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Doodling in the desert (Well, Scottsdale)

I’ve rehydrated and the peyote is finally wearing off. Wait. That stuff’s legal, right?

Smack in the middle of Arizona seems like an odd place for advertising people to meet and hold a conference. Well, The One Club Creative Leaders Retreat isn’t your typical gathering of industry folk. There are no cavernous conference halls. No vendor booths. No swag. No hashtags. In fact, social posts were sort of verboten. So, except for the lanyards, it was basically the anti-conference. And that’s what made it so great.

What struck me most about this retreat was not the setting, which was beautiful, but the set up. Each session was held with small groups. In each, one of the best names in our business gave a loose, candid, incredibly engaging 30-ish minute presentation followed by open discussion. So in place of the usually Q&A, each of us had the opportunity to take part in the sessions and be connected to the speakers and the group.

The sessions are just the tip of the iceberg. Yes, there are interesting topics presented by smart, funny, and extremely talented industry people.

But the entire retreat is actually a gathering of a lot of smart, funny, extremely talented industry people. So through the camaraderie of meal times, downtime, happy hour and  post-dinner “networking” we all dug deeper into the topics of the day and shared the best bits from sessions we attended, heard the good stuff we missed, and swapped stories with creatives, and non-creatives, from around the world.

My favorite five takeaways from my time in the desert:

Commit bodies and brains to do the best work.

Be tuned into the collective group needs- a spark, a calming voice, a donut.

Get into the muck of the problem to unlock something.

If you don’t keep bringing the big ideas to the client, why should they keep you?

Poor listening is the silent killer of great work and relationships.

The experience of spending three days in in Scottsdale with such a passionate, talented and hopeful group was refreshing, reassuring and left me wanting to go back for more.

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