Caroline Pay and Vicki Maguire – Co-chief Creative Officers Grey London
If there was one talk I wasn’t going to miss at Advertising Week Europe, it was this one.
And here’s why, only moments in Vicki proudly stated,”If you don’t like profanity, fuck off now.”
The tone was pretty much set from there.
There was so much from this talk I want to share with you and it all starts with the stigma of failure. We are told over and over again ‘don’t fuck up’. Well, that’s wrong. Learning how to fail well is a skill that should be taught to everyone. Scientists spend years, and hundreds of millions of pounds, failing repeatedly until a conclusion is drawn and everyone goes home calling the whole thing a massive success. Surely, creatives should do the same? Failure is crucial to growth.
Some of Vicki and Caroline’s fuck ups include forgetting the client was on the all staff email, forgetting to draw buttons on a design for shirt during a valiant attempt at getting into the fashion industry, and leaving three jobs with no backup plan. Note: none of these fuck ups stopped either of these incredible women getting where they are now and certainly aren’t slowing them down by sharing them today.
Here is a selection of things to remember when you have the fuck-up fear.
10 ways to make fuck ups glorious
- Remember no one will die (hopefully) – We are creatives, not brain surgeons. Have fun and try to relax a little
- Don’t have a plan B – Backups mean you don’t believe in yourself. With Plan A you could end up a monumental success or a total fuck up but you definitely won’t be in the safe space you are right now.
- Thank people who failed you – Be grateful to the people who let you down. It could be a CEO or it could be a tutor from uni, either way, they got you further on your journey.
- One-downmanship is better than one-upmanship – Advertising has enough people puffing out their chests. Be humble, remember that you and no one else is perfect.
- Have a fuck off fund – Get three months rent and bills together and don’t be afraid to use it.
- Hire failures – This one’s for the bosses out there but also for future you, employ people who can admit their mistakes.
- Exercise your failure muscles – Practice bouncing back. It’s not easy by any means but get ready to get back in the game.
- Fuck imposter syndrome – Stop making tea for people, stop offering up your seat in meetings, stop hiding your ideas. You got the job now do it.
- Fail out loud – Share your fuck ups, learn from your fuck ups and don’t act like you’ve never fucked up.
- Fail together – This one really speaks for itself, don’t throw others under the bus, share your fails and get over it.
Following the talk there was a Q&A, and here are my three favourites:
Q: What would you say to a junior who’s CEO is afraid of failure?
Q: What about if clients are the ones afraid of failure?
A: Show clients you’re willing to jump with them and they will jump. Prove that taking a risk is necessary to success.
Q: What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever received?
A: You’re no good to me unless you’ve failed three times.
And in case it wasn’t clear already this talk was absolutely fantastic.
If you’re still not sold on the number of fabulous fuck ups out there check this out: https://www.museumoffailure.se/