WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DO AN OLI? Inspired by @OliBarrett


By Fat Penguin – The SCA Intake of 2016/17



Oli Barrett came in to talk to us about the power of networking. He definitely inspired us all to just reach out and get in touch with those that inspire us. Here’s what the Penguins have to say about Oli’s talk.

Anam: I contacted Tim Mead, the founder of Yeo Valley, and still haven’t heard back from him yet. Probably shouldn’t have included a Yeo pun in the subject. Planning to take the plunge and contact Richard Branson next, will definitely remember not to put any virginity puns in the subject.

Robyn: Have you seen those lovely long copy ads for Jack Daniel’s on the Underground? There’s enough time to read them in between one train departing and the next one arriving. A linguistic DELIGHT. I got in touch with a guy called Robbie at JD and convinced him I was a diehard fan of whiskey, as well as ads. He gave me the details of a CD at Arnold agency in Boston, the brains behind the campaign, and I threw a bunch of compliments and a couple of questions their way. No response yet. They’re 5 hours behind – perhaps that somehow translates into 5 days. #JeNeRegretteRien *UPDATE: as I finished typing this, a very wordy reply landed in my inbox! Big up Arnold for their long copy consistency. Let me know if you’d like to read it and I’ll happily show you.*

Malou: I stalked a managing director to the Ladies’ room. Got her details and now we’re meeting for coffee 😀

Augustine: Still struggling to find Grayson Perry’s email address. I’d like to thank him for a brilliant talk he gave at Being A Man festival. If anyone knows how to get in touch, I’d love a leg up. Oli’s talk showed us all that if you never ask, you never get. Don’t put people on an unattainable pedestal – they might be happy to meet with you. Relentlessly aim high.

Flav – Oli’s talk was very high opening. Realized we should never think of someone as on a higher level than ours. I messaged Chris Martin because hey why not. Didn’t get a reply but will try again when he’s back in the UK hehe.

Orla – I took Oli’s advice and contacted an artist whose work I like.  And Stu from creature about a crazy idea i had to do with his bees, I have a meeting with Stu in a few weeks, wish me luck.  

Beth – I contacted bloggers and different magazines, trying to get some free PR for my band’s new single release. I managed to get some good responses and a few reviews / premieres. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Miranda- My favourite collection of letters was the result of a young man called Mr Kappus writing to the poet Ranier Maria Rilke with a selection of his poems to ask for his opinion. After Oli’s talk I was inspired to do something similar, so I sent some poems that I wrote (by post) to a poet whose work I had recently enjoyed called Craig Raine. I am yet to hear back though ever hopeful!

Jesse: I sent an email to Didier Drogba, footballer and onetime civil war peacemaker. I wanted to know what it was like to have reached pretty much unheard of levels of national treasure-ness in his home country of Ivory Coast, and his plans for the future. Yet to hear back.

Kenny: Oli’s class was great. I can totally appreciate the idea of contacting people you want to meet, because it’s something I’ve done plenty of times in the past. One example of this was just after D&AD 2016 wherein I got in touch with a design hero of mine who will go unnamed. Needless to say, coffee was had and a job interview was secured. Did I get the job? Nah, but I’ll never regret making first contact. Just goes to show what happens when you reach out.

Mona: Oli’s masterclass was really inspiring. What I learnt is that you never know until you try. I’ve contacted Olafur Eliasson, a Danish artist that I’ve been following since I was a kid. I didn’t get an answer yet, but I’m definitely planning on doing many Olis this year!

Mary: Oli’s talk was amazing! Thinking back on it, I’ve contacted complete strangers in the past as well — some of them weren’t work-related at all. Didn’t really ask to meet them, but I “contacted” my favourite musician and all-time guitar hero Mick Jones from The Clash a few years ago. I just tweeted him a line from a song I wrote (which was inspired by him and his music) and he liked it! I was simply starstruck.

Sam: Although I’m yet to reach out to anyone new, the sentiment of Oli’s masterclass has really shaped the way I’ve looked at networking with the incredible range of people who come to the SCA studio. It’s all about just asking for a bit of help, chatting about stuff that interests you, and most importantly, just taking the initiative to engage. It might not seem like much, but it’s making a genuine difference…

Alexandra: I have yet to pull off an Oli but I’m in the right position now to complete a trick or two. Next project or idea I need help gaining momentum on, I won’t hesitate to make the wild emails or calls because you’d be surprised what opportunities appear when you just start sharing your ambitions with people.

Sophie: As a kid I couldn’t even prank call. That’s how much I dislike awkward cold convos. Oli made me try again.This time I did it for a purpose, guessing the emails for Tim and Sarah Mead (Yeo Valley Owners) to ask them some questions about their brand for a project we are working on. Sarah replied! Leading to us being able to have a phone call with the brand. All from a scary out of the blue email. Who’d have thought it?

Tomo: I’ve been lucky enough to come across a couple of my musical heroes but never have I met an inspiration from the world of sport. More specifically, I’ve never met a Chelsea footballer. But I’ve always thought Eden Hazard and I could be pals. And I always thought Frank Lampard could be our mutual friend who’s probably a little too old but hangs out with us just to feel young. If you see my name clogging up their Instagram comments, you know why.

Lauren: I wrote to Joel Golby (writer/all-time legend) about a number of things, including: Eton schoolboys, Putin, the ‘Young Banker of the Year’ award, Ant and Dec, London rental opportunities and toilet paper. Alas, I am yet to receive a response. All in good time.

Rollo: Not very successful at guessing Sergey Brin’s Google email. But, I emailed a journalist at The Huffington Post whose articles I follow. Next time he’s in London we’re going for a coffee. Chuffed, cheers Oli.

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