A brief recap of the lessons imparted by the awesome crew from Threadless at yesterday's PSFK Salon in Chicago. It's all so simple, yet so evasive to many businesses.
I was originally planning on commenting on each lesson, but they are so self-explanatory.
Lesson 1: We do it with friends.
Lesson 2: Bring the fun. Fun = fearless. And fearless = exploration.
Lesson 3: Honesty buys you goodwill.
Lesson 4: Act like a human, because you are.
[I tend not to wear T-shirts with images/logos/words, but if I did this would so be it].
If you've been around me long enough you'll know I maintain a healthy suspicion for things like the perfect tie knot, overly shined leather goods or consistently flawless grammar. That's not to say I don't appreciate the effort it takes to achieve all three but frankly I think they can be boring and affected.
I have found quite a universal rule which in this matter seems to me valid above all other, and in all human affairs whether in word or deed: and that is to avoid affectation in every way possible as though it were some rough and dangerous reef; and (to pronounce a new word perhaps) to practice in all thing a certain sprezzatura [nonchalance], so as to conceal all art and make whatever is done or said appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.
It's not that I don't appreciate effort. In fact my interpretation of sprezzatura is that it requires quite a bit of effort [more so than normal]. What I don't like is when someone reeks of effort.
This photo from The Sartorialist visually sums it up:
The immediate example that comes to mind is Jon Kerry vs. Bill Clinton. Clearly Bubba's got it, and Kerry never did.
Any good examples you can think of?
I've always enjoyed reading - historically magazines and newspapers, with blogs added to the mix over the last few years [the advent of RSS facilitated my consumption greatly].
There's the occasional book, but I'm just not wired to read in 300 page increments at a regular pace.
Anyway, I spent the last five days in Tucson, AZ with my wife and son, the latter looked after by an incredibly generous aunt, uncle and grandma.
Daytime childcare allowed me to spend days at the pool catching up on magazines, blogs and even a book. Here are a few highlights ...
Carr, a reporter for The New York Times, pens a riveting memoir about his life as a drug addict, drunk; and his remarkable story of recovery [and ongoing struggles]. It is a book of extremes ... uplifting and depressing. Generous and self-indulgent. Funny and sad. Beautiful and heinous. I've admitted that I don't read a lot of books, so take this with a grain of salt - I strongly recommend this one.
Newsweek's Secrets of The 2008 Campaign
I'm only five months late to the game here, but this epic collection of behind-the-scenes accounts from various Newsweek reporters is incredible. The 7-part report consists of "exclusive behind-the-scenes reporting from the McCain and Obama camps assembled by a special team of reporters who were granted year-long access on the condition that none of their findings appear until after Election Day."
As with all good political reporting, it incited a great debate in my family. I thought the report painted McCain as the sympathetic character; everyone else disagreed.
It just occurred to me that Night of the Gun + Secrets of the 2008 Campaign = Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72, by Hunter S Thompson ... one of my all-time favorites.
I caught up on a lot of magazine reading. Mostly GQ and Esquire. Nothing mind-blowing to speak of, but I did find quite a few things I want to buy for the summer. Among them ...
Levi's 501 White Jeans ($59.50)
You'll recall a couple of weeks ago the folks at P&G conducted a social media experiment, while raising money for charity. My recap here.
My shirt arrived the other day, and David Armano asked people to submit photos in exchange for some link love. P&G digital brand manager, Dave Knox, promised me the T-shirt would be of good quality - and it is. Pretty cool design, and not the typical stiff/ill-fitting corporate apparel.
Using the Photo Lolz Polaroid emulator ...
A funny thing happened last night. P&G - as part of a private digital night in Cincinnati - turned to some of the most well-known names in social media to accomplish a few things [all but #1 are speculation only]:
Raise money for their charity, Tide Loads of Hope [clean clothes to families in need of support after natural disasters]
What did they do?
For a few hours, several teams - led by different cewebrities hunkered down at P&G headquarters - bombarded Digg, blogs, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Facebook and more with links to Tide's web site where you could buy vintage looking Tide t-shirts. Twitter was particularly insane, with #pgdigital appearing non-stop.
How did they do?
According to one participant, $50K in four hours, with P&G matching $50K. I don't care how deep P&G's coffers are, they should be commended for the match. Bravo!
Did you participate [disclosure: I purchased a shirt]? Either way, what do you think of the excercise?
Did you think the external agency participants at P&G last night went far enough to disclose their relationship with the company? I saw a video from Ian Schafer of Deep Focus (@ischafer) who was very clear to state his agency did not work for P&G. But I didn't see that same transparency from others. Maybe I missed it in the frenzy?
Do you think, as Brian Morrissey, Digital Editor at Adweek seems to based on his tweets below, that we were all played?
I am digging this. Level Vodka has teamed with fashion designer Hussein Chalayan to create the “Level Tunnel.” Level started a blog - - to track the progress of the building of the tunnel and its travels around the world.
To quote the press release:
The Level Tunnel by Hussein Chalayan vol. 08 is a world of its own, which can be experienced by viewing it from the outside and exploring it blindfolded from the inside. It’s a 15 m meter- long, almost 5-meter-high installation made of fiberglass, glass and leather – to mention just a few of its materials. The installation will tour the world, starting in Mexico City in May 2008.
“… The idea is to engage in a captivating sensual experience of scent, sound and touch. I want to match all senses – excluding vision – to emphasize the exceptional taste of Level Vodka,” explains Hussein Chalayan.
Visitors will enter and walk through the installation blindfolded. Inside, they will be sensually and innovatively enveloped with the unique taste of Level Vodka through scent, sound and touch. They will hear music played on a flute made with a Level Vodka bottle. The glass bottle creates a protective shell that results in muted, hypnotic acoustics. Also inside: a breeze carries the scent of lemon and cedar and conjures up the flavor of Level Vodka. Railings coated in the softest leather run through the installation to create an exclusive tactile experience. Before entering the installation, visitors will be fitted with a heart monitor, which displays their heartbeat on the outside of the tunnel.
The blog features a few videos – I really like this making of the tunnel video here.
CNN Shirt is a site where you can literally wear CNN news. Simple, yet effective way to extend your brand's reach in a surprising and delightful way.
I've had the pleasure of working with Diesel, and really respect their support for emerging artistic talent. I think their Diesel Wall project is worth checking out.
I'm very interested in the idea of wearing a uniform, which doesn't literally mean I like to wear a pilot's outfit to work, but rather that I find value in having consistent style hallmarks that  make me stand out in a crowd  save me time and money. I've previously written about this topic.
Most people think this is a bit obsessive [in reality, it's quite sane, and frees up my mind to focus on other things - especially in the morning]. Well thanks to these folks recently profiled in New York Magazine, I look downright sane. Read this article about five New Yorker's who wear only one color a day ...
My name is Ian Sohn. That's me:
Follow me on Twitter.
Thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoy.