We sell or we die!

It’s end of day two at SCA and it already feels like we’ve been here weeks. We’ve had an intense two days of talks and masterclasses, as well as a few alcoholic beverages here and there and a lot of awkward “hello… sorry, what’s your name again?” moments. 

On day one, we were greeted with a glass of cheap prosecco at 9am in the morning - I knew I liked this place already, it’s no secret the best way to win me over is with a cheeky tipple, even if a 9am drink seems like a bad idea. We were then all ushered into Dunbar, which is one of the rooms in SCA consisting of a stage and a weird and wonderful array of sofas and armchairs. Marc introduced us to the course and just some of the 1,000 mentors we will be working with, as well as repeatedly drumming in the phrase “hard work beats talent” at every opportunity he could, and telling us that every single one of us will break down in tears at least once, if not multiple times, during the course… Well that’s something to look forward to!

Besides the mantra ‘hard work beats talent’, the main thing that stuck with me from that day was the advice to be a squirrel - that is, to collect ‘things’ and bury them away to retrieve later. These things could be absolutely anything, from a menu with nice typography to a leaf with a pleasing colour. I think I already do this anyway, and I haven’t met many creative people who don’t. I’m constantly photographing things that catch my eye and collecting pretty pieces of print, so this shouldn’t be a problem. I guess hoarding just comes hand-in-hand with creativity. 

After a full-on day of talks, we all headed down to the Market House to down a few pints to reflect on the day, a popular SCA tradition I’m told. The round was on me, thanks to the £20 I won off Marc in the competition he set, which was simply “what’s the most creative thing you can do with a £20 note?”… If you’re interested, I said exchange it for 1000 2p coins, acquire an industrial smelting device and melt them down to be re-cast as an SCA totem pole (with accompanying drawing). I just hope they don’t actually want me to follow through with that one, I mean, I’ve already spent it! 

I digress - it was great to have a drink and talk with my fellow SCA-ers about topics other than “so, do you consider yourself an Art Director or a Copywriter?”. 

While the after-school drinks were a great way to get to know people, the real icebreaker came during day two - once again, we gathered in Dunbar to find out what was in-store for the day, and were told we’d be in rotation between 3 masterclasses in copywriting/poetry, improvisation and mindfulness. 

Oh bloody hell… Poetry?! Really?! I hate it!

Well, to my surprise each masterclass was enjoyable and really worthwhile. While writing a spoken performance on the consciousness of a potato sounds like a waste of time, it really was a great way to break down barriers and have a bit of fun with the other students. Not only that, the time we spent on ‘free writing’ really was a breakthrough for me. This is when you spend a few minutes writing about a topic as fast as you can, without censoring or even really thinking about it. It’s all about getting your subconscious to take over. I can really see how this would be useful when you’re experiencing a frustrating ideas block - it allows you to get over that little voice in your brain saying “no” to every lightbulb moment. 

The improvisation class was also along a similar theme - it was interesting to see how 8 pairs who all started with the same cue, ended up at completely different conclusions. It just shows how many different minds are at SCA, each of them so very different. 

Finally, the mindfulness masterclass, probably one of the most important ones of the day. It was all about decluttering your mind and being able to reboot it from time to time. Depression and anxiety are incredibly high in the creative industry, and it’s important to implement coping strategies to help deal with them, especially in such a high pressure job, where everything you produce comes from the heart. Marc shared with us just some of the methods he uses, from a daily morning yoga session to an app called Muse, which comes with a rather swanky headset that measures your brain activity and teaches you to calm your mind by seeing how many birds you can get to land on the beach… that one’s quite hard to explain. 

I think it’s great that SCA are teaching us this, it really is something that is overlooked - it’s so easy to burn yourself out, speaking from experience. Learning these skills now will serve us well in the future I’m sure.

It’s been a great few days at SCA, and I have no doubt that it’s where I’m supposed to be. It’s hard to take each day as it comes rather than leaping ahead and thinking about awards and job prospects at the end, or even if I’m going to find that creative partner that I just ‘click’ with - the pressure of it all can become a bit overwhelming. However, Marc has told us all to just trust the programme, and not worry about all that stuff - the penny will eventually drop, probably in term three, and our books are going to be knock-out! 

So to summarise, the main things I’ve learnt are:

  • I'm going to cry during this intense course. A lot. (March has promised).
  • Everyone wants everyone else to succeed, so leave your inhibitions at the door and don’t be afraid to fail.
  • In Advertising, we sell or we die - simple.
  • Hard work beats talent.
  • Look after your mind.

Tomorrow, I will be visiting two agencies - TBWA and Brothers & Sisters, to interview them for our Vox pop competition and to get a feel for different types of agencies, to see if we can begin to work out exactly where we want to be getting offers from in a years time. We will be visiting a lot of agencies throughout the year, and I for one can’t wait!

Till next time!