Alt. Ctrl. Create


Mark McGuinness - Navigating Uncertainty

Season 1, Ep. 1

Episode 1 - Mark McGuinness - Navigating Uncertainty

In episode one of Alt Ctrl Create, Peter Urpeth talks to poet and creative coach Mark McGuinness.

This episode was recorded as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, and this interview explores some of the approaches and strategies Mark recommends to sustaining creativity, developing new assets for your creative business and using curiosity to explore and inspire your business.

This podcast is produced in association with XpoNorth - the agency that supports the growth of creative business in the Highlands and Islands -

Mark McGuinness's coaching work is accessed via his website - - and his podcast site -

Also available on iTunes podcast as 21st Century Creative

Mark's poetry website is at

Peter Urpeth is publishing sector advisor to XpoNorth, a pianist, journalist and film-maker with a passion for the innovation of small creative businesses -

Podcast theme music - Dirt Rhodes by Kevin MacLeod




Peter Urpeth:

Hi - I’m Peter Urpeth and this is Alt Ctrl Create a podcast for small creative businesses finding their way through changed and challenging times.

Alt Ctrl Create is produced in association with XpoNorth, the agency supporting the growth and sustainability of the creative industries in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. 

This new podcast series is part of XpoNorth’s suite of digital activities aimed at continuing that support in the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic.

XpoNorth provides tailored advice and support for emerging creative businesses in the region, along with a programme of events, and a long-running annual international conference for the creative industries.

This is a dynamic and creative place to live and work and one that benefits from the long-term commitment of its business development agency, Highlands and islands Enterprise, who fund the work of XpoNorth.

More details are at the website

So, this podcast series is for small creative businesses working in the wake of the pandemic, and before getting into this first edition, let’s be clear, no-one has the answer to what the new normal might look like for small creative businesses, or even when we will able to say with any certainty that it has arrived. 

Alt Ctrl Create aims to look at the issues and challenges as they occur, and to bring to light creative responses and insights.

For many, the hope is also that in the face of the hardships caused by the pandemic, new ways of working that are greener, more digital, more equitable and more sustainable might be possible, and that is also ripe ground for exploration. 

But in this podcast I hope also to create a sense that creative SMEs are not alone and that our shared insights and energy can be of immense value as we face into that future.

Now, to this edition. 

I am very pleased to present a discussion, with Mark McGuinness - Mark is a poet, a writer, a creative coach, a therapist and a first class podcaster in his 21st Century Creative series.


Over recent years Mark has developed many insightful and highly valuable approaches to developing and sustaining a creative working life and business.

Without hesitation, Mark was my go-to for the first edition of this podcast which was recorded in the height of the pandemic lock-down period in the UK. 

Many creative individuals and SMEs are well used to working with uncertainty and in more precarious and fragile market places than other sectors, and that familiarity with uncertainty is a starting point for our discussion, as well as the value of creating assets for a creative business, the value of curiosity, and some fascinating strategies to support resilience in the face of these unparalleled challenges. 

Please like, recommend, rate, review and share this podcast, and please do get in touch via the links on our podcast pages. 

Details of Mark’s platforms and contacts are in the text for this podcast and at the end of the interview. 

Thanks for listening.

Mark - thanks very much for coming on to this podcast as its very first guest I'm very grateful to you for that. Can I start by asking you, your own art is that of a poet as well as the coaching things I’ve mentioned in the introduction - can I ask you how that is going? I know that you like to have a very ordered approach to the working day, and so on, I know you have a routine around many of these things, how is that a fairing and holding up in the face of the current situation? 

Mark McGuinness: 

I’ve been very grateful for poetry over the last few weeks it's always been a refuge for me or a place where I can go and get centred, or grounded or whatever metaphor you want to use, and I haven't been writing so much but I have been doing quite a lot of reading and reflecting and you know the other day one of the things I did was I went and recorded Thomas Hardy's poem The Darling Thrush which is a great meditation on hope and despair. I recorded it and some thoughts on how I think the poem can speak to us at a time like this, of great uncertainty despair - hopefully hope is not being entirely distinguished - I talked about the poem and then I just sent that out to the people on my mailing list and it was really nice just to have that as a something I could do and something I could share because I thought, I'm reading this, I'm getting comfort from that I'm getting perspective from it, so why not share it? so and actually that was a really restorative thing to do for me to read the poem and put it out there and just you know and see that it was resonating for people.

Peter Urpeth:

To what extent do you think that creative people, and creative process and creative practice, there’s always been uncertainty in that a high degree, and that creative people deal with almost on a revolving daily basis, do you think creative people in that regard are somehow better equipped to approach the uncertainties of the moment? 

Mark McGuinness: 

Yes, in a nutshell, I mean that's what we have to live? I mean, when you are faced with a blank page or a blank canvas, or a stage stage, we're the ones to go an fill it, and we all know that fear, but also the excitement of not knowing what's going to happen next because if you knew what was gonna happen next it wouldn't be creative would it? 

I think there's always that element of discovery, of surprise, of some time shock, and letting go and going with the source of inspiration, or whatever it is, that is at the core of what we do, and for those of us who are also self-employed and running businesses of various kinds, we’re familiar with a whole other level of uncertainty which is we've got to thrive, we don't get the security of the steady pay-cheque, probably not working nine-to-five in an office full of colleagues who you know we're not gonna see the same people week in week out, so I would say, yeah we are already good at navigating uncertainty, and I would say to a point that uncertainty is what makes it attractive because if you knew in advance how it would work out writing that book, or creating that piece of music, or play or whatever it may be, it would be boring because you know that there wouldn't be anything to discover. 

Now, of course, we are faced with a lot of unwelcome uncertainty - there aren’t many people who are looking at this as an unmitigated boon - but I do think we've gone skills, we've got the mindset, we’ve got experience, we've got the ability to improvise, in the face of uncertainty, and I would say to anyone listening to this, you know, dig deep for that because there's a lot of people who are being thrown out of the more secure, more predictable environment, who are really struggling at the moment and you know, hey, we've got skills that can help ourselves and maybe we’ve got skills that can help other people too. 

Peter Urpeth: 

What would you say are the ways that people can actually access that, in terms of strategies around that, how do people get into this? How would you say they should start to find for themselves the things of value, the things of creativity and to turn those into things that are productive and valuable for themselves and for others? Where do we start with that?

Mark McGuinness:

What matters most to you is this question I would ask. I know it may not be the most obviously practical thing, I mean, a Thomas Hardy poem is not gonna fight coronavirus, but that was what came up for me and it was something that I wanted to share, and it was actually something that has on an emotional level - I'm hearing from people that it it meant a lot, and it gives them a bit of perspective and it allows them to feel, to acknowledge and experience the emotion, and also at the end of the poem Hardy leaves the door open for hope, even though he is also somewhat of a gloomy caste of mind, to put it mildly, so I would say whatever is the centre of your creative world, I would say start from there - if it’s writing, if it is making music, if it is playing, if it is acting, speaking, serving clients whatever that is get centred in that place because this is a time where we don't want to be coming from the anxiety, from the insecurity, from the fear, we want to come from that still point inside which is also the source of our creative energy. 

So, I guess in practical terms that means, where is your creative practice? Where can you go? I mean, maybe you are like me, I didn’t sit down and pen any great ode, I just went to the bookshelf and took down a poem that meant a lot to me and spend time with it so it may be that it's about going back to work you love and spent some time with it so, it maybe that it is about going back to work you love and spending time with that as a first step. 

Peter Urpeth:

But the uncertainties now are different, None of us knows what our industries will look like beyond the moment. We don't know and it is full of uncertainty, but these are new and different uncertainties. How can we deal with that and address that in our creative lives such that we remain productive?

Mark McGuinness:

So, I think we want to focus on going from the inside out, so start with something that restores you every day, and we've talked just now about creative practice, but it could be another kind of practice, it could be exercise, it could be meditation or prayer, or another spiritual practice, it could be studying, it could be going for a walk, it could be just spending time reading some fiction or watching a good movie. It could be sharing a virtual coffee or beer with a friend. 

So have something like that every day and make that a priority, and it’s, you know, to the voice the says isn’t that a bit selfish or self-indulgent while there’s stuff to do, well, this is a bit like putting your own oxygen mask on before the person next to you. Right now we are all being called to show up as our most creative, as our most resourceful and courageous selves, and you've got to do what it takes to put fuel in the tank. So that's number one - have that kind of practice.

Another thing I find really helpful myself and I use a lot with clients is Stephen Covey's Circle of Influences and Circle of Concerns. So, if you can imagine like a big circle (I’m drawing a circle in the air if you can imagine that listeners) which encompasses everything that affects you and in that circle is everything that affects you and the includes the economy, it includes the weather it includes, it includes your friend's behaviour, your colleagues’ behaviour, it obviously includes coronavirus and the economic fallout from that. 

The bad news is there's always gonna be more of that stuff that affects us, that we can't do anything about, but within that imagine it's like a fried egg (here I’m drawing a slightly slightly smaller circle in the air) is what Covey calls your circle of influence. So this is all the stuff that you can actually do something about. The bad news is that that circle is always gonna be smaller than the big one and the circles never flip - there's always gonna be more stuff that affects you than vice versa. 

But here's the thing, the more time and energy you devote to that big circle - for instance reading than years obsessing about it freaking out on social media - which seems to be a firehose of anxiety at the moment - worrying about stuff that you can't control, the more disempowered you're gonna feel, and the more disempowered you will be. But the more time you spend in that small circle doing things that are going to make a difference, so taking care of yourself, taking care of your family, taking care of people who are close to you, doing your work, if you are able to work right now doubling down on what's going to make the biggest difference. If you're not then doing something that will restore you, that will give you some sense of accomplishment or empowerment, lots of people are saying that they are going to use the time to work on that project or to learn a language or a musical instrument, or whatever it is, so here’s the thing, the more time you spend in that small circle the bigger it will get and the more empowered you will feel. As Covey says, it's never gonna get as big as the other one but it can get a whole lot bigger. 

Right now, as Peter says, we don't know what the solutions are, we don't even really know what the questions are, but the solutions are gonna come from that small circle not the big one. 

Peter Urpeth:

I think this is very interesting Mark, because what you speak of here is the importance of our work being of value to others rather than considerations from what was traditionally conceived perhaps, as the other end of the spectrum, the naked push and pursuit of our own monetary income…

Mark McGuinness:

Yes, I mean I think we all know this in our hearts ass creators. If you start chasing the money, or the fame, or the the good reviews, or the approval of people within your creative field, that is a recipe for disaster because it's not going to be authentic, and it's it's not going be from the heart. Actually this is something that I discovered when I did my Masters, the psychologists have proven this, which pleased to hear as a romantic poet, the higher your level of intrinsic motivation - in other words - the more you are doing it for love, you know for its own sake rather than for any rewards you might get monetary or otherwise, the more creative and original you will. Apparently, this is a really robust finding in psychology. 

The more you are focused on the extrinsic rewards, so the money, the fame, the reputation, the approval of other people whether that's a client or the New York Times book critic, or whoever, that’s proven to be a creativity killer. So, there's a paradox here: the more you chase the money and the other rewards, the less valuable your work will be and the less likely you are to get those rewards. 

Now, that is not to say that you never think about them because there are times when you need to think about them, signing a contract for instance, but really you need to be focused on where is my gift the strongest? Where do I feel? How far would I pursue this? How far would I follow it regardless of rewards? And it could be artistic in terms of making a piece of work, or it could be more practical in terms of serving clients from the heart and really looking at them and think what would serve this person rather than just pleasing them or keeping them happy. What might be the uncomfortable truth that maybe they would need to hear? It could also be - and I see this a lot with entrepreneurs and innovators - they are just fascinated by solving practical problems - how do I bring something to market that is better, that delivers more value than what's already available? You could say, because I work with a whole spectrum of clients, that in one sense the entrepreneurs look from the outside they look like they're more focused on the intrinsic stuff, which to a degree they are, but also when you get down to it what they love is the joy of solving that problem, of making something great and designing systems or companies or business models that are going to deliver outsized value. 

Peter Urpeth:

One of the things you talk about a lot in your work is the notion of asset - where are we now in terms of the concept of assets and creative person and the creative work?

Mark McGuinness: 

One of my mottos is: forget the career ladder, start creating assets. 

Where this comes from is from my own experience, as well as from talking to lots of clients about this. When you set out on your career you have a lot of friends who took the sensible path, and they get the nine to five job and they get the promotion and the bigger office and the fancy job title, and you kind of hear about it - ‘oh, your cousin George is doing so well at the law firm’ or whatever it is - and then meanwhile you’re sat there in the studio and you’ve got no idea what you're doing, and it feels like that because of the uncertainty we were talking about early on, and it's very easy to feel what am I doing with my life? Where is my career trajectory? Where is my corner office or my fancy job title? 

But I realised when I thought about this, I looked at, well what do the most outstanding creators have? The ones who are the most successful as well as fulfilled, and I realised a lot of it comes down to a particular type of assets. So, I'm not talking about, you know, assets as in owning a company or a stock portfolio or whatever. I'm talking about, for example if you are Stephen King or Kate Bush you're not so worried whether next month's bills are being paid, partly, you know, we look at them and think that they live in some ethereal realm, which perhaps they do, but actually if you look at what is the foundation of the security they have it is that they have an amazing back catalogue of incredible work. People know them for their work and people want to work with them. People want to buy that, people want to consume it. People want to share it, and there is a lot of intellectual property within their work that can be exploited in different ways, and they are never going to be short of collaborators. If Stephen King rings you tomorrow and says, ‘Hey I've got an idea for a project would you like to…’ you know, the answer is almost certainly going to be ‘yes’, or at least, ‘tell me more Stephen!’ 

The point is, we don't have to be at that level of superstardom for this to be true because on a more modest level if you have a…say you are writer and you've got a set of books out that are well received and that sell solidly, if you have a mailing list that allows you to let people know when the next release comes out, if you have as a consequence of all of these efforts you've got a good reputation people know you for a certain kind of story, then that gives you a security that maybe, you could argue, that somebody with the job and the corner office doesn't have because they can be sacked. Whereas it’s hard to sack an author. 

What I would say is, look at your career in terms of different types of asset, and here is the magical thing about being a creative is that we can create the assets ourselves almost out of thin air. 

Now, the number one asset is You. I mean, let's go back to Kate Bush for a minute, even if all her music vanished from the face of the Earth, there was some weird copyright ruling that only new music was ever going to be allowed to be heard again, she could start again or do something else. We know she is Kate Bush and it will be amazing. 

So, whatever you do to work on yourself, to develop your skills, your experience, your courage, your resilience, your resourcefulness, that will be with you for the rest of your life. When I look back the personal development work I've done with therapists in coaching teachers and also just putting myself in scary and challenging situations, that's really the most valuable investment I've made. 

Just to touch briefly on other types of assets - there is your back catalog you know, the work that you've done in your portfolio that you point to and you're proud of, there is the intellectual property in that all the different rights and licenses that you could extrapolate from that. There’s your reputation, sometimes known as your brand, there’s any kind of online presence you have, a website, a mailing lists, social media followings, your network, the people that you know and who and who think well of you professionally, audience, community, all of these things - so what I would suggest you do right now, you know if you have a little time on your hands, is just to go through and think about those different categories and think where am I strongest? What do I have in each of these buckets? How can they help me right now? How could the fact that I've got a great network help me to connect with other people and and do something together, for instance? How can I extend my catalogue, maybe now, if you have some time, the time to sit down and to get to work on that thing that you've been wanting to do for ages.

I guess it is partly a question of thinking - what I got right now that can help me in this uncertain situation? And also, what can I keep building for the future, whether that’s another book, another project, what ever that is going to set me up for to be more resilient with however this situation pans out.

Peter Urpeth:

So can I just take you right back to the very beginning and ask you the kind of uncertainties that you had to deal with when you started out down this road, they were obviously quite different in many ways but they were still uncertainties, what would you say were the key things that enabled you to overcome those, what were the strategies, what where the kinds of thoughts that enabled you to move on because there would have been roadblocks and we're all facing a roadblock at the moment. How did you overcome that right back in the beginning of this? 

Mark McGuinness:

Right, right back in the darkness of time, as Shakespeare would have it. That's a really good question and as you ask it to me now I realises that it was one road block, one set of roadblocks after another. 

When I was a teenager that was when I fell in love with poetry and realised that's what I wanted to do, but of course it's not a career, and I thought well the obvious thing to do is go to college and read English, which is what I did, but I kind of had the idea that well maybe I can stay in academia and that will give me time to sit in the library and write and I can hide from the big, bad, world there but it didn't work out because I turned down I'm allergic to academia, and I got myself so stressed out that I ended up having to defer my final exams. The upshot of that was that I didn't quite get the first class degree that I would need in order to go on and do a PhD in English. 

Weirdly, on one level that felt like a big failure but on another level I had started working with a therapist and I got really interested in hypnosis. She was a hypnotherapist and one day I was agonising over what I was going to do with my life, and one day, Katherine, my therapist said to me ‘well, why don't you do this?’ And I was like, surely you have to be old and wise to do that? And she said, no, not necessarily, and at that point I suddenly got fascinated by hypnosis, by psychology, by change, and I went and applied. 

I wasn't quite old enough to get…you’re supposed to be twenty five before you enrolled as a therapist and I was a year younger but they let me in because a simple by the time you qualify you'll probably be old enough, and so I felt really lucky that they let me. It was a really huge surprise that I discovered that I loved working with people, that I wasn't such a book worm after all, and when I came out of my shell I could really connect with people at quite a deep love and help them, so that was the beginning of my career as a psychotherapist. 

It was once I was a therapist I realised that something was going on when I was consulted by a certain type of client. So this was the West End actor with stage fright, the novelist with writer's block, the film director dealing with the stress of making a movie, and there was a kind of an energy, a connection and a level of transformation in the sessions that was really quite extraordinary, and I remember the clients themselves were saying ‘this isn't what I expected, this is really powerful you should do more of this’. 

At that point I thought, well, you know what, most of these people don't really have - the creatives - they don't necessarily have a mental health problem but they put their heart and soul into that work why don't I call it coaching? This was in the mid-nineties when there weren’t many people outside of sports calling themselves coaches, and so really I discovered my coaching practice, vocation, by serendipity, I kind of stumbled across it but all the while I was following my curiosity and I think this is another thing - if you're not sure where to start, start with curiosity because that will take you to the next point. 

People talk about ‘follow your passion’ - which is great - but it generally doesn't arrive with a big brass band saying ‘I'm your passion, this is your life’s calling’, it starts with a bit of curiosity. What if I learn a bit more about hypnosis, would they let me into that college? Or, supposing I call this coaching instead of therapy what happens then? If I was to give my younger self some credit I did follow my curiosity, which helped me a lot through wave after wave of uncertainty and obstacles. 

Peter Urpeth:

Curiosity is a very curious word isn't it?

Mark McGuinness:

Well for me, I always find it generally tends to lead outwards, it tends to lead to something I hadn't considered before, like hypnosis or coaching, or later on I had the opportunity to go and do some business coaching at a big corporation, and I’d always thought that I hated business - and I’m certainly allergic to corporate life - and I thought, well, why not go in and see what happens and see if I could help, and my mind was blown by how how helpful the skills I’d learned as a therapist essentially were in the context of leading and managing and developing people in a large corporation. 

Then I got interested beyond that and I realised that there is specific business, there is creative business, and I went and did my masters and that's how I came across Seth Godin, and he talked about blogging, and so for me curiosity, in my experience, nearly always leads outwards - inwards in a productive way, like you could say there is an artistic curiosity, such as I'm going to follow this idea for a story, or a piece of music or whatever, so I would say that it's almost a characteristic of real curiosity that it is leading you somewhere you haven't been before. 

Peter Urpeth:

I presume in this series of processes you didn't go from poetry to coaching inside a large corporation without some hold-ups on route, how did you make that move forward, there must have days where you said, this just isn’t working…

Mark McGuinness:

How long have you got? 

Peter Urpeth:

At the moment a good few weeks…

Mark McGuinness:

Now I can look back and hopefully send a bit of encouragement to my younger self because I can see the pattern. I think one pattern is that almost all the time it seems that when I really followed my curiosity - even if it didn't lead very far at the time it usually came in useful at some point a bit later on. Copywriting at one point was something that I did freelance, and I’ve ended up doing quite a lot online, and it's something that I will help clients with, but it is certainly not my main offering. It's always something I can help clients with, so that's kind of just a little bit of something in my back pocket that I picked up along the way. 

But to come back to your question, yeah I mean, at the time it just felt like where am I going with all of this? On the one level I knew I was doing great work in a room with a client, on another level it didn't feel like my poetry was going anywhere at all for a very long time, and there was certainly plenty of times - you know I don’t want to give the impression that I was always this model of enlightenment maturity - I've got my stripes whinging and moaning, and complaining, and procrastinating, and avoiding, and chickening out of big challenges, but there was always something that just wouldn't let me let go. 

I remember being out with a friend who was a bit older and more of a mentor to me, and we had dinner and we had a few beers and, as usual, at a certain point I started complaining about how my work wasn't going anywhere, my love life wasn't going anywhere, you know etcetera, and my friend looked at me rather kindly and said, well then, why don't you just go back and get a job in publishing again, because that was just about the only full time job I've ever had was in publishing for a couple of years, in order, now I remember to pay for my therapy training, and I remember looking at my friend and thinking, have you gone mad? I’m not going to give up I’m on a mission, isn’t that obvious? There was just something in me that was not going to give up, that was just going to keep at this until I had figured it out. So I think for all creatives to get to a certain point, you’ve had to have had that because if you don't have that you're going to have given up years ago. 

We all have plenty of reasons to give up. One thing I realised one day was I could have any excuse for giving up. I know could’ve got loads of sympathy from people around me if I given up - poor Mark, it was just too hard wasn’t it, but you did your best. No. I don't want that. I want to figure it out. I want to get the success, and I think that was a turning point for me when I realised that is in my hands if I keep at this long enough, if I keep learning then I can figure it out.

Peter Urpeth:

…can you remember when you started to actually formalise those in such as way that you were later able to turn into a creative coaching role, some thing that responds to the particular vagaries of the creative life? Can you remember how those things emerged?

Mark McGuinness:

I think working as a psychotherapist was a very good apprenticeship in that because when you work with people who are really at the very sharp end of what life can deal you, then you really start to find out what does work and what doesn't in terms of staying resilient and resourceful and and moving forward in spite of of whatever's happened. 

I was influenced a lot by something called Solution Oriented Psychotherapy which was created by a a lovely therapist called Bill O’Hanlan in the states. Essentially, it is very similar to coaching and one area where I think it's been very influential on coaching, is What is you goal here? A lot of therapy, for instance, focuses on the problem, what's wrong, let’s work out what the root of that is, let’s understand that - and there’s all kinds of different models for understanding it - but Solution Oriented Therapy says, well, where do you want be instead? What would success or improvement look like for you? How would you like to be able to respond to whatever the situation is and move forward from that? And then it starts to ask questions like, well, where are you already doing that? And this is a really interesting question because, if I was confronted by someone who come in and said I'm depressed or I'm an alcoholic or whatever it maybe, and I would could get them to keep a diary and with someone who's depressed, for instance, I’d say on a scale of one to ten how depressed do you feel? And I would get them to do this every hour on the hour, and what we discovered was that there was a large part of the day when they when not depressed, where they were busy or even feeling optimistic and energised. But it was those moments when they said something went wrong, that overshadowed the whole day and it was tremendously resourceful sometimes to realise actually you're not depressed all the time. Okay, that's not to minimise the effects of it, similar to somebody who drinks to excess. 

Getting them to focus on the time, for instance, when you felt like having a drink but you didn't have one. That was tremendously empowering for those people. So that’s one example of a solution oriented technique, where you look for times when you're actually, you're succeeding, and you say well, do more of that. 

So, if you think about the beginning of today's conversation when we talked about uncertainty, what I was looking for was the time when as creatives we are resourceful in the face of uncertainty, and that's something we can draw on right now in the face of this huge uncertainty that we're all facing. So it's really, I think, you know, coming back to your question, it's a strategy, it really is a learning strategy, it’s a growth strategy, it's a what can I bring to this situation or what can I learn from this situation, whatever it is and you just keep applying that different context and after a while those contexts can stack up . 

For me, I’ve done poetry, I’ve done therapy, I've done business leadership coaching, I did a bit of sports coaching. I've done a lot of copywriting and other types of writing, and after awhile they all kind of stack up into stack up into something that is helpful to me, and is helpful to clients, and you could probably break that down further in to the different types of poetry I’ve read and tried to write, and how that emerged into the kind of poetry I write now. 

Peter Urpeth:

Great, thanks, can I just ask you one other thing which is always the same question, which is how if people want to get greater connection with your work, how can they do that? 

Mark McGuinness:

The two main places are:

which is my main coaching site, it's where you'll find my blog, you'll find my podcast, you'll find my books, that’s why you can connect with me if you're interested in coaching, and also go to itunes and look for the twenty first century creative podcast, and as we record this I've got four seasons up which is about forty eight hours of interviews with inspiring creators and my own thoughts, and so hopefully there should be quite a lot of inspiration there for you.

If you're interested in the poetry and maybe the recording of Thomas Hardy, The Darkling Thrush, that’s all at:

There’s my poetry blog and audio recordings there.

Peter Urpeth:

Mark - thanks so much…

Mark McGuinness:

Thank you Peter, it is always great to be in your company, you do such a lot for the creative community and I always feel kind of empowered and recharged listening to you so I think it's really great that you are this show.

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Meredith O'Shaughnessy - Experiential marketing and the Phygital space

Season 1, Ep. 3
In episode three of Alt. Ctrl. Create. Peter Urpeth talks with Meredith O'Shaughnessy, leading experiential marketer and brand strategist, and founder of the innovative agency the Meredith Collective.Once dubbed 'the pop-up queen of London', projects such as opening London’s first avocado-only restaurant just as the avocado was to go mainstream in the minds of eager consumers to the development of Rudolph’s Christmas Rage Room have confirmed Meredith as not only an industry disruptor but also a creative event specialist with a truly astonishing ability to foresee emerging trends in popular culture and to create experiences and events that are culturally relevant.Not content to simply respond to client briefs, with her company, the Meredith Collective, Meredith stages unique consumer events that have become hot-ticket retail opportunities for innovative and forward thinking brands.But, with the onset of the pandemic, experience marketing faced a unique challenge with digital emerging as perhaps the only viable marketing route for brands as the grip of lock-down became a reality. But for Meredith the events of the last few months have of course been recognised but the time is no ripe for companies of all sizes to revisit the concept of the 'phygital' - the blend of physical and digital marketing campaign activities and platforms - that create engaging, unique, enticing and rewarding journeys for customers and clients.We talk also of what has emerged in the lock-down as firm evidence that physical contact and communication are fundamental to our lives and that the commercial route out of the economic hit of the pandemic is bound therefore to be focussed on connection and experience - as the success of the UK government's 'Eat-out to help-out' campaign may have proven - not a splurge of retail acquisition for its own sake.In this episode you’ll hear plenty of off-stage traffic noise, yep we are all working from home but also such acronyms as FMCG also pop into the conversation, being short-hand for fast moving consumer goods.You can connect with Meredith and the Meredith Collective at the websitemeredithcollective.coThis podcast is produced in association with XpoNorth - the agency that supports the growth of creative business in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland Urpeth is publishing sector advisor to XpoNorth, a pianist, journalist and film-maker with a passion for the innovation of small creative businesses -peterurpeth.comPodcast theme music - Dirt Rhodes by Kevin MacLeodLink: