Around 12 months ago, The Real Adventure (where I work) initiated a little extra agenda item for the monthly all-agency meeting. Volunteers were sought to present a pecha kucha, which could be about anything they chose. The purpose was to offer the whole agency to talk about something they cared about, and for the rest of us to learn a little more about each other.
This last week, it was my turn. I had thought about film clips or scenes, and even tried to make the technology work to play 20 sound clips. But in the end I opted for a more linear narrative approach, relating moments from my life that still resonate with me now, and/or have seemingly changed the course of my life, even if I didn’t realise it at the time…
You can view the full set of slides on slideshare, together with extended speaker notes (there’s no way I could tell all the stories I wanted to in 20 seconds per slide!)… but to give you a flavour, a couple of selections…
Monday 11th January 1988
Between school and university, I went to the States for 6 months on a school exchange, and this boy from the Cotswolds discovered the world…
I had no baggage, I found I could break out from my own self-imposed teenage constraints – clever, not ‘cool’, awkward in conversation – especially with girls(!). On the very first morning at school in the US, I was invited to skip a class by other guys in the Senior Year, and we went out to get ice cream (it was January and about 5 degrees below zero!), then one of them drove his car around the icy carpark, spinning and wheeling in all directions, before ploughing into a snowbank. This seemed a long way from Gloucestershire.
I played in a jazz band, started to write a screenplay, skied in Colorado. I travelled on my own from New York to Seattle and San Francisco and back again. I was refused re-entry to the US at Niagara Falls. I gambled in casinos in Reno. I thought I was Don Johnson on top of the World Trade Centre…
Thursday 7th June 1990
At the end of my 2nd year at university, I signed up for an ERASMUS exchange to study in France, without consulting anyone, let alone my parents. A real snap decision. It was a brilliant and far-reaching decision, as I got to go skiing in the French Alps A LOT, even buying my own boots and skis. We travelled down to the Mediterranean for a weekend, we took a trip into Italy. We met and studied with multi-lingual French, Italian, Dutch, German students.
Most far-reaching of all, it was in Chambéry that I studied marketing & market research for the first time, and discovered more human, practical, real-world ways to apply my thinking beyond the more abstract, macro-economic aspects of my degree course.
Even more so, if I’d not gone to France for a year I wouldn’t have been at Exeter in my 4th year, and almost certainly wouldn’t have met Rachel.
Thursday 12th March 1992
I’ve played the horn since I was 12. In my Final Year at University, I’m playing 1st horn in Mahler’s 2nd Symphony. It’s 90 minutes long, with 10 French Horns in an orchestra of over 100 and a choir of approaching 200. The Great Hall at Exeter is packed with up to 1,000 people (?certainly hundreds?). After the massive final chords, the audience erupts. Section by section the orchestra is called to stand by the conductor. Still shaking from the effort, the concentration, the exhilaration, it’s the turn of the Horns. There are cheers, people are standing. We nailed it. I nailed it.
It’s still my happy place moment.
Friday 30th January 2003
I’ve only ever actively resigned from one job, and that was back in 1994. I’ve been sold once and made redundant twice – and all of them have been Good Things, especially this last one. On 30th January 2003 I was finally set free from the politics at Barclaycard. I was sent home on gardening leave while Rachel had Post-Natal Depression and Hannah was still only 7 months old. It precipitated our move back from Oxfordshire to Gloucestershire, and my career shift from client to agency, as I came to TRA.
My life, like all our lives, has featured many important and properly life-changing moments. But even more, there have been countless fleeting moments, or events that might seem like nothing, but are often a lot more than nothing.
Many of these moments don’t matter, are forgotten and lost forever. But many of them really do matter. For longer, and in ways we couldn’t begin to realise at the time.