So You Wanna Be Inspired?

Posted on: 11th May 2012

Bright eyes grow wider at Teen Spirit’s ‘Inspire’ night

With a name like ‘Inspire’, it’s immediately clear that tonight is all about big over small: think big, win big – live large, in short.

The idea is to give Teen Spirit members the twist of confidence and inspiration that can make all the difference to young people just starting out, looking for ways of making their dreams a reality…

To help, 16 visitors have been invited in to share their stories with Teen Spirit.

The room falls silent as Richard Copcutt takes the floor. He’s MD of Converse UK. But he’s no corporate big-wig in a suit. Instead he stands in trainers, arms decked in tattoos, telling of how his big moment came when he was working in a West London post office, facing off a gunman who was holding up his branch.

‘I thought: I don’t want to risk getting killed for a job I don’t even believe in. I want to do more.’ he says.

He tells us he lived in a squat at the time and had no idea how to make it big. But he found something he was good at – selling – and moved around the country, learning new skills and winding up at companies like Walkers, Nike, Levi’s and ultimately Converse.

‘What drove me to move on was a feeling that I wanted to be true to myself – to find a company whose interests and values fit mine,’ he says.

As an ex punk-rocker, Copcutt feels lucky enough to have found that now: under his leadership, Converse now sponsors an iconic London rock club that faces closure. It’s a matter close to his heart and it’s clear how he values being able to make a difference.

‘My message is: if you want it you can have it. It’s not where you’re from, or what qualifications you have that matters most. It’s finding what you’re good at, doing your best and taking opportunities when they appear.’

So far, so inspirational, and eyes widen as Teen Spirit hears how not so different to them have made it right to the top.

The last group of the evening brings Omar, Tom and Greg. A 19-year-old award-wining entrepreneur who runs his own clothing and media companies, a 25-year-old investment banker and a 30-something PR professional who runs his own company.

The talk of shared traits of determination, self-discipline, and recognising opportunity. They talk of luck, but agree that much of what we call luck, is actually a reward for lots of hard work…

But when talk turns to Omar’s work with major recording artist Drake, the gang get really excited. ‘Oh my god, you work with him?!’ How on earth did you get that gig?!’

One girl is more excited than the rest: she wants to be a music video producer and loves Drake so much – she can’t believe it Omar is working with him! Omar throws down the gauntlet: ‘So you want to work with guys like these? Make me a music video, email it to me next week, I’ll see what I can do. Get it out on social media and see where we can take it.’

These girls’ eyes are so big they look like they might pop. Her friend asks Omar if she can do her work experience with his media company. ‘Why not?’ he says.

Why not indeed, I think as the bright shining eyes in the room grow wider and wider at the opportunities popping open before their eyes.

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