Bump The Lamp

Who Framed Roger Rabbit was a fantastic film and was one of the first times I remember feeling oddly drawn to the female character Jessica. 

Part of that was my age but part of it was the incredible job the animators did - by hand and eye - of creating the illusions, especially the illusion of physicality and physical interaction between the Toons and the humans. 

This video explains how, the level of commitment to detail that makes this film stand up even today. 

It generated a phrase coined by Disney while working on the movie: Bumping the Lamp. It means going above and beyond what was expected of the animators, watch the video to understand why. 

"Seemingly superfluous details help sell the effect at a subconscious level".

Always take the chance to bump the lamp in your work. 

Moebius and The Martian

Moebius Martian

In 1979 the legendary French comic book artist Moebius did the conceptual art for Ridley Scott's sci-fi masterpiece Alien.

Some things of course weren't used for the film, like the illustration of an orange spacesuit above left. 

In 2015, three years after Moebius' death, Ridley Scott made The Martian. 

The above drawing sat in Ridley's "bottom drawer" for 36 years. 

For more on Moebius - here's a 19min BBC documentary on him and his incredible legacy. 

DDB's First Ever Ad Was a Cat Meme


Every time you think something is completely knew, you should remember that nothing is. 

From DDB's website:

N.M. Ohrbach knew Bill Bernbach when Ohrbach's was a client at Grey Advertising. Mr. Ohrbach, who was not happy with Grey, suggested that Bernbach launch his own agency with Ohrbach's as its first client.

Ohrbach even agreed to pay for the work in advance, enabling Doyle, Dane and Bernbach to pay their initial bills. The campaign transformed Ohrbach's from an unfashionable store in an unfashionable part of town to a "high fashion at low prices" boutique that attracted the attention of such people as the Rockefellers and drew "high fashion" coverage from Life magazine.

Darkest Night

Darkest Night

I don't watch horror movies. I don't like them, I don't enjoy being scared. Things get stuck in my head and I'd rather have nice things in there. 

So I also wouldn't listen to a horror podcast. However, I found a new podcast in my app. It was called Darkest Night

I assume I saw a Tweet recommendation and hit subscribe without realizing it was a horror anthology. I also didn't realize until after I had started listening. And now I'm hooked. 

To be honest, some of the gorier images still make me queasy, but the podcast is wonderfully produced and I'm enjoying it. 

It's a nice reminder for me that sometimes I need to do things that scare me [literally in this case].

I would never have opted to listen to it because of a label, a category in my head I've decided I don't want any part of.

But this is its own kind of filter bubble and since I prize diversity in my thinking, in my influences, in my inspiration, I can't just read, watch and listen to things I think I'm going to like. It's logically inconsistent. My preferences set parameters for the world. 

So I'm glad for the happy accident and recommend Darkest Night, if you like horror, and especially if you don't. 

Future Of Work

Uture of work blueprint

We just wrapped the second phase of a content project we've been working on for BOX.COM on the Future of Work. 

As part of it, Rosie and I [and other contributors] have written pieces over on their Blueprint publication, several of which were selected for the front page of Medium, which was nice.  

To Sell Is Human. To Sell Awesomely, Divine. Here’s How. 

Stop Using Data Like a Drunk Uses a Lamppost

Unlimited Vacation is a Gimmick

Taking Your Company On The Road

If Your Employees Are Stupid, That’s Your Fault [my most hearted piece on medium ever - so it seems to have struck a chord] 

The 8 Immutable Laws that Govern The Future of Work

That Time a GOP Raver Showed Me the Future of Work at Burning Man

En Plein Air


Back in the mid 2000s a lot of planners starting blogging and meeting each other online, mostly inspired by Russell Davies' pioneering blog. It was an exciting time, as the community found itself, started talking, trying to imagine a future, grabbgin drinks with people all over the world, just because of blogs and that. 

The word blogosphere was salient at the time, and the planning subsection got called the Plannersphere, which also became this nice resource of planning tools and links.

There was even a heated debate as to whether blogging was somehow "killing planning"

Open Strategy is the excellent spiritual successor, an updated resource of strategy tools and resources, reflective of the planning>strategy evolution of the last ten years, which we talk about in the podcast below. I don't think blogging was killing planning, by any means, the idea is obviously fatuous, as many "death of" stories tend to be, but planning and strategy-inside-agencies has definitely changed in the last ten years. 

One of the people I met during that time was the lovely Paul McEnany, who is now the CEO of a new model agency Plein Air

He interviewed me for the finale of their new podcast series Real Famous

All [career] advice is autobiography, to some degree. When people give it they are really just explaining their own choices and how they turned out, which are highly contextual and perhaps not that useful for other people, except at the very highest level, where they are inherently generic. 

That said, people like hearing the stories of people's lives and choices, for the same reason people like stories in general, as highly simplified models of choices, causes and effects in the complex world. 

We get from the past to the present, how we are working with clients, some of the broad set of things we've been doing, some new thoughts on 'peak attention' and why your career is like your health. 

Plein Air Real Famous Podcast


Real Talk (Speaking Reel)

Public speaking for agencies, conferences, corporate events (and all sorts of things where the organizer would like their audience not to be bored) is not just a significant part of our business, but one of our favorite types of work at Genius Steals.

We've spoken at Google, Mashable, IAB [Spain, Mexico, USA, Norway, Sweden], ADC, SXSW, TEDx, Microsoft, Social Fresh, The Wave Festival in Brazil, 3M, Subway, Coca-Cola, Ogilvy, VML, OMD, The Guardian and many, many others.

We've even appeared in a few television programs, such as BBC Modern Masters [about Warhol and branding] and The Day Before Tomorrow [lots of topics about the near future], and one theatrically released documentary: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold [which we also consulted on].  

When it comes to life, but especially moments of life when we find ourselves standing on stage in front of others, we ascribe to Kurt Vonnegut's point of view:

Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted. - Kurt Vonnegut

Usa biggest fears

Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking, but also all speaking really, which, when you thinking about it, is because all speaking that scares people is a bit public because it tends to not mean talking to yourself, which is why a fear of public speaking is more commonly a symptom of broader social anxieties.

It is the number one fear Americans have is public speaking, above heights, zombies, clowns and death.

This seems interesting, since evolutionary pressure would suggest we should be more afraid of things that we know could kill us [zombies] than things that we know can't [giving presentations] but perhaps it's more that evolutionary dispositions work over the long term odds.

Since we're super-social and rely on groups to be useful for hunting and surviving and that, social fears about inclusion overweight more random dangers. Embarrassment could be highly adaptive if it prevented your ancestors being rejected from the group for long enough for them to procreate. 

But because it's the number one fear, speakers are relatively scarce, and good speakers are rarer still.

We love speaking and we love traveling [since we live on the road] so it's a perfect fit for us.

We believe it's our job to ensure the audience isn't bored if we are on stage. We speak on topics like brands, media, ideas, creativity, communication, technology, culture, content and the various interesting intersections thereof.

And, of course, we talk about my book Paid Attention and any of the manifold topics therein, as well as on Digital State and What is a 21 Century Brand? related topics, which I co-authored. 

If you'd like testimonials or referrals, we'd be happy to connect you with past clients, who are kind enough to say things like:

"Having a conference? Skip the pens & hire Genius Steals. It will be your smartest investment." - Marketing Manager, Microsoft

Get in touch here if you're looking for a speaker at your next event!