School of the Future

You know how they’re always saying: “If you want to learn something, teach it?” Last Thursday it was true. I was mentoring at London’s wonderful School of Communication Arts (@SCA2), where students learn their craft by becoming a live advertising agency for a year. SCA is the only school that makes me want to be a student again. “Me too”, says the Dean, Marc Lewis, with a grin.

It’s a school of the future. And it was the future we spent the day exploring, particularly how thinking more like a story-writer – and less a planner – can help you make the future the way you want it, not how everyone else expects you to make it.

Here are a few of the things I learned while I was (supposed to be) teaching!

The best time to think about the rest of your life is now – whatever your age. It’s not just the predominantly middle-aged business audience that is interested in ‘getting its future back’. These guys are raring to go.

Widen all the doors.  In future people are going to be bringing more of themselves to work.

When you see young creatives open their laptops in your session, don’t worry. They’re not emailing or playing games. They’re working on what you are saying.  And they’re tweeting about your performance. (Guys you made me blush. But don’t stop!)

If you want to improve punctuality, get the first person who arrives to set a forfeit for the last. On Thursday, latecomer Jack was forced to sing “I will always love you” before the meeting could start.  The blog he wrote about the session was done voluntarily. Thanks, Jack.

And thanks SCA2.  The best advertising school in the known world.

PS: The school day started with a song. Let’s end this blog with one, courtesy of SCA student Gavin Nastili who also took the hip pic. He’ll go far!


5 thoughts on “School of the Future

  1. SCA2 sounds brilliant – how are classes organised? Are students full-time, part-time? Is it possible to attend one-off classes and seminars?
    I love the punctuality forfeit idea. My son isaac told me of another forfeit game – when a group of friends meet on a social occasion, they all put their i-phones and blackberries int the centre of the table. The first person to use their phone gets a forfeit.
    Sometimes they allow people to answer ringing phones, or at least, look at the screen.
    But it’s a nice idea, no?

  2. Thanks again for the masterclass Dave. Thought I’d share one of my reflections to kickstart your blog (hopefully you’ll find it as insightful as I did):

    “Our History is Irrelevant – The past is nothing but a prelude to our present presence. It’s preposterous to define ourselves by our history when we’re trying to build ourselves a future. It’s not who we were, or what we did that makes us who we are, it’s our loves, dreams, passions and the courage to realise them.”

    Look forwards to catching up with you in the future, Max

  3. It’s been two weeks since David shared his stimulating masterclass with us at SCA and I’ve had a chance to let his pearls of wisdom sink in.
    Three things that have resonated most with me since:

    1) We have a thousand different selves; select which one you want to bring to each situation.
    In the last few weeks I have worked exclusively in teams of four or more. With high standards to be met under tight deadlines it can be exhausting juggling input from so many people. I have found it helpful to picture physically leaving one self at the door and putting on another; for example, ‘Right now I need to be diplomatic, I’ll leave ‘steely and determined’ for now and bring it back in later’. This sort of introspection allows you to not take things too personally; if a situation isn’t working, bring a different self along.

    2) Put yourself at the centre of your narrative and don’t be afraid to take the reins. It’s easy to simply respond to whichever environment you are in; if you take a step back and picture yourself achieving what you want to happen, you feel able to take control of the situation instead.

    3) Charge your energy levels when you’re on the tube. This has transformed my otherwise lacklustre journey home each day. Picture a glowing aura surrounding you; at best you feel elevated and free to float off somewhere else, and at the very least you are less aware of the halitosis of whoever’s nearest.

    Thank you for introducing me to these life- changing ways of thinking,

    • Bex

      I am so pleased these ideas are working for you. I am getting a small group together to practise these ideas as part of my new book. Maybe you and some of the SCA’s students are interested. Could be a blast. D

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