Pelle Sjoenell: 'There’s no such thing as a problem'
Posted on October 18, 2018 | By Nils Adriaans & Gijs de Swarte

Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) has been one of the world’s leading agencies over the last decades. The Sweed Pelle Sjoenell, winner of multiple Cannes Lions, is the successor of co-founder and legendary creative Sir John Hegarty. Sjoenell’s favorite subject is how creativity can better your career, the world, as well as your personal life.

 

Pelle Sjoenell: ‘Creativity as the solution to every problem, as the way to progress in your career, and to better your personal life, as well as the world – I love it. Yes, it’s my favorite subject. It’s also something I read about as much as possible.

Creativity is…

As Einstein said: “creativity is intelligence having fun.” Which doesn’t mean we should see creativity as some sort of extra or bonus. It is the most important thing we have.

Many scientists believe that humans, just like animals, at first accepted nature like it was – without judging: mountains, trees, the cold, warmth, darkness, light, water, plants, food, animals, just there. But at the same time life’s challenges started to ignite imagination within humans. How can we be safer? How can we create a better life? Humans developed a sense of community, of territory, created tools, with which they solved problems, like killing animals, making fire and building houses. And evolutionary, those who were most creative survived the longest.

“…It’s helpful to know that problems are fundamental ingredients for creativity and progress; in life, in business and especially in our industry.”

‘So creativity is surviving. Creativity is problem solving. In that sense, nothing has changed. If we take a look at the current situation in our business for a moment, we all have access to data and knowledge, and we should use that of course. But it’s how you apply it - that makes you stand out. In other words, how creative are you with the data and knowledge we all have access to? I have specific ideas about that too of course. We all are aware of the shift from traditional advertising to sponsored entertainment. The obvious rationale - people now pay to avoid advertising, and at the same time they pay for entertainment. The future is to those agencies that are brave enough to fully accept and embrace the shift. Agencies that leave advertising as we know it behind, and will invest in people who are able to create true entertainment for brands.'

“People now pay to avoid advertising, and at the same time they pay for entertainment. The future is to those agencies that are brave enough to fully accept and embrace the shift.”

The method

‘But let's get back to the main point - how do you apply all that into your personal and professional life? There was a crucial moment in my life, when I discovered 'the method'. Or differently put, when I realized the value of what I already had been doing on instinct for a while. I’m from Sweden and I got the chance to give my career an enormous boost by going to the US, which meant global accounts, bigger budgets, new responsibilities and meeting all kinds of new talent. Totally great! But I had already started a family and bought a house. So, my wife and I deliberated for a while if we would sell the house. As an investment, or a back up, that kind of thing. Until I read a book on explorers in earlier times and bumped into a story about Vikings - Swedes basically, who would burn their boats if they reached new territory. They actually purposefully 'created' a problem. They closed off the way back, to force themselves to do whatever it took to survive and eventually flourish. So we sold the house…

‘Now I don’t want to preach you should always look for problems, but it’s helpful to know that problems are fundamental ingredients for creativity and progress; in life, in business and especially in our industry. In other words, there’s no such thing as a problem. I can honestly say that seeing problems as masters that teach creativity, made my career, for a large part at least.’