Be UNrealistic.

Are you are realist? Do you pride yourself on being pragmatic?

Or do you consider being realistic only for the faint hearted and risk averse?

My piece below is inspired by a similar post from Kate Megee that helped me get real about being realistic, and face some deeply ingrained ideas I have held for a long time.

Read through and see if any of it resonates with you.

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People often tell us to “dream big”. In fact, I repeat this mantra to myself and my kids often. And then I get tough on myself for not doing just that!

But this idea to “dream big” cannot happen if deeply ingrained in us is also the ‘sensibility’ to “be realistic.” We can’t beat ourselves up for not “dreaming big” when being “realistic” is actually ingrained in our subconscious from an early age, sometimes by well meaning adults. Many of us grow up in cultures / environments that train people (handicaps them!) to be “realistic,” but then celebrate those who “dream big.” Society often contradicts itself.

For people like me, before we are able to aspire to “think big”, perhaps first we should strip away the handicap of “thinking small”, that’s a BIG step change. It’s the notion of stripping back – reducing – rather than adding. Start by taking away some of the toxic thoughts already in there.

I’ve always thought achieving our ambitions was about instilling ‘confidence’ or developing a ‘can do’ attitude, and then I berate myself for not being able to do that. But  it’s not always about what you add in, it’s sometimes about what you keep out – not instilling a limited or “realistic” belief to begin with.

When people tell me (or have told me in the past – teachers, well meaning adults, work colleagues) to “be realistic” my heart sinks, I feel defeated, sad and sometimes frustrated. It’s a sort of unrealised potential. But I have never gone that one step further to think that perhaps they were being unrealistic! I believed their truth rather than fire up my own reality. These become the recurring stories we tell ourselves.

I should have instead made a plan. Most successful people (the definition and parameters of success is another topic) are those who laid a plan and took a step.

I’ve always been happy for others who have been unrealistic and achieved their dreams, whilst I have been content to just sit on the sidelines, never quite getting ‘in the game’. They didn’t have self-limiting beliefs, or self analyzing beliefs. Or maybe they did, but were able to quiet the noise in their head, whilst I listened to the voice in my head that told me to “be realistic.”

I believe that there is abundance in the world, but we cannot tap into this and truly manifest it, if we are being “realistic”. In this way, being “realistic” becomes a block, a form of self-deception and code for staying comfortable, within the confines of current norms. It is an invitation to think small and stay within predefined boundaries that others have set for us.

The question is, what does ‘realistic’ look like? One person’s reality may be another person’s dream since people’s ‘realism’ is based on their own reality (perceived reality) and life experience. Nothing is actually realistic or unrealistic, it’s how you look at it that matters.

What happens if we look at ‘reality’ like this – things don’t already exist in the world, they are born into reality. So we need to create our reality in order for it to exist. Therefore, everything is unrealistic when we don’t try. We need to create them into existence or they will always be unrealistic and out of reach.

Fears and doubts are a natural part of growth, but they become easier to deal with on a rational level as challenges to overcome, when our deeply held underlying belief is that anything can be realistic, anything is possible.

Let’s go ahead and be UNrealistic.

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YOU made the cut!

Do you realize how special YOU are? According to natural selection, YOU are perfect just the way you are, that’s how you’ve made it here! Go forth and live your perfection!

What an amazing thought…

“Every living thing is, from the cosmic perspective, incredibly lucky simply to be alive. Most, 90 percent and more, of all the organisms that have ever lived have died without viable offspring, but not a single one of your ancestors, going back to the dawn of life on Earth, suffered that normal misfortune. You spring from an unbroken line of winners going back millions of generations, and those winners were, in every generation, the luckiest of the lucky, one out of a thousand or even a million. So however unlucky you may be on some occasion today, your presence on the planet testifies to the role luck has played in your past”.

Source: Daniel Dennett.

Telling your brand story.

I’ve written about the evolution and development of Marketing and Communications over time (“Marketing Era’s“, “From-functional-to-aspirational-to-meaningful-economy“). One might argue that such a discussion of trends and cycles is outdated even irrelevant, since the pace of change in society and culture today is so fast, things move on before we can dissect them.

But, I believe it is worthwhile to scope out the landscape we are working in, if for nothing else, just to know its modus operandi. Once we dissect and understand changes in people’s attitude and behavior, we will be better able to respond  – to inform policies, product development and even brand conversations. It is also important to understand the impact of these changes and how to navigate and inspire the future. After all, the intelligent brand | corporation | individual is one who can adapt and be ready for the future.

With that in mind, I believe that the current brand / communication cycle is one of conversation | experiences. It is one where stories shine. If we consider the rise of Micro-blogging sites WordPress, tumblr, Wordpad and even Pinterest and Instagram, I believe one thing they have in common is the idea of sharing our ‘stories’ with people. Even when we tweet we are sharing a ‘story’ of sorts.

Thanks to (as a result of) the digital revolution, people have become accustomed to giving more media more of their time. People spend short – sometimes long – chunks of time engaged in watching videos (Vimeo, youtube), reading (slideshare, blogs, facebook and twitter links), playing games (with all the emotions they involve). Only an interesting ‘story’ makes people do that.

If you look at the print ads below (source: Archive magazine vol.3 2012), you will see that they tell interesting stories. They engage people with an introduction, main plot and conclusion of sorts.

The notion of stories in marketing is not new. But what I believe is important is the way we look at stories from a brand viewpoint.

A brand story is not just a manifesto. Everything the brand does is part of its storyline. Unlike in the past, the ‘storyline’ doesn’t need to continue identically through all communication touchpoints. In fact, we can consider all touchpoints and all aspects of the brand as having unique stories with unique sub-plots, characters and settings across all touchpoints. They don’t all need to look or feel or sound identical. As long as they tell the story in total! At different points in time, one may outweigh the other.

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So, next time you’re briefing your agency, make sure they understand and have a plan to tell your brand story though various touchpoints. And make sure each touchpoint has its own engaging story. That’s what we do for our brands ☺ It’s what keeps our work fresh, intriguing and interesting.

Designing Experiences that People Interact with.

I love Design for many reasons. And I think it will save the world. One of the great things I love about it, is that the discipline of Design helps us crystallise ideas into a form that people can understand and interact with and ultimately improve our lives – sometimes by  entertainment.

Technology helps us elevate our Designs just like these awesome guys do. Click on the link to see what they do.

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Don’t mistake good writing for talented writing.

Writing and words are so important. They help structure our thoughts and communicate our ideas.

Here’s something that might make better writers out of all of us. It’s from one of my favourite sites https://www.brainpickings.org and it’s from the book  About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, and Five Interviews by Samuel Delany.

Though they have things in common, good writing and talented writing are not the same.

If you start with a confused, unclear, and badly written story, and apply the rules of good writing to it, you can probably turn it into a simple, logical, clearly written story. Though it will still not be a good one. The major fault of eighty-five to ninety-five percent of all fiction is that it is banal and dull.

Now old stories can always be told with new language. You can even add new characters to them; you can use them to dramatize new ideas. But eventually even the new language, characters, and ideas lose their ability to invigorate.

Either in content or in style, in subject matter or in rhetorical approach, fiction that is too much like other fiction is bad by definition. However paradoxical it sounds, good writing as a set of strictures (that is, when the writing is good and nothing more) produces most bad fiction. On one level or another, the realization of this is finally what turns most writers away from writing.

Talented writing is, however, something else. You need talent to write fiction.

Good writing is clear. Talented writing is energetic. Good writing avoids errors. Talented writing makes things happen in the reader’s mind — vividly, forcefully — that good writing, which stops with clarity and logic, doesn’t.

Hello Flo

Just when you thought advertising for Feminine Hygiene products couldn’t get any more interesting (Ha!) Hello Flo went out and created a highly entertaining film using a fictional young girl’s first period as inspiration to tell a very amusing story!

And their website http://helloflo.com is a highly engaging site as well focussed on everything to do with Females and Female issues.

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Nice to see a brand breaking free from  the mould of the “happy girl running carefree along the beach” cliche.