Ryan Hollingsworth // Putting Pride Aside

Episode 420, LIVE on Wednesday, October 19, 2022

I heard Ryan’s story at Design Revival (https://designrevival.ga an awesome conference in Columbus Georgia) this past August. I was struck by his ability to grow, adapt, recognize the places where he needed to grow, and the leadership and direction he was given. Ryan is the Creative Director at Elevation Church. He has worked at the church for 16 years.

His story is inspiring and makes me think about how I can reframe my attitude which will help me to impact others. Ryan focuses on helping others, he has learned how to be a great leader and isn’t afraid to hire people who are better designers than himself.

I am thankful to have met him and so happy to hear his story. I am excited to hear the answers to these questions. I hope you will join me live, Wednesday, Oct 19, 2022 at 2:30pm ET / 7:30pm BST / 11:30am PT / 8:30am in Hawaii.

Sign up to get the link at https://creativesignite.com/signup

You can always join us for the live taping experience and be part of the community. Come a little early and introduce yourself in the chat, say hey & tell me where you are located in the world.

The Questions

  1. Ryan, can you tell everybody a little about your design journey? How long you have been with Elevation Church and the different roles you have had in the 16 years you have worked there?
  2. I heard your story at Design Revival (awesome conference in Columbus Georgia) this past August. I was struck by your ability to grow, adapt, recognize the places where you needed growth, and the leadership you were given.

    There was a time in your job where you were resistant to hire anyone who was better than you can you talk about that and how you got past that?
  3. How have you not gotten burned out? How do you keep tapping into God’s creativity?
  4. What do you do to spark inspiration for you or your team?
  5. You have held many jobs Ryan while at the church, what is your favorite part of the job you have now?
  6. Churches generally burn people out after 10 years. Do y’all do any self-initiated projects to build team morale and keep people from burning out?
  7. You also talked about being the vessel not the oil. This goes with the title which was something else you said that stuck out for me. It was how as designers it has to be about the company we are designing for, not us. Can you tell them this part of your story and how you got past wanting to be validated and were ok with being recognized?
  8. You talked about “the job of the creator is to be a reflector, not a projector.” I thought that was powerful.

    Is there anything else you do as a Creative Director to help people with creative obstacles or Job challenges?
  9. What is one thing you’ve learned in the last year that’s been the most impactful to your life and work?

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The Transcript

[00:00:00] diane: Hey everybody. Welcome to another episode of Creatives Ignite. And I am excited. I got to meet Ryan. I should have met Ryan already, probably because we know lots of the same people. We’ve been at Creative South together at the same time, but I had never had the pleasure. But when I was giving my talk, Ryan was the person I looked at and he was nodding and he was agreeing with me on things.

[00:00:27] And I, it was like, you know, you have a safe person when [00:00:30] you’re gonna present something and you want that, it’s like your, your brother or your mom or somebody that you know you can look to. Ryan was that for me? And then Ryan told his story, um, and I was just blown away. I took so many notes and then I went to his, uh, his workshop, which also was great.

[00:00:49] But one thing I, I mean, I noticed tons. I actually have you, you gave us little style guides. For Elevation Change. Oh yeah. Which I’ve used in my class, but we didn’t have [00:01:00] enough for everybody, so I made sure that I have them and now we um, we go through them and we analyze them. Cuz you’ve done such a great job anyway.

[00:01:08] I’d love that. Thank you. And so we, we met at a conference called Design Revival and I’ll put the link in. It’s gonna, if you’re watching on YouTube, it’s at the top. Um, all the links will be at the top. And then also if you’re on the website, we’ll put it over here in the chat for the people who are live as well.

[00:01:26] But, um, Ryan, you have a great story. You’ve [00:01:30] actually worked the same. I guess organization, let’s say, um, which is a church for 16 years, and this is almost unheard of. My friend Hannah worked at our church for 20 years and man burnout, having that like 10, you know, it was, but but it, so it’s re when you said you’d worked there for 16 years, but you have changed jobs, the church has grown.

[00:01:55] So maybe you only designer. So I just wanna hear, I want you to [00:02:00] tell everybody your story and you do have such a great, I have lots of questions, but give them a little bit of a history about your design journey, if you don’t mind. And this for sure.

[00:02:11] Ryan Hollingsworth: Well, first off, thank you for, that was a, that was a fantastic introduction.

[00:02:15] I appreciate that. And also you were that person for me for when I was talking, so I’m glad we could reciprocate that, uh, that safe spot to, to find somebody who’s actually paying attention to what we’re talking about . Um, but no, thank you for having me today. It’s [00:02:30] really an honor to be here. I love, um, all the stuff that you do and the way that you serve the design community so well and with so much joy.

[00:02:35] So thank you for doing all that stuff, but well, thank you. Absolutely. Um, and so my story, uh, I started, uh, doing graphic design as a kid using Microsoft paint, like, uh, probably a lot of us who couldn’t afford Photoshop. And then I had a, a bootleg diversion of creative suite that I got, uh, from my brother-in-law that I think he downloaded off of lime wire back in the late nineties.

[00:02:59] Um, [00:03:00] And so I started doing graphic design, uh, doing album art work and different stuff for local bands. I was in a band, but our band was terrible. So I quit doing that and started making posters and t-shirts and album art for a lot of people. So, um, I did that and then I went to college at, went through university, which is in Rock Hill, South Carolina, just south of Charlotte.

[00:03:18] Um, we are one of the only thing where I think we’re known for is like being with the teams that gets blown out by like Duke or all the number one seeds. We’re usually like one of those bottom tier teams. But, uh, I went there, I had got a [00:03:30] degree in marketing communication, um, and I started working at a design agency, um, just out of Charlotte doing bank websites and brochures and, um, cutting my teeth on and learning a lot about graphic design.

[00:03:42] Um, cause I didn’t really, I went to school for marketing communication. I did some. Design courses that I could get into without having to take like 2D drawing. Um, so just the ones I could kind of work my way around. Um, and then, uh, I got a Desi design job, did that for a couple years, and around [00:04:00] 2005 I had some friends who were doing a, a church plant in Charlotte.

[00:04:04] Um, and I had been going to kind of a, a smaller kind of traditional Baptist church, but not super plugged in, just kind of attending occasionally. And, uh, my friend said, we’re moving to Charlotte, we’re gonna start a church. Um, the pastor’s really cool, you’re gonna like him. He actually had speak spoken at a summer camp that I was a counselor of, so I, I was familiar with him and.

[00:04:22] So they came and started the church and I came to the second information meeting back in September of 2005, um, which was in the community [00:04:30] center here in Matthews, North Carolina. Um, and started attending there. I joined the parking team and I was still doing my design job. And then, um, the girl who was originally doing graphic design for the church, she and her husband left to Gobi Missionaries in Korea.

[00:04:43] Um, and so I was like, well, I do graphic design, I can help out. Um, not knowing, like I grew up in a very traditional church, so most churches and church design in general was not something that was very appealing to very many people. , that’s not like, usually the people say like, I’m a graphic designer for a church.

[00:04:58] It’s like, well, you’re somebody’s cousin [00:05:00] or you’re not very good. That was kind of like the, the reputation back then. Um, so I always started doing some volunteer graphic design work for the church. Um, and that was about 2006. I did that for a year and a half. Um, and then the agency I worked

[00:05:13] diane: for, you did it.

[00:05:15] So you were doing it part-time just as a volunteer basis.

[00:05:19] Ryan Hollingsworth: Just to volunteer, just I would moonlight, I would go work my, you know, nine to five. I’d go home and eat dinner and then I’d go back to the office and do church design. Cuz I was like, man, this is cool that I get to use my skills in a [00:05:30] way that I can really like help, uh, you know, the thing that I really believe into.

[00:05:33] So I, I would love to doing that. And, um, when I. When the agency I worked at ended up closing, it was a small agency and it kind of fell apart. There was some disagreements between the owners and we all kinda lost our jobs in the process. So I was like, Hey, um, I can volunteer full time now cause I don’t have anything to do during the day.

[00:05:50] So I was like in between jobs trying to figure out what I was gonna do and uh, I started volunteering.

[00:05:55] diane: So in this though, in the church plant, how far along in the church plant are they, [00:06:00] is like, how many full-time people are there at this point when you’re like, I can volunteer full time? I

[00:06:06] Ryan Hollingsworth: mean, I’m five people on staff, so there’s not a big staff.

[00:06:10] I think we were about four or 500 people around this time that were attending on a weekend. So it was, it was a pretty good size church, but the staff was super small.

[00:06:18] diane: Um, so how, what year was this,

[00:06:20] Ryan Hollingsworth: uh, when you were This was in 2007? January, 2007 is when our agency closed and then I did, I, I basically volunteered full time for uh, a month and a half and [00:06:30] my interview process went, Hey, we’re just gonna start paying you now.

[00:06:32] And that was kind of my So, but you’re the only designer. The only creative. Yeah, I was the only designer. I was the sixth hire at the church, um, back in 2007. Um, and then fast forward to now, I’ve been on staff for 16 years, uh, this coming February. Um, and the design team has grown from just being me, who was, uh, a two year experience graphic designer to now we have, I think over two.

[00:06:57] 75 people who would identify as like a creative [00:07:00] on our staff. So it’s videographers and motion designers and copywriters and graphic designers and everything in between. So, uh, right now, I, I started off on the design team. I led that team as it grew and now I, I am kind of creative director over several of our teams, including campus ministries, uh, small groups.

[00:07:18] I thought you said

[00:07:18] diane: Chemistry ministries. I was like, chemistry,

[00:07:21] Ryan Hollingsworth: science. I have never, it’s a very, it’s a very niche ministry. I think people will love it. ? No. Campus [00:07:30] Ministries. Campus Ministries.

[00:07:31] diane: Campus Ministries. I’m with you. I was like, I have never heard Chemistry Ministries. No,

[00:07:35] Ryan Hollingsworth: no. Anyway,

[00:07:37] diane: so that’s my short story.

[00:07:38] Okay. So, so in that, um, cuz I know Chris Martin’s worked at a church, Brian Harper’s, a pastor’s kid. So we got some people who have some, um, um, background in the church as well. So whether you grew up in it, a doc was a pastor’s kid too. So we have. Um, a lot of people who have that, [00:08:00] um, background and you might not realize everything that goes into, but, um, going from a team or a, so how many staff or people work for the church now?

[00:08:14] Cause that that’s

[00:08:14] Ryan Hollingsworth: also a big, um, sure. Yeah. We have a, it’s a pretty large staff at this point, so we’re, I think we’re just under 400 people total. So we would, we would qualify as a very large staff

[00:08:25] diane: for church. Right. So going from five as you were number six [00:08:30] to that. And, and sometimes there’s, there’s turnover in there.

[00:08:34] There’s, you’re working a lot of extra days, um, hours sometimes you’re working, and I’m just saying in general, not this, this is probably not Ryan’s experience, but lots of. Uh, you know, there are other things that normally, and I think maybe at a university we have things that we have to do on the weekends.

[00:08:53] We have things that we have to deal with at night and early and, you know, that wouldn’t be normal. Um, so it [00:09:00] happens with other jobs as well, but Sure. In, in a, like say your uh, D and John Engles and they’re building their business and they are having all the hats. So then you find somebody and then it’s, now it’s about building this team and you’ve been able Sure.

[00:09:17] To. Um, what I thought this part of your story, what was really interesting to me is one that you hadn’t burned out, which we’ll get to in a second, but you also had lots of different jobs. Like you went through, you had to [00:09:30] hire people, you had to work with people like, uh, as a more, maybe in a, like the videographer was maybe more of a mm-hmm.

[00:09:37] partner. Uh, maybe you were art director or something, but it wasn’t a skill that maybe you had. Um, and then there’s all this stuff that goes into leaving a team and you probably didn’t have any, uh, classes in that either, right? So

[00:09:53] Ryan Hollingsworth: no, they did not offer a lot of, uh, management course classes. That’s a lot of, that’s, that’s kind of, you have to figure that out on [00:10:00] demand as you’re kind of.

[00:10:02] Figuring it out. Um, but no, I, and what you were saying is really true. Like, uh, we always make the joke that our job descriptions include like, and other duties, which could be anything. It could be, uh, for me it was, you know, when we were starting, there’s only a few people on staff, so we, we wore all the hats.

[00:10:16] So we were the, the brainstorming team, the programming team. We produced the things, we set it up on the weekends and we were there, you know, at 5:00 AM setting up in high schools and tearing it down at four o’clock. And so there was a lot of hours that went into that. And I think [00:10:30] what I loved about that though was like, I felt like what I was doing had a, had a greater purpose than myself.

[00:10:35] Um, and I love being able to be a part of that. I feel like. You know, a lot of creatives I think spend maybe, I don’t know the timeframe, but like the first decade of their life kind of mastering their craft or getting to a place where like I’m a capable creative and then I think they spend, you know, the next decade, like, how do I have this skill?

[00:10:51] How does it make an impact? And I think for me, I was able to kind of see a direct connection between, well, here’s a gift that I feel like God has given me. And in order to steward that [00:11:00] well, I’m able to kind of, I was able to, you know, sacrifice in a sense of like, well, you know, I never thought I was gonna work at a church, but this is kind of what I feel like God has called me to do.

[00:11:09] Um, and so I was able to, See a direct impact with the work that I was doing have an impact in people’s lives. So that was very attractive to me at the time. Even no matter if I was, you know, doing a, a handout or a print design piece, or I was setting up something on the weekend, I was just happy to be a part of it.

[00:11:23] And I think, um, you know, that doesn’t change over time, but it, it, you know, we grow and teams grow and a [00:11:30] lot of people don’t share those same experiences. They kind of come into a much bigger thing. And so you have to kind of do a lot to build culture and find DNA and find things that are non-negotiables for people you wanna hire so that you can, you can grow a team that also, um, you know, feels like they may not have had the same, same shared experience, but they have the same share values and the, and the principles.

[00:11:49] So, um, it’s definitely tricky. Yeah, I think. The season I’m in now is probably my most enjoyable though because, um, I lead a team that specifically that run up through [00:12:00] me. It’s about 35 people, um, of the 70 or so creatives that are kind of part of our different teams. Um, and what I get to do is instead of doing hands on, day to day creative, I get to kind of create the space for them to be creative.

[00:12:12] Um, and I feel like that’s like a really unique challenge that, like you said, I didn’t get trained in how to do that. I think a lot of that comes with experience and a lot of empathy and kind of pulling back in my own process and journey of different supervisors I had and different seasons when I felt supported and when I didn’t feel supported.

[00:12:27] And so, yeah, there’s definitely, um, [00:12:30] a lot of different roles that I’ve had to, to be, um, But I really love the one I’m doing right now.

[00:12:36] diane: Okay. So you, you have had many different, I mean, you’ve had to do everything, the tear down, the Yeah. Produce, do the lighting, the probably the sound you were doing, all kinds of things that you didn’t, weren’t trained to do.

[00:12:48] Right. And that’s, and that’s what happens when it’s smaller, when it’s growing and, and that’s what we have to do as entrepreneurs as well. We have to kind of handle a lot of things, but as we grow, um, there’s a, [00:13:00] what I’ve seen, there’s can be some resistance to entrepreneurs to hire somebody else to do something else that maybe we like to do.

[00:13:10] Right? Absolutely. Or that we think we probably still know best. So, um, you had something like this where you were at, uh, and if I’m killing part of your story, just be like, rooster dying. That’s great. You’re doing awesome. . There was, that’ll be our safe word and I’ll just move on. Um, or you’ll take [00:13:30] over from there.

[00:13:30] But like, there was a time where you were like, I don’t wanna hire somebody who’s better than me. Right? Sure. But totally. You got over that. So can you tell them that part of

[00:13:39] Ryan Hollingsworth: the. Absolutely. So I, I feel like, I think it was the first, I think I was the only graphic designer on staff for the first six years I was here.

[00:13:50] Um, and when we finally got an approval for another designer, part of me was like, man, I must not have been doing my job well enough. Like that was just kind of like, to my immaturity was like, oh, [00:14:00] I, I, I should be able to do all this by myself. I don’t necessarily need help. If I have to ask for help, then I feel like maybe I’m not capable to do the job I’m being asked to do, when in reality it was just like a bandwidth issue.

[00:14:09] Um, so I was able to hire our first, our second graphic designer, the first person on my team. Um, and I think, you know, I think this is something that a lot of creatives who become managers, uh, probably struggle with, um, in that transition from being like the hands on creative to being a person who’s contributing to creative but is not the only person in charge of creative, um, [00:14:30] is that you have this, it could be conscious, it could be subconscious, but I think the, uh, The idea of like, you know, I am the leader of the team, I have to be the best on the team.

[00:14:40] Oh yeah. Um, and it’s hard because you’re like, I want to, I don’t want to necessarily, um, look like a weak leader because the people I hire are better than me at what I do. Cause I feel like, oh, maybe they won’t trust me if I’m not a better designer than they are, kind of thing. Um, and I feel like that was pretty limiting.

[00:14:56] I don’t think I made that conscious decision of like, I’m good. I’m gonna make sure I hire someone who’s [00:15:00] bad as much as I

[00:15:01] diane: hire somebody,

[00:15:02] Ryan Hollingsworth: but I hire somebody that I feel like, oh, cool, I’m not necessarily intimidated by you. I can someone who I, you know, under the, under the guise of development, I’m gonna hire somebody who I can help train and make better.

[00:15:14] But, um, yeah, it was definitely limiting because I feel like at the end of the day, then the team’s only going to be as good as me. And I feel like that is a weight. As you’re kind of growing in leadership and in management, like that can become overwhelming, I think actually can lead to [00:15:30] burnout because then you feel like you have to be the one who’s generating all the best work and all the best content and all the best ideas.

[00:15:36] And your team is constantly looking you for the support and for the answer. And you’re like, oh man, I’m, I’m outta answers. I got nothing else to give, kind of thing. So it wasn’t until, uh, probably another five years after that that I, I kind of made the shift to my head of, you know, I had been doing all the, um, all the design for our worship team, all the album covers and different stuff.

[00:15:57] I’ve been doing all that mainly because I loved it. [00:16:00] And that was like how I got, you know, I cut my teeth and doing that for graphic design. So I was like, this is kind of a passion of mine. But I realized like as I was taking on more responsibility and growing the team, like I couldn’t give it the same attention that I felt like it needed.

[00:16:11] And I had a friend who I had been trying to coax into working, uh, at the church for several years, and he finally came to a place where he was like, yeah, I think I’m gonna do it. And I was like, this will be my first opportunity to hire somebody who I. You know, objectively believed like, okay, you’re a better graphic designer than me and I’m gonna hire you to do a job that I really love [00:16:30] doing, and I’m gonna be your boss.

[00:16:31] Even though I’m not, I probably wouldn’t have the same answer or as good a solution as you. And that took a lot of like, I feel like humility or, and, and it wasn’t like at a desperation as much as like I came to a realization that I, my ability to take, you know, that creative work is only gonna go as far as my ideas.

[00:16:49] And if I don’t bring people in who I feel like can push and challenge those and help grow, then it’s only gonna be, I’m gonna be the peak of it versus just being a piece of the part of the puzzle. So,

[00:16:57] diane: but that was one of the things Ryan, that really struck [00:17:00] me was because you, I don’t know if I’d ever thought that either, but I think I for sure have done that.

[00:17:07] Like, if I was looking back, I was like, well, I’m gonna hire somebody who I can afford. Who can do this part of the job. And I really, um, I stopped doing that when I, uh, I work with John Engels a lot and he’s definitely way better. Like, I’m like, I don’t like doing this. I don’t even know how to do it. Go ahead and do this part, John, cuz I don’t wanna do it.

[00:17:28] And I think that there’s, [00:17:30] so, there’s, I felt relief because I could trust him or, you know, anybody else that I hire for something like that. I, and there was trust that I wasn’t getting in anybody else that I was hiring. And so, sure I, I got to that same point, but I didn’t realize I wasn’t trying to be, um, the best, you know, the highest man on the mountain.

[00:17:52] But I was like, well, what could you know, they wouldn’t wanna work for me? These really Right. You know what I mean? Like I, or that’s what. [00:18:00] They might not wanna do this or I actually believe attitude is way, uh, really, really important in hiring people as well. Cause

[00:18:08] Ryan Hollingsworth: huge, you can hire skills for sure, but you have to have people who you know, are on the same page with you culturally and have the same attitude and approach and heart towards the thing too.

[00:18:17] So, but no, yeah, I think even like, you know, it wasn’t even out of a spot of desperation as much as like, cuz it was still stuff I loved doing and it was probably the hardest part of my design journey was letting go and not being the guy for that stuff. Cause [00:18:30] you know, you wrap so much of your identity as a creative in the one, like the thing you are producing and handing somebody.

[00:18:36] And when you are no longer like driving the mouse and delivering the final piece, you’re like, well you kind of have like an identity crisis of like. What am I supposed to do then? And it’s, um, one of my, one of my favorite, uh, leadership books for creatives or for anybody is multipliers. And it’s the idea of like, you can either be a multiplier or a diminisher, but most people who are diminishers are accidental diminishers.

[00:18:56] They’re not doing it intentionally, but it’s the way that they approach leadership and [00:19:00] approach management that is really like keeping their team from growing. And some of that has to do with, um, you know, your ability to let, let go of stuff and not feel like, okay, my ideas are the best ideas. Like, I, I, I love my ideas, I should because I, I, I want to like the work that I’m making, right?

[00:19:14] But I have to also realize like if my ideas are the best ones and always, then again, I, I’m limiting what my team, my team is able to do as far as growth and, and the work that we’re able to produce at the end of the day too.

[00:19:26] diane: That’s also having a big vision and being able to [00:19:30] attach to that big vision instead of it being just the Ryan vision.

[00:19:33] So it was bigger than a Ryan vision, so that was also impact. Um, You know, like it’s you focusing on the impact you can make. And I think that’s one of the things that’s made you such a great leader. Um, just from the stories that I heard you tell, like, oh my goodness, I would wanna work for you. Um, . Yeah, you might not wanna work.

[00:19:53] Ryan Hollingsworth: I, I’m telling the highlights. I’m sure I got enough stuff to be able to get frustrated with, so, oh, I’ll, I’ll just [00:20:00] myself.

[00:20:00] diane: But one of the things that struck me was that you were able to grow, adapt, take, um, feedback. Cuz there was a time where, and I think we all have gone through this, where like, oh, they just don’t get me.

[00:20:11] They didn’t, you talked about this, and again, if this is a rooster situation, just say Rooster. Um, Nope, this is, but you said you were like, I wanted this one. Look how good this one is. And maybe it was in like a Reddit, right? It wasn’t like out in the maybe big wild of the internet, but it was like, this is the sucky one [00:20:30] they chose and this is the

[00:20:31] I mean, they’re both yours, so you did them both. But you know, it’s like Right. It starts. Can you tell them that story?

[00:20:38] Ryan Hollingsworth: Sure. No, I mean, so, uh, this was, this is probably two years into working, um, at the church and so I was probably mid twenties or so.

[00:20:48] diane: Um, but this could be anybody, right? We all feel this way with I feel been there.

[00:20:53] Moly. We have been. There could have been. Maybe it was early in our career or maybe it was yesterday, you know, but I [00:21:00] love, sure. I love this story cuz it reminds you of what maybe not to do, so tell.

[00:21:05] Ryan Hollingsworth: No, it’s great. I mean, so yeah, literally I could do it tomorrow and I’d still feel like it would be the same thing.

[00:21:10] But, uh, I was a part of this, so Flicker was this old kind of web based community thing for a while, and they had this, um, kinda small group called the Church Marketing Lab that was, uh, where people, other church creatives would post their design work for different series graphics or handouts, and they would use it as kind of a way to get feedback on, you know, in [00:21:30] process work and also kind of serve as inspiration for other creatives who are part of the community and stuff.

[00:21:35] Um, and I was a big part of that. I loved it, um, initially because I was able to connect with a lot of creatives who I’m still friends with now, even though a lot of them have moved on from those roles. I still have a great community that I, I built from that, but, I think one of the things that, that started to become though was like a space where I could try to get some, some kudos for some from some other creatives on work that I thought was really good, but maybe didn’t get the feedback I wanted to hear from the people I was making it for.

[00:21:59] So I had [00:22:00] to go, you know, get my back scratch somewhere else kind of thing. Um, and you’re right, I was, I did start using some of that language of like, Hey, here’s a concept that I really love that they didn’t really pick. Um, and that was the thing. So I actually got called into our pastor’s office one day, um, and you know, I, I didn’t even realize he knew about this thing and he accidentally found it cuz it was a link through a Twitter thing and he saw it and he is like, oh look, Brian’s posting.

[00:22:22] Let’s see what he is saying. And then I, I think what ultimately it did is started to, it started to hurt his feelings a little bit, which sounds silly, but I think like, you know, [00:22:30] he saw us as like, oh, this is, we’re on the same team. We’re building this thing together, we’re helping solve these same problems.

[00:22:35] And then the language I was using in the captions was very much like I versus they and. Once I started kind of creating this like imaginary boogeyman of they, I was able to kind of project like, well, this is why this work doesn’t work, because this is what they wanted kind of thing. I think we’ve always said, like, and I always tell my team too, even like if they start saying, well, this is what they want, I’m like, I need you to be a little more specific with that pronoun because who is they?

[00:22:58] And if it’s the partner that we’re trying [00:23:00] to solve a problem for, Maybe that is what they need. And, and we are all doing this together. We, it’s not us versus them, it’s, it’s, it’s us together versus the problem. Um, and so that was just a really humbling reminder of like, oh man, like I had kind of let my, my pride and my ego and, and the work kind of start driving versus like, what’s the thing I’m creating the work for?

[00:23:21] What’s the purpose of it? And it really was, it was challenging me cause I was like, oh man, I even realize that it was coming across that way. Um, so yeah, it was a, [00:23:30] it was a rough day at the office, but, um, I think something that I never forgot and ultimately has like helped me kind of, kind of teach that to a lot of young creatives too, of like, Hey, there’s a way to avoid, like, you know, like when you’re in design school or in college period, like you’re creating work and handing it to professors who you respect that you want their, their accolades from.

[00:23:48] And then when you shift over. The real world. You have to create work for people that you maybe don’t have the same respect for creatively, where you’re like, okay, well you’re a dentist so I’m only gonna take your feedback with a grain of salt kind of thing. [00:24:00] Um, when in reality you’re like, well, no, you are design, you’re a designer who’s been hired by them to help them solve a problem, whether it’s a branding problem or a marketing problem or whatever.

[00:24:08] And so if their opinion should be the most valuable opinion because it is their problem and, and we’re helping partner with them in that problem solving. So it just was a good kind of perspective reminder for me that there are things I create for myself that I wanna love and that I want to do my way, but then there’s a lot of stuff that I make that’s intended to be for other people, and I need to make sure that I have a posture of service when it [00:24:30] comes to using my creative work in that way.

[00:24:32] diane: Well, I think that your pastor gave a great, um, leader. Um, that he let you in on, Hey, why are you doing this? I thought we were doing this together and building this. So that was amazing as a leadership. Yeah. But it was also something you were able to turn and use and grow from significantly. And now can use it the same sort of thing as you are, uh, people that are underneath you and reminding them who, who they’re really serving.

[00:24:59] So I, [00:25:00] I think that’s awesome. And I love, I love that story, so I’m glad it was a rough day, but I bet it’s, it’s pretty good lesson, you know. I bet. So, okay. Tell, and I asked you this when we were together. I said, how have you not gotten burned out? Because, um, when you’re giving a lot, and, and sometimes maybe you’re not being recognized, and you talked about being validated versus recognized.

[00:25:27] I can get my notes out if you, if [00:25:30] anything, needs jogging. Um, but what can you tell them about, uh, Because we all feel that, I think we want to be recognized, we want to produce good work. Um, sure. But there was really in, I think in the burnout, maybe this wasn’t in the same part of the burnout, but yeah. Um, anyway, tell ’em about validation versus, uh, recognition and then we’ll move to burnout, I guess.

[00:25:57] Ryan Hollingsworth: For sure. So I, you know, um, one of my [00:26:00] favorite creative books is Steal Like An Artist by Austin Cleon. Have you read that book? It was one of my favorites, but he has a page in there where he says, validation is for parking. Um, which I never forgot. I thought it was very funny. But I feel like, um, you know, validation can come from a lot of different places and, and almost piggybacking off of that, um, you know, the story I just told, but if I am, you know, Trying to measure my value on a day to day basis on whether or not, um, people like the work I do, that can be a quite an emotional [00:26:30] rollercoaster.

[00:26:30] Um, so I think I have to find, like, for me specifically as, as a Christian, and knowing like, okay, here’s the gifts that I feel like God has given me. If I’m stewarding those well, and I feel like I’m being faithful to the gifts that I have. And I’m helping produce, you know, produce new things out of those things and helping others create great things, then I feel like, okay, that’s the, that’s the validation that I really need to be seeking is like, okay, am I, that can be whether or not you’re a believer or not.

[00:26:55] Everyone, everyone knows they have a gift and if they’re able to feel like they’re being, [00:27:00] you know, a good steward of that gift inside of them, I feel like that’s the measuring stick on a day to day basis. It’s like, okay, well did I leave anything on the vine? Is something withering that I feel like I should be watering?

[00:27:10] Um, and it has a lot to do with, um, you know, making sure that we’re looking for it in the right places. And recognition is, is fine, it’s great, but you can definitely kind of get those things out of priority to where like you’re gonna live and die. Your best comments are the ones that feed you, but then you’re gonna fall apart cuz someone gave you some bad feedback.

[00:27:29] [00:27:30] And, and that’s just such a, that can lead to quick burnout because it is just this rollercoaster of emotions versus like, I love getting feedback cause I want to continue getting better and I also love getting recognition because I wanna know that the work we’re doing is making an impact. But I can’t have that be my only measuring stick for the success.

[00:27:46] I feel like I have to be true to, to the gifts I have and feel like I’m pushing those forward. And if I’m doing that, then I’m, then I have to, you know, I have to be okay with that. And I can’t live and die by that kind of approval of others.

[00:27:57] diane: So do you think part of your, your [00:28:00] ability to have not gotten burned out is that you’ve been challenged and you’ve been able to grow and they’ve seen your potential in growth and they’ve let you grow instead of at any company?

[00:28:14] Sometimes we limit what we’re like, oh, you know what? We knew him as an intern or we, you know, We knew them whenever, you know, that’s what they were like three years ago. I [00:28:30] can’t imagine that they’re really growing. Right. But

[00:28:33] Ryan Hollingsworth: absolutely. But this is

[00:28:35] diane: different for any company. This is, it’s really amazing that you’ve been able to grow from entry designer only solo designer to now creative director of 75 people.

[00:28:46] Mm-hmm. , you know, and leading 35 or or so in, in a daily basis. So yeah. Is that part of what’s been, that it’s been a continuous challenge or is there something else that’s helped you in not [00:29:00] getting burned out?

[00:29:01] Ryan Hollingsworth: Sure. I think, you know, I, I referenced it in, in the talk that I did, but, um, in that book, um, called Herding Tigers, which is by Todd Henry, uh, it’s, it’s a, one of my favorite creative leadership books.

[00:29:13] He has this, this chart where he basically is like, it’s these, this X and y access of challenge and stability. Um, and challenge being like, am I continually being pushed in the thing I’ve been asked to do? Am I giving given new tasks that feel like, oh, okay, that’s a new problem to solve. That’s interesting that, that feels [00:29:30] like I’m growing.

[00:29:30] And then the stability side is, do I have all the information that I need to solve the problem? Do I have the support of my supervisors? Did they believe in me? And I feel like for the most part, like on this X and Ys, I’ve been able to stay in this like, high challenge, high stability place, which is, you know, he calls it thriving in his book.

[00:29:48] But, um, if I’m staying there for the most part, like, I feel like, okay, cool. I know that my supervisor. Believe enough in me to give us, you know, give me responsibility over, you know, [00:30:00] different projects and different things that affect thousands of people. And also here’s resource to grow your team, and here’s resource to put on great creative projects.

[00:30:07] And we believe in creative enough for you to have a large team like this. And then, you know, the challenge of like, okay, well how do we tell the Christmas story in a unique way every single year? Like, it’s not like we’re, we’re, we’re creating new stories as much as how to, how do we have a new and creative way that can help show someone a story that’s thousands of years old?

[00:30:25] So I feel like that has been, for me, like being able to kind of stay in that, that top part of [00:30:30] that excess has been super helpful and, and being aware when I’m falling into one of the others. So like, if I. High challenge and low stability. That’s, they, they call that the angry quadrant because that’s where you feel like, okay, I’m being pushed, but I don’t have any support.

[00:30:42] I don’t have any, no one’s got my back. And that’s, you know, I’ve, I’ve been a part of those teams where your supervisor will throw you under the bus or, you know, you feel like you don’t have enough information or stuff changes last minute and all the work you put in is now like being thrown away because there was a change and changes happen.

[00:30:56] But if it’s done flippantly, then you kind of, cool, I can stay in this angry place. [00:31:00] And then if you have low, um, low challenge, high stability, then you just kind of get bored and people start looking for other places where they can kind of get a lot of their creative energy out. And so, That’s my job a lot now is how do I help a team that is new and young creatives and doing lots of different things and stuff that I don’t know about as far as like their skill set, how do I continue to, to push them and create a space that is a, create like a fertile creative ground for them to have great stability and good challenge too.

[00:31:26] So, yeah, I mean, I think a lot of, a lot of my ability to [00:31:30] sustain what I’ve done is like, okay, I believe that, I believe in our church’s vision. I believe in our church’s support of the creative part of that vision. And I feel like the challenges and problems I have are a lot of, because I’ve been paid and I’ve been a good steward and like, okay, well here’s some more you can do.

[00:31:45] Here’s more you can do. Um, and you know, I feel like at the, that’s been a huge piece of, of my longevity.

[00:31:53] diane: I, I love that. I, um, I think that it’s hard as a, most [00:32:00] of the people here are solopreneurs. Some of them work at places for sure, but it’s hard when you’ve worked at the same place. , um, if you were in a similar job.

[00:32:09] So you’ve had that ability to go, but you still have to come up with ideas for the same thing. Christmas every year, Easter every year, right. So there’s always gonna be some things that change, but in that, because a lot of, uh, Josh Gooch works for, uh, university outside of Charlotte, and, um, I know there’s, it’s [00:32:30] like, how do we get new kids in?

[00:32:31] How do you know? It’s the it’s the same. It’s a lot of the same stuff every year. So in, in that, how do you keep tapping in for you to the, to God’s vision for or to the creativity that God’s give, gifted you with, um, for some of those same, um, like Christmas, like, uh, Josh is probably doing something for Christmas, but you know, like, um, yeah, c [00:33:00] a struggle.

[00:33:01] Ryan Hollingsworth: I’ve never felt more, uh, empathy for, for teachers and professors than my current role now, because I feel like it’s gotta be like Groundhogs Day for you a little bit of like, all right, here’s this class again. How do I, you know, find my joy in order to teach this content for the however many of the time you’ve had to teach that content.

[00:33:19] Um, and I think you’ve done a great job like, alright, here’s creative exercises. Here’s, I mean, you’ve been able to sustain a lot of great energy towards it to where I don’t feel. Your students probably don’t feel like you’re putting anything on the [00:33:30] autopilot. And I think that’s kind of my job now is like, okay, I have, I have been given people to Stewart now in addition to projects and it’s my job now to think of myself when I was 23, 24 with like some of our newer, younger designers.

[00:33:42] And I’m like, okay, it is now my responsibility to kind of help them begin their creative growth journey. And if just because it’s the same problem for me is their first time solving it. So how do I help paint the picture for them in a way that’s like, oh, oh that’s interesting. And kind of watch them kind of like be revealed new things and take [00:34:00] steps forward.

[00:34:00] And like that, that gives me a lot of fuel for the journey now is like seeing, you know, other people’s eyes open to things I learned a while ago that I could just, okay, here’s the answer, here’s the shortcut, here’s the way you do this. Versus like, Hey, let’s talk about Christmas. Let’s, you know, let’s paint a picture for this thing.

[00:34:15] And like, versus saying like, I, we tried that 12 years ago and you know, whatever, that’s never gonna work again, kind of thing. You know, like. I feel like if I’m doing that type of stuff, then no one’s gonna be motivated to like, right, well Ryan hated that idea last time, so why are we gonna be, why are we gonna try anything new this time?

[00:34:29] So [00:34:30] a lot of it is not playing dumb as much as like, how do I give a little breadcrumb trail to kind of help a young creative kind of discover a lot of their own, you know, discovery along the way, the process of it. Um, and so I think that is, that’s something where I get a lot of joy outta doing that now, versus like, what’s my new idea for Christmas?

[00:34:48] Is like, well, no, let’s see. Let’s see, someone else come up with and be Oh wow. Like a light bulb turn on for them. And I feel like that’s probably similar for teaching too, you know? I don’t know what would, do you think so? Yeah, I think so.

[00:34:58] diane: I, when you were describing it as [00:35:00] breadcrumb, I was like, you know, when you were describing it before you used the term breadcrumb, I thought about bumper cars.

[00:35:06] Cause I see Ryan, like the really padded person, like keeping the cars in. Well what about this? Maybe you should turn left or, but just right, right turn, you know, because you’re coming, maybe

[00:35:16] Ryan Hollingsworth: turn out the there. Right.

[00:35:18] diane: And so I think that there’s, there’s something, it’s about asking the right questions and asking them to push to that long.

[00:35:25] Like think about what might happen if we. [00:35:30] If, um, broccoli gives you gas, maybe if you have a date later today, you shouldn’t. Is broccoli the best thing to do for lunch? Right. Or Right? It’s just thinking about that long term because they’re like, oh no, I love broccoli. I’m gonna eat broccoli. You know? And I guess it’s just the, that was a really weird analogy, but No,

[00:35:51] Ryan Hollingsworth: those aren’t you, right?

[00:35:52] I mean, you could just, you could just make a blanket rule. We don’t eat broccoli here. And they’re like, well, why don’t we eat broccoli? And then just, they just make, then assumptions can be made [00:36:00] about, well, we just don’t eat broccoli. Why don’t they do, why don’t eat broccoli? Well, I don’t think Diane likes broccoli and that’s why we don’t eat it.

[00:36:04] Versus like, I think when you are able to, to give people a why for the things that they’re, they’re being asked to do or being told to do, there’s a lot more buy in into the culture and into the problem solving process when they’re like, oh yeah, I know why we don’t do this or why we do do this. Versus just like, well, this is the rules.

[00:36:19] This is what we do. We don’t do that. Um, is that like that old, uh, that old, you know, the phrase cut the ends off the ham? Have you ever heard that before? Uhuh? So there’s this old, I’m sure [00:36:30] it’s just like a, you know, a made up whatever, fable story or whatever, but about this, this guy who’s making his, uh, his grandma’s famous ham recipe for Thanksgiving and right before he puts it into the oven, he cuts the edges off of it and puts it in the oven.

[00:36:43] And his wife’s like, why do you cut the ends off the ham? He’s like, that what grandma used to do, and I’ll ask her. And so he, his grandma, I was like, why do you cut the ends off the ham? She’s like, well, that’s just what my great grandma used to do. So she asked her grandma and she’s like, oh, I cut the ends off the ham because my pan was too small.

[00:36:56] And so that’s why I had to do it. And so there, it was just something that [00:37:00] generally she passed down that had no purpose. And, and so similarly with like some of the things like, okay, well we just don’t do this. Okay, well if I’m not giving a good why, then it’s just gonna be kind of one of those like automatic processes and I’m not creating great independent thing cuz I’m just creating great people who know how to follow up to-do list.

[00:37:15] So, yeah.

[00:37:16] diane: Yeah. Oh, this is really encouraging me. So I, you talked about a, um, sparking inspiration, and I feel this with my students, but I also have felt this when. I’m just working on a project, uh, maybe for a [00:37:30] client that I’ve had for 12 years, and I’m like, how can I come up with another way to sell retirement living or something, you know?

[00:37:37] Right. Um, but how do you, what have you done? You, you told us about some things that you had done with your team, but what’s something that maybe you did early on and then what do you do now? Um, to spark infor in infor information? No inspiration for you. Inspiration if you were alone or for, uh, you and the team.[00:38:00]

[00:38:00] Ryan Hollingsworth: Sure. I mean, so like back in, back in the day for me it was trying to, if I felt like I was hitting in creative block, you know, I do this teaching for our team, um, you know, I believe like God’s the ultimate creator and that we’ve been created in his image. So we are, we are, and we have a limitless access to creativity.

[00:38:15] So I feel like creative Block has a lot less to do with where the inspiration is coming from and a lot more to do, how our ability to like receive it and process it. Mm-hmm. . So for me, I think a lot of it has to do with like, okay, what’s my posture towards the project? Do I have like some pride that’s preventing me from doing it?

[00:38:29] Do I have [00:38:30] fear from problem solving? Do I not have enough information? And so I think like evaluating, making sure like, okay, why am I stuck? And, um, but, and that’s, that’s more project base, but like, just in general, how do I feel the creative tank back then it was kind of returning to like my first love of like, okay, well I love, I love music, I love album.

[00:38:47] I don’t have a band anymore, so let me just make some pretend mix tapes and I’ll spend a lot of time like perfecting the cover of these mix tapes. And this was, this was before Spotify, so I was having to like buy stuff I iTunes and put it on Dropbox. And it was like a whole, [00:39:00] whole different process. It’s a lot easier to do it now, but um, so that was one of the ways I was like, well I don’t, you know, I wanna kind of like re scratch the original itch or whatever and try to like, create something, um, that was like, okay, this is a challenge for me.

[00:39:13] I am my client. I wanna make sure I love it. And so like, doing personal projects and having outlets like that I think is super helpful when you feel like you’re either stuck on a project or you just need some fresh inspiration is like, what? Well, let me make something for myself. Um, I think another one is, you know, for us, a lot of it has to do with.

[00:39:29] Ability to [00:39:30] work with teams. Like our, our whole team is in office, and so like everybody has to, and there’s a lot of like crosspollination between teams. And so for us, team building exercises are huge. So like today, just now, we just got out of a creative meeting with some of our teams and we got there. I was like, Hey, we have 10 minutes.

[00:39:45] We’re going to, uh, we’re going to pretend like we’re on Shark Tank and we’re gonna re pitch the apple and like the actual fruit of like, Hey, what is, what’s the purpose of the apple kind of thing. And so they had 10 minutes to put together a pitch for what the Apple was and like why it was valuable. So it was just like, okay, well here’s a unique challenge [00:40:00] that is not moving any project forward as much as like, okay, let’s do some, some problem solving skills.

[00:40:05] Let’s work with, and we just do like a random number of, so like you four people are on a team, you four people are on a team. So you’re working with people you don’t work with. Normally. You’re solving a problem that’s not part of your regular process and you’re kind of just. You know, creating new neural pathways of like, stuff that’s already been worn down.

[00:40:19] You’re like, oh, lemme think of something in a new way. Let me try this. Mm-hmm. So for us it’s like, how do I like what you do with your, uh, you know, I loved your breakout, a designer revival or like your, your creative calisthenics. I’ve [00:40:30] used all those things like, hey, here’s something like, here’s a fun, creative way to, you know, paint over or, and draw over paint splotches or like turn furniture into faces.

[00:40:38] And my team has loved that stuff because, you know, again, you kind of like tap back into some of those initial, like, you know, as a child, like when you have these creative urges to do something and you don’t have a deadline or you don’t have a, you know, someone who’s paying you a check for it, you’re like, oh, I’m just creating to create.

[00:40:56] And so I think creating some space to do that in a way that’s like, Hey, this [00:41:00] doesn’t have a ton of weight. It’s just kind of a fun project, but it can help challenge you or see something in a new way. Mm. I

[00:41:06] diane: love that. I love that. You also talked about a movie that you, can you tell them about that? What y’all?

[00:41:13] Yeah, we just got,

[00:41:13] Ryan Hollingsworth: we did that about a month and a half, I guess It was, uh, we did it early this summer, so we, um, this is our second year doing it and it, it’s, we, it’s a big ask because we pretty much tell the whole creative team, like, Hey, block off an entire workday. Um, and what we did is we do a, a movie trailer [00:41:30] competition where we break up the, we do a draft and so there’s, you know, eight different teams.

[00:41:34] People draft the entire creative team into their team, and then they find out the day of the genre and then kind of a prompt for, for what their movie is. So they’ll get like an object. They have to include a line of dialogue and you know, a character or something like that. And then they have six hours to go make a movie trailer and then they have to come back.

[00:41:52] And we have like a big movie trailer premiere and we have candy and we have judges and we give away some fun prizes and stuff. And I, you know, it feels. It’s [00:42:00] a good thing that we have a very, uh, understanding, uh, CFO and leadership team because it is, it’s not really moving anything forward. Uh, like there’s not like a physical deliverable that’s like, oh, this made us better today.

[00:42:12] Here’s the physical thing we did. Um, but I think it’s the intangible culture stuff where you’re like, cool. We have now we have shared experiences. We have, uh, team building we have. Cool. Oh man. I remember working with, uh, Gabe on this project for the movie trailer competition. Let me ask, I love the way he approached filmmaking.

[00:42:28] Let me go ask him about this problem. I’m kind of [00:42:30] running into, so you, you bridge gaps, you kind of break down silos from different teams and different focuses. So it’s one of the best things we do. It’s, it’s very funny though cuz like some of our. Are more stick in the mud or older staff people are like, what, what are the, what are those, what are the creative kids doing today?

[00:42:43] Why are they running around? Why are they, why is, why is there a smoke machine in, you know, in that office? What are they doing in there? Um, so it’s this, this past summer we did summer blockbusters and there was all sorts of crazy stuff. And then the year before we had did like a horror genre. I think next year we’re gonna do either, um, hallmark Christmas [00:43:00] movies or we might do like a romcom.

[00:43:02] So we’re gonna see where that goes. I

[00:43:04] diane: love that. But, but Jesus was all about things that you weren’t planning for, you know, like that’s so Absolutely. I think that’s right on, uh, on target with, uh, how Jesus would approach it and, So I, I, I love that. And I think that we get to, I, I love that you are doing something that does build that community and that you’re not so tight on.

[00:43:27] So deadlines granted you have, [00:43:30] you have a deadline every Sunday, right? It’s not like we do, you can’t be like, you know what, this week, no. Sunday, we’re just gonna do two Saturdays and then come back on Monday. Right. But we definitely have some structure. Yeah. Right. But, but at a church, you have to work quickly.

[00:43:46] You have to, um, execute quickly. And then it’s also is what can we do in this time? So it’s about budgeting your time and your skills, and so it’s like, Hey, you got pushed. You as the creative director, you can kind of see. [00:44:00] When people are under the gun when they make decisions. Yeah. Or when they’re like holding back.

[00:44:05] And sometimes it’s like, because it’s a community and it’s a together, they’re like encouraging each other. Hey, that’s good enough. That’s, that’s good. Just go, go with it. I think that’s, or like your idea, you’re, uh, because you’ve done all these creative exercises throughout the year, you have seen people or you have encouragement, you’re like willing to do say something off the wall that maybe you [00:44:30] wouldn’t have been early, you know, in your first couple years at a job or something.

[00:44:34] So, but I love that you, you’ve actually planned it in and Yeah. So it’s something for people to look forward to. It’s also that the whole staff, I mean, the whole church has, the whole church might not see these, but the whole church has to, um, has to believe in the, in that God has brought y’all together.

[00:44:57] And that being together and doing something [00:45:00] and making something really is important. Just like Jesus with the 12, you know, he didn’t walk around with hundreds and hundreds of people. He had his, his crew. And I think that there’s something, there’s something in that. Um, so you answered that. I’m just trying to make sure that I’m, uh, so you said the favorite part of your job is leading them.

[00:45:22] Now, is there something that you’ve done that’s an example that is like, this [00:45:30] challenged you, but this is why I do this and this is how I’ve seen Judy grow because she got through this or something. Do you have a story for

[00:45:38] Ryan Hollingsworth: with that? Sure. I mean, I mean, it’s weird. Uh, you know, I told a couple at the conference about some, like some different album art projects that we’ve worked on.

[00:45:45] And, uh, even more recently, like we’re, we’re doing this big, you know, it’s 160 page, uh, small groups curriculum through Ephesians and the art direction was to do like a very like, collage style for the art direction. And I, I [00:46:00] gave it to one of my designers who’s only been on staff for about a year. So she was, she’s been, you know, not drowning, but she’s been having to learn how to swim a lot this year.

[00:46:07] Um, and it’s been like really rewarding to kind of walk with her through that process and kind of understanding, like understanding feedback and understanding long ongoing projects that, you know, do have changes kind of pathway through that. Like, okay, well this changes how we format this, or we’re switching these two chapters and kind of helping her.

[00:46:25] You know, be able to maneuver and navigate a a, a very hard project. That’s [00:46:30] not a normal day to day piece that it, I, I want her, at the end of the day to be proud of and not burned out on. And I think part of my job is okay, I am, I am now the guide in this story of like, you know, I’m not the hero. I’m not the one who’s gonna like, stand up there in front of everybody and like, look at this thing I made, but.

[00:46:45] I’m now the person who’s like, Hey, you know, Sophie, here’s how you can figure out how to do this, and here’s something that you can do to, uh, maybe, you know, try this approach or here’s the, and you know, here’s what this feedback actually means and this type of stuff. So that’s been really rewarding to kind of, you know, work [00:47:00] with, you know, a lot of young creatives on projects that I, I may have done before in different ways, but watching them kind of do it for the first time and then also do it in ways like, oh, that’s awesome.

[00:47:09] I wouldn’t even thought about that idea. Or man, like, I appreciate her dedication to wanting to live an InDesign and work on 160 page book, and that sounds like not my nightmare. So, um, you know, it’s, it’s cool to kind of watch young creatives and have an opportunity to kind of just watch their, their growth, um, you know, through those different bigger projects like that.

[00:47:28] I

[00:47:28] diane: love that. That’s great. So [00:47:30] you talked about, um, being the vessel and not the oil, so making sure that we are not confusing ourselves, which you’ve talked about. Uh, totally. Talked about this already. I just want, I don’t remember where this was in my sketchbook, but I know I wrote that down specifically.

[00:47:48] And I guess that maybe it can go back into, um, that what you’re doing is what, what God’s called you to do. If, if it’s for a client, um, it’s for that [00:48:00] purpose. Um, mm-hmm. , I’m just gonna read the rest of my, uh, sentence so that I don’t get confused, but I’m gonna try to look up and do it. Um, let’s see. So this, I think the being the vessel and not the oil, um, goes with the title of which is the, uh, about you putting your pride aside, I think, which I, uh, it hit me.

[00:48:22] So I was really, I really loved your talk, so, um, and now I’m like trying to find my, I should [00:48:30] just read it off my sheet of paper cuz I have, I have circles where I’ve highlighted things. Um, to me, uh, it, it stuck out and it’s how. As designers, it has to be about the company that we’re designing for, not us.

[00:48:43] Um mm-hmm. . Uh, and I don’t remember exactly where this was in your, uh, story, and I don’t know if this was about the validated or being recognized, so maybe changing it a little bit. But I guess one thing I, when you talked about the, we, you know, and you’re like, well, it’s not [00:49:00] the weed that they Yeah. But one thing I have, I guess I’m changing my question a little bit cause I think you’ve answered the question, but when, um, this is something that’s hard for me to explain to younger designers.

[00:49:14] Sure. Um, that it’s not about what you want, it’s about what’s best for. The client and what, and, and there is this, it’s like, well, they think they know best. We think we know best, but then [00:49:30] when you start pushing, um, they don’t really, haven’t thought about the long term effect of something like this or how it will impact.

[00:49:39] Right. Being, knowing that God is the oil and that you are just doing what he’s, um, put, put you in place to do, how does that relieve you of some of the pressure of having to, you’re not having to save anybody, right? You’re

[00:49:59] Ryan Hollingsworth: just [00:50:00] Exactly. I mean, you’re saying all of it. Like, I think, um, I heard it phrased this way and I, I’ve hung onto it for so long, is that, you know, I was never intended to produce my own light.

[00:50:10] Um, I was meant to be like a reflector, not a projector. Oh, yeah. And so I feel like the weight of, of that responsibility of like, oh, okay, well I am, I am now a conduit of creativity. I, I am just a, a, a pipe and letting creativity kind of flow through me. And if I’m operating at my best, then the flow is [00:50:30] like, okay, this is very clear and it’s as, as strong.

[00:50:33] And it’s like, cool, this is awesome. Like, that’s, that’s when I feel like I’m at my creative best is when I am remembering like, I am just a vessel for an oil of creativity that, that I have been given to Stewart. Um, and so, and I think if, you know whether or not people are, are believers or not, I think that is part of, part of their creative journey is like there is something inside of you that you have to, um, you know, be able to release and be able to get out, um, creatively.

[00:50:57] And so I think like if we’re able to, to do [00:51:00] that, well then I feel like that’s when we’re operating on our creative best is when, and I feel like it’s a lot, it’s a much lighter weight to carry because then I’m not like, man, I hope I, I hope I got something left in the tank. I’m like, well, I believe that there isn’t an end into creativity.

[00:51:12] And it may not be my old idea, and it may not be the idea I thought it was supposed to be, but I gotta believe it’s the idea that was supposed to come out and this is what I was able to create from it. So, yeah, I think that it, it is very relieving though to know like, okay, cool. I, I am not the source. I am, I am mere the [00:51:30] vessel.

[00:51:31] diane: Well, I always think that it’s like, man, If God can use my words to do something. Woo. Cause I am not eloquent. It’s like, but it’s like sometimes I say something and that wasn’t, I didn’t, I don’t know how they got that right. It was like the chemistry ministry there at Elevation Church. Um, but, but like, it was what they heard and they took it and ran with it and it was amazing.

[00:51:58] Right. But that wasn’t what I [00:52:00] intended and that it wasn’t even what I said. But man, they, I think God can use anything. Right? Even so there’s that, he’s the oil hunt and we are just,

[00:52:10] Ryan Hollingsworth: that’s one thing. I think we can get that a little twisted to where it’s like, well, I’m not a morning person, so God’s, you know, I just wasn’t designed to be a morning person, or I wasn’t designed to be punctual.

[00:52:20] That’s just the way I am, kind of thing. And I think, well, no, you’re just, you’re kind of lazy and you don’t have to get disciplined. Some of that stuff is like, well, your, your processes aren’t, you know, perfected and you probably could produce a little bit more. I [00:52:30] think more, it’s more has to do with like the work itself and realizing like my, my gift of worship, a lot of it is like, cool, I’m offering this back to you.

[00:52:39] God, you put this in me, I made it and I’m gonna, and I believe I’ve been faithful with the thing you’ve asked me to do, whether or not it’s, it’s what I thought it needed to be or what I thought it was going to be. It’s like, okay, well no, this, this is it. And I, and I have to believe like. Did I steward this the best I could?

[00:52:52] And I think that has been, like, that’s been the constant question of like, okay, did I move this forward in the right way? Is it, was it stuck because of me? [00:53:00] Or did it move forward in spite of me? Or did I help do everything I could to help move this thing forward? So that is, and that’s just, I think that has helped me a lot with, you know, the pride aspect and the longevity.

[00:53:10] It all kind of flows back into that of like remembering like, okay, well I’m not, I’m not the main thing. I’m not the end all I am. I am just the thing helping move the thing forward.

[00:53:19] diane: I love that. I’ll tell you a funny. I do not like to cook. My mom’s here, she knows I, I’m rather like, oh, let’s just eat some popcorn instead of [00:53:30] dinner, you know?

[00:53:31] Anyway, so I have this thing when my husband asks me, what’s for lunch? Or what did you make me for lunch or dinner, whatever. And I’m like, mad, that’s what I made you . Ok. So, but then I really got, um, that’s, I really got heavy feeling. I, um, I was not treating John the way that I, if Jesus was asking me, what did you make me for lunch?

[00:53:57] I would not have said mad. Um, and so I [00:54:00] was like, you know what? I need to serve John in a better, I still say mad lots of times. I’m absolutely not perfect. But I was just thinking about like how I, how I would do it different if it was somebody else in my kitchen, right? Or at my. And um, and I remember saying, I’m gonna pretend like you are Jesus.

[00:54:21] Um, and that may be really weird, but I was like, I just wanted to, like, I think that, that I’m, I’m supposed to maybe not have as terrible of an [00:54:30] attitude about Sure. Cooking, like people saying, well I’m not a morning person. And I could say, well, I don’t like to cook, but that’s still something. John’s doing something else.

[00:54:39] He can’t cook. I don’t wanna cook, but I could make something. You know? And some of it’s just about attitude, even if it’s just popcorn. Cuz John doesn’t care. Um, at least he’s, you know, he’s like, it’s in a bowl for him, you know, or something. You know, that, that’s, uh, we’re we’re low expectations in the eating department.

[00:54:59] So I [00:55:00] wanted to ask you one last question and then I’m gonna share ways for people to get in touch with you. And you also gave me creative apprenticeship@elevationchurch.org. Yes. Um, as one of the things. So I wanted to ask you that, what that is. So tell me what that is first, and then I’m gonna ask you the last question.

[00:55:16] Ryan Hollingsworth: Okay, well, our creative apprenticeship, so, um, we have an internship program that, that we do three different semesters a year. And that’s for college, you know, entry level, kind of high school, college-aged kids who are like, oh, I, I like graphic design. I’m about to learn more kind of thing. [00:55:30] So that’s very much kind of in that space.

[00:55:32] Our apprenticeship program is a little bit elevated from that. Um, probably maybe just out of college or like getting ready to graduate college, but have kind of six months to, to learn very hands on. I mean, it is, it is like we treat you like an employee. You do get paid, it’s a paid apprenticeship, but it’s not like a job guaranteed at the end.

[00:55:48] It’s more of like, here’s, here’s some work, here’s some life skills. Here’s, here’s how you operate in a, in a large team, here’s how you follow a deadline. So it’s like, here’s some real world application. Um, and we feel like it’s kind of our way to like, [00:56:00] we’re not gonna be able to hire all creatives, but we do wanna steward the creatives that have been brought through our church.

[00:56:04] Well, and so like, okay, here’s an opportunity for us to. You know, younger staff, a chance to supervise somebody, um, for a, a period of time to kind of evaluate if that’s something that they want to do longer term or if that’s something they want to continue trying to pursue is like a management or leadership plane.

[00:56:20] And then also giving like new graduates or new young creatives a like a large skill set, um, you know, challenge or portfolio filler, uh, six months to say, [00:56:30] Hey, here’s some great projects you get a chance to work on. Um, here’s a lot of things you can learn in the process. And there’s some, there’s some teaching in some classes, but a lot of it is just like, Hey, we’re treating you like you’re part of our team, um, and we’re gonna evaluate every nine weeks.

[00:56:42] And kind of just like, here’s, here’s ways you continue to improve. Here’s stuff you’ve done really great. And then at the end of it, you know, there are some people who end up applying for jobs here and getting roles. There’s a lot of other people who go back to their churches that they came from and are able to like, Hey, here’s a skill set and knowledge that I was able to kind of learn from being like in this like immersive, uh, program [00:57:00] for the past six months.

[00:57:00] So is it last, is it 40 hours a week? Yeah, it’s like a regular full-time job. Wow. And we provide housing and we provide payment. Um, it’s not a full-time salary, but there is, you know, there is, there’s money involved and then there’s also housing that we provide and, and, um, and, and great community too. So like, I think it just helps people kind of, you know, make great connections, learn a lot of stuff, do a lot of work.

[00:57:21] Um, and then kind of take that onto the next thing. So we start a new one in January and we’re accepting applicants now, so we usually take a class of about 10 people. [00:57:30]

[00:57:30] diane: Oh, cool. So this is, um, it’s at elevation church.org/creative hyphen apprenticeship. Um, yeah. Oh, there’s doc. Uh,

[00:57:39] Ryan Hollingsworth: see. Oh, there he is. I was kinda waiting on Doc.

[00:57:41] I thought he was playing hookie today. So glad he showed up.

[00:57:44] diane: Yeah, me too. So he says hanging out with Ryan is part of the benefits package. I bet. Okay. So Ryan, last question. And you’ve done great. We’ve done great on. Oh, great. What is one thing that you’ve learned in the last year that’s been the most [00:58:00] impactful to your life and work or life or work?

[00:58:05] Ryan Hollingsworth: Hmm. I mean, I think, oh boy, you asked this question earlier, uh, and you put in the doc and I was even having a hard time wrestling with then I think, you know, what I’m learning right now is a lot of, um, kinda wanna talk about earlier about like, I see myself more now as a teacher than I ever have before because I feel like, you know, we just onboarded a brand new graphic designer about a month and a half ago and, you know, she just graduated college and [00:58:30] she’s, you know, I’m helping her fill out her, her benefits paperwork in her one-on-one this week.

[00:58:34] So it’s like, oh, you are like fresh off the vine. Yeah. Um, So I think what I’ve learned most in the past year is like not to make any assumptions that people have the same shared acknowledge or same shared knowledge and experiences to pull from, and that I can’t, you know, if, if even if I wanted to get there faster, it’s not really helping them on their journey.

[00:58:52] So I think I have to kind of. Slow it down a little bit and do a little more explanation or exposition on kind of why we’re doing different things or why this [00:59:00] decision is being made, or who this person is they’re making a project for, maybe why they got feedback this way. Um, and then being able to kind of, Hey, here’s my, my empathetic side where like, yeah, I remember being in, in the seat that you’re in.

[00:59:11] And I remember how I kind of handled and, and received feedback and well, what kind of advice would I want the 24 version, 20 year old version of me to receive now that I’m able to kind of provide, because I had people in my life doing that and I’m kind of realizing like, oh, that’s me now. Like I have to be that person who’s helping them kind of take these on their [00:59:30] creative journey.

[00:59:30] So that’s probably what I’ve learned the most and it’s helped me slow down a lot and helped me really think through even understanding like, oh yeah, why are we doing this? Okay, yeah. That, that makes sense. Okay. Yeah. Now I can explain this and so, and verbalize that. So that’s probably something I’ve learned a lot.

[00:59:44] And also I’ve learned that I am really bad. Texting doc back . So he’s a much better friend than I am, and I am, uh, grateful that he has stuck around with me as long as he have for me being such a poor text responder.

[00:59:59] diane: So how, and [01:00:00] what is your, uh, do you want him to call, you, show up on your door? How does he get your attention?

[01:00:04] Ryan Hollingsworth: Honestly, one of the, the last time I saw him, I just walked into my office and he was sitting in one of my chairs drawing at my whiteboard and I was like, this is great. He’s a way better friend than I am.

[01:00:16] diane: That’s funny. That’s great. I love that. So Doc, you’re just supposed to show up and get in his chairs and draw on his board.

[01:00:22] Ryan, thank you so much for doing this. I just wanna make sure everybody can follow you. And then also Elevation Church. Yeah, [01:00:30] it’s on uh, YouTube. They can do that as well. That’s the one thing I don’t have, but they can go to Elevation. Oh yeah. church.org. They can follow you on Instagram at Ryan’s Worth.

[01:00:41] Cuz I guess Hollingsworth is so long that you didn’t want that long of a

[01:00:45] Ryan Hollingsworth: I got the nickname when I worked at Chick-fil-A when I was 14. Um, because one of the guys I worked with in the kitchen said Hollingsworth was not a very cool last name. And he said, we’re just gonna make the holling silence. So now you’re Ryan Swarth.

[01:00:57] Oh. And so I’ve been called that [01:01:00] for how, since I, you know, 20 years now at this point. So.

[01:01:03] diane: Oh, I got it. I get it. It’s ser not your worth. Yeah. Swarth. Okay. I’m, I’m with I like it. I like it. Um, and then they can also follow the church at elevation, uh, instagram.com/elevation crtv, which I guess is.

[01:01:21] Ryan Hollingsworth: That’s our creative team.

[01:01:22] So that’s all our designers. Oh, cool. So we’ll post some different process work and behind the scenes stuff there. And then same with our Elevation film is our, our [01:01:30] video team and they post a bunch of stuff as well.

[01:01:31] diane: So, and that’s on Instagram as well. But then again, if you know anybody that would be good fit for the apprenticeship, the link is elevation church.org/creative hyphen apprenticeship.

[01:01:42] That’s a really long word. Apprenticeship. I think that printed should be be, it sounds very official though, you know? Oh, oh it to, I love it. I, I was just saying apprenticeship and hollingsworth, so you know, I got a lot of Apprent Swarth or something.

[01:01:56] Ryan Hollingsworth: Yeah. When I was in Little League, my last name is 13 letters [01:02:00] long and it went from like one edge of the sleeve all the way across the back, like a rainbow because I was a small little eight year old with a 13 letter last name.

[01:02:08] diane: Oh, that is too funny. But that’s a good long last name. I always make people design things for a really long last name, like, so I always give ’em my. Old dogs. Full name Bud Word, Fitzgerald SMS is his full name. Oh my. And so, cuz that’s really long because you don’t want one person at your company to be like, I have [01:02:30] 10 letters in my name Diane Gibbs, so you make me bigger if you, you know, but everybody should be the same size.

[01:02:38] Ryan Hollingsworth: I agree. I make my team do the same thing cuz I always pick the fewest number of letters for the example and I’m like, hey, we got, one of ours has two words and it’s 14 letters. So you need to figure out how to make your lockup fit. That also Yes,

[01:02:50] diane: that’s I know about. That’s it. You are a teacher, you are just you’re, you are there.

[01:02:56] Um, Ryan, thank you so much for giving us your time and [01:03:00] thank, uh, just thank you for being willing to share your story and be vulnerable and tell it, but because that’s what helps other people grow and it, I recognize things in myself, um, that I need to absolutely work on. So thank you so much and I’m glad that we’re friends now and I will now know that I’m

[01:03:20] Ryan Hollingsworth: very glad you are my favorite part of Design Revival.

[01:03:22] For sure. If nothing else, we got a great friendship outta this, so thank you so much for Absolutely me too. And thank you for doing this. This [01:03:30] is awesome.

[01:03:30] diane: Well, I appreciate you being here and I appreciate y’all being here, and I hope that it was helpful, and I will see you next week. It is a, I’m trying to do one solo show a month, although I know you probably feel like I’ve already done a bunch of solo shows, but, um, I’m gonna tell you what I’m trying to learn, uh, every few, every fifth week, I guess.

[01:03:53] And then the next week, Mario’s gonna be on with me, and then we start with the artist series, [01:04:00] hopefully. Um, I know for sure November 9th is my friend Sandi Hester, so I’m really excited to introduce a painter. I’m bringing a painter in. Um, and she loves Jesus too, so, uh, but she is, she has a YouTube channel cause a, a bit bits of an artist’s life and I’m really excited to listen, uh, or hear her, hear what she says and have her share her story of process.

[01:04:23] It’s like what she does in a sketchbook and then how she puts it on a canvas. Blows me away and [01:04:30] she’s, uh, found new things with colors and trying things and man, the comments sometimes on YouTube are a little harsh, you know, and just how she’s grown through all that. So that’s November 9th. But Ryan, thank you so much and I’m gonna hit stop, but you were awesome.[01:05:00]

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