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Fast Forward 2014 – Week One

It’s hard to believe that a year has gone since the last NABS Fast Forward - but it must have because here we are, fresh faced and ready for a new challenge. Joining us on that challenge is a new group of the most talented, ambitious and motivated young people in our business – which is in equal parts terrifying and exciting as a mentor. As usual they are drawn from across our industry, preserving Jeremy Bullmore’s original intent to unite media and creativity. But this year we also have media owners and clients in our midst. A brave joining of hands indeed.

Jo Arden_23redIn a very smart revamp of the first night format, Mark Lund and Jeremy Bullmore are joined after their initial welcomes and musings by Claire Valoti, James Murphy and Mark Creighton to discuss what Communications means to them. We hear opinions ranging from the need to cut through Big Data and find the human insight, to the idea that measurement is broken, and on the power of collaboration. We also hear that on NABS Fast Forward you may meet people you never wish to set eyes on again – which I for one do not believe.

Hearing some of our industries most successful and erudite speakers on these topics is fascinating and inspiring, but what struck me most was the smart and insightful questions from our delegates. It’s always difficult to get people started on questions but no such fear with this year’s bunch. Some of their questions challenged even the well versed and expert thinkers on our panel and responses were honest and occasionally contradictory.

Next week is the brief and my team have all laid bets (it’s good to harness their competition early on I feel!) on what the topic might be, and if they are right, we are in for one hell of an Autumn. Welcome back NABS Fast Forward.

Jo Arden
Head of Strategy, 23red & Fast Forward Mentor

Dear Lorraine #1

Welcome to our new regular feature ‘Dear Lorraine’. Lorraine Jennings, head of support at NABS, tackles your career queries and concerns.

If there’s a question you’d like Lorraine to answer regarding anything to do with your working life, send an email to

Q: Business hasn’t been doing too well lately and I’ve heard rumours that changes are happening. My company hasn’t yet said anything and I don’t know whether I can ask management outright and I don’t know who to ask. I’m worried I might end up being let go, should I start looking for a new job now?

LorraineLJ: I can appreciate this must be a concerning time for you, particularly when there is so much uncertainty. Companies constantly need to evolve and adapt in order to get ahead, or if business isn’t doing too well, to simply stay afloat and fears can arise during times of change, particularly when there is limited communication.

I would suggest that if you are concerned then your line manager is a good starting point for a friendly chat. They may be aware of the rumours so won’t necessarily be surprised with you asking them directly for some clarity on what’s going on, but in order for them to prepare, you may want to let them know in advance what you wish to discuss. Be aware that they may not have the exact answers you’re looking for yet, particularly if many of the business decisions haven’t yet been finalised.

Having a chat first with someone in management will give them an opportunity to clarify matters and will be an indicator that more may need to be done to ease staff concerns. Whilst NABS is not here to tell you whether you should start looking for a new job, getting more information or knowing that things are yet to be finalised may help to guide you on your next steps and at least make you feel a bit better for taking some action. If you would like to run through what you want to say before having that chat, the Advice Line is a great sounding board or you’re very welcome to speak to us following that chat to talk through your options in more detail.

For more information on our services visit the NABS website, or call the NABS Advice Line for confidential, unbiased advice and support on 0800 707 6607.

Jamil Qureshi at NABS

On the face of it, a performance psychologist-come-stand-up-comedian might not fit with the usual NABS Tuesday Club Talk speaker line-up. But just as the England football team has been finding out on the way to the World Cup, a performance psychologist can be the perfect companion on the road to achieving your full potential.

And so we found out on Tuesday night as Jamil Qureshi, performance coach extraordinaire took to the floor at Posterscope, determined to teach us five values that can be useful for our industry and our careers.

For those who weren’t there to experience the talk for themselves we’ve outlined just a few snippets of his best advice:

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Finding Balance as a Working Parent

Busyness is our badge of honour in the advertising industry. We’ve truly become pros. Leaving work before 6.30? Wouldn’t dream of it. Sick days? Never! Lunch breaks?? Shmunch breaks!

It reminds me of my first job. A lowly grad in a top London ad agency. Without many responsibilities (I was very junior after all) it soon became evident that I absolutely COULD NOT leave before 6.30, even if I was more often than not done and dusted by 5ish. Why? Because that was what was expected. To earn my stripes, I had to stay late. To stay late I had to look busy. Even if that meant pretending to be less efficient with my time than I actually was.

But now; now that I am accountable and have people and projects to manage, I actually relish busyness. It keeps me safe in the knowledge that the work I’m doing is making a difference.

NABS’ latest visiting coach, Sharon Carlton-Thomson of The Working Parent Company tells us that this is to be expected. We’re happiest when we feel that the work we’re doing is of value, that we’re getting things done. It gives us a sense of fulfilment and completion. It also plays to our desire to please those around us; to be of use, to prove our worth.

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Overcoming guilt as a working parent

Words by Sybille Chrissovelini

Deep breath in: “My name is Sybille Chrissoveloni and I’m big time pregnant and have a one year old at home, as well as working full time as a business partner at Ogilvy on an international account…” Deep breath out.

You can imagine then that NABS’ first Working Parents Workshop on how to deal with “the guilt” was just up my alley. Sharon Charlton-Thomson from the Working Parent Company hosted the session, and she was able to deconstruct the myths around guilt. What it is, why we have it, and most importantly how to manage it.

Sharon started by teaching us that there are two types of guilt: healthy and unhealthy.

Healthy guilt acts like a moral compass; it works in a positive way and helps you stop to think, press pause in your mind and make a different decision.

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Jon Mitchell – start-ups from your bedroom

Last Tuesday, ex-Spotify VP of ad sales North America and chief revenue officer of Znaptag, Jon Mitchell, gave an insightful talk to Partner Card holders on the world of start-ups and how he moved from the bedroom to the boardroom. As Jon took the audience through the trials, tribulations and triumphs of working for one of the world’s most successful start-ups, what became apparent for most is that we can all apply an entrepreneurial ethos to how we approach our careers.

Here are some of Jon’s best tips from the night:

Take considered risks, and don’t give up

What connects some of the world’s biggest success stories – the likes of Richard Branson or Elon Musks – is that they’ve never been afraid to take risks. They dreamt big and they worked hard, and their risks paid off. However,this approach requires a determined vision and you shouldn’t take risks lightly. Work out the worst case scenario before you take that leap. Jon pointed out that he took a risk leaving a good job at The Chart Show to join Spotify, then largely unheard of in the UK, but he believed in the organisation’s vision and knew it could work.

Don’t do it for the money

Big, money-making ventures like Google and Spotify are the unicorns of the start-up world. Mitchell explained that money should never be the motivation when joining or creating something from scratch, your motivation should be that you’re doing something you love and believe in. It’s a piece of advice that we should all take into our daily roles; if you’re doing something you enjoy, then that should be incentive enough.

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Could a career coach really help me?

Words by Emma Pratt, careers coach at NABS

You’ve heard of career coaching haven’t you?  You might even have a friend or colleague who’s worked with a coach.  Perhaps you’ve contemplated having career coaching yourself, but you’re not entirely sure what it is and then, you don’t really need a coach do you?  After all, you’ve done alright so far, you’re intelligent and you’re resourceful.  So why would you need a career coach and how could career coaching possibly help you?

The benefits of coaching are actually almost limitless as our career needs, challenges and aspirations constantly change and evolve over the course of our working lives.  Be it the desire to be promoted, optimise performance in a current role, develop leadership skills, increase confidence, gain insight, or work out a career path, coaching can be of benefit at various career stages to achieve many different goals.

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Calling all heroes

Words by Nicky Harris, director of partnerships & events

In a recent i-media article ‘Why people hate the Ad industry’; dishonesty, greed, contrivance and condescension were cited as typical Adland traits – a rather embarrassing image problem for a ‘people business’ dependent on relationship building.

This led me to think about the human stories behind some of the best ads, the clients I’ve met, the people I’ve worked with in advertising and the many characters I’ve encountered during my years at NABS.

The personalities that spring to mind (if we take out a couple that skew the results!) include talented, dedicated and brilliant individuals that work tirelessly to get the job done and continue to surpass expectations with boundless enthusiasm and vision.

During a recent NABS Tuesday Club Talk, Cilla Snowball urged us all to push advertising up the business agenda and shake off its bad reputation. “With every £1 of adspend delivering £6 to UK GDP; advertising is a vital enabler of and catalyst for the UK consumer economy.”

At NABS we need no reminder to stand proud of our industry. From our Board of Trustees to our Committees, 100 Club leaders, Patrons and Ambassadors, NABS is guided and supported by truly remarkable examples of personal generosity, inspired thinking and community minded spirit.

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I want a new job, where do I start?

Words by Emma Pratt, careers coach at NABS.

So, you’re thinking that it may be time for a change.  Time to move on, step up and advance your career.  You may have had a great two, five, ten years with your current employer, learnt a lot, worked with talented people and advanced through the ranks but are just feeling it’s time for a new challenge or a fresh start.  Or, perhaps you are feeling stuck in your current role, desperately wanting to move forwards but the opportunity just doesn’t seem to be there.

Either way, you want a new job, but where do you start looking and how do you know if the job will be right for you?

These are very common questions and concerns for anyone who is considering a move.  Making a change involves moving away from what is comfortable and familiar and taking a chance by stepping into the seemingly unknown.  Scary stuff, but there are ways to make the process easier and a lot more reassuring.Here are NABS career coaches’ top five tips to find the role that’s right for you.

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Has experience gone out of fashion?

By Zoe Osmond, NABS

“I work in advertising and am in my early thirties. My boss keeps making jokes that this is a “young person’s game” — it makes me feel that I’m too old to still be doing it. Do I change my career at this stage? Or not listen, and carry on while I still can?” (Letter to Marie O’Riordan in The Times)

It’s come to something, hasn’t it, when our industry’s dirty linen gets washed in a national newspaper’s glossy Saturday section?

Marie’s response to this question noted that “…it may indeed be time for some life-changing moves.” Unfortunately, ad people in that age bracket contemplating ‘life-changing moves’ is hardly a new phenomenon. And it’s been like this since what seems like the dawn of time.

For decades now our industry has had the same age profile: half of its population under the age of 30 and only five percent over the age of 50. It’s a steep-sided pyramid where it is incredibly tough for the middle group of 30- and 40-somethings to stay on board.  The topic is a perennial one that here at NABS we regularly revisit and explore.

Of course there are good reasons for our industry’s demographic bias: youth is seen to bring new talent, fresh ideas, originality and innovation.  But are these qualities solely the domain of the young? Can we really not get our house in order?

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