Meeting Neil Cocker – a creative industries ninja

Meeting Neil Cocker – a creative industries ninja

Last week we met a friend and ex-colleague Neil Cocker for a coffee and a catch up. Apart from being an all round smart cookie and good egg Neil has been very aptly described as a “creative industries ninja” due to his ability to quietly be everywhere and work on several projects at the same time. To give you an idea of the pies he’s got his fingers in check out this list of his current projects.

Managing Director of Dizzyjam, a merchandising service for the independent music scene.

Co-organiser of the first TED talks in Cardiff due to be held in Millennium Centre on the 14th April 2010.

Co-organiser of Ignite Cardiff a networking event that brings Cardiff’s community of creative and digital folk together.

Mentor for Community Music Wales, working with disadvantaged young people and consultant for the Welsh Assembly Government.

Neil in one of those people who has an extraordinary knack for making friends and acquaintances and then rallying them to come together and do something. Malcolm Gladwell would probably call him a ‘connector’ and a ‘maven’.

Whilst chatting with Neil about work (and quite often and very happily veering off topic) I was struck by how Neil is almost pathologically interested in everything and just can’t help himself from being helpful. How does this man sleep? With so much going on how does he organise himself? We talked about this and quickly we all agreed that training yourself to say ‘no’ and do less was very difficult if you are indeed hard coded to want to know more, learn more and do everything.

The talk that Neil gave at the third Ignite Cardiff was called ‘The art of blackspotting, and having less’. It covered some of the ways he’s trying to simplify his life. He is hunting out spaces with no wireless and he’s going back to relying on email and Twitter for the information he needs. If you’re unfamiliar with the Ignite format it’s worth setting the scene;  the speakers have 5 minutes to race through 20 slides, the slides rotate automatically every 15 seconds.  The audience is around 200 strong.  The art (so I’m told) is to make sure that what’s coming out of your mouth matches up with the slide. Meanwhile not giving away too much of the panic you’re feeling inside.

When I spoke to Neil about his talk his response was this:

“I really didn’t like my presentation a huge amount. I didn’t have time to learn it properly, and tried to fit too much in. It’s fairly garbled!  In a way it was good, because it taught me to never commit to doing stuff I haven’t got time for. As I wrote  a few days afterwards …” … read Neil’s post

I was there on the night and I thought it came across really well. Have a look and make up your own mind.

The Art of Blackspotting, and having less… from Neil Cocker on Vimeo.

In a similar vein what do you think of this?

Creativity + Organisation = IMPACT.

We couldn’t agree more with this formula. In fact it’s now written on a Post-it note and stuck on my wall to the left of my computer screen.  It’s always there in my peripheral vision helping remind me to name my files accurately, back up my computer regularly, test, check and double check everything before we present it to the client.

Scott Belsky: Creativity x Organization = Impact from 99% on Vimeo.

Wrapping neat ideas in rigorous process driven stuff may feel uncomfortable, but delivering a good idea through to execution demands a large dose of meticulous, pedantic, attention to detail … and time. FACT … a painful one no less.