Self-belief in Cumbria

Several times a year I get to speak at universities and colleges. This year I’ve had or got dates coming up in Saudi Arabia, China, Spain, Canada, UK and New Zealand. For MBA audiences it’s more of a full throttle challenge to everything they are being taught. For undergraduates it’s all about inspiration and how they will steer their future. Last Friday I spoke to 120 students at the University of Cumbria in England’s North West, home territory for me. I got a lot of feedback from students, particularly this post below from Grace Neal, who wrote about self-belief. This is a big topic for young people everywhere. With so many young, educated and unemployed people today in Europe, self-belief has got to be top of personal attributes to build. I know, I’ve been there. Here is the speech and below is Grace’s post.

27 April 2012 Lecture by Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi

This afternoon, the 27th of April 2012, Kevin Roberts, ‘Chief Excitement Officer’ of Saatchi & Saatchi visited my university to lecture on ‘Making it in the Age of Now’. Roberts relaxed us all pretty quickly, making a few jokes to ease the tension that the one man who we all want to become our boss was in the room, knowing that he was looking at our faces for probably the only time in our lives for most of us.

This lecture was especially relevant to me, as I wrote my dissertation on Graphic Design within UK Party Politics, therefore the chance to ask questions that were related to my personal studies.

I took notes, jotting down quotes, though wish I had a Dictaphone. Kevin was thoroughly engaging, honest and realistic. He saw the opportunity for communicating/advertising as my generation know it, using social media as the stone cold format for marketing, and our jobs would be to transform it into a platform for emotional engagement with potential customers. Roberts empathized with our position as graphic design students hoping to earn a living from our talent, in the least vibrant area of our United Kingdom. He inspired us to really not let anything hold our ideas or talent back, that we should endeavor to communicate at whatever the price.

But the most comforting for me was that he encouraged us to be ourselves. Completely and utterly, choosing to work in environments we feel most creative in. Making our own rules and justifying that power by being bloody brilliant. The design industry deifies the confident, the sexy and the provocative. I am a generally quiet yet sociable person who generally doesn’t like too much attention. If I do good work, my work should get attention, not me. But the personality of the designer is sometimes dissected and glorified as the governing force behind a piece of work- and I suppose it is, to an extent. However anyone can have a brilliant idea, and as long as I can communicate that just as brilliantly, I don’t have to be the person who never shuts up about themselves. I don’t have to be the person who always has CS7 before it’s released, to be an excellent designer. And that’s uplifting beyond words.

I learned more in that lecture about the industry than I did in the last three years of my degree. And that’s no slight on my tutors at all, I wouldn’t change a thing about my degree course, I’ve been pushed to my limits constantly by people who care. Studying in Carlisle will teach you the skills, Kevin Roberts will teach you how to apply them in business.

So, thanks Kevin, thanks for coming to Carlisle, thanks for supporting the young, and thank you for giving the last few minutes you needed to leave for questions, but most of all, thanks for making me realize that there is no reason at all that with hard work, I can’t be brilliant.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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