Arron Child Founder, Conjura - Next Gen class of 2013
Arron Child Founder, Conjura - Next Gen class of 2013
A view from Arron Child

Five lessons I learned from mentors and how they helped me start an agency

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After being named as a member of Marketing’s Power 100 Nxt Gen in 2013, while at Microsoft, I was a finalist in The Marketing Society’s Young Marketer of the Year and was accepted as a Scholar in the 2013 Marketing Academy cohort. 

I have worked in tech as head of marketing, and now run my own agency, Conjura.

I have been very fortunate to learn from some of the best in the business, mentored by leaders at Microsoft and The Marketing Academy. Here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way, through my own blood, sweat and tears, as well as the advice of my mentors.

1. ‘Upskill’

I strongly believe in the concept of 20,000 hours. If you want to be one of the best in your craft, you need to put the hours in. There aren’t any shortcuts. To become a better marketer, I wanted to understand what really makes people tick. I studied neuroscience with some of the top neuroscientists in the world, working to understand how memory is created and stored, how the subconscious affects purchasing decisions and the role the senses play. Some of the greats in our industry, such as Sir John Hegarty, have written books and routinely present at conferences. Seek out this information. It’s a great way to understand how these visionaries see the world, approach situations and find solutions.

2. Divergent thinking

Marc Lewis, dean of the School of Communication Arts, said: "The key to creativity is to join disparate dots in new ways." To do this, you need to have a lot of disparate dots. 

I always keep my finger on the pulse of technological innovation, cultural trends and advertising trends, looking at ways I can incorporate these into what I’m working on. 

3. Ask

Katie Vanneck-Smith, chief customer officer and global managing director, international, at Dow Jones, told me: "The more senior [that] people are, the more willing they are to mentor people. The problem is that most people never ask." I’ve been very lucky to spend a lot of time with some of the sharpest minds in the industry. People always have time for a coffee – especially if you’re buying.

4. Challenge

 We’ve all heard people say "fail forward" and "take risks", but how many are prepared to actually do this? It’s crucial. I’m not advocating innovating for innovation’s sake. However, it makes my blood boil when I hear someone say "but this is the way we have always done it". If you aren’t looking to innovate, then you are standing still. With the rate at which technology is evolving and the ease at which new competitors enter markets, failure to innovate means you will be left behind. You need to be prepared to put your head on the chopping block.

5. Do cool shit

Be passionate and proud of your work, but make sure you have fun, too.