May Book Club Summary

Our monthly book club is a fun way to stop, breath, and enjoy each other's company. We also get in some quality peer learning. Our book choice for the month of May was Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide To Creating Great Ads by Luke Sullivan. Sullivan draws on a depth of knowledge gathered over nearly two decades of experience in the industry and a dictionary full of wise words from advertising legends and contemporaries alike. A few of the chapters (television and radio) seem a little out of place in an interactive agency, but ultimately every chapter of the book had some valuable thoughts on the creative process.

From a business perspective, Hey Whipple is definitely worth reading; however, I'd like to touch upon the broader value of the book -- learning how to think creatively.

Avoid Style; Focus on Substance

This is a point Sullivan drives home again and again. If you spend all of your energy trying to make your visual perfect then it's unlikely you'll spend much on the idea behind it. Thinking creatively requires that you give all of your attention to forming an idea that you can build upon. Sometimes it takes a very long time and quite a bit of energy, but if you leap ahead of yourself you'll end up spending just as much energy and the final result will be much worse.

Don't Filter

If you really want to hit an idea that's creative and brilliant you can't filter out ideas during the initial process. In the beginning, everything has merit. When you've penned a few hundred ideas, then you can start analyzing them more closely to see which ones fit your strategy and have the most substance. Filtering is one of the greatest challenges to creative thinking. Our natural instinct is to shoot down the ideas that are too obvious, but the truth is that if you spend some time with these ugly ideas you can often turn them into something unexpected. This brings us to Sullivan's third point.

Hitting a Wall is Good

Everyone who writes suffers from writer's block occasionally. The fact of the matter is that if you're trying to create an idea and you get stuck, it just means that you've moved past the obvious and cliche ideas that first came to you. While some of us would like to think we're brilliant enough that the first thing to come to our head is going to be excellent, the truth is that the good stuff is out there in the dark where we have to work to find it.


There are literally hundreds of good tips in this book, but I think these were some of the more fundamental takeaways from the book club this month. If you have suggestions for good books to read we'd love to hear them. If some of you started reading along with us and participating with your feedback that would be awesome. I'll keep you updated on Twitter regarding our book choice for next month.

Neboweb May Book Club
Neboweb May Book Club
Written by Chris Allison on June 2, 2009


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Chris Allison