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APG Strategy Conference: On the Contrary Summary of the day by Bridget Angear, Joint CSO AMV BBDO

Bridget did the impossible and drew together her thoughts about a long and intense day, with some really useful things for us to think about each speech.

What an amazing day with extraordinary thinkers. Hard to summarise in a few words and I think all of us will see the value over the next days, weeks and months when something we heard pops back into our head.

But here is a quick reminder of each of the magnificent 7.

Prof Nick Chater reminded us what shallow creatures we all are, making things up as we go and only able to concentrate on one thing at a time. Even so called experts are pretty lame at explaining themselves. He showed how adrenalin guides and influences most of our reactions rather than rational, conscious thought.

So, two key takeaways from this

What are the implication for research (if there is no such thing as the Unconscious) that asks people to explain their attitudes and actions?

How could communications harness the power of adrenalin?

Next up, the brilliant and passionate Tor Garnett, co-Founder of Police Now, inspiring us how change can be effected even in such a traditional institution as the met police. She was really clear about the barriers that had to be tackled (hierarchy, blame and violence) and how change required a small band of believers committed to taking action.

Two takeaways

Be clear on the problem you’re trying to overcome.

A strong angry reaction to something takes 90 seconds to dissipate, so hold off saying or emailing a response until you have cooled down!

Nils Leonard, Founder at Uncomon then talked about how actually it can sometime help to get angry about something – provided you then put your energy into doing something about it. Because if we get angry, we get personal about an issue and the more personal it is, the more effort we put in to solving it.

He left us with the thought.

What kind of company would you create if you wanted to create one that people in the real world wished existed?

Key takeaway

Find a way to make what you are doing personal.

We then moved to human rights and Clive Stafford Smith. A subject that couldn’t be more serious or more important. And yet in spite of the life and death nature of the work he does he reminded us of two seemingly whimsical things

That Humour can be a powerful weapon when you use it to point out the ludicrousness of certain things.

That ideas, even ones of great importance, are often dreamt up in the pub over a pint.

Margaret Heffernan offered us so much wisdom we could she deserves a whole chapter. Just a few of the practical pieces of advice included.

Ensure you have real friends at work not just colleagues.

Get enough sleep as it is the bedrock of mental wellbeing.

Accept that collaborations are not always harmonious – the best ones are often scrappy in the quest to do something great and a nay-sayer can crystalise your thinking most effectively.

Be willing to speak up if you see things that you don’t believe should be happening.

Be open to the fact that you might not be right and be open to asking searching questions.

What would we see if we were wrong?

Mark Ritson went on a rant. That Marketing just needed to do marketing, but didn’t most of the time. Not difficult but not often done well.

He urged a back to basics, linear approach of first diagnosing the problem, then developing a strategy, and finally working out the tactics to deploy.

He rejected binary views of how things work and advocated ‘and not or’ in our thinking. He heaped praise on the work of Peter Field and Les Binet for their seminal work ‘The long and short of it’ as one example of non-binary thinking..

Key takeaways

Help ensure our marketing clients have followed the 3 simple steps

Read the Long and Short of it!

And finally and appropriately Martin Weigel urged us all to spend less time at our desks and more time in the real world with real people in order to truly understand them, like them and develop communications that speak to them.

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