When I was a junior at BMP I wanted to create an advertising course.
The idea was for students to get taught by working professionals.
So I wrote a letter to about sixty copywriters and art directors.
I invited them to come over to BMP to discuss it.
To elect someone to run it, and each pick a date to teach a class.
I got in lots of beer and sandwiches for the meeting.
Then I waited for everyone to turn up.
And I waited.
And no one turned up.
No one except Jeremy Sinclair, the creative director of Saatchis.
I was furious.
In the end I said “Fuck it, that’s the end of that. Everyone talks about helping youngsters but no one can even turn up for a meeting. Bollocks to the whole idea.”
But Jeremy Sinclair didn’t get angry.
He said something really insightful.
Something that shows his understanding of how the human mind works.
And how he got to be Chairman of Saatchis, and founder of M&C Saatchi.
Jeremy said “Calm down Dave, no one knows nobody else turned up. Everyone thinks they’re the only one who didn’t come.”
At first I didn’t understand what he meant.
All I knew was that sixty people didn’t come.
But what he spotted was brilliant.
He said “So far as anyone knows, everyone else turned up and we had the meeting, so let’s proceed on that basis: I’d like to nominate Dave Trott as Chairman.”
Then he said “Carried unanimously by all present.”
Then he said “Right, now let’s start putting names next to dates when each person will take a class.”
So that’s what we did.
Nobody else was there, but we started putting their names next to dates for them to take a class.
Then the next day I got a secretary to type it all up and send the list back out to the same sixty people.
And Jeremy was right.
All sixty people agreed to teach a class on the dates we gave them.
Because everyone thought they were the only one who didn’t come along.
They must be, because everyone else agreed to those dates
That became the D&AD Advertising Concepts Workshops, and it ran for twenty-five years.
It trained lots of London’s top creative directors.
All because Jeremy Sinclair understood how the human mind works.
Jeremy understood that each person lives in their own head, in their own universe.
I thought everyone would know sixty people refused to come.
I thought the whole idea would be a laughing stock.
But Jeremy knew that no one would know.
Everyone would assume they were the only one who didn’t come.
Jeremy understood you don’t think of people as a group.
You don’t talk to them as a large mass.
You think of them as individuals.
And you talk to them as one person.