Pure Content

Look at more stuff. Think about it harder.


Have a great Fourth of July. If you're in Arlington for the Lyon Village parade and cookout, I'll see you there.

The last couple of years, when I've been able to, I've gone to the fireworks on the Mall in DC. It's a great time, with great friends, but it puts battle in a whole new perspective, when you realize that the firewors that they're pointing up in the air are modifications of bombs that—100 years ago—were being pointed at people.


the team

Sean, who's been with Play for two months or so (and who has posted to Pure Content before), was written up in the Richmond Times Dispatch's business magazine "Inside Business." Here's the article: First Person: Sean O'Brien.

“I do research and I’m also somewhat of a, … you could say I organize field trips. Create afternoon experiences. Say we go out and visit a factory. Say we go to the Imperial Broom factory down the street and speak with the owner there and hear about his business. How it’s changed. How it hasn’t changed. I do a lot of writing too. I mainly write why papers. I’m talking about different issues dealing with leadership, management, branding, strategy, but doing that through a creative lens. All with a focus on why creativity is so important in today’s economy for businesses to utilize that in various aspects of their company."


de la vega

At Play, we give out an award for creativity. people that solve problems and approach objectives in innovative ways. We've got a small problem, though, and we're turning to the blogosphere for help. We want to recognize a street artist in New York City, named James de la Vega. He's in East Harlem, but we can't get an exact address. We have an award for him, packed up and ready to go, and we have nowhere to send it. Can you help us find his address?

Here's some of his work. And here's a Google of James de la Vega.

We'd really appreciate input from the collective creative consciousness. That's you.


bad business

There's a great analysis of the WorldCom blowup at Beyond Value Investing, by Bob Hiler. The Corporate Pyramid Scheme: How WorldCom Lost Billions in the Biggest Pyramid Scheme of All Time. It's from a week ago, so I apologize for being late to the party. But it's really well-written, and it clarifies what happened with WorldCom. If you're at all curious about what happened, check it out.


street team report

Ever-loyal Pure Content reader Rich Schaffer sent in this link: Inventing Modern America: From the Microwave to the Mouse. A site in support of a book put out by the Lemelson-MIT Program, it "celebrates the best of American ingenuity and inventiveness. In-depth profiles of 35 inventors tell the often surprising stories of the creation of everyday objects, from Kevlar and the personal computer to the pacemaker. This site explores the life and work of five of these intriguing innovators. Choose one of the inventors' qualities—courage, insight, know-how, vision, and perseverance—to find out more."

As Rich notes, although its main purpose is to promote their book, there is some great information on American inventors, and it features two games that are both educational and informative.


when LEGO meets geometry

LEGOs are fantastic. They're flexible. They're dynamic. They're pretty cool. Does that mean that you should build your business strategy on the lessons of LEGOs? Probably not. But there is some cool stuff that you can do with them. We've looked at some of them before (like Foundry DX). We just found this great site: Mathematical Lego Sculptures. Using LEGOs, Andrew Lipson creates sculptural models of mathematical formulas. Like this Figugre 8:

Or this Klein Bottle:

He is able to turn this:

into this:


creativity in marketing

So Reveries (the people behind Cool News of the Day), frequently runs surveys, asking questions of people in the promotions and marketing industry. They posted a recent survey that investigated the amount of creativity in promotions events. Only 2% said that "promotions are known for their 'creativity.' " Steve Rotterdam, the guy who analyzed the survey's findings, takes issue with that perception, noting that some of the best-liked and most-remembered launches and events were innovative.

He also notes: "Thirty-three percent of respondents specifically mentioned "brainstorming" as the primary way in which promotion ideas are developed. However, many acknowledged that they don't follow a specific process and rely more on past experiences or even their intuitions for guidance. Many respondents readily admitted to re-hashing or re-constituting old ideas, either their own or those of others."

Sounds like they need a systematic and strategic approach to the creative process. Good thing Play's got one.


sign up

I should have mentioned yesterday that if you would like to receive Playshares (like the one below), send us an e-mail, and we'll sign you up. You'll receive them every two weeks. Rock.


Playshare - the power of play

Wow. It's been a while since I've posted. Especially since I've posted anything of substance. Apologies to all of you. Thanks for continuing to stop in and see if I've returned.

It's the first of the month, so we sent out a Playshare. Here you go:

Play is a fundamental element of the creative process. When you’re struggling to come up with an idea or to solve a problem, all work and no play can be counterproductive. Just as your body needs to stretch after you’ve been sitting for a while, your brain needs a break. Do something you enjoy. Relax. Move away from objective-based thinking and engage in something else. Often, “the answer” will come to you when you least expect it. You'll wake up in the middle of the night. You'll be driving down the highway. Inspiration will strike.

Long after your conscious mind gives up, your brain is hard at work, trying to figure the answer out. And your brain works pretty hard when the rest of you is busy playing. Like when your computer processes in the background after you've moved on to another application.

New York designer Stefan Sagmeister decided to take a year’s-long sabbatical at a time when he felt burned out. He was drained and in need of rejuvenation. During that time away from client work, he focused on giving himself creative challenges and enjoying himself, without worrying about the realities of his design practice. In that time, he found something he didn’t know he had lost: his passion for design. The ideas he had while on his “break” were far more forward-thinking than anything he had developed professionally. They pushed him in new ways, and when he went back to designing for clients, he was far ahead of where he had been when he left.

Chances are, you can’t afford to take a whole year off of work. But what can you do? A ten-minute walk outside? A quick conversation with a teammate? Flipping through a magazine, with your brain processing your objective in the background? Ten minutes of play can do wonders for your creative mindset.

If you’re feeling drained, get away from your objective for a little while. Let other things occupy your mind. Bring play to the foreground so your brain can do its thing for you. Engage the power of play.

let's play.

who / what / why

At Play we create brands, strategies, new products, and better cultures for Fortune 100 companies. Our formula for creativity: "Look at more stuff. Think about it harder." Pure Content is one place where we do that, daily.

the cool kids' table

Ben Domenech
(politics, football, and a boatload of know-how)

Creative Generalist
(if Pure Content had a doppelganger ...)

Heath Row
(punk + business
+ creativity = Heath)


go go gadget google:

stuck in an airport

A Pattern Language

Creative Company
Orbiting the Giant Hairball
The Ultimate Book of Business Creativity

The Little Prince

Wittgenstein's Poker

The Dancing Wu Li Masters

The Tipping Point

new to you

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see our neighbors
Comments by: YACCS