A few years into my planning career, I came across Russell Davies and nothing was ever the same after that.
First some history. I started doing planning in Bucharest, Romania in early 2000. There was just a handful of us planners back then, and I believe I was among the first “girl planners” (I used to love calling myself a “girl planner”) in Bucharest. We were all in different agencies and the biggest group was in Leo Burnett at the time, and all of the rest of us admired and hated them because they had a Department and they could talk to one another and show up at events in a group. I was the only planner in a small agency, and knew a few other “only planners” in other agencies but we didn’t mingle as much. There was a sense that you did not fraternise with people in other agencies.
And then there was Russell and his blog.
Russell Davies was someone we all knew because we read his blog and we admired his style of “open-source strategy”, sharing thoughts and ideas openly online, being generous with his time and getting into hairy conversations on things like the perfect creative brief (BTW, if you want to see planning history in action check out this post where the CSOs of today, then waaay younger, discuss the best brief format in comments). Russell was not in a team with just the planners in his agency. He was in a team with ALL planners everywhere and for that reason, when he announced something called Coffee Morning everyone turned up.
Coffee Morning, the way I remember it, was Russell’s way to meet people that were in the same line of work and talk about what we all did. It was a way to come together, to exchange ideas, to strengthen the feeling that planning was a community not just a few random people in different agencies. And to drink coffee early in the morning with other people who liked to get up at ungodly hours. BTW, this will be one of the basic rules of Coffee Morning: it’s EARLY.
The first Coffee Morning happened in June 2006 (!!!) in London. And many more followed. In London, Miami, New York, Bucharest, everywhere where there were planners who felt they wanted to chat to their peers. Myself and some of the lovely planners in Bucharest ran a few (shout out to Diana, Razvan, Elena, Costin and many more).
I was talking to Russell just before Christmas and he said “I think we need to bring back Coffee Morning” and my brain exploded, because he is so right. We’ve been locked in for a year, we’ve spoken to our teams, our clients and but have been unable to attend APG events or mingle as much as usual with the lovely people at GroupThink (shout out to Rob). An opportunity to meet (yes, virtually) and chat would be brilliant.
So, we’re doing it. Coffee Morning will be back in Jan 2021. There are some rules, which you’ll find out if you read the original posts and we will do the meetings online (Zoom, most likely). But it’ll be a great chance to talk to interesting people about what we all love to do, meet new people or simply hang out with complete strangers if that’s your thing.
Stay tuned for the first Coffee Morning announcement soon.