Peter Lloyd likes nothing more than putting his creative muscles on a treadmill and giving them a good workout. The former ad agency creative director is an author, writer and songwriter who also helps companies invent new products. His popular Right Brain Workouts for innovation market IdeaConnection are articles designed to stimulate creative thinking, entertain, and provoke the mind.
It’s all a far cry from his first career choice to be a Catholic priest. He embarked on a life of deep religious observance, but it did not go according to plan. Feeling the constraints placed on his life were too much, particularly the vow of obedience, he brought his clerical career to an end before it really got started.
Peter then learned to play music and hitchhiked his way around the USA. It was the late 1960s and the hippie peace and love moment was in full swing. Peter held out both arms and embraced the lifestyle with gusto. But the wild times did not last forever and in his late twenties Peter decided it was about time he entered the workforce.
I was always a writer and songwriter and I wrote an ad about myself, and an advertising agency picked me up. All of a sudden I’m making respectable money and I’m writing advertising copy that is terse, quick and persuasive.
Did you enjoy the work?
It was just so interesting to learn about so many different things because you have to get into every product. It was great for a mind like mine that is kind of dilettantish.
I climbed quite highly and became a creative director in a big agency. Then I was the creative director of a small agency.
Here we were just going gang busters and sweeping up awards. I had an incredibly talented group of kids and I just really turned them loose and took some of the crap work off them so they could do great things.
There was a casket company that made burial caskets and one of their clients wanted an anti-drug ad for a police pamphlet. We were asked to write it. The ad agency wasn’t really that interested but these boys worked on it all night. And they managed to get the casket in the ad. I think the headline was, ‘You take the wrong amount of drugs and you’ll be grounded for life.” It was brilliant and I still get goose bumps thinking about it. The brochure got a lot attention in newspapers and we were seeing the ad everywhere. We even made posters and sold them.
Ultimately, though I thought the agency was dysfunctional. So I decided that I could do it on my own, and in 1990 I began freelance writing.
Did you find the transition easy to make?
At first I called an old boss and I said ‘oh my God I have no job’, and she said ‘you’re not unemployed, you’re self-employed’.
The first two years were slow, and then it built rather fast. I had lots of clients and a lot of good connections. Also, during my training I had learned brainstorming techniques and so I decided to do that too. So I was writing and I was running brain storming sessions.
Apart from putting food on the table and paying the bills, what do you want from your career?
I enjoy writing. I get pleasure out of writing. This is what makes me tick. For example, with advertising it’s much more than this ad, or that commercial or radio spot. I wrote it, I produced it, I did it. Overall, it’s a product that I can hold up and say I did it. I do that with songwriting which is my greatest satisfaction. There are no constraints, no compromises in my songwriting, and that’s the way I wanna keep it.
I’ve actually made people cry with my latest song about Kentucky. The song actually came out of a dream. I woke up with this sketchy line and of course it took work to make a song out of it, but there it was – a gift.
What qualities do you feel you possess that have allowed you to successfully create your own career?
I have an attitude in my head no matter what it is, in my house, a doorknob or whatever. I’ve got an idea about everything and if I think I can make it work better I will try something new. I remember one of my bad creative directors when I brought him a fresh idea. He said, ‘I don’t know about this I haven’t seen anything like this before’. But, err, that’s the whole point.
I also believe that if you do good work and go a little further, then you’re going to get work. When you give a little more you’re not losing.