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Category: Tim Willison

Report from AdLounge's Conversuasion Event

AdLounge Conversuation

Like many of my friends involved in interactive media, I find it hard sometimes to get an evening out.  In the hustle and bustle of it all, it is easy to lose sight of one thing: it is play we do.  We are lost without our sense of humour, our capacity for wonder, and our ability to entertain. 

For those of us who are enlisted to deliver messages that stir the listener to action, it is ever more important to recharge our creative resources.

This is why I find what AdLounge is doing with their events so interesting.  I previously attended Art from the Unexpected, and recently took in Conversuasion.

Like the first event, Conversuasion had a theme of play with purpose.  In other words, the event, while attended by some of the most influential members of the advertising community, manages to not take itself too seriously.  While heavy concepts are discussed concerning communicating stories in modern ways across varied media, this is done in a comfortable atmosphere.  Participants are encouraged to speak freely, in a comfortable setting, sharing their insights with those fortunate enough to be in attendance.

Conversuasion took place at the historic Arts and Letters building on Elm Street.  I used to work a stone's throw from there in one of the glass towers, and I've often wanted to see inside the building that was a favorite of the group of seven.  Now I had my chance.

Nestled inside, many portraits gazed from the walls towards me as I took my place in the audience.  But the focal point of the room was a comfy chair next to a crackling (digital) fire.  It was here the speakers, Colin Drummond, director with Crispin Porter and Bugusky, and Neil McOstrich, founding partner of Clean Sheet Communications, would sit to share their stories.

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Report from AdLounge's "Art from the Unexpected" Event

Last week I attended the successful gala "Art from the Unexpected" – a fundraising event for "Sketch", an organization that helps empower young artists to develop their unique talents in a safe environment.
Sketch has been helping for thirteen years now, as I came to learn by speaking with their friendly volunteers.  For many who arrive there, Sketch is their first opportunity to leave behind the troubles and dangers of the street for a place to develop unique talents and achieve a sense of direction.

This is why the event, dreamed up by AdLounge and held at the historic Steamwhistle Brewery, was so important.  I'm happy to report that the event was a great success, raising over $20,000 dollars in support of the organization.  I was happy to attend with my good friend and talented video producer Shazeen Pirani, of Organic Inc.

Oddly Studios

The premise of the "Art from the Unexpected" event was unique.  Twenty business leaders were asked to produce artwork, based around the theme "Eureka".  What makes this unexpected is that these people have large groups of highly talented individuals at their disposal who work in the creative field, yet these pieces of art were to be their own contribution – their own unique creations, reflective of their ideas for the theme.

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From the Ground Up – Recognizing and Retaining Creative Talent

Graffiti artists
It is a busy time in the online space – competition for top talent has never been as fierce as it is now, with many studios vying for the best and most creative minds.

This is not surprising, as there is a great deal of revenue at stake. More and more it is becoming recognized that creativity is a chief contributing factor in the success (or lack thereof) of not just studios, but entire metro economies. (For an interesting discussion of the economic impact of fostering creativity, see Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida.)

Here in Toronto, the results of an extensive investigation into fostering creativity have been released ( and support the notion that cities, and by extension companies, can live or die on their ability to seek out, and retain, top creative talent. So how is it done?

1. Grow your own.
A company that does not have a viable continued learning program will die. Unfortunately, too many companies see this as a problem they must throw money at to solve. It is, rather, an opportunity that often requires a small amount of time investment over money. Smart companies recognize mentors in their midst, and use their own people’s natural talent for teaching to great effect.

Learning programs should be extended to anyone in the company, including contractors. Contractors represent the most viable source of talent for companies in either a growth period or when trimming – why not develop continued good relationships with them?

Continued learning is often an all-or-nothing proposition because it thrives on group spirit. It is hard to have half of a company involved in continued learning.

2. Recognize the leaders in the local community.
There are always those who take an active role in organizing user-groups, discussion forums, student-programs and such. These are the influencers of the creative body, and the most sought after network resources for creatives. Word-of-mouth association far outweighs all other means of getting to top creative talent. It is lightening-fast compared to other means.

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