Baileys stardust

In between meetings yesterday I went to look at the David Bailey exhibition, curated by the man himself at the National Portrait Gallery (which was wonderful) and in one of the displays typed onto a piece of card was this quote:

"Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." Calvin Coolidge

This Week's Favourite Fraggl Links


Here's my favourites from this week, curated by Fraggl:

  • "If you win the rat race, you're still a rat". An extraordinary view on work, joy, and how to live rather than exist from Anna Quindlen, taken from a commencement address (above) never given but widely circaulated
  • Lovely: What to do if you’re falling out of love with New York
  • An exceptional post from Martin Wiegel on the fragility of creativity
  • And a thought provoking post from Ben Kunz on prediction as the fifth stage of technology
And of-course you can sign up to Fraggl here.
Image courtesy

End Every Day With A Beginning

StartI loved this advice from Todd Henry for staying focused through long-arc projects and remaining less prone to procrastination and the 'assassins of creativity', particularly when we start work at the beginning of the day. Instead of always beginning with the end in mind, says Henry, we should end with the beginning in mind. His two-minute strategy (and I quote):

1. Before you close out your work for the day, capture any open questions that you are currently working on. If you were to continue working right now, what would be the very next thing you would do?

2. Write those questions and the next thing you would do on a post-it, or a sheet of paper, and leave it where you’ll see it the next day.

3. Determine right then what you’ll do first when you next sit down at your workstation. Establish a starting point for your work. This will give you immediate traction. Having something to do prevents the paralysis that accompanies needing to decide what to do.

Henry quotes Hemingway who said that “The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day … you will never be stuck". Sounds like good advice to me.

HT 99u for the link

Photo Credit: jakeandlindsay via Compfight cc

Hacking the Concept of Time

I really enjoyed this profile of Adam Magyar, the 'renegade' self-taught photographer who combines sophisticated photographic equipment, other retro-fitted hardware, self-written software, and an artist's eye to unique effect. In 'Stainless', speeding subway cars and their passengers (often seemingly lost in their own worlds) are captured in exceptionally high resolution. Part of the project involved filming New Yorkers standing on the platform at Grand Central station with a slow motion camera (preview above - watch it full screen). It's strangely poignant. When great technology and great art combine wonderful things happen. This is a great example of that.

Shipped in 2013


A year ago Ian Sanders wrote a post listing what he'd shipped in the past year. Seth Godin has done a similar thing before now. I rather like the idea of doing this. It's a chance to step back from the rush of the day-to-day and pause to reflect on what you've spent your time doing, what you've accomplished and to see the shape of things. So, here are some of the major things that I've enjoyed working on and have shipped this year:

  • I really enjoyed the perspective given by two assignments this year where I worked with the senior editorial teams of two big national newspapers to help them transition to more 'digitally-native' thinking, approaches and processes. It was also a very positive experience working with Adam Tinworth on one of them.
  • Google Firestarters continues to build momentum and this year we reached our tenth event. We ran three Firestarters in 2013: one on innovation in agencies; an event at Campus curated by the Google Squared alumni on the theme of Creativity is Not A Department; one on Planning For Good. We also ran another SearchFirestarters which was a fascinating look at what could constitute the great search marketing campaigns of the future. The speaker provocations have been excellent at all of them.
  • Organisational agility and content were two significant areas of focus, and I got to incorporate both of them in a series of sessions for the senior management team of a large pharmaceutical business
  • Working with Jeremy Hill on a series of digital workshops with a large media agency, a continuation of a very enjoyable long-term project
  • Digital skills has also been a theme in a number of pieces of work. I did a couple of broad based skills assessment consultancy projects with two large global media owners which were both fascinating
  • As always Econsultancy were great to work with in 2013. A smart bunch of folk doing really smart things. Amongst a number of projects I worked with them on, I researched and wrote best practice guides to Digital Marketing Structures & Resourcing, on Agility & Innovation, and one on Securing Board Buy-in for Digital Investment. I learned a lot in the process.
  • And I also helped develop a new digital marketing trends service with Econsultancy. We called it Digital Shift. That involved three reports and associated webinars which went out to a global audience and has built some nice momentum.
  • I really enjoyed my speaking gigs this year and this continues to be a valued part of what I do. This year I spoke at Phare in Gent, the IPABMBGoogle Squared, MediaCom Engage, an Econsultancy run Content Strategy event in Singapore, The Future of Digital Marketing Conferences in London & Kuala Lumpur, a reframing PR event also in KL, Direct Line Group, an AdaptiveLab event on harnessing disruption, BNY Mellon, and the Econsultancy Digital Transformation Leaders Conference
  • A series of Digital Innovation sessions with a large book publisher
  • An assignment to run workshops building digital marketing skills and knowledge with B2B and B2C marketers within a large services orientated organisation, and a similar one for the marketing team of a global mobile and appliances manufacturer
  • A project focused on digital creativity for a specialist B2B focused digital agency
  • Some work with the board of another national newspaper group to stimulate different thinking, and identify opportunity
  • An assignment with a telecoms operator to define what 'digital culture' looks like for their organisation and how that translates through to organisational change
  • This year I also worked with the guys at AdaptiveLab to launch Fraggl, a brand new Twitter curation app founded on the belief that combining human, social and algorithmic curation can surface great content from the stream. I'm really happy with how our beta launch has gone so watch this space for more on Fraggl in the new year.
  • 42 newsletters of curated digital goodness. My weekly Fish Food email has gone from strength to strength this year, with the list growing beyond my expectations. It's been difficult to quantify the return I get from the effort that goes in to producing it, but that's not the only reason I do it and I know that people get a lot of value from it.
  • 165 blog posts. It has at times been a struggle to find the time to blog regularly this year but the effort has paid back in spades. Particularly in helping to capture, organise and develop thoughts and ideas, make associations and gain feedback. It's always worth it.

There was other stuff around the edges of this of-course, but I count myself fortunate in enjoying a significant variety of work again this year. A real mix of consultancy, events, speaking and writing. There's much commonality in the fundamental challenges and opportunities in different parts of the advertising, media and marketing industry (for example, as Mel Exon once observed, between journalists and strategists), and I count it as a strength that I can take learnings and approaches from one area and apply them in the right context to solving problems in another. That has really worked for me. 

When people ask what I do for a living, I find it one of the hardest questions to answer. I'm fortunate in that since I started out four years ago I have not been short of interesting work of enormous variety, and interesting and smart people to work with. The flexibility has this year enabled me to spend time on projects like the development of Fraggl and we have some great ideas about where that could go. For the coming year there are some things I'd like to do more of, and some other ideas I'd like to pursue, but four years in it still feels full of possibility and it's great to be able to say that.