Better you, or worse them?

The Brandcenter kicked-off our Friday Forum series last week with Wendy Clark, the recently hired CEO of DDB.

She was really good. Watching her present, it was easy to see why she has been so succesful. She’s clearly playing on another level.

She spoke about the work that DDB is doing, and what it’s been like to take over as CEO there. She also spoke about her time at Coke, including the call she got from Matt Weiner when he wanted to use Hilltop in Mad Men. No spoilers.

She also had some great advice about going through life and career. This bit stuck with me:

“You can be a worse them or a better you.”

This is great advice for anyone in creative business. Advertising in particular is filled with a wide variety of extremely talented people who are broken in their own unique ways.

Trying to mimic someone’s particular and personal genius will only get you so far. The secret lies in finding your own peculiarities and learning how to use them to be the best version of yourself that you can be.

Which is why I like to drink coffee at the gym.

The Work Required to Have an Opinion

From the Farnam Street Blog:

Charlie Munger used to say something along the lines of “You’re not entitled to take a view, unless and until you can argue better against that view than the smartest guy who holds that opposite view. If you can argue better than the smartest person who holds the opposite view, that is when you are entitled to hold a certain view.”

Good discipline. Especially now.

There’s never been a better time for people to loudly hold opinions without the hassle of facts or consideration of opposing points of view.

Politics has become more polarized and emotional than ever before.

Nonpolitical topics, like whether women can be game developers, are becoming political proxy wars.

Online news consumption takes place on platforms that are using the very height of human technology to surface content that confirms our biases.

Social interaction online has devolved into digital trench warfare. It doesn’t matter what the topic is. It might be anything from abortion to fly-fishing lures, but you’re sure to find radically polarized sides firmly dug-in, barraging the opposing force with links featuring inflammatory headlines and unread body copy.


People of substance. We don’t have many of them anymore.

Those who are capable of holding two conflicting ideas in their head at the same time.

People who are willing to hold their own beliefs to the fire. Re-evaluate their stances over time.

They might have an opinion that isn’t popular, but they’ve at least thought about it.

And I think they’ve earned the right to it.

Romanticising Crunch Time

One thing that I’ve learned a lot about over the years is crunch time. The night before a pitch or an important creative presentation is rarely an easy one.

Work will expand to fill the time allotted. It’s called Parkinson’s Law. I’m not a mathematician, so I can’t prove that it is the natural order of the universe, but I think we can all agree that it should be considered one of the fundamental laws of physics.

At an agency, crunch time usually means late nights and some early mornings.

Early is relative, by the way.

There will be pizza and snacks and tightly-wound bundles of nerves.

Crunch time gets a bad rap. It feels high pressure, people are tired, spouses are irritated, weekends are lost.

But this is when a lot of good work is done.

Priorities become immediately clear and everything else falls to the wayside.

Decisions have to be made.

Difficult problems are wrestled to the ground.

Arbitrary ideas have to be pulled out of the air and fitted with cement shoes.

Differences of opinion have to be forded and compromises have to be made.

There’s no time to dance around the details or wait for someone else to come around to your way of thinking.

This is when the magic, as they say, happens.

I’m not arguing that all work should be left until the night before.

That work will almost always suck.

Crunch time works best when the work is 90% done, but another 90% of it still needs to be done.

The focus and intensity that a group can bring to their work at the very last minute can be powerful. It’s like pissing-off the Hulk and pointing him towards something that you need smashed.

Is that a good metaphor? I don’t read comics.

When a death interrupts the internet experience

The afterlife will be digitized: 

For years, Facebook has struggled with how to appropriately address the death of its users, eventually creating a “memorialized” setting that turns your timeline into a frozen digital tombstone where people can leave comments in lieu of flowers. Only a handful of states have established laws to address who inherits your digital accounts when you die. (Much to the horror of basically everyone, Delaware was one of the first to decree that its residents’ families would be given full access to their social media accounts when they passed.) And though the market for it remains modest, more and more businesses are offering to manage the posthumous digital clean-up that so many families now find is an essential and unbearable part of the mourning process.

I find this topic endlessly fascinating.

No, I’m not weird.

Thinking about the present as if it were the past

Chuck Klosterman has written an interesting (sounding) book:

… the book explores how (and why) societies in 100 or 300 or 1,000 years might hold radically altered memories of the literature, entertainment, science, and politics of the early 21st century, contradicting the way those concepts are considered in the present. The following excerpt visualizes how television will be remembered in a distant future when TV no longer exists.

The Ringer posted an excerpt focused on how television will be remembered. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the way of life that we’ve all grown up with is a historical aberration. Our reality is a hiccup in time.