Insecure Creatives Only
I’m inside the Farringdon spaceship
offices of POSSIBLE. London sun has surprised everyone involved with
heat but the electric air in here curls and cools. It’s an urban Sahara
I’ve wandered in, unknowingly by-passed reception and
been shown to an empty desk. I wait. A politely offered cappuccino
finds me and when I return from the bathroom, Hayley Mills has arrived, a
blur of sparkled black fabric and tightly wound headscarf.
is speaking to a lady with tired eyes and nods in my direction as I make
an awkward lurch for my notebook sitting open on her desk.
Nonchalantly, I try to project a vibe which says,
lean on something.
I’m here on business. She turns and I go for
the hand-shake. She pulls me into a hug. I add this interaction to the
tally of times I’ve misjudged greetings in a professional relationship.
We move to sit in a red sofa cut out from the wall. It’s like we’re in a
diner and I start to feel more relaxed.
“I wasn’t going to apply for SCA, my best-friend did for me then mentioned it after.”
the little I know of Hayley, (we met at the SCA Christmas party 2013,
the music was too loud) I am surprised. I raise an eyebrow, the right
“I’d done PR, I knew I liked that, but I was also doing a
lot of music and events and thought I wanted to get into that somehow…
I’d stumbled onto the SCA website among others I was researching. Every
now and then I’d go back and check it and then think, no, no, no.”
“I thought I wasn’t creative enough.”
sat in one of those moments where the person who is intensely good at
doing what they claim to be incapable of has just claimed to be
incapable of what they are intensely good at doing.
didn’t answer Marc’s [Lewis] interview calls… there were a few of them
and when I finally picked up, I was so nervous!”
I do some nodding and listening. It’s becoming clear that nervous person’s time has ended.
put me in a place to be confident and learn how to put an idea across.
Marc had said ‘this is no holiday camp’ and I’d prepared for hard-work,
but I don’t think I’d really prepared, mentally.”
She pauses to draw the only breath she needs during the entire time we’re together.
interview day everyone was incredibly creative. All their ideas were so
intelligent, it was pretty intimidating. But I think it’s the same for
anyone creative. The majority are insecure. That self-doubt pushes us
forward, when we’re placed in an environment where being creative is
competitive, it’s pretty intense. At SCA you get an opportunity and then
it’s up to you.”
She’s a digital strategist now at an agency
who had her pitching to clients as their intern. Their new internal
campaign: “No More Busy”.
“We noticed how often people excuse
themselves by claiming to be ‘so busy’. If you’re uncomfortable saying
‘my job is more important than you’ to someone’s face, you should
probably go spend some time with that person.”
learn pretty quick your desk isn’t the be-all-and-end-all. Presence
isn’t everything. It was like that at SCA too. I can say to my boss ‘I’m
going out to think this over’ then disappear.”
We discuss work
titles and agree “how a lot of things are labels.” She calls a senior VP
over to define strategist from planner after I ask. He admits not
knowing and we all chip in with how hybrid communication roles are these
days. It’s agreed there’s very little difference and it’s agency
We’re all feeling pretty buddy-buddy but when VP leaves there comes a word of caution.
important not to come out of SCA and fall into the entitlement trap.
We’re lucky to have some amazing people through to mentor us, it can be
easy to feel like at the end of the course you have every ‘in’… Don’t
choose an agency because of a name, but don’t let a name put you off
knocking on the door.”
I take a considered sip of my second cappuccino and she looks away.
“Do you want some chocolate? I’m going to get some.”
returns with three in each hand. We unwrap peanut buttercups, I don’t
like peanut buttercups but she is so sunny I see it as the ideal
opportunity to change my mind.
It seems like Hayley has never had a bad day in her life. As
if sensing this assumed injustice she tells me, straight in the eye,
“after bad experiences, I always go to sleep thinking I’ll wake up and
feel the same way. But I never do. Even when I’m insecure about it, I
love this. I love it.”
Thank you to Hayley Mills, Jim, John and Ian for the time and thinking.