The Gold Coast Bulletin - Gold Coast Eye - - EYE CONTENTS - AS TOLD TO SALLY COAT ES

Igrew up in New Zealand, right out in the bush. The clos­est shops were a 30-40 minute drive away. It was a YMCA camp. My fa­ther was an en­gi­neer­ing drafts­man but he got sick of that world and ap­plied to be the direc­tor of this YMCA camp.

They took young boys out there and taught them skills, es­pe­cially kids who were get­ting into trou­ble. It was re­ally like a big fam­ily – 300 peo­ple would ar­rive ev­ery week of the hol­i­days, so our place wasn’t our own.

There was me and my two sis­ters, so it was se­ri­ously a worry. Any young­sters who showed any in­ter­est in us would have to deal with the direc­tor of the camp.

It was a re­ally lovely, re­laxed lifestyle. My sis­ter had horses. I had a pet sheep.

I went to a tiny coun­try school and I re­ally en­joyed school. But I re­mem­ber one time when my teacher said “You’re just not get­ting it are you?” I was about eight when this one par­tic­u­lar teacher said, “You’re never re­ally go­ing to be able to learn the way the other kids do, you’ve got word blind­ness”.

But he knew me re­ally well; he wasn’t say­ing it as a crit­i­cism. He knew I’d put all my ef­fort into find an­other way to do things.

Dys­lexia for me was my brain not be­ing able to fig­ure out the for­mat of words and all the dif­fer­ent rules. As it turned out, I fig­ured out how to re­call the form of words, which was to imag­ine the shape of the word, rather than the let­ters them­selves. So if some­one asks me to spell some­thing I tend to close my eyes and imag­ine the shape of the word.

I never saw it as a dis­abil­ity be­cause it ac­tu­ally be­came my great­est as­set. I trained as a graphic de­signer when I left school and I was given the ad­vice that I’d be good as an art direc­tor. I de­cided to get into ad­ver­tis­ing and work on the cre­ative side with brands.

I went to London for some train­ing and af­ter that I got the travel bug and ended up liv­ing over­seas for five years. In that time I did all sorts of things – ad­ver­tis­ing, news­pa­pers, pub­lish­ing, I worked be­hind a bar. When I came back to New Zealand I knew ad­ver­tis­ing was where I wanted to be. I moved to Welling­ton when it was a cre­ative hub.

I walked into Saatchi with my CV and walked out with a job in di­rect mar­ket­ing. I be­came an in­sur­ance pol­icy for the de­sign­ers be­cause my brain just worked in a dif­fer­ent way to theirs.

I had grown up us­ing it in a to­tally dif­fer­ent way to ev­ery­one else be­cause of my word blind­ness. They would run every­thing by me and say “Lau­ren does this look right? Does that look right?”.

I met my now hus­band, Graeme, when he walked into a meet­ing with Saatchi. We ended up work­ing to­gether and he em­ployed me and con­tracted me back to Saatchi. I was run­ning three dif­fer­ent agen­cies do­ing pro­duc­tion man­age­ment with him and a small team of peo­ple all over the coun­try. I loved it.

He was my boss for about nine years and I never even looked at him side­ways, not my type at all. We started an­other agency, which we ran for about 15 years. Both mar­ried to other peo­ple and chil­dren to other peo­ple. It got to a point where we thought, this is ridicu­lous. We’re spend­ing so much time to­gether, we get on like a house on fire, didn’t want to go home to our re­spec­tive part­ners – what are we do­ing? We had to be hon­est with our­selves and ad­mit we wanted to be to­gether.

We went through world war three un­for­tu­nately and broke up two fam­i­lies. But when I went home I just wasn’t on the same in­tel­lec­tual level as my then-hus­band. I was just ex­pected to be the housewife and I couldn’t do that. It was dif­fi­cult for ev­ery­one but it was the right de­ci­sion. We’ve been to­gether for 14 years.

Do­ing personal brand­ing con­sul­tancy now, one thing I see a lot is peo­ple who don’t think there’s any­thing spe­cial about them.

Peo­ple put a lot of pres­sure on them­selves, but they shouldn’t.

They’ve just got to think what they do with ease that other peo­ple find dif­fi­cult.

What peo­ple can do nat­u­rally is ac­tu­ally a skill and a tal­ent. Peo­ple are afraid of fail­ure and I don’t know why be­cause fail­ure is prob­a­bly what has helped me most.


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