I got my first paying job when I was 8 years old, as a shed hand during shearing season. It earned me enough to buy the Star Wars action figures I'd been eyeing up. At 12, I was mowing lawns; at 15 working retail on the weekends; and at 20 throwing drunks out of bars. Throw in some life modelling, fruit picking, grave digging, radio hosting, magazine editing, construction, and coffee making, and you've got most of my 20s covered. Everything since? Being a creative in service to marketing.
If you're after the full CV, check out my LinkedIn profile. Otherwise, I've tried to sum up my core skills below.
I'm first and foremost a writer. I've written comedy ads, billboards, training scripts, annual reports, lots of retail, big brand pieces, audio dramas, insurance letters, academic theses, poetry. I love words and their power to move people. I know when to pull back and show restraint; I know when to explode into colour. I'm a spelling and grammar nerd, but I'm also passionate about language being human and not robotic.
I don't fear the robotic uprising, because this is the part of the job they can never do: ideas. Knitting all the threads of thought and influence and data and reference into a creative concept that actually works. Creating emotion and inspiration out of nothing. While my career is mostly advertising, my ability to create ideas stretches far beyond that: design, architecture, business, education - anywhere that calls for new thinking.
There are many definitions of what a brand is. One I heard recently stuck with me: your brand is the behaviour that proves what your brand values say you stand for. I firmly believe that the best brands are built from the inside out, through strong leadership and strong culture. But I also believe that it takes external expertise to help an organisation see what makes it special, find its story, and tell it to the world through creative and meaningful experiences.
Defining digital has been the bane of the creative industries for a while now. I define it as this: an immediate experience, at your finger tips, that can be shaped and influenced by your interactions. The clue is in the word digital: it's about the digits, the fingers. There is a lot of expert digital thinking around, but so much is about the delivery mechanisms, not the creative idea. When you get in front of eyeballs, you need something amazing to show them. That's the bit I add.
I've never been afraid of standing up in front of a room full of people. And while the art of presenting creative ideas is a complex one that I'm still working on, I think I'm pretty good at it. I know how to build rapport with an audience, hold their attention (and drag it back if someone else loses it), and take them on a journey. I remember to listen as much as I talk, and I'm always watching other presenters so I can steal the things they do well to use myself.
I don't skite about it, but once upon a time I was a pretty good visual artist. I applied for University out of school and was accepted into Fine Arts, but I turned it down for Architecture. It didn't stick, but it gave me a strong grounding in the visual side of things. Through my creative career, I've often played the role of art director as well as copywriter. It makes me pretty self-contained as a creative, and able to handle all aspects of a project when I need to.
I've got a couple of hidden superpowers. One of them is the knack for connecting people who may be of use to each other. I often know just the right person to help someone get a project happening, or to provide the key bit of information, or to make the crucial introduction. I'm not always part of what happens next, but I get a kick out of helping people make things happen. In early 2016 I put my superpowers to work with a group of collaborators and created a two day off-grid event called Maximum Return. A social experiment in engineering serendipity, we brought together two dozen creatives, lawyers, journalists, politicians, developers and more to see what connections we could spark.
The older I get, the more determined I am to do some good in the world. I've had a very lucky life; I feel it's right to help make the world a bit better. I'm currently on a couple of charitable Trusts, and am a very vocal supporter of The One Percent Collective. I'm a pitch coach for The Funding Network. I've mentored students from the Media Design School's Creative Advertising programme, and am currently doing some mentoring for creatives in the early stages of their careers.