NABS Creative Speed Mentoring – Wednesday 6th March

After the success of last year’s launch event. last week we hosted our second NABS Creative Speed Mentoring at Gallery DIFFERENT courtesy of News International who kindly donated the space.

A large crowd of young practitioners turned up, keen to rub shoulders and get up close and personal with some of the most prestigious and inspirational creative names in the industry.

The mentors included: David Buonaguidi, founder & chief creative officer, Karmarama; Flo Heiss, executive creative director, Dare; Guy Moore, creative director, Leo Burnett; Malcolm Poynton, European chief creative officer, SapientNITRO; Mike Hannett, deputy executive creative director, AMV BBDO and Steve Henry, co-founder & creative director, Decoded.

Here’s a round-up of some of the advice we heard over the course of the night:

On advice to a young creative starting out in the industry…

David Buonaguidi: “Make sure you choose the right agency; this can be difficult but it’s got to be one that suits you and your personality. I look at agencies a bit like restaurants because they’re all so diverse. Start off with some of the basics, for example do you want to work for a big agency or a smaller independent one?

Most importantly choose an agency that has clients you’d like to work for. This will help ensure the work that you’re doing inspires and excites you.”

Mike Hannett “First and foremost, grow a thick skin; this is a lesson you need to learn quickly. Look past the rejections, you’ll get a lot of them, and make sure you continue to believe in your work.

Most importantly enjoy your job. We all work very hard and if we have fun doing it then our work will reflect that. Also, if you’re invited to lunch – always go!”

Flo Heiss “To get far in this line of work you need a combination of good luck and hard work. I’ve met some truly talented people along the way, and collaborating with them helps. You should always apply yourself and make the most of any brief you’ve been given. Work hard and stand out.

Whilst the industry can be infuriating and crap at times, most of the time you’re riding a high. It’s always exciting, never gets boring and you always find yourself learning, and that’s important.”

Malcolm Poynton “Don’t have any regrets and always look forward. There’s no point resting on your laurels.

You should find your own balance. I’m not a big life planner but I’m naturally competitive and I’ve succeeded because of that. I do have admiration for those who map out their every move but you have to remember to live. That said, be clear on what you want to do and go have fun achieving it.”

Steve Henry “All great ideas have something in them that’s easy to kill, so as part of the creative process you need to be able to explain what is wrong with it. When someone turns down your idea it can be hard. But if you can articulate and defend your work effectively then it can make it a lot less easy to be turned down.”

On questions about what to do with your portfolio…

Flo Heiss “It’s important to sell yourself and ensure that you have two or three good ideas in your portfolio. But I also look for more than that. I want to see a different side to you and what sets you apart from others. Show me your passion and what drives you.

It doesn’t matter to me if you haven’t come from an arts background; if your portfolio and work is good then that’s all that counts.”

Guy Moore “I want a portfolio that’s simple and clear in its presentation. I think it’s a mistake to put so much detail in your portfolio. Let your work speak for itself. Keep it simple, make it clever, make it short and make it stand out.”

Malcolm Poynton “The first thing I would do to stand out would be to get your student work featured in advertising awards and on advertising blogs. There was a period where people would do huge stunts to get noticed but that’s seemed to have died down. However if your work’s great it will make a big noise for you and then there is always a chance you’ll be noticed.”

On advice about ensuring a good client relationship…

Flo Heiss When pitching and selling an idea, sometimes you have just got to give up those unwinnable battles. But most of the time the client will have an assumption about your work that you need to break. It’s important that you construct an argument throughout the whole process to get them to look past that assumption. Show them how and why you came up with that idea. If that fails then don’t take it to heart and go back to the drawing board.”

Mike Hannett A lot of creatives aren’t great in meetings; we can sometimes find it hard to articulate our ideas to sell them. That’s why we have account men and women who act as a bridge between our work and the client. If we can build an effective relationship between creatives, account management and planning it will in turn make relationships with clients easier.”

Guy Moore The best work I’ve ever done is where I’ve never presented it to a client. That way you avoid the pressure and your ideas becoming convoluted with the client’s input. Leave that to the accounts and focus on being creative.”

On questions about what’s next in our mentors’ careers…

David Buonaguidi I’d love to go to China; it’s like the wild-west out there. It offers an alternative to London where I think we’ve become a bit too saturated with the same old things. The emerging BRIC countries and South East Asia offer a blank canvas where you can go and really push the boundaries.

Whilst the work may not be up to scratch at the moment, it will be. And it excites me to think that we could go out there and really challenge ourselves.”

Mike Hannett I’m currently in the five percent of advertisers aged fifty and over, so I think my time has been and gone in terms of striking out on my own. That opportunity never appealed to me as I think it’s important that you have time to do other things, but, if your commitment to your work is strong and healthy then I say go for it.”

Flo Heiss For me I see a path leading two ways when you get to my position, you can either continue going higher up in your current organisation or you could start your own business.

The choice I think I’d make would be to strike out on my own, I want to get my hands dirty and create what I want to create.”

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