I’ve recently been helping proofread The Challenger’s Almanac, a bold and beautiful new book that brings together some of the most inspiring, creative and daring voices from across the business world to show how, if you swim against the tide and think the unthinkable, business really can be a force for good. Needless to say, it’s given me inspiration in spades. From Beerbods’ beer subscription service and online community to Patchwork Present, which “lets friends come together to fund one gift that’s really wanted – piece by piece” (from a new kitchen to paragliding lessons and everything in between), I’ve read about some fascinating new business models and approaches that we can all learn from whatever our line of work.
Patchwork Present founder Olivia Knight actually used the patchwork concept to fund the business and get it off the ground in the first place. Reading her story made me think a lot about how valuable a patchwork approach can be to a whole raft of other things in life and work. And that includes Feeding. Sometimes we can nourish ourselves just as much by nibbling at lots of small tidbits as tucking into one single meal…
“Music and plaque removal are rarely connected. So I connected them. Add a little percussion to your dental hygiene with these toothbrush maracas.” Dominic Wilcox is a genius. Simple as that. I may be a bit late to the party (he’s been on The Culture Show, done a Selfridges window and featured in all sorts of cool magazines), but I recently stumbled across him via the excellent YCN magazine, YouCanNow. The artist, designer, inventor and ‘thinkeruper’ constantly challenges everyday objects, ideas, behaviours that we take as given, using a masterful blend of wry wit and madcap inventor/ design genius to suggest alternative solutions. You can peel open his fascinating mind via his Variations on Normal blog. “Dominic Wilcox’s drawings aren’t just witty and beautifully drawn,” says designer Thomas Heatherwick, “they are serious challenges to the real world to keep looking at itself with innocent eyes, wondering what else is possible.” I love that idea. There’s so much to learn from innocent eyes: we should never stop asking why, never take anything for granted, never assume that anything can’t change. I resolve to reconnect with my innocence from now on.
Words on the street
I stayed with a friend in Hackney the other day. She’s just moved there after living in Cornwall for nine years. I’ve known her 11 year-old-son all his life, but after two months in Hackney he sounds completely different. At home he talks to me just how he always has. But when we walk down the street to pick up a takeaway, he slips into street lingo. It makes me laugh at first – seeing such a radical change in such a short time. But then why wouldn’t he want to fit in? To speak in the same way as his friends at school, to connect?
When we do Tone of Voice projects we always talk about how important it is to connect with your audience. Louis just demonstrates the point in an infinitely piffer (see below) way. Here are some notes from my Hackney vocab book:
Live (adj) – exciting, cool, jumping, going off.
Dead (adj) – boring
Allow it – don’t worry about it, leave it, it’s fine
Piff (adj – to describe a thing) – superior, cool, really good
Peng (adj – to describe a person, normally a girl) – very cool, hot, sexy
Let Jenkins talk you through a few more:
The gleaming detail
I’m currently reading Do Story – How to tell your story so the world listens by story consultant, lecturer and screenwriter Bobette Buster (amazing name, is it real?). In the chapter I’ve just finished, she talks about the importance of finding one simple thing (said ‘gleaming detail’) that represents the essence of what your whole story is about; something people will remember, something that is deeply symbolic but that’s significance doesn’t need explaining because it’s so powerfully clear.
Buster illustrates the point with a story about a woman who is going through a painful divorce. She spends a whole day in court, and when she gets home her husband has moved out and emptied the entire house, stripping it bare to the extent that he’s even ripped the light switches out of the walls. The story doesn’t spell out how mean and abusive he is, or use long descriptions of things he’s done to her in the past, but by showing that he’d rip the light switches out of the walls – depriving even his children of light and comfort – it gives a powerful image of what this man is like and suggests what may have gone before. The light switch hanging from the walls is the gleaming detail. It leaves me dangling in thought about the gleaming details of a number of stories I’m writing at the moment…
Frisbees and Lionel Ritchie
And finally. A quick share… I’ve recently been thinking about a new publishing project, and considering crowdfunding as an option. So I spent a couple of hours looking around Kickstarter, IndiGoGo, WeFund and a few others to see what type of projects were getting funded. And I came across Freestyle magazine – a beautiful little publication that fits perfectly into a Frisbee. Watch the video, it’s brilliant:
What more could you ask? Well, a giant inflatable sculpture of Lionel Richie’s head as it happens…