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Ellen Hammett 

Sir John Hegarty: Creatives have 10-year shelf life

Sir John Hegarty: Creatives have 10-year shelf life

Creative professionals have a limited amount of time to do "great work", before they risk becoming repetitive, Sir John Hegarty has warned.

Speaking as a guest at Posterscope's inaugural Pioneers event at the Soho Hotel on Tuesday, the advertising icon said that most creative professions have a 10-year period that will "create the work that's going to define them."

"We live in a world where you have to come in every day and have a new idea," said Hegarty, "and that idea can't be yesterday's idea."

However, Hegarty, whose career spans over six decades, said that there are things a creative professional can do to "expand" their shelf life.

"Cynicism is the death of creativity," said Hegarty. "Creativity is about optimism; it's when you're prepared to accept there is a problem and that you can change it.

"Change comes from optimists, it doesn't come from cynicists. A cynic will destroy an idea and it will destroy organisations."

Hegarty added that ego is also a "crucial" part of the creative process.

"Ego is 'I' - 'I believe in this' - and I want passionate people and people that have a point of view. What you don't want is hubris - hubris is what I see killing careers all the time. In business you need to understand the value of ego but beware of hubris."

Hegarty, famed for his work at Saatch & Saatchi and BBH, said that being "daring" and "fearless" is also vital to making progress - and warned creatives not to dwell on mistakes, or they risk hindering the ability to adopt new and daring ideas.

"The way we move forward is by challenging what's going on out there. A sense of fearlessness in establishing new things is absolutely crucial and without that you won't make any progress.

"I never think about my mistakes. If I were to obsess over them, I would begin to impinge on my daring nature and begin to worry, and if I did, I would no longer adopt and embrace new ideas."

Sir John Hegarty in quotes
Speaking at Posterscope's 'The Pioneers' event

- "We can change the world with ideas and we have them every day. They are the most democratic, egalitarian thing we can do. You don't need any special equipment, you don't need special permission, you don't need special training; you can have an idea anywhere at any time. Anybody. There are no barriers to it. And ideas drive the world."

- "One place you will never have a great idea is in a brainstorm meeting. It won't ever happen."

- "The ability to tell stories took [homosapiens] out of being just very base creatures who would just communicate on a base level. Because we have developed the ability to have ideas, to talk about theories, talk about thoughts and feelings, we could live in larger and larger groups. The foundations of villages, cities, towns and nations comes out of the ability to tell stories."

- "Money is the last reason you should do anything. Money has a voice, it doesn't have a soul."

- "There is only one space in the world that is of any value, and that's the space between somebody's ears."

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