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Favorite Articles in 2018

Back in 1996 when I worked at The ForeFront Group, we had a piece of software called WebWhacker (the packaging is elsewhere on this site). WebWhacker was designed to pull content down from websites to read later when you were offline. A genius app, until WiFi and mobile devices with unlimited reach became the norm. Google’s Pocket is the modern equivalent of WebWhacker. I use it every single day, sometimes throughout the day when I find things that interest me but don’t have the time to read at the moment. Apparently, according to Pocket I read a lot:

Although this is not a comprehensive list, here are some of my favorite articles I saved to Pocket during 2018:

Where Are All the Female Architects?

A museum grows in Houston

The Rise of Riso

It’s Time to Embrace the Creativity Explosion Advertising Is Undergoing

Soul Of A Subversive

Everything Goes With Everything … 

These are the conversations you need to have as a new manager

Creative leadership

Why You Need To Pay Attention To Gen X Leaders

TITTER YE NOT by Dave Trott, of course.

Fear is the enemy of creativity

Creatives Are Overworked

I Visited A Shrine For The Patron Saint Of Procrastinators

Is Jeff Goodby the Best Copywriter at Goodby Silverstein & Partners?

Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule

A Designer’s Guide to Getting Shit Done

The Curbed Guide to Texas

Stan Lee Knew About Managing Creative People

The Curse of the Honeycrisp Apple

The Library of Congress Has an Incredible Collection of Early Baseball Cards

R.E.M., in Retrospect

 

Paying Attention

God has spoken to me.

Really.

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.

 

 

 

Week Links, #14

Proof That Design Is Good For Business, In 8 Statistics Design is being severely underutilized by manufacturers, according to the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Dada Movement: 5 Lessons For Today’s Designers For us, art is not an end in itself, but an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in.

The Rise Of The Content Artist … Vaynerchuk will be remembered as the one guy who banged down all barriers and pushed people in that direction. The guy who spoke in a language nobody at the time had heard of or seen before. Shakespeare did the same thing.

Craig Oldham on honest advice for graphic designers, industry frustrations and being yourself Just in time for a new wave of confused and bleary-eyed creative graduates, Craig Oldham – one of the most influential designers in the UK – will release his new book, Oh Sh*t… What Now?: Honest Advice for New Graphic Designers, published by Laurence King.

3 Steps to Create Magical Marketing No one will respond to any old email or marketing campaign anymore. You have to stand out, and stand out as an actual human.

Want to Be a Great Leader? Become A Psychologist First Being a leader is a very demanding task, both physically and mentally. You need to be a good business person as well as a great psychologist.

5 Simple Ways to Hack Instagram Marketing The social network is a marketer’s dream, but it’s filled with clutter. Use these creative ways to cut through the noise.

Tribute: A legend who was never dull, ordinary or safe Dave Trott remembers Paul Arden, the maverick creative who rose to become one of the British advertising industry’s great talents

Tech designers should be licensed, says Silicon Valley designer Mike Monteiro Technology companies such as Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon and Snap Inc. employ some of the most sought-after designers in the world to help them build their products. These designers, using all the tools at their disposal, can wield enormous power, influencing what we click on, see, hear and buy. Their choices decide how we interact with the internet.

Why agencies must make room for innovation No duh.

Miles Young’s 13 Ad Predictions Making predictions can be a fool’s errand. David Ogilvy knew that, which is perhaps why, at the end of his famous book Ogilvy on Advertising, his list of 13 predictions for changes to come to the advertising world was preceded by a note stating that doing the list was not his idea, but his publisher’s.

The Real Business Value of Branding by Jonathan Fisher In a Harvard Business Review article penned by American Entrepreneur Dan Pallotta, one short sentence succinctly captures the essence of branding: “Brand is everything, and everything is brand.”

How To Design An Emotionally Intelligent PowerPoint Presentation It’s not about sleek graphics or the presentation software you use. It’s about whether the story you tell resonates with your audience’s needs.

In Defense of Design Thinking, Which Is Terrible

The Age Of Creativity Walk into any ad agency in the world and in 10 seconds something will become obvious. Everyone is young.

How Creative Agencies Can Compete with Consultancies – as Thought Leaders The “surge of suits” raiding the creative realm continues to expand, with four consultancies (Accenture Interactive, Deloitte Digital, IBM iX, and PwC Digital Services) now ranking among the world’s largest “ad agencies.”

How to Develop a Zen Mind 11 Lessons from Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Need to Get Your Message Across? 13 Essential Reasons to Use Visuals
Stop writing and start showing what you mean

Week links, #07

 

ETC

A new theory claims Homo sapiens beat out Neanderthals because of art
A new study published in the journal Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture proposes that our ancestors’ skill at art, as well as hunting, was essential to their ability to thrive. The study’s author, psychologist Richard Coss of the University of California-Davis, says there is “a causal relationship between the evolved ability of anatomically modern humans to throw spears accurately while hunting and their ability to draw representational images,” which is tied to the development of the parietal cortex in the brains of Homo sapiens. In other words, the art of hunting forced the evolution of humans.

Drawing May Have Helped Humans Develop As A Species
A new study suggests that for early humans, the hand-eye coordination necessary for hunting was the same that was needed for drawing.

How to start managing your energy levels instead of your time
The amout of energy you have should determine what you do

Writing Your Autobiography: What It Means to Truly Love Yourself
The stories that shape us shouldn’t define us

How Businesses Can Best Use Content Marketing to Generate Leads
New research on B2B companies highlights an effective way to bridge the gap between sales and marketing.

The Curiously Elastic Limits of Endurance
In an exclusive excerpt from his new book, Outside’s Sweat Science columnist explores the brain’s role in setting our physical limits.

Stay excited every day – Sairah Ashman on staying happy, and staying put.
Over the next few months, we will be chatting with some of the speakers who will be joining us at Collision. We’re joined today by Sairah Ashman, who will be speaking at creatiff. Sairah was recently promoted to CEO at Wolff Olins, the creative consultancy famously described by a McKinsey Partner as “the perfect blend of maths and magic”. We caught up with her to talk about how staying in the one company has its benefits, how tech and sociology overlap and why we should embrace AI with caution.

99 Reasons to Kill Your Dream? Accept the 1
You’re never going to be original, but that doesn’t matter anyway.

What I Look For
If you’re looking for a job at IDEO.org, read this.

ADVERTISING

WHY THE BREAKDOWN OF CREATIVE SILOS WILL SAVE MARKETING
Once upon a time, there was a creative industry with three different disciplines: marketing, advertising, and design. For a long time, these industries were happy. They were able to live in their own little houses, do their own thing, and occasionally talk and work with each other but then go back to their own private spaces and talk their own talk.

10 reasons why pitching is the biggest illusion of the 21st century
When I read an email with the line “you are invited to our pitch…”, or see more ‘refined’ phrases such as RFP or RFQ, I immediately assume that it’s going to be an intellectual stick-em-up. Created by an army of purchasing and pitching consultants, selling fake certainty to brands by approaching every collaboration as if they were buying Biros. Or worse: asking agencies for retainers and even kickbacks in case they are rewarded a loss-making contract after a long and expensive pitch process.

The end of the beginning of the end
Reacting to “the death of the ad agency” with some thoughts on creation, maintenance and destruction

Further gloom & doom…

It’s the End of Agencies As We Know It. Here’s Where We Go Next
Brands want streamlined partners who help them build trust

DESIGN

Why Joy is the Best Protest
Earlier this year, [IDEO] moved [their] Cambridge-based studio into a building in Central Square. We wanted to personalize our new home with some public art, but were uncertain about what final expression it should take, so we got started by slapping on a new coat of paint—transforming it from an oppressive gray brutalism to a welcoming white canvas. Then, a local connection, who shared our desire for more street art in Cambridge, suggested we look up Elton.

10 Laws Of UX, Illustrated
A handy guide for remembering Fitts’s Law, Jakob’s Law, and more.