Wednesday, May 20, 2015

3.5 thoughts from #99conf

I've been planning to write up a long and enormously insightful post based on my experiences at 99u earlier this month. But time is getting away from me. So in lieu of that, here are a few thoughts and stories from my notebook. Basically a teaser for something much better that may never happen.

1. My super power is experimentation. This surprised the hell out of me. So many people I respect - clients, creative teams, account people - have told me my enthusiasm for advertising is why they trust me with their brand. And yes, energy was high on the list. But in the end, the SYPartners superpower test revealed that the biggest benefit I bring to a team is the willingness to throw ideas on the wall without worrying if each one is a guaranteed success.

2. The single most creative thing you can do is change the question. I have heard this thought before. But it was good to hear it repeated by people like Shane Snow. If you keep asking the same questions, you just get incremental improvements on old processes and tired ideas. But if you change the question at the outset, you’ll get lateral jumps into whole new approaches.

3. Anil Dash said the key to promoting diversity is to share your origin story. Not sure how mine will help. But here goes. I was working in a startup agency as its sole copywriter, PR person and sometime-account guy. And at the age of 22, I had no compass for knowing what good work was. My dad, who ran marketing at a big company, introduced me to the president of his agency, Dave Reece. Now, I’m the client’s kid, remember? Reece had every reason to butter me up. But instead he did the nicest thing anyone could have done. He told me my portfolio sucked and I had to swallow my pride and either go back to school or find some creative mentors I could trust. I followed his advice and headed off to Creative Circus. A couple years later, I graduated and came back to thank Reece. But he didn’t respond. And shortly afterwards I found out why. He’d gotten a brain tumor. He died soon afterwards, at the age of 46. Dave impacted a lot of people in Denver, and he’ll never know just how much my thirty-minute talk with him changed the direction of my life.

Bonus thought: Rohan Gunatillake can solve his “annoying voice” problem by getting Kelly McGonigal to read the audio on his mindfulness app. Trust me on this one, folks. I’ve done a lot of radio. It’s going to work.

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