January 12, 2016

Bowie – Our Brixton Boy

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At Livity, for many years on a Monday morning at 9.45am we’ve started the week with the unimaginatively named, but very dear to our hearts, ‘To Do’ meeting. We tried to rename it a number of times, but To Do just stuck. It’s the one time of the week when we all gather together, to update, inspire, collaborate or just simply share and be together. Our Leadership Team take turns in hosting and today’s To Do was my turn, the first of 2016. I’m passionate about and love the Monday To Do – it’s an important part of our culture and who we are.

So, Sunday night, I was feeling excited about hosting and pondering my intro. I was planning an exercise in revisiting people’s New Year’s Resolutions, exploring how they can be a bit daunting and sometimes unhelpful and I had created a exercise to help people think about the stuff they might want to leave behind in 2015, behaviours, issues, fails, insecurities etc.

This morning I woke up raring to go, but within seconds was listening to the news that David Bowie had died. I found myself weeping quietly into my pillow and I was surprised to find myself engulfed in shock and sadness. Now, as my Livity fam know, I DO get emotional at the drop of a hat, but the news of David Bowies death really took me by surprise. I wouldn’t have described myself as the biggest fan nor a music buff or expert, and there are certainly many people in Livity and beyond better placed to pay tribute to him than me, but what I did know was that it was me standing up in front of the business at 9.45am and how could I not reference it?  During the hour or so between waking and To Do I found myself bursting into tears again and again as I listened to or read the stream of tunes and tributes via a mixture of Radio 4, 6 Music and Facebook. I was curious: why did I feel so unbelievably sad? By the time I got to work I had worked out why and so through more tears and with a wobbly voice I shared…

David Bowie’s music has been with me since even before my teenage years, but it was those years he was most present. He was the soundtrack to my first holidays with friends, sipping cans of red stripe around a fire on the beach in Newquay, travelling around South East Asia and moving into my first own home in Brighton to name just three important life moments. He and his music represented independence, exploration and growing up, good times, happy and hilarious times, sad times and times that felt like tragic and awful like only our teens could.  And then of course there was just the rest of my life where he and his music would regularly appear and provide an ongoing soundtrack to help create those memories and moments. As someone on the radio said this morning, it’s a bit like losing a member of your family and I have to agree, for my generation, Bowie was often there more than family could often be, you could turn to him, his music whatever your mood or situation. I realised I was mourning the loss of (up and until today), an unidentified constant in my life.

These reflections served as a good reminder to me as to how important our teenage experiences, references, soundtracks and influences are in helping us work ourselves out as individuals and the role they play in shaping our futures – after all.. that’s a big part of why the Livity Fam are all sitting there in To Do every Monday morning. We might not be making music and we’ll certainly not be as widely influential as David Bowie was in his lifetime, but we are here to make stuff that young people love and to benefit and help them through our work and by sharing our office with them. It’s important work, potentially long-lasting and I’m proud it’s the space we work and play in. Thank you David Bowie for reminding me of that today.

A Brixton (and Bromley and Beckenham) boy, he came from pretty humble beginnings, certainly not privileged. David Bowie was a challenger, a creative, a visionary, an artist, an inspiration, a cultural entrepreneur, and a role model (albeit unintentionally) for diversity. He was also the champion of reinvention. Never afraid to experiment, never afraid to do things differently. As creatives, as social entrepreneurs, as a bunch of people wanting to make a difference in the world of advertising and marketing and the wider creative industries, we should be inspired not only personally, but also professional by David Bowie…

I stopped blubbing enough (kind of) to share those thoughts with the Livity fam and declared today to be David Bowie day and we played and listened to our own tributes flowing through our speakers throughout the day.

We still did the ‘leaving stuff in 2015′ exercise and took a minute or so just to be quiet with our own reflections which was nice.

And speaking of doing things differently, the thing that I did remain very excited about this morning is that it is the first official day of Digify UK.. and we had our Digifiers in the room, in To Do with us. They picked up after me and lifted the mood and energy as they introduced themselves and carried out their first task, 15 mins into their first day! Digify UK is our initiative with Google and the MAA to address the lack of diversity in Agency Land (and beyond!). They were brilliant and inspiring and helped lift our mood, they are our future and they are already very impressive.

Wow, what a way to start the week. What a To Do!

Michelle Morgan, CEO, 12.01.2016