A couple of weeks ago, as part of the Sydney Vivid Festival, I decided to attend one of their Vivid Ideas, “Ten Commandments: Co-Create The Experience”, with special guests Johnny Cupcakes, Julia Thomas, Jack Bedwani and Sally Hill, held at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in The Rocks.
“In an exclusive Australian keynote, Johnny will share the philosophy behind his retail environments, tightly-managed online experience, and the way he uses participation and surprise to thrill his fans and expand his brand.
“Johnny will then join a panel of Sydney experience engineers, who will share their strategies for working with audiences, fans, online and real-world communities to co-create experiences.”
For the uninitiated who don’t know who Johnny Cupcakes is, watch this.
The obvious focus of the night was on the Boston t-shirt designer who took to the stage with roars and loud applause from the sold-out crowd. Johnny jumped right into his talk with an entertaining introduction about his name, and a whole lot of advice for everyone that was there.
Whilst I was probably one of the few people taking notes in the audience that night, here’s a few tidbits of advice from Johnny that I found worthy to share – no matter which direction you decide to head in:
– Do what makes you happy.
– Leave your social circle and meet new people. (“Talk to people you don’t know because they will give you honest feedback. People you do know will tell you what you want to hear.”)
– Apply for internships and volunteering opportunities.
– Cut back on your favourite things. E.g. Social media, social life, etc. Don’t cut it out completely, just slowly take steps away from it. (“The more you put in, the more you get back.”)
– Write down 10+ things that make you/your brand unique. (“My concept is strange, but strange is good. Strange gets people talking.”)
– Don’t get too comfortable. (“Keep people on their feet and keep brainstorming.”)
– Focus on your packaging. (“The good ones don’t get thrown away.”)
– Everyone should have a business card.
– Who and where are you customers? (“First impressions are everything.”)
– Don’t be bummed if you go broke. (“You gotta spend an arm and a leg to make more arms and legs.”)
– Most importantly, just remember this:
Fun Random Facts We Learnt About Johnny Cupcakes:
– He once got suspended from school for selling itching powder to other kids, and indirectly sent another kid to the Emergency Department because of an allergic reaction.
– His first concert was TLC, Boyz II Men and Montell Jordan. Awesome.
– He made his first million at the age of 24.
– For the opening on his LA store, he has a budget of $65,000 and spent over $600,000! Crazy.
Whilst the other guests weren’t there to give one hour presentations, they did join Johnny on stage afterwards for a panel-esque type forum session to discuss what they did, how co-creating helps with their brands, and to answer questions from the audience or via the #vividideas twitter feed. Nothing really stood out during that forum, so I didn’t make note of anything.
As the talk came to an end, we were reminded that Johnny Cupcakes would be doing a meet and greet at his Sydney pop-up shop after the talk. But knowing that there might be little chance of actually meeting and greeting him that night (due to the amount of people that knew about it and how tiny the store was), I decided to head home. Walking away from the event with a small gift (Thanks Johnny!), my body was exhausted, but my mind was buzzing with ideas and I truly felt so inspired from what I had just taken in.
The next night, I decided to go and check out his pop-up store and for a brief few minutes, was able to chat with the designer and all-round entertainer. Not only is he a super nice guy, Johnny Cupcakes is someone who is encouraging, motivating and exciting.
Overall, it was an inspiring 24 hours with some great advice that has actually worked! For me, that is. Sometimes we all need a little push to keep going. Who would have known that Johnny Cupcakes was the one to give me that push?