How 6:1 Creative Was Formed

By Published On: January 8th, 20215.9 min read

I didn’t get into all this with the goal of building a creative business. In fact I didn’t realise my creative streak and love for great design until I was in my 30s. There wasn’t a eureka moment or anything like that. It was always there, I just hadn’t become conscious of it yet.

The Greatest Toy Ever Invented

My Early Building Blocks.

The Virtues of Free Styling.

Thankfully smoking a pipe never really hooked me. I was born in Manchester during the early seventies and my first childhood addiction was Lego. I’m very grateful for that, because their iconic building blocks opened my mind and imagination to a world of creativity.

I rarely bothered with the instructions. Instead I preferred a freestyle approach for conjuring my own creations. I remember mostly building what I imagined were aircraft and space ships.

Is Lego The Best Toy Ever?

My results, possibly inspired by Star Wars, were never perfect and would often develop into something different. But whichever outside influences inspired my childhood creations. Ultimately I must thank Lego. Because they helped me to enjoy the possibilities of divergent-thinking. And for that reason alone, it’s the most incredible toy ever invented. 

Becoming Creative.

“Art is Theft” – Pablo Picasso.

Appreciating the beauty in good design doesn’t necessarily make you a creative person. And being a creative, doesn’t instantly make you great at designing stuff. Because nothing happens overnight.

Allow Yourself To Be Influenced

I firmly believe everyone has an inherent ability to be creative. The only reasons behind why we’re not all creating cool stuff, relate to childhood. Some haven’t explored their creativity and many don’t continue the exercise. Being open to influence is the difference between those who know how to exercise their imagination and those who can’t see the possibility of something. The rest is just practice.

So it’s true that anyone can be an artist. All it takes is a desire to start something, an open mind and the courage to open your emotions for criticism. 

Allow Yourself To Be Influenced.

I started practising again during my 30s. All my free time was spent addicted to things that fed my imagination. Great music, games, books, magazines, architecture, technology, model railways, industrial design, art and photography. It all made me happy and began to influence into my work.

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn.”

T.S.Eliot.

Climbing The Ladder.

Attempting To Build a Career

During my years in education, when it came to career advice. The consistent message from everyone, everywhere was “Neil, build a career with a big blue-chip company, its the only way!”. So naturally I took everyones advice and joined German multi-national Henkel, to build a career.

Attempting To Build a Career

It wasn’t a mistake. When I look back on the early years, they invested in me and I got a brilliant education. Eventually I would get to travel the world and experience the highs and lows of business with them.

Working in an highly competitive, blue-chip environment, also allowed me learn about the short comings of big business culture. I got to witness teams formed for creating race horses, produce camels. And oil tankers attempting to pivot quickly.

Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously.

To a great extent, I couldn’t stand the experience of; and being required to support, meaningless hypocrisy. From the baseless stories used to front products, policy and questionable decision making. Through to people with unhealthy job title obsession, always taking themselves a little too seriously. (I was one of them)

I especially didn’t like the use of jargon. People filling conversations with bullshit that they’d heard somewhere else and bringing zero value to the subject. However I thankfully learned a lot with Henkel, including plenty of things that I didn’t like about corporate environments. And especially the way they were run.

Bluemoon.

– You Saw Me Standing Alone.

Please don’t judge too harshly, but I’m a life long Manchester City supporter! Concerning football, prior to 2011, I’d experienced my unfair share of disappointment and humiliation. But I remained loyal.

Life Long Manchester City Supporter

Thankfully my loyalty was finally rewarded.  In 2011 City won the FA Cup, their first trophy for 34 years. For the first time in my life they were finally a great team and it felt good.

Take The Chance To Enjoy Every Moment.

So what’s that got to do with anything? Well later that year, on Sunday the 23rd of October, City played United in the Manchester derby. It’s fair to say this was a game that had historically contributed to many of my footballing disappointments and humiliations. But on this occasion City were magnificent, they broke records by hammering United 6-1. And I was elated.

The following day I lost my job!

Jumping Ship.

Becoming Self Employed.

During 2011 my time at Henkel was up. Many things at the company had changed and new regimes had helped me to understand that, in a big company, dedication and effort is quickly forgotten. So I jumped ship.

Unfortunately, the company I chose for my new adventure, was a terrible fit. By the end of the year I was jobless, 40 years old and burnt out. I’d lost my confidence and I felt confused, unsure about what to do next.

Keep Going.

After a lot of soul searching, opportunity eventually knocked. After years being indoctrinated into the ways of big multi-national organisations, I would now be self employed. Can you make a career out of something on your own terms? I think you can, life would begin again at forty.

A Name With Meaning.

Perseverance In The Face of Adversity.

Six One Creative Logo

Any new business must have a name. So after some consideration and my obsessive love for things to exist with meaning, I quietly decreed that Six One Enterprises Limited was born.

“Six One” marks a moment significant change in my life. Moreover, for me it also stands for perseverance in the face of adversity and acts as a reminder that loyalty eventually finds a way to pay you back.

Neil David Herd.
Managing Director.

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