Week links

A Stoic Guide To Workplace Peace Of Mind
The image of the Zen philosopher is the monk up in the green, quiet hills, or in a beautiful temple on some rocky cliff. The Stoic, on the other hand, is the antithesis of this idea. The Stoic is the man in the marketplace, the merchant on a voyage, the senator in the Forum, the soldier at the front. In other words, they are like you.

3 Tips for Bringing a Design Mindset to Large Companies
A few things I’d recommend to introduce a design mindset to a hierarchical organization…

Start with WHAT, not WHY
It seems I’m one of the only people to dare question the logic in Simon Sinek’s ‘Start with why’ approach to brands and business. So it was refreshing to read someone else raising concerns about it. “I can show you a ton of products that listen to the ‘Start with why’ speech and are being crushed,” suggested Joah Santos on Linked In. “There is no example of leading with why and having a success”.

Why David Ogilvy’s Advertising Bible Is Getting A Modern Update
That’s what David Letterman once asked David Ogilvy when the legendary ad exec was on Late Night in the early 1980s to promote his book Ogilvy on Advertising. He was referring to a 1951 ad campaign for Hathaway shirts that was the ’50s equivalent of a viral success. The thing about Ogilvy’s answer, even though it was about a print ad more than 35 years ago, is that it holds true today.

Storyframes before wireframes
Starting designs in the text editor.
Browsing a well-crafted interface is like reading a great story. As designers, why are we not incorporating screenwriting techniques more often into our process?

As media continues to evolve, grow and fragment, our attention has become more discerning and harder to hold. Advertising, however, continues to behave as if reach alone equals influence, and in doing so is in danger of being tuned out entirely, writes Hamish Cameron, Strategy Director at BBH LA.

Five explorative writing exercises that will surprise you about yourself
E.L. Doctorow once said: “Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing, and learn as you go.”

The uncomfortable secret to creative success is “disequilibrium”
It’s a Wednesday morning in the IDEO San Francisco studio. Bright sunshine reflects off the Bay and through the floor-to-ceiling windows. But in the project space, the mood is darker.

Asshole Is Not Another Word for Creative Genius
You’re 29 years old. You’re bright. You’re intuitively insightful. And man, your talent is some kind of sick. Already, you’ve got a few Pencils and a couple of Lions—that kind of sick. You look out ahead of you and you think nothing short of the Yellowstone supervolcano erupting is going to keep you from cruising straight to the top. But according to ad legend George Lois, you’re missing something. Something you better come by in a hurry, or you’re going exactly nowhere.

The Conversation of Design
Telling stories is an age-old way people share ideas. At IDEO.org, storytelling sits at the core of how we learn about the people whom we design solutions for. The stories we hear from people inspire great design, and we design great stories to inspire others.

The Advertising Industry Must Reimagine How Work Gets Done to Ever Really Become Diverse
The advertising industry knows it has a problem. For years now, ad executives have been having an ongoing discussion about diversity in the industry, or really the lack thereof.

Michael Bierut says never trust a designer who doesn’t like reading
Designers are geniuses at style, but rarely expected to wrestle with the words.

In the mind’s eye, & elsewhere

You’re probably familiar with the phrase “seeing in the mind’s eye.” Being a visual person, every time I hear that phrase I always picture the Illuminati symbol.


Lately I’ve become increasingly aware of another such sensual phenomena: hearing with the mind’s ear. This has become more apparent to me because I’ve been spending a lot of time writing lately. I have come to find that my writing inevitably sounds much better in my head than it does once it gets out into the world.

I suppose the mind’s ear is also why everyone thinks they sound great when singing, but when it comes right down to it, most people are pretty lousy. Me included.

I work with a lot of non-creative-types and have noticed something about almost all of them. When we are discussing a project, especially ones that involve a lot of visuals, like a video, you can see in their faces that they have images brewing in their mind, but they do not have the ability to give birth to them. And if they are brave enough to doodle it out, the images do not resemble anything that I am sure is what is pictured in their mind.

They always say the same thing: “Well, I can’t draw”.

Unlike most creative thinkers, I don’t think everyone can draw, much in the same way I don’t think everyone can sing, or are proficient at other forms to expression to convey what they are getting at. Case in point, my dancing ability has been compared to a one-person riot.

Words are so very different from pictures. Words come out of your head and can be changed with a flick of the pen or a quick tap on the keyboard. Words, even in the real world, are still so abstract. They’re malleable.

Images have permanence. They are there for everyone to see. They take longer than a moment to create, so they are more easily criticized.

Can creative forms of expression be taught? Absolutely. But the key, and most of the world is unwilling to do it, is practice. I took dance lessons for 10 weeks, but never practiced and still cannot dance. My daughter took piano lessons and never practiced. She can read music and can certainly play the piano, but she does not make beautiful music.

Learning to make images is as (or often times even more…) important than using words. Giving the abstract form is key to success as a creative leader with new technologies allowing us to reach people in very exciting ways.

Make sense?

Redefining success

So I am listening to Tim Ferris’ interview with Walter Isaacson about his new book on Leonardo DaVinci while walking the dog. There are a number of excellent takeaways and I strongly encourage you to give it a listen.

The most important takeaway was this: How do you go from success to significance?



What a bold question to ask yourself. If you work hard, practice, get good at what you do, you will be successful. It will happen.

But what’s next? How much success do you need? You can always challenge yourself to do more. You can always repeat earlier success – there’s nothing wrong with that. But after you’ve been at it for a while, there has to be more. More than another brass ring to grab. Something more than success for yourself or the people you work for.

Significance is so much bigger than yourself. It’s way beyond you. It’s something that might take years, or a lifetime, to attain. You may never achieve it. But it is a noble goal.

I wish I had the answer to this question. It’s been stewing in my mind for days and will probably for some time to come.

Think about it yourself. Think about significance in the context of what you are doing today. Are you do the kinds of things that will propel you beyond success? If not, how can you make adjustments?

As Isaacson pointed out, Franklin and Leonardo did lots of small things, any one of which might have made him famous. But both held such a larger perspective on the world that they saw the significance of their work.

Although it is of little significance, my dog loved the nice long walk.

Week links

Now You See It

Creative Capital – Not Creativity – Is What Your Brand Is Missing
The marketing world has a serious turnover problem. A recent studyrevealed that the average tenure of a marketer is 2.6 years — the shortest of any profession in the business world.

How the Mad Men lost the plot
The arrival of Facebook and Twitter appeared to threaten the advertising industry’s very existence. So what happened next?

“Hard Work, Attention to Detail,” and Paralyzing Fear: the Ups + Downs of Designing with Anxiety
Anxiety—true anxiety—is one such condition. It’s a double-edged sword: at times the self-criticism inherent with anxiety can encourage rigorous thinking. But that sort of detailed self-reflection can easily tip over into a state of perfectionism in which actually doing something can prove impossible. Like its frequent bedfellow depression, anxiety can strangle both a creative impulse and a person on a fundamental level.

Why Ideo’s Fred Dust Thinks We Must Relearn The Art Of Dialogue
At the Fast Company Innovation Festival, Ideo exec says we can solve problems by designing new ways to talk with each other—rather than at each other.

How to influence culture

Is Efficiency Killing Brands?
Digital marketing has unleashed an obsession with efficiency and short-termism, one that’s trading long-term brand-building for short-term ROI. We’ve put the golden goose in a battery farm of scientific efficiency, and it’s killing the brand, business growth and profit.

I wrote about my favorite baseball player, Jeff Bagwell, a while back. I lauded him for his professionalism and his Stoic demeanor. Over the course of the 2017 I’ve become such a huge fan of George Springer.You can see the joy in his every movement. The Springer Dinger. Sunflower Shower. Dancing in the dugout. We don’t see this kind of exuberance enough. MVP of the 2017 World Series. Well deserved.