31. Fustercluck Book Club Suggestions

Welcome to Episode 31 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the overly-comlicated world of creativity and marketing.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and no matter what you fancy creatively, we’re here to talk about– in no particular order– 13 of my favorite reading recommendations for those whose curiosity keeps them relentlessly exploring more about their craft. 

#1 The Book of Symbols (Reflections on Archetypal Images), Taschen

In an increasingly visual society, it’s helpful to know the connection we’ve developed with certain colors and symbols. From the colors yellow to brown, the egg to stairways, this explanation of the symbols that for centuries have helped to simplify and guide us through life. 

According to Professor James C. Harris of Johns Hopkins, The Book of Symbols is a reliable compendium of potentially transformative images and essays, an essential guide to symbolic images for therapists, artists, art historians, designers, and all explorers of the inner life.

When most books cover pretty surface level, this is pretty primal stuff. Stuff that makes you think. Stuff you can build on. Now the next selection is much more in the pop culture vein. Well-crafted easy reads.

#2 Fifty-Two Pickup, Stick, Glitz, Get Shorty, Rum Punch – Elmore Leonard 

When asked to explain his success, crime writer Elmore Leonard said, Lots of white space on the page. No one since Hemingway has written tighter copy than this popular lit noir writer. No wonder so many films have been based on his books, including Tarantino’s Jackie Brown.

The point is, since we are more and more a visual culture, we have to keep our copy lean & mean. Try following Leonard’s 10th rule of writing: Try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip. Sounds simple, right? Yet there are still plenty of writers who still want to dominate the page, screen and every second of radio spots, too. 

But if you don’t believe Elmore Leonard, maybe you’ll trust Mark Twain who wrote to a friend, I would have written a shorter letter, but I didn’t have the time.

Leonard is a great study, especially for writers when it comes to writing muscular, crisp dialogue.

#3 The Book of Gossage, Howard Gossage, Bruce Bendinger, with Jeff Goodby and Stan Freberg 

When you’re a hero of Jeff Goodby, Alex Bogusky and other Hall of Famers, you must have done something right. 

Back in the day, Howard Gossage was known as “The Socrates of San Francisco.” 

Full of wisdom, he once said, The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.

No wonder so many feel that Howard was ahead of his time. Interactive before the word “interactive” became a thing.

With things like the Scientic American Paper Airplane contest, offering “pink air” for the Fina Oil Company and the opportunity to win a kangaroo from Australian airline, Quantas, Gossage’s wit and ingenuity melded media and creativity in  groundbreaking and refreshing ways. 

#4 Hoopla, Crispin, Porter, Bogusky

Speaking of Alex Bogusky, every generation or two, an agency seems to rise from nowhere and point the way for the rest of us. From the relaunches of Burger King and the Mini Cooper, to shaking things up socially with the anti-smoking campaign, Truth, Crispin, Porter, Bogusky injected both the industry and popular culture with media-agnostic work, creating great talk value around both the agency and its clients.

This is a big, fun book with big, fun work full of energy and personality. Work that would still shine today. Just make sure to read the business challenges and strategies at the foundation of it all.

#5 Show Your Work, Austin Kleon

Easygoing Austin Kleon lives in Austin, Texas, so it’s not surprising that this snackable train & plane book goes down easy. It’s about earning the spotlight by sharing your work. Getting known by getting out there. It’s definitely influenced how I’ve thought about this podcast and everything else I hope people will find useful. Perhaps not as popular as its predecessor, Steal Like an Artist, I find it more practical. And since both books are something like $10 apiece, get them both!

#6 Yes, And (Lessons from The Second City), Austin Kelly Leonard & Tom Yorton

This book from the legendary comedy troupe shows how improvisation reverses “No, but” thinking and improves creativity and collaboration.

I’ve attended meetings run by The Second City. Not surprisingly, it’s a lot of fun. But more importantly, they offer solid exercises as well:

Follow the Follower

Gives any member of the group the chance to assume a leadership role.

Listening

Where you learn to stay in the moment, and know the difference between listening to understand and listening merely to respond, and…

Co-creation

Highlighting the importance of dialogue in creating new products, processes, and relationships.

These exercises and more show how to collaborate better, pivot from dead spots and create better, more quickly and more enjoyably.

#7 TED Talks, Christopher Anderson

Ted Talks have revived public speaking as a platform for both advocacy and entertainment. Millions go online to enjoy and learn these “ideas worth spreading”. Covering everything from substance to showmanship, Christopher Anderson takes you through many of the techniques that have helped make 

TED Talks such a viral sensation. There is no set formula but you can consider that dazzle distracts. That you’re better off with a blank screen than allowing your last slide to linger. That taking your audience down your own path of discovery invites people to join the process and be involved. 

#8 Radical Careering, Sally Hogshead

100 truths to jumpstart your career and your life. That’s what Sally promises and that what she delivers. Succinctly. And sharply.

#19 Being in a Crap Job Isn’t Your Fault. Staying in a Crap Job Is.

#24 You Are Your Most Important Client

#56 Be Where You Want Others to Go

#10 Avoid Manufacturing Buggy Whips 

  • Keep relevant
  • Keep reinventing yourself

My opinion of this book is short & sweet. Basically, it’s short & sweet.

#9 Hey Whipple, Squeeze This!, Luke Sullivan

Seems like this has become the Ogilvy on Advertising of its time. The one you have to read, or re-read, especially the updated version where Edward Boches adds insight on digital. Hey Whipple! stands as the best real-world perspective on the creative industry, especially advertising. Practical and written in peoplespeak, this is a great guide for newbies, juniors and even old white-hairs like me.

#10 Rework, Jason Fried & David Hansson

Rework challenges you to rethink everything. How you work. How you office. How you go to market. It’s also a great guide for those who may be thinking about starting a business. It’s an easy read with mainly short, 1-3 page chapters. Each one packing a punch. Both David & Jason have played major roles at Basecamp and have an attitude of doing over talking. And you may just find them inspiring. I did and I don’t even like Basecamp.

#11 Take a Stand for Your Brand, Tim Williams

Agencies constantly criticize brands for not trying to be different, yet agencies almost always default to a “full-service” offering that makes them stand for everything and nothing. Kinda like a diner with a 20-page menu. Tim challenges the communications industry to practice what it preaches. 

I’ve helped bring Tim into two different places, and while I typically find agencies to be some of the worst clients anywhere, he was great at helping to distinguish who you want to reach and how you go about persuading them.

Treating your business’ brand like a brand may seem obvious, yet who feels that their workplace truly stands out from your competition.

#12 The Hero & the Outlaw, Carol Pearson & Margaret Mark

James Bond. Captain Kirk. And Odysseus. Three different characters all built upon the same archetype—the Hero. 

That’s what archetypes are, recurring storytelling symbols. Characters like the rebel, the explorer, the caregiver…characters we recognize and identify with no matter what form that character may take or name they may be given.

I had the pleasure of meeting the authors when they first released this work, and like archetypes themselves, I find their work timeless. A great guide to establishing brand positioning and personality. And those are my 12 reading recommendations I promised. 

Those are just 12 of my many inspirations. I’d love to know yours. Now…

Let’s Take a Short Breather… (EXHALE.)

…We’re here at Deaf Mule Studios to remind everyone that this is Navigating the Fustercluck. And I’m Wegs, telling you to read all you can. Not just books about the business, but whatever interest you. You never know where it may lead. When Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs, was in college- briefly- he audited a class on calligraphy. Later, Jobs would say that his interest in calligraphy influenced his philosophy that even in tech, external design was as important as internal design. You never know. But this I know for sure, you can read every worthwhile piece on creativity and not contribute a thing if you don’t take what you learn and create your own point of view, your own twist and take, then you won’t leave your mark.

Now here’s a bonus suggestion:

#13 @Adweak

Adweak is the Onion of our industry…

Breaking: People With Fewer Than 50 Instagram Followers Now Selling Selves To Brands As Micro, Micro Influencers. 

@Adweak provides spot on parodies of the absurdities of the ad industry, while actually being a part of it. Making it an interesting blend of commentary and content creation. 

The idea of Navigating the Fustercluck is to help you keep your heads. One way of doing that is to laugh your ass off. The RGA Twitter feed is also worth a laugh.

Well, that about wraps up our 31st episode of Navigating the Fustercluck. 

Here from Deaf Mule Studios, I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, thank you for listening in. If you haven’t already, given us 5 stars on iTunes or Spotify, we’d certainly appreciate it. And please, please feel free to reach out tome at wegs24x7@gmail.com or Navigating the Fustercluck.com. I’d love to hear what’s on your reading list. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your part in making the creative world more creative. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.