On this day 19 years ago, I wrote about selected highlights from Tom Peters’ “Brand You, the Renewal 50”. The original site is long gone, but the archive has it. (Esther Derby’s blog where I found it is still there, although I didn’t link the exact post).
All of these ideas are, at root, about opening yourself up to new ideas and new experiences. It’s interesting to look at some of the things I grabbed from the list then and review how they might fit now.
- Go to the nearest magazine shop. Now. Spend 20 minutes. Pick up 20-twenty!-magazines. None should be ones you normally read. Spend the better part of a day perusing them. Tear stuff out. Make notes. Create files. Goal: Stretch! Repeat… monthly… or at least bimonthly.
From 2022 this looks a substantial investment in your mental flexiblity - specialist magazines can be £5 upwards. Peters wrote for a US city experience, and I’m not sure how well it would have translated even in 2003 to the UK in terms of easy access to a shop with a wide range. I suspect that availability would be even less now.
- Go to the Web. Now. Relax. Follow your bliss! Visit at least 15 sites you haven’t visited before. Follow any chain that is even a little intriguing. Bookmark a few of the best. Repeat… once a week.
- Take off this Wednesday afternoon. Wander the closest mall… for two hours. Note the stuff you like. (And hate.) Products, merchandising, whatever. Repeat… bimonthly.
You can take 2 hours out? I also wonder how much more homogeneous physical retail has become in 19 years, and this exercise is about variety and new ideas.
- Buy a packet of 3x5-inch notecards. Carry them around with you. Always. Record cool stuff. Awful stuff. Daily. Review your card pack every Sunday. (Obsess on this!)
The idea still works, although for many it would be easier to do on a notes app on your phone.
- Project stuck in a rut? Look through your Rolodex. Who’s the oddest duck in there? Call her/him. Invite her/him to lunch. Pick her/his brain for a couple of hours about your project.
Apart from the rather dated (and US-centric) reference to a Rolodex, the idea still makes some sense. Not sure if it assumes a level of physical proximity that may not be the case in post-pandemic 2022.
- Create a new habit: Visit your Rolodex. Once a month. Pick a name of someone interesting you’ve lost touch with. Take her/him to lunch… next week.
Again, leaving aside the dated technology, the idea has some merit, and again raises the same question about physical proximity.
- New habit: You’re in a meeting. Someone you don’t know makes an interesting contribution. Invite him/her to lunch… in the next two weeks.
There’s a lot of focus on going to lunch in this list that seems terribly dated. It also makes the world of 2003 sound impossibly leisurely.
- You run across somebody interesting. As a matter of course, ask her (him) what’s the best thing she/he’s read in the last 90 days. Order it from Amazon.com… this afternoon.
That one still works, although it presupposes time to read!
- Take tomorrow afternoon off. Rain or shine. Wander a corner of the city you’ve never explored before.
- Go to the local Rite Aid. Buy a $2 notebook. Title it Observations I. Start recording. Now. Anything and everything. (Now=Now)
As with no. 4 this still works although would be even better on a notes app on your phone.
- Read a provocative article in a business journal. Triggers a thought? E-mail the author. So what if you never hear back? (The odds are actually pretty high that you will. Trust me.)
Still makes sense, although I can feel the reluctance this might trigger if I did it for real - combination of imposter syndrome and taking the time to write the response clearly.
- Get up from your desk. Now. Take a two-hour walk on the beach. In the hills. Whatever. Repeat… once every couple of weeks. (Weekly?)
Again, makes sense.
Interestingly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, the biggest changes are around technology, and about the changes in our environment enabled/caused by that technology (more distributed work, less bricks-and-mortar retail). The other thing that comes out from several of the posts is the sense of time availability in working life - perhaps that is the biggest signal of all about what has changed in (nearly) two decades?
What remains just as valid now is the drive to open up your mind to other people and other ideas. You never know which of those will find a good home in your future view of the world.