyance at the insistence of some to label her as a “female rock star” rather than just a “rock star.” Joan noted that with most other careers, job titles are not labelled with a gender. She said that this insinuates that females aren’t allowed to be a rock star; that it’s abnormal or an exception.
Jaime added that in the advertising industry, this labelling can sometimes be subtler, such as a female creative being jokingly told that they can’t create something with a sports company. She said that the advertising industry is beginning to correct this sentiment, but she also stressed that it shouldn’t be taken to the other extreme. Women should not be given a job merely because they are women; they should be given a job because they are talented, said Jaime.
Both Jaime and Joan left me and the audience with one last piece of advice: be genuine and authentic. Joan said that we should all follow our heart and do what we feel we are meant to be doing. And even if you face opposition or barriers, you should just keep on persevering and doing what you truly love.
This discussion was so compelling and inspiring because it drew parallels between two wildly different industries. I never would have thought that so much of the same advice could apply to both advertising and rock ‘n’ roll. Yet the themes that came up in their discussion are ones that can really apply to any industry, or any goal that you may have in your life, professional or otherwise. In the end, you can achieve boundless success if you use fear as a motivation rather than a hindrance, continue to pursue your passion despite any opposition, and do what you authentically and truly enjoy doing. As Jaime put it, “Life is so short. You just gotta fight.”