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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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Back to basics

Words by Kylie Spencer senior careers manager at NABS

It’s been a day of back to back meetings, I know I should be paying attention to what is being said but I can’t shake off the feeling tired and fuzzy-headed. Cue grumbling stomach. I look down at my watch, is that the time already? It’s 3pm and I’ve missed the lunch run!

What and when you eat can have a profound effect on your energy levels explains Jo Travers, dietician and this week’s NABS (the advertising industry support body) wellbeing expert. If all-day energy currently eludes you, your eating habits and food choices may need a shakeup.

Over the years, I’ve tried cutting out carbs, sugar and alcohol, introducing super foods, consuming foods that are either high or low on the Glycemic Index , not eating after 7pm and my share of fad diets; intermittent fasting, juicing, protein only – you name it, I have tried it!

It’s time to rip up the rule book and go back to basics.

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Good night, sleep tight: finding a good night’s sleep

There is no worldly reason why I should be awake right now.

I’ve done everything I’m meant to.

I’ve taken a relaxing, aromatic bath. I’ve had a glass of warm milk. I’m listening to whale song and channelling my chakra, for Pete’s sake, why am I still awake??

The presentation is tomorrow, it’s imperative that I sleep.

Just calm down. Try some of those visualisation exercises. Imagine the presentation is in a box, now close that box… Now… ok this isn’t working.

If this sounds in any way familiar, you’re one of 80% of the UK population who experience some form of sleeplessness, or 30% who suffer chronic sleep problems.

So what can be done? Dr Guy Meadows, sleep physiologist and founder of The Sleep School is NABS‘ (the advertising and media industry support organisation) latest Wellbeing expert. The school’s aim is to help people find ‘more energy and a richer and more meaningful life’ by promoting practical ways to get a better night’s sleep.

sleep

To follow Dr Guy’s method is to recognise that the person in the above scenario is going about things all wrong. Too often we see sleep as a battle. Of course, that’s not our intension. None of us go to bed purposely preparing for war. However, a war it can all too often become. The more we struggle, the more nights we spend experiencing the same problem, the less likely we are to sleep well.

The oft-repeated saying that we spend a third of our lives asleep is largely true. Sleep helps us recover our energy; it regulates our hormones, allows our body to grow and repair, strengthens our immune system, improves our mental health and, perhaps most ironically for those struggling to sleep, reduces our anxiety.

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Steven Moffat at NABS

What do you get when you mix Doctor Who, Sherlock and NABS? Despite sounding like a weird BBC special, this was the treat on offer to NABS Partner Card holders on Tuesday night as Steven Moffat, the brain behind both series, held a live Q&A, hosted at the offices of BBH.

The session, which formed part of our regular Tuesday Club Talks gave NABS Partner Card holders the chance to ask Steven questions on anything they desired.

Whilst he remained tight-lipped on Peter Capaldi as the new doctor, other than to say: “He’s brilliant,” Steven didn’t disappoint as he spoke candidly and enthusiastically about his role in revitalising two of the most popular modern British television series.

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What sports psychologists can teach the ad industry

Racing at 90mph, head-first, down an artificially frozen hill with more twists and turns than Silverstone… with no steering… on a tray. It takes a special kind of person to take up the Skeleton, with a unique set of skills: split-second decision making, nerves of carbon-fibre and razor-sharp clarity of mind.

But now, Lizzy Yarnold has become the second British woman in a row to win gold at the Winter Olympics doing just that. So maybe it’s not surprising to hear that the affable ‘Yargold’, who studied sports psychology at the University of Gloucestershire, did her final year dissertation on the subject of Mental Toughness.

John Neal, a performance coach, sports psychologist and this week’s NABS ‘wellbeing’ expert introduced the concept of mental toughness to our audience of ad folk, explaining how mental strength is all about CTUP: Correct Thinking Under Pressure.

Neal is an advocate of training the limbic system, the part of the brain responsible for how we perceive and see the world, so that we are not only able to better control our adrenaline responses – fight, flight and freeze – but can create new pathways in the brain that will enable us to cope better; be more consistent; and remain determined, focused, confident and in control under pressure.

And it’s not just a concept that applies to the world of sport. Business chatter is full of sports metaphors (“OK team, let’s kick-off with a ballpark figure to keep us on target!”), for good reason. Neal expands the metaphor further, to blur the lines between the two worlds: “Sport and business are both about people, process, teamwork and leadership. Sport is very good at one-to-one inspiration and motivation: business is about achieving results. It is performance based.”

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Chris Hirst on ‘Open Culture’

Our Tuesday Club Talks returned this week with a presentation from Chris Hirst CEO of Grey London. He spoke about the concept of ‘open culture’, providing tips and techniques on how to bring cultural change to our own organisations.

Hirst credits open culture as being the key to success at Grey London. Open culture helped Hirst turn the agency around, double it in size and achieve second place in Campaign’s 2013 agency of the year ranking.

Cynics can often be quick to turn their noses up at the first mention of culture in business. But Hirst showed how some of the biggest organisations such as IBM credit culture as a deciding factor for their success.

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A Mindfulness approach to observing raisins

Words by Luke Morris, senior project manager & communications manager at NABS.

So, you’ve made it. A year of hard work and stress, with barely a break. But finally – that thing at work taken care of – a train, a flight and a cab ride later, you’re on HOLIDAY! You stroll down to the beach and, sand under foot, your first sunset in god-knows-how-long.

As the sun begins to dip below the horizon, suddenly a thought creeps in: am I appreciating this moment? Oh no! Am I? What if I’m not? What if I forget to remember to pay attention to the sunset? Should I take a picture? Should I take a moment to think about the poor sods stuck back at the office? Oh god.

Enter ‘Mindfulness’.

The Eastern Buddhist philosophy, secularised and repurposed, is now gaining real traction in companies, schools and even prisons across the West. In the words of Mindfulness guru Jon Kabot-Zinn, it’s about paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.

NABS (the charity for the advertising and media industry), has been running Mindfulness workshops with practitioner and coach, Graham Lee. In a recent workshop, he explained that if we pay attention to our thoughts, feelings and sensations we can begin to appreciate every moment, every sunset.

With Mindfulness, we can learn to value those transient instants that can be all too often fleeting, by being fully aware of ourselves. To really notice our breath, sights, smells, sounds; the things that we’d ordinarily take for granted. To let go of our distractions, not by ignoring them, but by gently accepting them (or as one participant put it, ‘quelling all the mind chatter’).

Kabot-Zinn says: “The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.”

So what’s the difference between Mindfulness and plain old self-awareness? Lee explained that to be self-aware is to say: “I’m feeling stressed”, but to be Mindful is to say: “there is stress”. The subtle difference is the way we observe, accept and embrace even the negative.

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What we’ve learnt from our Tuesday Club Talks this year: Part seven

In the run-up to Christmas and the New Year, NABS takes a look back at some of the highlights and words of wisdom imparted to us through a great line-up of ad and media luminaries who spoke at our monthly Tuesday Club Talks.

Our Tuesday Club Talks are often a fantastic resource for young advertisers who want to glean and learn as much as they can from our illustrious line-up of speakers. This was certainly the case at our last Tuesday Club Talk of the year as James Murphy, founder and CEO of adam&eveDDB, Chris Hirst, CEO of Grey London and Sid McGrath, chief strategy office of Karmarama held a live Q&A session to end the year in style.

Here are some of their best tips from the night on how to survive, thrive and succeed in advertising:

Energy and talent come hand in hand

In an industry bustling with creative talent you run the risk of being lost in the shuffle if you lack drive and commitment. Hirst urged attendees to have a positive, can-do attitude to make yourself stand-out in your agency and beyond. The advertising and media industry can be a tough environment and you must be prepared to keep working at it and putting yourself out there to be seen and heard.

Take a positive from negative experiences

This is something that affects us all, and the speakers pointed out that it was completely normal to occasionally dislike what you do. It doesn’t mean you aren’t cut out for the industry or indeed that role. Take what you can from these experiences and channel your dissatisfaction into something positive and make a change that is right for you.

Don’t be afraid to be different

All too often we can be scared to be different. But you shouldn’t always follow everybody else if you think differently. Think of some of the most successful ad campaigns and you’ll notice that the campaign that stood out the most was the one that carved its own path. The industry needs people to go against the flow and from time to time highlight where things can be better in order to create the best possible product for clients.

Be honest

The panel’s closing statement was perhaps the most poignant point of the night. Whilst the advertising industry doesn’t always praise honesty, it should. If we’re honest with ourselves, our clients and the people we work with we can be astonishingly successful.

An honest atmosphere can create a comfortable working environment for you and your colleagues to thrive and succeed in. So in 2014, what do you plan to be honest about?

Our NABS Tuesday Club Talks return on January 21st with Chris Hirst. For more info about the rest of our events visit here.

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