People like to believe that they are rational decision makers. They are rationally wrong.

I’ve been teaching courses about planning for a few years now, and the idea that we make decisions emotionally versus rationally tends to be a difficult pill for students to swallow. I get the feeling that this common misunderstanding could be at the heart of most client/agency disagreements about the work. It’s really difficult for people who like to consider themselves or others to be free thinking, rational people, to accept the fact that they are making decisions with their gut before they get a chance to start building t-charts or crunching numbers.

This is where brands live.

Anyways, a publication that I previously only heard about in high school German class, Spiegel, interviewed Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman about the innate weakness of human thought, deceptive memories and the misleading power of intuition. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book about this, but I thought this bit from the Spiegel interview did a better job of explaining how our emotional responses are making decisions long before we start rational thought:

“SPIEGEL: You say in your book that, in such cases, we leave the decisions up to ‘System 1.’

Kahneman: Yes. Psychologists distinguish between a ‘System 1’ and a ‘System 2,’ which control our actions. System 1 represents what we may call intuition. It tirelessly provides us with quick impressions, intentions and feelings. System 2, on the other hand, represents reason, self-control and intelligence.

SPIEGEL: In other words, our conscious self?

Kahneman: Yes. System 2 is the one who believes that it’s making the decisions. But in reality, most of the time, System 1 is acting on its own, without your being aware of it. It’s System 1 that decides whether you like a person, which thoughts or associations come to mind, and what you feel about something. All of this happens automatically. You can’t help it, and yet you often base your decisions on it.

SPIEGEL: And this System 1 never sleeps?

Kahneman: That’s right. System 1 can never be switched off. You can’t stop it from doing its thing. System 2, on the other hand, is lazy and only becomes active when necessary. Slow, deliberate thinking is hard work. It consumes chemical resources in the brain, and people usually don’t like that. It’s accompanied by physical arousal, increasing heart rate and blood pressure, activated sweat glands and dilated pupils…”

(Via Spiegel via The Browser.)

Viciously defending your work time

One of the most difficult things about working in a business like advertising is the tension between people who do their job by doing work and people who do their job by having meetings. It’s really easy to get caught in that pattern of relentless meetings that create more things to be done while keeping people from doing the things that are already on their plate. Seth Godin has written a great little post about this problem in which he points out: 

A big part of doing your work is defending your time and your attention so you can do your work.

After getting clobbered by an overabundance of meetings last year, I set out this year to try and do a better job of managing my time by defending it from myself and others.

This was a matter of 3 things: 

  1. Reading Getting Things Done 
  2. Activating GTD using Things
  3. Setting up meetings with myself on my calendar and then viciously defending that time
The first two were fairly easy. The last one drives other people crazy. They don’t see it as being a legit block on my calendar. They want to pave over it with meetings. And the reality is that if something is really important I’m happy to move that time. But honestly, I’d rather spend my time at work getting my work done rather than sitting in other people’s meetings at the expense of having time with my family at night. It’s not easy, and it’s not always cut and dry, but I’ve found that I’ve become much more productive and useful at work than ever before.  

Reggie Watts and the right flavor of fame

Phil and I had a conversation over lunch today about the idea that people can find success for themselves by building their personal brand in a way that’s far more flexible and useful than the sort of power that’s granted by a lofty position at a fancy company.  Or something like that.

We also talked about his plans for growing out his beard after his wedding. We talked about a lot of things. That’s not the point.  

The point is that people like Noah, Russell and Gareth have all built platforms that have allowed them to transcend the company they work for, maybe even becoming more valuable to their employers than their employers are to them. Although I’m sure none of them would admit to that. Especially not Noah since he is his own employer now.  

Anyways, this Snarkmarket post did a good job of bringing my point to life, while adding a bit more dimension to it: 

I feel like Reggie Watts’ fame is way more interesting and durable than, say, Lady Gaga’s. It is, first of all, entirely his own creation—it feels like an asset he’s nurtured and grown, not an investment that someone else has made, contingent on certain outcomes. Also, it’s somehow scale-free: Watts is capable of performing on a big national late-night talk show and at a weird little regional conference, too. The former doesn’t intimidate him, and the latter doesn’t diminish him. Gaga is the opposite: she’s operating at a much bigger scale, sure, but she’s trapped there. Even if she wanted to perform at the, like, Shelby Township Asparagus Festival, I don’t think she could. Stripped of the sound and fury of big-time production, she is weakened, made mortal: Superman under a red sun. A large part of her fame (and I’m obviously using her as a proxy for a whole class of performers here) now derives precisely from the trappings of fame. Which is a crazy situation to get yourself into! That’s how you end up alone in a giant mansion, eighty-four million dollars in debt.

(Via Snarkmarket)

Teeny-Tiny Police Chase Made With Itty-Bitty Pico Projectors

This is awesome. It’s seemingly a really simple idea but when you start to think about the production that was necessary to make this as cool as it is, you understand the complexity.

 The folks over at The Theory recently got their hands on some micro projectors and, just like you or me, decided to make the world’s smallest police chase. They call it Speed of Light, named no doubt for the high-octane thrills and projectors involved. It’s a really simple idea, but it’s stunningly well executed. Just sit back and watch as the tiny felon does his best to escape the clutches of The Man.

Their methodology is extremely simple: The filmakers shot everything before hand, and then move around a room projecting the movie as they went. Throw in some slick editing and the end result you see below.

(via The Fox is Black)

(Via Geekosystem)