Cultivate your gut

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Cultivate your gut

‘What’s the best piece of advice that you can give to a new Planner?’ A common question, but hard to choose the best answer. ‘Be a sponge’, ‘know more than your client’, 'keep it simple but not simplistic’, ‘be useful, not clever’ are a just a few examples, but Simon Lamey thinks that sometimes you need some gut instinct to steer you in the right direction. Find out what brave advice he would give young planners, embarking on their career.

Tips for new Planners is a well versed area online, but one topic resonating with us this week is the idea of cultivating your gut and being more ballsy. Cultivating your gut means the career-long skill of listening to your gut instinct, giving it a confident voice and cultivating it through years and years of experience.

Keeping true to what your inner voice is whispering can be tough when clients and colleagues are debating to the contrary and sometimes quite forcefully so. Of course, they may be right, but your long term challenge as a new Planner is to be brave and cultivate your gut year-in-year-out. The alternative is shying away, which will set you in bad habits for the future. As long as your voice is well informed, inspired and argued, then nobody’s going to shoot you for it. And it might just be that fresh, real world perspective that the brief needs.

However relying on gut alone doesn’t mean winging it, being lazy, or arrogant. It is vital to always do your detailed homework, finding evidence to support your gut and challenging yourself by finding evidence that disproves your gut. We are naturally biased in confirming rather than disproving our thinking, so lose the arrogance and challenge your beliefs. Why? Because it helps build better planners, campaigns and value for our clients.

One criticism of some Planners has been their over-reliance on using gut instinct and twisting data unreasonably to suit their argument, with more consideration given to sounding clever than being useful. Yes, gut is the place where we start our thinking, but unless you are unexpectedly put on the spot, relying 100% on your gut is rarely advised; it is only the most experienced that can get away with it. To support this, an experiment last year showed that for business orientated decisions, using slow, gut-averse thinking is better than using gut instincts on its own.

In short, challenge yourself and be brave; your inner voice helps keep things focused, simpler and drives better creative. Our advice is short and sweet:

  • Be brave: don’t let your inner voice go silent. Listen to it, express it with some gusto, don’t worry if it’s not right at first, but be happy when it is right
  • Challenge yourself: feed it with the best insight, random stuff, build a mental pantry of ideas for your inner voice to call upon - all which means really knuckling down and doing your homework
  • Enjoy yourself: planning, when used correctly, is one of the most useful and inspiring parts of the creative process - there aren’t many disciplines that are as stimulating as ours!

Simon Lamey
Raving Reporter

Southpaw Communications Ltd


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