Ricki Goldhamer is a dear friend of mine and we last heard from her in my series about people who have made major changes in their lives, and she had just moved to L.A. We’re going to catch up with her to find out how it’s going on the west coast, get her wisdom on being a creative in advertising and hear how she is creative in her own life.
Me: Ricki, you inspired many people with how courageously you left your home in NYC and moved out to LA with your dreams in your head and that irresistible smile. How’s it going?
Ricki: Ha! That’s too sweet. And seriously, I followed the sunshine, escaped the stress and now have friends and family visiting so much it’s like I never left home. To answer your question – my mid-life crisis has been very, very good to me. Better than I imagined.
Me: How is your life different in LA than it was in NYC?
Ricki: Driving sucks – but no crowded, sweaty, claustrophobic subways either. No one invading my personal space (very often). I actually listen to the radio – and sing. Loudly. Every day I jump out of bed, throw open the blinds and smile at the blue skies, the Hollywood Hills to my left, the LA skyline to my right. I actually do pinch myself. I am more relaxed, focused and at peace. Most of the time.
Me: What do you miss about NYC?
Ricki: My friends – seeing them at a moment’s notice. Having everything within arm’s reach, accessible, the ‘central-ness’, neighborhood feel of a city. LA is spread out. And honestly, I feel New Yorkers are friendlier and more open, direct, straight shooters. I do NOT miss the cold, erratic weather, the frenetic energy, the running to stand still. Done, finito with that life.
Me: What are you doing now?
Ricki: I run Talent & Operations for a media company in Burbank — which basically means I do everything from hiring, employee development, training, and more. I even got to redecorate our office (the frustrated stylist in me was very fulfilled). Recently I’ve added the Chicago office and some NYC based teams to my kingdom so I’ve been traveling back and forth (inclement weather permitting).
Me: You’ve worked with many creative people over the years, what is the biggest challenge that a creative person has in their career?
Ricki: Wow. If I had to pick one thing it would be confidence. Creative people are incredibly sensitive and at times lose faith in themselves and their ability/talent. In the advertising world, it’s a by-product of not being able to produce satisfying work because of, shall we say, client restrictions (okay, idiocy). Or not feeling inspired. Worse yet is lack of motivation or support around them. Being challenged is key too. Nothing kills creative joy more than being bored.
Me: What is the best way for them to overcome this challenge?
Ricki: Keep your personal creative endeavors alive and kicking. Never put them aside for too long because you have no time or are exhausted just trying to pay the bills. Force yourself to create – it will feed your soul.
Me: What qualities make a strong creative leader?
Ricki: Decisiveness and risk taking. Motivating your team. Nurturing talent. Creative people do not suffer fools gladly and many do not actually know how to manage different personalities, or give clear direction. They lose patience. Nothing worse than a leader who micromanages, doesn’t contribute an original thought or idea, is clueless on how to give direction and needs to put their ‘mark’ on everything produced either.
Me: What qualities make a creative at any level strong?
Ricki: Push the limits every time, on every project. If you work in an advertising or marketing environment think strategically, the idea has to resonate with every audience, internal and external. If you make music, paint, sculpt or take photos – take even more risks and follow your heart.
Me: Do you have any words of wisdom for how a creative person can have a great and enduring career?
Ricki: Don’t be afraid to fight (rationally) for what you believe in. Also at some point ask yourself and decide – do I want to continue to be ‘hands on’ or do I want to manage the people who are ‘hands on’? And always find a muse, an inspiration, a goal.
ME: Speaking of inspiration, I wrote a post recently and mentioned how you express yourself creatively through your personal style. How would you describe your personal style?
Ricki: You can take the girl out of New York… even in sunnier climes I have my share of black, but I was never afraid of color or what some may feel is risky. Like coloring or cutting my hair – or wearing a ‘piece’ of jewelry. Though I’m not exactly a giant, most days I feel much taller than I am. I’m not a shrinking violet or wallflower and I guess my style reflects that. A bit bold, or perhaps edgy for some people. Hell, if I like something I’m going to figure out a way to wear it so it suits ME.
Me: What IS it about fashion for you?
Ricki: Self expression. A way to strut and fret my hour on the stage. I’m sure there is something Freudian here. But even as a kid I was braiding and cutting my sisters’ hair, picking out clothes for them. Wait, I’m still doing that. Hmmm. I think it’s just plain fun for me – come on, you get to play dress up every day!
Me: On a scale of 1 to 10, could you tell us how you rate your Satisfaction Quotient (1 being nonexistent and 10 being off the charts, great) and why you’ve chosen this number?
Ricki: I would say off the charts for the majority of the time. 10+10+10. Though you do bring yourself everywhere you go, so I shouldn’t be surprised that I still have lessons to learn. That people can still surprise me – in the best and worst of ways. But I choose 10 because of my job and the people with whom I work. They are just, well, extraordinary. Generous. Big-hearted. Smart. And more. And fun – did I mention that we laugh all the time? I’ve met mostly loving, amazing new friends (and go figure, the occasional romance) and reconnected with old ones. I’ve taken drawing classes, jewelry making and next, voice lessons (I could still be discovered you know). I live in a big bright apartment full of open space, where the sun shines in through the windows and the pool outside reflects on my ceiling. Weekend trips to San Diego, wine country…
Me: That sounds pretty amazing. What has become a staple in LA?
Ricki: A bathing suit and flip-flops at the ready in my car. Driving home down miles of palm tree lined streets, watching the sun set in the west. Western sunsets are ridiculously beautiful, they almost make me believe in god (almost). Eating al fresco 365 days a year. Fresh fruit and vegetables in every restaurant. The most amazing sushi. Driving to the beach for fresh seafood and a peak at the Pacific. And the casualness of the every day, that applies to everything including dressing. Cut off shorts at work – really? Okay I’ve still retained my NYC dress style, some things never change.
Me: So that the people who don’t know you, can see what I’m talking about, could you share some of your favorite accessories?
Sure, here are a few of my favorite things:
Me: These are beautiful, Ricki and it’s so nice to hear you so happy. Thank you for talking with me. I’ve got to get myself out there! You had me at eating al fresco.