Lions Health 2017 Recap -- George Giunta

Posted by George Giunta from Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide — North America on June 30, 2017. 

My trip to the 2017 Cannes Lion Festival for Creativity was full of so many amazing moments, but there were two things that stood out for me. The first was a talk by Michael Massimino, a  NASA astronaut also known as Astro Mike. The second was a presentation by Bjarke Ingles, world-renowned architect. I liked that these two very different people had one common thread, space. One was in the outer limits of it, and the other was working with the challenges of it every day. Each one of them left me with a soundbite that has been playing in my head ever since I came home.

Astro Mike is about my age and like me was born in Long Island to an Italian family; I immediately felt a connection with him. While I went on to pursue my childhood dream of becoming an artist, Mike pursued his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut. He even showed us a picture of himself with his Astronaut Snoopy doll, the same doll my brother slept with every night in the bunk above me. Mike went to Columbia to become an engineer, and furthered his education, ultimately earning a doctorate from MIT, all with an eye on becoming an astronaut one day. 

Mike’s story was focused on his long journey to becoming an astronaut, and the trials and tribulations he experienced along the way. What I remembered most about Mike’s talk was something his friend told him after the second or third rejection letter from NASA. Mike was wondering what all his hard work was for, and if he would ever reach his goal. He contemplated whether it was all worth it. His friend told him to “only hold your regrets for 30 seconds,” then move on. Mike’s first reaction was “that’s not possible,” but his friend’s suggestion stuck with him. After a long weekend, Mike was able to let go and he started focusing on the road ahead, and it changed his life. He said the 30-second part was not too realistic for him although he did realize that the power of moving on would get him to his goal. It was a wonderful message for me to take away, for I too have been faced with many bumps and bruises on my journey in the arts.

The second presentation that deeply affected me was from Bjarke Ingles, an architect I was first exposed to on the Netflix series Abstract. I was so excited to see him speak that I think I elbowed Scott Watson in the ribs as he sat in the seat next to me. Bjarke talked about his process and his company's philosophy of mixing great design with sustainability. This guy is more of a rock star than an architect: his clients love him, he is literally changing the landscape of the world, and his critics love to rip him apart. It doesn’t help that his company web address is www.big.dk.

At one point he was in the middle of talking about inspiration, when he stopped himself and said, “we don’t look for inspiration, we just put our heads down and work.” Bjarke believes great work is accomplished by doing just that, working. It was reassuring to hear this from him because I often come across people who are not connected to the creative process and think we pull ideas out of the air willy-nilly—there is so much more to what we do than that. Great creativity is about putting your nose to the grindstone and working your ass off for years. The process is much more visceral than most people realize. With each creative exercise we complete, we further develop the muscles it takes to build intuition, passion, and sound decision making. Bjarke’s accomplishments at such a young age give a clear example of the benefits of hard work, and what it takes to be a passionate, successful creative.