God has spoken to me.
The event wasn’t so much like Moses and the burning bush as it was something more like this:
Back in the late 90’s, when I worked at JWT, I had been plugging away on some pitch material for a few weeks. It had been a grind. This was back in the days before we had the luxury of having a color printer in the office, so every time I needed prints I had to run down to the nearest Kinkos. Needless to say, I got to be on a first name basis with those guys.
On this particular morning, I had finished up at the Kinkos far out on Westheimer about mid-morning. I was tired but felt good knowing that I was finished with the comps. Time to get back to the office. I hopped in my car and drove a couple of blocks when I heard this voice:
Michael, turn at the Half-Priced Books.
Who said that? Nobody but me in the car but me.
Coming up quickly was the Half-Priced Books, so I turned, parked and went inside. For the uninitiated, Half-Priced Books can be hit-or-miss. Sometimes you find treasure troves of goodies but other times it is a barren wasteland of musty smelling books.
On this particular day it was a jackpot.
I walked directly to the section with the art and design books. There, sitting innocuously on a lower shelf was a first edition of George Lois’ The Art of Advertising in excellent condition. I picked up this unbelievable find and promptly bought it.
What a reward after such a long, arduous few weeks.
Had that voice not prompted me to take a break from life, I’d have never uncovered this hidden treasure.
Years later I had the privilege to meet Mr Lois at an Ad Fed luncheon in Houston. To this day I cannot imagine there were ever so many four letter words used in the Junior League presentation. After his talk, I had the opportunity to shake his hand and I told him this story about God talking to me. He was congenial. And a little tipsy.
I’ve been a Catholic my whole life, but I am far from religious. I try to practice what the church preaches but more often than not fall short. But this isn’t a story about church. Or belief in God for that matter. It’s a story about listening and paying attention.
I do believe in God. I do believe He speaks to you, but in ways you have to be willing to accept. You have to be open, ready and aware.
Where creative ideas come from has always been a mystery to me. This is a subject I’ve studied for years as it is my stock and trade. Sure, you can believe all the stuff you hear these days – the books, article on the internet, TED talks – but if you really want to know where good ideas come from, they come from somewhere else.
Maybe even Someone else.
But you have to be paying attention.