Jeremy Southern: Masterclass

Jeremy Southern: Masterclass

By Jeremy Southern, former executive creative director and current freelance creative/copywriter


About a month ago I was approached by someone and asked to do a Masterclass.

Enormously flattered, and without a moment’s consideration, I foolishly agreed.

Well I mean, you would, wouldn’t you?

To get myself familiar with what a Masterclass actually entailed, I hopped online and had a quick shufti at some of the other offerings out there.

And as I did, an icy-cold fear clutched at my heart.

What the fuck had I got myself into?

All of them, without exception, were hosted by smartly dressed, sophisticated-looking people, who stared confidently into the camera and positively oozed business acumen and entrepreneurial know-how.

I looked doubtfully at my own profile pic. Me in a green tracksuit and Duff Beer baseball hat, with grizzled stubble, a fatuous smile on my face and a somewhat bemused looking hound on my lap.


With my misgivings multiplying by the minute, I delved further into what these bright-eyed and future-focused thought leaders were offering.

  • i) Influencer marketing,
  • ii) Sales funnel masterclass
  • iii) Branding & marketing for start ups
  • iv) Ranking your website higher with better SEO
  • v) Zero to hero – PR strategies that convert
  • vi) The influencer’s power guide to understanding the Tik Tok algorithm

Shit, shit, shit.

This was bad. No, worse than bad. This was a calamity.

You see, as much as it pains me to admit it, I’m actually not a master of anything.

Well, not anything that would be of use to an aspiring young marketer.

In fact, the only area in which I can lay any sort of claim to expertise, is one which is pretty much guaranteed to bring your career to an abrupt and shuddering halt. Just as it did mine.

I am of course talking about negativity, that most hated and reviled of workplace vices.

For some reason, be it a misplaced sense of entitlement, or simply the fact that I come from a long line of cheerless Irish forebears, I have this particular… um… virtue in spades.

Through the years, I have tried variously to expunge it, hide it, ignore it and suppress it, with a rigorous diet of psychotherapy and Zoloft. All to no avail.

Finally, a few years ago, I had an epiphany moment.

I realised that my negativity, far from being a dark blot on my personality, was actually responsible for pretty much all my humour and creativity. And that by killing it, I was essentially killing me.

So from that point on, I decided to embrace it.

And so it is that you find me now, dealing in cynicism, sarcasm, scepticism, mockery and scorn on a daily basis.

I’m happy in my newfound pessimism, cheered by my perpetual misery, and at peace with the war within.

There’s just one problem.

The sodding Masterclass.

You see, these negative traits don’t exactly lend themselves to what you might call “teachable moments.”

I mean I suppose they could, but who in their right mind is going to attend a lecture entitled:

  • i) Negative influencer – Creating an atmosphere of gloom and despondency in your agency
  • ii) Making others look foolish and feel stupid. The definitive guide.
  • iii) Optimise your cynicism. How to make your distrust really convert.
  • iv) Is your sarcasm working hard enough for you?
  • v) Scornful criticism – Your ticket to the top.

No one would be that stupid right?

But that is the task that effectively confronts me now.

I have to somehow redirect and repackage my negativity into a positive and life-affirming outcome that can inspire and motivate my listeners.

Can it be done? Fuck knows. I suspect I will crash and burn spectacularly.

But maybe that’s just me being negative.

Jeremy Sullen (sorry, Freudian slip, that should of course be Southern) is a misanthropic, curmudgeonly old gaffer (based in Sydney) who is currently/perpetually looking for creative/writing gigs. If you would like to work with him, you are of course an idiot or a glutton for punishment. Either way, you can reach him on