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21st July 2011 Sara Lock

Tricks worth learning (BNW6)

Toby Chadd is attending the AMA Conference for the first time …

There’s something completely liberating – purgative, even – about the seven-hour train journey up to Glasgow from Cambridge: the day-to-day routine of the office, emails and short-term deadlines fades into the background as the landscape grows wilder and, to this born-and-bred-southerner, the accents more incomprehensible.And to be greeted at the conference’s opening dinner by a drum troupe that promises to provide an ‘almost religious experience’ only serves to further set the stage…

Since then there’s been networking galore (both of the organised, ‘speed’ variety and the more spontaneous over-a-coffee sort), and more ideas than I could even hope to digest in 12 hours, let alone summarise in a short blog-post. This conference is about open-ness and a sense of common purpose – and, consequently, the range of hypotheses, examples and experiences is simultaneously stimulating and bewildering. And it’s not about competition, but collaboration. ‘If I knew the answers, you’d hear them for free here and then I’d go and monetise them elsewhere’ was the slogan of Will McInnes in an engaging keynote. Rather than giving answers, it’s about sharing ideas and providing inspiration.

Will Innes


Will McInnes Keynote: Picture: AMA Conference 2011 images: Leo Cinicolo

And talking of inspiration: Shelley Bernstein’s seminar ‘Learning from mistakes’ is an object lesson in bouncebackability, marketing fused with the sort of life-lesson I’d imagine you’d find in a Tibetan monastery. This is a ‘closed door session’, and so you won’t find any revelations here about what was said (unless NOTW was tapping the mics, that is). But this wasn’t the sort of session where concrete ideas emerge; it was more a lesson in taking projects forward whatever their outcome. As Shelley puts it, it’s never a complete failure if you’ve learnt something from it. This might sound something of a consolatory truism but can – in the hands of someone of Shelley’s imagination – mean that the ultimate result is actually better because of the mistakes you’ve made.

Now that is a trick worth learning.


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