Category Archives: #personal

Information overload.

For the past 5 years, I have been living as a functioning Infoholic.

These are the signs:

The first thing I do when I wake up is check emails and Facebook, and then NBA scores and news. I tell myself I do this “to wake my brain up”, but the truth is that I do it because I am addicted.

When I am with my beautiful daughters, there are many times when I am checking Facebook, instead of listening to what they are saying or watching them play. I sometimes get annoyed with them for getting in the way of my information-gathering habit.

I usually look up trivial facts during each movie I watch: What else has this actor been in? Who wrote this screenplay? It’s become quite normal to tweet during TV events, but I struggle to watch a whole movie nowadays because of my reduced concentration span.

A few days ago, my iPhone broke. I went a few hours without it. Then I realised I’d gone a whole day. Then three days. And nothing bad happened. I read a book. A whole book, not just the article about it on Wikipedia. I felt liberated, as though I am not at anyone else’s beck and call. The constant worry was gone, and I felt my brain starting to work at full speed again as the data haze started to disappear. The information stopped becoming so immediately abundant, but a visit to a library reminded me that there was still more information available than I could possibly consume.

John Naish, author of the book Enough, lives in Brighton UK without a mobile phone. When I first heard that, it sounded impossible. But maybe he is making a wise choice. Maybe we don’t need our gadgets as often as we think we do. Maybe the constant flow of information is paradoxically making us less informed. Maybe our inability to be bored, is actually getting in our brain’s way from doing the sorting and indexing required to make new creative connections. Maybe we’ll soon realize that our cultural and creative progress is being held back, and we need to move past this information addiction that so many of us seem to suffer from.

But for now, my iPhone is back. My ipad is always nearby. My Facebook feed is just a click away, wherever I am. And my daughters have started to ask constantly for the ipad or the phone, and they get really, really annoyed if they aren’t allowed to use them…

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Freelancers: Do at least 2 of these 3 things to keep getting hired.

According to Neil Gaiman, you need 2 of the following 3 things if you are to be hired regularly as a freewlancer:

1. Be a pleasure to work with

2. Produce good work

3. Always deliver on time

“People keep working, in a freelance world, and more and more of today’s world is freelance, because their work is good, and because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. They’ll forgive the lateness of the work if it’s good, and if they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as the others if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.”

Which in a diagram looks something like this:

 

Of course, doing all three makes you a star performer. But make sure you nail at least two and you’ll keep working at least.

ps I highly advise you watch the speech Mr Gaiman gives – it’s excellent.

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Lovely Spam

“Excellent web site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to several friends ans also sharing in delicious. And of course, thanks for your sweat!”

“you may have an amazing blog right here! would you wish to make some invite posts on my weblog?”

“Nice post, thanks. Can you tell me about the third paragraph in more detail?”

“Hi my friend! I want to say that this article is amazing, nice written and include almost all vital infos. I’d like to see more posts like this”

Am I the only one tempted to let through some of the comments that get caught in my spam queue? They’re so damn *nice*

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The 5 simple steps for coming up with good ideas

I suspect that whatever business you are in, one of your tasks is to think of new ideas. In the advertising business, it is basically the only thing we are tasked to do.

Over 100 years ago, a man called James Webb Young started his career in advertising. He went on to be one of the most successful ad men of his time, setting the scene for the modern ad business. A few years after he retired, he wrote a very short book, which sums up the basic steps of creative thinking. The steps really haven’t changed, even in our digital age.

The 5 steps are as follows.

1. Gather information

You need to spend time gathering information which may be useful to answering the problem. Young explains that you should collect specific and more general information about the issue you are working on. You need to look at information directly related to your client’s business, plus competitor and industry analysis too. You also really should talk to people who are likely to be interested in the product or service. At 358 we also spend time talking to people who represent extremes of behaviour – people who obsess over the product and people who never use the product – to understand the motivations involved.

2. Think hard about the infomation

Go over and over the material, thinking really hard from multiple angles. Chew on it. It is important that the information is fully digested. Try to think of solutions and ideas. Your ideas and connections will probably suck, but keep writing them down and working your brain hard. Look for connections in the data. At some point it will feel like you are going round in circles, and will never be able to piece all of this together.

3. Rest your brain

This is important. You will stay at stage 2 if you do not make the effort to so something else. At least work on something else, at best truly relax by doing something you enjoy. David Ogilvy talks about “going for a long walk, or taking a hot bath, or drinking half a pint of claret”  Forget about the problem and just like Sherlock Holmes, abruptly drop the case mid-way through and go to a concert. You need to do this to unhook your rational thought process.

4. Let the idea come to you.

This is the Eureka moment, which in Archimedes case came when he was relaxing in a bath. Don’t let it slide past. Write down the idea immediately. Be ready for it.

5. Craft the idea

The initial idea is likely to need work. So now is the time to craft the idea, think about the practicalities, and work out how it might really work in practice. Test the idea thoroughly with trusted colleagues and be ready to adapt. Get rid of the bits that aren’t working, and don’t be precious. It is really important that you are open to criticism to make the idea the best it can be.

That’s it. These steps may seem obvious, but it is amazing how often people think they can skip one of the steps, either not working hard enough at the information phases, or not giving their brains time to relax so that their unconscious mind can help to solve the problem in a creative way.

Of course, knowing the steps is one thing – but being committed enough, creative enough, and having a stimulating yet critical enough environment is what will actually make the difference between coming up with decent ideas and truly brilliant ones.

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Don’t call it a comeback

It’s been a while. Here’s what has been happening:

1. I left Nokia
There are so many reasons for this, so this really requires a separate post. But suffice to say, after over 7 years at the company, I decided I needed to do something new. And, ultimately, I wanted to see my daughters every day. See this photo to understand why.

2. I joined an ad agency
Actually, it’s more of a idea factory, which sounds a bit wanky but is a much better description of what 358 does. With guys from IDEO, industrial designers, and a whole bunch of people who don’t want to just make the same old ads, it’s a really interesting place to be right now. I’m a strategist, but we are aim to be T-shaped.

3. We bought a new apartment in central Helsinki
Big decision to move to the centre of the city with our two daughters, but we feel like they are going to have an awesome life there. We are probably going to go without a car, which will also be interesting. ps the apartment is lovely. Photos to come.

4. We survived one of the longest winters ever
It’s still snowing in Helsinki. Hopefully we’ll just skip spring now and go straight to summer.

5. My thoughts about marketing techniques have changed quite a lot
I used to think that “traditional” marketing was past its sell-by date; now – after reading lots – I think that it all depends on what you want to achieve. But, the truth is, “engagement” is actually not very useful for most brands, who should instead be concentrating on getting more people to consider their brand. Much more on this to come.

6. I got a bit obsessed with the idea of minimalism
I’ve been reading a lot about this, and plan on implementing the thoughts into my life. From food to cars to clothes, I will aim to simplify. The best thing about this is it fills you with a kind of calm, knowing that the things you need in life are actually quite simple and not expensive. I have a strong feeling that this particular obsession is going to lead to some more profound changes in my life, but for now it has at least given me a feeling of calm and reminded me that I am so lucky to already have the things I have in life.

Lots to share. Look forward to the conversations!

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Keeping the cooks from the broth.

Every now and then you are shown an idea that is so great that you tell as few people as possible, hoping that no one gets in the way and ruins it. That was the case with Dot, the animation created for Nokia by the brilliant combination of Wieden & Kennedy and Aardman Animations.

It started with Professor Fletcher’s CellScope, which was originally invented to send pictures of blood cells from Africa to doctors abroad, for expert diagnosis. The CellScope used readily-available phones like the Nokia N95, so was a great example of our campaign tagline: “It’s not technology, it’s what you do with it”. We created a video that told the story about Dr Fletcher’s technology, but the team at W&K asked if they might experiment with the microscope to create something fun. They came up with the idea of a tiny stop-motion animation, to showcase the amazing imaging capabilities of the Nokia N8. They said they wanted to try to break the Guiness World Record for the Smallest Ever Animation*

Once Aardman’s Sumo Science team was on board and seemed genuinely excited by working within the limitations we set, then I was sure we were on to something good. I told virtually no one, to protect it from the excesses of a major corporation that always, inevitably, has too much to say.

As a client, it’s rare that you see a finished film that is everything you were promised, and also much, much more. The craft, the timing, the magic of it is just breath-taking. As a commenter on Youtube put it “I’m an iOS developer and am thinking, at this moment: “wow! nokia is cool again!”.

Also, as a client, I can’t take much credit for the film. My job was just to believe in the idea and to protect it from the inevitable squabbling, opinions and unhelpful suggestions from stakeholders trying to “add value”. Too many cooks would definitely have spoiled this broth. Sometimes less is more.

Really, the credit goes to Mark and Richard at W&K for having the idea in the first place, and to the geniuses at Sumo Science and their incredible animating skill.

* BTW, it did break the record: Guiness World Record for Smallest Character in a Stop-Motion Animation!

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You and I are gonna live forever.

We are some way from achieving biological immortality. But, as we share more and more of ourselves online, our digital presences and relationships will outlive us all.

A friend of mine died recently. It was incredibly sad as he was only 33, and it happened so unexpectedly.

But something happened that was a very new experience for me. My friend’s Facebook page became a sort of social shrine. Hundreds of messages started flooding on to his wall from people who wanted to share their feelings with others who were also in mourning.

At least for me, it turned into quite a positive and totally social experience: There was something uplifting about seeing this man’s spirit live on in the photos, messages, and minds of so many who knew him.

What used to be merely a cliché – that we all live on in people’s memories – showed itself to be quite literally true, thanks to people’s newfound willingness to share their feelings on the web for others to see.

As the web learns more and more info about you and your habits, I guess the remaining question is: what do you want your digital legacy to be? Does it change the way you act when you consider that everything you are doing online (and soon maybe everything you are doing anywhere) is being stored for eternity?

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A small idea that could have a big impact.

Everyone is always striving for The Big Idea; Personally, I believe in the power and impact of small ideas.

I had a small idea about 6 months ago: rather than paying celebrities loads of money to record their voice navigation into Ovi Maps, we should take some of that money and develop a little mobile app that allows people to record their own voice navigation, and share these voice packs with other people.

I got the guys at Starcut to make the little app, and asked them to keep it really simple. The team at Ovi Maps made sure it worked at their end, and the campaign team integrated it into their major Ovi Maps campaign which gave it a huge boost in terms of visibility. It ended up being called Own Voice, and I’m really proud to say that it was released last week, and the initial response has been extremely good.

It really is a tiny, simple idea. But – of all the things with which I’ve been directly involved – it is the best example of my marketing philosophy:

1. It creates social objects. Voice packs become gifts that lovers or mothers or friends can share. Each shared pack may only be to just one person, or a few, or the whole world. But it doesn’t matter because the combined effect is what we are looking for. This is making the service itself a gift, which means it is passed on for us and is received with pleasure. (thanks Jyri)

2. It is dandelion marketing as we cannot be sure which voices will be most popular, so we are instead creating the eco-system for thousands of voices to be created and shared.

3. It is Baked In marketing, as it creates something conversational about the service itself, making it a product that better markets itself. (thanks Mr Bogusky)

4. It is an idea that creates content, rather than being an idea that is content (thanks Faris)

5. It augments the actual experience and context of being an Ovi Maps customer. It actually works at the design level of the communications pyramid, where most of the fundamental value is added. (thanks Helge).

6. It Earns Media. Lots of people have Tweeted about it, and it was one of the rare marketing-led ideas that actually made it to the mainstream press (BBC Click and The Independent among others already).

In summary: it’s not the size of the idea that counts, it’s what you can do with it.

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Polaroid Memories

I’ve been a little bit fascinated by polaroid pictures recently.

There’s something magical about them. I think it’s that they evoke memories in a way that pristine megapixeled shots never really do. Memories are hazy, dream-like; Polaroid shots give me that same sensation.

Polaroid

But also, it might be because it’s evident that a polaroid photo will not last forever. The image will fade, just like the memory. Its transience brings it fleeting yet urgent importance, and knowing it will be gone makes me want to savour it more.

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What took you so long?

Ever since I joined Nokia in 2004, I’ve probably had a reason to blog: in fact the first product I worked on, Nokia Lifeblog, was one of the very earliest mobile blogging tools. Two of the awesome people I worked with, Charlie and Christian, used personal blogs as a very effective way to communicate about the product – they were way ahead of their time in terms of what we now call Social Media Marketing.

Charlie still writes his personal blog, but now is also in charge of the frankly very impressive Nokia Conversations blog – which, in my probably totally biased opinion, is one of the best corporate blogs out there (NB I’m not generally a fan of corporate blogs, but Charlie is getting the right mix of information release, real behind-the-scenes stories, and also authentic personal style). The blog is quite new, but it seems to be doing quite a good job. Perhaps it is getting it right because it followed the advice of listening first, thinking some, and then finally blogging last.

I actually did start to blog a couple of times, and wrote an internal Nokia blog for a while, but I didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel authentic. Basically, I think I wasn’t ready. I didn’t think I had anything useful to share.

So instead: I observed; soaked it all up; read voraciously; listened.

But now I think I am ready to start blogging for real. I am not expecting the blog to stack up against my blogging heroes in terms of reach or in terms of the depth of my analysis. But I do feel as though I can do the following:

1. Collect together my thoughts in one place. I have sent numerous emails to colleagues telling them about cool marketing project or a fascinating piece of research I’ve read, and I’ve often thought to myself: that should be a blog post. Well now it can be. And it can act as a memory/summary tool for me.

2. Perhaps most importantly, I can give some sort of inside perspective about Nokia. Obviously I’m not going to be leaking any products any time soon (and actually, I’m not the best person to ask about products anyway). But I can discuss marketing campaigns, strategies, how we engage with Social Media etc. I am also particularly keen to get involved in the discussions about Mobile Social Media – not just to help my 2009 prediction come true 😉 I think I am well placed to do that, and to talk about how Nokia is pushing things forward.

3. I now feel as though I can enter the conversation with validity. When commenting on blogs before I felt like a fraud, as I could never leave a blog address where someone could see I was a real person with real views. I have of course commented, but not as much as I would like. Also, I have always been worried about getting involved as a Nokia employee. It’s awkward to have to point out that I work for Nokia, but now anyone can see this (or indeed whatever company I am working for) on my blog.

4. Finally, I want to start writing in sentences again. I know that this is a list (and I am sure there will be many lists), but I at least want to try to do writing that does not fit neatly on to a bloody powerpoint slide.

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