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Ad life lessons from LIAisons 2019  

AWARD School 2019 national top student Hannah Lawson from Victoria traveled to Las Vegas to attend Creative LIAisons as her prize*. Here she shares the ‘ad life’ lessons she brought home from her trip of a lifetime...

It’s hard to sum up an experience like LIAisons. Sure, I could regurgitate every talk, conversation, inside experience, moment and tiny little detail. But honestly, the beauty of a week like this is the sum of all its parts, and how you realise that it’s not about what advice people give you but how that advice sinks in and becomes relevant in your life. Pretty much, it’s not about the words, it’s about the lessons you learned.

So, I’d love to share with you the five lessons I learnt from my time at LIAisons 2019.

1. Everyone in your life can be a mentor

When we heard from Piyush Pandey, the ‘Father’ of Advertising in India, he explained that no matter who a person was, if he had learnt something from them, they were a mentor.

This stuck with me. To put a huge amount of value on any human experience feels like such a beautiful perspective. Piyush walks through the world with openness, ready for the next lesson a new mentor will give him. Too often I shut off from strangers, trying to wrap up interactions as fast as I can (so I can get back to scrolling through Instagram.) But when I think about it, some of the best moments in my life have been when I’ve had long chats with my Uber drivers, shared an odd moment with a stranger or even just put my phone down and watched the weirdness of the world around me.

When we burst our bubble and open ourselves up to new human experiences we discover the unexpected. As a creative this so important, as true, riveting and beautiful human insights don’t come from Google. They come from being fully present in the world.

2. Never stop being curious

Design powerhouse Pum Lefebure left us feeling inspired by showing us how she saw the world. Similar to Piyush, the key to Pum’s inspiration comes from her openness to life around her. She stays curious and takes time to contemplate what moves her. Surrounding herself with endless pieces of imagery that allow her to think deeper and expand her creative mind. Her amazing work stems from this and it was truly inspiring to see what happens when we become a sponge to the world around us.

This talk left me feeling unapologetic about staying curious about everything I see, feel and hear. So what if I look like a dag taking photos of everything? If it captures me, if it moves me, then I should embrace it wholeheartedly.

3. Collaboration is everything

The word of the week at Liaisons 2019 was definitely collaboration. From Oliver Fuselier and Diane Jackson to Kerstin Emhoff and Jimmy Smith. Everyone made it clear that this was the key to creative magic in this industry. Think without hierarchy, true collaboration should be equal partnership with everyone having a bit of skin in the game.

This left me feeling excited to partner up with the kick-arse creatives I know. Too often I get precious about my ideas and have a diva mentality, thinking no one else can work on my ideas. But the truth is, I’m not a rockstar, I’m a creative. My job is creating good work. And it really resonated with me that the best work comes from letting people take my ideas and push them somewhere epic.

Pretty much, the best creative is a generous creative.

4. Remember your audience

As creatives we’re always trying to keep our audience at the forefront of our mind. At the end of the day our job is to connect to those human truths that “everyday” people experience. From Karen in HR to Joe blow at Woolies, we create work for our audiences not for ourselves. We have to put ourselves into the shoes of these people and be empathetic to their experiences.

The controversial visit of Ted Royer left the LIAisons feeling rightfully shaken. Sparking a discussion that has spanned far beyond the Las Vegas Encore Hotel. While I won’t talk about my own personal opinions on the issue, I will say that this definitely emphasised the importance of understanding your audience.

The main issue of Royer-gate was that they didn’t tell anyone he was speaking. LIA didn’t give sexual assault victims the autonomy to choose whether they listen to an apology speech from an alleged assaulter. Which, was a valuable lesson on what can go wrong if you don’t think about who’s hearing your message.

5. Be Prepared

Probably my favourite speech came from (rightfully so) self titled speech nerd Matt MacDonald. He gave us a crash course in how to sell our ideas like pros and not leave anything to chance with a client. Most of all though he emphasised something crucial: Always. Be. Prepared.

Let me be real. I’m terrible at being prepared. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times I’ve winged meetings, left things at home or finished something last minute. It’s definitely not my forte. But what I realised was that if I take the time to prepare before a meeting, presentation or interview, I can shape these experiences much more carefully.

So with that, I took that advice and prepared to the wahzoo for my interview with Kerstin Emhoff on Monday. I already knew a lot about her but I took the time to think about what the ultimate outcome of our interview will be. What do I actually want to know from this bad ass powerhouse wonder woman? I thought deeper and prepared my questions carefully. I ended up being able to share a really fucking cool moment with someone I look up to. Why? Because I took the time to prepare for an interview that ultimately resonated with the both of us.

And with that, til’ next time Vegas!

* The 2019 national AWARD School prize was generously donated by Esther Clerehan, AWARD Committee member and founder/principle of Clerehan Pty Ltd.

 

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