"We gather knowledge faster than we gather wisdom." - William Bell

The Argument Against Fighting For Creative

Posted: February 19th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Pitching Ideas | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Imagine the following scenario – you’re looking for a pair a jeans. You’re in a store trying on a couple pairs and the salesperson is heavily pushing you towards purchasing a specific pair. But for some reason, you’re not into them. The style just isn’t you. It’s not easy to explain, but you’re just not feeling them. They don’t make you comfortable and confident. They’re too out there.

Then the salesperson decides to start assaulting you until they get you to give in and buy the jeans they suggest. You leave the store batter and bruised. You’re never going to shop there again. And you are sure as fuck never going to wear those jeans.

It’s an extreme example, but a lot of people think that the aforementioned approach is the correct thing to do in a creative industry. You’re told to to “fight for the creative.” That’s stupid. And that’s wrong.

You don’t fight for creative. Fighting implies that there is a winner and a loser. Someone who just lost a fight will never be happy enough to buy your product. You forced it on them. It’s not a choice. And people like to make choices.

Fighting creates a nemesis. You don’t want your customer to be your nemesis. You want them to be your ally. You want them to be excited about your vision. You want them to partner with you in making great work. You want them to take up the torch and spread the word about how amazing the creative is.

You do that, not by fighting, but by igniting passion. You leverage the excitement, the fight and the passion that you have for your creative and you infect them with it. You get them to join your revolution. You show them how the jeans that you’re suggesting will make their ass look amazing. And how it’s they are stylish in a way that will get people to compliment them, boost their confidence and generally kick ass in the world.

Become an ally. Not an opponent.

- Christian

The Golden Rule Of Good Storytelling

Posted: December 18th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Pitching Ideas | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

I have been in the room when someone is able to capture an audience of hundreds of people by telling an amazing story. People creep to the edge of their seats in intense focus. An entire room feels inspired. That’s what happened the first time I watched the Lion King. I have also been in the complete opposite situation. Last week one of our friends told an awful story. Seriously. It was brutal. The room glazed over with disinterest. We all started pulling out our iPhones and giving the obligatory “un huh” response as he told us about some supposedly pivotal life event.

It made me realize that there is a big gap between good storytellers and the vast majority. It’s strange, because we have all been telling stories since we were young. It’s how we communicate. It’s how we connect with people. It’s how we teach. It’s how we learn. It seems as though we would have perfected this skill at a much younger age. But just like running, there are very few people who are taught the correct technique. Most people learn what works for them through trial and error. But just like someone’s running form, a few small adjustments can make a world of difference. One piece of advice that I’ve been trying to employ over the past couple of years to great success is something that I call The Golden Rule Of Storytelling.

The golden rule is simple – know your audience. Too often people are so focused on what they want to communicate from their story that they don’t stop to think about the people listening to them. The key is to figure out if your audience even wants to hear the story that you want to tell. Why do they want to hear it? Are you being self-indulgent and enjoying the sound of your own voice? Or does it bring value into their life? If not, shut the hell up.

When we are talking about the value in story telling, the opportunities are simple. There are three basic ways that a story can bring value to someone:

  1. Entertainment (The story is funny, dramatic or enthralling.)
  2. Information (The story teaches you something. Maybe a fun fact about a place or an insight into someone’s character.)
  3. Inspiration (The story is about something so awesome that it inspires people to try.)

Obviously, the value that someone gets out of your story is based on their relationship to you. If you’re a complete stranger, chances are that they won’t be interested in hearing the tales of your emotional problems at work. It’s awkward as hell and uninteresting to hear that stuff from someone that you’ve just met. If you’re are close friends with someone, hearing about their emotional state and current situation may be incredibly valuable to you as a friend. You may find inspiration in their story and how they’re poised to overcome their obstacles. You care about the characters in the story and are rooting for them.

Audiences also tend to be different depending on their environment and personalities. A group of doctors at a medical conference would be much more inclined to hear a story about the latest breakthrough in oxygen therapy on cancer tumors. Additionally, some people are genuinely interested in learning about strangers. Those tend to be the people who are able to make the best connections and develop deep relationships with people in a short amount of time. However, the majority of people don’t really give a shit about learning about the innermost workings of a complete stranger. These are all of the factors that you have to consider when thinking about your audience.

Consider your audience when telling a story. Whether you’re making a multi-million dollar Hollywood blockbuster or trying to teach your kids about the importance of hard work, think outside yourself and your own personal interests. Try to understand where the people listening to you are coming from. Why are they listening? What value are they looking for? Do they want to be entertained, informed or inspired? Then figure out how you can tailor your story telling to cater to them. That’s what makes a great story teller and a great experience.

The key is focus on how the story makes your audience feel instead of how it makes you feel.

- Christian

The Importance Of Words

Posted: September 26th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Life, Pitching Ideas | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

The words you choose are important. They are not just throwaways used to express your brilliant thoughts. They are open to interpretation. Their meanings change depending on the context. They are the difference from someone thinking you are awesome or an asshole. Brilliant or idiotic. Trustworthy or sketchy.

Words trigger emotional reactions from the recipient. Those reactions are based on the context that the listener has constructed. Things like memories, the situation and other people in the room all influence that context. The emotions formed from those words interpreted in that context influence how people perceive what you’re saying. It can work for you. Or it can work against you.

The words you use define the tone of the conversation. And that tone influences how receptive people are to that communication. Are you being combative or collaborative? Are you being manipulative or sincere? Are you being straightforward or rude?

Let’s take an example of starting a conversation with a stranger. You ask, “How’s it going?”

That’s a pretty basic introduction. You’re asking someone an open ended question that could lead to a conversation. But then, what if you opened with “What’s crack-a-lacking?” It provides the same open ended opportunity as before, but it adds personality and charm. It gives this complete stranger a sense of who you are as a character as well as the tone of the conversation that you want to engage in. Instead of being awkward and polite, the tone is now lighthearted and fun. With a different choice of words, you are able to communicate the same message but with a vastly different tone and outcome.

Words are the key tools used to communicate your message. Make sure that you’re using the right ones. Don’t try to hammer a nail with a shovel – it may work eventually, but not the way you want it to.

- Christian

How To Get Noticed

Posted: May 23rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Life, Pitching Ideas | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

There are times when we all want to get noticed. To stand out in a crowd. To command people’s attention. In a conversation with a behavioural psychologist, I discovered that one of the easiest (and must underutilized) ways to do this is to smile. And it got me thinking – there are plenty of ways to get noticed.

There are simple things that you can do to gain the attention of the masses. There are also more difficult ways that require time and dedication. However, the harder ways are often the way that you get noticed by a discerning few.

- Shout
- Wear ostentatious outfits
- Start a fight
- Bring a puppy (or a cute baby)
- Spend money
- Point out a problem
- Say “fuck”

- Listen
- Be stylish in the details
- Be persistent
- Make people think
- Fix the problem
- Have your reputation precede you
- Lead a group

Chose your audience, then chose your tactic.

- Christian

Using Jujitsu To Sell Your Ideas

Posted: November 24th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Pitching Ideas | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Jujitsu and Karate are two different fighting styles. Although both methods originated from the same area in Japan, they represent two distinct ways of approaching a problem. One is a direct attack and one is flexible.

Karate is about landing one big blow to end the fight. You combine the correct timing, technique and strength to disable your opponent from continuing in combat through one hit. At the higher level, you demonstrate this through breaking boards. Cracking bricks. Feats of strength.

Jujitsu looks to use your enemy’s momentum against them. To go with the flow. It’s more about grappling and throws than overtly offensive maneuvers. You let your opponent in close and then use their strength to accomplish your goals.

In pitching ideas, some people try to use karate. Teams will work hard and try to bully their ideas into being bought. They assume that their expertise in the field or the brilliance of their ideas are enough to get them sold. They view stubbornness as a weapon. They think that if they just push, push, push, the idea will be bought. That’s not the case.

You have to approach the sell like jujitsu. You need to work with the your client’s momentum to get the right ideas sold. Get in close. Use their motivations, their energy, their opinions to get your ideas made. You need to adapt. Stay flexible, listen and deliver. Don’t waste your energy trying to change things that you are not able to affect.

The might of a river flows around a rock. It doesn’t try to punch through it.

- Christian

Get Out There

Posted: November 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Pitching Ideas | No Comments »

I saw this quote a couple of days ago. It’s amazing how most of life’s most valuable lessons are all taught in books that we read before we are 12 years old.

- Christian

Lessons From T.I.F.F. – Ben Affleck On Changing Perceptions

Posted: September 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Pitching Ideas | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

In Toronto, the Toronto International Film Festival has taken the city by storm over the past week and a half. I was able to snag some tickets to premiers and screenings due to the fact that I helped out with this year’s ad campaign. Anyways, this resulted in me attending the premier of Ben Affleck’s second directorial effort – The Town.

Going into this movie, I thought what everyone else thought. Ben Affleck is a douche. Why the hell was I going to listen to this guy talk about his movie? I should have picked the Matt Damon film. Damn it. But with only a few words before the film, he was able to totally change my perception of him.

It wasn’t so much about what he said, but more about how he said it. He spoke openly and honestly about his struggles to make a movie. He talked about losing the confidence of Hollywood. He thanks the people who believed in him and gave him the money to take another shot at creating a full feature. But most importantly, he came across as genuine. He was honest. He demonstrated vulnerability. All of this worked to transform my perception of him from a douchey movie star to a human being.

People respect honesty. They like it when you tell the truth. Even if it isn’t exactly what they want to hear, people can’t argue with the truth. It’s something that we occasionally forget in the pace of business in creative industries. Sometimes we are so concerned about selling a concept or changing someone’s mind that we forget an open and honest conversation is usually the best way about it.

- Christian

Johnny Drama On Confidence

Posted: June 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Pitching Ideas | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

When it to comes to pitching, it’s all about confidence. Whether you’re selling yourself in an interview, presenting an idea to a client or convincing your friends to see the movie that you really want to see. People need to believe that you can get it done. That you can deliver. That you trust yourself.

Like Johnny Drama, everyone goes through periods where they doubt themselves. Times when the market is interested in a different look. Times when people don’t consider your skill set as valuable and unique. Times when people tell you that you’re too old to compete.

But as long as you have the drive and believe in yourself, you have a shot. You may face rejection, but if you are willing to persevere, adapt, and improve yourself then you’ll succeed. You’ll sell your idea, you’ll get the job and you’ll find success. The key is to remain confident and learn from your failures.

And remember. You are the fucking game.

- Christian

Einstein Was A Smart Man

Posted: March 30th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Pitching Ideas | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Great ideas are just that. They’re just great ideas. They’re not real. They don’t exist in the real world. And great ideas are scary. They’re tough to sell. Because they’re different. They’re stuff people haven’t seen before.

Sometimes, they’re actually unsellable. And that’s where the difference is made. When people do it themselves. They take them from being ideas to being tangible things in the real world.

It’s easy to give up. It’s easy to outsource a task to someone else and then just give up when they can’t figure out how to do it. But chances are that when you get a proxy to do something, they won’t have the same level of passion that you do. They’re just looking answer the question “Can it be done?” with a “Yes” or “No”. They’re not trying to answer “How can this be done?”

In advertising, there are two types of creatives. There are those that come up with a concept and then farm it off to the production department to figure out how it gets done. This happens most of the time. And it does produce great work. But most of the time, it’s prone to hitting roadblocks. And dying a slow death of a thousand paper cuts until someone eventually gives up and produces something mediocre.

Then there are those that have an irrational passion for producing their ideas. And they’ll do anything to get it done. They’ll cast their friends and family to bring their concept to life. They’ll buy an HD camcorder from BestBuy and return it after they shoot stuff with it. They’ll cut the videos themselves in iMovie. Who do you think gets the best work done?

If you want something to get done, do it yourself. Because the only person you can count on to have the level of passion required to get it done is you.

- Christian

Image found on I Can Read.

The World Needs More Fights

Posted: March 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Pitching Ideas | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

That’s right. I said it. The world need more fights. More bare knuckle brawling. More punches to the face. Why? Because compromise kills ideas.

We live in a world where people are too willing to play nice. Nobody wants to offend the other person. And what suffers is ideas. In order to get a concept sold through the proper hierarchy, you make compromises. They’re just small changes, gradually pulling your idea back in the realm of the familiar. And the concept dies a slow death as a result of a thousand little paper cuts. The idea that had the potential to be great and earth-shattering suddenly looks a lot like a lot of the other stuff out there. But just a little bit different.

People need to stand fiercely behind their ideas, concepts or principles. If you’re willing to punch someone in the face for something, I respect you and your idea that much more. It shows passion. It show commitment. It shows you’re not a pussy.

And when you know you’re going to have to throw down, you show up a lot more confident, researched and prepared. Because nobody wants to get knocked out in the first round.

- Christian

Inspired by this post.