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Entrepreneur Insights: 8 tips for fostering creativity in your business

Entrepreneur Insights: 8 tips for fostering creativity in your business

Posted on: November 21, 2013
Author: ATB Business & Agriculture

Zahra Al-Harazi, CEO and Creative Director of Foundry Communications, explains how her company makes creativity a priority.

In the communications and marketing industry, creativity is competitive. To land a client, you don't just need the big idea—you need the best big idea, the best pitch, and the best plan to bring the campaign to life.

So Zahra Al-Harazi, the head of one of Calgary's top creative firms, knows a lot about creativity. As CEO and Creative Director of Foundry Communications, Zahra not only hires creative thinkers, she also works hard to develop a work environment and organizational structure that promotes creativity in all aspects of her business.

Here are Zahra's top 8 creativity tips:

  1. Hire the right people—not only for their skills, but also for their contributions to your culture.

    "We have to love coming to work. We have to come to work and be excited and creative and do something different, so the culture and how everybody gets along is really important."

    "We spend so much time a day at work, more so than you do at home, so we do fun stuff like yoga in the office at lunchtimes, or bring in soup on Wednesdays, or plan a glow-in-the-dark bowling day."

  2. Hire the right people, and then "get the hell out of their way."

    "If I were to continually tell my creative team what to do or hold their hands or be a control freak, then they're not going to get to be creative and have fun at this. We're lucky we're in a job where we get to have fun every day, so there's no control freak here."

  3. Be curious and embrace what you discover.

    "Every day I find something that we focus on that is good and exciting about Foundry, about our work, about our business, and about our clients. One day, we had a client come into the office, and through Facebook I knew it was his birthday. So we came up with cake and candles."

    "Little wins, big wins—I don't really try to differentiate between them. I think they are all really exciting things that happen."

  4. Be a sponge (but sponge off people who know what they're talking about).

    "Find mentors. They are easy—they are everywhere. You can call people, and they are more than happy to sit down and talk to you about anything that you need to know."

  5. Rethink the tried and true.

    "When I worked for other people, I found that there were certain ways of dealing with the clients or certain ways of adhering to time sheets. We had X amount of time to do the job, and we had to stick to it in order to be profitable."

    "And here, I do things differently. My accountants hate me because we do the job until we do it right, and it doesn't matter what the timesheet says."

  6. Revisit your core values.

    "Things like integrity, honesty, and excellence did not make their way into our core values, because those were a given. They're set in stone and they're non-negotiable. So our core values are things like: Be curious. Laugh. Surround yourself with good people. Leave something behind."

  7. Take risks, Alberta-style.

    "Alberta's's got this intangible, maverick, entrepreneurial spirit. People here, they're a bit more reckless. They're a bit more risk-taking. They are willing to take a chance. They are willing to ask a question."

  8. Remember the cat.

    "We always say here that curiosity did indeed kill the cat, but then again, it had nine lives and it learned something new every time."

To hear more from Zahra and other Alberta entrepreneurs, visit our We Grow Alberta page

Or to learn more about Foundry Communications, visit