The agenda of “bravery” comes to life in different shapes and sizes at the Marketing Society across the globe. It’s interesting to see how different, brave individuals are leading the way to face the future. And how they bring others along too to face their future. 


Putting this in context of the recent event I attended in London – an evening with Channel 4’s Ant Middleton – shows the consistency of message that the Society is putting out across the globe. And the consistency of outstanding global – and local – content that is being generated and curated in each of its hubs.

Here in Dubai, I’ve just come from another inspiring conversation about bravery in the context of mental health in the workplace – in a part of the world that is known for a show-no-weakness office environment. Show-no-weakness was endemic in the military environment that Ant Middleton has come from, he told us.

In London, we saw Ant Middleton as a conflicted character. And he wears this on his sleeve. Middleton is a Channel 4 TV hero, a smiling, muscley, tattooed beast of a bloke, with an enthusiastic, cheerful disposition and a dark, menacing past.

Chronologically, he’s a special forces veteran, an ex convict, a husband, a TV show host and a father. And he’s keen to show the world, through in his new-found media career, how he manages – and how we can manage – the demons of the past. And how to lead others along to face their demons to embrace the future.

Ant jokes about being only 5’8. But on the stage, he is a big scary, complex character, full of aphorisms. Or, as we call them nowadays, tweet-worthy takeaways.

He succinctly explained his raison d’être:

“I trained to be the best soldier in the world. Now I’m training to be the best civilian in the world.”

He gives advice along the way:

“Don’t be a sheep. Be yourself. The best version of yourself. Be a shepherd”

And in the Q&A he was frank with his answers, Stephen Maher, former Chair of the Marketing Society in the UK, asked how he can remain “so Zen in terrible situations”. The answer is quick and clear: “I cut out the negativity”.

When I asked him about the brave (terrifying!) antics on TV and how to persuade the TV TMS-JW3crew it’s all going to be okay, Ant says he doesn’t brief his tv production teams about the scary details of the upcoming shoot. He tells them the risks aren’t as high  as they might be. And he leads them carefully along the way. Along the way to their own bravery, perhaps.

One Society member urged us afterwards to purchase Ant’s book ‘First Man In: Leading From The Front’ as its lessons of leadership translate well into business.

I’ve never met a person like him. And it was great to meet him, “Under the Spotlight”.


Gemma Greaves, global CEO of the Marketing Society, hosted Ant Middleton on Thursday 18 October 2018 at the Curzon Bloomsbury, London, WC1.

Khaled Ismail, Chair, The Marketing Society Middle East and VP Communication – Europe, Central Asia, Middle East & Africa, Tetra Pak, hosted Geoff McDonald, Executive Director, Open Minds Health & Jackie Hughes, Chief Strategy Officer, IMPACT BBDO, on Tuesday 30 October, One JLT, Dubai.

For future events of the Marketing Society in your part of the world, please email the team, Specifically: