Everyday, I ask my clients to take risks. To stick their necks out. To dare to fail. I make sure they feel safe and encouraged, but I cannot guarantee they’ll feel comfortable.

In order to gently demand this of my clients, I, like Jamie Oliver, want to practice what I preach. To do that, I gotta get out of my own comfort zone. Time to put my money where my mouth is.

Enter stage right: Creatieve Koppen. (English translation: ‘Creative Heads’.) They’ve invited us to a rented villa in Limburg and locked us up (not really). They’ve given us an assignment: create brilliant marketing for three different products. In like five minutes (not really. Well, almost really)

So who are these missionaries of marketing?

Four partners: Steven, Sanne, Jessica, and Edwin (Robin, too, but he’s not here today). Young. Bright. Tireless. Ambitious. It’s quite a bunch.

Within minutes of my arrival, Jessica asks me to play guitar during the warm up.

Um. Ok.

Didn’t see that one coming, but you don’t have to ask me twice. I strap on the ‘uniform’ we’ve been given for the role plays which is an orange pair of baggy overalls. We look like a cross between Hare Krishnas and the Michelin Man.

Strapped into my overalls, I grab my axe and sing. My fellow participants dance. It’s 9:30 in the morning. We’ve just met. Straight into the deep end.

The hours that follow are a riveting ride of turbo brainstorming, elevator pitches, product launch campaigns, television commercials, and guerilla Twitter tactics. All of this done in a pressure cooker of deadlines, hurry up, think deeper, make it more brilliant. The sessions are structured as games: us against them. The constant competition raises the adrenaline levels and brings out the Alpha in all us males (next time, more ladies please). It is INTENSE.

The intensity causes me to struggle at times. I struggle with my fear of public speaking in Dutch. I struggle with my need to be both the center of attention and a wallflower. But when I want to hide, they push to expose me. When I want to show off, they push me to “hold that thought”. It could be seen as a controversial approach and it sometimes leads to serious resistance. But the Koppen understand the risk they are taking. They are committed to their vision. Their belief is that brilliant, lasting creativity is born when we are pushed to our intellectual limits. When it works, and all the sparks fly in the same direction, the fire that results is spectacular.

To the Koppen: thank you for an unforgettable day. You pushed me to push myself. I take away a renewed sense of inspiration and energy.

If you, dear reader, have a product to launch, a business to start, or an idea that’s begging to be shared, call the Koppen. I couldn’t recommend them more highly.

My Photo

Written by,

David Mangene