The bar in late night “Sleeper” (surely an oxymoron?) train back to Edinburgh was a good place to reflect on the day and our Brave conference. I certainly felt very fortunate to have attended such an inspiring and stimulating event.
The Marketing Society has a well-established mission of inspiring our members to be bolder marketing leaders so having bravery as the core theme for this year’s conference was perhaps no surprise.
The challenge the conference team had was to examine this subject from a broad range of perspectives – from a business and marketing to the extremes of physical endurance and artistic expression.
The skilled and insightful interview of Syl Saller by host for the day Tina Daheley started with a perspective that bravery is perhaps simply a more pronounced requirement of marketers to be bold.
Syl gave a very honest and personal account of the fears she had of her new professional challenges with whilst balancing the personal needs of a young family
One of the things I love about The Marketing Society’s annual conference is that every year they gather an eclectic cohort of speakers who cover an enormously diverse range of topics far beyond the normal realms of a business conference. As marketers, and as bold leaders, one of the most important things we can do for our development is constantly nourish our brains with new learnings from “the outside”. Yet again, the Marketing Society conference served up a delightfully inspiring mix of stories to help us achieve such an aim, this year themed around the concept of bravery.
The first speaker of the day, Dr. Emma Barrett, opened proceedings by giving us a fundamental grounding in the psychology and physiology of being brave. A couple of her points really resonated with me and were subsequently reinforced throughout the day.
Firstly, that being brave is about managed risk-taking based on careful preparation. By contrast, risk-taking without preparation is not bravery at all, it’s just recklessness.
I was privileged to attend The Marketing Society’s annual gala last Wednesday, which this year centred around celebrating the year’s bravest brands in what has widely acknowledged to have been a challenging 2017 for so many.
Some parts of our industry have convinced themselves that the only way to be brave is to take risks. If you’re not experimenting and trying new stuff (of course without fear of failure), you’re just standing still. The famed planner Martin Weigel brilliantly called time on this form of bravery recently. In his piece titled the Folly and the Vanity he eschewed the notion of bravery as a function of risk and danger.
was the big idea of this year’s Marketing Society conference. It proved an inspirational platform. A great conference theme- credit must go to new CEO Gemma Greaves and her team.
This being an individualistic culture (and age) stories were often told as personal triumphs over fear, especially in extreme sports (a big theme of the conference which I suspect made most of us feel distinctively queasy and meek.)
Bravery is enabled by encouragement
Yet , for me, a sub text kept surfacing: brave people (often) could not have acted without both support and encouragement. (Encouragement literally means being given courage by others)
In July 1911, the polar explorers Apsley Cherry-Garrard, Henry Bowers and Bill Wilson endured hideous conditions in perpetually dark Antarctica. They were all part of Scott’s ill-fated expedition the following year, which was described in Cherry Garrard’s famous book: “The Worst Journey in the World”. In 1911 they were looking for emperor penguin eggs. Some people do very brave things for very odd reasons.
The free rock climber Alex Hammold scaled the 3000 foot sheer rock El Capitan in Yosemite without ropes, and just the video of him doing this on the huge screen at the Science Museum was terrifying. But he had assessed the risk beforehand - and had done the climb first with ropes. And he didn’t tell his mother till afterwards.
Hassad Akkad was living happily in Damascus teaching English until 2011. Then he was tortured and put into solitary confinement for protesting peacefully against the government, and he knew in 2015 that he had to escape – and film his journey.