Aim for embarrassment

Adam Taylor-Smith







By @AdamTaylorSmith


First day, my first scheduled SCAB. 


Initially, I planned to write about how my first impressions compared with expectations. However, I pictured myself trying to throw something together in the window between clock off and the evening deadline and I thought that might be a tall order. So instead, I sat trying to write it a few days early. 


But for some reason I was struggling to think of a topic. I’ve probably thought about SCA more than anything else since I applied all those months ago. So it was strange that now, with just a few days to go, I seemed to have nothing to say. 


I realised it was because the nerves were suddenly starting to get to me. The kind of nerves that only first days have the ability to stir in me. It meant I was being particularly self conscious and critical. 


I tried to pin point exactly what those specific kind of nerves were. A fear of the unknown? Possibly. A fear of failure? Almost certainly.


I turned to YouTube under the pretence of finding inspiration and I happened to come across a short interview with Dave Trott. I opened it up and was instantly alert. In fact, he might as well have grabbed me by the collar and given me a firm shake for 9 minutes and 33 seconds. 


In the video he effectively accuses our whole generation of being apathetic. He discusses advertising students, and more specifically, students at SCA. He is blunt, perhaps even rude at points. I didn’t like hearing it. It was just what I needed.


His advice was particularly appropriate given my procrastination and my apprehension about the approaching first day – “Do it. Don’t worry. Don’t think about doing it. Just do it. Be scared shirtless of not doing it.”


He went on to say, “(This generation) is just a generation of bank managers. It’s a frightened generation. But they don’t know what they’re frightened of. What are you frightened of? You’ve got less to be frightened of than we had, and we weren’t frightened.” 


Frankly, that pissed me off. But there’s nothing like a bit of resentment to stamp out your nerves and drive you to prove someone wrong. 


He said, “if you’re English and your’e middle-class, your biggest worry is embarrassment.’”


That’s not something I would readily admit, but I had a feeling he might have pin pointed the source of my anxiety more accurately than I had. 


“But now you know that you can fight against it. And realise that actually, when you fudge it up, when you get embarrassed, thats a victory over being dead. When you’re embarrassed to funk that’s what it feels like being alive.”


A lot of great advertising has the ability to turn a negative into a positive. That’s exactly what his words managed to do. I pulled myself together and stopped being nervous about getting embarrassed. Instead, I started looking forward to it.


(note: the quotes in this SCAB were slightly edited so as to be clean enough to be read by a grandmother)

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