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A mirror, periscope and some frisky disco: Reflections on bootcamp by Mark Paterson

So it’s two weeks after the Marketing Academy Bootcamp and the world has been marching on. Obama’s been hanging out with the Queen, poor old Cheryl’s been sacked, and cheeky Twitter has been causing trouble again. For me, work has been moving at its usual break-neck pace and the weekends have been providing little chance for a breather, with the last serving up a stag do in Amsterdam. Ouch. So before the world rushes on in its usual fashion I thought I better write that bootcamp blog I’d been meaning to post before time ticks on too far.

So how do I best describe the bootcamp experience to others? It’s a hard one. I remember when at the graduation party I was quite surprised at how full on some of the 2010 scholars said it had been – I think they said it was ‘‘emotionally intense’’. To be honest I just couldn’t believe it would be the same for me. I was wrong.

Imagine a mirror, a whopping great mirror two stories high, that gives you a super sharp reflection of yourself when you look at it. Well the first piece of bootcamp was a bit like that for me. The process set up by the Academy forced you to reflect on yourself, your life and your work in quite some detail. The premise behind this approach was simple: Leadership starts with you and what you’ve got to give. I guess I’ve always considered myself a reflective bloke, but I remember I came away from the second day with my head in a spin. I had learnt some quite surprising things about myself I had never observed before and the process had thrown up a whole load of quite challenging questions for me. That night we headed out to see what Reading’s tuesday nightlife had to offer and as captivating as ‘Frisky Disco’ was, I still found myself in a ‘hyper-reflective’ mode, churning over my thoughts from the day. In discussing things with the other scholars most were the same, and so we headed into Wednesday with a dose of intrepidation and a desire to really crystalise our thoughts.

Thankfully the next day didn’t disappoint. Stretching the mirror analogy tenuously far, this part of the process for me was a bit like a periscope. It gave you the chance to look above the surface and focus on where you wanted to go and how you wanted to get there. I think this was when the head spinning started to slow down and everyone just got a bit more excited as we focused on our futures. Not only was this experience exciting because we got to think more clearly about where we wanted to go individually, but also, as we got to know each other better, we had a chance to share in other peoples plans and ideas and really start to appreciate the breadth and general brilliance of the group. On top of this, the awesome talks we were receiving throughout the bootcamp from Cilla Snowball (Group Chairman and Group CEO, AMV BBDO), Helen Kellie (CMO BBC Worldwide), Sally Cowdry (UK Marketing Director O2), and the incredible Jam Boy (aka. Fraser Doherty, 22 year old Jam Entrepeneur) had been helping to further fuel our imaginative and focus our minds. By the time we came to leave bootcamp we were absolutely buzzing, keen to put our plans, thoughts and dreams into action.

The good news is that, even with a million and one things happening since the end of bootcamp, I am still thinking about what I learnt during those three days and trying my best to apply it to everyday life. Clearly there is a huge amount more to come , but, as my first mentoring sessions go in the diary today, I feel confident that the bootcamp had given my a great start point for the year of learning ahead. Thank you Academy!


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