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Creative Leadership in Action:
Romy Suskin, Photographer + Studio Owner

Romy

Not many people can claim both Courtney Love and Walmart in their portfolio, but Romy Suskin can. She’s also shot Ozzy Osbourne, Alicia Keyes and Christina Aguilera; been published in Rolling Stone; and worked with VH1, Motorola, Verizon, Samsung, BBDO and R/GA. The photographer/studio owner/retouching genius is also a Creative Executive Method grad. She gave us some time to share what works for her as a solopreneur.

When do you feel most empowered at work?

When my goals are clear and I’m in that creative zone. Most often, that means that many production pieces have come together so that I can be standing in that moment where the only thing to do is focus on drawing out the most beautiful image I can from what’s in front of me.

How do you build trust with your team?

By showing up, keeping my word and communicating as clearly as possible about my expectations and my commitments.

What’s your best tip for others on how to Make it Happen with their goals?

Making it happen for me usually means I have to hurdle the procrastination or an overwhelm fence at least once per project. I have a very jumpy mind and I always have multiple projects going at once. The key for me is list-keeping and a constant review of the priorities.

What is the greatest challenge you have overcome in your career?

The most important thing I’ve learned over the years is to value my own work and my own process. Balancing the importance of seeing what can be improved (there’s always something) with seeing the quality and experience I bring to what I do is key. It’s easy to let self-doubt or delusion take over. I try to keep the emphasis on where I want to go next rather than where I’ve been. It’s taken a long time to be able to look at my own work objectively and to constructively filter the opinions of others. But being able to do that makes all the difference.

What’s one of the greatest examples of leadership you’ve witnessed in your career?

I worked on a film festival once in San Francisco with two people who were co-directing this 10-day event. They were two of the most quiet, gentle and funny people I’ve ever met. They were respectful, gracious and extremely well-organized. They never raised their voices or showed any signs of stress or upset — but the pace and festive nature of the event was never muted by their approach. Meetings were streamlined, short and full of smiles. They both had the ability to keep their leadership in the forefront but never dominated anyone unpleasantly. It was almost magical. I think of them often when I see others try to use the power of their position to force a team to produce.

It taught me to really consider what I bring in to the space when I’m in a leadership position. I’m not the same kind of person in temperament, but I strive to keep the quality of my workspace serene and lighthearted while keeping momentum and productivity high.

What was your biggest insight from taking The Creative Executive Method?

The Creative Executive Method gave me an opportunity to look at the journey I’ve been on, what I’ve accomplished and what the next area of growth could be. I realized I have been too much of a lone wolf, more naturally inclined to do it all myself than collaborate. This course gave me insights into how to recognize the team I have around me and engage with it more effectively. I also have vision now of how I want to grow a bigger team in the future.

What are you most excited about within your career moving forward?

I’m excited about seeing my daydreams become my realities. And about the people I get to work with next.

You can find Romy here  or @romydidthis

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