Why you should never judge by appearances, or by vocation

Posted on March 24, 2017

 

Over the years I have ranted at pretty much everything and everyone who has irked me, so it’s perhaps only fair that I rant at the one person who has annoyed me the most in the past 25 years – myself.

I’m not talking about a general annoyance building up over time, as is the effect I can have on other people. No, I’m talking about a specific incident where, whenever I look back on it, I realise what a monumental drip I was and how it shaped my future. It’s one of those ‘if you could go back in time and tell your younger self one thing, what would it be’ moments where I don’t ever have to think about it. I don’t need to ponder. It’s that, definitely that.

As the title suggests, it’s based on a time when I judged someone as not being that valuable to me at that time. Don’t get me wrong, they were in a position of power (to a degree) and I could clearly see how they could be helpful, but not quite THAT helpful.

It’s something that happens a lot at networking events now, especially considering my industry is digital marketing. Every man and his dog offers SEO these days, so when you meet someone at a networking event who offers SEO you tend to smile, nod and move onto the next person. They’re often judged as ‘just another SEO company’ with nothing really new to offer.

We experienced this just a few weeks ago, when someone we met in a local networking group wasn’t particularly interested in speaking with us. He had probably formed his own views about online marketing through his time in business and, whether or not they were positive views, he didn’t want to waste his time at a networking event talking to another of the ‘me too’ brigade. Fast forward a few weeks later, when he discovered who we work for within his industry, and he was suddenly interested in a meeting.

He judged us as a company who couldn’t help him, as another of the thousands of SEO companies who don’t really know what they’re doing, and dismissed us without taking the time to find out what we were about.

This is exactly what I did myself back in the ‘90s, with life-altering consequences.

I didn’t really want to be in online marketing back then. Well, let’s face it, online marketing didn’t actually exist then. Google hadn’t started, Facebook and Twitter were still over a decade away and Netscape was the browser of choice. These were very early days.

And me? I wanted to be a film director. I had it all mapped out: University, Cannes, Hollywood. Simple.

What I didn’t realise, however, was that my opportunity came before University – back when I believed it was just all going to happen exactly as I had imagined it. It was an opportunity of which I didn’t grasp the rarity, nor the future significance.

So here’s what happened.

As you’ve probably seen from my constant dabbling with social media videos, I do like to make a short funny film. I was doing this during school, and even made a few films to submit to a TV show called ‘Hotshots’, hosted by the king of TV pranking Jeremy Beadle. I made a Batman spoof, followed by spoofs of Aliens, James Bond, Indiana Jones and many more.

They were mostly terrible, but the spoof genre isn’t noted for its quality.

Anyhow, I submitted some of these to Beadle’s Hotshots and started liaising with the researcher in charge of compiling the clips. He seemed a very hardworking chap as he would phone me late at night from his editing suite to discuss ideas, and even sent me a script sunmitted by someone else who lacked the technical ability to film it.

In my arrogance, I dismissed that script, as it wasn’t something I had come up with. That was not my big mistake, that’s still to come.

Myself and my friend Steven, who appeared in some of the spoofs (he IS Batman) travelled down to London for a taping of two of the episodes, as they do them two at a time. As we entered the studio, the researcher chap spotted me and Steven and called us over. He’d recognised me from the video clips; it was like I was famous or something! He asked if we could meet him in the bar afterwards to discuss ideas for the second series as he really wanted us to make some videos for them. If it sounds weird, because me and Steven were still in school, it’s not. This guy looked about our age too. As it transpired, he was two years older than me. Two years. Keep that in mind.

No problem, we thought. We can meet him in the bar. Of course, if you’ve ever been to a taping of a TV show, you’ll know how long they drag on. Our last train from London to South Wales was at around 11pm, and time was getting on. We were going to miss it if we stayed, so we had to take off as soon as the taping was finished – standing up our friend in the bar.

This was the mistake. Even as I write this I’m hoping for a different outcome. Go on, forget the train! Go meet him! You bloody fool!

But no, I’m still here writing this so history didn’t change.

You might be thinking ‘so what?’ – if you’d gone to meet him, what difference would that have made? You’d have made some more rubbish spoofs and had them on ITV. Great.

Well, yes, that would have happened. However, it was more about getting better acquainted with our friend there, who has already shown an interest in what we did and how we did it. And it’s more about who he was, and what he went on to do.

After leaving the tutorship of Jeremy Beadle, this chap went on to work on TV shows with people like Alexei Sayle, and French and Saunders. He went on to direct the TV series Spaced, with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. He wrote, and directed, films such as Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End.

He’s one of the UK’s best known film directors, and his name was Edgar Wright.

That is why you should never judge people based on their appearance, age or their job. You just don’t know who they are, what they know or who they know. It’s a mistake I made early.

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 20 years’ experience in these fields.
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