Mentoring the 2.0

I love mentoring. There’s nothing that sharpens your mind more than listening to others, helping unblock their thoughts, unlock new ideas and unleash their creativity.

I’m lucky enough to mentor at the School of Communication Arts 2.0; headed up by the irrepressible and brilliant Marc Lewis, each year it lights the fire inside a group of young, hungry creatives ready to unleash their problem solving for big clients. What’s clear is that as our world changes to reflect the dynamic thirst for new consumer experiences, so too the thinking required to solve these challenges needs to surface…quickly. Enter SCA 2.0.

Having spent the afternoon there yesterday, I was compelled to share some of the insights I had working with these brilliant firecracker minds. Not just for those who may want to get involved with creative mentoring — but predominantly with the aim of encouraging more young talent coming into the world of problem solving to push their thinking even harder and have faith in their talent and insights.

So What?

Anyone who has worked with me knows I ask this a lot. It’s the incessant question that nags at me through presentations. Get used to asking it and you’ll get deeper, more engaging ideas. And chuck things out along the way.

Ask it when you’re presented with the problem. It may seem like you’re being asked to advertise to young people but So What? if I do. Why is that important? Actually, we’re losing lots of people at the older end. Really? Why? Isn’t your brand better suited for them? What would it take to keep them engaged? — suddenly, you start to have bigger conversations and really understand what I call The Nub — the issue beneath the issue.

Ask it when you create a solution. Will anyone really care? Do you care? Will people get it? Does it really answer the brief? If the answer is yes, happy days.

You Matter

One team were working on a tough, open brief. There wasn’t really a defined audience — it was up to them who to target. In this case, it’s really easy to start looking outside of your sphere of understanding and into the wider world, inventing problems that you don’t understand or have experience of.

We started talking and it became obvious that the brief they were working on had a really direct impact on their lives. We kept talking, sharing and working it through until they created a product and service based on their OWN experience of the very broad subject matter.

Just by talking through what you understand on an open brief unlocks YOUR story, YOUR experience and YOUR ability to solve the problem that no-one else will have thought through. Once we moved it to a more macro discussion, it was clear the impact would be felt at a governmental level (pretty hardcore) so it WAS real. Mentoring is key to helping unlock these stories, these insights and their powerful solutions simply by empowering the mentee that their story and experience relative to the problem has real merit and could be the catalyst.

Nothing is what it seems

Everything’s a blur now. Digital isn’t a ‘thing’, books are ‘content’ and everything is ‘media’. Useful to think about when confronted with how to best engage people.

We talked about;

  • How Tesco have impacted seamless charity giving by rounding up your contactless payments to the nearest pound and donating it to a good cause.
  • How Monzo’s card is the go to status symbol for those in startups
  • How one venue can play 2 different roles to 2 different audiences at peak and non-peak times

These things are impactful in their own right. But, they don’t sit comfortably on a media brief — everything from the contactless machine to the card you flaunt at the bar is a media channel and there are hundreds more in this ultra-connected world that are yet to be transformed or fully realised. No longer should the brief just rely on traditional media to do the job — things that can be leveraged in the logistics chain (i.e. credit card manufacturing), at the ultimate point of purchase (contactless machine) or from the Capital Expenditure budget (i.e. a venue) can all be considered fair game in a solution. Go and seek them out!

Money isn’t a dirty word

Coming up with great ideas is one thing — but helping the client make money from them is another.

We had one great discussion about overlaying a business model from one industry (who does it brilliantly) to another business who needed to refresh their thinking. The great thing was that it was low risk, low friction and could be seamlessly actioned.

We also committed to an approach that added value to the customer in a way that created new value for the client over time too. What was initially seen as an add on became an integral part of the overall idea.

Filthy lucre is a dirty word; money isn’t. Great ideas are in the business of making money, collecting it or redistributing it — money’s involved somewhere so don’t shy away from it being part of your thinking. Clients will be pleasantly surprised.

Show your thinking

One of the main reasons I mentor at SCA is that I see it as a 2 way process. Each time I go, I seek to learn as much as I possibly can from people who see the world through a totally different lens. It’s amazing to see how they join the dots in their world and make sense of the challenge as they see it.

I always find that when the teams take me through their thinking, I learn the most. The tiniest detail, the most prescient experience, the craziest insight — it all adds up to open my mind to new approaches and ways of thinking.

If you’re working with mentors, never fear throwing a little daylight on your magic.

It goes a long way.


Scott Morrison is the founder and bringer of the Boom! and has worked with and at brands including Saatchi and Saatchi, Wieden and Kennedy, Nike, Levi’s, XBox, Activision and Diesel.

the Boom! have worked with over 30 clients helping them and their teams unblock old ways of thinking, unlock new ways to join their creative and commercial dots and unleash their people and ideas in the business