Podcast

37. 9 Things That You Need to START Doing Right Now

Welcome to Episode 37 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the unpredictable world of creativity & marketing.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, where we’re here to talk about 9 things you need to start doing right now. That’s not to say that your career will go to Hell if you don’t, just that these things tend to be very helpful. Number One:

Stay Close to the Cash Register

Be billable. Whatever you do, be billable. You can have amazing performance reviews, but they won’t matter if clients aren’t paying for what you’re doing. So make sure that when your company wins new business that the contract reflects how much you’ll be working on the account. And when contracts are ready to be renewed make sure that you’re fully represented then, too. Sometimes people’s numbers are cut just to make the numbers work. They may not be accurate numbers, but they’ll get the deal done. As you go on in your career this becomes more and more important because you become less and less billable. Clients hate big salaries and expect you to be a value-add. Unfortunately, this diminishes your value.

Have a Deep Understanding of How Your Client Makes Money

Do they make it in retail? B to B? Online? Subscriptions? Overseas? It really helps to understand what makes the cash register ring. It will affect how you approach your work no matter what department that you’re in. And clients will weep tears of joy if you actually understand what they’re up against.

Moving on to #3…Share Information

Share it and share it at the right time. When you hold off sharing pertinent information, projects or deadlines and people receive them at the last minute, you are immediately public enemy #1. And you deserve it. It still amazes me that people forget to share the right stuff at the right time. That’s not saying that you should have diarrhea when it comes to these matters, and share everything all the time, just share what is needed when it is needed. Knowledge flow is key. It keeps a team working smoothly. Trust me, there is nothing worse than someone dropping knowledge on you at the last moment when they’ve had it for days or even weeks. You don’t want to become that person.

#4: Give Credit Where Credit is Due

See a great idea on a pitch wall? Leave a post-it saying so. Hear a great idea in a meeting? Support it. Wherever you find them, and no matter who created them, if you believe in great ideas then fan their flames. Be their champion. You help raise the bar and help young talent rise. Or more seasoned talent remain. Do this and people will appreciate you and praise your good ideas, too. And they’ll take your criticism more seriously as well. 

Face it, if bringing others down is the only way to bring yourself up, then you should probably look for a new line of work. It’s much better to have generosity of spirit than the kind of competitiveness that refuses to recognize when others do well.

#5: Create Something Outside Your Job Description

Start a public speaking club. An agency “university”. A podcast. A blog. A book. Bring in a speaker. An event for clients. You don’t have to be part of “leadership” to be a leader. Anything worth belonging to is worth leading. Worth caring for. Worth trying more for. And it will give you good experience and a good reputation. (Or do you prefer “personal brand”?)

#6: Mentor and Reverse Mentor

Have a special skill or knowledge? Offer to share it. Reach out to someone who’s less experienced or struggling. Also, don’t just mentor newbies and juniors. Hold events to open the minds of senior leaders, too. Or make them mixes to help them stay current with what’s popular today. It will be good for them and it could be good for you.

#7 Work on Your Presentation Skills

Ever notice how most of your leaders happen to be the better presenters in your office. It’s true. And they don’t just happen to be the better presenters. They work at it. Yet, few people actually do work on their presentation skills. Instead of reading up and practicing, they settle for excuses. That may make you feel better about yourself, but it won’t raise your stature with your peers, direct reports, leadership or clients. Start with episodes 6 & 7 of this podcast and take it from there. Stick with it and eventually it becomes fun.

#8: Feed & Water Yourself

Episode #23 was all about taking care of yourself. Avoiding burnout. Playing the long game instead of the short one. Staying rested and balanced will not only be good for your mind, body and soul, it will benefit your career as well.

#9: Meet Other People in the Industry

The Creative fields are strangely insular. We don’t bother to get to know others who we could learn from and who at some point could potentially hire us. Now part of the problem is that many of the local organizations suck. They’re seen as places for hucksters and hacks to hang out. Places where people still wear suits. They’re just uncool. Now if you wanted, you and a small group could probably go in and take over those groups. 

Or you could start your own like Nina Bressau and Robert Stahl of Integer did in Dallas. After deciding that they wanted to improve their public speaking skills they checked out a number of established groups and decided that none were quite right for what they were going for. So, they started Talk Shop. Inviting people from fellow Omnicom shops to learn and share how they can become better in expressing themselves. Reach out to Nina & Robert and start a chapter where you live.

The point is to broaden your horizons. Meet more people. Step outside your comfort zone. You never know who you may meet. Or what you may learn.

Well, that about wraps up our 36th episode of Navigating the Fustercluck. Thank you!

Here from Deaf Mule Studios, I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, and thanks again for listening in to 9 Things You Should Do Now. And if you would be so kind to add one more: Share this podcast, please. Oh, and a nice review would be lovely as well. And feel free to reach out to me at Wegs24x7@gmail.com or NavigatingTheFustercluck.com. There’ll you’ll find the complete transcripts to this and every other episode of the show. And remember, we’re all in this together. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

35. A Tribute to Tom Hansen

Welcome to Episode 21 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the topsy/turvy world of creativity. 

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and we’re here for our last thoughts on mentorship…

Today, you’re getting a break. A well-deserved break from my voice. Because this episode features our very first interview here on Navigating the Fustercluck.

My guest? My most influential mentor, Tom Hansen. 

I met Tom over 20 years ago when I was a junior copywriter in Chicago. Along with his art direction partner, the Mighty Tim Murphy, better known as “Murph”, Tom immediately impressed me as someone different. His mind was flexible and fast. Lightning fast. He also could talk business with any client. In fact, eventually, Tom would become the CEO not only of his own agency, but of a major corporation. His writing was crisp. And no one to this day has impressed me more as a presenter than Tom Hansen.

So, when he slipped into my office with Murph and closed the door, I was all ears.

We’re starting our own place, and we want you to come with us. But we’ve got to know now.

Without pausing, my answer was Yes.

Great, we’ll give you the details later. Hans and Murph closed the door. Five seconds later, Tom opened my door again, and said, By the way, we’re doing it in Dallas.

Dallas?! Good thing Tom took off so fast or he would have seen my jaw drop to my chest. It was 4:30pm. My jaw didn’t close until 4:30am, as I laid in my bed trying to figure out how to tell Tom & Murph that I was not leaving Chicago for Dallas. I grew up with Chicago as my dream city. I had never been to or planned on going to Dallas. But after staying up half the night, I decided I trusted those guys. Plus, I had never lived outside the Midwest, and it might be nice to try somewhere else.

As a mentor, Tom was amazing at motivating people. Why? We all knew that he cared about us.

When he told me how much he was going to pay me, I admitted to him that he was giving me 50% more than what I had ever made before. I also admitted that I wasn’t sure that I was worth it.

You’re not, he said. But you will be. And you’ll get there a lot faster if you’re not worried about covering your rent and where your next meal is coming from.

Man, that gave me confidence. And be damn sure that it cemented my commitment. And when he heard that my creative partner, Bernard Park weren’t sure that we could afford airfare back home for Christmas, we found roundtrip tickets on our desks the very next day.

Kind acts weren’t all that Tom gave us. He taught us about really thinking strategically. Editing. He’d sit down and work with you. And it all paid off. Our little company took off.

It’s been awhile since we last worked together, but I continue to learn from Tom in so many ways. That’s why I’m excited to introduce you to my greatest mentor, Tom Hansen:

Thanks, and welcome to Navigating the Fustercluck, Hans!

  1. You’ve been a great mentor to me and many, many others. Who was your best mentor, and what was the most important thing you learned from him or her?
  2. You’ve been around advertising a long, long time. What needs to change and what should never change?
  3. You’ve been both a creative and a client? What do both need to understand to make the work better?
  4. Tom, you’re the best presenter I’ve ever seen. A lot of people struggle with presenting. What’s the first thing you’d share with them?
  5. When you think of the best creatives you’ve worked with, what traits/habits have you seen in them?
  6. How do see creatives taking full advantage of data?
  7. So, as you look back on when you first entered the world of creativity, what do you wish you knew then that you know 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 with one last thought on mentors and mentorship:

A lot of people have gone further than they ever thought they could because someone else thought they could.

Thanks to people like Tom Hansen, that’s been true for me and many others. Thanks, Hans. Much love. Much respect.

Well, that about wraps up our 21st 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. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at NavigatingF and Navigating the Fustercluck.com. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your part in mentoring others. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

33. JOMO

Welcome to Episode 33 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the turbulent world of creativity & marketing.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, where we’re here to talk about JOMO.

Now most folks know about FOMO- the Fear of Missing Out. That anxiety inciting state of mind that makes us ignore our friends because our phone may have something even better in store for us. That no matter how good things are it’s not enough. FOMO is the Fear of Missing Out. Missing out on that call from her. That text from him. Breaking news. Or whatever else you think may be more interesting than whom you’re with or what you’re doing at the time. FOMO is the very thing that takes you out of the moment. Keeps you from being present. And at times makes you annoying as all get out. Quite honestly, it’s twisted.

Seth Godin sums it up in a great way…

If we give an isolated community access to the internet, very quickly, the quality of life will improve. Time will be saved, research into proven solutions will produce value, and people will become connected to a larger population. Those connections will lead to productivity and learning.

And, then, soon thereafter, they will become less happy.

Not because they’re worse off, but because the dominant media narratives that arrive exist to make them feel insufficient, inadequate or simply jealous at how green the grass is over there.

Our narrative defeats our surroundings, every time.

It’s a perfect example of what Teddy Roosevelt warned us about:

Comparison is the thief of joy.

Yet, we’re the ones that keep unlocking the door for the thief.

Keeping up with the Joneses is nuts.

Yet marketing people are almost all FOMO folks. Constantly in search for the latest and greatest new thing. The latest app. The latest band. The latest show. Always searching. Never satisfied. And it’s tiring. Exhausting. We’re like junkies looking for their next hit. Am I overexaggerating? I don’t think so.

Worse, is that at our worse, we create FOMO for the people who interact with our work. Some would say that we’re in the FOMO business. Leading to… Too Many People Buying Things They Don’t Need With Money They Don’t Have Trying to Impress People They Don’t Even Like. But we’ll save that one for another day.

For now, let’s remember that for every action there is a reaction.

FOMO is not immune to the Law of Physics. And in the case of FOMO, there’s JOMO- the Joy of Missing Out. Living without the obsession to be ahead of the curve. Instead they take their time. Make their way. Their own way. 

Have you heard the story of the Mexican fisherman?

It’s based on something Heinrich Boll, a German writer, wrote in the 60’s.

And it goes something like this:

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.  Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna.  The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Lourdes, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos.  I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”

“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part.  When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire.  Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

Poor Harvard guys, they always take it on the chin. Anyway, it’s a bit quaint, but the gist of the story is pretty clear: The Less You Own, the Less That Owns You.  

Funny, but I used to laugh at my 80-year-old mother for dodging anything with a sniff of progress about it. After my dad died, she ditched all email, WIFI, the Internet. She won’t even stream movies. She prefers DVD’s and Blu-Rays. And yet somehow she survives. In fact, in spite the fact that she was an orphan and had bad foster care experiences, she’s the brightest, sunniest person I know. Bright, alert and curious.

Sure, her age may have something to do with her contentment, but there are more and more young people starting to share her philosophy. I mean, as someone said, I Have a Device in my Pocket that Gives Me Instant Access to the Entirety of Human Knowledge.  I Use it to Look at Funny Pictures of Cats and Share Pictures of my Breakfast.

Considering that, perhaps Yvon Chouinard is right: Going Back to a Simpler Life is Not a Step Backward. 

However, can you simplify and still stay on top of your game in advertising & marketing?  I think so.

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 your host, Wegs. Before we close out, FOMO is in many ways connected to materialism. Just remember what the late, great comedian and social observer George Carlin had to say…

Trying to be Happy by Accumulating Possessions is Like Trying to Satisfy Hunger by Taping Sandwiches All Over Your Body.

Like hunger, happiness comes from within. Mainly. Research has shown that there is a ceiling on just how much money will make you happy. So, at just what point does your annual salary stop making a difference? As of this printing, $70,000. A lot of money, but probably less than you thought, right?  Yet that’s the cut-off. Once you can keep a roof over your head and food on the table, and have a little walking around money, what you earn doesn’t mean that much. It can’t buy you love. It can’t buy you a life.

And that’s what Navigating the Fustercluck is all about. Having a life. A creative, productive and satisfying life. I hope we help you do it.

Well, that about wraps up our 33rd episode of Navigating the Fustercluck. Thank you!

Here from Deaf Mule Studios, I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, and thanks again for listening in. Until next time, please feel free to reach out to me at wegs 24×7@gmail.com and NavigatingTheFustercluck.com. Remember, we’re all in this together. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

32. Feedback

Welcome to Episode 32 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of bite-sized insights to help you navigate the unpredictable world of creativity & marketing.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, where we’re here to talk about feedback. Tricky thing, feedback. The primary feedback on feedback is that nobody knows how the hell to give it. So let’s look into this a little bit.

And if you have feedback on this episode on feedback, reach out to me directly at wegs24x7@gmail.com.

Before we start in on tactics, let’s get a little humancentric here. What are the emotional issues that make feedback such a sensitive issue with so many people?

A Sense of Belonging

People want to belong to something bigger than themselves. That need may be fulfilled by a sense of nationalism, religion, a sports team or even a business. That sense of belonging is at the core of corporate cultures. People want to know what are the ideas and values that make us us. And yes, as individualistic as we may be, we’re social creatures, we’re all looking for our us.

The Problem with Criticism

Criticism, at a very deep level, feels like a threat, no matter how much we know, rationally, that we need it. And, of course, to the person delivering the criticism, it feels like they are delivering a message that might actually endanger another human by pushing them out of the group (“but they might quit!” is a common objection when people are asked to be more direct in their criticism).

A sense of belonging is important. But that shouldn’t be an excuse for allowing groupthink. There has to be some diversity in opinion or we’ll never change. Never improve. Neither as individuals or as a company.

That said, there very different ways of looking at feedback. Basically…

Two Schools of Thought

#1 Radical Candor

Radical candor or radical transparency says that we all need to be as authentic as possible and tell it like it is. At least how it is in our minds. And if you can’t take my candor then you’ve got the problem.

It’s meant to develop thick skin and cut down on any time-consuming pussyfooting around.

Take Netflix for example. They have an annual Feedback Day where anyone can send feedback to whomever they choose. Their format? Start/Stop/Continue.

Each person tells a colleague one thing they should start doing, one thing they should stop doing, and one thing they’re doing really well and should keep doing.

Brutal vs Honest

So, while radical candor may ruffle a few feathers and heighten some insecurities, the trade-off of honesty is seen as being worth it. 

But to paraphrase brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor, We’re not thinking creatures who feel, we’re feeling creatures who think. Can most of us endure radical candor? Does it matter? Not according to Ray Dalio’s book, Principles.

Dalio is the founder of Bridgewater. They handle the money of people like Bill Gates. Bridgewater has a culture of tremendous achievement, combined with a determined effort to see, and deal with, the truth of things. The first chapter under “Life Principles” is “Embrace Reality and Deal With It”.

But even Dalio acknowledges that “Radical Transparency” takes its toll: “While [people’s] “upper-level you’s understand the benefits of it, their “lower-level yous” tend to react with a flight-or-fight response. Adapting typically takes about eighteen months, though it varies from individual to individual, and there are those who never successfully adapt to it. And he’s ok with that. Ray even has a concept to offset some of the potential harshnesses of Radical Candor. It’s called…

Caring Personally

Caring personally acknowledges that feedback can hurt. But it’s willing to trade off short-term pain for long-term gain. It’s kind of a tough-love approach. One that has inspired Netflix to develop a Keeper Test.

Keeper Test

The Keeper Test breaks down like this: Which of my people, if they told me they were leaving in two months for a similar job at a peer company, would I fight to keep at Netflix?” Those people who don’t make this cut should get moved aside: “…should get a generous severance now, so we can open a slot to try to find a star for that role.

Is that modern efficiency? Or inhumane asshattery? Can companies not as hot & sexy get away with such an approach. Is it sustainable? Ethical? Send your opinions to wegs24x7@gmail.com.

Now I mentioned that there are two schools of thought on this. And they are definitely 2 competing schools. The second way of looking at feedback says that…

Feedback Doesn’t Work

According to a recent Harvard Business Review Article, Why Feedback Fails, feedback fails because…

You Can’t Correct a Person to Excellence

And here are a few reasons why…

We Aren’t Reliable Raters

We can’t help ourselves! We look at people through the filter of ourselves. We naturally value what we do more than the strengths of others. Even if someone’s method is successful, we wish that they did our way. It’s called the Idiosyncratic Rating Effect and accounts for half of how we view others. It’s systematic. And we’re not even aware of all this distortion.

We Don’t Learn This Way

According to the article, Focusing people on their shortcomings or gaps doesn’t enable learning. It impairs it. 

People don’t learn through fear. And even low-level feedback ignites a reptilian fight or flight response. So. What do people respond to?

Yes, That!

Yep, when you see something good tell people, Yes, that!

They’ll gradually focus on these things and grow into their potential.

Perhaps this is an unofficial endorsement of strengths-based leadership.

And that a focus on outcomes is more important than dictating a one-size-fits-all process. People learn their way and need a base level of safety and comfort to do so.

When sculptors do their work, they don’t remove the flaws and create art. No, excellence is not the opposite of failure. Excellence is the undeniable evidence of talent. It’s not eliminating the negative, it’s accentuating the positive. At least that’s the philosophy of this school of thought.

Time to Take a Short Breather… (EXHALE.)

…We’re here at Deaf Mule Studios to remind everyone that this is Navigating the Fustercluck. And I’m your host, Wegs. Before we close out, get your opinion.

Radical Candor or Positive Reinforcement? Which way works for you? Or is it both? Obviously, if someone is doing something really messed up, we have to step in and do something before someone gets hurt or the organization becomes liable. But beyond that, when it comes to long-term success, what’s your philosophy?

Well, that about wraps up our 32nd episode of Navigating the Fustercluck. 

Here from Deaf Mule Studios, I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, and thanks again for listening in. Until next time, please feel free to reach out to me personally at wegs24x7@gmail.com or NavigatingTheFustercluck.com, where you can find transcripts to this episode and every other of our 31 efforts. Finally, remember, we’re all in this together. So thanks for hanging in there. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

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.

29. Let’s Lose the Word Consumer

Welcome to Episode 29 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the love/hate world of creativity & marketing.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, where we’re here to talk about people. The people that make your job possible. The people you’re trying to reach. Some call them consumers, but that’s a bit dehumanizing. And makes it easier to dismiss them. To speak condescendingly to them. So let’s stop talking about them, and start talking about people. 10 Things to Keep in Mind About People:

  1. Contempt for Your Customer is a Cancer. Observe Them with Empathy and Without Judgement. Listen Hard to What They Say, and Believe What They Actually Do. — Amber Benson

Idiots! Morons! Inbreeds! Those are just some of the words I’ve used to describe people in focus groups. (And I’m afraid that I’ve used worse.) These are words I’ve heard outside of research sites as well. Creatives hate to be judged. They especially hate to be judged by people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Especially people who don’t know creative. Then again, why should they? It’s our job, not theirs’. Maybe we need to find new ways to listen or listen harder. 

As I’ve said before, if you want to learn about lions, would you go to the zoo or to the Serengeti? Either way, they were invited to come. It’s not their fault if they’re not the guests we want or need. Ask your moderator or research facility to do better. And be a little better to your guests. Unreasonably losing respect for them, causes us to lose respect for ourselves.

  1. People Want a Feeling, not an Education. – Eugene Krasnopolsky

Don’t forget, we’re not thinking creatures that feel, we’re feeling creatures that think. Start at the heart and move towards the brain. And let’s never lecture the people that we’re trying to reach. We’re smarter and more creative than that.

  1. Nobody Really Cares About Advertising. So Respect Their Attention. Don’t Bore People or Shout at Them. Do Something Amazing that Moves Them.  

– George Moreira

     Again, let’s get over ourselves. There’s no obligation that people pay        

     attention to us. Show them respect, and they’re much more likely to show you 

     respect. 

  1. The Audience Can Either Applaud You, Boo You, or Ignore You. The First Two are Appropriate Responses. – Lee Clow, Advertising Legend, Chiat/Day

There’s a thin line between love and hate. Being ignored is the real measure that people don’t care about you or what you have to say. That said, it sucks being booed.

  1. People Don’t Read Ads. They Read What Interests Them and Sometimes that’s an Ad. – Howard Gossage, Another Advertising Legend

Howard Gossage was doing interactive advertising before there was such a thing. This San Francisco legend was a firm believer in grabbing people’s attention in new and exciting ways. To not only surprise them but to delight them. To demonstrate many of the fine tailoring points of Eagle Shirts, Gossage, included a “shirtkerchief” that you could attach to the button of your dress shirt to keep you clean or even blow your nose. It not only showed the high value of Eagle Shirts, but created high talk value as well. 

Howard also helped to create Earth Day!

This kind of wit and wisdom made Gossage a magnet not only for daring clients, but daring thinkers such as John Steinbeck, Marshall McCluhan, Buckminster FullerTom Wolfe and Stan Freberg. All who regularly frequented his office, which was a converted firehouse in the middle of San Francisco.

  1. Don’t Get Caught Up in Complex Data Points, Instead Observe Simple Human Behavior. – Prabha Sridhar

Numbers need to be humanized. That’s where you come in. Numbers will build a solid foundation, but human insights come from you analyzing those numbers. Seasoning in the intuitive nuances that will sink in and touch people. Move people. Making them choose and act. If you’re in Design then you know that your creative process has to be human-centric. For the people, of the people, by the people. Machines, at least at this point, can’t match that. So take those data points and start connecting the dots.

  1. Start with what People Actually Care About and Work Back from There. 

– Andrew Hovells

You have things that you care about. Your client has things they care about. But the only cares you should both give a damn about are those of the people you’re trying to touch. To keep the process on track, use your clients’ own words against them. Make them stick to the consumer rhetoric that they all espouse. More importantly, take the data points, verbatims and behaviors of these consumers I prefer to call people, and use them to remind everyone in your agency and at the client to guide creative development so the people everyone supposedly cares about to care about you! Is that too much to ask?

  1. If You Talked to People the Way Advertising Talks to People, They’d Punch You in the Face. – Vincent Largoza

So much dumbass-work out there that most of it just gets ignored. What a waste. Worse? All the work that is simply insulting to the people that it’s suppose to inspire. Have some respect for your audience and yourself. 

  1. Stop Asking People to Pay Attention to Your Brand. Start Doing Things Worth Paying Attention To. – Sally Hogshead

Some years ago Red Bull energy drink dropped a man out of the edge of space down to the earth below. Millions watched. Talk about an energy drink generating energy! I’m not usually one to fall for stunts, but in this case, I was in hook, line and sinker. Check it out online. It will grab your attention more than any words will. It will actually get you to feel something. Is that an ad? It sure as Hell is in my book.

10)

First the Agency Gets Tired of the Idea, then the Client, and then the Public. (If a Good Idea is Working Year After Year, Don’t Change It Just Because You Want Something Shiny and New.)    – Parker Mason

We don’t create things to amuse ourselves. At least we shouldn’t. We work to inspire others. Shift their perceptions. Change their behaviors. Keep that in mind when you get the notion to kill something before its lifespan calls for it die. However, always keep in mind how to evolve a successful platform or campaign. That sense of timing is a gift in and of itself. When Wade Alger guided the Geico work, he and his team were masterful in knowing when to change things up. Sometimes dropping an spot in a strong campaign to see if it had any legs. 

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 your host, Wegs. Before we close out, let’s introduce one more thought on the people who make our jobs possible:

For a supposedly “consumer-centric” industry, we seem to focus on ourselves a lot. Hell, that’s what this podcast does. And there’s a time and place for that, but maybe because we refer to people as “consumers”, our business has lost a little humanity. How about saying our “prospects”, our “match” or simply “people”.

Well, that about wraps up our 29th episode of Navigating the Fustercluck. 29 clucking episodes. Wow! Thank you!

Here from Deaf Mule Studios, I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, and thanks again for listening in. Until next time, read the full transcripts to this and every other episode on NavigatingTheFustercluck.com. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for hanging in there for the people you’re trying to inspire, entertain and move. Here’s to them. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

28. 10 Myths of Creativity

Welcome to Episode 28 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the topsy/turvy world of creativity and marketing.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, to talk about 10 Great Myths of Creativity. I was going to say 10 Great Lies of creativity, but it’s hard to prove intent, and it’s a sunny day outside, so, I’ll lighten up a bit.

1) Innovation = Creativity

These two words aren’t synonyms. And they certainly aren’t antonyms. They’re complementary. Their relationship can best be described as this…Innovation is the implementation of creative ideas. Google didn’t create algorithms, but they innovatively applied them in a beautifully functional way.

2) You’re Either Born Creative or Not

Some people are born more predisposed to be creative, but constantly exercising your creative muscles will make you more creative. And whether you’re a designer or a salesperson, you can stretch your creativity. Are you committed to living a creative lifestyle? If so, creativity will seep into all you do.

3) The More Important the Project, the More Teams You Need

When a major assignment like a new business pitch comes in, the usual approach is all-hands-on-deck. Everyone runs around like chickens with their heads cut off, and still the work doesn’t crash together until the last possible moment.

Why is that?

First off, when everyone is working on it, no one is really accountable. People give up because they figure “someone will crack the code”.

Secondly, when a project gets dumped on top of your regular load, you don’t have a lot of time to focus on either. And because your regular work is going to be there regardless, you’ll pay more attention to that then something that at best is a “maybe”. Makes sense.

The best way to win is to choose 2-3 teams and put it all on their backs. Free their time. Give them the support they need. And let them bring it home.

It’s a lot of pressure, so you better pick the right people. Trust them and watch them rise to the occasion.

Keep in mind that less is more and the bigger the assignment the more focus beats fragmentation. 

4) Everyone in the Room Has to Have a Speaking Role

Yes, clients often say they hate having anyone in the room that either won’t be working on their account or won’t have a prominent role in the room that day. I get the spirit of that request. Just don’t follow it out the window.

It’s your meeting, too! And how will people pick up experience if they’re never allowed to observe how it’s done?

Don’t bring a caravan of people, but at least one slot should go to someone who has worked on the assignment and will learn not only the ins and outs of being on the big stage but will come to understand more about the client and the client’s business as well.

That doesn’t mean that they should just sit there. Observers can help the AV people. Serve as runners. Whatever it takes. Just as long as you take them. Gotta invest in our people, even if that means picking up their airfare and hotel room.

5) Those Who Created the Work Should Present the Work

Would you rather present the work or sell the work? That’s what I ask when inexperienced or bad presenters feel adamant that they deserve to present their work.

Number 1, they don’t own the work. It belongs to the team. To the agency. Still, I appreciate the pride that goes into the creation of work. Also, the desire to show what you’ve got and move up the ladder. In fact, I like that attitude. But I love when creatives understand when they’re not quite ready. Perhaps there’s a secondary role they can take.

That said, nothing should get in the way of making the sale. And selling in your work is way more important than if you’re the one who presented it. Agreed?

Creativity is a team sport, maximize the collective strength of your entire team. You may need every ounce of strength your team has got.

In the meantime, practice presenting. Create opportunities like lunch & learns. Join a club. Whatever it takes. Waiting for a presentation training class ain’t going to get the job done. To become a presenter, you’ve got to present. Constantly.

6) Longer Deadlines Lead to Better Work

If only we had more time! Can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this said. My usual thought upon hearing that is…If only we hadn’t wasted so much time!

Then we would probably have had more than enough time. Everyone needs to become more efficient and keep the momentum going. That also means better ways to work together. You’ll find some of these methods in episodes 8 & 9, especially episode 9.

      When it comes to creativity, overthink is a bigger killer than time.

The best in the business are the best editors. That’s true of creatives. That’s true of Planners. And it’s true of Account people, too. Know when you’ve got what you need. Know what to drop and drop it like it’s hot. Then move on. 

That’s what’s called being decisive. That decisiveness, that ability to edit takes confidence.

Cut the overthink and improve your team’s collaboration and you should have time for nearly any project. Again, check out episodes 8 & 9.

7) Open Office Spaces Increase Collaboration

OK, by now you’ve heard or read that it is now scientifically proven that open   

offices are not what they were cracked up to be. People can get distracted. Feel unstable. Even hostile. Many get lost in their headphones or detach with their teammates by increasing the number of emails they generate. Sometimes unexpected consequences undermine the best laid out theories. Not that collaboration was the only intention of such open plans. Saving on walls and furniture have played a role as well.

8) Open Office Spaces Are the Work of the Devil

The opposite is not completely true either. Open office spaces aren’t necessarily Hell, either. Some people, myself included enjoy them. Find them more stimulating. And productive. Research shows that those who are highly mobile and autonomous can thrive under such conditions.

The best space I’ve ever worked in was created by two guys named Tim Murphy and Tom Hansen. They combined the best of both worlds. Keeping things primarily open but adding a combination of conference rooms and smaller closed spaces that provided comfortable levels of privacy. The office was set up like an oval racetrack. The inside of the oval was where all the smaller rooms stood, while the outside was still open. Not surprisingly, the one open space everyone could agree on was the massive bar. No complaints there.

9) Technical People Are Exempt from Creativity

Um, no. Everyone needs to bring creativity and innovation to what they’re doing. Some may see this as an unwelcome invasion of their areas, while the smart ones will see that their handcuffs are off. They, too, are appreciated as original thinkers.

10) Innovation Requires Significant Resources and Funding

For years Microsoft outspent Apple in its R&D efforts. At one point it was an 8/1 ratio. Yet, Apple easily out-innovated Microsoft. The difference was in their cultures. The Apple culture was more open and encouraging of pushing the envelope. Today, however, thanks to new leadership and priorities, Microsoft has begun to catch up. Some things you can’t buy. Innovation is one of them. Of course, an innovative culture with money to spend is certainly an advantage.

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 your host, Wegs, with one final thought on the myths of creativity. Common knowledge is often common thinking and best practices look too much to the past instead of the future. Push your passions and see where they take things. Sometimes you’ll kick up a bunch of dust, sometimes you’ll strike gold.

Well, that about wraps up our 28th 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. And if you’d like a full transcript of this episode or any other, please check out NavigatingTheFustercluck.com. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing all you’re doing. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

27. Bet On Yourself

Welcome to Episode 27 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the alternative reality that is the world of creativity. 

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and we’re here to talk about you, and how you should bet on yourself. Maybe even start a side hustle or whatever term you prefer.

Some time back, I went to Miami with 400 other planners for the Jay Chiat Awards. A conference celebrating the very best in strategy. 

To be honest, I don’t remember much about the event. And that’s not because of the nighttime cocktails. However, I’ll never forget the second day’s keynote speaker, Eric Ryan.

Eric’s background was as an advertising planner where he had worked at multiple top tier agencies, laying down the foundation for world-class work for world-class brands.

He’d done well for his clients, agencies and himself. So, it was interesting to hear Eric open with these words: 

You’re all idiots.

Yep, he called us all idiots. Man, we paid a lot of money just so we could be called idiots. 

That said, I will say, he said it in the nicest way possible. Because Eric is a nice guy. 

I’ll also say this: He got our attention! So what if he pissed some people off. Because what he said next opened my eyes, and I’ll always appreciate Eric’s insight & honesty.

Each and every day your thinking helps make small fortunes for your clients and agencies alike, Eric said. Dumb people can’t do that. What’s dumb is that you don’t share in that wealth. Sure, you make good money, but you’re adding way more value than what you’re receiving in return.

Damn! That was a gut punch. Hard truths hit harder. 

And Eric had every right to say it. You see, he and his college roommate, Adam Lowry, had co-created Method Cleaning products. Some of the first toxic-free products in their category. They had cracked the code and produced clean cleaning products. With awesome packaging. And they had made millions doing it. Hundreds of millions, I believe.

Eric’s words never left me. And from there on, I knew I had to bet on myself. That corporate America wasn’t going to provide with the wealth, and more importantly, the satisfaction I was seeking. Betting on yourself, however, can be daunting, and I tried to keep in mind the words of Nelson Mandela:

May Your Choices Reflect Your Hopes, Not Your Fears. 

And there are many things to fear. More today than back then.

Creativity is on the verge of becoming a commodity. 

Few clients are comfortable placing their business in the hands of creative types. 

There are MBA’s who go to school so they can go out into the real world and change the status quo. They often end up as the entrepreneurs who succeed or fail have to shake things up.

Then there are those MBA’s who regardless of how they see themselves were put on this earth to maintain the status quo. They usually move on to large companies figuring out how to eliminate risk, not take it. To them, “risk” is a four letter word.

My apologies for the generalizations, but unfortunately, I’ve discovered this: 

MBA does not necessarily stand for “Makes Better Advertising”.

That’s why there’s nothing better than a great client.

But you need great teammates, too.

Is your leadership committed to creativity? Your whole team?

Everyone wants great creative, but do they need it? Demand it?

Fight for it? Both with you and the client?

I really hope that they are. And that you are, too.

Unfortunately, with the emergence of AI and more direct platforms, creative is seemingly being devalued. Meaning that you may be undervalued, too.

And with cost-cutting continuing to gain momentum, you may want to look for an alternative path or a side hustle or two.

But don’t worry, I won’t call you an idiot. As you’ll see, that honor is apparently reserved for me.

Which brings us up to our second story. This one took place a few years ago when I met my old friend Stephen Gates out for dinner.

Wegs, Stephen said, I’ve been meaning to tell you something for a long time.

What’s that, Stephen?

Wegs, you’re an idiot.

There’s that word again! Well, Stephen, you’ve always been a good judge of character, what tipped you off? We both laughed.

Then Stephen explained: Wegs, you and Tom Hansen (who you heard back on Episode 21) taught me almost everything I know about presenting. Now I’m booking speaking gigs left and right.

I was curious. How’s that?

Nine months ago, I started a podcast, and it’s taking off. And now the requests are rolling in. 

Not only were the requests rolling in, but so was the money. And trips to Austria, Mexico, SXSW, etc, etc, etc…

Now I did feel like an idiot, so here I am betting on myself here on Navigating the Fustercluck.

By the way…Stephen’s podcast, The Crazy One, can be found on Apple, iHeart and most other major platforms. Listen in, he’s got a lot to say. And he says it well.

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 your host, recovering idiot, Wegs, with one final thought on the self-reliance of betting on yourself.

As Denis Waitley says…There are 2 Primary Choices in Life: To Accept Conditions as They Exist or Accept the Responsibility for Changing Them.

Well, that about wraps up our 27th 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. And if you’re interested in the full written transcripts of this episode, and all the other episodes, check out NavigatingTheFustercluck.com. Remember, we’re all in this together, so here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

26. Creative Briefs

Welcome to Episode 26 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the topsy/turvy world of creativity.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and we’re here to talk about creative briefs.

At its core, a creative brief should be two things:

  • Creative
  • Brief

Creatives are our audience, and we need to help them focus.

Need to Know Trumps Nice to Know

While there may be plenty of rich background information for the creatives to know, not all of it belongs in the brief itself.

What does belong in the brief is a focused framework to solve a client’s challenges.

Russ Klein, the former CMO of 7-Eleven and Burger King developed the chassis of the following brief format. It has been adopted and modified with great enthusiasm and success by many of the leading creative agencies.

The Tyranny of the Single Most Persuasive Thing

You’ll notice that it doesn’t contain a section with a single most persuasive thing to say. Instead, it frames the problem to be solved with a question.

Why?

Well, it has to do with brain scans.

Yep, brain scans.

When you’re simply told something, brain scans reveal limited brain wave activity.

But when you ask someone a question, his or her brain lights up like the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

Great Answers Start With Great Questions

Questions create involvement. Passion. Partnership.

They are an invitation to collaborate.

To build something together.

Questions also unleash the intuitive marketing skills of your team, especially Creatives.

Great questions lead to great answers. And great success.

The key to forming the right question is to understand what lies below the surface.

People’s emotions, fears, hopes…

These things create tension.

And like a bow and arrow, or any great story, tension needs to be released.

When you can release someone’s tension with your story,

you can really move that person.

You can change their hearts.

Their minds.

And even pop culture.

Not to mention sales.

An Invitation to Collaborate

Instead of an invitation to collaborate, the Single Most Persuasive Thing to Say

too often becomes the tyranny of what to say. Creative handcuffs. Something clients expect to see as a piece of copy or a tagline. As Ideasicle says, the creative brief is just the beginning, it’s not the solution. The Single Most Persuasive parades itself as the solution. Answering questions, on the other hand, opens up our minds and expands our creative palette.

The Meat of This Brief is Flame-Broiled

The following is an example of how a question-based brief works.

It’s the Burger King Whopper Love brief.

And from it sprang a number of iconic campaigns and success stories:

  • Whopper Freakout
  • Whopper Virgins
  • Whopper Sacrifice

What follows on the next page is the four-box format and actual Whopper Love brief:

Whopper Love

STORY

What is the most relevant and differentiating idea that will surprise consumers or challenge their current thinking or relationship with the brand?

The Whopper is “America’s Favorite Burger” (This was a claim based on a survey.) 

TENSION

What is the psychological, social, categorical or cultural tension associated with this idea? (Stated in the voice of the consumer.)

“I don’t trust people who brag.”

QUESTION

What is the question we need to answer to nail the assignment?

How do we show people’s love for the Whopper without it coming across like typical advertising hot air?

THOUGHT STARTERS

What facts, figures, insights or seeds of ideas can potentially move the development process forward in an impactful way?

  • A national survey says that the Whopper is “America’s Favorite Burger.”
  • A blind taste test
  • The Whopper is flame-broiled, McDonald’s fries their burgers
  • Have someone else brag on us, i.e., testimonials told in a unique way

A recap of the resulting work:

RESULTING WORK

Three major campaigns were inspired by the Whopper Love brief:

  • Whopper Freakout

A twist on old-time testimonials, Freakout secretly recorded people trying to order a Whopper, only to be told that the Whopper had been discontinued. The resulting reactions were hilariously emotional, and showed that people truly do love the Whopper.

  • Whopper Virgins

A modern-day blind taste test, Whoppers and Big Macs were placed into test with people who not only had never tasted either sandwich before, but who had never even heard of them. These people lived in remote places around the globe and gave one big honest answer: People prefer the Whopper.

  • Whopper Sacrifice

As friending people was becoming a big deal on Facebook, Burger King offered a free Whopper to anyone unfriending 10 people. People all over showed their Whopper Love by eliminating their friends on Facebook.

All three campaigns moved the needle and won serious hardware at the award shows. One brief, three killer campaigns. Not bad.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS

Consumer Section

There is none. What I’ve done before is create a short demographic/psychographic profile. A brief mantra or persona may also be used.

Timelines & Mandatories

Whether on a separate page or document, keep them separate from the heart of the brief. No one likes those things. Let’s allow people to focus on the actual question that needs to solved. 

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, your world-weary host with one final thought on creative briefs: I love that a client, Russ Klein, originated this brief, and his agency embraced it. Kudos to Crispin. No matter where an idea comes from, if it’s better, it’s better. And we should all be a champion of better. Because when it comes to creative briefs, as Charles F. Kettering said, A Problem Well-Stated is a Problem Half-Solved.

Well, that about wraps up our 27th 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. Until then, please feel free to reach out to me at justwegs24x7@gmail.com or NavigatingTheFustercluck.com. Remember, we’re all in this together, so here’s to us. Here’s to the future.

25. Cynicism

Welcome to Episode 25 of Navigating the Fustercluck— where we’re almost ½ way through our first year of our podcast full of snackable insights designed to help you navigate the tumultuous 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 corner of the creative world you focus on, we’re here to talk about attitude. More precisely, too much attitude.

In an earlier episode we spoke about negativity of positivity. That the Positive Thinking Movement is too much in the hip pocket of the Happiness Industrial Complex. That the idea that you must paste on a perma-smile to suppress all your negative feelings is inauthentic, unhealthy and quite frankly, annoying.

All that said, have you read Fishbowl? Agency Spy? You name it, virtually

every forum on creativity often devolves into a cesspool of cynicism and snark.

Now some of it is hysterical. Even healthy. Too much of it, however, is sad. Maybe even self-destructive. Certainly destructive to some of the people it targets.

Being a critic, of course, is easy. And safe. It’s also a way to chill debate. People read the viciousness of some posts and they withhold their thoughts, fearing that they’ll end up in the crosshairs of a personal attack.

Are the attackers really that mean-spirited? I doubt it. More like frustrated from lack of leadership and not being heard. Regardless, some go pretty raw.

But I’m just being honest, many would say. Authentic, may be the word of choice for others. That’s possible. Or it could be that they’re scared and defensive. What I’d like to see us all avoid is turning vicious and intimidating. Besides being a bad look, it’s hurtful to the deliverer as well as the receiver. 

I’d like to understand them better. I wish I knew more. 

All I know is that… Some People Find Fault Like There is a Reward for It.

The rebellion of sarcasm has given it some cache. The aura of intelligence. A few misguided “likes”. Yet, as internationally known graphic artist, print-maker and designer Anthony Burrill says:

Pessimism is Not Always Deep

Upon further review, it’s usually not as smart as it seems.

Question then: 

Are we really such tortured souls? Is that what this business has done to us? If so, run for your lives. That level of toxicity is lethal.

Shouldn’t it all be a bit simpler? As Burrill also likes to say:

Work Hard and Be Nice to People.

– Anthony Burrill

I’m not going to go on much further on this. I’ve made my point. And I certainly am not claiming that I’ll never be sarcastic, ironic or even a little disagreeable, again. But I will try harder to keep those things to myself. Because sometimes I wonder if Howard Schultz is right when he said…

Idealism is Out of Sync with the Cynicism of Our Age. Skepticism Has Come to Be Synonymous with Sophistication. And Glibness Is Mistaken for Intelligence. In Such an Atmosphere, Why Bother Aiming High?

Creativity can be such a positive thing, it’s amazing that we get so twisted about it. Let’s aim higher. 

Maybe We All Need to 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, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid my many mistakes. Now back to the show with one final thought…

We all get beat down enough by our clients and bosses, let’s be a bit more supportive and try not to turn on one another. That’s no excuse to be soft, but  it’s a tough business. Thankfully, over the years I’ve found that the truly toughest people in it tend also to be kind. Kindness being something to be valued as much as authenticity.

Well, that about wraps up our 25th 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. Until then, please feel free to reach out to me at JustWegs24x7@gmail.com or NavigatingTheFustercluck.com. And please, please, please remember, we’re all in this together. So, here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

24. Effing Millennials

Welcome to Episode 24 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the topsy/turvy world of creativity. 

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and no matter what your age or aspect of the creative world you may be in, we’re here to talk about Millennials.

Lazy, entitled, self-obsessed, entitled.

Vilified and scorned in the press. 

The butt of countless jokes.

Millennials. The scourge of American business and culture.

At least that’s how many see them.

Others see them an entirely different way:

Open-minded, liberal, upbeat, expressive and passionate about equality.

Whatever you think of Millennials remember this:

Many of those who criticize this generation raised it.

And many leaders and managers created the work cultures that Millennials are challenging.

We’re not going to focus on what Millennials do or don’t bring to the working world today, so forgive me for being a little one-sided, but agencies and firms should understand how they helped to create a lot of the behaviors that many of them don’t care for.

Oh, and if you’re curious, I was born on December 20th, 1964. Technically making me a Boomer by 11 days, though I guess I’m really more a product of Generation X. And I have no kids. So, I don’t really have a personal stake in this. Except that I’ve always tried to bring together and collaborate with people of all generations and backgrounds. Yet, so much focus is placed on this one group that it’s not surprising to hear marketing professor and columnist, Mark Ritson, tell this joke:

How many marketers does it take to change a light bulb?

The answer? “Millennials”.

Because the answer to every effing question in marketing is “Millennials”.

This obsession with Millennials has at times has been pretty overwhelming. Sometimes nauseating. That said, it does make the clash of generational values pretty interesting.

Now as someone who has a part of senior leadership for a while, I’m asking those of us responsible for creating great cultures to consider this…

Why are we so surprised that Millennials are shaking things up?

Think about it.

Why is anyone surprised that they don’t remain loyal?

Agencies aren’t known to be loyal to their people. Cuts are made coldly. Merit isn’t always the measure. Politics triumph over people.

Why is anyone surprised that they feel that they should be leading now?

What have they seen that makes them feel that those in charge have the wherewithal, vison and courage to handle the changes our industry faces?

Why do they feel entitled to more?

Maybe because other businesses offer more. They’re more open to sharing the wealth. I have a friend in video gaming who wonders why any young creative is interested in agency life anymore. As he sees it, gaming is not only cooler; it pays better, too. Some companies offering bonuses and even royalties to those who work on blockbuster games. Meanwhile, the creator of the Nike swoosh received a measly $10 grand for that iconic mark. Hmmmm….

One question I hear a lot is…Why won’t Millennials work the type of hours we did in the past?

Why should they? 

According to Peter Sheahan from his book Generation Y: Thriving and Surviving with Generation Y at Work…

They know the way things go down and are no longer naïve about the workings of the world and the intentions of businesses and other organizations. 

Millennials are more aware of how their long hours make their leaders’ big salaries possible. They’re not going to fall for one-sided loyalty. Especially if leadership won’t fight for great work.

Why do Millennials seem so bored?

Maybe because they’re not learning much. No one has the time to mentor, and It’s been years since most agencies had training programs. 

When there is training, it’s primarily to avoid lawsuits. Few actually build skills. Or inspire new ways of looking at things. And when senior people go to Cannes, SXSW or some other industry event, it’s usually taken as more of a boondoggle than a learning opportunity. With too few sun-and-cocktail-drenched people bringing back more than a t-shirt or trinket from where they’ve been.

Sexism & Racism

Asking young people to luck up to a generation scarred by a woeful lack of diversity and a surprising amount of residue from the chauvinistic days of Don Draper hasn’t placed our industry in the best light. And because creativity is supposedly about being open-minded, it often makes us look like hypocrites.

Sure, I’m generalizing. But am I over-generalizing? I don’t think so.

As Martin & Tuglan write in Managing Generation Y…

Organizations that can’t- or won’t- customize training, career paths, incentives and work responsibilities need a wake-up call. 

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, your dieting and crabby host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes me an my generation have made. Now back to the show with one last thought on Millennials…

The Generation Gap

Look, this podcast is not about vilifying or validating anyone. It’s not choosing sides. Millennials may seem to have gotten a pass here, but after taking the brunt of so much criticism, this is just about balancing the conversation. To get everyone to understand one another a little better. As someone who’s been around awhile, I celebrate that every generation has something important to offer. That’s an underestimated element of diversity. Consider this a call to reconsider and collaborate.

Well, that about wraps up our 24th 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. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at NavigatingF and Navigating the Fustercluck.com. 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.

23. Feed & Water Yourself

Welcome to Episode 23 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the topsy/turvy world of creativity. 

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and no matter what aspect of the creative world that interests you, this episode is for you. Especially the majority of you are neglecting the fact that you have to feed and water yourself. Yep, ya gotta feed and water yourself. 

The Grind 

If there’s one thing that we can all agree on, it’s that while it can be crazy fun, working in the creative world can also chew you up and spit you out. The pressure to produce, the timelines, the hours, crazy clients, crazy co-workers, crazy bosses…There’s a whole lot of crazy going on. And I think it’s getting worse. Why is that? 

Technology 

When we talk about technology, it’s usually about how much easier it makes our lives. And that’s the case in creativity. But not always. Sure, designing and editing have been transformed by computers. But now those you answer to know that you can make more adjustments. They want more options. More detail. (Hell, comps todays are basically ready to go out as is.) And finally, they want it yesterday. Where once the creatives held the magic, today, technology does. 

Shamans & Magicians 

Once upon a time, creatives were regarded as possessing some sort of magical, mystical powers. They were considered shamans and magicians. (Some even gave themselves god-like status.) Whatever their status, they were given ample time to concept and craft their ideas. Then came technology. And the game became less 

mystified and more became expected. Not a bad thing, necessarily. That is until nitpicking, indecision and ego created delay after delay. And a fraying of confidence and order. That’s not the fault of computers, that’s the fault of people. People supposedly leading the process, not throwing themselves down on the timeline as human speed bumps. It continues to this day. 

Media 

With more media, we need more content. And in real-time. That means we need that content, faster. And faster. And faster. And we need it all coordinated from medium to medium. Often with multiple agencies. Not an easy task. 

Can’t Go Back to Future 

We’re not going to create more time by going back in time. OK? Times have changed and going back to the old ways ain’t goin’ to happen. We can’t simply demand more time to work. Nor should we. We’re going to have to create time within the deadlines we already have. 

Project Management 

One way to save time is not to waste time. To move the process along as smoothly as possible. No holding onto information longer than necessary. No left out requirements or misinformation that costs precious time. This requires better communication, better processes and people who are good- make that great- at preserving controlled chaos. And it will be chaotic at times. It’s the job of these master cat-herders to keep as much momentum as possible going. 

Overthink 

Often we don’t trust ourselves enough. We don’t know when to stop. Creative development falls victim to this all the time. If we don’t know how to edit our thoughts and to recognize great ideas when they’re staring us in the face, we lose time. 

Collaboration 

When it comes to collaboration, the equation should add up to 1+1=3. People getting together to make something greater than the sum of its parts. When performed properly, I’d contend that by adding the right people, you can save more time. Listen to the earlier episodes on collaboration to hear more on why that is. 

It’s About Time 

As Technology magnet and NBA owner, Mark Cuban, says… 

Time is the most valuable asset you DON’T own. You may or may not realize it yet, but how you use or don’t use your time is going to be the best indication of where your future is going to take you. 

To be more successful, and possibly save your sanity, you have to master time. Or at least to tame it a bit. Because the mismanagement of time is the main reason for the chaos and pain spent in a career that can be so rewarding and joyous. And that’s why I’ve spent so much time upfront talking about time. 

Here’s the deal. Time is NOT on your side. 

Not because no one here gets out alive, but because like most professional services businesses, creative enterprises are built upon time. 

Efficiency vs Effectiveness 

Once a procurement person asked me, Wegs, what’s the average print ad cost to make? 

Well, I said, I’ve worked on ads that took months to come up with and sold little; I’ve also worked on ads that took minutes to create and sold lots and lots. Finding the average didn’t seem so important to me. Making effective messages did and still does. 

But because most businesses are based on efficiency, the financial types are going to focus on the efficiency of the hours per assignment or client; not the effectiveness and value of the work done. 

And that’s why timesheets and other measures of time are held so near and dear. Your company is getting paid more for the quantity of your time than the quality of your work. It’s like an author getting paid per word rather than sales. So, unless the system changes, increasing increments of time are going to be loaded on your back, until your back starts to break. Wearing you out physically, mentally and emotionally. That makes time a major key in feeding and watering yourself. 

You Must Be Your Own Time Manager 

Account people and project managers are key, but when it comes to how your time affects your well-being, that responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders, my friend. 

Stop Being a Martyr 

Ever find yourself on a plane where businesspeople are bragging about their insane schedules, as if their schedule was a major measure of their personal worth? I heard one guy basically bragging that he was missing his son’s 8th birthday to make a presentation. I wanted to hit him over the head with his briefcase. His poor kid! Couldn’t even compete with his old man’s PowerPoint. 

Take Every Minute of Your Vacation Time 

Wish I had followed my own advice earlier. Now I plan most of my vacations the year before. That way I’m committed, and my team can plan around those dates. I start looking forward to such times, and don’t let my plans be derailed. 

Go Home at a Decent Time 

Don’t procrastinate so much. Give yourself set times to tackle problems. Honestly, clock yourself. Gamify your time. Set boundaries. Exceptions can be made, but bad leadership is no excuse to waste your time. And if you allow too many exceptions, they become the rule. Pre-plan as much as you can. And communicate clearly, so you know where exactly your situation stands. 

Point of Diminishing Returns 

At some point you hit a wall. And all those extra hours you expend, end up producing inferior work. Wasted time. Go home and reenergize. You’ll wind up more satisfied with your work, and more importantly, your life. 

It Takes Time to Feed & Water Yourself 

Time to enjoy others. To recharge your batteries. Take in new thoughts and ideas. Stay up to date with what’s going on in the world. To make friends. Have hobbies. To volunteer. And dammitt! Don’t miss your kid’s birthday. 

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, your humble host. Now back to the show with one last thought from the greatest comedian of them all, George Carlin: 

Trying to be Happy by Accumulating Possessions is Like Trying to Satisfy Hunger by Taping Sandwiches All Over Your Body. 

Like hunger, happiness comes from within. Mainly. Research has shown that there is a ceiling on just how much money will make you happy. Do you know at what point your annual salary stop making a difference? As of this printing, $70,000. A lot of money, but probably less than you thought, right? Yet that’s the cut-off. Once you can keep a roof over your head and food on the table, and have a little walking around money, what you earn doesn’t mean that much. It can’t buy you love. It can’t buy you a life. 

So please, please, please, feed and water yourself. Become more mindful of your homelife. Become more mindful of what you’re allowing the fustercluck to do to yourself. Make a plan and commit to yourself. If you get anything out of listening to this podcast, I hope it’s this. 

Well, that about wraps up our 23rd 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. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at 

NavigatingF. Or at NavigatingTheFustercluck.com. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your best to make a difference. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

22. Silence is Golden (Listening)

According to the late, great guitar god, Jimi Hendrix, Knowledge Speaks, Wisdom Listens. And on that note…

 

Welcome to Episode 22 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the topsy/turvy world of creativity. 

 

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and no matter what end of the creative world you work in, I’m here to tell you to shut up! In a nice way, of course. 

 

Now if you’re a regular listener of Navigating the Fustercluck, you know that I never shut up. I talk…And talk, and talk and talk… So please get past my hypocrisy. And I thank you immensely for once again hearing me out.

 

There are lots of people telling you how to talk. How to present. Hell, I’ve done it in multiple episodes. Today, however, I’m recalling this powerful, old adage: Silence is golden.  And all we have to do is listen more. Yet for most of us, that’s asking a lot. Quite a lot.

Listening & Understanding

Fact is, for the most part, we do Not listen to understand, we listen only to reply.

To be heard. To impress upon others our ideas, instead of aiming for a mutual exchange of ideas.

 

As Charles Varlet, the Marquis de La Grange, put it…

When We Ask Advice We Are Usually Looking for an Accomplice.

That’s right, we’re looking for converts, not conversation, anxious for the other person to yield the floor.

As writer Fran Lebowitz puts it…

The Opposite of Talking Is Not Listening. The Opposite of Talking is Waiting.

And she’s right. We forget that conversation is not a competition, it’s a collaboration. A team sport in many ways.

When put that way, wouldn’t we all be better served if we set aside our natural self-centeredness to follow the words of Stephen Covey?

Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood.

 

Makes sense, right? Still, it’s hard. And it’s not hard to understand that either. 

 

Most of us struggle to be heard. To have our ideas given a fair chance.

 

Perhaps we are so coiled up to talk because we need validation.

 

Because we so rarely receive praise.

 

Because it’s so infrequent that people listen to us.

 

That may explain why we’re so much more focused on talking than listening.

I get it. All that considered, think of this sage old adage that my friends’ 107-year-old grandmother, Mildred “Fern” Puterbaugh used to say:

 

If you want a friend, be a friend.

 

Then ply that to what we’re focusing on here:

 

Isn’t it true? If you want to be heard, you have to listen?

 

Yes, we should listen out of basic respect for others.

 

And practically speaking, listening will free the way for better conversations.

 

Where everyone shares more and learns more from one another. For when You listen, you may learn something new. 

 

Or as spiritual guru Ram Dass so eloquently states…

The Quieter You Become, the More You Can Hear.

 

One way that I’ve become a better listener is to pause when others pause. Not jumping in at the first opening. Hearing someone out fully and completely.

 

Another way is to make a point to ask a question after someone speaks. To clarify. To learn more. And after hearing their full response, I often forget what I was going to say. Because what I just heard was more interesting. Or what I had to say wasn’t that important.

 

This Brings Us to Meetings…

 

Because of the avalanche of meetings that we’re all invited to, and dread, we get the idea that, well, we better talk! 

 

First things first, get out of those meetings where you don’t feel that you can add much. It’s a waste of productivity. Unfortunately, once you’re there, you probably feel that you have to be heard or people will question your value. So you talk even when you have nothing to say.

 

Right before you do, try to keep in mind the words of Abraham Lincoln:

 

Better to Remain Silent and Be Thought a Fool, Than to Speak and Remove All Doubt. – Abraham Lincoln

 

Ahhh…if only we all would live the wisdom of this Arabic proverb:

 

Open Your Mouth Only if What You’re About to Say is More Beautiful Than Silence.

 

Women

 

According to Time Magazine, women tend to be more cautious with speaking up at meetings. They’re caught in a double bind. If they talk in ways associated with authority, they can be seen as too aggressive, and subject to the damning labels so readily applied to them. But if they don’t, — if they hold back in these and other ways—they risk being underestimated. Let’s all encourage everyone to speak their mind, or we risk stifling some important thoughts.

 

And as a short sidebar… Admit When You’re Wrong. Shut Up When You’re Right.



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, your resident cheesehead host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the show for one final thought: 

 

In a world where it’s growing harder and harder to distinguish the signal from the noise, we don’t even listen to ourselves anymore.

 

We allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the big talkers. The loud talkers. The know-it-alls, the big mouths and the bloviators. 

 

Listen to many different voices, but never forget to listen to your own voice.

Learn to trust yourself, even when you’re feeling some doubt. Whether you have to fake it until you make it, or take more time to understand a challenge, hang in there. And listen to yourself. No one knows you better.

 

Well, that about wraps up our 22nd 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. Until next time, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at NavigatingF or NavigatingTheFustercluck.com. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your best to make things better. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future. And now, just to prove that silence is golden, I’ll hit mute.

21. Mentorship Pt. III: Tom Hansen Interview

Welcome to Episode 21 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the topsy/turvy world of creativity. 

 

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and we’re here for our last thoughts on mentorship…

 

Today, you’re getting a break. A well-deserved break from my voice. Because this episode features our very first interview here on Navigating the Fustercluck.

 

My guest? My most influential mentor, Tom Hansen. 

 

I met Tom over 20 years ago when I was a junior copywriter in Chicago. Along with his art direction partner, the Mighty Tim Murphy, better known as “Murph”, Tom immediately impressed me as someone different. His mind was flexible and fast. Lightning fast. He also could talk business with any client. In fact, eventually, Tom would become the CEO not only of his own agency, but of a major corporation. His writing was crisp. And no one to this day has impressed me more as a presenter than Tom Hansen.

 

So, when he slipped into my office with Murph and closed the door, I was all ears.

 

We’re starting our own place, and we want you to come with us. But we’ve got to know now.

 

Without pausing, my answer was Yes.

 

Great, we’ll give you the details later. Hans and Murph closed the door. Five seconds later, Tom opened my door again, and said, By the way, we’re doing it in Dallas.

 

Dallas?! Good thing Tom took off so fast or he would have seen my jaw drop to my chest. It was 4:30pm. My jaw didn’t close until 4:30am, as I laid in my bed trying to figure out how to tell Tom & Murph that I was not leaving Chicago for Dallas. I grew up with Chicago as my dream city. I had never been to or planned on going to Dallas. But after staying up half the night, I decided I trusted those guys. Plus, I had never lived outside the Midwest, and it might be nice to try somewhere else.

 

As a mentor, Tom was amazing at motivating people. Why? We all knew that he cared about us.

 

When he told me how much he was going to pay me, I admitted to him that he was giving me 50% more than what I had ever made before. I also admitted that I wasn’t sure that I was worth it.

 

You’re not, he said. But you will be. And you’ll get there a lot faster if you’re not worried about covering your rent and where your next meal is coming from.

 

Man, that gave me confidence. And be damn sure that it cemented my commitment. And when he heard that my creative partner, Bernard Park weren’t sure that we could afford airfare back home for Christmas, we found roundtrip tickets on our desks the very next day.

 

Kind acts weren’t all that Tom gave us. He taught us about really thinking strategically. Editing. He’d sit down and work with you. And it all paid off. Our little company took off.

 

It’s been awhile since we last worked together, but I continue to learn from Tom in so many ways. That’s why I’m excited to introduce you to my greatest mentor, Tom Hansen:

 

Thanks, and welcome to Navigating the Fustercluck, Hans!

 

  1. You’ve been a great mentor to me and many, many others. Who was your best mentor, and what was the most important thing you learned from him or her?
  2. You’ve been around advertising a long, long time. What needs to change and what should never change?
  3. You’ve been both a creative and a client? What do both need to understand to make the work better?
  4. Tom, you’re the best presenter I’ve ever seen. A lot of people struggle with presenting. What’s the first thing you’d share with them?
  5. When you think of the best creatives you’ve worked with, what traits/habits have you seen in them?
  6. How do see creatives taking full advantage of data?
  7. So, as you look back on when you first entered the world of creativity, what do you wish you knew then that you know 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 with one last thought on mentors and mentorship:

 

A lot of people have gone further than they ever thought they could because someone else thought they could.

 

Thanks to people like Tom Hansen, that’s been true for me and many others. Thanks, Hans. Much love. Much respect.

 

Well, that about wraps up our 21st 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. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at NavigatingF and Navigating the Fustercluck.com. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your part in mentoring others. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

20. Mentorship, Pt. II

Welcome to the historic Episode 20 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the topsy/turvy world of creativity. 

 

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, we’re here to pick up on our last episode that focused on the benefits and some of the ground rules of mentorship. This time I’d like to honor some of the amazing mentors that I’ve had the good fortune to know over the years.

 

Carl Young

 

Back in junior high, I was a bright, but moody kid who wasn’t quite sure how to express himself. That’s when I met Carl Young. Mr. Young was my 9th grade English teacher. A true teacher. Someone whose journey fortunately overlapped with mine.

 

Before teaching from a grammar book, Mr. Young had been teaching from the Good Book. He was a minister. Answering not only to his God, but to General George S. Patton. Yep, Mr. Young was a minister in WWII who would come to  to know as much profanity as parables and prophecies. 

 

Sometime later, he gave up his collar and the army for kids and the blackboard jungle. Eventually, he became a principal. But he loved teaching so much that after retiring, he went back into the classroom. I’m guessing that at the time he was somewhere in his late ‘60’s or 70’s. And I was in one of his last classes. It had about 30 students and 300 books strewn about. Like me, he was a voracious reader. Sometimes, he’d give me a title or two he thought I’d enjoy. I told him that I give them back. He told me, I don’t have enough time to reread them all. You take them.

 

The reason Mr. Young gave me books from his personal collection was he thought that I could write. I discovered this as other teachers started to compliment me on my weekly creative writing assignments as I was walking down the hallway. This confused me. Even pissed me off a little, because I was so private, read insecure, about my writing. Looking back, it should have been a compliment. Regardless, it gave me the idea that I could become a writer. And eventually I did. Starting out my advertising career as a copywriter. 

 

Besides books, Mr. Young gave me confidence. Encouragement. A vision and direction for the future. Turned out, he was a pretty major figure in my life. Yet, it took me years to appreciate him enough to attempt to reach out. I called Lance Junior High to try to track him down. For security reasons they declined. But they connected me with a teacher who had been mentored by him when she first started out. 

 

My fear was that she would tell me that my old mentor was dead. He was not! I was thrilled! Until she continued. Turned out that while Mr. Young was still alive, he was in the throes of dementia and wouldn’t remember me, since he couldn’t remember who he was. 

 

I was devasted. But the young teacher was kind enough to give me the address of his wife and son. I understand that they appreciated the letter very much. Still, if only I had come to appreciate this dedicated educator who got through to me at critical point in my life. From time-to-time, it still gnaws at me.

 

Hear ye! Hear ye!

 

Let me tell thou about the next mentor I want to share with you, Linda McFeters. A Renaissance woman, literally. She co-owns 3 Renaissance fairs. I met “Fetes” as Linda is fondly called, back when I was in high school, and worked for her each summer during my high school and college years. I helped run 40 food & beverage booths. Back then, Renaissance Fairs were like the last bastion of a tribe often described as the last of the American Gypsies. A ragtag group of talented misfits, many living off the grid. 

 

It was hard to attract good workers to man our kiosks when local mothers thought their kids might be kidnapped or brainwashed by these folks. That wasn’t really the case, but nonetheless, parents were protective. While we had a lot of great kids, some were without a lot of direction. They were the “burners”, the “potheads”, in general, the outsiders looking in. 

 

While it may have been a Renaissance Fair, sometimes it was more like a 3-ring circus. It took a great leader to keep it all together. Fetes was that leader.

 

I learned by watching her treat everyone with respect. Many of whom hadn’t received it in a long time.

 

I learned by watching her give supposed misfits a place to fit in. To get a chance to succeed. To show their best.

 

And no matter what I never, ever saw her panic. Even when we ran out of pizza sauce in the middle of our rush hour.

 

Fetes came into our main kitchen, assessed the situation and created a new menu item: “Sweet Pizza”. A dish not seen in the Renaissance or any other time. No, the main ingredient of Sweet Pizza was Ketchup. Yup, Ketchup. And while some people demanded a refund upon their first bite, a surprising number actually liked it. We even had a few people come at later dates and request Sweet Pizza! Amazing!

 

Talk about keeping your head and finding the best solution possible. 

 

Beyond all that, Linda was the first lesbian I knew. Or at least to come out to me. And this was long before it was socially acceptable. People talked, but Fetes wasn’t ready to open up to everyone. I’m proud that I had earned her trust. Again, I learned about respect. And I learned about inclusion. Not to mention loyalty.

 

When I finally hung up my puffy shirt and ended my Renaissance career, Fetes presented me with a beautiful gold watch I wore for years. And 30 some years after I left, she sent two-dozen roses to my father’s funeral. She continues to teach me to this day.

 

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, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the show with one final thought on mentorship: Thank them. Early and often. Most importantly, while they’re here. Trust me, you’ll regret it if you don’t.

 

Well, that about wraps up our 20th episode of Navigating the Fustercluck. 


Here from Deaf Mule Studios, I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, thank you so very much for listening in. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at NavigatingF. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your best to buck the cluck. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

19. Mentorship

Welcome to Episode 19 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the agonizingly wonderful world of creativity.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, whatever it may be, we’re here to talk about mentorship.

Let’s start with this:

If You Cannot See Where You Are Going, Ask Someone Who Has Been There Before. – J Loren Norris

Over the course of my life, I’ve been fortune to have many mentors, some of whom I hope to talk about today. So, let’s talk about how being mentored, and how mentoring others can help everyone involved.

First, a thought from 2-Time British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli:

The Greatest Good You Can Do for Another is Not Just Share Your Riches but to Reveal to Him His Own.

During interviews or while on various panels, often I’ve been asked, What in your career are you most proud of? Well, it’s not any individual awards or any one thing, period. It’s when people who I once worked with tell me that part of their success is thanks to what they gained by working together. It’s the best. The absolute best. To see great people move onward & upward, often surpassing what I’ve done, is awesome. Humbling. It makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger than myself.

As my father taught me: We’re all in this together. When you see your life as a team sport, you’ll celebrate the accomplishments of others.

I’m Happy for Them, But Not Proud of Them.

Does that sound strange? Maybe this is a misguided pet peeve of mine but I never tell people how proud I am of them. I’m not their father. However, I do tell them how happy I am for them. Is that weird? I feel strongly about it yet can’t explain exactly why. Perhaps “proudly” indicates that I’m taking credit for their accomplishments. Honestly, am I off-base? I’d love your thoughts. Feel free to reach out on Twitter @NavigatingF.

Putting Together Your Board of Directors

There’s an awfully lot to know in this life. Having one mentor probably won’t cover it all. Pick and choose people who you respect and trust. In return, respect their time and efforts, so they can trust you. People are busy. You owe it to them not to waste their time. Be prepared with your questions. If it helps, even write them down. Be polite. Ask them what works best for them. And hold on to the good ones! Having your own little Board of Directors can be quite helpful and fruitful with new knowledge, contacts and even friendship.

Reverse Mentoring

Before going on, let’s touch on something that’s a new or newer wrinkle in mentorship. Reverse mentoring. I love this and have personally benefitted from it.

It’s Hard to Keep Up on Things

I’m not one of those people convinced that the greatest music ever written and recorded and ever will be written and recorded comes from my formative years. Seems highly unlikely and irrelevant. Although Right Said Fred’s, Too Sexy for My Shirt song, is surely something Mozart would have envied, if he’d been so honored to live long enough to hear it. That said, at some point in your life it becomes harder and harder to keep up on the new stuff. That’s why I ask people younger than myself for their suggestions and favorites. A lot of it isn’t to my tastes, but some of it is awesome. And all of it expands my understanding of what and why people are moved to listen to it.

Also, for a guy my age, when it comes to technology, I’m fairly advanced. But I ain’t no digital native. And I don’t pretend to be. Fortunately, working in a creative industry, there are plenty of younger folks happy to share their knowledge. Thank you! I will never know as much as you, and we may not agree on all things technology, but at least we can all agree that the word “dongle” is worth chuckling over like we’re all 12-year-olds once again. And that’s a good thing.

Formal vs Informal Mentoring

I’ve never seen or heard of a formal mentoring program working anywhere. That doesn’t mean one can’t, I’m just not familiar with it. Have you?

It seems like mentoring would be something everyone seems excited about. Apparently, that’s not enough. Not everyone is a natural at it. Some people just don’t want to invest the time. There are infinite reasons. Human beings are weird. My advice? Be they online or people you can meet up with face-to-face, rely on yourself to find your mentors. And before you ask for an ongoing commitment, invite them out for coffee or simply ask them a question or two first. Give both of you a chance to warm up to one another.

Who knows, maybe one day you’ll mentor me, or I’ll mentor you.

Well, I didn’t get a chance on this show to talk about my own mentors. Can you say, sequel? Yep, you can count on me sharing some stories about the men & women who helped shape me to scale the incredibly above average heights that I’ve reached. Trust me, with all their wisdom, I should be a billionaire by now.  (Sorry, that took self-deprecating to self-defecating. Full-disclosure, one of the habits I’m trying to break free from.)

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, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the show with a final thought on mentorship…

Often mentors are depicted as holy men on a mountaintop. Someone of great authority who needs to be revered. My feeling is that while a mentor should be respected, we should not simply worship and obey them. They’re not gods, and we need to sift through and sample what passes the muster of our own personal values and vetting.

As mentors, we should respect this dynamic. If you’re into mentorship because you want to be worshipped and validated, you’re in it for the wrong reasons. Don’t pass on your experience and knowledge like stone tablets from on high, take a less authoritarian approach and remember:

Advice is Like Snow; the Softer it Falls, the Longer it Dwells Upon, and the Deeper it Sinks into the Mind. – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Well, that about wraps up our 19th 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. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at NavigatingF. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your best to buck the cluck. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

18. Silo-Busters (Generalists vs Specialists)

Welcome to Episode 18 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the love/hate world of creativity and marketing.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, a maker or imagineer, today we’re here to talk about generalists and specialists. Is one better than the other, or do we need both?

There’s a number of ways of looking at this, so expect a wild ride of point of views and opinions.

The Generalist vs the Specialist

For years, consultants have told us that it’s the specialist who makes the major breakthroughs and the major bucks. The example I’ve heard most is the comparison between a surgeon and a MD in the medical world. Your MD knows a lot about a lot of things. A surgeon knows everything about one thing. And she makes the bigger money.

The Advantages of the Specialist

With the extra education and training that usually comes with becoming a generalist, you can demand more pay and have a chance to rise to the top of your field.

The Disadvantages

Absolute focus on one thing can create blinders.  Can become boring. Stagnant. Innovation often relies on connecting the dots. But if all your dots are bunched together, your thinking may not stretch your perspective. Your vision may become myoptic, or any other number of college entrance exam type of words.

The Advantages of the Generalist

You get to experience a lot. Spread your field of vision. Cross-pollinate your ideas with those of others. Plot dots all over your mental map.

The Disadvantages

Spreading yourself too thin. Leaving spaces that can’t be tied together or bridged. Threads that can’t hold such far-flung thoughts together.

The Balance

Like most things in life, balance is the key. Balance, unfortunately, is kinda boring to most people. It also requires a lot of work. And it doesn’t come via a silver bullet. Ever refer to someone as well-balanced? Probably not. Maybe one day you can help change that.

So Where is the Balance?

Well, that’s a damn good question. And I’ve got an answer for you that has it down to a T. T-Shaped people that is.

T-Shaped People

Maybe the best way to describe a person with just the right blend of general and specialty skills is the term “T-Shaped People”. Think of it this way, the cross-stroke of the letter T represents your broad general knowledge. You can write a bit. Edit a bit. Maybe shoot some, too. But your real strength is in art direction. Establishing the look and feel of a piece. That’s the downstroke of the T, and what you specialize in. Yet, there will be times, whether it’s because of budgets, workload, passion, availability, whatever…that you combine 2 or more of your skills on one project. This flexibility and range may help futureproof you when downtimes come. And downtimes will always come.

Jack-of-All-Trades, Master of None.

You hear this all the time in describing someone with a wide breadth of knowledge. But I like this response from a legend of the business:

The Key Word is Trade. A Trade Requires Many Skills and Tools. I Like a Carpenter with Lots of Awesome Tools.  – Alex Bogusky, Co-Founder &

Chief Creative Engineer Crispin, Porter & Bogusky

To me, that’s a pretty balanced notion. These are the kind of people Alex refers to as Swiss Army Knife Creatives. It’s an interesting topic; one I can’t help to filter through my personal story.

Me

This is a very interesting topic for me, because somewhere on the continuum of Jack-of-All-Trades to Renaissance Man, you’ll find yours truly. (Hopefully you’ll find me closer to the latter than the former.) Over the years, it certainly has helped to keep things interesting. But I don’t use terms like Swiss Army Knife, or anything like that. Instead, I prefer to be called a silo-buster. Something I’ve defined in my biography.

Silo-Buster

An account guy, a creative guy and a planner all walk into a bar.

The funny thing is, they’re all the same person. Me– Wegs.

No joke. In the course of my career, I’ve run sizeable departments in all 3 disciplines.

For all sorts of agencies:

General Market/Multicultural/Start-Ups/Independents/Holding Companies.

I was even the Director of Marketing for the Houston Rockets basketball team.

No wonder some people have dubbed me a “Silo-buster”.

Someone able to see all sides of an issue. 

Someone who knows how to collaborate with all sorts of people and personalities to help tell great stories.

Someone who has been in nearly everybody’s shoes and knows how to motivate and lead them to collaborate and push one another to do what they never imagined they could do before.

That’s what your client is doing. That’s what you’re known for.

In an industry undergoing daily reinvention, it’s good to have someone who can 
spur cross-pollination across every discipline, department and team.

Someone who can get the most out of people and their ideas. 

Someone with the knack for going over, under, around or even right through the frustrating barriers that keep people from creating their best work together. 

Someone who can delegate, but won’t abdicate key responsibilities, especially 
when the team needs someone to step up at crucial moments on the biggest stage.


That someone is me. Wegs. A silo-buster. With the experience, empathy, communication skills and drive to not just manage challenging pieces of business, but to lead them…There’s a bit of my own personal propaganda for you.

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, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the show with one final thought on generalists versus specialists.

Learn how to think before you focus on one thing to think about. Your education is not just about a piece of paper, it’s about how to take in a complex world and simplify it for the better good.

Well, that about wraps up my preaching and our 18th 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. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at NavigatingF. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your best to buck the cluck. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

17. Arnie’s Story (Resilience)

Welcome to Episode 17 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you steer thru the topsy/turvy 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 kind of content creator you may be, we’re here to talk about resilience.

Now before we do, I must admit that our last show was stuffed with quotes. Like 10-pounds worth of quotes in a 5-pound bag. Quotes were practically wallpapering the room.

Please don’t get me wrong, I love quotes, but that was too many. Way too many.

This episode, I guess I owe you some words of my own…

Here’s to the future!

Actually, those aren’t my words. And this is not my story. But it’s a story that deserves to be told, and I’m a pretty good choice to tell it. If you’ve joined Navigating the Fustercluck at all, you may have noticed that every episode ends with these very words:

Here’s to the future!

That sign-off is a tribute to a friend of mine mentioned in an earlier show. An unlikely friend that I’d like to tell you a bit more about. Someone who’s story would make a great book. That someone was Arnold Penney. When he died at age 92, he was literally my oldest friend.

Among the many lessons he left me, Arnie was easily the most resilient person I’ve ever known. Knock him down 7 times, and he’d spring back up 8 times.

Arnie and I met back when I was Director of Marketing for the Houston Rockets basketball team. Arnie & his wife, Dier, were season ticketholders. But like me, they were from the Midwest. I hail from the Milwaukee-area; they were from Detroit.

At a meeting of season ticket holders, Arnie grilled me pretty hard over some things he wasn’t happy about the customer service he was experiencing. Honestly, he was right about most of them. Fortunately, I managed to hang in there. Because he turned out to be even tougher than I could ever have imagined.

Afterwards, Arnie approached me to say that while he wasn’t giving me a free pass, he appreciated how straightforward I was. He was willing to give me a chance. From there, our relationship just kept growing.

In fact, we even cast Arnie and Dier in a commercial with 7’6” center, Yao Ming, from China. They became known all over our arena, and even out and about on the town. Arnie was close to 80 back then.

One time we went out for some beers, and I noticed some chains around his neck. Arnie, what are those all about?

He then pulled up 3 sets of dog tags. One set were his from WWII.

The other two were like nothing I’d ever seen before. They were like art. They were beautiful. What struck me most on these oval medallions was the amazing calligraphy. Turns out that the tags were Japanese.

You see, Arnie was a scout for the American troops in Japan. He’d go out miles ahead from his band of brothers to spy on the enemy. Twice he came face-to-face, mano-o-mano with Japanese soldiers. Both times, in hand-to-hand combat, Arnie came out ahead. Then he told me why he took the dog tags of his fallen foes.

Wegs, I wear these tags every day. But understand this: I don’t wear them as trophies, I wear them out of respect. Every morning I wake up and say a prayer for their souls. Then I curse the old men who sent boys to do things no one should have to do or see.

This guy was a true warrior. An honorable man. All he wanted to do was help get his buddies home and see his family again. Arnie survived with his body and soul intact. Although from time-to-time, until the day he died, nightmares would pay him a visit.

But he was resilient. He persevered.

One thing I noticed right away was that Arnie had some small scars on his face. I assumed they came from the war, actually, he got them afterwards in the ‘70’s. You see, Dier was African-American and Arnie was white. A pretty bold move in Detroit back then.

Things were sometimes said to them. Terrible things. Things that Arnie thought he was fighting against when he was in the army. More than once Arnie responded with his fists. Sometimes, he’d take on 3 or 4 guys at a time. And that’s where the scars came from. Yet, he & Dier were resilient. They persevered.

Arnie also survived some business issues. He and 2 guys had started an appraisal service insurance companies would hire to determine damage to areas struck by natural disasters. Tornadoes, hurricanes, etc. The 3 of them had built up a lucrative business until the other 2 swindled Arnie out of his share. At 60, he found himself unemployed and broke.

So, what did he do? He started a competing business that within 6 years surpassed the size of his old business and helped put his former partners out of business. Once again, he persevered.

After Dier died, some friends convinced him to move from Houston to Arizona. Less than a year later, Arnie called me up: Hey Wegs,I’ve had enough of this place. I’m bolting Arizona.

Huh?  You’ve been there less than a year. What’s wrong, I asked Arnie who was now in his mid-eighties.

Too many old people! Arnie shot back.

He decided to head back to the Ann Arbor area, after all, he was a Michigan Man. Class of ‘49. A Wolverine thu-and-thru. So, he hopped into his American metal Camaro to ditch Arizona. Apparently, Arnie was in a rush to get out. But before he could, some flashing lights let Arnie know that the Grand Canyon State still had some remaining business with him.

A State Trooper approached Arnie, took a look at his license and asked the then 90 year-old-Arnie if he knew why he was being pulled over.

Didn’t you notice? I was speeding officer. Arnie hated stupid questions.

Well, Mr. Penney, you may have heard, speeding is illegal in the state of Arizona. Is there a reason that you’re in such a hurry.

Officer, Arnie answered, you saw my license; at my age, I don’t have a lot of time. I’m always in a hurry!

The trooper laughed, and let Arnie go without a ticket or warning. But not before telling- more like begging- Arnie to slow down until he crossed the state line. Arnie could only promise that he’d try.

Amazingly, Arnie got back to Ann Arbor in one piece. He was resilient. He persevered.

At 92, cancer what was finally caught up with Arnie. But right up to the end, he was still driving- fast. And he was in love again with an elegant lady named Sharon. Though at 83, the 92-year-old Arnie was a little nervous that she might be too old for him.

Two months before he died, I flew to Ann Arbor and after a few doubles, we closed a jazz club. So happy that we got that time together.

Before the bar kicked us out, we raised our glasses, and Arnie gave our traditional toast: Here’s to the future!

Ever since the War, life seemed to be nipping on Arnie’s heels. But he persevered. Surviving human folly and financial ruin. And while he honored the past, he never lived in the past. And that’s why he would say, Here’s to the future!

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, your host hoping that this story has moved you to not only think but laugh. Now back to the show with some closing thoughts.

Friends may die, but friendships don’t.

That’s one of the most important things I’ve learned in this life.

I’ve also learned that it’s not always the smartest or strongest or most talented that survive. Often, it’s the Arnie’s of the world. Resilient souls that just keep on keeping on.

Well, that about wraps up our 17th 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. Until next time, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at NavigatingF. Or find all our episodes on NavigatingTheFustercluck.com. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your best to buck the system. Here’s to you. And as Arnie told us: Here’s to the future!

16. Me, Myself & I (The Link Between Creativity & Individuality)

Creativity is personal. When people don’t like your work, it’s easy to fall into the trap that they don’t like you. But trying to blend in does nothing more than dull the edges of your work. Being yourself is a constant battle. But you have to keep fighting for yourself.

Show Notes:

  • to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night & day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. – ee cummings, poet
  • You Are the Hero of Your Own Story – Joseph Campbell

You may not slay a dragon or save the galaxy, but you are the main character of your life.

  • Life Isn’t About Finding Yourself. Life is for Creating Yourself George Bernard Shaw
  • Sometimes the Thing that’s Weird About You is the Thing that’s Cool About You.Maureen Dowd, Journalist
  • Follow Your Inner Moonlight; Don’t Hide the Madness. – Allen Ginsberg, Beat poet, Activist
  • And Those Who Were Dancing Were Thought to be Insane by Those Who Could Not Hear the Music. – Nietzsche
  • Accept Who You Are. Unless You’re a Serial Killer. — Ellen Degeneres
  • Be a Hammer of Fresh Air.
  • I Prefer to Be True to Myself, Even at the Hazard of Incurring the Ridicule of Others, Rather than to be False, and Incur My Own Abhorrence. – Frederick Douglass, Abolitionist
  • Choosing the Freedom to be Uninteresting Never Quite Worked forMe.  — Diane Keaton
  • If You End Up with a Boring Miserable Life Because You Listened to     Your Mom, Your Dad, Your Priest, Or Some Guy on Television Telling You How to Do Your S*#%, Then You Deserve It.  — Frank Zappa, Musician & Activist

Welcome to Episode 16 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the love/hate world of creativity.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, whatever it may be, we’re here to talk about you. You being you. The best you, you can be. The you, you want to be. You got me?

You got into creativity because you have something to say. A point of view that you’re passionate to share with the world.

As blues legend, John Lee Hooker used to say, It’s in you. And it’s just gots to get out.

And for those of you willing to put yourself- and your individuality -out there and on the line, I salute you. I really do.

Because it ain’t easy. As the poet e.e. cummings said…

To Be Nobody But Yourself in a World which is Doing Its Best, Night & Day, to Make You Everybody Else Means to Fight the Hardest Battle which Any Human Being Can Fight; and Never Stop Fighting. 

Keep this in mind. People aren’t against you. They’re for themselves. And they’re usually not in favor of change. Why? Change is scary. Change is work. Change rarely comes without risk. So, don’t take it personally. We all have our own POV and story. As famed mythologist Joseph Campbell stated:

You Are the Hero of Your Own Story

You may not slay a dragon or save the galaxy, but you are the main character of your life.  So, when it’s all said and done, will your memoirs be worth reading?  If they do turn out to be noteworthy, there will have to be some reason why.  Something you felt strongly about.  Something you were willing to fight for, no matter how many obstacles got in your way.

He Who Has a WHY to Live for Can Bear with Almost Any How.

Viktor Frankl, Holocaust Survivor

When you have a Why, you have focus, a purpose– your own personal North Star to guide you through good times and bad.  Your Why is your reason to get out of bed in the morning, and the drive that keeps you up late.  Each of us either has a Why or wants one. It’s your motivation and strength. And the material of which you’ll mold your life. Keep this in mind:

Life Isn’t About Finding Yourself.  Life is for Creating Yourself

— George Bernard Shaw

Your life isn’t hiding behind some tree.  It’s not buried in some treasure chest waiting to be unearthed.  Your life is pretty much what you make of it.  So just what and whom are you creating?  What do you want to do with your life?  And how will you do it?  Like it or not, you are indeed the hero of your own story, fighting for your Why, so you may want to know what you’re up against and where you stand.

And Take Pride in Whatever it is That Makes You Different.  Individuality is What Divides You from the Rest.

As journalist Maureen Dowd says…

Sometimes the Thing that’s Weird About You is the Thing that’s Cool About You. 

Ever been to a Comic-Con, a Renaissance Fair, LeakeyCon, even a superhero movie? Whatever it may be, let your freak flag wave high. Nerd culture is the dominant culture. Then there are those who don’t only reflect the culture, they make the culture. They inject themselves into the culture…Artists like Salvador Dali who said…

I Don’t Do Drugs. I am a Drug. 

Or Beat poet, Allen Ginsberg…

Follow Your Inner Moonlight; Don’t Hide the Madness. 

After all, it was Nietzsche who observed…

And those who were dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music. 

Now I know I’m throwing a lot of quotes at you, an awful lot of quotes, but it takes a lot of positive reinforcement to stand on your own. Take one or two of these that speak to you, hold on to them, and use them as footholds as you figure out how to move forward in creating yourself.

As comedienne Ellen Degeneres says… Accept Who You Are. Unless You’re a Serial Killer. 

Assuming that you’re not a serial killer, keep pushing every day until things become habits. Habits are like exercises that reinforce our muscles. Keep building up habits and you’ll build the muscle to stand strong and stand out from the rest. To be a Hammer of Fresh Air.

You see, you don’t owe it to yourself to be yourself, you owe it to everyone. Quoting George Bernard Shaw again, All Progress Depends On the Unreasonable Man.

The full thought: The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.  Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

It’s true. You can’t go with the flow and expect to change the world. Won’t happen. Can’t happen. In the snarkily insightful words of Janeane Garofalo…

Taking Into Account the Public’s Regrettable Lack of Taste, it is Incumbent Upon You Not to Fit In.

Choosing the Freedom to be Uninteresting Never Quite Worked for Me. 

— Diane Keaton

Ask yourself what Invisible Man author Ralph Ellison asked himself: What and How Much Had I Lost by Trying to Do Only What Was Expected of Me Instead of What I Myself Had Wished to Do?

These are the lingering regrets that hold us back. Bring us down. Make us miserable. That’s why Coco Chanel was and is right:

The Most Courageous Act Is Still to Think for Yourself.  Aloud.

It’s why great people like the American abolitionist, Frederick Douglass risked his life to stand tall: I Prefer to Be True to Myself, Even at the Hazard of Incurring the Ridicule of Others, Rather than to be False, and Incur My Own Abhorrence. 

As the good doctor, Dr. Seuss himself once said…

Be Who You Are and Say What You Feel Because of Those Who Mind Don’t Matter and Those Who Matter Don’t Mind.

Today You Are You!  That Is Truer than True!   There Is No One Alive Who Is You-er than You!   

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, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the broadcast, and one final thought:

If You End Up with a Boring Miserable Life Because You Listened to Your Mom, Your Dad, Your Priest, Or Some Guy on Television Telling You How to Do Your S*#%, Then You Deserve It.  — Frank Zappa, Musician & Activist

Well, that about wraps up our 16th episode of Navigating the Fustercluck.

Here from Deaf Mule Studios, I’m your host, and quote machine, Wegs, like eggs with a W. Thank you for listening in. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at NavigatingF. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your best to buck the cluck. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

15. Happiness is Overrated

Happiness is everything. At least that’s what the Happiness Industrial Complex would like you to believe. But should it be? After all, the happiest countries are not the ones that sell the most self-help books. In this episode, we see how creativity may play into a more satisfying life.

Show Notes:

  • Happiness is Overrated – Wegs
    1. There are other more substantial goals
    2. Happiness is a byproduct of those efforts
  • The Purpose of Life is Not to Be Happy.

It is to be Useful,

To be Compassionate,

To Have it Make Some Difference that

You Have Lived & Lived Well. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • The ‘Happiest’ Countries Are Never Those Where Self-Help Books Sell the Most. — Oliver Burkeman, The Antidote
    1. What’s that tell us?
    2. Over-focusing on an end result can throw you way off track
  • Life Is 10% What Happens to You and 90% How You React to It.

Charles R. Swindoll

  1. a) “They” don’t make you feel that way, your reaction to them does
  2. b) It takes mindfulness and practice not to let things/”them” get to you
  • Repeal the Law of Attraction — Wegs
    1. Wishful thinking rarely leads to results
    2. New Age thinking will most likely leave you unhappy in your old age
  • What Screws Us Up Most in Life is the Picture in Our Head of How It Is Supposed to Be. — Jennifer Nguyen
    1. Trying to fulfill your ideal narrative leads to a less than ideal life
    2. Leave some room for improvising, chance and luck
  • Inspiration is for Amateurs. — Chuck Close, Artist
    1. Don’t be an Inspiration Junkie
    2. You can power through with focus and effort
  • You’ll Be Happier When You Stop Trying to Be Happy…

If You Observe a Really Happy Man, You Will Find Him Building a Boat, Writing a Symphony, Educating His Child, Growing Double Dahlias or Looking for Dinosaur Eggs in the Gobi Desert.  He Will Not Be Searching for Happiness as if it were a Collar Button that Had Rolled Under the Radiator, Striving for it as a Goal in Itself.  He Will Have a Become Aware that He Will Have Become Aware He Is Happy in the Course of Living Life 24 Crowded Hours of Each Day.  — W. Beran Wolfe

Transcripts:

Welcome to Episode 15 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the love/hate world of creativity.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, whatever it may be, we’re here to talk about your attitude & happiness and how they effect (or is that affect?) your creativity and work.

Here comes some happy talk for you, but not in the slap happy crapy way most motivational speakers serve it up. That said, let me state right off the bat…

Happiness is Overrated

In America, one thing that we all seem to be certain about is happiness. We want it. It’s everything. In fact, it’s the only thing. At least that’s what you’d think if you listen to all the happiness gurus out there. Those bright-eyed smoothies telling you that all you have to do is think your way to happiness. And that if your force-fed happy thoughts don’t make you happy, double down and think some more happy thoughts. Even more if need be. And if that doesn’t make you giddy, well sorry, it’s all your fault for being so negative!

Now here’s a little thought-bomb delivered by Ralph Waldo Emerson that really got me thinking about happiness. Ol’ Ralphie said…

The Purpose of Life is Not to Be Happy.

It is to be Useful,

To be Compassionate,

To Have it Make Some Difference that

You Have Lived & Lived Well.

Doesn’t sound like what the Happiness Industrial Complex is selling, does it now? Then again, what do they know?

The ‘Happiest’ Countries Are Never Those Where Self-Help Books Sell the Most. ~ Oliver Burkeman, The Antidote

For a country obsessed with happiness, we ain’t all that happy, people. In fact, according to the United Nations, we don’t even crack the top ten. And for all we have, we’re less happy than Mexico. Apparently the Happy Factory and its professional gurus are letting us down. So what do we do? Find a new guru after new guru after new guru until we finally find one with a message that works- we hope.

The Negative Side of Positive Thinking

Oliver Burkeman contends that America is the birthplace of positive thinking. It’s part of our Calvinistic roots. The belief that those blessed with “the good life” have the right thoughts and habits. And those with little or less must then hold inferior thoughts and habits. 

Meanwhile, in Bright-sided, Barbara Ehrenreich proposes that this mindset leads too many to see poverty as a voluntary condition. That those without are simply not thinking the right way. Or doing the right things. Or are just plum lazy. Of course who’s to say that mere things are all that important to begin with?

The Cult of Optimism

Religions don’t stress it. Philosophers don’t tout it. It’s never been seen as all that important. Until now. When it’s so important that it’s become a business. More like an entire industry. Where the Happiness Industrial Complex has promoted an often-irrational optimism that doesn’t do much more than make us unhappy.

Attitude is Everything

Life Is 10% What Happens to You and 90% How You React to It.

Charles R. Swindoll

If you’re overly pessimistic, then you may give up too soon. Or you may be as crabby as toddler who misses its nap. But if you’re irrationally optimistic, you may expect things to go too well. Or unfairly judge yourself when things don’t go as well as hoped. After awhile, you may feel that you’ll never be good enough. There’s a balance. As Brian Tracy said, You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.      

Repeal the Law of Attraction

Some contend that positive thinking brings positive things to your life. All you have to do is tune into the right frequency. Send out positive vibes. And like magic, ‘poof’, what you want will suddenly appear. They call it the Law of Attraction. But if you follow that out the window, you may not follow through and put in the necessary work to earn what you want. Mind over matter means little if you don’t actually do something to make life better.

What Screws Us Up Most in Life is the Picture in Our Head of How It Is Supposed to Be. — Jennifer Nguyen

Many gurus speak of the power of visualization, picturing in your mind ahead of time how things will successfully play out. Yet fixing your mind’s eye on one outcome out can be pretty jarring when things don’t exactly work out that way. It’s good to have a plan, but have a Plan B, too. Even then you have to stay flexible and be ready to improvise.

Life is What Happens While You’re Busy Making Other Plans.      

— John Lennon

You can’t control every detail of your life. And why would you try? Who knows what you might miss out on? Life is unpredictable. Go with it.

Positive Pessimism

It’s a question of tranquility vs exhuberance. The “Happiness Industrial Complex” would have you believe that you can squeeze out both negative thoughts and outcomes by constantly exuding positivity. Some even hold that such an attitude can physically effect both you and your surroundings. But there’s another way, an ancient way that emphasizes staying clear and calm in the face of that which confuses and conflicts you. To stare it in the face, and even see your situation all the way through to its worst possible outcome to make a negative a plus.

Stoicism

It’s far from New Age. In fact, it’s ancient. Very ancient. And very Greek. Yet kinda Buddhist. And it’s gaining new attention. In a nutshell, Stoicism says that rather than trying to force ourselves to be cheerful when we don’t feel cheerful by thinking positively, it suggests we think of the worst thing that can happen and realize that whatever that worst thing is, it isn’t likely to be the end of the world. It’s a little bit more realistic. And much more forgiving. Less anxious. It also develops resilience and gratitude for what you have.

You Are Not Your Mind. — Eckhart Tolle

Detach yourself from your mind. Don’t let it control you. Own you. Race past you. Think about the thinking. Why am I scared? Mad? Sad? Give yourself time to slow down. Cool off. It’s not always easy, but it becomes easier every time you fight the urge to do something you may come to regret later.

Don’t Be Owned by the Future. — Wegs

Most of our problems lie in the future and our problem is not the problem itself but our anxiety about it. So stop it. And if you can’t, read up on it. And if that doesn’t work, seek out someone who can help. Because to live too much in the uncertainty of the future is to live in fear.

The Upside of Your Dark Side

Do You Want to Be Happy Or Whole?  — Kashdan & Biswas-Diener

The Upside of Your Dark Side is a book by Todd Kashdan, PhD., and Robert Biswas-Diener, Dr. Philosophy. Basically, this is what it says:

Pursue happiness at all cost and it will cost you. That you have to make room for your negative feelings. That all our feelings, both good and bad, have productive roles to play. In the right amounts, fear helps keep us safe. Sadness reminds us of what’s important to us. And shame can prevent us from acting impulsively. We’re not robots, so stop trying to program yourself to be happy all the time.

The Happy Trap

The Happy Trap is a marketing myth. It says that happiness is everything. That you should be as giddy as a six-year-old on a cotton candy sugar rush. Oh, and not just sometimes, but all the time. And if you’re not, there’s something wrong with you. Seriously wrong. This myth can get you so twisted up thinking, and overthinking, that you begin living so much in your head that you forget to go out into the world and really live. To focus on others. To actually make a difference.  To not just live, but to feel alive.

Inspiration Junkies

Inspiration is for Amateurs. — Chuck Close

Inspiration is for amateurs– the rest of us just show up and get to work, says the famous artist. Yet inspiration is at the heart of the Happiness Industrial Complex. For inspiration is like a maintenance drug for high blood pressure or cholesterol. It doesn’t solve your issue, it only keeps you alive for more. It’s more of an addiction than a cure. Because inspiration doesn’t solve problems, action does. Yet many think you have to wait to be inspired before you actually do something. So just do something! Action is one addiction you want to get hooked on.

Just Do It. — Nike

On procrastination, it suggests we stop trying to feel motivated and just do what we have to do–moods and actions don’t have to be related. Push hard to get going and see just how far your momentum may take you.

Let’s Take a Short Breather… (EXHALE.) Because I do believe this has already been our longest show ever.

OK…We’re here at Deaf Mule Studios to remind everyone that this is Navigating the Fustercluck. And I’m Wegs, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the broadcast and one final thought:

You’ll Be Happier When You Stop Trying to Be Happy

If You Observe a Really Happy Man, You Will Find Him Building a Boat, Writing a Symphony, Educating His Child, Growing Double Dahlias or Looking for Dinosaur Eggs in the Gobi Desert.  He Will Not Be Searching for Happiness as if it were a Collar Button that Had Rolled Under the Radiator, Striving for it as a Goal in Itself.  He Will Have a Become Aware that He Will Have Become Aware He Is Happy in the Course of Living Life 24 Crowded Hours of Each Day. 

— W. Beran Wolfe

Well, that about wraps up our 15th 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. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at NavigatingF. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your best to buck the cluck. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

14. The Certain Failure of Certainty

We are creatures of habit. Save for few, we crave certainty and safety. Neither traits that lead to much creativity. So let’s examine what’s behind this and what we can do to make certain that certainty doesn’t hinder us.

 

Show Notes:

  • People Fear Leaving Their Safe Harbor of the Known and Venturing Off into the Unknown. Human Beings Crave Certainty—Even When it Limits Them. 
    1. Safety/security is a foundation of Maslov’s hierarchy of human needs
    2. We aren’t as open or adventurous as we give ourselves credit for
  • The Only Certainty is that Nothing is Certain.
    1. Out of everything I ever share in the course of this podcast, this is the only thing that I’m 100% sure of—I think
    2. Embrace it, like death, uncertainty is just a part of life
  • Be Stupid. – Renzo Rosso, Founder of Diesel Clothing Line
    1. Be a table rasa, a blank slate free of past bias
    2. Let go your ego, you can’t be expected to know everything
    3. Eff know-it-alls, no need to let them
  • I Have Devoted My Life to Uncertainty. Certainty is the Death of Wisdom, Thought, Creativity. — Shekhar Kapur, An Indian International Film Star/Director
    1. There is no “sure thing” in creativity
    2. Leave yourself open to the possibilities, let new buds bloom
  • Paranoia Will Destroy Ya’. — Ray Davies, The Kinks
    1. The need for certainty can make you cling to ideas that otherwise make no sense
    2. Certainty can be handcuffs, stifling your creativity to find new solutions
  • Go Out on a Limb, That’s Where the Fruit Is. — Mark Twain
    1. Most innovation starts with smart risk
    2. Creating new stuff is the thrill of your work (I hope)
  • Don’t Wait Until You Have Enough Facts to Be 100% Sure, Because by Then it is Almost Always Too Late. — General Colin Powell
    1. Before sending soldiers into life-threatening battle, the military must be 70% sure of the mission
    2. If that seems low, it’s not; after 70%, the battlefield changes so much that it’s a whole new situation
  • Technology can help strike a balance between balance and risk
    1. You can test multiple approaches at an affordable cost
    2. Squeezing out uncertainty without losing its magic is not more possible to build a process around

 

Transcripts:

 

Welcome to Episode 14 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the love/hate world of creativity.

 

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and today we’re here to talk about The Certainty Trap. And the certain failure that comes with the Certainty Trap. Especially when it comes to creativity and innovation. Let’s dive right in…According to inspirational speaker and guru, Robert S. Sharma…

 

People Fear Leaving Their Safe Harbor of the Known and Venturing Off into the Unknown.  Human Beings Crave Certainty—Even When it Limits Them. 

 

According to Maslov and his famous hierarchy, security is one of our most basic needs.  Deep down inside there’s a longing for stability, consistency and permanence.  Perhaps we long for the certainty of security so badly that we’re willing to settle for the mere appearance of it.  Waging war for comforting absolutes, regardless if there is proof to the contrary. And since we used war as a metaphor, let’s move on to famed American Diplomat, Richard Holbrooke…

 

You Have to Test Your Hypothesis Against Other Theories.  Certainty in the Face of Complex Situations is Very Dangerous.

 

Certainty can be dangerous. Then why do we seek it?

 

Certainty certainly feels good.  It feels confident.  It feels strong.  But it will also feel like a ton of bricks landed on your head if you follow it blindly.  No matter how sure of yourself and your position, you may want to pay attention to make sure you’re not following some illusion.

 

The Only Certainty is that Nothing is Certain. – Pliny the Elder, a Roman philosopher who sounds like a character from the Smurfs. But I love this line, so I’ll say it again…The Only Certainty is that Nothing is Certain.

Of all the statements in this series, this is the only one of which I am 100% absolutely certain– I think.

 

I Really Think That Living is the Process of Going from Complete Certainty to Complete Ignorance.  – Richard Dreyfuss, Actor

 

Deprogram yourself.  Be a blank slate.  Be willing to clear your mind.  Be open to letting new ideas come in.  For in the end, know-it-alls end up knowing next to nothing.  Smugly content thinking to themselves I know what I know. Nothing else matters.

 

Be Stupid.  – Renzo Rosso, Founder of Diesel Clothing Line

 

Be Stupid for Successful Living, says Renzo in his text of the same title. 

In the plays of Shakespeare, the wisest character was often the fool.  The court jester.  The idiot.  The one who the high & mighty looked down upon because of his supposed lack of wisdom.  Yet in reality, the fool was not a fool at all.  In the court of pompous kings, preening queens, and less than noble noblemen, the fool was actually the wise one.  The unpretentious one who paid more attention to the world than himself.

 

It Can Be Scary to Find Out You’ve Been Wrong About Something. But We Can’t be Afraid to Change Our Minds, to Accept that Things are Different, that They’ll Never be the Same, for Better or Worse. We Have to be Willing to Give Up What We Used to Believe. The More We’re Willing to Accept What is and Not What We Thought, We’ll Find Ourselves Exactly Where We Belong. — Grey’s Anatomy

 

If you’re sure you’ve got all the answers, then why would you question yourself? Are you really that sure? Sure enough not to listen to other perspectives? Not to consider other possibilities?

 

I Have Devoted My Life to Uncertainty. Certainty is the Death of Wisdom, Thought, Creativity. — Shekhar Kapur, An Indian International Film Star/Director

Fear it or embrace it. Uncertainty is all around you, and it always will be. Sometimes it’s daunting, sometimes it’s exciting. And by taking it on, you can spur new thinking. Innovation.

 

Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans.

 — Andy Borowitz

While this is a satirical headline from the New Yorker, it’s perhaps too close for comfort. The question is what drives this resistance? Fear? Arrogance? Paranoia?

 

Paranoia Will Destroy Ya’. ~ Ray Davies, The Kinks

 

To protect the security of their certainty people are capable of believing nearly anything, from tall tales to far-flung paranoia-filled conspiracy theories. As Richard Hofstadter said, They insist that our government and all laws align completely with their beliefs, and any departure from that alignment is viewed as the result of a conspiracy against them, or by their leaders “selling out” to nefarious forces. Thus thy constantly feel under attack and endangered.

 

Creativity Requires the Courage to Let Go of Certainties.  — Erich Fromm

 

Certainties lead to rules. Traditions. Customs. Things you’re supposed to follow. Lines you’re not to cross. Just the kind of conformity that the great artists rebel against. For those who make their mark are the ones who open our eyes. Our minds. And sometimes even our hearts.

 

To Believe with Certainty Must Begin with Doubting. 

— Stanislaw Leszcynski, King of Poland

 

He’s got a point there.  Score one for Stan the Man. For whether you are chasing certainty or embrace uncertainty, doubt keeps you honest. Doubt prevents laziness. It keeps you thinking. But one thing doubt will never do is provide you with comfort.

 

The Uncomfortable Truth about Comfort

Comfort has its place and time. We could all probably go a little easier on ourselves. Yet too much comfort can be unproductive. Because there’s no comfort in growth and no growth in comfort. It takes a little tension to bring about change and progress.

 

Go Out on a Limb, That’s Where the Fruit Is.  — Mark Twain

 

Risk. It often comes with fear. Anxiety. Discomfort. And it’s only natural when you go out and explore the unknown. Yet, when you push the boundaries, new and exciting things are more likely to be awaiting you. And while you may not find fruit every time, eventually, it’s the only way to discover something better.

 

There is Not Certainty; there is Only Adventure. 

— Roberto Assagiolli

 

Life has no GPS system. But what fun would it be if you knew exactly where you were going or how you were going to get there? The bumps and detours along the way are often where you find the fun.

 

Don’t Wait Until You Have Enough Facts to Be 100% Sure, Because by Then it is Almost Always Too Late. — General Colin Powell

 

The military is willing to place lives at risk when they are 70% percent sure of a mission’s success. Only 70%! Not because our military leaders don’t value the life of the enlisted, but because the battlefield conditions will have changed by the time they hoped to have absolute certainty.

Comfort has its place and time. We could all probably go a little easier on ourselves. Yet too much comfort can be unproductive. Because there’s no comfort in growth and no growth in comfort. It takes a little tension to bring about change and progress.

 

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, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the broadcast with one final thought. We started with this quote from Robert S. Sharma about a ship in safe harbor:

 

People Fear Leaving Their Safe Harbor of the Known and Venturing Off into the Unknown.  Human Beings Crave Certainty—Even When it Limits Them. 

 

So, it’s only fitting that we close on the same metaphor with another quote, this one from John A. Shedd:

 

A Ship in Harbor is Safe—But That is Not What Ships Are Built For. — John A. Shedd

 

Life is for living. And the only person who doesn’t make a mistake is the one who never goes out and lives. Explores. Takes chances. So get out there. Travel. Experiment. Enjoy something new. Put it on the line or be happy being stuck exactly where you are.

 

Well, that about wraps up our 14th 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. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at NavigatingF. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your best to buck the cluck. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

13. Multicultural Marketing Part Dos

Welcome to Episode 13 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the love/hate world of creativity and marketing.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, whatever it may be, we’re here to talk some more about Hispanic Marketing.

Right now, more babies of color are being born than Anglo babies. The diaper brands are fully aware of the change taking place in America, and you should be, too. That’s why we’re going to delve deeper into how both the marketplace and workplace had best become more inclusive, and fast!

Algorithms Eat Anecdotes for Lunch.

Trust me, I’m Hispanic. Back in the day, that’s what clients heard when they were trying to reach out to broaden their audience. And to be honest, that sort of gamesmanship still goes on now. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t enjoy a tale or two for extra texture. Just make sure that you’re listening to someone who knows how to tell a good story with numbers. There’s enough data these days that you shouldn’t have to settle for someone’s gut feel and hunches.

Acculturation is Dead!

In this era of Big Data, there is no excuse for contrived generalizations and artificial segmentations. So, while I don’t dispute that acculturation exists, I firmly believe that it no longer has any relevance to marketing strategy. In marketing to Hispanics today, CMO’s should demand the same due diligence from their Hispanic marketing agencies as they require from those in the “general market.” If you’re not presently receiving that level of service, find better partners. First off…

Don’t Hire a Professional Accent

Unfortunately, there are still a group of people who make a living just off their ethnicity. They may be British planners who pronounce process “PRO-cess.” They may be Australian, Eskimo or Hispanic… But just because someone speaks Spanish doesn’t make that person an expert on the Hispanic Market. So, no matter what their ethnicity, be careful whom you assign your Multicultural efforts, give Multicultural communities the level of respect they deserve by hiring someone with the right data, knowledge and experience to be your point person. Not just someone who happens to be Hispanic, gay or black or whatever. Take my tampon story.

Tampon Man

What’s the first rule of marketing? Know your consumer. Rule #2? You are not your consumer. Once I was asked in an inappropriate, less-than-roundabout way how a middle-aged white guy could lead multicultural efforts. My response? One of the most successful projects I ever worked on was for a tampon company. Amazingly, neither my gender nor my lack of intimate knowledge with the product prevented our team from scoring a win. In fact, call me Tampon Man, if you’d like. (Nah, don’t do that.) The moral of the story? Hire the best person for the job. Period. And yes, that means hiring people of color on accounts targeted to primarily Anglo audiences as well. OK? This shouldn’t be so hard. But we’ve got to deal with it.

Another thing we’ve got to deal with are misunderstood ideas like Total Market.

Total Market is Incomplete

Total Market is also a big buzzword these days. But if you’re not careful in how you apply it, it could also prove to be a buzz saw.

In theory, a holistic integrated approach is what we all strive for. But in practice, a dangerous assumption is made. It’s taken for granted that a common marketing problem exists across all ethnic segments. Yet, it’s far from uncommon that their marketing problem or barriers to growth are different. In those situations, one common Total Market solution will not solve 2 different problems.

Take It Upstream

To be successful, a Total Market approach must be applied further upstream. Rather than waiting to bring things together at the Communications Planning stage, integration must take place during development of the marketing strategy. That’s when a holistic approach to segmenting should take place. One defined not by demographics or ethnicity, but by shared behaviors and attitudes.

Only in this manner can we claim that the concept of Total Market is a complete success.

Does That Make Any Sense?

Let me give you an example. This one involves Hyundai cars.

These days Hyundai is doing pretty well. Not that long ago, however, things didn’t look that good. They weren’t much to look at, and they had a terrible reputation for quality, too. In fact, even their then unheard of 10-year/10,000 mile warranty backfired on them. People thought that Hyundai had to offer it because their cars broke down so much. But over time, Hyundai turned it around. Started making some good cars that looked pretty good, too. Still, they had to rebuild their reputation. It didn’t match their cars, and it was going to take just as long to fix it.

Goodby was chosen as the agency to help Hyundai get a second chance. They asked people to Rethink Hyundai with their Rethink It campaign. The idea was a straightforward approach to present all the new evidence that Hyundai was worth reconsidering.

It was a solid campaign—for the General Market. Not so much for the Hispanic market. Why? Because Hispanics weren’t familiar with Hyundai. They didn’t need to reconsider Hyundai because they never knew the brand in the first place.

And there was the problem. By asking Hispanics to reconsider Hyundai, they would be telling people that there was something wrong with them in the first place. Taking that tact would only be creating another speed bump in selling them.

So, what did we do? Instead of asking our Hispanic audience to Rethink Hyundai, we asked them to Discover Hyundai. We used all the evidence and proofpoints of the General Market campaign yet managed to build around an insight that was more relevant and positive for a key audience. Hope that helps.

 

It’s not that Total Market is a bad idea, it’s just dangerous when misunderstood or ill-defined.

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, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the broadcast with this final thought:

Bake It In, Don’t Bolt It On.

If you don’t include your Multicultural partners upstream, you’ll be too late to include all the insights ethnic consumers can add to your efforts. The outcome? Instead of insights that are baked in, you’ll end up with something else bolted on. Something forced. Something cliché. Something that may fool the marketing team but not their consumers. Why? Because they’re seeing a mismatched marketing campaign that feels Frankensteined. And they know it. And, excuse the pun, but when you create a Frankenstein, scary results follow. To your business, and to your brand.

Well, that about wraps up our 13th 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. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at NavigatingF. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your best to buck the cluck. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

12. Multicultural Marketing

What if I were tell you that today in this country, there are more Latinos in America than Canadians in Canada? What if I were to tell you that the Latino birthrate outpaces the Anglo birthrate by 20-1? (Actually, it’s closer to 25-1.) And what if I told you that for the last few years, the Anglo death rate has been outpacing the Anglo birth rate? (Yep, Anglos are not multiplying fast enough to replace themselves.) Now take all that in, and what if I asked you do you know, literally and figuratively, where your audience is coming from? Or your co-workers, for that matter?

Show Notes:

  • There’s a big difference between Hispanic Marketing and marketing to Hispanics
    1. Hispanic Marketing uses outdated stereotypes and anecdotes to try to explain nuances
    2. Marketing to Hispanics means treating people as people, using data and insights to better serve the Hispanic community
  • History may not repeat itself, but it certainly does rhyme. Mark Twain
    1. There are many similarities between emerging communities of today and those of the past
    2. Knowing what binds us all is as important as noticing the differences
  • America will become a minority/majority country sometime near 2043, but it already has a multicultural mindset
  • Diversity is more than a demographic. Diversity is a mindset.
  • Ethnic segments are leading lifestyle trends. We choose to start with the ones who are setting the pace. – Neil Golden, Former CEO, McDonald’s

Transcripts: 

Welcome to Episode 12 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the love/hate world of creativity and marketing.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, whatever it may be, we’re here to talk about Multicultural Marketing.

Surprisingly, Multicultural Marketing is something this white kid from Wisconsin actually has quite a bit of experience in, especially Hispanic.

Full confession, I hate Hispanic Marketing. That said, I love marketing to Hispanics. Here’s what I mean, Hispanic Marketing is the old, stereotypical way of trying to reach Hispanics. Speak Spanish and stick a soccer ball and an abuela in your messaging and you’re good. Sounds funny to you? Still happens all the time.

Marketing to Hispanics, on the other hand, is like marketing to anyone. Dig into the data. Mine the insights. Be relevant. And guess what? That may even mean communicating in English.

This may all sound kooky, but the secret sauce ain’t much of a secret: treat people like people.

How, you may ask, did I get involved in Multicultural Marketing?

Many moons ago, Mike Johnson, at the time the brand manager of Miller Lite, called my friend, mentor and boss, Tom Hansen.

You guys are my problem solvers, Mike said, and I have a problem.

Sure, Mike, we’re always here to help, Tom said.

Well, I’m not happy with the Hispanic resources we’re finding.

Tom replied, No problem, Mike, we’re here in Texas, we’d be happy to hook you up with some guys we know who specialize in that.

Nah, I’ve got something else in mind, Mike said. I want you to start a new Hispanic agency.

Well Mike, we responded, we’re really flattered, but we don’t know Spanish, and even though we live here in Texas, we don’t pretend to be cultural experts. So, thanks so much, but for your sake, we’ve got to say no.

Mike stayed silent for a beat. Then another beat. Tom and I looked at one another. We were afraid that we may have pissed off our largest client. Finally, Mike spoke:

What if said we’d pay you X?

Tom and I looked at one another again.

Then we both faced the phone, and in stereo replied… Si’!

After we got off the call, shaking my head, I looked at Tom and said, Well, there’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into. I can’t wait to see how you get us out of this one.

Tom shot me a glance and said, Funny, I was just looking at you and wondering the same thing. Go start a Hispanic shop.

Fortunately, we found quality people like Juan Carlos Olivar who was working for Coca-Cola, and Victor Macias, who owns Deaf Mule Studios where this is being recorded today.

So, that answers how I got involved in Hispanic Marketing.

The better question, the more interesting question, is why I stayed in it.

You see, my grandparents were immigrants who left Putzleinsdorf Austria and crossed the Atlantic, settling in Cudahy, Wisconsin. They lived in an immigrant community of Europeans names like Schmidt, Gmeindl and Wegerbauer. Today, their old neighborhood is still an immigrant community, except its residents have names like Flores, Alcocer and Rodriquez.

My grandparents died before I was five, so I never knew them well. But, by hearing the immigrant stories of their Hispanic successors, I realized that they all came sharing the same hopes and dreams.

As Mark Twain once said, History may not repeat itself, but it certainly does rhyme.

It’s brought me so much insight and joy to be part of this collective story. One larger than any one generation or ethnicity. Being involved in Multicultural Marketing has brought me closer to this experience, and my grandparents, too.

Kinda crazy for a white kid named Wegs from Wisconsin.

It also makes me sad. Sad that so many are so afraid by the browning of America. I’m not going to delve much deeper into that. However, from you better get used to it, because it’s inevitable. Just listen to this introduction to one of my talks:

What if I were tell you that today in this country, there are more Latinos in America than Canadians in Canada? What if I were to tell you that the Latino birthrate outpaces the Anglo birthrate by 20-1? (Actually, it’s closer to 25-1.) And what if I told you that for the last few years, the Anglo death rate has been outpacing the Anglo birth rate? (Yep, Anglos are not multiplying fast enough to replace themselves.) Now take all that in, and what if I asked you where your next customer is coming from? Or your next co-worker, for that matter.

Trust me, when I lay this out, I see plenty of jaws drop to the floor.

My advice, get down with the brown, my friend, because not only is that where things are headed, that’s where things are at right now.

By now, many of you have heard that by 2043 or so, America will become a minority/majority country. We’ll have more people of color than white folks.

But if you’re responsible for your bottom line right now, that’s still a long ways away. So, maybe you feel that you can afford to wait. Well, let me throw this wrinkle in…

Forget 2043, we’ve already hit the tipping point.

 

According to Ethnifacts, when you factor in mixed households, multiracial urban populations, intermarriages and LGBTQ people, we’ve already reached the tipping point. Meaning that a new, more inclusive mindset is already leading the way in shaping the latest version of America.

Attitudinally, the Multicultural mindset is here. And a new reality will need new eyes.

Diversity is more than demographics. Diversity is a mindset.

Your eyes are useless if your mind is blind. So it’s important to see diversity as more than a demographic wave. More than a hiring objective. It’s a mindset. An open-minded, inclusive way of looking at things. One that appreciates and yields new ideas, tastes and relationships. And for many people, diversity is an important value, which they expect those that they work for and do business with to value, too. Welcome to the modern mindset. Welcome to diversity today.

 

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, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the broadcast, or narrowcast with a final thought from Neil Golden, former CMO of McDonald’s who said…

Ethnic segments are leading lifestyle trends. We choose to start with the ones who are setting the pace.

Think of music, fashion and food, and it’s pretty hard to disagree with what Neil is saying…As a marketer, it’s time to get onboard. The future is here.

Well, that about wraps up our 12th 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. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at NavigatingF. Remember, we’re all in this together. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

11. Focus

Let’s focus on focus. Great ideas are bouncing all about. Figuring out which ideas should move forward and how to turn them from the ideal into the real is another matter.

 

Show Notes:

  • The Sun is a Powerful Source of Energy. Every Hour the Sun Washes the Earth with Billions of Kilowatts of Energy.  Yet with a Hat & Some Sunscreen You Can Bathe in the Light of the Sun for Hours at a Time with Few Ill Effects.

 

A Laser is a Weak Source of Energy.  A Laser Takes a Few Watts of Energy and Focuses Them in a Coherent Stream of Light.  But with a Laser You Can Drill a Hole in a Diamond or Wipe out a Cancer.  – Al Ries, Focus

 

  • We Live in the Distraction Economy. – Wegs
    1. Bright shiny objects have overtaken substance
    2. Too often technology distracts us from the task at hand
  • I Have a Device in my Pocket that Gives Me Instant Access to the Entirety of Human Knowledge. I Use it to Look at Funny Pictures of Cats and Share Pictures of my Breakfast. 
  • There’s a War Between the Urgent and the Important. – Wegs
    1. Long-term needs too often take a backseat to short-term tasks
    2. We’ve got to prioritize what we’re doing
  • The Two Pizza Maximum
    1. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos won’t allow more people in a meeting than 2 pizzas can feed
    2. Too many people can become a distraction
  • Breaking the Chains of Keynote
    1. Don’t allow slides to distract from your message
    2. There are alternatives to projected presentations, Amazon has their people prepare memos that the group reads together and discusses
  • Men Have Become the Tool of Their Tools. – Henry David Thoreau
    1. Said this back in the 1800’s
    2. Technology can’t cover for fundamental human issues
  • If It Keeps Up. Man Will Atrophy All His Limbs But the Push-Button Finger.

– Frank Lloyd Wright

  • I Would Trade All of My Technology for an Afternoon with Socrates.

– Steve Jobs

  1. Technology is amazing, Mankind is even more so
  2. Technology brings ideas to life, but the ideas still have to be good
  3. Study the big ideas and you may just come up with some yourself

Transcripts:

 

Welcome to Episode 11 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the love/hate world of creativity.

 

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, whatever it may be, we’re here to talk about focus today. Yes, we’re going to focus on focus.

 

I’ve always loved this focus quote from Al Ries…

 

The Sun is a Powerful Source of Energy.  Every Hour the Sun Washes the Earth with Billions of Kilowatts of Energy.  Yet with a Hat & Some Sunscreen You Can Bathe in the Light of the Sun for Hours at a Time with Few Ill Effects.

 

A Laser is a Weak Source of Energy.  A Laser Takes a Few Watts of Energy and Focuses Them in a Coherent Stream of Light.  But with a Laser You Can Drill a Hole in a Diamond or Wipe out a Cancer. 

 

That’s the power of focus. However, if you have a business or practice it’s easy to want to do it all. To offer both the high and low end. Have a 20-page menu that takes 30 minutes to read. It’s just too tempting for most people.

 

Classic movie star Mae West said that she could resist anything but temptation. I love that line, but for our purposes, let’s see if we can show a bit more restraint. Because without doubt, focus is the way to go. Yep, focus is an immensely powerful force, yet we live in… The Age of Distraction and —Hey! Look! A Puppy!

 

We Live in the Distraction Economy. — Wegs

The Industrial Age gave way to the Information Age, which gave way to the Social Age, which has now given way to the Distraction Age.  From ads to apps, games & gossip to fashion & political cheerleading, there are people dangling shiny bright objects and catchphrases that keep your eyes off the ball and away from what really matters. And we’re allowing the amazing technology we have to make our ADD worse…

To illustrate, although I have no idea who said it, here’s one of my favorite quotes…

I Have a Device in my Pocket that Gives Me Instant Access to the Entirety of Human Knowledge.  I Use it to Look at Funny Pictures of Cats and Share Pictures of my Breakfast. 

 

Picasso could have used his palette of paints to fill in coloring books, but that seems far too silly a waste to even think about. Yet far too often we take the hyper-intelligence and near superhuman skills the Internet promises and use it to do little more than kill time. As Someecards says…

 

Life Has Become a Major Distraction to my Cell Phone. 

 

Or as McBitterson Cards says…

 

Tonight We Party!  Tomorrow Morning We Worry About Getting the Photos Off the Internet. 

Me, I’m on board with Mark Haddon…

 

The Secret of Contentment…Lay in Ignoring Many Things Completely. 

 

My friends, it all comes down to priorities. As anyone who has spent any amount of time with me is probably tired of hearing me say…

 

There’s a War Between the Urgent and the Important 

 

And it’s a nasty war.

 

We’re so busy being busy, putting out fire after fire, that too often we fail to get around to the truly important stuff– the kind of big things that make a long-term difference.  Some hope to change this, while others actually enjoy these distractions, using them to avoid the heavy lifting.  Why?  Because they either aren’t big picture thinkers, or they’re master jugglers who prefer to keep as many balls up in the air as possible, keeping the game squarely in their wheelhouse, even if nothing really gets accomplished. Their focus is to get us to lose our focus. Politicians, of both the government and office varieties are masters of this.

 

So, what can be done about it? How do we buck the cluck here?

 

Meetings. Should we start with meetings? Would you fall to your knees and weep tears of joy if you never had to have another meeting, again? I would, but that’s just a utopian dream.

 

OK, let’s take a little time and talk about meetings. The place where ideas and productivity go to die.

 

Let’s repeat something we spoke about in Episode 5:

 

The Two Pizza Maximum

At the time of this writing, Jeff Bezos of Amazon is the richest person in the world. Part of his success may be attributed to his decision to stop complaining about excessive meetings and actually do something about them. For one thing, at Amazon, there are to be no meetings that require more people than can be fed with two pizzas. Beyond that and all the wasted productivity in the room leads to nothing more than a major fustercluck.

 

And here’s another Bezos tip, this one taken from Episode Seven. This one is about how to keep presentations from becoming nothing more than sideshows. It’s all about…

 

Breaking the Chains of Keynote

 

Slides can keep you on track. They can provide visual stimulation. And their abuse is the main reason why we suffer through so many lackluster presentations. There’s nothing more insulting or boring than someone reading off their slides word-for-word. What’s the point? Keynote has become a crutch. A security blanket. That’s why Jeff Bezos of Amazon has banned them, preferring the preparation of 1-5 page memos that everyone reads before gathering to discuss their content. An interesting alternative to all today’s bells and whistles, one that demands focus.

 

Unfortunately, when it comes to focus, life isn’t that much different than when Henry David Thoreau proclaimed that…

 

Men Have Become the Tool of Their Tools. 

 

And that was way back in the 1800’s!

 

Bells and whistles give us an excuse not to focus on the issues that Humankind has struggled with since our minds developed enough to realize the potential and burdens of our existence.

 

Let’s lighten things up a bit with a thought from maverick architect and social critic Frank Llloyd Wright…

 

If It Keeps Up. Man Will Atrophy All His Limbs But the Push-Button Finger.  

 

Man Will Atrophy All His Limbs But the Push-Button Finger. I love it. I fear it. But I love it.

 

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, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the broadcast, or narrowcast with one final thought. This one from tech guru, Steve Jobs. Now you’d think that the guy who helped usher in the computer and tech age would have nothing but glowing praise for technology. Instead, here was his focus…

 

I Would Trade All of My Technology for an Afternoon with Socrates. 

 

Well, that about wraps up our first 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. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at NavigatingF. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your best. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

10. Futureproof Yourself

Change after change after change. The creative industry is seeing more change and faster every day. If you’re not careful, all this change could leave you behind. The following are some tips on how to stay ahead of the game.

 

Show Notes:

  • We’re Drowning in Information, While Starving for Wisdom.                       — E.O. Wilson
  • The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely. — E.O. Wilson.
  • Become Friends with People Who Aren’t Your Age. Hang Out with People Whose First Language Isn’t the Same as Yours. Get to Know Someone Who Doesn’t Come from Your Social Class. This is How You See the World. This is How You Grow. — Rotary Club
    1. Diversity is forming the future
    2. It opens your mind
  • Bake it In, Don’t Bolt it On
    1. Mix in diverse insights and technologies right up front
    2. Failing to do so, will only create a Frankenstein later
  • Fall Seven Times, Stand Up Eight. — Japanese Proverb
    1. Perseverance is worth more than intelligence
    2. Can’t be afraid to move forward and fail, or you’ll fail for sure
  • Prepare for Free Agent Nation
    1. The gig economy of Uber and Lyft is overtaking creativity
    2. You may want to create 3-4 revenue streams for yourself
  • Nothing Is Harder on Your Laurels than Resting on Them
  • Creativity Requires the Courage to Let Go of Certainties. — Erich Fromm
  • Be Stupid. — Renzo Rosso, Founder of Diesel Clothing Line
    1. Stay open to life
    2. Dump your assumptions
  • No One Else Knows What They’re Doing Either. – Ricky Gervais
    1. Relax, we’re all figuring this stuff out
    2. But do be figuring it out!
  • Courage is the Ladder on which All Other Virtues Mount.

           — Clare Boothe Luce

  • All Progress Depends on the Unreasonable Man.

– George Bernard Shaw

  1. a) Original thinking is the coin of the realm
  2. b) It’s what your clients pay for
  • Here’s to the Crazy Ones… (Full Copy)

Transcripts:

Welcome to Episode 10 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the love/hate world of creativity.

 

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, whatever it may be, we’re here to talk about how to futureproof yourself. It’s a rapidly changing world out there, and you’ve got to be prepared to ride the waves.

 

So just how exactly can you futureproof yourself. There is no one way, but here are a bunch of ideas that will point you forward.

 

They say that the best way to predict the future is to create it. With so many positions being made obsolete, training yourself in new areas could make the difference between a promotion or a layoff. You may even discover a new career path that you enjoy even more. Become a lifelong learner, because your education doesn’t stop with your degree. As my good friend Arnold Penney used to say in his 90’s, “Here’s the future!”

 

We’re Drowning in Information, While Starving for Wisdom.                                      — E.O. Wilson

Too much of a good thing. That’s what today’s abundance of data has become. Too much. In fact, the more we come to know, it seems the less we actually do know. It’s like a book full of random words that fails to tell a story. Then again, it may also be your opportunity:

 

The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.  — E.O. Wilson.

 

Bottomline: data without analysis and insights is nice and worthless.

 

Become Friends with People Who Aren’t Your Age. Hang Out with People Whose First Language Isn’t the Same as Yours. Get to Know Someone Who Doesn’t Come from Your Social Class. This is How You See the World. This is How You Grow. — Rotary Club

 

If I’ve got to explain the value of diversity to you at this point, put this down and start punching yourself in the face. Then move on to your midsection and proceed with some organ-crunching body blows.

Bake It In, Don’t Bolt It On

Whether it’s Digital, Social, Experiential, Multicultural or another tool that ends with the letters “a” and “l,” consider them all from the gitgo instead of some sort of aftermarket parts. Only then– when you bake things in, instead of bolting them on afterwards– will you start to create more holistic ideas and see better results, rather than presenting the world with some sort of awkward Frankenstein creatures.

Fall Seven Times, Stand Up Eight.

— Japanese Proverb

 

In another life, I was the Director of Marketing for the Houston Rockets basketball team. My first year, we had the overall first pick of the draft. With it, we drafted 7’6” Yao Ming from China. When I asked the man who made the pick what sealed the deal with Yao, he responded in his long Texas drawl, Wegs, you can’t teach height. Neither can you teach people to care. Or to persevere. Being smart is table stakes, outworking the other guy is what makes most successful people.

 

Prepare for Free Agent Nation

 

In an industry that tends to bill by the hour, reducing hours and overhead is becoming the prime directive of creative managers everywhere. That means freelance is on the rise. If you market yourself well, you may make more money with more flexibility. Or maybe you won’t. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a minimum 3-4 revenue streams. Yep, side hustles are coming front and center.

 

Nothing Is Harder on Your Laurels than Resting on Them

 

Your competition is right on your heels. And in free agent nation you have to keep moving. Keep climbing up and keep moving forward. Stop, and someone will pass you. Lap you. Now once in a while, do pause and take a deep breath. Smell the proverbial roses. But be quick about it. Because it’s never been more true than today: You’re only as good as your last job.

 

Nothing is original…

Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent.  — Jim Jarmusch

Creativity Requires the Courage to Let Go of Certainties.  — Erich Fromm

 

Certainties lead to rules. Traditions. Customs. Things you’re supposed to follow. Lines you’re not to cross. Just the kind of conformity that the great artists rebel against. For those who make their mark are the ones who open our eyes. Our minds. And sometimes even our hearts.

 

Be Stupid.  — Renzo Rosso, Founder of Diesel Clothing Line

 

Be Stupid for Successful Living, says Renzo in his text of the same title. 

In the plays of Shakespeare, the wisest character was often the fool.  The court jester.  The idiot.  The one who the high & mighty looked down upon because of his supposed lack of wisdom.  Yet in reality, the fool was not a fool at all.  In the court of pompous kings, preening queens, and less than noble noblemen, the fool was actually the wise one.  The unpretentious one who paid more attention to the world than himself.

 

No One Else Knows What They’re Doing Either. – Ricky Gervais

Fake it til you make it. No one is really ready for all they’re being asked to do.

As Carrie Fisher said…

Stay Afraid, But Do It Anyway. What’s Important is the Action. You Don’t Have to Wait to be Confident. Just Do it and Eventually the Confidence Will Follow.   

Courage is the Ladder on which All Other Virtues Mount. — Clare Boothe Luce

Or as Maya Angelou said: Courage is the most important of all virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. All true, but not easy. Courage is a muscle. One you have to work out day by day until it’s good and strong. And when you fail– and there will be times that you will– keep working it. Even if others don’t always see your way.

 

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, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the broadcast, or narrowcast with not one, but two final thought on how to futureproof yourself. And again, it won’t be easy but this is important…

 

All Progress Depends on the Unreasonable Man.  — George Bernard Shaw

 

The Reasonable Man Adapts Himself to the World; the Unreasonable One Persists in Trying to Adapt the World to Himself. Therefore, All Progress Depends on the Unreasonable Man.

 

Don’t be belligerent. Do be an original thinker. Original thinking is the coin of the realm. It’s what your clients pay for. As Franz Kafka said, There are some things one can only achieve by a deliberate leap in the opposite direction. Showing a new direction to take is how you solve your clients’ problems. Even if outsiders think you’re crazy.

 

Here’s to the Crazy Ones…

 

The Misfits, the Rebels, the Troublemakers, the Round Pegs in the Square Holes… the Ones Who See Things Differently—They’re Not Fond of Rules… And they have no respect for the status quo. You Can Quote Them, disagree with Them, Glorify or Vilify Them, But the Only Thing You Can’t Do is Ignore Them Because They Change Things… They Push the Human Race Forward, and While Some may may see them as the crazy ones, we See Genius, Because the Ones Who Are Crazy Enough to Think They Can Change the World, Are the Ones Who Do.

— Steve Jobs

 

Well, that about wraps up our 10th episode of Navigating the Fustercluck.

 

I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, here at Deaf Mule Studios. And that indeed is our10th, that’s right, our 10th show. Thanks for listening in. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at Navigating F.

 

We’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your best. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

9. 1+1=3 (Collaboration) Pt 2

Picking up from Pt1, here are some additional concrete ways to improve how we work together.

 

Show Notes:

  • Two Ways to Improve to Improve Your Brainstorms
    1. Roundtable
    2. Back-and-Forth
  • Clients as Collaborators
  • Creative Tension:

 

In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. 

 

In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.          – Orson Welles as Harry Lime, The Third Man

 

  1. Great creative often takes some friction
  2. Great teams respect one another enough to accept this, so they get too sensitive
  • Don’t Spare Your Darlings
    1. First ideas are rarely your best ideas, let them go
    2. Don’t just put lipstick on a pig, sample what you like about that idea and create something new.
  • Seek Criticism. Not Praise. – Paul Arden
    1. Overcome your insecurities
    2. You won’t get better if all you seek is temporary validation
  • Honest Criticism is Hard to Take, Particularly from a Relative, a Friend, an Acquaintance, or a Stranger. — Franklin P. Jones
  • Criticism vs. Feedback
    1. One comes from a negative place, the other is genuinely aiming to help
    2. Don’t be overly sensitive, don’t be a jerk
  • Just Because Someone ‘Says What’s On His Mind’, Doesn’t Make it a Good Thing. Drunks Say What’s On Their Mind, Too.
    1. Be honest, but don’t be an ass
    2. Being rude and crude makes it harder to take you seriously
  • Teddy Roosevelt on the Critic

 

Transcripts:

 

Welcome to Episode 9 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the topsy/turvy world of creativity.

 

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, whatever it may be, we’re back to talk about how to better work together. How to collaborate.

 

On this episode we’ll pick up where we left off last time, taking on some of the issues of collaboration, or the lack of it. And as we promised, we’ll be leading off  with two fresh spins on traditional brainstorming that will take you well beyond wasting those giant Post-its everyone uses these days.

Roundtable

More engaging, and with fewer distractions, this modified brainstorm brings out more ideas. And more importantly, leads to better ones.

  • Combine just enough tables to keep your group shoulder-to-shoulder
  • Unfurl a roll of butcher block paper
  • Give everyone something colorful to write & draw with                                   
  • Big and bold, in the center of the scroll, write out the question to be solved
  • Start playing music
  • Each person starts writing down as many ideas as possible
  • After 5 minutes, stop the music and have everyone take a step to their left

Now things start to really happen…

  • Start the music again, and now give everyone 2 minutes to build off of their neighbor’s ideas
  • Repeat these steps until the whole roll of paper is covered in ideas
  • Use stickers and have everyone dot their 3 favorites
  • Record the most popular on a wall and discuss
  • Find potential territories and list related tactics beneath them
  • Record and distribute

Add your own touches Roundtable. Do what works for you.

Back-and-Forth

This method is best used by 2-7 people who should be presented the question at hand 1-2 days before the session.

  • 5 min: generate ideas individually
  • 20 min: Get together in the group to share your ideas with each other
  • 20 min: The best ideas are then developed together by the group through regularbrainstorming
  • 5 min: After the sharing and development of the best ideas is completed the group separates to further ideate individually for 5 minutes more
  • During this time, you can either focus on coming up with new ideas or build on ideas from the previous share-out
  • 20 min: Get together for the last time to share your individual thoughts and once again develop the ideas the group likes the best
  • Before finishing the meeting, write down your group’s best ideas
  • Determine how to develop your group’s ideas further

Back-and-forth is designed to combine the best of both individual thinking and group efforts. Including people from various departments can add to the process.

Clients as Collaborators

Clients are now going to Cannes. They’re starting more and more inhouse agencies. They’re becoming more and more involved. Look for productive ways to involve them along the process or they’ll create their own rules of engagement that you might not like.

OK, let’s move on to one of my favorite movie lines ever as spoken by the late, great Orson Welles as Harry Lime in The Third Man.

In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. 

In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? 

The cuckoo clock.

I love this line because collaboration is not all holding hands and singing Kumbaya. How well people respond to feedback and criticism are key to the final output.

So, while you may want to limit the amount of friction found in creative development, the right amount of respectful tension can actually inspire great results. Great leaders know how to find that balance between feelings and productivity, which reminds me of a great piece of advice I received years ago:

Don’t Spare Your Darlings

First ideas are rarely the best ideas. Still, many first ideas refuse to die, appearing and reappearing at every review. And those little tweaks aren’t making the work much better. Maybe even worse. That’s not to say that some first ideas aren’t good but learn when to move on. Take the essence of what you liked and rework it. Or create something totally different. The best creatives are the best editors. The ones who don’t fall head over heels over first ideas that do little but plug your creativity.

Don’t Seek Praise. Seek Criticism. – Paul Arden

 

The best creatives aren’t afraid to share their work. Just know that for every pat on the back you’ll get two kicks in the ass. But you’ll grow a thick skin. You’ll stick around.

 

Collect people you respect. I’ve been Skyped at all hours for feedback, sometimes by people I don’t even work with. And I appreciate the trust that comes with that. That’s why I tell it like I see it. I owe that to them. As John Hegarty says, Surround yourself with people who are unafraid to disagree with you, no matter how successful you get.

 

Honest Criticism is Hard to Take, Particularly from a Relative, a Friend, an Acquaintance, or a Stranger.  — Franklin P. Jones

Creatives pour themselves into their work. Having that work criticized hurts. Whether the criticism is right or wrong, the more you can embrace the process, the more that you’ll get out of it. Try to detach yourself as much as possible without getting defensive or dismissive. Work with your team over some beers and figure out the best ways to work feedback sessions. Together, you’ll work better. And you’ll get better work.

Criticism vs Feedback

 

Feedback. Most people aren’t good at receiving it. Most people aren’t good at giving it, either. That’s a major reason why collaboration breaks down. While used interchangeably here, feedback starts from a positive place. Criticism is more negative. More nitpicky. Want to give better feedback? Something that goes beyond fault finding? Be specific. Be direct and honest. Ask questions. Stay focused on the goal. Find the problems, not the solutions. And get to know each other to avoid any misunderstandings.

 

Just Because Someone ‘Says What’s On His Mind’, Doesn’t Make it a Good Thing. Drunks Say What’s On Their Mind, Too.

 

Tell the truth. Be honest. Be authentic. Unless you’re authentic jerk. Then figure out how not to make yourself the focus of the feedback instead of the work. That doesn’t mean coddling people. It means placing yourself in their shoes and being a decent teammate.

 

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, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the broadcast, or narrowcast with one final thought on collaboration and criticism your team will have to endure:

It is not the critic who counts…

…not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.                                – Theodore Roosevelt

Memorize this until you can recite it word-for-word. It’s a great little pick-me-up after disastrous client meetings.

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

 

I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, here at Deaf Mule Studios. Thanks for listening in. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at Navigating F. And remember, we’re all in this together. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

8. Collaboration (1+1=3), Pt 1

We’re better together. And together is how we need to work. But it seems like we’ve hit a wall in the creativity we put into our creative development.

Show Notes:

  • None of Us is as Smart as All of Us
  • Cheaper, Better Faster Must Now Be Cheaper, Betterer and Faster
    1. Clients want it and they’ll get it
    2. How do we move in a more agile way that makes the work just as good or better? (I just felt your sigh. Honest.)
  • Advertising Hasn’t Seen A Major Innovation in Creative Development

Since Bill Bernbach Brought Together Creative Duos in the ‘Sixties

  1. Forward-think creatives are stuck in a rut when it comes to creative development
  2. Maybe our greatest creative challenge is to get more creative in how we create creative
  • Bureaucracy Is Sort of Like a Cancer, and It Functions Sorta Like a Cancer. – Charlie Munger, Billionaire Investor and Partner of Warren Buffett
    1. Agencies need to run leaner with more agility
    2. Most agencies are way too top heavy, but the people who choose who to fire, amazingly, don’t fire themselves
  • Focus…

The Sun is a Powerful Source of Energy.  Every Hour the Sun Washes the Earth with Billions of Kilowatts of Energy.  Yet with a Hat & Some Sunscreen You Can Bathe in the Light of the Sun for Hours at a Time with Few Ill Effects.

A Laser is a Weak Source of Energy.  A Laser Takes a Few Watts of Energy and Focuses Them in a Coherent Stream of Light.  But with a Laser You Can Drill a Hole in a Diamond or Wipe out a Cancer.  — Al Ries, Focus

  • 1+1=3
    1. A great collaboration can create exponential results
    2. Together, The Beatles’ Lennon & McCartney are the world’s bestselling songwriting team. Apart, they weren’t nearly as good.
  • The Difficult We Do Immediately. The Impossible Takes a Little Longer.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

  • It Takes a Lot of Milk to Make Cream
    1. It’s not quality over quantity, it takes quantity to get to a great idea
    2. Too often, we fall in love with our first idea
  • Brainstorms Don’t Produce Enough Precipitation – Wegs
    1. Either we change the way we do brainstorms, or…
    2. We need new ways to collaborate

Transcripts:

Welcome to Episode 8 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the love/hate world of creativity.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, whatever it may be, today on Navigating the Fustercluck, we’re here to talk about collaboration. And the underlying principle of collaboration is something I found on the wall of a Potbelly’s Sandwich Shop…                                         

None of Us is as Smart as All of Us.

The lone wolf may still have its moments, but these days, you have to learn to work together. Collaborate. Co-create. Crowdsource. And whether you’re standing alone or standing together with those who share your particular point of view, knowing how to get people together and ask the right questions is often half the battle in getting to the right answers. Not necessarily your answers. So, when others confront you with proof that doesn’t support your point of view, the real question is: Are you willing to change your mind?

Cheaper, Better, Faster

It used to be that clients could expect two out of three of these: Cheaper. Faster. Better. Now they want it all. They want all three. And they’re going to get them. For too long that’s been done by piling more hours on the backs of younger talent. But there’s only so many hours in the day. And people are finally fighting back. Quitting if they’re pushed too far. That means there’s a need for more productivity. Efficiency. New processes and techniques. The creative industry needs to get more creative.

Advertising Hasn’t Seen A Major Innovation in Creative Development Since     Bill Bernbach Brought Together Creative Duos in the ‘Sixties. 

With the exception of art directors and writers coming together at the dawn of the Hippie Movement, a major part of the creative community has remained siloed. By and large, ad agencies are not collaborative. And that’s with all the major holding companies promoting seamless solutions throughout their system. Talk about fusterclucks! These behemoths may offer some efficiencies, but they don’t deliver effectiveness. Why? Because their own agencies are territorial and don’t particularly like each other. To meet client needs today, something’s got to give. Even on bigger accounts, smaller, more agile agencies and freelancers are on the rise.

Bureaucracy Is Sort of Like a Cancer, and It Functions Sorta Like a Cancer.               – Charlie Munger, Billionaire Investor and Partner of Warren Buffett

Whether you’re a holding company or an independent, it’s time to think small. Go flat. And focus.

The Sun is a Powerful Source of Energy.  Every Hour the Sun Washes the Earth with Billions of Kilowatts of Energy.  Yet with a Hat & Some Sunscreen You Can Bathe in the Light of the Sun for Hours at a Time with Few Ill Effects.

A Laser is a Weak Source of Energy.  A Laser Takes a Few Watts of Energy and Focuses Them in a Coherent Stream of Light.  But with a Laser You Can Drill a Hole in a Diamond or Wipe out a Cancer.  — Al Ries, Focus

Those who can come together and focus have a great chance of succeeding. But it’s going to take a lot of collaboration.

Squeeze Out the Overthink                                                                                       

When it comes to cheaper, better and faster, collaboration is key to achieving all three. From Silicon Valley, game creators and filmmakers like Pixar, the collaborative values and processes of Idea Thinking are becoming the norm. Yet, supposedly creative organizations like ad agencies have not been very creative in evolving their creative development. Besides some half-hearted efforts in crowdsourcing, what are agencies doing to keep pace with other creative industries? There’s a lot of opportunity for those who can set aside their old habits and move forward.

1+1=3

It’s thee classic Classic Rock question: Lennon or McCartney? McCartney or Lennon? Yet, the credits to the most hallowed canon of songs ever, read “Lennon & McCartney.” And post-break-up of the Beatles, neither came close to the heights they reached together. Even when writing separately, their mere influence upon one another made both better.

Lennon & McCartney are the classic proof of the equation 1+1=3. It’s that something extra that wouldn’t have existed if the other hadn’t been there. And that’s the hallmark of great collaborations. Now how can you take an entire team and create exponential results?

The Difficult We Do Immediately. The Impossible Takes a Little Longer.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Great teams require great players who play great together. That’s what it takes to take on today’s increasingly complex problems. Teams that not only work efficiently but effectively. Now how do we get there?

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, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the broadcast, or narrowcast with one final thought on leadership:

It Takes a Lot of Milk to Make Cream

Quality not quantity. Quality not quantity. You hear it over and over again. What you don’t hear enough though is that it takes quantity to get to quality. Too often, ideation stops at first thoughts. When new ideas should always be flowing. The question is how to use collaboration to get to more territories and ideas faster before crafting the Hell out of them.

Brainstorms Don’t Produce Enough Precipitation

A big reason why people don’t collaborate more is that our toolbox to do so is so empty. And some of the old tools need sharpening. Brainstorming comes to mind. Objectives are unclear. Conversations meander. Politicians politic. And you don’t end up with much to use. Plain and simple, with collaboration increasingly important, we need to refine and revamp our toolbox. Next episode we’ll start off with two twists on brainstorms that actually work.

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

I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, here at Deaf Mule Studios. And that indeed is our 3nd show. Thanks for listening in. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at NavigatingF. And remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your best to buck the cluck. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

7. Presentation Skills (Heart to Head), Pt 2

Communication is key. In working together. In selling ideas. In moving up into leadership. The key is to touch people. People are emotional creatures first, thinking creatures second. Keeping people emotionally invested right off the bat is key. Here are some additional ways to leverage what you got from the previous episode of this podcast.

Show Notes:

  • Rose-Tinted Glasses
    1. The Primacy Effect says people remember best what they hear first
    2. A strong start places a Halo Effect on the rest of what you show
  • Tell a Great Story with Numbers
    1. Data dumps suck
    2. No eyecharts
    3. Need to know vs nice to know
    4. Wrap numbers up into a story and as the legendary Tom Hansen said, you will become King S*#t of F%#K Mountain
  • Two Guys at a Bar
    1. Doesn’t matter how large or small your audience is, your presentation ought to feel natural, like two friends at a bar talking
    2. You don’t gain authority by trying to appear and sound like a god on a mountain. Don’t try to sound smart, be smart.
  • If You Can’t Explain it to a Six-Year-Old, You Don’t Understand it Well Enough. — Albert Einstein
  • Stop Reading the Telemprompter in Your Head
    1. Enthusiasm trumps perfection
    2. Don’t over-script your talk
    3. You’ll come across as a bad actor, robotic and stiff
  • No TLA’s!
    1. Jargon is the refuse of the lazy and insecure
    2. Jargon confuses people, stop it
  • Breaking the Chains of Keynote
    1. Slides are supposed to serve you, don’t be a slave to slides
    2. Beyond slides, there are other ways to get across an idea
  • People Will Forget What You Said, People Will Forget What You Did, But People Will Never Forget How You Made Them Feel.

— Maya Angelou, Poet, Speaker, Activist, Muse

Transcripts:

Welcome back to the Episode 7 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the love/hate world of creativity.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, whatever it may be, we’re here to talk some more about talking. Presenting. And performing. What it takes to sell in more ideas to colleagues and clients.

On this episode, lucky #7, we’ll pick up where we left off last time, knowing that we’ve got to start with the heart before we can plant an idea in someone else’s head.

And to do this, it really helps to get off to a great start, so people see you through rose-tinted glasses.

Rose-Tinted Glasses

The Primacy Effect says that people best remember what they see first. That’s why first impressions often create a halo-effect. A positive glow that makes everything that follows look even better than it actually is. That’s a big part of why a strong start is so critical. You want your audience to put on their rose-tinted glasses upfront and look forward to the rest of the show. Which is why I always favor presenting your best work first. Now how else do you get off to a great start?

Tell a Great Story with Numbers

The best storytellers today know how to weave numbers into their stories. Not dull stats and factoids, but insightful numbers that paint a picture:

According to the Dailyinfographic.com, the U.S. uses 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides a year, but only 0.01 percent actually reach their intended targets.

The rest end up contaminating our food, air and water.

Now if you’re an environmentalist or manufacturer of a cleaner pest control system, those numbers paint a picture. A very vivid picture indeed. Which is why a numbers can be a great way to open your story.

Two Guys at a Bar

Whether you’re speaking with one person or a stadium full of people– minus the profanity– keep things as simple as two guys talking at a bar. And if you’re presenting creative, leave the stage directions to Steven Spielberg. When you’re bellying up, and someone asks how your weekend went, you don’t answer, We open on a wide shot of the state fair. Cut to a close up of our hero stuffing his face with a deep-fried corn dog. Just tell the story. If your concept relies that much on explaining technical features, you don’t have an idea.

If You Can’t Explain it to a Six-Year-Old, You Don’t Understand it Well Enough. 

— Albert Einstein

Don’t try to bamboozle people with big words and blathering. It’s the quickest way to get found out. Stay clear of jargon. And embrace peoplespeak. It’s your ideas and not your vocabulary that will impress people.

Stop Reading the Teleprompter in Your Head

Memorization is not presentation. That’s why it’s painful to watch someone literally looking up to their forehead trying to read word-for-word their carefully prepared text. And then when they miss a word or thought, they turn the page back instead of coming to it later. Stay present, not perfect. There will be parts of your talk that you want to memorize exactly, but mostly you should create a series of a few poles that guide you to where you’re going. In between, stay flexible and rely on the anecdotes and facts you know like the back of your hand.

No TLA’s!

I’m a pretty easygoing guy. That is until someone tries to thrust their TLA’s upon me. And honestly, can you blame me? Don’t they just turn your stomach, too? TLA’s, that is? Oh, you don’t know what a TLA is? Well, to clarify, a TLA is a Three-Letter-Acronym. Jargon. And they’re used and abused in presentations every day. They start as shorthand, but eventually they morph into some secret code showoffs use to show that they’re in the know. Really, the only thing I hate more than a three-letter acronym is a four-letter acronym. They need to go ASAP!

Breaking the Chains of Keynote

Slides can keep you on track. They can provide visual stimulation. And their abuse is the main reason why we suffer through so many lackluster presentations. There’s nothing more insulting or boring than someone reading off their slides word-for-word. What’s the point? Keynote has become a crutch. A security blanket. That’s why Jeff Bezos of Amazon has banned them, preferring the preparation of 1-5 page memos that everyone reads before gathering to discuss their content. An interesting alternative that won’t allow you to use all your tools to convince people.

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, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the broadcast with one final thought on presentation skills. Right up front, I stated that you need to start with the heart and move towards the brain. Here’ a classic thought from poet & activist Maya Angelou that backs that up:

People Will Forget What You Said, People Will Forget What You Did, But People Will Never Forget How You Made Them Feel.

— Maya Angelou, Poet, Speaker, Activist, Muse

This is the thought that wraps up this section. There are many ways to communicate. But there is only one you. Find your voice by finding the tools that hack past what you want to say to how you want people to feel. Then use data and analysis to complete the journey from their hearts to their brains. Oh, and have fun. Presentations to you should be like gameday for an athlete. Prepare like one and you’ll start winning a whole lot more.

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

I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, here at Deaf Mule Studios. And that indeed is our 3nd show. Thanks for listening in. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at Navigating F. And remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your best to buck the cluck. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

6. Presentation Skills (Start with the Heart), Pt.1

Communication is key. In working together. In selling ideas. In moving up into leadership. The key is to touch people. People are emotional creatures first, thinking creatures second. Keeping people emotionally invested right off the bat is key.

Show Notes:

  • Great Work Sells Itself as Long as You Don’t Unsell It
    1. Sorry, everything is selling. Internally, externally. Not everyone simply gets it.
    2. Selling is not beneath you.
  • Get On the Good Foot!

– James Brown, The Godfather of Soul, Soul Brother #1, The Man Who Never Left, Mr. Dynamite, The Hardest Working Man in Show Business

  1. Getting off to a good start is half the ballgame.
  2. That’s why I focus on the start. It’s your lift-off.
  • You’ve Got 5-10 Seconds to Defeat Their Phones
    1. Once upon a time, you had 5-10 minutes before your audience locked in or drifted off, but with phones, not anymore
    2. Every second counts. The clock starts before you even make introductions
  • Get Out of Intros
    1. They’re awkward speed bumps
    2. Like a Tarantino film, start in the exciting middle of the story and come back to the beginning later
  • Most of Us Think of Ourselves as Thinking Creatures that Feel, But We Are Actually Feeling Creatures that Think. – Jill Bolte Taylor, Brain Scientist
    1. This is why you start with the heart and move toward the brain
    2. No amount of data will overcome a client’s predispositions unless you make them feel the need for change
  • Try Not to Vomit
    1. Literally, try not to vomit. It’s memorable in the wrong way.
    2. Don’t vomit out all your thoughts at once, either. No one can keep up with an explosion of words and thoughts that only you inderstand. You may as well be speaking in tongues.
  • Questionable Tactics
    1. Not shady tactics, tactics that revolve around the power of questions
    2. Questions can get you off to a great start
  • Light Up Their Brains Like a Christmas Tree
    1. Scientists have placed electrodes on people’s brains to see how they react to questions vs statements
    2. Statements flatline the mind, questions light them up and make people want to not only listen but participate
  • Storytime
    1. Stories are tools for living
    2. They reflect who we are and inspire who we want to be
    3. Stories are memorable ways to get your point across

Transcripts:

Welcome to Episode 6 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the love/hate world of creativity.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, whatever it may be, we’re here to talk about talking. Yep, Presentation skills. If you’re like most people and hate presenting, remember this: It’s a great opportunity to shine. Star. And succeed.

Now when it comes to presentation skills, let’s begin here: Start with the heart and work your way towards the brain…Start with the heart and work your way towards the brain…We’ll expand on that shortly…

After 3 episodes focusing on leaders, it’s no coincidence that those who rise up the leadership ranks are almost always your best presenters. They may not be your smartest or your hardest working, yet their communication skills are what it takes to sell. Your agency. Your work. An idea. Hope. Now some simply have the gift of gab. Most, however, paid attention. Learned from the best (and the worst.) Then they put all those things into practice and added a twist or two. There are many ways to be a dynamic speaker. There are only a few miscues that upend most of us.

Great Work Sells Itself as Long as You Don’t Unsell It

There’s nothing sadder in the creative world than great work dying due to poor presentation. What a waste. Of time. And opportunity. The first thing to remember is this: Selling is not a dirty business. At least it doesn’t have to be. Yet many feel that selling is beneath them. A necessary evil. No, selling is part of your job. Get over any sanctitude. Fear. Or any other hang-up. Internally and externally, selling ideas is at the core of what you do.

Get On the Good Foot!

– James Brown, The Godfather of Soul, Soul Brother #1, The Man Who Never Left, Mr. Dynamite, The Hardest Working Man in Show Business

Watch any of his videos online, and you know that James Brown understood the value of getting off to a strong start. In my experience, getting off to a strong start brings you ¾ the way home. The rest will come. So, let’s get on the good foot with our very first step.

You’ve Got 5-10 Seconds to Defeat Their Phones

In the old days, you had 5-10 minutes to engage your audience before they would start to tune you out. Technology has shrunk that to 5-10 seconds before people seriously start thinking about checking their phones. Is it rude? Yes, and so what? That’s what you’re up against. You have to start strong or risk dreading the rest of the meeting as the faces of your clients get sucked deeper and deeper into their devices.

Get Out of Intros

Agency introductions suck the life out of the room. They’re a waste of time. Speed bumps that break your momentum. Instead, hand out a roster card with names, faces and pertinent information beforehand. Now if a client insists on introducing themselves and demands the same of you, try introducing one another instead. It’s a lot less embarrassing, and you can pimp your teammates far more than they can comfortably pump up themselves. Plus, it shows chemistry. Face it, you need every little edge, and mundane things like introductions are crying for creative help from people like you. 

Most of Us Think of Ourselves as Thinking Creatures that Feel, But We Are Actually Feeling Creatures that Think. – Jill Bolte Taylor, Brain Scientist

Realizing the preceding quote will go a long way in figuring out life. And why your E.Q. is as important or more important than your I.Q. It’s also why when it comes to presenting that I hope you’ll remember this: Start with the heart and work your way to the brain.

Try Not to Vomit

Some call it the set-up, the framing, the pre-ramble… Whatever you call it, at least do one. Many don’t. Instead, they stand up and immediately blurt out a stream of verbal vomit. Diving into executions without giving any context at all. It feels like a false start that leaves your audience bewildered and wondering which one of you is dumb. (Hint: They won’t choose themselves.) It hardly puts anyone in the mood to enjoy much less emotionally invest in or buy an idea or concept. This is why you start by introducing the idea and emotions behind the work.

Questionable Tactics

What if I were tell you that that there are more Latinos in America than Canadians in Canada? What if I were to tell you that the Latino birthrate outpaces the Anglo birthrate by over 20-1? And what if I told you that the Anglo death rate is outpacing the Anglo birth rate? Now what if I asked you where your next customer is coming from? Finally, what if I were to tell you that this is how I opened up a conversation to sell in Latino capabilities to a client? Would you be surprised that they bought it?

Light Up Their Brains Like a Christmas Tree

Science says that when you tell people something that their brains don’t react much. Electrodes show that our brains hardly light up at all. Ask people a question, or tell them a story, however, and their brains light up like a Christmas tree. Why? Because you’ve been invited in. Shown them respect. And now they want to participate. It’s a great way to open a conversation. It lights people up. And it shines a light on your mastery of the topic at hand. What kind of questions or stories would you open a conversation with?

Storytime

Stories reflect who we are. And inspire who we want to be. They move us—emotionally. And that’s how you open someone’s eyes, by opening their hearts first. Start with the heart and move to the brain. People have to feel it before they truly believe it. That said, start with your stories and then prove why what they want to believe is actually true, before topping it off with an emotional close.

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, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to one final thought today on presentation skills.

Storyselling: A Successful Pitch Open that Helped a Client Embrace Change

Instead of saying Goodbye, my 92-year-old friend, Arnold Penney, likes to say, Here’s to the future! As Arnie tells it, what he saw while fighting in WWII made him realize that the only way to go is forward. No wonder Arnie worries that his 68-year-old girlfriend may be too old-fashioned for him! Fortunately, this pitch hasn’t taken any casualties—yet. In fact, we’re so energized that we can’t wait to move your business forward. In order to do that, we’ll have to leave behind some of the old ways. So, in the spirit of Arnie, Here’s to the future!

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

I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, here at Deaf Mule Studios. And that amazingly is our 6th show. Thanks for listening in. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at Navigating F. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

5. Leaders: An Endangered Species, Part 3

In this, our final installment of our 3-part episode on leadership, we’ll talk a little more on how to relate to people. How to listen to them. How to make sure that you’re all on the same page. We’ll also clear dispel some of the myths of what leadership really is.

Show Notes:

  • Follow the Platinum Rule
    1. The Golden Rule tells you to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
    2. But not everyone is like you.
  • Don’t Confuse Obedience for Loyalty
    1. Blindly following orders doesn’t make you loyal
    2. Loyalty is a shared commitment to a set of values and principles, not the everchanging whims of an individual
  • Don’t Confuse Climate for Culture
    1. Taco Tuesdays and team happy hours don’t really define your culture
    2. How you work together and live out your values are
  • How Many Leadership Teams Would Survive a Vote of Confidence?
    1. Leaders get to choose you, you don’t get to choose them
    2. Take surveys seriously, don’t just let people slide because they’re nice or you don’t want to make waves
  • Take the Crap Sandwich Off Your Menu
    1. Two pieces of praise with criticism in-between
    2. Tries to soften the blow
    3. But comes across as less than honest
  • Welcome the Hard Conversations
    1. No one wants things to come to a boiling point, but you can’t let things faster
    2. Look forward to relieving the uncomfortable awkwardness behind, moving forward to better things
  • It’s Not a Principle Until It Costs You Money. – Bill Bernbach, On the Mount Rushmore of Advertising if Advertising Had a Mount Rushmore
  • You Spend the First Fifteen Years of Your Career Trying to Get Into Meetings and the Rest Trying to Get Out of Them. – Tom Goodwin
    1. Meetings tend not to be productive, but they make some people feel important
    2. Prioritize and be productive
  • Two Pizza Maximum
    1. Too many people in a meeting means too much productivity lost
    2. Shouldn’t have meetings where you need more than 2 pizzas to feed everyone
  • I’ve Searched All the Parks in All the Cities and Found No Statues of

          Committees. – Gilbert K. Chesterton

  1. Collaboration is important
  2. Yet we must respect the individual contributions of people

Transcripts:

Welcome to Episode 5 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the love/hate world of creativity.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation…whatever you’re pouring your heart & soul into.

In our last 2 episodes we focused on leadership, and man-o-man, I think we struck a nerve. So, let’s keep on keeping on down the leadership track. Because if it’s important to you, it’s important to us.

Now, I generally I hate rules. Rules of any kind. But sometimes, rules can be pretty freeing. Here’s one that if you can follow honestly and consistently, and that’s not easy, you’re probably 90% of where you need to be as a leader, and a person, for that matter…

Follow the Platinum Rule

The Golden Rule tells you to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But not everyone is like you. They don’t like everything that you do. You may like continuous feedback. Someone else may prefer a bit more space. You may want a promotion. Someone else may want more vacation. You have to get used to one another. Get to know each other. Walk in their shoes so you can understand where they stand and where they want to go. That’s what empathy is all about. That’s when you get the most out of everybody.

Don’t Confuse Obedience for Loyalty      

Loyalty. Perhaps the most abused word in leadership. Too many so-called leaders believe that since they’re “good people”, all their actions must also be good. Even when those actions require the rationalization that “the ends justify the means.” This need to bridge the gap between their self-image and their real-life impact opens doors for opportunistic “Yes Men” and henchman to constantly reassure and flatter them. About all you can do is keep your head down and give such bosses ideas that will allow them to do the right thing and actually become the heroes they crave to be.

Don’t Confuse Culture with Climate

Taco Tuesdays, birthday cakes and happy hours are all great. They put people in a good mood. They keep things fun. All-in-all, they help make for a good atmosphere, and nice office climate. But they aren’t at the core of your culture. Culture centers around your deep-seated values, and how you bring them to life. Are you a top-down command-and-control outfit, or a collaborative grassroots organization? Do you “celebrate” diversity, or actually reflect it? So, seriously- seriously– ask yourself, do you have a feel-good climate, or a clear, actionable culture?

How Many Leadership Teams Would Survive a Vote of Confidence?   

From time-to-time, you’ll see some country hold a vote of confidence to gauge opinion on their leadership. But in business, beyond the occasional survey, the rank-and-file rarely get the opportunity to be heard by those top dogs that they never see, and wouldn’t recognize, even if they knew their names. Perhaps they should conduct their own vote. Not necessarily to be acted upon, but just so everyone can take the temperature of the team at-large. And if leadership retaliates, you’ll have proof that they truly aren’t fit to lead. Of course, you’ll also be jobless.

Take the Crap Sandwich Off Your Menu

Who on earth would serve a Crap Sandwich? Probably you. Not that you meant to, but it happens. It happens when you try to sandwich some negative criticism between two fluffy, but somewhat disingenuous pieces of whitebread praise. Faint praise at that. The thing is, people pick up on it. And they don’t appreciate it. Straight talk. And honest feedback. That’s what people want to hear. That way, people will take your criticism and praise seriously. They’ll take you seriously. That doesn’t mean that you have to be a jerk about criticizing someone. Just don’t insult their intelligence.

Welcome the Hard Conversations

Paolo Coelho said, The fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. Isn’t that the truth when it comes to “showdown” talks? The ones you dread? That come with tension and anxiety. But you just can’t put off any longer. So, prepare yourself the best you can, and rip that Band-aid off. The good thing is that once it’s over, you can get a little relief. And you may just be able to hit the reset button. Clear the air. Come to a better understanding. But you won’t find out or move forward if you keep procrastinating.

It’s Not a Principle Until It Costs You Money. – Bill Bernbach, On the Mount Rushmore of Advertising if Advertising Had a Mount Rushmore

Values and principles. How proudly we hail ours until push comes to shove and we actually have to prove that we actually mean them. Live them. For better or worse. I once worked at an agency that caught an employee defrauding a client. Did they reimburse them? No, didn’t even tell them, because it would cost a lot of money, and they were afraid of the client’s reaction. While it wasn’t my place to alert them, I share in the shame. Not surprisingly, that agency no longer exists.

You Spend the First Fifteen Years of Your Career Trying to Get Into Meetings and the Rest Trying to Get Out of Them.  – Tom Goodwin

Prioritize. If you don’t figure out how to prioritize your day, people will find a way to pull you every which way, until stretched beyond the point where you can focus and be productive. Meetings are rarely productive, so eliminate those that waste time, and limit those you attend to only the ones that are deserving of the time and effort.

Two Pizza Maximum

At the time of this writing, Jeff Bezos of Amazon is the richest person in the world. Part of his success may be attributed to his decision to stop complaining about excessive meetings and actually do something about them. For one thing, at Amazon, there are to be no meetings that require more people than can be fed with two pizzas. Beyond that and all the wasted productivity in the room leads to nothing more than a major fustercluck.

I’ve Searched All the Parks in All the Cities and Found No Statues of Committees.

– Gilbert K. Chesterton

Collaboration is key. Delegation is crucial. But shirking your responsibilities to make the hard decisions is not promoting teamwork, it’s seeding anarchy. Chaos. A rudderless ship. Pardon the alliteration, but… Countless Committees are the crutch of cowards. Dammitt, at some point or another you have to make a decision. Decisions don’t make themselves.

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, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the broadcast, or narrowcast with one final thought on leadership:

You Gotta Stop Watering Dead Plants

If you’ve gotten to the leadership level, part of it is probably because you’re tenacious. You don’t give up. You keep on well beyond the point most would call it quits. If there’s a challenge, you fix it. Including people. But people aren’t machines. Or spread sheets. You can’t always fix their performance. And if you’re spending an exorbitant amount of time on these people, you may well be neglecting those who are ready and willing to take the next step forward. Be honest with yourself on who deserves your time and how much of it. Cool?

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

I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, here at Deaf Mule Studios. And that indeed is our 5nd show. Thanks for listening in. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at Navigating F. And remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your best to buck the cluck. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

4. Leaders: An Endangered Species, Pt 2

In this episode, we’re going to pick up from where we left off last time to talk more about office politics, because, unfortunately, there’s always more to talk about. And we’ll focus a little more here on how to deal with them.

Show Notes:

  • The Difficulty Lies Not So Much in Developing New Ideas as in Escaping from Old Ones.
    1. People are creatures of habit
    2. Uncertainty scares folks
  • You Never Change Things by Fighting the Existing Reality. To Change Something, Build a New Model that Makes the Existing Model Obsolete.

– Buckminster Fuller, architect, author, designer, inventor & futurist

  1. Cab companies were never going to change, so Uber filled the void
  2. Clear alternatives are the only ones that have a shot of making more than just incremental change
  • If You Want to Make Enemies, Try to Change Something. Woodrow Wilson
    1. The irrational anger people have around change makes it tough to implement
    2. As superior as whatever change you’re offering might be, don’t expect to be greeted as a conquering hero, there will be resistance
  • 8 Steps for Leading Change
    1. Harvard Megabrain, Professor John Kotter, came up with this simple process, and I’ve been using it to my advantage for years
    2. Consider this process your blueprint for change
  • Make People Part of the Change. If They Don’t Create It, They’ll Feel Threatened By It. And if They Feel Threatened, They’ll Fight Back.

– Joe Brown, IDEO Portfolio Director

  • If You Want to Make Everyone Happy, Don’t Be a Leader—Sell Ice Cream.

– Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple, Nudger of the Universe

  • What Are You Willing to Give Up to Get What You Want?
    1. Strategy is choice
    2. When you say yes to one thing, you’re automatically saying no to another. Accept it.
  • When They Discover the Center of the Universe, a Lot of People Are Going to be Very Disappointed that They Are Not It
  • You Will Never Truly Be Successful Until You Learn to Give Beyond Yourself.

– Will Ferrell, Comedian & Provocateur

  • Be Who You Needed When You Were Younger
    1. Back in the day, you probably didn’t receive half the help you could have used. Now you can rectify that.
    2. Pay it forward. You’ll help others and yourself by reminding yourself of the things that helped you in your success or held you back from it.

Transcript:

Welcome to Episode 4 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the love/hate world of creativity.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, whatever it may be, we’re here to talk about leadership, or at least what passes for leadership these days.

On this episode we’ll pick up where we left off last time, taking on some of the issues of leadership, or the lack of it. It’s a huge issue, so there’s a lot to cover. Hold on to your seats, my friends.

Last time, we talked about the role vision and change play in leadership. How core values never change, but their definitions do. For example, the American Founding Fathers declared that “All men are created equal.” Except people of color worth only 3/5ths a white male. And women weren’t exactly equal either. (Sadly, we still have equality issues.) But again, values stay put, but there definitions change. That’s why established companies often stop moving forward. They haven’t refreshed their values. As legendary economist John Maynard Keynes said…

The Difficulty Lies Not So Much in Developing New Ideas as in Escaping from    Old Ones. 

Have you ever waited anxiously for your leadership team to introduce the “new way” forward, only to hear what sounds quite familiar to what you’re already doing? No surprise, we love the familiar. It’s comforting. It’s understandable. It works. Or at least, it used to work. And it’s hard to move on from it. Yet we must. Sticking to the fundamentals but redefining them for today.

You Never Change Things by Fighting the Existing Reality. To Change Something, Build a New Model that Makes the Existing Model Obsolete.

– Buckminster Fuller, Architect, author, designer, inventor & futurist

The iPhone made regular phones obsolete. GPS made maps obsolete. Uber made cab companies obsolete. Servant leadership is making command-and-control leadership obsolete (we hope). Whether it’s technology or philosophy, true change rarely comes through incremental change. You have to offer something better. More importantly, you have to offer something different. Not just to your clients, but to your team. Surprisingly, when it comes to leadership and culture, the Creative Industry is amazingly uncreative. What a great opportunity for you.

If You Want to Make Enemies, Try to Change Something.  — Woodrow Wilson

As much as most people bemoan the need for change and progress, they also like security, consistency and taking as little risk as possible. People are funny like that. The only thing you can guarantee them is that if you don’t change, you will all fail. It’s up to you as a leader to create an invitation to change. One that’s too hard to resist.

8 Steps for Leading Change

Harvard Megabrain, Professor John Kotter, came up with this simple process, and I’ve been using it to my advantage for years:

  • Establish a sense of urgency…No one changes things unless they have to
  • Form a powerful coalition…Find the right visionaries, doers and influencers
  • Create a Vision…Your North Star
  • Communicate the Vision…The right mix of meetings and messaging
  • Empower others to act…A vision is an invite to add your touch
  • Create short term wins…Get some skins on the wall for momentum
  • Cement improvements, while accelerating more change…

Keep on keeping on

  • Bake in new approaches…Make them part of your DNA

Make People Part of the Change. If They Don’t Create It, They’ll Feel Threatened By It. And if They Feel Threatened, They’ll Fight Back. 

– Joe Brown, IDEO Portfolio Director

Change in a creative workplace is not going to happen by you coming down with two tablets and 10 commandments everyone must follow. Sorry, most leaders don’t have that kind of authority. You’re not there to boss, you’re there to serve. And the more power you give away, the more power that should come back to you. Not that everyone will be happy with you.

If You Want to Make Everyone Happy, Don’t Be a Leader—Sell Ice Cream. 

– Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple, Someone Who Nudged Us All Forward

Just because you get into leadership doesn’t mean that you’ve crossed the finish line. It’s just the beginning of another race. A harder race. One full of tough decisions. Some of which are bound not to please everyone you work with. Popularity is not going to get you where you need to go. Nor is fear the way. Earn respect first, and then take it from there. In fact, one creative leader told me that when he had layoffs, that if it was close, he would fire his friends first, so people understood that merit came before friendship. Whoa!

If You Want to Make Everyone Happy, Don’t Be a Leader—Sell Ice Cream.

– Part II

On the flipside…If everyone is miserable at your office and hates you, don’t immediately rationalize that they hate you because you’re doing such a whizbang job. Sometimes there’s a thin line between being tough saint and a holy terror.

What Are You Willing to Give Up to Get What You Want?

Strategy is choice. So says Harvard Business School guru, Michael Porter. That’s why the word “no” may be more important than “yes.” If you lack the ability to say no, you’re essentially saying no to focus. To efficiency. And effectiveness. Yet, how often do you see those in leadership trying to have it all? Or a client asking you to mashup two good campaigns to make one indecipherable mess? So please, please, learn how to say yes to no. And start by asking yourself, What am I willing to give up to get what I want?

When They Discover the Center of the Universe, a Lot of People Are Going to be Very Disappointed that They Are Not It

…And many of these people will be in upper management and leadership. Many supervisors still divide their teams into Thinkers, Doers and Helpers. Placing themselves at the top of the food chain. Well, when you look at people as mere minions, you’re not likely to receive much engagement or breakthrough ideas from them. Ask yourself, are they there to serve you, or are you there to serve them? If it’s the latter, you can do better.

You Will Never Truly Be Successful Until You Learn to Give Beyond Yourself.

– Will Ferrell, Comedian & Provocateur

When a comedian understands this, you better take it seriously. Like in the works of Shakespeare, the fool is often the wisest character.

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, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the broadcast, or narrowcast with one final thought on leadership:

Be Who You Needed When You Were Younger

Remember when you first started out in the creative world? Wobbly as a newborn giraffe? Yet somehow you got through it. Got on your feet and learned how to walk. To run. Who helped you along the way? Would your climb have gone more quickly if more people had paid attention? Offered advice? Probably. So, when your career advances, think back to what you wish others had said or done, and then do it yourself for others. Show you understand. Show you care. Your people will appreciate it. They’ll grow. As will your business.

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

I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, here at Deaf Mule Studios. Thanks so much or listening in. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at Navigating F. And remember, we’re all in this together. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

3. Leaders: An Endangered Species

We all like to think that everything would be better if we were in charge. But is it that easy? And until you get your shot, what should you be looking for? How can you spot the kind of people who can help bring out the best in you and your team.

Show Notes:

  • Nearly All Men Can Stand Adversity, But If You Want to Test a Man’s Character, Give Him Power. – Abraham Lincoln
  • Lots of People Want to Be the Noun Without Doing the Verb. — Austin Kleon, Author, Artist, Poet & Designer     
  • The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves
  • As a Leader You Owe Your Team 3 Basic Things:
    1. A Vision of Where You’re Headed
    2. Input to that Vision
    3. The Tools & Environment to Fulfill that Vision
  • The Vision Thing
  • 3 Simple Rules to Grow a Great Team:
    1. Support Your Performers
    2. Deal with the Rest
    3. If You’re Not Dealing with the Rest, You’re Not Supporting Your Performers
  • There’s a Difference Between Leading and Managing
  • I’ve Got Vision and the Rest of the World Wears Bifocals.

– Butch Cassidy, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid

  • com, @NavigatingTheFustercluck

Transcript:

Welcome to Episode 3 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the love/hate world of creativity.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, whatever it may be, we’re here to talk about leadership, or at least what passes for leadership these days.

We spent our first 2 episodes of Navaigating the Fustercluck talking about office politics. And mastering office politics is how a lot of people climb the ladder. Some by using them for good, most by gaming the game and manipulating people. (Sorry, but it’s true.)

Now let’s assume that you’re one of the good guys who managed to survive the gauntlet and grind of office politics in one piece and somehow end up as King or Queen of the Hill. You will now owe it to your fellow survivors to lead them and lead them well. Here are some things to keep in mind for when that day comes. You may also want to see if your current leadership is measuring up.

Nearly All Men Can Stand Adversity, But If You Want to Test a Man’s Character, Give Him Power.  – Abraham Lincoln

Welcome to leadership! After all that time thinking that you could do a better job than those in charge, now you get to prove it! It won’t be easy. It can, however, be rewarding. One of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. That’s why you take it on. To grow. Yourself, and most importantly, your team. And ultimately, your business. So, when things go wrong, remember this: look in the mirror first. Question your character before anyone else’s. People will respect you for it. And you’ll respect yourself.

Lots of People Want to Be the Noun Without Doing the Verb.                                    — Austin Kleon, Author, Artist, Poet & Designer     

Some people think a title brings semi-retirement. Two-hour lunches. Days full of finger pointing and pontificating. While in reality, leadership comes with much more than a title. It comes with responsibility. And stuff to do. Lots of stuff to do. That doesn’t mean micro-managing. It doesn’t mean trying to do everything yourself. It does, however, mean taking action. Of course, it helps if you actually have a vision and mission to act on. Lacking that, there’s usually an abundance of busy work created to mask a lack of productivity with activity. The exact wrong kind of action.

The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Command and control. Top-down. Authoritarian. Whatever you call it, old-fashioned management has not gone fully out of fashion. Now not many will admit that they follow this philosophy, but you may well experience it at some point or another. Just don’t practice it. It’s demoralizing, demeaning and won’t make your business a place people stay at or seek out. Fear is the enemy of creativity, so don’t aid and abet the enemy.

As a Leader You Owe Your Team 3 Basic Things:

1)   A Vision of Where You’re Headed

2)   Input to that Vision 

3)   The Tools & Environment to Fulfill that Vision

It’s simple. People need a sense of direction, some serious say (but not necessarily a veto) in mapping out which way to go and the culture and resources to make it all happen. Sadly, most outfits go 0-3. Why? Because #2 & #3 are contingent upon #1. And sadly, few in leadership roles provide such basic direction.

The Vision Thing

So what does a clear direction look like?                                                                     
Here are a few examples:

To provide access to the world’s information in one click. – Google                       
(Yep, they’re nailing it.)

Our mission is to create the most talked about work in the world. – Crispin.   (Earned media is the best media, so yes, earn more than anyone else.)

Fail harder. — Wieden & Kennedy                                                                             
 (When you’re competing against it more and more, it makes sense to take on a Silicon Valley attitude .)

We sell or else. – Ogilvy                                                                                                   
(Got it. It’s all about results. Work that works.)

3 Simple Rules to Grow a Great Team:

1)   Support Your Performers

2)   Deal with the Rest

3)   If You’re Not Dealing with the Rest, You’re Not Supporting Your Performers

Seems simple. Yet so many executives allow underachievers, outdated vets and personal pets to bring down their core team, taking focus off the work and placing it squarely upon their refusal to support their performers.

You can tell your performers to mind their own business, but in the end, it is their business. Their hours and energy covering for others, their trust that’s been eroded and their pride that you’ve now converted into festering frustration and embarrassment. As Gruenter and Whitaker say, The Culture of Any Organization is Shaped by the Worst Behavior the Leader is Willing to Tolerate. 

There’s a Difference Between Leading and Managing

Leadership is about seeding vision and change. Management is about feeding and watering that vision. Both are crucial. Both take brains. Both require action. Allow either to grow stagnant, and there’s trouble. Why? Because neither works without the other. It may all start with strategy, but without execution, you’ll never get to where you’re going. And without strategy, you may be headed in the exact wrong direction all together, no matter how well people are playing their individual roles. It’s up to your leadership to make sure things are headed in the right direction. And when necessary, change course.

Let’s Take a Short Breather…

…We’re here at Deaf Mule Studios to remind everyone that this is Navigating the Fustercluck. And I’m Wegs, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the broadcast, or narrowcast with one final thought on leadership:

I’ve Got Vision and the Rest of the World Wears Bifocals.

– Butch Cassidy, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid

We’re attracted to visionary leaders. The ones who see things differently. Who make us feel that we’re part of something special. Eventually, however, they step

back or step away altogether. And who are they replaced by? Another visionary leader? Rarely. Leaders are usually replaced by managers. And like a driver so worried about staying on the road that he can only see past his hood ornament, managers miss the changing scenery and exits. Their GPS fails to reroute, and the business starts to veer off course. The business slowly gets lost. Then suddenly crashes. Without vision, it’s inevitable. Find a place that has vision, people, or you’ll crash with these folks!

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

Tune in next time as we delve deeper into the topic of leadership. I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, here at Deaf Mule Studios. Thanks for listening in to our 3rd show. Until next time, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at Navigating F. And remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your best to buck the cluck. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

2. More Politics, More Problems

In this episode, we’re going to pick up from where we left off last time to talk more about office politics, because, unfortunately, there’s always more to talk about. And we’ll focus a little more here on how to deal with them.

Show Notes:

  • The Problem with the World is that the Intelligent People are Full of Doubts While the Stupid Ones are Full of Confidence.

— Charles Bukowski, Author, Renegade, Drunkard, Dirty Old Man

  1. Confidence keeps you doing the right things
  2. Office politicians manipulate our insecurities
  • Run Like Hell from the Self-Proclaimed ‘Keeper of the Culture’
    1. Those who talk the most about culture often live it the least
    2. They can be dangerous, but you’re not defenseless
  • Earn Your Black Belt in Verbal Jujitsu
    1. Jujitsu uses your opponent’s weight and strength as weapons against him/her
    2. Their hollow words can be used against them
  • You Can’t Prove Intent
    1. Weasel words are how weasels weasel out of responsibility
    2. This is how to get around HR
  • Politics Is Not a Dirty Word—Necessarily
    1. Not all politics are dirty and ignoble
    2. Those who play them the right way need your support
  • If You Try to Win, You’ll Lose
    1. Become obsessed with politics and they will trip you up
    2. Don’t let self-righteousness be your downfall
  • It’s Not Your Boss Who Protects You, It’s Your Boss’ Boss
    1. Bad bosses try to defend their turf by cutting others off from their direct report
    2. Don’t go over your boss’ head, but do establish a repertoire with those above your boss
  • Settle It Over a Beer
    1. Try not to immediately go over someone’s head when you have a problem with them
    2. Go outside your usual work environment for real discussion
  • Don’t Do Something Permanently Stupid Just Because You Are Temporarily Upset
    1. Anger is understandable, sometimes justified
    2. Don’t let it cause long-term language
  • Sometimes, You Have to Give Up on People,

           Not Because You Don’t Care but Because They Don’t Care

  1. Sometimes, it’s hard to leave people you care for
  2. Sometimes, you just have to for your sake. Because sometimes there is no turning things around.

Transcript:

Welcome to Episode 2 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the love/hate world of creativity.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, whatever it may be, we’re here with Part 2 of our exploration of office politics. We’re talking about it more, because there’s always more!

So here’s the unfortunate truth….

The Problem with the World is that the Intelligent People are Full of Doubts While the Stupid Ones are Full of Confidence.

— Charles Bukowski, Author, Renegade, Drunkard, Dirty Old Man

Does that ring true to you? Painfully true?

Beware the bullying blowhards and bloviators trying to steamroll you. Those forceful personalities who make you second-guess yourself. At their core, creative types are strong, yet burdened by lingering insecurities. Either consciously or unconsciously, office bullies prey on this. Often pressuring you for your immediate support or a snap answer that may become a long-term trap. Hold off their bullying the best you can. Taking the time to formulate the right answer is not being indecisive, it’s being smart. And every time you hold your ground, you build muscle. Eventually, they’ll either come to respect you or fear you.

Run Like Hell from the Self-Proclaimed ‘Keeper of the Culture’

No one person owns your company’s culture. And while leadership has a role in forming it, culture is not a department or committee to be assigned to any one individual. In fact, anyone referring to himself as The Keeper of the Culture, well, you can almost guarantee that this person knows all the right things to say, and that’s about it. In such hands, culture becomes weaponized. Clash with the keeper, and you’re against the culture, pegged as a misfit, while the Keeper has come to believe that he is in fact the physical embodiment of the culture itself.

Earn Your Black Belt in Verbal Jujitsu

Jujitsu uses your opponent’s weight and strength as weapons against him. Like the seemingly impenetrable wall of bullshit office politicians shield themselves with. You know…

We’re one team (as long as you obey me.)

We’re like family (until the layoffs, of course.)

We’re all about diversity (but don’t dare point out our lack of it.)

The solution? Use their words against them. Want something? Frame it around their stated values. Since we’re all dedicated to diversity, let’s start a minority mentoring program. Like that, they’ll have a hard time turning you down. Works great on Keepers of the Culture.

You Can’t Prove Intent

Oh, I forgot to CC you? Sorry.

(Sorry you found out. Is more like it.)

I thought you would appreciate me lightening your load.

(Granted, he stuck you with all the crap accounts.)

You hate your new space? That’s quite a popular area.

(Of course, the desk right outside the bathroom door always sees high foot traffic.)

No, you can’t prove intent. That’s why passive aggressiveness is the HR friendly form of abuse. But don’t engage in it. Politely call it out. And expect the other person to deny it. At least they’ll be put on notice and will eventually curb their behavior.

Politics Is Not a Dirty Word—Necessarily

Hero. Genius. Rockstar. Politician… One of these things is not like the other. Or so it would seem. Yet Lincoln was a politician. Mandela, too. Not all politicians are alike, office politicians included. True, good ones are rare, but they exist. They listen. They care. They’re not perfect, but they’re willing to stick their necks out for the greater good. If you don’t possess such skills, support those who do. Be patient with them. It takes time and energy to try to turn an organization around. Go find your allies. Protect one another. There is strength in numbers.

If You Try to Win, You’ll Lose

Overcoming office politics is not about “winning.” It’s about making things better. Making the culture better. Making the work better. Take on an overtly competitive mindset and you’re likely to start saying careless things and doing stupid stuff. You start rushing the result you want, and that’s not usually a good look. It reeks of desperation. Even people who agree with you don’t want any part of the uncomfortable awkwardness of self-righteousness. You’ve got to stay patient.

It’s Not Your Boss Who Protects You, It’s Your Boss’ Boss

Don’t go over your boss’ head but do get to know your boss’ boss. It’s good for her to see who you are, and good for you that she gets a sense of your worth. Someone in that position probably has knowledge to impart, too. Still, focus primarily on your boss. Will she piss you off sometimes? Absolutely. Disappoint you? Uh-huh. And guess what, you’re not perfect, either. Don’t make things worse by complaining. Accept reality, while working to make things better. And without giving away all the credit, try to make your boss look good. You’ll both benefit.

Settle It Over a Beer

If you’re not seeing eye-to-eye with someone, stop muttering under your breath and try to give them the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes styles and personalities need time to gel together. Open up the lines of communication. Ask him to join you for a coffee or beer. Let him know what you like about him so far, and that you want to work even better with him. He’ll either open up and you’ll make progress, or you can go back to muttering under your breath, until you find another chance to improve things.

Don’t Do Something Permanently Stupid Just Because You Are Temporarily Upset

Unresolved frustrations can grow and grow and grow. Just know, the politicians waiting for you to explode. Just don’t let them get the best of you. Don’t blow your top in a meeting. Don’t send that email. Don’t give them the excuse they need to take you out. Count to ten. Take a walk. Grab a cup of coffee. Fight for your people, but don’t make it a war. It’s not easy. When I started, I didn’t always follow my own advice. And I suffered the consequences, so please don’t fall into the same trap. Breathe. Regroup. Go forward.

Let’s Take a Short Breather…

…We’re here at Deaf Mule Studios to remind everyone that this is Navigating the Fustercluck. And I’m Wegs, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the broadcast, or narrowcast with one final thought of office politics:

Sometimes, You Have to Give Up on People, 

Not Because You Don’t Care but Because They Don’t Care

It’s hard to leave people you love. Or a place with a lot of potential. And no one wants to be labeled a quitter. But sometimes you just have to move on. As they say, people don’t quit their company, they quit their boss. It’s just a fact. Toxic is toxic. And enough is enough. And leaving a toxic situation doesn’t make you weak. Nor does it mean that they “won.” It means that life is too short to stick around people that aren’t interested in the success and happiness of other people.

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

I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, here at Deaf Mule Studios. And that indeed is our 2nd show. Thanks for listening in. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at Navigating F. And remember, we’re all in this together. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.

1. They Never Taught Us that at School: Office Politics

Office politics is something they don’t teach you at school. But maybe they should. Here is the 1st part of a look into the political headaches and speed bumps that distract you from what drew you to creativity in the first place—the work.

Show Notes:

  1. The Creative Industry is simple but not easy
    • a. At its root, it’s nothing more than problem/solution with a twist
    • b. Why? Human beings!
  2. Gaming the game has become the game
    • a. Office politics are more rampant than ever
    • b. One way or another, you have to deal with them
  3. Expecting the World to Treat You Fairly Because You’re a Good Person is a Little Like Expecting the Bull Not to Attack You Because You’re a Vegetarian. — Dennis Wholey
    • a. Sorry, you can’t be Switzerland in this conflict
    • b. That doesn’t mean you have to be a treacherous jerk, either
  4. Never Wrestle a Pig in the Mud, the Pig Likes It – GBS
    • a. You can’t be something that you’re not
    • b. You can’t beat politicians at their own game
  5. People Aren’t Against You; They Are for Themselves
    • a. Most people are scared and just hoping to survive
    • b. Blindness is more at play than meanness
  6. There’s a Special Place in Hell for the Devil’s Advocate
    • a. Human speed bumps slow us all down
    • b. Block them before they block you
  7. Don’t Let the Office Historian Make You a Prisoner of the Past
  8. Stay Out of the Crosshairs of Poachers
    • a. They create tricky situations
    • b. Cut them off at the pass or they’ll haunt you and abuse others
  9. Listen to the second part of our exploration of office politics:
    • More Office Politics, Because There’s Always More…Available now…
  10. NavigatingTheFustercluck.com, @NavigatingTheFustercluck
  1.  

Transcript:

Welcome to the inaugural episode of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the love/hate world of creativity and marketing.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas. And whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, whatever it may be, at some point or another, you have probably you have probably found yourself saying these words:

They never taught us that at school.

Over my many years of working in the world of creativity, I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people say:

They never taught us that at school.

So, here are some overlooked insights for creative types like you. Some may surprise you. Some may inspire you. And hopefully, many will be of use to you.

Taken together, these snackable nuggets should shave years off your learning curve. Helping you step around the landmines, so you can focus on the work. The thing that drew you to creativity in the first place.

Oddly Enough…

…It’s simple but not easy. That’s the paradox of the creative world. At its core, it’s nothing more than problem/solution with a twist. Very simple stuff, right? So, if it’s so simple, why isn’t it equally as easy? In a nutshell: human beings. Even with our bulging frontal lobes and opposable thumbs, we find a way to muck things up. Creating one big fustercluck.

Sadly, there’s no solvent or spray to untangle this hairball of human folly. But what is offered here is some clear, solid advice written in plain, simple peoplespeak by me- Wegs, the Anti-Guru, to help you navigate the fustercluck that drives many creatives crazy, if it doesn’t drive you out of the business first.

That said, welcome to the fustercluck!

Which brings us to our 1st topic…

Gaming the Game Has Become the Game

Remember your first course on office politics? Of course not. No one offers one. Yet, office politics go a long way in determining your career path. Your assignments. Credits. Raises. Promotions. Satisfaction. And quite possibly, your sanity. So, let’s start off with office politics. Just keep in mind that this section is not designed to turn you into some corporate Machiavelli. Instead, you’ll gain some insight on what to look out for, who to look out for and how to lower your odds of taking a dagger in the back.

Ouch! That doesn’t seem fair now, does it? Well…

Expecting the World to Treat You Fairly Because You’re a Good Person is a Little Like Expecting the Bull Not to Attack You Because You’re a Vegetarian.

— Dennis Wholey

Nope, life is not always fair.  Just because something should be doesn’t mean that it will be. The good guys don’t always win. The bad guys don’t always get caught. And when they do, they all too often get off easy. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you can do something about office politics. There’s no use in clinging to your anger waiting for leadership to actually lead and make things right. Do that, and you may well find yourself standing there with your arms folded until finally, you’re lying horizontal on the wrong side of the grass.

Never Wrestle a Pig in the Mud, the Pig Likes It.  — George Bernard Shaw

It seems like you have to play politics to get ahead, so I guess I’ll have to play them, too. Ever said this out of frustration? It’s tempting, but don’t do it. Don’t go to the dark side. Roll around in the dirt, and you’re bound to feel dirty. And honestly, the mud pit is the natural habitat of the office politician. It’s awfully hard to beat someone on their home turf. That’s not to say that you should raise the white flag, just don’t lower your standards. Lifting them back up is harder than you think.

Here’s something else that took me a long time to realize, and I still need to remind myself of it often…

People Aren’t Against You; They Are for Themselves

In healthy cultures, people are committed to a purpose. A higher cause. Something greater than themselves. In weak cultures, people are only out for themselves. Attaching to others who will protect and reward them, while rationalizing away the unpleasant side effects of office politics. That doesn’t get them off the hook for caving in to such asshattery, but it’s important to remember that people’s natural bias toward themselves can make them willfully blind. The thing is to understand their blind spots. And try not to take it personal. It will keep you off blood pressure meds.

In creativity, you meet all sorts of people. That’s part of the fun. Yet, there’s one kind of character I dread every time I see an idea leave their brain and head toward their lips, and I think that we can all agree upon this…

There’s a Special Place in Hell for the Devil’s Advocate

Why offer ideas of your own, when all you have to do is derail everyone else’s? Meet the Devil’s Advocate. He’s more interested in attention than answers. Instead of honest questions, he brings Molotov Cocktails designed to build up nothing but himself. Yes, listen to him. Thoroughly. Then counterchallenge him to offer a better solution. And if that doesn’t work, the next time he proposes Let me play Devil’s Advocate… Say this: Let’s not. Let’s stay positive for now and poke holes later. Blunt? Yep. Oh well, sometimes you have to sacrifice some short-term politeness to create lasting positivity.

Another form of human speed bump is someone I call the Office Historian. And let me tell you now…

Don’t Let the Office Historian Make You a Prisoner of the Past

We tried something like that before and it didn’t work.

I had that idea 5 years ago but the CEO killed it.

I think someone else did that before.

Legal has never liked that.

This is what the Office Historian sounds like. Old and tired.

Now experience can be quite an asset, but sometimes fear, burnout or a need to remain relevant makes people look backwards more than forward.

Truth is times change. You can’t dip your toe in the same river twice. Ask your team to focus on the best solution for today rather than yesterday’s failings.

Let’s Take a Short Breather…

…to remind everyone that this is Navigating the Fustercluck. Recorded at Deaf Mule Studios. And I’m Wegs, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to those who believe gaming the game is the game…

Stay Out of the Crosshairs of Poachers

The best way to receive credit is to give credit. Make sure you point out the contributions of others and they’ll do the same for you. Now if somebody does pull a fast one, see if you have your idea stored in your computer. Quietly point out the situation to the other person involved. If it’s more than an honest mistake that they’re willing to correct, talk to your boss. We’re in the ideas business. That’s what we get judged on. Let someone get away with theft, and they’ll go on to victimize someone else. Or become your boss.

Well, that about wraps up our first 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. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at NavigatingF. Remember, we’re all in this together. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.