I ride my bike a lot. A lot.
Consequently I’ve got quite fast and quite thin - and now tend to spend more than a couple of quid on kit that will make me go faster. Lighter wheels actually make me go quicker, deep rims on said wheels cut through the wind when I go over 20 miles an hour, which is more frequent than a man of my age might expect.
Controversially, as far as my wife is concerned anyway, I also own a couple of ‘aero jerseys’. Skintight tops that don’t flap in the wind and manage air turbulence. I haven’t the foggiest if these actually make go faster, but here’s the thing…because I feel faster, I go faster.
They’ve tested skin-suits on cyclists and found that the ones with bad design, that do naff all to slice through air resistance, make them go faster as they BELIEVE they will.
That’s right, you can con yourself into being better than you are. For a planner and agency folk in general, that’s massive.
Because the other things about all this overpriced cycling gear is incremental gains. Lots of little changes and adjustments can add up to a lot.
Your clothes, dressing like you think a brilliant planner should dress, will probably make that presentation easier to write, or put you on top form for that critical meeting. For some that might mean a corduroy jacket and spectacles. Others, I’m afraid think it means Birkenstocks and Queen T-shirts. But whatever works.
Your environment. I can be very critical of agencies who insist on locating themselves in Shoreditch, Manchester’s Northern Quarter or The Meat Packing District. I believe they need to be closer to where real people live and feed off that. But then again, if you believe you’re in a place full of creative energy, it will drive you forward in a way working in non-descript business park will not. There’s plenty of evidence working in a buzzing city makes you naturally better at creativity and ideas.
Your office. It’s easy to laugh at impossibly well designed, achingly cool offices, but they do help, as long as they’re places you can relax and flourish in, that foster collaboration and allow space to think alone. They don’t have to cost the earth, but they do have to suit you. I guess, whatever you think a brilliant agency looks like, make it look like that and it will actually make you a little more brilliant.
Your work-space and tools. Surround yourself with quality and what you think clever, creative people like and enjoy and it will rub off on you. If you think they drink amazing coffee, make sure you get an aero press. Overpriced fancy notebooks? Do it. Walls you can write on? Feel free.
Real incremental gains. But it’s not just the placebo effect, there lots of little things you can do that actually do work.
- Choose your colour wisely. A blue room fosters deep thinking, a green room fosters creativity (the light wavelengths work on your brain in different ways). So put some green into your workshop. Put pot plants around the office.
- Make caffeine widely available, it actually does stimulate brain function.
- Read lots about everything. Ideas are just new connections between different things, the more you have in your brain, the more likely a new connection will form.
- Enforce time outs. The subconscious works on problems for you. Which means you need to not think about stuff for a while as it does its work.
- Talk to lots of people about your project. The mirror neurons fire when you talk to someone else, you see your work from another perspective and enables you to edit and precis a lot quicker. I often find a have a maddening ‘smudge’ of an idea or direction and talking someone else through it usually results in them saying, “So what you mean is…” Most of my propositions where written this way when I was in a creative agency.
Anyway, whatever works for you probably works, no matter what others might think.