They fuck you up your ECDs/ They may not mean to but they do
Cannt-fessions went for the jugular by exposing the flip-side of success – the failures and the fuck-ups. Nick Hirst from Dare opened by telling us that there are twelve times as many books on success in business than failure – and yet most things fail. We don’t celebrate our failures often – but we can all laugh at them (while looking back, from a long distance, shuddering). All the speakers had been party to some monumental fuck-ups in their time and were eager to bare their greatest and most soul-harrowing moments.
Jonathan Lovatt-Young from LBI kicked us off, having been drafted in last minute, with some amazing stories from his career past and present. His first fuckup was as a young trainee on the Daily Mirror and telling Piers Morgan, without recognising who he was, he’d ‘throw him down the fucking stairs’ for trying to borrow his computer. This was followed by a website design for the wrong company (same names, very different products), pitching to Microsoft…on a Mac, and suggesting live-streaming a funeral.
Nick Darken, Albion’s ECD, took the reins next. He exposed the time he blanked in a pitch and forgot all his words, when he called his prospective (female) boss ‘a cunt’ in his portfolio, a hectic taxi ride from Milan to Venice after flying into the wrong airport for a pitch, and the time he left top-secret new product information in an Eat in Paddington Station. But he reassured us that everyone fucks-up – and finished with a staggering story about a client.
Rounding off was Dave Buonaguidi, of Karmarama, who gave us some timely pieces of advice alongside his catalogue of fuck-ups. “Never fuck the staff” was one that stood out: people who work for you don’t respect you if they’ve seen your naked arse. He advised us all to ‘be drunken’ – as Dustin Hoffman said to Jack Nicholson – whether that’s off actual booze or off poetry – to enjoy living life close to the edge, pushing the boundaries and having some fun in your work. Getting fired, as he has been repeatedly, is not the end of the world, and is sometimes for the best. “Take a few days off, attack a stranger – as long as you haven’t killed someone, you’ll get hired again” was his summary.
Not only did Cannt-fessions have the audience rocking with laughter and cringing in sympathy, it also taught us some valuable lessons from the ruins. Fucking-up is something everything will do at some point in their work and it’s important to remember it’s not the end of the world (even if it’s the end of your job and/or client). I can’t wait to ‘be drunken’ more often in my job – and not just on Friday nights.