I’m competitive at heart. Winning is exciting when you get to look your opponent in the eyes – something we don’t get to do when pitching against other agencies. That’s why, although some may laugh, I love playing chess. There’s just something oddly satisfying about watching your rival’s face crumple as they admit defeat.
Before the age of nine, I was UK junior chess champion. This is where my passion for chess started, but it wasn’t until later in life that I learned so many of the skills developed from playing the game can be applied to my work too. Its benefits are huge.
Academics have spent years developing research proving how simply playing chess can help to improve skills such as creativity, strategic thinking, problem solving and more. And while I’m no grandmaster, by playing chess against different people and personalities I’ve also learned how to adapt to different situations.
It makes you very aware that no one situation will be the same. That’s why, even now, I still make time to have a game with agency folk or even clients. And if I’m on the move, I play chess on my phone.
For me, it sharpens and exercises both sides of the brain. Thinking with logic and creativity in tandem – two skills any modern-day advertiser now needs – can prompt different resolutions to unique problems. The similarities between chess and advertising don’t stop there.
Chess has helped me learn how to adapt quickly and make the situation work in my favour whenever my opponent or competitor tries to change the parameters of the game. That’s why I always make sure my days are focused and action oriented, to keep one step ahead.
Chess has given me a rounded view of people and how to quickly plan and think ahead that I probably wouldn’t have acquired otherwise. The rules are simple, but the lessons learned have been valuable.
Pip Hulbert is the chief operating officer at Wunderman UK.