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Image from campbell rowley website

Image from campbell rowley website


On Saturday I was giving a guest lecture to an MA course. One of my fellow guest lecturers was Grant Campbell from a design agency called Campbell Rowley.

As a designer his presentation looked great, every slide was based upon a striking image and was impeccably laid out. This is how it should be of course as a demonstration of his care and his ability. There were also 8 things, 8 top tips that he had that we could all learn from and use starting tomorrow. These are a mixture of what he said but also what I observed.

One: Don’t put your name on page 1. He didn’t. He had it on page 3. Page 1 was about the big picture of what he was going to discuss with some ideas to excite the audience, a teaser. Page 2 was why this was relevant. what’s in it for the audience. Page 3 was then his name and his personal brand. I like this approach. You take note of his name because by page 3 he has given you a reason to do so.

Two: Success and personal brand. Some people find it hard to integrate the two. How do you give an air of financial rigor while still talking with passion. Grant said his name, his experience and then… “and as a company we have no debt and what that means is that we seek out projects that we care about and that we can really make a difference with”. That statement is so simple yet so powerful. It indicates a philosophy of working together, an energy, a commitment to excellent work and also business stability and a safe pair of hands.

Three: Do actually seek out projects that you care about. Sometimes you just have to know when to walk away. The clearest brief in the world counts for nothing if the brief is for something poor. Don’t let your reputation suffer because a client wants something you disagree with. You will get blamed for it eventually. Everyone will point at you and say this doesn’t work and it’s your fault. Walk away for the sake of the long term.

Four: When a brief / commission / opportunity comes in – get it out again. Share it around quickly and ask for ideas quickly from EVERYONE in the team. Don’t keep it to yourself.

Five: Except for one person. Keep them out of the loop. They are your person to practice on later – the cynical viewer. What Grant calls ‘Phil the Foreigner’

Six: Take an ‘ummmm’ moment during the design of your pitch. What he means by that is a quiet moment where you stop frantically ‘copying and pasting’ anything in just to get the damn thing done and actually think about what you are doing.

Seven: Use a McGuffin structure. A McGuffin is an idea from scriptwriting, most famously used by Hitchcock. It is a plot device that runs through the film and binds it together – for instance a microfilm that someone is after. The film isn’t about the microfilm. The film is about intrigue, themes of identity, a comment on the cold war – but the microfilm (the mcguffin) binds it together. Have a mcguffin for your pitch.

Eight: Generally in design stop thinking about what the computer can do and start thinking about what you want to do and then how the computer may help you do it.

What would your last pitch have been like with these 8 tips.


Today’s quote comes from the remarkablized Seth Godin.  I urge you to think about this one next time you’re coming up with a project idea, or a new way to hook customers in, or a radical product concept, etc, etc.

“Over the top isn’t… over the top any more.

The bar keeps being raised. That service you thought was so remarkable is now standard. Sorry.”

With all the trouble at the moment around file sharing and Bittorrent in particular it’s rather refreshing to see somebody embracing the art of sharing.

Seth Godin has an event coming up where he will launch his new book.  During the event he will no doubt plug his new book but also knowing Seth there will be some top tips on marketeering and business in general.

Usually at an event like this the audience is forbidden to make recordings but in this instance Seth is encouraging it.  The more people who record it, the more people will see it and before the end of the day it could be live on thousands of blogs.  It’s a brilliant way of getting free publicity by giving something away for free, something that people will actually find useful.

His talk is in NYC at a venue that only holds a few hundred people by the looks of it, so if you go along there is a chance you may not get in.  Many people who would love to go along don’t live in or near NYC so they can’t get there to see it.  Many people who would love to go along (myself included), aren’t even based in the US so they have no chance of seeing it.

So why doesn’t he record it himself and put it on his own blog?  Simple; the power of word of mouth marketing.  If Seth directly tells somebody about his new book it is nowhere near as powerful and as viral as a personal recommendation from someone completely unconnected.

Maybe we’ll even post a feed here when it is available.

Find out more about the Tribes event here.

This week on The Learning Journey we are beginning a new regular feature which will hopefully allow us to get to know our readers better.

The weeks topical poll is:

Following on from Edit Blindness something happened yesterday that hasn’t happened for a while – we went out for lunch!

We keep going on about it here on The Learning Journey and that is because it is a vital ingredient to the success of your day.  Sometimes though a working schedule, such as our recent busy time doesn’t allow for it and even though we still ate food at about the right time we were rarely moving from our desks to eat it and that went a good way towards edit blindness we suffered.

Getting out for lunch is incredibly liberating, whether it is with other people or by yourself.  Being by yourself allows for some thinking time, whilst being with other people can provide some much needed distraction from the stuff which is at the front of your mind for the other 7+ working hours of the day.

For people who work from home mainly by themselves a lunch out with other human beings can provide a form of escape and some necessary social skills which can be lost by working alone.

I actually did go out for lunch today but sadly ended up in the middle of a cloudburst.  It was entertaining to say the least.

Do you make time for lunch?  Did you get out today?  What did you eat?  How did it affect your afternoon?


image courtesy of Red Bubble and artist Mike Stimpson.  You can see more of Mike’s wonderful Lego art here.

As you may have guessed from the slightly more sporadic postings appearing on the blog we’ve been very busy working to deadlines here.

Being busy though doesn’t mean our brains aren’t quietly collating more data for future posts though.

All 3 of the film guys here at Marton House have been working alone in darkened video edit suites for too long and it was only a matter of time before one of us snapped.  This time it was Tim, whom we discovered the other day wandering the corridors, swilkering coffee around and muttering something about not being able to “see” the project anymore.

This was a problem he termed “edit blindness”, you may know it better as not being able to see the wood for the trees.  Either way it is a point in time when you have been looking at something for too long and suddenly none of it makes sense and you can see no way to proceed.

At this point you start making serious errors and the best thing you can do for the project and more importantly yourself is to step away.  Take a break, have a look at something completely different for a while.  Come back to it later, or maybe even the next day if the project can afford it with a fresh perspective on things.

Tim is now stable again thankfully, for the time being at least.

I’ve just come off a rather interesting project. It was writing, directing and editing a character randomiser.

Oh yeah? What’s that then?

Well it’s a short interview with a character, in this case a salesman. He gives his views in answer to various questions. Except that everytime you watch it his views are different. In fact there are 42,000 various combinations. The task then, for the delegates / viewers who are all managers, is to think about what this characters coaching needs would be. What would you prioritise? How would you raise some issues with him?

Now that takes some writing! And some acting. The clip above shows just one version. In the spirit of the blog here some lessons learnt to share about this project in case others want to take this idea forward.

Writing it: The final viewing experience is made up of 3 sets of questions and answers. 5 different versions of each question. 8 different answers. I created a different script for each question and answer.

Technical stuff: Each question and answer was filmed with 2 cameras. The reason for this was so that during each answer I can keep popping up with ‘noddies’ or follow up questions. If I didn’t do this then the audience would spot the randomiser working. It would be clear that any visual cut would be the randomiser picking a clip. This way you don’t know what is a ‘randomiser cut’ and what is a ‘normal cut’. So each question or answer is then edited up in final cut so I have 39 short clips. These are then selected and played (jukebox style) by the randomiser program which is build using Flash.

Shooting: The black set is just set up in a dark normal office room but with £300 worth of black material everywhere.

How to write it: The characters opinions are mapped on a grid (the skills and commitment grid if you are aware of that model) so as to get a good range of views. From highly skilled to low skilled and high commitment to low commitment. It’s then a case of reading it again and again, in lots of combinations. If they don’t work then rewrite either the question or answer.

Does it work then?: It works okay. I give it 8 out of 10. The writing works perfectly. In fact I think it is the questions that are letting it down. Because they can’t really follow on that makes the performance difficult. It seems sometimes like I haven’t listened. If I did it again I would probably work on that. One solution being a very definite pause and a clearer statement about moving on or drawing a line in the sand.

Here is a snapshot of the script. Or you can download the whole thing here.

Here at MH Towers we have a crack team of professionals to help you get that perfect job and soon you will be able to lavish yourself with video guides and online help in the form of our suite of career management tools.

If however your job interview is tomorrow you should head on over to Lifehacker where they have some simple top tips to prepare for the big day.

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