By Marc Lewis
Reflecting on Fink
There is a weekly ritual at SCA on Friday afternoons called 5.05. Students need to make a slide reflecting something that they learned from our mentors, our friends or from each other that week. We take it in turn to come to the stage to share our reflections, and we celebrate each reflection with a shot of vodka.
It is one of my favourite moments of the week.
I missed it last week, because I was running a workshop on the final day of this year’s Marketing Academy boot camps. Sherilyn brings together the very best future stars of marketing, so it’s an event I always look forward to.
But I was sad to miss reflections with my students.
I had the pleasure of seeing Graham Fink twice last week; first at the opening of his latest exhibition, and then at SCA speaking to the students. Graham was one of my mentors when I was a student at SCA in the early 90s and I have been learning from him ever since.
He said lots of really pertinent things during his 90 minute, note-free masterclass, but there was one thing in particular that has been bouncing around my head since Wednesday morning.
Be helpful. He said it better than that, and I will try to get this across in a moment.
But the essence of what he was saying was that we need to be as helpful as we can.
Whilst at the Marketing Academy workshop, I pitched the room to see if I could raise the funds for three scholarships by getting these marketers to each set a brief. Ten raised their hands. (Thanks so much BBC, Adobe, KFC, Qubit, ITV, Microsoft, AirBnB, Morph Costumes, Grabble and Seed Marketing).
James Hillhouse from Commercial Break is coming to see me on Monday afternoon. His incredible organisation finds kids with difficult back-stories and shows them what a career in the creative sector could look like. SCA provide some of his kids with scholarships. He has three kids that he wants to talk to me about on Monday.
Those ten from Marketing Academy were very helpful on Friday afternoon. They have helped to fund SCA’s 48th, 49th and 50th scholarship.
Our school exists thanks to the generosity of our industry. Dozens of agencies support us and hundreds of mentors freely volunteer their time. I have seen first-hand how being helpful can change – even, save – lives.
But Graham went even deeper than that. He suggested that we should try to be helpful, even when being helpful isn’t expected or being asked for. For example, he proposed that we could simply wipe the piss off a toilet set (even though it wasn’t our piss) so that the next person benefits. Graham had obviously done some research on the state of SCA’s toilets and was speaking the truth.
I am very, very grateful that we have been able to create fifty scholarships in less than six years, that we are able to attract such a steady stream of great mentors, and that SCA is recognised as the best ad school.
But I am even more grateful for those acts of kindness that take me by surprise. Our school library is mostly stocked with Awards Annuals and magazines donated by people in our network who felt they needed a better home. Our network grows mainly through mentors introducing friends who they think would enjoy mentoring at the school. Organisations such as Creative Social and Silicon Beached regularly offer free tickets to events. A friend who runs London Business Forum called me a few weeks ago to ask if we needed a blackboard.
Being helpful really is one of the greatest gifts to creativity, especially when it is unexpected.
Graham suggested that we should try to be helpful every day. He also shared some meditation techniques to help us be more in-tune with the world around us.
If we are at all living in enlightened times in the communications industry, it is that we have come to realise that our ultimate paymasters, brand-owners, understand that they have a responsibility to make the world a better place and that they can do this with our help.
So my reflection from last week is this; let’s be helpful every day, in our personal lives and through our work.
Have a great week.