Today we had the pleasure of spending time with Sir John Hegarty, who is one of the founders of BBH, a founding shareholder in Saatchi & Saatchi, and the owner of the bluest eyes in advertising. What an honour it was!
To start off, we sat in awe as he gave us a talk on creativity and what he understands it to be, as well as sharing tips on how to be more creative and avoid pessimism.
“Beanbags do not fuel creativity”
These were the wise words Hegarty imparted on us - beanbags will just make you go to sleep, to find true insight you must walk around, without headphones, and observe. The biggest thing you can do to hinder yourself is to put on headphones and create a barrier between you and the people around you. He used the example of Paul Smith, who wrote in his book that he came up with the idea of charms for buttons while waiting for a delayed flight in Milan. Instead of just putting on his headphones and waiting for the departures gate to open, he walked around the airport, and stumbled upon a charm that had fallen off some one’s bracelet; apparently millions of shirts later he decided that was enough of charms; regardless, he may have never stumbled across that idea if he chose to close himself off to the environment around him instead of walking around and observing.
I feel there’s a warning to be heeded in what John said, as I, like many others, am often guilty of putting in my headphones; I was even pulled up on it recently by Marc who felt I was being too solitary on the course. It’s a tough habit to break, especially being as I’ve come from a design background where I am so used to working solo, so prefer to shut off and “get on with it” wherever I can.
Hegarty believes that the real inspiration and ‘ideas’ moments comes from the people and environment around us. He warned about looking for answers on the internet, as a million other people will be looking at the same thing. In contrast, if we are having a conversation with some one in the office about their weekend, that conversation is unique to that moment, there is literally no one else in the world having that exact conversation and experience at that time, and that is where unique ideas are born.
He then went on to talk about ideas, and how everyone is capable of them - that’s what makes us human. Even the smallest decisions, such as putting on a red t-shirt with blue jeans, is a creative choice, albeit a small one. He said that creatives are always switched on - it’s a preoccupation rather than a job, we are always looking for new insights and answers.
The best creatives are optimists, according to Hegarty. They genuinely believe an idea they have is going to change the world, and what a wonderful motivation to go to work every day!
There’s so much more I could write about the 2 hours I spent listening to John, he truly is a master of this industry and such an inspirational presence to be around. I only wish we could have spent more time with him.