Nothing inspires me more than a good conversation, be it with a stranger, a client, a friend or family. It can be a game changer and right now conversation feels more impassioned than ever before. I'm lucky enough to have a handful of friends who I can call on specifically if I need to feel especially uplifted or inspired. I’m not a fan of Zoom and have managed to keep my usage to a bare minimum but I know for many it’s been a lifeline during these crazy times. We can’t see or touch our favourite humans as much as we need to, so connecting through words has taken on a whole new meaning and as we navigate our way through this crazy new world, our entire approach to business is going to require a much more holistic approach – one which should probably start with a good conversation.
Post-George Floyd, we’ve seen communities torn apart as well as merge as one. It has been incredibly inspiring to see how many communities have come together during lockdown. One friend of mine has started a project called Flock Together, which uses birdwatching to bring diverse people together, whilst another held socially distanced street parties to bring his neighbours together. Against this backdrop, the more knee-jerk reactions I’ve seen from some brands and agencies can come across as meaningless. At worst they perpetuate the problem by reinforcing stereotypes and creating confusing signposts for so many.
We need to start understanding the cultural, political and societal differences that exist to really instigate long-term change. As Phoebe Lovett points out in her book ‘Work Ethics’, which offers new ways to work post-lockdown and help build communities, "it is the responsibility of those in positions of racial and economic privilege to help create a system which values care in a way that would benefit those who need it most." I have never experienced any sort of prejudice, perhaps because I’ve always seen myself as an equal, even though at times I may not have felt it. And this is the whole point: own yourself and be a part of a community which values understanding and unity.
Everyone has their own ‘bad client’ story. I remember all those years ago, when I was cutting my teeth at a big WPP agency, we would, without fail, get a client request every Friday post-5pm. To be honest it never really stressed me out as I was so utterly thrilled by the mad, bad, glam world I found myself working in. Over the years, as responsibilities have increased, ‘bad client’ stories have become 'bad client' lessons. Like bad relationships or a bad boss, you can never forget, this is when you learn the most and become stronger and more empathetic.
As anyone who knows me will testify, I am a music obsessive. My first proper job was at a record label. Fast forward nearly 20 years and I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with some amazing artists, labels and radio stations through my brand work and I am ever so grateful for it. Many a proposal has been written listening to Passion FM during solo, early-morning office shifts. Music was my guiding force during lockdown with one of my current clients, Worldwide FM, providing a daily rhythm to my routine. The Erykah Badu v Jill Scott live stream nearly broke the internet and both of Sault’s albums, which were written during lockdown in reaction to the racial unrest, have been listened to on repeat. Lava La Rue’s song 'G.O.Y.D.' (below) is, for me, the perfect depiction of what lockdown meant to so many twenty somethings across the UK, absolutely stunning in every way.
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