Be a square
The Squared programme brought together 85 young people from London’s media and creative agencies. Some had yet to start in their position, others had been working for almost two years and set us upon a 12-week course. The mission statement for the course was to ‘empower the next generation of leaders to power the industry [r]evolution’. Whilst this statement manages to toe the fine line between soulless corporate speak and the dead-eyed utterances of lost boys as they sign up to a cult, the mantra is simple – Google brings the digital nous to the table, leading workshops in analytics, data visualisation and management, coding; whilst Hyper Island provides personal development workshops – how to give and receive feedback, how to build productive teams, and how to grow as an individual in the workplace.
Now, the cynics at this point may scoff. Five step plans and ‘reflection’ workshops fall under the remit of your crazy Aunt in her Maxi-dress from Oxfam and her penchant for Class-C drugs, right? Wrong. These Hyper Island-led workshops provided the foundation for three team-based projects completed over the course of six weeks, and without them I expect it would have seemed like an audition for the next series of the Apprentice. The following points were our key take-outs from our time on the programme:
- Take the time to reflect on what happened in a task/project/work situation and how incidents and people made you feel;
- Share it. Feedback to individuals, be it positive or negative. The two musts are that it is constructive and that you own it – ‘I think’ rather than ‘We err kind of all think’;
- Take risks. Learn from failing. If you ask people on their deathbeds what their greatest regret is, it is unsurprisingly not that they lived life too close on the edge and always seemed in mortal peril, but that they didn’t take enough risks. Have balls and go for it;
- This is the slowest pace of change you will ever experience. Fact. And the device you’re reading this on will be the worst piece of tech-kit you ever own henceforth. (Unless you get pissed, lose your phone, and have to get a phone from a vending machine at Victoria station).
As a foundation on which to build a career, regardless of industry, this course was an incredible way to really, yes I’m going to say it, look at yourself and think what it is you want to be. Richard Eyre, former Chief Exec of ITV, spoke passionately about success being whatever you define it as. So kick back at your desk now and think about what you want from your job, from life, and do it. Then, in whatever you do, build a bed of openness and trust which allows you to talk honestly to teammates about how you’re feeling, what you appreciate about them, and what you think it’d be good for them to have a think about. Then, take a few risks. Why not take one now? For the hardcore amongst you, look at something dreadfully smutty on your work computer. For the fainter hearted whose risk taking skills need to be honed, why not go and write a new Facebook status when you’re supposed to be looking at that spreadsheet. We all have to start somewhere.