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Wayne Hemingway – A Master of Class in Career Advice

Wayne Hemingway – A Master of Class in Career Advice – The Diary of an Employable Blogaholic 

I had the pleasure of listening to Wayne Hemingway on Wednesday. He was performing  a Masterclass in Events and Festivals – a two-hour presentation to an interested audience – but I wish that I could have somehow bottled his enthusiasm and words and sent them off to every career advisor, teacher and politician in the land.

I shook his hand after the presentation – thanked him for telling the truth and went on my merry way. There was a clamber of a few others around me wanting to take photos, so I couldn’t really get to say what I wanted, which was a high-bloody-five well done.

Six months earlier, TheEmployable had been asked to speak in a school – me an unemployed Recruitment Manager giving career advice! I had winced quite a few times as the trained career advisor gave dated job search advice, but what pained me the most was the expectations leveled at the ‘lower level’ kids (not my words). The boys were given expectations as ‘car mechanics’ and the girls ‘hairdressers’.

Let me start with saying that both of these professions are honorable careers – both rely on training, skill and hard work. However, boys as car mechanics and girls as hairdressers, were not professions quoted to the ‘A’ grade students – heaven forbid. Stereotyping properly exemplified shall we say.

It was very frustrating to see as it appeared that some of the kids in the lower level group were actually the ones who appeared to demonstrate the most creative approaches to some of the challenges that were set, and a couple of them in particular showed real potential for talent. We went around the room after the ‘career advisor’ had spoken, whispering, “you can be whatever you want to be”, and one or two of the kids thanked us after the session for our encouraging words.

Flash forward six months, there was me shaking Wayne Hemingway’s hand – and it took me back to that career advice session – Wayne Hemingway, a straight talking lad, had, I think, given me the same effect.

Although (since looking on Wikipedia) I discovered that Hemingway did gain a degree in Geography, he had admitted that as a youngster, whilst never really “bad”, he was slightly disruptive and had always struggled to find much solace from school. He, like many other kids, liked music, and bands, and dancing and music and bands and dancing, and hence he moved to London (with Geraldine his childhood sweetheart), since London offered even more music, bands and dancing!

The rest is well documented, but in summary both the Hemingways sold their second-hand clothes at Camden Market to make money, got well into fashion, selling clothes, created a fashion brand; Red or Dead, and Wayne became an icon within British Fashion. Since then, he has not sat on his laurels, and he has been involved in Festival curation, and lots of projects to encourage regeneration, innovation and creating job opportunities for the young.

Today Wayne talked about how disruptive kids are less likely to go missing from creative based subjects at school – and it is true that many of our leading entrepreneurs, inventors, artists and innovators would have struggled with the more academic classes at school. Reflecting on that school ‘career advice’ session that I had been in, whilst I witnessed a masterclass in passionate guest speaking from Hemingway, I wondered how many Hemingways we miss out on by being so stereotypical about the careers we suggest for our non A grade kids?

Hemingway, it seems, through a combination of passion, luck, talent and opportunity had truly untapped his creative and entrepreneurial potential. But what of the kids who don’t have that way out and opportunity – but do have an untapped talent? Should career advisors, teachers and politicians not have the responsibility to set the bar high?

In a way, even though the talk today was not about career advice, it was actually the best career advice speech I have ever heard. Wayne Hemingway – class.

Just a shame that there were hardly any kids there to hear it.

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