I originally found this video on Shaun’s site. What a better way to get to inspired than by checking out how people are pushing the limits of what’s possible. This video features Danny MacAskill from the Inspired Bicycles team in Edinburgh. He does things with his bike that I didn’t know were physically possible.
When starting to think around a problem, sometimes you have so much information and no context. So many ideas and no strategy. A lot of muscle, but no skeleton. You are bogged down by information overload and need to focus on relevant ideas that solve your problem.
When this happens, I like to use what I call “The Post-It Method” to focus my thinking and generate new ideas. It’s a brainstorming strategy that one of my friends taught me while at was working on strategy and new business pitches at my old agency. It’s pretty simple.
How To Do It
1. Collect all the information you can
2. Distill it down to points you can fit on a post-it (8 words or less)
3. Place it so you can see everything
4. Start culling/reducing/organizing to build your idea
Why It Works
I really like this method because I’m a visual thinker. I like to see information and problems. By culling everything down to simple points on post-it notes, you can physically shift things around to build arguments. You can group like-minded ideas. You can toss stuff that doesn’t work into the recycling bin.
Give the post-it method a shot the next time you’re stuck on a project. You might find that by having all of the points spread out in front of you, you’ll see things differently. If nothing else, people will think you’re creative from seeing you stand before a wall of post-its and moving them around.
I am constantly getting inspired by the creativity of children. Their minds are always wandering and seeing possibilities that adults can’t understand. They are constant explorers of the world around them.
Here’s a little Monday inspiration for you. It’s courtesy of Hugh MacLeod, a dude who makes art in Texas.
After joining The Cult of Done, I realize that there’s nothing wrong with being either a sheep or a wolf. They both have their pros and cons. But you should make that decision. You should be in control of who you want to be. Not the circumstances.
I work in advertising. But I’m an account man. I’m not a creative. To those of you who aren’t familiar with how things work in an advertising agency, there are basically two side – creative and account. The account side takes care of all of the business sides of things – the client relationships, the profitability, the timelines and the strategy. The creative side comes up with the ideas for the ads and makes them look pretty.
The creatives work in teams that include one copywriter and one art director. Traditionally, the copywriter is in charge of the words and the art director is in charge of the look of an ad. But they both work together to come up with ideas and sell them in.
A couple of weekends ago, I moonlighted as a copywriter. Basically for the Young Lions competition you have to be under 28. One of my friends at my agency was looking for a copywriter because her partner is too old. By virtue of my age, I got asked to put on Converse shoes and pretend to be a copywriter. And off I was to be briefed and turn around an ad in 24 hours
The problem was that I was in Vancouver at the time. And my partner was in Toronto. Solution? We worked over Skype.
Anyways, we worked together on getting achieving insights, which turned out to be amazing. We came up with some really compelling ideas that we felt hadn’t been talked about in the category. We spent a couple hours settling in on a certain insight and how to portray them. Then came the tough task. I was asked to write copy. So I did. It sucked. So I tried it again. It got better. I sent it off to my partner and she started making ads.
So what does a copywriter do while their art director is making the ads? Grab dinner and a beer. Life was sweet. I could get used to this.
But then I was introduced to the key lesson that I learned during this process. Coming up with ideas is easy. Making them look good is hard.
The concepts we had for ads didn’t work out when we had to create them. Ouch. That sucked. So burned the midnight oil until the last possible minute (4am PST and 7am EST) and fixed up something to send in.
To be honest, the creative never got to where we would have liked it to be. But I had a really good time. It was a great experience because it showed me how stuff really works on the “factory floor”. A lot of this had to do with my partner. She was really fun and understanding and she guided me through the process. It didn’t result in good creative, but who is able to land a back flip the first time they try snowboarding?
It was fun to pretend to be a creative. It gave me some good insight. And it taught me some valuable lessons about how to motivate and inspire creatives. Maybe I’ll cross the bridge to the fun side of advertising in the next life.