An Army Major General, Inspiration, Creativity, Microadventures & some scholars it can only be Boot Camp 3

Well what can I say – when I applied for the academy and got the agenda and dates for the year ahead and the different boot camps, boot camp 3 was just this distant date in 2013 that was something to look forward to but very much in the distance. As I’ve reflected over the weekend the last few days have been amazing for a number of reasons. I’ll share some highlights of the sessions but as this years scholars were brought together for officially the last time at Moor Hall it’s been an honour to share this experience with such an amazing group of talented people. Sherylin along with her team have done the most amazing job of selecting a cohort of people who I know are going to continue to develop and do some amazing things. Whilst it’s not over yet and there are a few months to go we’ve been challenged, stretched, networked, learnt, grown, shared and been inspired – everything I had hoped for and more.

Boot camp 3 started Thursday morning with a session that related back to the Living Leader course we did last summer at the 1st boot camp with a focus on a number of models to do with motivations one of them being Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It is amazing as a model how it can help you understand what you need as well as help from a management perspective understand your colleagues and team around you. What’s needs are being met, what might be missing as well as then what can be done to ensure the needs are being met going forward.

Gerald Ratner Boot Camp 3

We then had our first of a series of external speakers Gerald Ratner where is shared very openly about the speech made a speech at the Institute of Directors on 23 April 1991. During the speech, he commented: “We also do cut-glass sherry decanters complete with six glasses on a silver-plated tray that your butler can serve you drinks on, all for £4.95. People say, “How can you sell this for such a low price?”, I say, “because it’s total crap.’

This cost him his business but he shared how he picked himself up with a new idea of a health club as there wasn’t one for miles. Rejected and rejected bank after bank he decided to get an artistic impression drawing of the health club in the newspaper, waive the sign-up fee for any new members who signed up with a £50 a month direct debit. He got 850 people sign up from the ad – he then took this to the bank as collateral – they still said no apart from one who said yes, the reason being his wife had taken out a membership! He went on to sell the health club a few years later for £3.9m. Since then he’s re-entered the Jewelry market online setting up now doing close to £50m a year.

Warrior not a Worrier

An amazing story and an amazing way to kick off. A very different person then followed Major General Arthur Denaro an incredible story about his experience in the british army, leading his regiment into battle and the importance of leadership litterally on the front line. With some key themes about ensuring the team have a clear direction. Professionalism and how second best just isn’t good enough. How being a leader can also sometimes be lonely the the importance of having the right support structures in place to help you through.

Marc LewisNext up was Marc Lewis from an amazing interactive session that got our creative juices flowing. The school is an amazing opportunity for creatives to get into the industry as well as a great opportunity for brands to get their briefs tackled by some amazingly talented students. I’d definitely recommend any brand looking to get a different take and a fresh approach on a creative campaign to get in touch with them. A couple of takeaways amongst many others were solutions to problems cause more problems & the more we consume the more creative we are.

The day ended with a night at Sherilyn’s house treating us to an amazing dinner and drinks.

With such a varied first day the bar had been set high it was going to be a challenge to make sure day 2 delivered. It was just like an amazing cake that just kept getting better layer upon layer.

We started off with Simon Devonshire who has one of the best jobs in the world running Wayra the best incubator and accelerator of businesses, on earth. With a background in both the startup and corporate world he encouraged the room to ‘Build a rocket.’ The one key message keep focused. The reason behind success many people say is luck. You can build your own luck! Trust your gut and be remarkable.

David Wethey took over and delivered a session around the importance of partnerships vrs relationships. The way agencies have come to work doesn’t make sense in the new economy and how there needs to be a shift in how people are working together. He touched upon a few models including how to make meetings more effective by starting with 2 people in a meeting first of all the decision maker and the person they work together. Then bring in more people. It’s referred to as The Step Ladder Technique.

Decide – Better Ways to Making Decision is his new book. We often don’t make decisions and that’s the problem. If there are ways to make decisions in a better and quicker way to do this then it’s likely we’d be more effective. Makes sense! The biggest challenge that stops us when running the business is when decisions aren’t made. I’ve heard this before but worth bringing up here is that most people are afraid of making decisions because they are afraid of what might happen. When making any decision two things can happen either it helps move you forward to where you want to go or takes you further away. If it takes you nearer do more of it. If it takes you further away stop doing it and do something else, make another decision.

Amanda Mackenzie Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, Aviva plc then opened with some thoughts and she set the scene imagine if you were looking back at your life the age of 80 on a park bench – first things first make sure you get a pension – breaking the ice on a joke but being quite serious she then shared passionately about journey and how she rose to be the first woman on the executive board at Aviva.

There was so much to take away but the three key things for me:

  • Be clear of what you want and what you don’t want.
  • Nothing is more powerful than the truth.
  • Say yes and then work out how you’re going to do it. It’s always better to regret you’ve done too much.

My summary doesn’t do justice to her session but her amazing sense of wisdom and authenticity was very humbling and empowering.

A short lunch break then led us into a session with Ellen Marzell Director of Partnership Management, Global Marketing, Innovation & Transformation at NOKIA. A session where she shared the amazing work that has been done around all different elements of sponsorship and partnerships and what that really means today. The importance of Global and Local and the opportunity of real money can’t buy opportunities that create the ultimate connection between brands and consumers.

Shaa Wasmund CEO and founder of then raised the energy in the room with her Stop Talking, Start Doing atitude helping people to confront what they really wanted, what was stopping them or holding them back and then coached them through how they can make their wants a reality. Powerful and direct it was an awesome session that set context for the final speaker Alastair Humphries who did just that Stopped Talking and Started Doing. He shared his story about the 4 ½ years he travelled around the world on a bike and shared the challenges, trials and tribulations. Following various other adventures across the world he brought it more recently closer to home by doing #microadventure’s. One included walking around the surrounding M25 area – 150 miles in a week, sleeping outside, eating ketchup and break. It had all the elements of a true adventure and makes you grateful for what you have.

Inertia kills everything. Think big. Think Small. Do Start.

Some much stops us everyday in realising our potential. It’s important to have dreams and think big, but often we stop ourselves before we have even begun.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” – Adapted from Marianne Williamson.

Think small allows us a way to break it down and provide a starting point. That is the key starting.

As I look back to when I was 22 and founded The Beans Group & what we have done and achieved is amazing on reflection. I didn’t know how hard it would be – yet I did think big, and think small and started. Today as we continue to grow the team with 35 people we reach approaching 2 million visitors a month I know we have created something really special. Alastair’s stories remind me what we are all capable of.

I could only imagine what The Marketing Academy could do for me when I got nominated – it is difficult to do the sessions justice in summary there is so much more that was gained from each and every session, really you’d just have to be there. If you’re reading this and you are in a position to nominate someone for next years in take please do – you have the opportunity to really make a difference for someone not just for the next year but for their lives and many years to come.

Written by James Eder. James is the co-founder of The Beans Group, the company behind website, the largest money saving and advice website for university students in the UK. You can follow him on Twitter @jameseder or find him on LinkedIn:

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