Anna Wintour’s secrets to creative success

Anna WIntour, Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue and Artistic director of Conde' Nast, speaks to the Oxford Union,Oxford,UK

There’s a reason why Anna Wintour is one of the world’s most influential figures, and today at Cannes Lions she shared some of her secret sauce. In a conversation with Christopher Bailey (that was ultimately two separately read speeches), the editor-in-chief of Vogue mentioned four key pillars of success including aim higher, dare to be different, use all your gold, and make interesting friends.

The latter she deemed the most important, citing numerous references to creatives and collaborators she now calls friends and sources of inspiration. Here are a few honorable mentions of people who meet some of Anna’s criteria:

Lin-Manuel Miranda: “In the past year, the world has become enamoured by Hamilton; what a strange idea,” she says. But for creator Lin, the hip-hop inspired musical based on Alexander Hamilton’s life made sense. “He recognised a possible idea and found a way to be authentic,” resulting in sold out shows for month. “You have a better chance of seeing Hamilton by getting cast in it. When people complain that theatre is for old, rich people, I tell them look at Hamilton…which is awesome for young, rich people,” she jokes.

Beyonce: At this point, who cannot be a Bey-loving writer, moved and mesmerised by her craft. Anna certainly was: “We all have to stretch our budgets, but you can’t cut your way to creativity. Consider Beyonce who, this spring, reimagined a new kind of album, a visual album that ran almost as long as a feature film.”

Brandon Stanton: The street photographer behind Humans of New York also follows Anna’s four lessons. “Street photography is not new, especially in New York. Brandon’s vision bridges street photography and print journalism. In December he flew to Jordan to photograph Syrian refugees and tell their story.”

Graydon Carter: Anna applauded the Vanity Fair editor for his risk taking after putting Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of the magazine. “Graydon created the most discussed cover of the decade. He kept the entire process undercover. When the news was ready to come out, Graydon released it with old school fan fair and a new school digital approach.”

Jony Ive: For designing a completely revolutionary device. “The iPhone didn’t just try to appease an audience, it created a new one.”

Michael Finkel: When this journalist wrote ‘The Strange & Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit‘, no one expected it to be the number one story in the history of GQ, leaving Anna wondering why “people (were) craving an odd story about an odd man that has nothing to do with current news?” The answer: “audiences want to feel as if they’ve found something special.”

Amy Schumer: Vogue’s current cover girl, and everyone’s favourite comedian, oozes Anna’s second pillar: dare to be different. The American actress is “a very human persona”, according to Wintour. “I don’t want to play the game, I want to redefine it,” Anna quotes, from Schumer’s latest feature.

Christopher Bailey: One of the true pioneers of digital in the fashion space, the CCO and CEO of Burberry ranks highly in Anna’s books. He was the “first designer to preview his show over Snapchat,” and ultimately “made Burberry an authentic label people connect to.” He fulfils the last pillar of ‘make interesting friends’, boasting people such as Chelsea Clinton and David Beckham. “I feel as if I learn something new every time I see him, so I find myself wanting to see him all the time,” she says.

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