A couple months ago (from 28 November-30 November), as Founder & CPO (Chief Purpose Officer) of ThisAbility I was not only lucky enough to attend eurobest Festival of Creativity at Victoria House Basement here in London but to also be on a diversity panel and hosting a workshop during the three-day event. It was my first time joining eurobest, and what a pleasant experience I had.

Below are a rundown of my highlights during the festival.

Day 1 of 3 at eurobest Festival of Creativity was fabulous.

On Day 1, I enjoyed these talks:
* Cannes Lions See It Be It Alumni 2017: Utopia Inc.: What the Future Creative Industry Looks Like

Session description: “Tabula rasa! Imagine starting our industry from scratch. What would it look like in terms of culture, collaboration and leadership? Cannes Lions 2017 See It Be it alumni look forward to providing you with some suggestions that will ring richly in your audio headsets. How do you build a culture? How do you encourage diversity? What makes a good team? What can you learn from Martha Stewart? How do you ensure all voices are heard? Drawing from their personal experiences and freshly gained perspectives from See It Be It, they’ll offer you a glimpse into the future.”

Speakers: Barbara Dzikanowice (Creative Content Director, Happiness; Belgium), Hannah Johnson (Senior Copywriter, LA RED), and my friends Shahnaz Ahmed (Senior Graphic Designer, Livity; London) and Jaki Jo Hannan (Senior Art Producer, AMV BBDO; London).

You can watch the talk here.

* Creative Equals: The Best Ideas Don’t Come in the Office

Session description:Creative Equals and guest speakers from the industry will discuss the future of workplaces, and their impact on creativity and the wider creative world. Without flexible working, we lose talent (like parents) and drive creativity towards future automation. As well as discussing questions around redefining workplaces and why people are scared of the ‘F’ word, this panel will also take great creative pieces of work and show how the origin of these ideas comes in all sorts of different places. Could flexible working save creativity?”

Speakers: Jason Gonsalves (CEO, mcgarrybowen London), Kathryn Tyler (Co-Founder, Digital Mums, and my good friends Ali Hanan (CEO, Creative Equals) and Laura Jordan-Bambach (Chief Creative Officer, Co-Founder, Mr President/SheSays).

* Livity: Livity Presents Mixtape

Session description: “With Gen Z knowingly tuning off from traditional marketing and a disrupted music industry experimenting with different business models, both sides are borrowing cultural currency from each other. But there’s no clear formula for success. In particular, it’s all too easy for a brand to try to appropriate ‘cool’ or steal relevance from an artist or scene, and not make a credible or positive contribution to the culture they came from. We look at collaborations between brands and artists and how, as a story-led and emotive medium, music has become one of the most important but high-risk cultural platforms for brands.”

Speakers: Toyboy & Robin (Music Group), Tara Joshi (Journalist, Freelance), Kevin McFadyen (Head of Brand Communications at Nando’s UK, Nando’s), Ben Saul-Garner (Co-Founder at Attachment London, Attachment), and my good friend Alex Goat (CEO, Livity).

Check out the video of the panel here.

* Uncommon Creative Studios: We Are Our Most Important Client

Session description: “‘No’ might make them angry. But it will make you free. If no one has ever told you, your freedom is worth more than their anger. ‘Yeah, and then after a year, they finally bought it! We were so happy! I mean it wasn’t perfect, the budget was worse, it ran on the back of a bus stop in a shithole that nobody ever saw, they made the logo huge, added a glitchy QR code to a discounted cheese brand and changed the design so it looked like a coupon ad from 1991 but you know, we got there.’ Asking for permission to make your best ideas reality is like handing over the key your success to a stranger less ambitious than you dressed in boot cut jeans. Stop being dependent. Stop begging to make the ideas you were born for. Come and hear Nils Leonard tell it like it is.”

Speakers: my mate Nils Leonard (Founder, Uncommon Creative Studios)

Check out his epic talk here.

* And the highlight of Day 1 was, as Founder & CPO (Chief Purpose Officer) of ThisAbility, speaking on an exceptional panel — MCCANN WORLDGROUP EUROPE: The D Word: Not Just Another Diversity Panel

Session description: “It’s time for a more honest, authentic and ‘diverse’ discourse on diversity. This will be a panel on diversity. But the way it will address the subject, the nature of the conversation, and way it comes to life will be different. This panel will seek to reclaim the power of being labelled as “different” by representing the various forms of diversity through the retelling of lived experiences. All role models in their own way, these speakers promise to deliver a thought provoking session meant for anyone seeking success in the creative business as individuals, leaders, makers and brand builders.”

Speakers: Nicky Bullard (Chairwoman and Chief Creative Officer, MRM//Meteorite), Evadney Campbell MBE (Co-Founder and Managing Director, Shiloh PR), Asmita Dubey (Chief Digital Officer for Consumer Products Division, L’Oréal), Harjot Singh (Chief Strategy Officer, McCann Worldgroup EMEA), and myself.

Check out the video of the panel here.

Day 2 was more enjoyable and surprised me more.

Day 2 of 3 eurobest Festival of Creativity was badass!

On Day 2, I enjoyed these talks:

* UNIT9: Scrap Understanding Digital…Get Digital to Understand Us

Session description: “Our brains are predictive mechanisms, connecting with the world through our senses. And increasingly more, we’re relying on technology to artificially enhance the physical and digital worlds around us. But technology emphasizes function over feeling. Despite all the amazing devices on the market today, you’d still struggle to find a machine that properly understands a hug or a kiss. Unit 9’s Yifei Chai will examine how we can become more human when we are wrapping ourselves deeper and deeper into layers of artificial creations. How can we create human experiences through machine interactions? Instead of us understanding the world through digital…how can digital understand us?”

Speakers: Yifei Chai (Creative Director, UNIT9)

Watch Yifei’s mind-blowing talk here.

* eurobest and Debate Mate: Debate: The Rise of the Freelancer Economy will Kill the Creative Agency

Session description: “The number of freelancers on agency books is steadily rising. What does this mean for the future of the traditional creative industries? Will this significant shift in working models be a boon…or a bane? Will it signal the end of the traditional creative agency as we know it? And what advantages and disadvantages does a freelancer lifestyle hold for creative talent themselves? In a eurobest first, come and hear both sides battle it out in this dynamic debate, in partnership with Debate Mate. Debate Mate is a global social business that teaches communication and leadership from the classroom to the boardroom. Who will win? You’ll help decide, and even have a chance to be a part of the discussion.”

Speakers: Lorenzo Foffani (Chief Strategy Officer, DUDE), Ife Grillo (Student, Debate Mate), lie Lyons (General Manager, Beyond), Jody Orsborn (Co-Founder and Fixer, The Backscratchers), and my friend Pip Jamieson (Founder, The Dots).

Check out the video of the debate here.

* FinchFactor: Inked: What Tattoo Artistry Teaches us About Branding

Session description: Once an indelible mark of the disenfranchised, tattoos have become a ubiquitous hipster accessory. In a cultural shift from prisoners to popstars, and from bikers to billionaires, have tattoos lost their power as a counter-cultural force? Fashion houses, including Dsquared, Givenchy and Dries van Noten, have used inked skin to manipulate cultural and commercial brand identity. What can the creative industry learn from this? Reputation management expert Kerrie Finch and guest speakers from the tattoo and fashion industries will identify what branding means — on skin, in business — when building status in a rapidly shifting society.

Speakers: Tom Angell (Creative, Drum), Henry Hate (Visual & Tattoo Artist, Henry Hate Studio), Jeff Horsley (Exhibition Maker and Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Fashion Curation, London College of Fashion), and my new friend Kerrie Finch (Founder & CEO, FinchFactor).

This was a marvellous talk that I loved, and I even won a free tattoo from the guest speaker tattooist Henry Hate! This is THAT MOMENT at #eurobestLDN on Day 2 of 3 when I won the prize. Here is my winning Tweet question too: “What’s your vision on tattoos combined with future technologies such as AR and VR? Ps. I can be the guinea pig 😇 #inkedeurobest #eurobest @eurobest” I can’t wait to get it done — Thank you, Kerrie, for an awe-inspiring talk (and look forward to chatting again soon), and see you soon Henry!

Check out the full video of the chat here.

* And the highlight of Day 2 was, as Founder & CPO (Chief Purpose Officer) of ThisAbility, doing a workshop –ThisAbility: Hack an 8 Trillion Dollar Market With Creative Disabled Talent. I co-hosted the workshop with my terrific Dutch friend (and advisor) Mark van der Heijden of Wanderbrief, supported by a few awesome, ThisAbility creatives Rosemary Frazer, Adam Corre, and Mike Alhadeff.

Session description: “Deaf, blind, dyslexic and other people with disabilities are natural born creative thinkers. Why? They have to hack their way through the barriers of society. They need to think and act creatively to survive. Weirdly enough, 76% of people in the UK have never invited a person with a disability to a social event or their home. Most agencies don’t even have wheelchair access. That’s an untapped opportunity, as the annual disposable income of people with disabilities globally is over 8 trillion dollars. Join this workshop and learn how to hack into this thriving market by brainstorming with creative disabled talent.”

Speakers: Mark van der Heijden (Co-founder, Wanderbrief) and myself.

The workshop went so well, and I’m super excited to push ThisAbility forward in a positive, tangible way.

Day 2 took it the next level.

Day 3 of 3 at eurobest Festival of Creativity ended on a high!

On Day 3, I enjoyed these talks:

* Quiet Storm: Trevor Robinson OBE, on Ads as Entertainment

Session description: “When Trevor was growing up, advertising created some of the funniest pieces of entertainment that could be seen outside a Monty Python sketch. But now ads have become so smart, so clever, they have lost a lot of their entertainment value. Trevor argues that this makes no sense, especially in a culture where so many of our personal interactions rely on humour. Is it time to look at ads as entertainment once more? In this talk, Trevor Robinson discusses humour in advertising, as well as revealing some of his comedy influences, from the anarchic The Young Ones to the classic film Airplane.”

Speakers: Trevor Robinson OBE (Founder and Executive Creative Director, Quiet Storm).

* eurobest: The eurobest Power Hour

Session description: “In this Power Hour, eurobest will host a series of rapid-fire presentations from industry speakers that answer the question: “What three practical steps can we be taking now to make the industry more diverse and inclusive by 2020?” With a focus on gender equality, these speakers will share personal experiences, industry expertise, facts and figures, and a passion for change, resulting in a collective action plan for a better future. Featuring: The Elephant Room, R/GA, Crack + Cider, McCann Romania and Frank & Lively.”

Speakers: Charlotte Cramer (Senior Strategist, AKQA), Jen Heazlewood (Creative Director, Head of Experience Design, R/GA), Marcie MacLellan (Founder, Frank & Lively), Scarlett Montanaro (Digital Creative / Co-Founder, AMV BBDO / CRACK + CIDER), Rebecca Rowntree (Freelance Creative Director), Simona Suman (Group Creative Director (MRM / McCann Romania), and my friends Will de Groot (Cultural Strategist, The Elephant Room) and Shannie Mears (Co-Founder, The Elephant Room).

Check out their full chat here.

* eurobest: 2017 eurobest Jury panel

Session description: “This is your chance to hear from members of the 2017 eurobest juries ahead of the evening’s Award show. Discover trends and themes in the current work and hear insights from’ some of the top creative minds in the industry. More panellists to be announced.”

Speakers: Adrian Botan (Global Executive Creative Director, McCann Worldgroup), Zélia Sakhi (Partner and Head of Creative & Design, Mobiento / Deloitte Digital), and Chris Moody (Chief Design Officer, Wolff Olins).

Check out their panel discussion here.

* eurobest: President’s Address: Zélia Sakhi — Interactive, Mobile and Digital Craft

Session description: “They are coming for us. The non-creatives, the consultancies in their suits, the software engineers, the AIs and the artificial creative directors. What is left for us, in a world ruled by data, logic and rational thoughts? Or rather, what does it mean to be creative in such a world? Maybe it is just time to redefine what being a creative means, and what our organizations will really need in the future to thrive. Maybe it’s about time, we leave our egos behind. Come and hear from Zélia Sakhi — this year’s President of our Interactive, Mobile and Digital Craft jury — redefining what it means to be creative.”

Speakers: Zélia Sakhi (Partner and Head of Creative & Design, Mobiento / Deloitte Digital).

Check out her talk here.

* FCB Inferno: This Girl Can: Generating a Return on Purpose

Session description: “The purpose backlash is booming due to quick fix comms strategies and award bids, but brands with a genuine social conscience continue to succeed above expectation. Sport England and FCB Inferno, the team behind This Girl Can, will talk through their ground-breaking campaign and demonstrate how a clear purpose has led to convention-busting work, as well as both behavioural and financial returns.”

Speakers: Kate Dale (Strategic Lead, Brand and Digital, Sport England) and Vicki Holgate (Chief Strategy Officer, FCB Inferno).

Watch their great talk here.

*And the highlight of Day 3 was attending a superb workshop by The Pop Up Agency –What Are We Really Without Purpose?

Session description: “Every country is different, but we all have one remarkable thing in common — #GlobalGoals. On September 25th, 2015, United Nations revealed a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 13 years. In this experiential workshop, The Pop Up Agency aims to share their 48H methodology and also encourage you to use your creativity by applying it towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals and collectively make a difference for the planet.”

Speakers: Abraham Asefaw (Founder & Director, The Pop Up Agency) and Maksimilian Kallhed (Founder & Director, The Pop Up Agency).

Day 3 was a fantastic day that I thoroughly loved. Sadly, I couldn’t attend the awards and after party, because I had a pre-arranged event, but I had an incredible three days at eurobest as my first time engaging with the festival.

[Here’s a particular note to my terrific, dear friend (and ThisAbility advisor) Mark of Wanderbrief. He joined me at eurobest Festival of Creativity in November. He is an extraordinary friend, as not only did he help me co-host my workshop and joined me for Day 2 at eurobest, but he stayed a couple of days at my home, and we had so much fun together. I really couldn’t have done the workshop (or it a massive success) without him. He made my first experience at eurobest that much more extraordinary.
I first met him at the D&AD Festival 2016 in April 2016 where we were both keynote speakers, and we have been good friends ever since; I even went to Amsterdam in July 2016 after Mark invited me to visit his hometown and base. Mark is one of the most kind, smiling, caring, friendly, and supportive people I know. Quietly, he inspires me.
Thank you, Mark, for a great time and your support at Eurobest, as well as for your ongoing kindness, empathy, support, and friendship. Until next time! I’m looking forward to more collaborations, adventures, and fun together too — positive world domination awaits. Zie je snel weer, mijn vriend! As you best say: “Think less, do more.X]

For The Love Of Creativity — Thank you Cannes Lions and eurobest for making my first eurobest Festival of Creativity experience a wonderful one in London! I loved every second.

As Founder & CPO (Chief Purpose Officer) of ThisAbility, I’m so honoured to have been invited to speak on a diversity panel and to host a workshop with Mark during the festival, as well as humbled to be in the company of such amazing people.

Also, I thoroughly enjoyed the entire three days of the festival and just absorbed as much as I could. It was superb to meet old friends and make lots of new friends as well.

Thank you to the entire Cannes Lions and eurobest team for an incredible 3-day adventure at #eurobestLDN and thanks for all your support with accessibility during the festival. You’re the best! I very much look forward to collaborating with you again in the future to push creativity further together too. Chat soon!

As my hero, Cindy Gallop, best said: “Shared Values + Shared Action = Shared Profit (that’s financial profit and social profit).”

Watch this space.

Listening to “
Deny” by Yasmin Hamdan