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aglet

The best brands solve the simplest problems

The best brands solve the simplest problems

The best ideas are not actually big ideas that solve big problems. They’re more often, simple, brilliant ideas that solve the simplest problems at scale. Big ideas are too difficult for the average consumer to grasp. Simple, brilliant ideas like Uber, AirBnB and Netflix, executed at scale are what really work. The real challenge brands have is identifying the problem their consumers have. For that, brands need to be outward focused, not inward. But remember, asking the consumer what they want they will just result in a faster horse. The real skill is to ask different questions that lead to more questions and then draw insights from the answers. Always spend as much time as you can on the problem and the simple, brilliant ideas will begin to emerge.

We overestimate what we can do in a month and underestimate what we can do in a year.

We overestimate what we can do in a month and underestimate what we can do in a year.

A month is a short time. In the average month, there are only 21 working days. Too often we overestimate what can really be achieved, meaningfully, in a month. You will struggle to lose 5kgs, train for an event, learn a new skill, grow your hair, conceptualise and create a meaningful campaign or write a book, in just one month. But while 12 months is also a short time that flies by, we underestimate what we can do in a year. In a year, you can build a house, start a company, write 2 books, lose 15kg, train for Ironman, learn to play the guitar -or win 10 Cannes Lions.

The trick is to set goals and keep moving towards what you want to achieve. Keep marking yourself today against yesterday and make sure that you’re growing, moving, creating, learning and producing. Make sure you come back to your goals each week and back yourself to achieve what you want to in a year.

Comfort is a slow death.

Comfort is a slow death.

This simple sentence says so much already. It’s the internal philosophy of one of the world’s greatest agencies, Wieden+Kennedy in Portland (AdAge’s 2018 agency of the year). It’s brilliant. Comfort is the antithesis of creativity. Discomfort is what we should strive for. It requires real balls to knowingly put yourself in uncomfortable positions but without doing so, you will be dying a slow death. Whether it’s the work we do, the conversations we need to have, the effort we need to put in, the subjects we have to face or the parts of our life we put off because they’re too uncomfortable. Get out of the comfort zone and find success.

Moments that matter.

Moments that matter.

This is a very average hotel (motel?) in Los Angeles called the Magic Castle hotel. It’s neither magic nor is it a castle. It’s a crappy old apartment type block converted into a hotel. And it’s in Hollywood which is home to the Ritz-Carlton, the Four Seasons, and the Bel-Air, to name a few.

Well, the Magic Castle Hotel is the number 2 rated hotel in all of Los Angeles. Out of 357 hotels. And the reason is because they totally understand the concepts of moments. Brands often talk about creating experiences. Experiences are nice but they do not always result in memories. Moments that matter do. Think about the meaningful moments over your life you recall.

Brands need try harder to create more moments that matter. The Magic Castle does this. One such moment is a Big Red Phone at the pool called the Popsicle Hotline. You pick up the phone, call the popsicle hotline and a butler comes out with free popsicles in flavours of your choice on a silver tray. There are 3157 reviews on the hotel on TripAdvisor and every single review has been personally replied by the staff. We can learn from this in the way we treat each other, our clients and our clients’ customers through campaigns and the work we create. The Magic Castle Hotel is an example of not trying to be the best, but making sure you’re the favourite.

Have to vs want to.

Have to vs want to.

Everyone wants and loves the glory. The glory of finishing a race, the glory of standing on stage winning a Gold Lion at Cannes or the glory of cooking a superb meal that floors your dinner guests. But what people don’t want is the training, the pain, the hard work and the practise that goes into it behind the scenes; the stuff that people don’t get to see. Because that’s the hard part.

The challenge is to reframe the context. And realise, for the meaningful things you want, you need to want the hard parts too. It’s the language and context of your thought process that counts. If you want the glory, you HAVE TO LEARN to want the pain, the blood, sweat and tears that goes into that thing.

Instead of saying “I have to work late”, “I have to do this brief”, “I have to go train for an hour” or “I have to start again and think harder about this problem”, try saying, “I want to work late”, “I want to do this brief”, “I want to go train for an hour” or “I want to start again and think harder about this problem” because, well, I want that glory!

If you want the real glory at the end of the day, you have to reframe the pain that goes with it.

The difference between money and time.

The difference between money and time.

Another gem from Seth Godin that made a big impact on me. Often people talk about money and time being the same thing. They are definitely related, but there is a key difference. Money not spent is money saved. Money can be put away, invested, saved for a rainy day. Time on the other hand, is much more valuable because the time we have is never going to be had again. Either you’re spending your time, or wasting it.

On culture

On culture.

You hear stories from Google, Netflix, R/GA and the like on their “culture”. It invariably looks a lot like fun and consists of swings, slides, pool tables, table tennis, bean bags, beer and coffee. But those are to culture what a billboard is to creativity. Culture is none of that stuff. Culture is performance. Go back and assess the places, the sports teams and companies that have been accredited with a great culture and the one thing they all have in common is, they win. In fact, all of them worked damn hard to get to that win. They held each other accountable. They pushed. They dug deep. The focused on the big picture and let it drive them. They put in the big, hard hours because they wanted to, not because they had to. In fact, we would argue at the time, some of their experiences were quite tough. But, at the end of the day, they won and keep on winning. And why this matters is that people, teams, colleagues, staff, creatives, clients etc, find way more satisfaction looking back at sacrifices made to win than looking back on a time spent with table tennis, bean bags, beer and coffee with little to show for it. We are not saying it can’t exist together, but at the end of the day, the most influential and memorable part of culture is performance, not environment. You will never forget your first Cannes Award but the memory of the hard work that got you it will fade.

A deadline isn’t a target.

A deadline isn’t a target.

Creative people are legendary when it comes to doing things last minute. It’s something about the rush, the adrenalin of running out of time that pushes the creative species into action and gets down to work. It’s the moment when procrastination simply can no longer happen. Or when the deadline isn’t some abstract date in the distance.
But a deadline isn’t a target. And it shouldn’t be.

We all need the creative maturity to set our own targets and become disciplined enough to hit those. And, well, a target can be hours or days before the deadline.

Why do we miss deadlines? We fall victim to planning fallacy – a built-in optimism all humans have that underestimate how long it will take to complete a task. We plan things in perfect order, thinking everything will go according to plan. But in life, and especially in a creative agency, a plan is not something great work goes according to. So when planning, plan for double or triple the time you think you need. And hey, it never hurt anyone to miss a deadline on the right side.

Happiness is a collective effort.

Happiness is a collective effort.

Years ago, Zig Ziglar said, “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” When he said it, it was probably a hunch or some nice thing to say. Recently, however, an author named Shawn Achor, in his new book Big Potential, proves it.
We have been led to believe that happiness, gratitude, motivation and even despair or depression are individual. Or in a sense, in our own control. But Big Potential’s research, thanks to the big data available now, has proven that happiness is a collective effort and directly affected by those around us. One of the research pieces asked people to climb a steep hill and at the bottom, to guess the gradient of the hill they were about to climb. People on their own guessed the gradient to be 20-25% worse than someone who had a close friend they were going to climb the hill with. The reason is not that we feel better because we have a supporter, but because we feel less burdened if we change the focus from “the weight of the problem is on my shoulders” to “how am I going to help that person achieve it”. The act of helping someone else through the same pain, drastically lowers our own perceived burden of that pain.
As a separate example, we are certain you all have friends/family that when you are around them they make you funnier, more relaxed, more enjoyable or more confident.

So, what does this mean? It means we all need to BE the people that make others feel better about themselves because it is proven to contribute towards eliminating our own stress/problems while heightening their ability to be more creative, productive and confident. As a result, you’ll act with more gratitude and actively lift others up, which further benefits YOU. The collective pursuit of a common success is now known to lift people out of stress and even depression and mostly, makes individuals happier, more content to live and work with a greater sense of gratitude.

We no longer have our own creativity, intelligence or happiness score. We are massively affected by those around us and because we ARE those people around others, we have much greater power than ever thought before in terms of driving the happiness, gratitude and success of our team and our work.

There is a difference between work that’s impossible to avoid and work that is impossible to ignore.

There is a difference between work that’s impossible to avoid and work that is impossible to ignore.

We think this alone says it all. But media planners, digital marketers and remarketers all sell clients on strategies that try to make work that’s impossible to avoid. It’s called reach. Or awareness. The best agencies create work that is impossible to ignore. The work is distinct, insightful, noticed. Be the latter.