Voice from Ronald Ng: Creativity Is a Global Language to Connect People
“You’ll never be ready for anything.”
That’s what impressed us most when DigitasLBi North America CCO Ronald Ng stood on the stage of OneShow China and shared with us his early story in which his boss said to him when he felt less confident to be the judge of an awards SHOW sixteen years ago. As opportunities always come along with challenges, you’ll never be ready for anything. Although Ronald has held the top creative positions at DigitasLBi North America, he still has this feeling almost every morning which continuously drives him forward.
As a seasoned creative leader, Ronald has over 20 years of industry experience in both the east and west, and inspired his teams to win numerous awards. ADQUAN has invited him to share his insights into creativity, leadership as well as the balance between work and life.
Q: How did you start your career in the advertising industry and keep the lasting passion for creativity?
R: Like a lot of students here, I went to advertising school in the US. I majored in advertising AND broadcasting. Then I went back to my home- Malaysia. I got the first job in JWT. I wanted to be a copywriter, I did the famous JWT copy test and got the job in 1995.
Advertising is a very tough business, so it’s only suitable for people who have passion. If you don’t have the passion, this business will really drain you. It is a lot of fun, but it is also a lot of hard work. So passion is what drives me and passion is the reason why I do this, because I love my job and be able to create for brands everyday. I love to be able to be extensions for my clients’brands. Be able to help them build their brands and through the brands affect communities in the positive way. That’s why I do this everyday. I am passionate about this BUT it’s tough. It’s very rewarding at the same time. Because when you look at the product of all those hard work, it is worth it.
Q: You have led different creative teams in different countries and achieved great success. How do you view the major differences in those markets? How did you adapt yourself to different places and encourage the creativity of your team members and give full play to their strengths?
R: Different markets have different people, different types of clients as well as different audiences. But at the core creativity and HUMAN IDEAS is how you connect with people at a human level. So regardless of which markets you are from, what language you speak. If you speak to the heart with unique creativity, I think you are able to connect with people. So I think it works regardless of whether you are in Asia, North America or in Europe. If you speak FROM THE heart, WITH creativity THAT is unique, AND has never BEEN seen before, I think half your job is done. Therefore, I think it’s much as IT’s different in different markets, creativity is a global language it can help someone thrive in ANY market they work in.
Q: In your opinion, what’s the definition of a great work? Do you have some specific requirements for a great work?
R: Regardless of whether it’s new technology or new media landscape, creativity still needs to do the same thing which will touch people at a human level. Make people do something and change people’s behavior. Technology, media and data enable us to do things better in different ways. At the most basic level, and that will never change, creativity needs to affect people at a human level emotionally, make them do something, make them feel something, make them think in a different way and benefit the brand.
Q: What’s your hobby in daily life? Does that help in your work?
R: I love playing tennis. I am not good at tennis, but I love tennis. I love playing tennis with my wife and kids. Tennis is a lot like advertising. It is the hardest game in the world to do well in. Because it’s technical and you need to do it everyday to improve everyday, no matter IF it’s good day or bad day. But it is also the most enjoyable game in the world. So it’s hard and enjoyable. You get to do it everyday, and you need practice all the time and hopefully it will become better. But there’s no guarantee that you will be better. So I see that tennis has a similarity to what I do in my job. Because whether you love it or hate it, or both at the same time, it’s a very rewarding and satisfying job. But it’s also a challenging job. But if you have passion like playing tennis, like I am in advertising, then I think it will feel less like a job, but more like something that your passionate is about. Something you are doing because you love to do it.
Q: How do you balance your life and work?
R: It’s hard. I obviously spend a lot of time at work, but you do need to balance THAT with your PERSONAL life. So family helps ground me, family drives me. It’s why I do a lot of THE things in life at A personal or professional level. So I always remind me of myself, family is there. I definitely draw a line between the time I spend with my work and the time I spend with my family. They are both equally as important. It’s important to find balance in everybody’s life.
Q: What do you want to say to the young people in the creative industry?
R: It’s a great business. For young creatives today, there are so many tools that can help inspire them, more than they have ever been before, more than when I was a young creative. So young creatives should take advantage of all these tools and take advantage of all the things around you. Embrace culture, embrace life, embrace what’s around you in China. It’s so inspiring that everyday change is happening in China. It’s a lot like creativity, creativity never stands still. And the same in China. China changes by the second. Use all that because that will inspire you to create better work to inspire people, to surprise people WITH YOUR IDEAS. It’s a great business, but it’s a tough business. Persevere to the end, I think you will be very successful.