Thursday, January 29, 2009

Butter and Doors

I'm introducing the topic of lateral thinking to my batch of freshman students this quarter. Our class is learning how to think in non-linear, non-logical, completely upside-down ways. And so the need to understand lateral thinking.

If you need an actual definition, I won't be the one to give it to you. As a non-creative, I don't thoroughly understand the concept myself. It's better explained using examples. Here are a couple of lateral thinking puzzles I found that prove it isn't easy as pie.

try this:
Two frogs fell into a cylindrical tank of liquid and both fell to the bottom. The walls were sheer and slippery. One frog died, the other survived. Why?

or this:
Jim and Joe were fighting, so their mother punished them by making them both stand on the same sheet of yesterday’s newspaper until they were ready to make up. She did this is such a way that neither of the boys could touch each other. How did she manage to do this?

The first one, no one would get in a million years. The second one, maybe quarter of a million. Thinking harder and longer doesn't help. Thinking non-linear, non-logical and completely upside down just might.

good luck.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cecilia is. . .

. . .not using Facebook for business contacts. Do I really need my advertising connections to see that "Cecilia is wishing it was Friday"? Or worse, "Cecilia is having a good hair day." Yea, I don't think so.

Facebook is fun. Facebook is addicting. But, my take is that Facebook is a silly friend thing. My rule for accepting friends is whether or not I have met them in person. I bend this rule sometimes but generally it's my guideline.

Business contacts I keep through LinkedIn. It's there that I keep all my work connections and use it to network with people in the industry. I try to connect only with people I legitimately know or would benefit from the connection. People whose name or company I have never heard of I tend to ignore.

With so many social networking sites, it can get crazy to update them all. Twitter is smart enough to feed into Facebook status, that cuts down one entry a day for some folks. Just this week I have received invitations to connect via Plaxo, AgencyScoop, and ooVoo (that's okay, I don't know what it is either). I can't do it. Waaaaay too many sites and updates to keep track of. Plus, as I know we are all so very concerned about, it's time consuming.

I prefer this separation of church and state. Friends. Work. Two sites, two purposes. Decide for yourself how'd you would like to communicate with the world. One site or five, just have a purpose or you'll end up diluting your entire network across a slew of different places. Tempting to do, but painful to manage.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Finishing Class

Yesterday I heard about a cool class that Miami Ad School offers their seniors. It's called Finishing Class and it takes place their last quarter in school.

Through a partnership with Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Miami Ad School sends students to work at the agency for 3 months. Sounds like a pretty standard internship deal, right? Well, as I was told yesterday by a recent student of this program, it's a bit different. They go into CP+B each day and work on their portfolios. Just their portfolios. All day, every day.

The students come in, are partnered up, and assigned 2 mentors from the agency. The mentors review the students current work, tell them to trash what doesn't work and suggest new products and strategies to concept. The students then do some pieces, review them with their mentors and polish from there. All day, every day. Pretty damn cool if you ask me.

It's like having a personal portfolio coach. Not to mention being immersed in an agency overflowing with great work. The students certainly can help during new business pitches or when someone needs an extra hand, but mostly, it's all about their book. The young woman I spoke to told me every piece currently in her portfolio is a result of this class (which made me wonder what her book looked like before this program). Ultimately, she had a strong book and that's what matters.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Avertising Concept Book

I highly recommend The Advertising Concept Book by Pete Barry. I've just started reading it for my next class and I'm loving the content. All juniors should get themselves a copy.

The book says, "The best strategic, creative team is one that possesses a balance of logic and imagination, verbal and visual skills." What I found most insightful about this statement is that these 4 things are skills students can cultivate on their own. I think some juniors in school get intimidated by other students who may have better design (execution) skills. Yet, what Pete Barry is saying is that a creative can expand their ability to think, to ideate, to come up with great concepts by increasing these 4 skills. And any creative student can do this, no matter how good they are in illustrator or photoshop.

More logic? I read this as more intelligence. It goes along one of my previous posts where I said that creatives must be cultural anthropologists. They must be savvy in pop culture, current events, music, books, poetry. Those who are worldly in these areas have a broader knowledge base to pull from when trying to come up with ideas.

More imagination? Start with lessening inhibitions. As we grow up I think we slowly lose the ability to be overly imaginative because we become accustomed to abiding by the rules.

More verbal? Again read, read, read. Expose yourself to fairy tales and fables, biographies and non-fiction, adventure stories and science fiction. Increasing your literary skills and vocabulary will follow and again, give you a broader base of knowledge to pull ideas from.

More visual? Get out and look around. Go to every museum you can find, travel to a foreign country, study ad annuals.

Logic, imagination, verbal and visual. See how none of these is about putting something on paper? It's the ideating you do before you execute that makes for great work.