Tips on Teamwork: How to Collaborate, Take Criticism and More

As The Great Agency Adventure goes on, Steve Taylor leaves Boston's BEAM and heads to We Are Social in New York. With two agencies under his belt, get his insights on how to collaborate, work with near strangers, land at the right agency and, naturally, keep Portland weird.

On How to Take Criticism

Jillian Kurvers: Each month you have the pleasure of walking into an established agency and shaking things up. Naturally, you're bound to get some feedback. How have you dealt with constructive criticism?

Steve Taylor: Coming into a new environment is a challenge and it's never easy sharing your ideas when you're unfamiliar with the people you're working with. Plus, there's a stigma around being "the new guy" that you have to overcome as you sync up with each team's way of thinking. It can be nerve-racking, but getting constructive criticism helps you learn different ways to shape your thoughts and how to approach ideas from new perspectives.

On Teamwork and How to Collaborate When You're the New Guy

JK: Speaking of being the new guy, when you show up to each agency, not only are you the new guy, but you're also the temporary guy. How does this affect how you collaborate and work with new team members?

ST: Working as a team – whether you're brand new or have been around for years – means building on the ideas of others. Seeing a team of creatives labor and toil together, rather than as individuals, is inspiring. You really see the power of each contribution as a simple idea evolves into a great concept.

Being both new and a short-term employee, my advice on working with different creative teams is to listen. Too often we're so wrapped up in our own ideas that we miss that spark of genius that comes from hearing what others are thinking and how others might interpret or tweak our own ideas.

On Finding Yourself at the Right Agency

JK: In your Day Fifty-Three blog post you say, "Don't force your agency to be something it’s not. Build a team that understands one another and find a balance that works for everyone. That's how you'll find your true identity."

What advice do you have for young creatives who are trying to find their place at the right agency?

ST: I think the people and the place are the two biggest factors. In order to feel happy and inspired in your career, you have to love your time in and out of the office.

JK: How can you tell if you're going to be a good fit?

ST: I think it has a lot to do with how agencies present themselves and the work they're doing. If you're a fun-loving designer, you may not enjoy working for a firm that specializes in quick-turnaround direct mail pieces. Take a look at their website to get a sense of their clients, the work they do for them and, if available, the people who work there.

On Keeping Portland Weird

JK: Congratulations on nailing down your November agency, Pollinate, in Portland. How do you intend to keep Portland weird?

ST: I like to think of myself as weird. But I think the best way to keep Portland weird is to support the creative endeavors of the city.


This month, Steve heads to We Are Social in New York. Check back for updates on The Great Agency Adventure and follow our coverage on Twitter and Instagram, where we'll be using #tgaa to tag photos and updates.

Related posts on The Great Agency Adventure: