Sunday, September 19, 2010

Be curious. Because I said so.

Whatever you do, DO NOT read this blog post.

You're still reading aren't you? In fact, you may not have read this at all if I didn't tell you not to.

Curiosity encourages interaction.

So what was your first interactive experience? When you felt acknowledged as a participant and not just a passive viewer? Most of you will immediately think of something digital or maybe an out-of-home advertising stunt. Or how about that painting where the eyes followed you?

For me, I think it was one of my favorite first books, Oscar's Book. The whole preface of this book is that Oscar wants to be left alone. He speaks directly to the reader and devises evasive schemes, hoping you'll stop reading. I thought this was hysterical. Getting nervous before each page turn in anticipation of Oscar's next confrontational move.

So what was so intriguing about this book? It wasn't so much that I was doing something "bad" by continuing to read against Oscar's wishes. It was more about the curiosity factor and the sense of his engagement. Reacting to page turns, calling me out for still reading, and trying to trick me. Or maybe it was just an early affinity for moody creatives that may or may not live in trashcans.

Do what we want, not what we say. 

Of course in the end, Oscar liked having the reader there all along. (After all, who else was he going to complain to?)

Clients always tell us what they want, but it's usually not really what they want. If we follow the rules and deliver exactly what they say without question, they are usually underwhelmed.

That's why you focus on the other concepts and push existing boundaries. Those concepts read between the lines – delivering what the client actually wants and theoretically what the brand needs. However, the client usually needs to see what "they said" to realize what "they truly wanted."

Oscar's challenge.

Some of the creative foundations displayed in Oscar's Book were covered in Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers. You are encouraged to respectively question authority, indulge your curiosity, and surrender assumptions. Granted there are things out of our control that lead to crazy success (i.e. the year and location you were born. And maybe you've already clocked in on that crucial 10,000 hours of greatness training time.)

Curiosity fuels creativity. 

If you are only creative, your solutions will eventually become stale. You have to be curious. We should always look at creative problems with childlike curiosity. The way we did before we had everything figured out. Before we accepted "because I said so" as a concrete answer. Before we gave up the endless search for more answers.

"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity." – Dorthy Parker

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