The Story of Charts - Circles, Pies & Bars

The Harvard Business Review had a nice tiny piece on the economist William Playfair and his vision of data visualization. Computers may have made data visualization sexier, but Playfair’s intricate drawings occupy a region of beauty all its own. More constructivist art than infographics, these charts — circles, pies and bars — make you wonder why infographics weren’t all the rage at the turn of the 20th century, instead of the turn of the 21st. 

"Industrial firms thrive on reducing variation (manufacturing errors); creative firms thrive on increasing variation (innovation)."
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-Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings

 

Improving the Performance of Mickey Mouse

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Note to self: turn listening to management podcasts into a hobby. Dug up this fabulous exchange from Harvard Business Review’s archives. 

Question: OK, so when I went to Disney– which I’ve been to now a few times, much to my chagrin– my daughter gets most surprised and delighted when she sees Goofy or Mickey Mouse. Are they pivotal?

Answer: Well, it’s an interesting question. They’re very important. Mickey Mouse, we could say, is the franchise for Disney. But for a strategic leader, a manager of the park or a senior leader, a better question is, what’s pivotal? So the real question is interesting– how much difference would we make improving the performance of Mickey Mouse, versus improving the performance of some other talent pool that might be more pivotal?

Taken from an interview with John Boudreau, USC Marshall School of Business professor and coauthor ofBeyond HR: The New Science of Human Capital.

Learn more about Mickey here

Banksy’s Storytelling Hijack

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A guy wrote me from a country far, far away beyond the all-seeing eyes of Amazon. He said he’d heard about my book and especially wanted to read the chapter on Banksy. Would I send it to him via email? he asked. I figured, if I’m handing out a book chapter I might as well hand it out to everyone. So to you Mr. Far Far Away, happy reading.  

Note: the seemingly random numbers in this article are endnotes from the book. 

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If that last pot on our bot world scared you a bit, then maybe it’s time to (re)read Jron Lanier’s fantastically frustrating but ultimately inspiring manifesto You are Not a Gadget on what the world of virtual reality was meant to be. The optimist says: Maybe it still can. 

If that last pot on our bot world scared you a bit, then maybe it’s time to (re)read Jron Lanier’s fantastically frustrating but ultimately inspiring manifesto You are Not a Gadget on what the world of virtual reality was meant to be. The optimist says: Maybe it still can. 

"Bots generate 24% of all posts on Twitter. 15 million Facebook “users” are bots, which posts sales links as status updates."
- Ran into this quote again during a spring office clean…every bit as socially dystopian as the first time I read and archived it. Source: Bloomsberg Businessweek with a memory rejig by the New Yorker.

The Storytelling Renaissance

Not long ago while talking about storytelling to a group of ‘creative types’ in Amsterdam—you know what I’m talking about: expensive shirt, curated beard, awesome sneakers—one man said: “Everything is storytelling. I’m so sick of storytelling. It’s so…over.” Not exactly the words you want to hear when you’ve just penned a book called Storytelling on Steroids: 10 stories that hijacked the pop culture conversation. But the thing is, the guy was wrong. Yes, storytelling is everywhere as a social phenomenon, but it is still very much in its infancy in the advertising or communication agencies. It’s easy to think it is when operating within our silo of creativity, but the fact is most companies I know—many of them household name multinationals, like Canon—are only now adopting storytelling as a corporate strategy.

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Hi fun-loving 100% slave-free Dutch chocolate brand Tony’s Chocolonely, happy to be working with you.  

Hi fun-loving 100% slave-free Dutch chocolate brand Tony’s Chocolonely, happy to be working with you.  

The World has become pop art

Strolling through the impressive Richard Hamilton exhibition at the Tate Modern and I suddenly remember why I like Richard Hamilton so much: he’s a relentless, meticulous adman trapped inside the wacky world of art. (Usually it’s the other way around). It’s easy to get carried away by the tin-foiled toasters and humorous collages, but to appreciate Richard Hamilton most you’ve got to read the small print. 

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Humanists-4-Ever

Fresh back from a speaking gig at London’s The School of Life, a very interesting — and rapidly expanding — ‘club’ that inspires you to think intelligently and helps you casually tackle all those existential issues you never really give proper attention to. Their tagline says it all: ‘Good ideas for everyday life.’ You could even say that The School of Life is the latest and perhaps most promising attempt to prompt us to rediscover the humanist hidden inside of all of us. Huh, humanism? Stop using those big words! 

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100% Nuclear Coffee for the chaos that awaits

Next week Monday and Tuesday (March 24-25) Holland will transform itself into Fort Holland with its military on high alert. This all for the annual Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, featuring Obama & Co (aka other world leaders). To make sure all the trouble is not for naught, provocative Dutch coffee brand Moyee Coffee created 100% Nuclear, a limited release Radical Roast. It’s coffee with an extra kick, designed to keep Obama and his friends up all night, every night, to get the job done. And if that fails, it’ll give the Dutch something else to talk about than the 58 world leaders, 3,000 journalists, 5,000 delegates, 13,000 security agents and 66 nuclear sniffing dogs. 

Order the coffee here.

In Search of ‘Normcore’

I am researching a book on the idea behind authenticity, quite possibly the holy grail of storytelling. Most of which I come across can be easily categorized into authentic or not. (There are only two sides of the fence here). Then I come across ‘normcore’, the supposedly new trend fresh out of Brooklyn. Will keep my thoughts to myself on this—you never know what will make it into the book and what won’t—but if you want to read the trend that has New Yorkers all hissy-fit right now, then read this in New York magazine. 

Monumental Review for Storytelling on Steroids in Marketing Facts

Few things are more satisfying than an open and honest review. No social connections, no strings attached – just a god-honest review. Dutch journalist Suzanne de Bakker gave Storytelling on Steroids a good going over on Marketing Facts. She gives the book a big thumbs up, and even offers me some interesting advice for future print runs. The advice is noted.

For the non-Dutchies, Google Translate does wonders.

Here’s the review. Enjoy. 

Super-Short Interview @ Bright New World Interview Series

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The more interviews you gives, the more you actually learn about yourself. Thanks to Amsterdam agency VandeJong for including me in their Bright New World interview series. See you all soon again. You can read the interview here.

Some reviews make you blush. This one for the Dutchies, courtesy of Communicatie Magazine. 

Some reviews make you blush. This one for the Dutchies, courtesy of Communicatie Magazine

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