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Promising tool: The ever-expanding Adobe Creative Suite—especially Adobe XD—and/or actionable consumer insights via artificial intelligence from services like Lucy (equals3.ai).

Recommended reading: The Lefsetz Letter newsletter and blog, Dan Hon’s newsletter Things That Have Caught My Attention, and freeCodeCamp and Hacker Noon on Medium.

Challenges: How quickly artificial intelligence and automation are being applied to copywriting—for example, headlines in digital—and the speed with which clients are organizing their own media buying and content production operations. There will soon be fewer agencies and more in-house work.

Founts of tech knowledge: My friends, first and foremost. Then newsletters—including CB Insights, LAUNCH Ticker, Scott Galloway’s No Mercy / No Malice—and the Quartz news app.

Rocket fuel: I just slurped down a few ounces of TruBrain, which purports to be brain food—amino acids, nutrients and minerals that directly support cognitive function—formulated by University of California, Los Angeles–trained neuroscientists. Yes, it works.

Business card 2.0: Instagram, surprisingly enough. I’ve met some of my favorite clients through Instagram. Recently, I began posting process videos and behind-the-scenes footage. Something about watching the making of, rather than just viewing, the final product intrigues people. I think that’s the human aspect of our work.

Dream collaborator: Stefan Sagmeister. I still remember the first time I saw the lecture poster he had art directed for AIGA Detroit in 1999. The information was carved onto his own torso with an X-Acto knife and then photographed. I stared at the details through the cuts and droplets of blood and thought, “So that’s how one does typography. Noted.”

Stress relief: Sensory deprivation tanks. I see it as my reset button. Whenever I’m overwhelmed or trying to solve a creative issue that doesn’t seem to have answers, two hours of floating in one of those babies will always solve it. Imagine an agency where the creatives had float tanks instead of desks. Am I onto something here? 

Organizational staple: Google Drive. Google Docs. Google Slides. Google everything.

Inspiring find: Stumbling upon the once-flourishing and now dying—in fact, almost extinct—Bollywood art of hand-painted posters while designing the book SRK – 25 Years of a Life for India’s biggest superstar, Shah Rukh Khan. Although Bollywood poster artists produced a staggering number of these hand-painted images, their ephemeral work and tradition have been replaced by photography. The book digs deeper into the tradition, presenting the original Bollywood art in its true glory.

Mind-blowing campaign: The Refugee Nation flag, one of the simplest and most compelling designs of the past year, is a life jacket–inspired flag for the ten-athlete Refugee Olympic Team at last summer’s Olympics. The flag became a powerful symbol of a world without borders and boundaries. 

Dream team: Paul Belford for awe-inspiring graphic design, Fabien Baron for avant-garde typography, Steven Meisel for bewildering images and Anna Wintour for her spirited attitude.

Inspiring reads: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari. It came highly recommended by my colleague Icaro Doria. I devoured it, then went ahead and got Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, which deepens Harari’s inquiry into our humanity and how we will collectively shape the century ahead. His works turn the ordinary on its head, making you question, ponder and strive to be aware of your role in the larger scheme. 

Creative fodder: Nowness.com, TED.com, booooooom.com, iheartphotograph.blogspot.com, yatzer.com and theselby.com

Timeless work: In my career, which now spans 30-something years, our business and craft have evolved in many ways, and I have witnessed waves, schools and trends come and go. At the core, it is always the same. A piece by Bill Bernbach in the 1950s and an action by David Droga in the 2000s share brilliance at the core: simplicity, pertinence and surprise.

Motivation: Knowing that I was able to contribute to a project that actually meant something, at some point, to someone out there. It’s important for me to always have a public service announcement on the go. Advertising provides a platform to get a message out, so why not channel some of that energy to do something for good, as opposed to spending all day, every day, trying to hawk unnecessary things like water bottles to the masses? A favorite project of mine is a campaign that we recently completed for Rethink Breast Cancer. We created Give-A-Care, the first line of products for women with breast cancer that actually understands women with breast cancer. 

Under-the-radar resource: As a creative, I find that it’s not uncommon to be on the receiving end of unsolicited feedback from a client’s spouse or kid or nanny or whomever. I use this kind of information as a gauge in my own life, too. I’ll often ask my family members—who, no offense to them, like pretty normcore stuff—what they think of an idea. If they like it, it usually means it could use more work. And if they hate it? I might actually be onto something.


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