Creative Management and Mentoring


Part two of the Eric Tscherne interview, guest-hosted by his former mentor at Mattel/Hot Wheels, Carson Lev. In this episode, the Gearheads look long and hard at the importance of management fostering creativity. The discussion works toward the successes in having management with a design background, and leading a creative team. This episode builds upon the last, and contains a wealth of information on navigating the landscape of design in a collaborative environment. Learn how a great design manager or management team can lead and clear a path for, rather than fight or derail a designer.

We are beyond thankful to our two friends for joining us and presenting this for your benefit. We hope that you’ll adopt many of the ideas discussed. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, that you’ll share them in the comments below. And if you’d like us to bring you more episodes, guests and topics like this, please let us know! Thanks for listening.


  • Birth of the “Audi-Body Experience” off-road ute project
  • Brian pitches “New Crystal Kambucha”
  • A serious discussion on why and how creative companies are winning in the new market
  • The importance of having creative-minded (an skilled) management leading creative staff
  • How “meaning” has changed in today’s market
  • Design beats marketing any day
  • Product development is purely creative
    – How creative design tells a story, which is what consumers want
  • Fostering creativity by management
    – The absolute failure of a company that fails to foster creativity
  • The change in retail shopping from big stores to direct and internet sales
    – Good design can lead the charge versus an entrenched, old-school brand
    – Designers and management must be linked to be successful
  • Image projection is the most important deciding factor in a purchase, and that is based upon design
    – Most new cars are sold on phone connectivity and image projection over the model or trim
    – If you are in management and do not respect your designer, you are dooming your business to fail
    – Management that won’t take risks never reap rewards
    – The golden rule of Design Management: Remove the obstacle that prevent your designer from doing their job
  • How instant gratification has altered he design/creative goals of companies


  • Design is the most intellectual process in any company
    – The Design Department as the central hub of any successful, modern company
  • When design is thought of as a utility, and not a commodity
  • A look at the many facets of design
    – The discipline of Industrial Design and its many values
    – “Putting gingerbread on” versus guiding a project from theme to completion
    – Poor design cannot be saved in the eleventh hour
    – No part of design is based on “like”
  • “You can hire me at the beginning for this much, or three times that at the end to fix it”
    – Hiring on skill versus price point
  • The recent trend of “designers” who cannot draw and what this means moving forward
    – Sketching/illustration ability speeds and enhances the process and improves communication
    – All sketches are important in formulating/communicating an idea
  • Turnover packages and control drawings being created by the designer
    – The “control” is in ensuring a cohesive final product/visual identity
  • Anything that you do not understand in the design process will be used against you
    – Where design fails via ignorance or lack of skill, for instance
    – The importance of spending the time in learning the manufacturing process of what you are designing
  • Design is not an adversarial process; stop treating it as an “us versus them” thing
    – Make great friends with the Engineers and even the Marketing people
    – “Show me what’s wrong,” OR: “Handle the issue in design to prevent seeing the design theme lost”


  • Nobody goes to a movie because they have to; design is about creating that want
  • On building collaborative environments
  • A good designer inspires the other team members to want to bring the idea to life
  • A high tolerance for innovation, but a very small one for failure
  • The snow skiing analogy and acceptance of failure
  • Driving beyond the edge; “success courts failure”
  • On learning where the line is as you cross it
  • How to ace a design team interview
  • Differentiating between passion and subjectivity



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Brian Stupski

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