Monday, 13 February 2012

Guest speaker: Andy Peers

For one of our personal and professional practice lectures, a guest speaker was organized. Andy Peers was the National Acrobat Gymnastic Champion at a young age. When he was a boy, him and his friend had the privilege of meeting their favourite band 'Motorhead'. Moving away from his early ambition of being a gymnast, he is today the advertising director of the 'Big issue'.

The most important message that Andy Peers was trying to convey, was that business morally should be based around set values. He asked us about our values, and how we would choose to run our own business. Reflecting on this, I decided I would strive for honesty (fair production processes), fairness towards the consumer (prices based on costs, not just the popularity of the brand logo) and loyalty (maintaining the values that have won custom in the first place, not making changes based on the mass consumer market). I think this is the area that engaged me the most. I feel strongly against huge corporate companies, who believe that because their brand is attached to a product, they can exploit the consumer and charge ridiculous prices.

An example of an independent store that goes against the mass consumer market in the city of Leeds, would be Jumbo Records. They are value based in the sense that they run on a genuine passion for all genres of music. Unlike the Virgin 'megastores', Jumbo try and appeal to the specialists, who want to scratch beneath the surface and move away from the mainstream. The store dates back to 1971, and was the baby of a 70's mobile disc jokey. Today the store still operates strongly with a small team of staff. Although not massively values based, the store bears an independent feel. For someone who is passionate about music, one could quite easily be offended by the mass media market and the throwaway singles produced today. For this reason, I believe that in the particular area of music, Jumbo records values a genuine interest in artists creating music, and not the exploitation of popular song for profit.

Another point Andy Peers shared with us regarding success in business, was how to network. He explained how as soon as a person glances over your shoulder in conversation, you have lost their interest. He spoke of imagining small clumps of jelly, as a metaphor for information. Each small clump of information you can stick to a person, helps maintain their interest. If you can convey your points in small chunks rather than overloading the listener, you can engage them in snappy interesting discussion.

In conclusion, I have been left to ponder on the values I would like to base my work around. Even working independently, values can have an effect. For example, if I was asked to do commission work for a company I felt went against my own values, I believe it would be wise to maintain integrity by voicing my opinion, and if nothing could be changed, respectfully turning down the work. Even if maintaining strict values can potentially prevent certain opportunities, I believe that in the long run, honesty and respect is important. If you have a set of values that you can lay out on the table whenever you are interviewed for a work, you will be taken serious as an individual or as a business. In the end, the path you follow will be true to yourself and the values you have chosen to live by.

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