Creativity needs both an open mind and a closed mind


An open mind allows the permeation of many ideas. But an open mind is good for achieving the quantity, not the quality of ideas.

An open mind is easy-going, which sees the beauty in everything. But it is bad at critical reasoning. It fails to question the conventional wisdom.

A closed mind is often an opinionated mind, which has a strong for and against. That belief fixation provides an anchor to develop and challenge ideas. It provides an in-depth exploration of the issue.

Whereas an open mind brings a wider angle to look at things, a closed mind provides a deeper observation of the object.



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Summary: The Four Stages of Life

Thankfully, today I stumbled on good stuff on Facebook. It is a blog post of Mark Manson, a NY Times author, which has a catchy name (to me): “The four stages of life”.

Mark suggested that there are 4 stages of life: Mimicry, Self-discovery, Commitment and Legacy.

Stage One: Mimicry

We grew up mimicking to become a socially acceptable human. As a result, we identify the rules and norms unconsciously, and direct our thinking and behaviors according to those rules and norms. In this stage, it is external approval and validaiton that matters most to us. In this blog entry, Mark mentioned that this stage is where there is an “absence of individual thought and personal values”.

Therefore, the advice for people in this stage is to be “aware of the standards and expectations of those around us”. But at the same time, we must “develop the ability to act by ourselves and for ourselves.”

Stage Two: Self-discovery

Whereas in stage One we learn to fit in, in stage Two we learn “what makes us different” from people and culture around us. We sometimes call them the “Beta people”, who are in the process of exploring their identity.

They often fall in the description of the marketing jargon “Millenials”, who can’t stay at any companies for too long and ready to quit their jobs for traveling. People call them spontaneously unthoughtful, but the fact is they are fighting internally about who they are and why the hell they are here.

Through a lot of trials and errors, these guys start to realize their strengths and weaknesses. They start to learn what excite them and what suck them to death. They realize “there are opportunity costs to everything, and that you can’t have it all”.

And there are people who stay in Stage Two too long. Mark refered to them with “Peter Pan Syndrome”- the eternal adolescents, always discovering themselves, but finding nothing.

Stage Three: Commitment

In Stage Three, after a while of exploring, winning and failing, you know who you really are. And “now it’s time to make your dent in the world”.

Stage Three is when you get it done. “You double down on what you’re best and what is best to you. You double down on the most important relationships in your life. You double down on a single mission in life.”

People in stage Three start to wonder: “What will I leave behind when I’m gone?” They start to build their legacy by maximizing their potential and focusing on what they are really good at.

Stage Four: Legacy

These people have created a legacy, which they somehow feel fulfilled and proud of. Now, they concern about making sure the legacy lasts beyond their death. They concern about passing their beliefs and wisdom to the next generation.

People in this stage need to feel they have done something meaningful for life. Stage Four is important because “it makes the ever-growing reality of one’s own mortality more bearable”.

Read more about the implications behind all of this at this link:

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Thinking serious about Pre-roll

We should start to think serious about Pre-roll ads. Pre-roll ads is not like a TV ads. People watch it in a different environment. They have different mind state when watching those two types of ads. Pre-roll ads is designed so that people have the power to skip, TV ads is not.

Therefore, the challenge to pre-roll ads is different from TV ads. The number one priority in making a Pre-roll ads is: make them pause at hitting the skip button, and hopefully, they will watch until the end. Or even better than just watching it, but playing  (engaging) with it. Then, pre-roll ads can be more than just an ads.

Look how Snickers turned pre-roll ads into playful games. Brilliant idea.

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Is “strategy” a company’s secret?

Before discussing this sensitive topic, I believe a disclaimer would put an ease on what I am writing and what you are reading here. This post is not to dismiss the importance of Confidentiality agreements of employees within corporates. Neither do I imply that you and I are encouraged to breach any corporates’ regulations and policies. Nor neither will I have any responsibilities for your actions, due to this post.

This piece of writing raises a simple question: “Is “strategy” a company’s secret?

Why asking this question?

I believe questioning the confidentiality of “strategy” will help us understand better about strategy. To me, it provokes many interesting thoughts. Firstly, what is considered to be a “strategy”? When should “strategy” be kept confidential?  And can we copy the competitors’ strategy?

To begin, what is a strategy?

As simply put by Faris Yakob, “Strategy, as an idea, is simple. You have a goal you wish to achieve. You have finite resources that can be deployed in achieving it. Strategy is simply how.” The essence of strategy is TRADE-OFFS. There is no right or wrong strategy. There is just the most suitable strategy for an organization.

Strategy is about making good choices. Strategy is not a goal, but a route that leads the organization to the goal.

If every employee must know their companies’ goal, they should also be aware of the route they should take in order to achieve that goal. Everyone must move in the same direction to move the big ship to the right harbor. This is similarly applied to other stakeholders, including the consumers, who now more demand for corporates’ transparency.

I believe a strong (business/ brand/ creative/etc.) strategy should root from the core belief of the corporate and its working culture.  A strong strategy is the one that can be immediately recalled by a junior employee when asked. A strong strategy should provide specific direction for every tactics and execution below. And I strongly believe, a strong strategy is a strategy that an outsider can define after seeing the execution.

When should “strategy” be kept confidential?

I would say “strategy” should be kept confidential before the launch period. Before launching, say, a new product launch campaign, the launching strategy should be kept as confidentiality, as competitors might have reactive moves that put your strategy a disadvantaged position.

However, after launching, the strategy is already revealed. What should be kept as secret then is the plan, the tactics, not the strategy anymore. Strategy is not a secret to be kept, but a well-drawn roadmap that inspires and influences the employees, the salesmen, the distributors, the consumers and all other stakeholders. If you don’t believe, search online for the business or brand strategy of big names, such as Apple, Nike, Google, Amazon, Starbucks, etc. There are even books of them sharing their strategy with the public.

And can strategy be copied?

I believe it can hardly be copied. And it is a silly thing to do so.

It goes back to the definition of strategy as “making choices that fit best”. Strategy relies much on the company’s strengths, weaknesses and culture itself. A strategy that is suitable for company A might be an absolute no for company B.


What is your point of view about this? Share it with me!



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Successful TVC formula= catchy jingles + unexpected iconic visuals?

A friend of mine just sent me a link to TVC that is going viral. The spot is not new, but it has recently been discovered and received a lot of attention, especially from the Marketing and Advertising community.

The TVC is simply a repetition of some sales sentences, similar to the same sales shouts you often hear in the wet market. What makes it viral are due to 2 factors: catchy jingles (of meaningless content) and unexpected (creepy) visuals of actors in foolish costumes dancing crazily all over the place. It’s interesting to look at the comments, most of which conclude at the same point: “It’s fucking crazy, but it works. It catches attention and it is easy to remember.” This leads them to conclude further: “The formula of successful TVC= catchy jingles + unexpected iconic visuals”.

On the execution level, I am not against the final conclusion they make. But if that is the strategic standpoint of planning or judging a TVC, it is seriously wrong, both professionally and ethically.

Why so?

Firstly, such conclusion stands on the perspective that consumers are morons, who prefer nonsense brainless stuff. Just putting some shiny unexpected baits, and those morons will bite. I strongly believe that no great work can be produced from that “superior” mindset. As David Ogilvy once reminded his employees: “The consumer isn’t a moron. She’s your wife.”

Secondly, on the brand point of view, people have neglected one critical role of advertising: building brand. Advertising does not just build awareness, but also functional and emotional association that will contribute to building brand image. Ads that are made only for the sake of triggering attention and memory is short-lived and wasteful in a long run. How do you see your brand evolve over 3-5 years? If the brand’s ads just base on execution-level thinking, it cannot help progress the brand to become resonate with the consumers.

Finally, on the ethical perspective, advertising, I believe, holds much importance in building one society’s culture. Like newspapers, advertising is a form of communication that shape people’s thinking. Ads people must realize their responsibility and how much impact they have on the society. A piece of brainless ads that is aired contributes to making our society a bit more brainless.

Think good ads. Do good ads. For a better society.



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6 criteria for a good Brand Idea

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Are there any other criteria you think a good Brand Idea should include?


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How to professionally give feedback to Creatives?

Judging creative work is easy. But giving professional feedback is a skill to be mastered.

I won’t talk into the details about the “dos” and “don’ts” when reviewing creative, but about the basic process that you can remember easily and apply directly to work. This feedback process is applied for Planners, Account and even Creatives themselves to evaluate whether a creative work meets the brief’s expectation.

The feedback process includes  4 easy steps:

  1. Recap the BRIEF
  2. What criteria in the BRIEF that the Creative work has met
  3. What criteria in the BRIEF that the Creative work has not met
  4. What are your subjective opinions about the work?

In the first 3 steps, actionable outcome must be given. If the criteria has not been met, then should we keep the creative work, adjust it or replace it completely? The final step “giving subjective opinions” is just a thought sharing for consideration, but should not lead to actions.








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