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What I believe: inside the mind of a healthcare creative


Brand Insights - Thought Leadership | Paid Program

Halen Dang
Vice President, Creative Director
The Agency at MJH Life Sciences

Halen Dang
Vice President, Creative Director
The Agency at MJH Life Sciences

People who don’t produce “creative” ideas day in and day out often wonder what it’s like, and how it magically gets done. Creativity has a certain mystique about it—an allure of wonder and surprise. Yet the truth of the matter is that it’s one part inspiration, two parts perspiration, and three parts native talent. Creativity is a skill, like a facility with numbers or race-car driving smarts. You sit down knowing that you are going to get it done but also aware that getting there may be a challenge. One secret of any skilled person is that it’s fun to flex a muscle that grows stronger every time you use it. Pride is part of the job, and so is the joy of seeing others recognize your chops. For those out there seeking insights to being creative in healthcare communications, here’s what I believe after years of experience.

I get my best ideas when:

I think I don’t have anything left. I believe great ideas are earned. You dig and you dig and just when you feel like there is nothing left, there is always something great deeper on. You just have to keep going.

All the best ad concepts have this in common:

They are simple. Great ideas are direct and easy to understand. It seems like it should have been so easy, but you know it wasn’t.

The smartest piece of advice I’ve ever received:

Ironically, Stay Hungry. Except I don’t want to Stay Hungry; I want to Stay Starving. I constantly try to self-reflect and find areas I want to improve. I am never full.

The one thing I wish clients would do more of is:

Take risks. It takes a special kind of client that pushes us to do the unexpected. And it takes an even more special kind of client to actually do it.

The key to being a good creative leader is:

Caring. I think it’s important to care about your team and the work. You don’t need to sacrifice quality in one area to benefit the other.

My agency brings out the best in me because:

They trust me. I feel like the whole agency believes that I am always trying to do the best I can to help our agency win. I feel like I can be open and honest about my thoughts. I am fearless when it comes to my work, and it allows me to take more risks when I know that I have their support. It also makes me want to be the best I can, so I never let them down.

The one aspect of my job that I’d like to be better at is:

Everything. I think I’m smart enough to know that there’s always more to learn. It’s about constant growth.

The best thing about working in healthcare advertising is:

The heart. I never thought that crying at work was a good thing until I went into healthcare advertising. When I first started in the industry, it was always about doing cool, trendy work, and that was basically it. It wasn’t until I worked in healthcare that I felt a deeper meaning. You connect with such passionate, amazing people and clients. You hear their stories, and you can’t help but be more emotionally invested in the work.

My philosophy on being a great creative partner is:

Be the best complement. When it comes to day-to-day work, I think being a great partner means supporting each other’s strengths—helping your partner when they need help, and letting them do their thing when they are at their best.

If I went back in time 15 years, the advice I would give myself would be:

You don’t have to do it alone. I think I was the guy who bit off more than he could chew and thought it was a form of weakness to ask for help. I was just extremely working hard to look extremely bad. It took me a while before I realized that I have great people who could help, and I just needed to get out of my own way.

If I knew I could not fail, I would:

Wait…I can fail?