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Ross reflects a bit on Boot Camp


So you now find me stuck on my couch, as I’ve just undergone a foot operation that’s keeping me in a cast over Summer.  The positive side of this unfortunate occurrence is that I have loads more time to think, and of course post a few blogs…

So I thought I’d start with a few reflections on Boot Camp.  After being selected to be part of the inaugural group of scholars for the Marketing Academy, our first real introduction to the programme was Boot Camp.  It sounded like it would be not dissimilar to the Krypton Factor, but luckily there were fewer tyre swings and grapple nets.  In fact, it formed a quite incredible three days – one used as an introduction to the programme and its faculties and two to go through a personal leadership programme.

To start with the latter, I have to admit I went in sceptical.  Whenever anyone says to me “This is going to change your life”, I immediately think “There is no way this will change my life”.  But despite this, I can honestly say it came pretty close.

The course was designed and run by Penny Ferguson and her team, a quite incredible group of people and Penny in particular is an incredible inspiration.  The woman just seems to have come through almost every adversity the world could throw at you, but importantly she didn’t do it perfectly – far from it.  And she’s now devoting her life to help others understand the lessons she’s learnt, and how taking personal responsibility for your own life and career can exact quite dramatic changes.  Here’s a few favourite  ‘one-liners’ I took note of:

– Opening up and letting people in on where you come from and how you think helps them to appreciate where you’re coming from and why you do what you do

– We must all take personal responsibility for what happens to us – the only common factor is you.  No-one will empower you as well as you can empower yourself.

– The mark of an outstanding leader is not just about how good a leader you are, but how many leaders you develop

The course had quite a dramatic effect on me – it’s made me really analyse what I want from my life in the short and long run, and how I’m going to get there.  More on that in another post…

Aside from those two days, we also had visits from faculty partners and mentors.  Andrew Knowles from JKR came in to talk to us about the design faculty, a session which if I don’t get on I may just turn up anyway and sit quietly in the background in the hope of secretly picking up the learnings.  Daren Rubins from PHD spoke to us about his philosophy on media (although as the MD of the media agency I work with, I was disappointed to see an absence of phrases like ‘Ross’ brilliant work on Wispa…’), and Magnus Djaba of Fallon came in and put on a sterling show despite his a/v failing.  And many more, who I’m sure others will talk about.

As an aside, here’s one of my favourite things Fallon have produced recently, which I’m sure Magnus would have shown had we now been DVD-playerless:


Finally, my other ‘favourite moment’ came from Amanda MacKenzie, CMO of Aviva, an absolutely mesmerising speaker who just captured all of our imaginations.  So many highlights, but my favourite piece of advice was “manage complex projects like you’re going to war” – I’ve already renamed my cross-agency meetings ‘War Rooms”.

Having started writing this, I’ve realised there’s no way I’d even be able to scratch the surface on telling you all I’d learnt from these three days.  But in aid of leaving me something else to speak about later, I’ll leave it there.  Until later in the week, when I’ve gone stir crazy from here on my couch…


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The Scholarship – a 9 month, free, part time program for 30 of the UK’s fastest rising stars in Marketing, Advertising, Media and Communications.

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12 month full paid Marketing Apprenticeship for young adults who because of challenging backgrounds, lack qualifications or poor life choices are normally overlooked for this kind of work experience