Thursday 12thMay 2016. A day that will live long in the memory and that’s not just because I finally got to lie in on a work day. (Before anyone starts raising eyebrows, I was up at 8am FYI. But that’s late compared to usual)
Having eventually got over the thrill of living only five minutes from the venue, I sped over to the Student Union and was quickly presented with my luxury laser cut program and name badge (sadly I didn’t have a breast pocket to hook it on and only noticed the safety pin at the end, so this stayed in my pocket for most of the day).
The first thing to do at any event is grab a hot drink, start perusing the free food and then make a beeline for someone you recognise, which I accomplished in record time. Then we chatted to one very interesting person who probably thought I was relatively normal until I embarrassed myself by informing them that I’d had R Kelly’s Bump n’ Grind stuck in my head all morning. (Of all the songs to mention, that’s not the one)
Once the rest of my SearchStar comrades had arrived we made for the main auditorium and took a pew appropriately far back. Then up stepped Melanie Cook, who proceeded to give us a thought provoking talk about creative leaders. There is something mildly disconcerting about sitting next to your line manager when someone is explaining where leaders fail and what they should be striving to do…fortunately the person concerned can rest assured they’re doing a good job.
Then I decided to start sending the Twittersphere into meltdown…
The Trump bashing aside, the talk was especially pertinent, as she discussed some of the pitfalls that rapidly growing businesses, such as SearchStar, can fall into. The idea of maintaining the same culture, and keeping an honest and transparent working environment seemed really important, and these are things I think we’re pretty good at, here at SearchStar. So that’s a relief!
We then went off for a short break. Another chance to have a quick chat with a few friendly faces and have a good scan of the room.
This was when I started thinking people might mistake me for a student rather than the next Zuckerberg…
Then onto the next talk. This one was called ‘Getting past the first date’; something that I regularly struggle with, so I was excited to see what lay ahead. Sadly it was actually to do with client-agency relationships, rather than how to get a girlfriend…although it turns out the two processes are weirdly similar.
As James and Nada took us through the steps, flirting, coffee, dinner etc. it soon became apparent that the key is to try and create relationships where there is trust and also a willingness to push back from both sides. Once you’re arguing with them, you’re in!
Jokes aside, this was a really useful talk which raised some interesting points about how to forge strong relationships with your clients and I will certainly be looking to use a lot of the points mentioned moving forward.
Once I’d finished learning how to strike up a relationship, it was straight into the next talk. This time I was in for another treat in the form of an inspiring story from one of the founding brothers of Gandys. I’d actually never heard of Gandys (turns out I’m pretty ignorant), but from about 3 minutes in I was gripped. For anyone who doesn’t know their journey I’d urge you to take a look, as it’s really incredible, and I’ve no doubts these guys will continue to go from strength to strength (I also now know where to get my next pair of flip flops from!).
Once I’d managed to get circulation back into my legs (turns out sitting down for 3 hours puts my legs to sleep) I shimmied my way over to the lunch buffet, and began to fill my pockets with as much food as possible (quick tip for attending an event with a buffet: wear clothes with loads of pockets).
Time for a quick shout out to the office…
Then we went for a brief tour of Clifton to stretch our legs, and back in time for the second keynote…
Back into the main hall for what turned out to be my favourite part of the day (that’s not putting down any of the other talks but this guy had me in stitches). I don’t really know anything about PR, but Mark Borkowski’s introduction to ‘The fame formula’ was thoroughly entertaining…and informative of course. My personal highlight was without doubt when he showed us a ‘Bring back the Wispa’ banner being unfurled during Iggy Pop’s set at Glasto, an unbelievable moment which my mate Stu refused to believe when I told him. (For any doubters you can see it here http://bit.ly/1TaBYki)
Mark then made my day…
He capped off the whole thing with a story about a made up tap dancing dog.
Next up was a talk from John Owen about behavioural science. This initially had me slightly nervous. It’s not that I have a behaviour problem as such, I’m polite and tend not to go around shouting, but there’s no doubt that I have a regular tendency to be a weirdo, so when he began by saying there would audience participation I started to sweat (turns out it was just really hot). Fortunately ‘twas not the day that someone was going to finally inform me that I was a lost cause, rather we’d be taken through a series of pointers to watch out for within a creative service business. The one that really stuck with me was that we need regular breaks… (If anyone in a position of authority reads this please contact John Owen for proof that I need to take lots of breaks).
He also made an interesting point about interview processes, how the optimal amount of interviewers is 4, and that actually having a structured set of questions is often the most effective way of interviewing. This is to help remove bias from the decision making process. That said, if you’re a man and over 5ft 9in you’re onto a winner, as apparently you’re likely to earn more than men any shorter.
One final coffee break. It started badly when Fergal polished off the milk, and so I had to pretend to be a hippy and drink some herbal tea. (If I’d just waited a minute, more milk would have arrived, sadly the damage had already been done, and I could hardly abort the whole operation mid-brew). Then I watched Jack whip on the Virtual Reality goggles and proceed to do what looked like pretending to paint a wall, but I’m informed it was much cooler with the goggles on. I then heard rumours that Lucy had had a go at driving a virtual car…with varying degrees of success. Meanwhile I was tucking into PapaDeli’s finest slice of almond and chocolate cake. (Who needs VR when I can just stuff my face with sugar?)
I’ll be honest, by this point I was flagging. I’d sat through close to 5 hours of talks, and knew that home was a mere 5 minutes away…but I thought I’d most likely regret it if I bailed. So I took my seat (suitably near the back once again) and waited patiently for the final talk to commence.
I was glad I hung around, as what I got to see was someone who was so passionate about his craft and who had achieved so much in his industry inspire a room full of people. Jason Romeyko was funny and engaging to the end, and his idea of ‘Braving the way’ was something that really rings true.
One question I do have for Jason is, who was the actor he was alluding to when recounting a story about how he ended up on a Lear Jet performing aerial acrobatics? Sadly it didn’t seem appropriate to ask it at the time.
Then after a few closing remarks it was all over for another year. It’s the first time I’ve been to Vision and, although I’d heard good things, I was slightly sceptical about the prospect of sitting through loads of lectures, but having experienced it for myself I can’t recommend it enough. The diversity of the content means you come out having learnt an awful lot about the industry as a whole and you don’t end up hearing the same thing over and over again, and the food is really good. So if, like me, you love a lunchtime buffet, Vision is the place for you!