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My Influences: Sarah Fleming, Founder, The Right + The Left

Sarah Fleming

Sarah Fleming is founding director at strategic marketing consultancy The Right + The Left, which launched in 2020.

With over 15 years of industry experience in ad land, Fleming has previously held a number of senior positions such as group account and business director at McCann Manchester.

At The Right + The Left, she’s now on a mission to help brands build marketing and communication strategies by combining the power of creativity (the right brain thinking) with the logic of planning and data (the left) – to solve business problems.

She shares her top three influences…

The person that has inspired my working career the most, and why?

I could write a long list of people, past and present, who’ve inspired me in some way or played a significant part in one of the many career twists and turns we all experience. I believe the early years of our careers are often the most formative in terms of direction and belief in yourself, so I would credit my secondary school art teacher and my first boss.

My art teacher opened up the possibility of turning creativity – something I saw as a hobby – into a real career by giving me glimpses into the world of advertising and marketing. My first, and longstanding boss at McCann, created a culture where thinking and ideas could come from anyone, regardless of job title – and encouraged me to follow what I was good at.

It’s also why today, I am heavily involved in Bloom North as part of its committee driving initiatives that include mentoring and empowering the industry’s young talent to realise their potential.

The place that has inspired my working career the most, and why?

Regardless of discipline or category, everything we do as marketeers is rooted in understanding human behaviour and what makes consumers think, feel and do, so we can better connect and communicate with people.

I try to take inspiration from the everyday: a conversation you have with someone can shed light on how they make buying decisions, the accounts of people living with a particular disease or condition can help us understand the language we need to use to connect with them, and moments people share can tell us a lot about how people see their own version of our world.

The thing that has inspired my working career the most, and why?

There are lots of things – projects, experiences, clients, travel – that have acted as inspiration in different ways, however in inspiring my career direction specifically, I’d credit an American, 90s looking-book (actually written in 2010) called The Big Leap.

I was given it, sceptically read it, and somewhere in its pages the author introduces the concept of ‘your zone of genius’, of the importance of finding it, and the importance of using it throughout life. It was the first time I’d come across the idea, it got me thinking and has had a significant impact on where, and how I’ve directed and honed my career since.

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