Carren O’Keefe and Jim Wood, Partners & Executive Creative Directors at AnalogFolk, share advice from careers full of building self-awareness, navigating fear, and partnership. Hear about learning from fear, deciding what kind of creative you want to be, how they function as Co-ECDs out of AF’s Portland and New York offices, how the industry is evolving and why we need to preserve space for thinking and creative ideas, and your mindset when you’re the only one like you in the room.
Listen to the very end of the interview for a We Are Next first! :)
How they discovered advertising and made their way into the industry, plus learnings like why doubt is healthy and staying in touch with people you meet along the way.
The biggest thing they learned as young creatives, including leaning into your strengths, learning from fear, and deciding what kind of creative you want to be.
How AnalogFolk’s US offices work together, how they function as Partners and ECDs, and why “If you build it, they will come,” only applies to baseball movies.
How the industry is evolving and how that informs how talent should be trained and retained, and the biggest mistake they see in junior portfolios.
The mindset to take when you’re the only person like you in the room, working for a philosophy, and why we should let our actions speak louder than our labels.
“I have to do things in spite of being afraid to do them, or in spite of being nervous or fearful, and I need to learn from the fear. Use it as a motivator. Because really, fear is telling you something. It’s either, this is a new territory, or this is an area of growth for me, or this is a thing I don’t feel comfortable in. And I think that can be a really powerful thing if you don’t let it work against you.” - Carren
“The notion of what made this industry amazing to begin with—the power of a simple idea—is starting to get lost. And I think it’s all in the desire to make and build, and put out into the world. And I think we, as agencies, our responsibility is not only just to help people and the consumers, but it’s to help brands understand that there needs to be something that we’re building towards. Otherwise, what we are creating is disposable at the end of the day. […] Because everybody is so excited to make and do things, I think we’ve created a very rigid structure. And it’s less of a sandbox these days, and more of a very functional process that doesn’t leave a lot of time to think about what the bigger picture is.” - Jim
“Work for a philosophy. […] When you […] keep in mind that you are making things for consumers, and not agencies and award shows, it becomes more inherently critical that you work for a mindset and a philosophy that takes the consumer into consideration. When you realize, especially in digital, that we are making things in service of human beings, to help human beings—that becomes innately critical.” - Jim
“Let your actions speak louder than your gender. Or race. Or socio-economic status. Or whatever, insert caveat here. I hope that we get to a point in our industry where, ‘I’m no stranger to male-dominated stages,’ sounds silly in my bio, because it doesn’t matter. Because it will mean we’re finally equal. And if there’s one thing working with Nike and with pro athletes has taught me, is to have audacious goals. And I really think that it shouldn’t sound crazy to us that there’s going to be a time—and we can be the ones who get us there—that it doesn’t matter if you’re female or male, it doesn’t matter what your race is, it doesn’t matter where you’ve come from, as long as you do what you can and want to do.” - Carren
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About Carren + Jim
Carren and Jim are Partners/Co-ECDs at AnalogFolk, an independent digital creative agency with offices in London, Sydney, New York, Portland, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Amsterdam. Carren is based in AF's Portland office and Jim in AF's New York office. They oversee and manage a team of 25 creatives across both offices with a mission to use digital to make the analog world better — through new technologies, product innovations and user-focused experiences.
Together, they have helped triple AnalogFolk’s US operations by creating award-winning work for brands including Nike, Facebook, CLIF and LUNA Bar, Blink Fitness and L’Oreal, among others.
Last year, Carren and Jim were chosen as two of 27 senior agency leaders charting a new course for the industry in Adweek's Creative 100 list and their Equal Pay Day work for LUNA Bar was named Campaign US' Inclusive & Creative Top 20.
Prior to AnalogFolk, Carren and Jim worked together at AKQA where they built campaigns and experiences for brands such as Nike, Google, Calvin Klein, Mondelez, XBox and Anheuser-Busch.