Happy People Are Harder To Kill – Conn Bertish

We hosted our 4th ConFab Session at the CN&CO HQ yesterday, with a very special guest speaker by the name of Conn Bertish. Conn’s talk was titled “Happy People are hard to kill” and follows the story of his cancer survival and the birth of Cancer Dojo and it’s playful ideology of healing and health. What an incredible talk by an inspiring cancer conqueror. Conn and Cancer Dojo are setting out to change the way the world views and deals with cancer, and to increase the global cancer survival rate, one playful mind at a time.


When Conn, at the time the Executive Creative Director of global advertising powerhouse JWT’s Cape Town office, was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer in 2006, he didn’t freeze from fear, nor did he regard himself as helpless. Just like the best artists and creatives facing a tough challenge, he was curious – he started to play, to experiment, to scribble, to think about seemingly crazy ways in which he could become part of his own healing. And this is just what did he did – using a playful range of visual and conceptual techniques, he began tapping into a science called Psychoneuroimmunology – how your mind affects how your body behaves – and in so doing he was able to boost his immune system for the better, making him stronger, more resilient and as he says “harder to kill”.

“Creativity is far more powerful than people think, it enables humans to build things that don’t exist – bring the invisible to life in ways that spark curiosity and new thinking. As a creative director I have spent over 15 years solving complicated challenges with strategy, insight and creativity (and more recently, technology, social media, user experience, branded content and digital gamification). So when diagnosed with a life-threatening cancer, I instinctively viewed it as a challenge I needed to find a creative solution for. And I did. Surprising doctors, oncologists, neurologist and some lofty professors: who all urged to me share my story, my techniques and my approach to tackling the world’s most feared disease. I am now following my purpose, to bring this thinking to life in a way that is simple, engaging and user friendly, so that others can benefit from this complimentary approach to facing disease,” says Conn.

Conn Bertish

Conn Bertish

On the 1st of April 2015 , Conn resigned from his position as Executive Creative Director of Quirk CPT (Africa’s largest digital agency), to fulfill his hard-won purpose and bring this innovative thinking to life to assist others facing disease. Subsequently he has thrown caution to the win and dedicated his skills to creating a mobile solution called Cancer Dojo that not only shares his techniques, but empowers others facing cancer with a range of visual tools and content shown to boost the human immune system. The project is in the wire-framing stage and looking for funders and further partnerships. Cancer Dojo is a Non Profit entity and recent winner of the 2015 Vodacom Change the World Project. The brand and platform has big plans and aims to change the way the world views and deals with cancer and disease.

Many a CN&CO team member has been affected by cancer in some way or another, so we are big supporters of Conn and the like who are doing amazing things to make a positive difference and change the world “one playful mind at a time” (as Conn puts it.) A big focal point of Conn’s talk was about how people with a purpose become more resilient and driven, resulting in them feeling pumped and good, ultimately boosting their immune system. And as much as it’s vital to have purpose-driven cancer conquerors, it’s just as important for their support networks to have a purpose too.

Conn is involved with amazing projects and has BIG ideas that will no doubt change the world, and we are right behind him all of the way.

You can follow Conn and Cancer Dojo’s adventure on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

If you’re interested to learn more about Conn’s journey, this Bizcommunity article is worth a read.