What's now. What's next.

Monthly Archives: November 2012

Linkness. What we’ve been reading | November 30, 2012

by Nextness published November 30, 2012 posted in Linkness

Alan Watts: What would you do if money was no object? (Video via Swiss Miss.) Welcome to Linkness, and our favourite business and creativity reads this week.

If you only read one thing.


  • Support your team quietly: people get more out of compassion when they don’t know they’re getting it | Harvard Business Review
  • “Skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” | Wrestling Possums
  • How to get a digital agency job | Digiday


  • Having a mobile strategy is like having a ‘laptop’ strategy 20 years ago | DigitalNext
  • The best interface is no interface | Cooper Journal


  • The delusion and illusion that makes us buy: planning isn’t just about understanding society’s reality, it’s also about understanding the reality of their fantasy. | The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod
  • The decline of fascination and the rise in ennui | Seth’s Blog
  • This is your brain on freestyle rap | Discovery News


  • 3 ways to improve your creative critique using conflict communication | Publishing Crawl
  • Getting Unstuck: Writers’ thoughts on writer’s block | Rookie
  • Damien Hirst (“an artist whose great subject is the commercialization of his own genius”): Jumping the shark | Businessweek
  • ‘Lost,’ among the most thrilling, surprising, memorable dramas in the history of American network television, was thrown together in a rush and “snakebit by top-level turnover”. This is its unlikely story | Grantland
  • On knowing when you’re finished | cellar door

STW Group news.


STW blogs!

by Nextness published November 26, 2012 posted in STW Group

Are you up to date on all the STW Group blogs out there? Here are some to bookmark or add to your RSS reader of choice.

Even more importantly, are we up to date on all the STW blogs?! If you are an STW Group staff member, share your blog in the comments along with your company.

Or tweet us @STWnextness. We’d love to read what you have to say.

Continue reading this article


Linkness. What we’ve been reading | November 23, 2012

by Nextness published November 23, 2012 posted in Linkness

Close up of human eyes on Behance. And here’s our weekly wrap up of the best business and creativity reading we’ve encountered in the past seven days.

If you just read one thing.

  • “Encourage rebellion instead of compliance”; “Practice instead of theory”; ” Constant learning instead of education”; “Compass over map”: Joi Ito plans a radical reinvention of MIT’s Media Lab | Wired UK


  • Learning to love volatility: Black Swan’s Nassim Nicholas Taleb on the antifragile | WSJ.com
  • “A love of money has taken over from a love of mischief, and we’re all the poorer for it.” Is advertising boring now? | Steve Henry
  • Revisiting this 2009 blogpost: Mud rooms, red letters, and real priorities | 43 Folders
  • Five self-defeating behaviors that ruin companies and careers | Rosabeth Moss Kanter in Harvard Business Review
  • What technique does the military use to make sure plans work on the battlefield? “Commander’s Intent”: CI is a crisp, plain-talk statement that appears at the top of every order, specifying the plan’s goal, the desired end-state of an operation. | Barking Up The Wrong Tree


  • The magical tech (and hours of labour) behind Paper for iPad’s color-mixing perfection | Fast Company
  • Why CIOs may morph into the Chief Digital Officer | WSJ


  • When did the internet get so nice? | New York Magazine
  • The 4 Ps of marketing are far from dead, they’re coming of age | The Communications Room
  • Your online attention, bought in an instant by advertisers | NYTimes.com
  • Napster, Udacity, and the academy: how what’s happened to the music industry informs what could happen to education | Clay Shirky
  • How to live without irony | NYTimes.com


  • How rejection breeds creativity | 99U
  • How the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine gave rise to modern animation | The Guardian

On Nextness this week.

STW Group news.


Nextness Visual Diary | Tracey Emin, seapunk, condoms, puggles, Grace

by Nextness published November 21, 2012 posted in Inspiration

Nextness Visual Diary is where we share a few of the things that have made us look twice.

Writing by hand: by artist Lynda Barry via Austin Kleon.

How do you do a product demo in a condom ad? This manages it in a way that’s both charming and effective. Note: it says its for Durex, but it’s a spec ad written and directed by Charlotte Rabate.

Artist in residence: the WSJ has a tour of Tracey Emin’s East London studio and living space.

Can you be funny and make a point in 20 secs? Nice little clip for NABtrade.

Look at this insane music video for noted controversial genius Azealia Banks. “[Y]in-yangs, aquatic imagery, and 3-D renderings cribbed from ’90s fashion and early web memes” -- it’s seapunk.

Striking i-D cover featuring 71 year old Grace Coddington (and remember this one by Terry Richardson of Angela Lansbury for The Gentlewoman?)

Echidna puggle at Taronga Zoo.

Screenshot based on Sylvia Plath’s “mad girl’s love song” by irlisdead for Internet Poetry, which publishes poetry as screenshots, image macros, and other internet-based forms.

Lawrence Creative’s film for BHP Billiton (‘The Future is an amazing place’) won Jason Wingrove a Gold from the Australian Cinematographers’ Society awards (and a Silver for You couldn’t be in better hands campaign for the NSW Nurses Federation, also done with Lawrence Creative). Congratulations Jason (@wingrove).


“Hell, no. I can’t fall off my hustle”: lessons for creatives from the world’s biggest rappers.

by Nextness published November 20, 2012 posted in Inspiration

What can you learn from the world’s best rappers at the top of their game? Plenty. Part of our Lessons for Creatives series, this is a guest post from Australian strategist Grace Gordon who’s currently living in NYC.

1. Don’t be scared to break the status quo.

I just like to do things that people don’t do, you feel me? When I was wearing pink, I was doing it because everyone wasn’t doing it. Then when everybody started doing it, I stopped doing it… I see I have such an effect on people with colors… like I’m Crayola.

- Cam’ron.

Cam’ron a.k.a Killa Cam, flamboyant Harlem rapper and Dipset founder (arguably more influential than Jay Z on New York in the early 00’s) was never scared to do what was different at the risk of ridicule. His pink jeeps and fluffy chinchilla coats are now legendary tumblr fodder for the ages.

2. Escape your bubble: you can find inspiration outside your own field.

“F+ck this industry – Bitch, i’m in these streets.” Needless to say, Waka Flocka Flame is about that life. Just like rappers not getting caught up in the politics of the industry, creatives must try to look to other avenues (outside of YouTubes of the latest W+K spots) for inspiration and a reality dose.

3. Embrace your unique strengths.

I just found my lane… I figured out what people love me for — ad-libs, the crunk, the energy of my voice! I didn’t want to be distracted by people saying, ‘Waka’s not lyrical.’ I didn’t want to lose my path by trying to be lyrical. Hell, no. I can’t fall off my hustle.

- Waka Flocka Flame.

Waka Flocka Flame shares the path to his unique style that paved the current trend towards aggressive production and simple hooks. Waka’s approach learns us – instead of being distracted by lifting your game on an area that will never be ‘you’, focus on your own lane.

4. There’s no secret formula… or is there?

…Top Dawg penned the five-point plan that hangs on the studio wall. Modeled loosely around 50 Cent’s rise to success, the poster board details the core traits necessary to become a rap star: Charisma, Substance, Lyrics, Uniqueness and Work Ethic.

Taken from Andrew Nosnitsky’s piece on the ascending tour de force that is the Black Hippy crew, these simple ingredients for success could be applied to creativity in any field – swap out ‘lyrics.’

5.  The dynamics of a creative partnership can be complex.

His life revolves around hating on me, and this is a guy who used to live in my house. My mom took care of him. Before I had a record deal we were sharing dinner plates and shit.

- A$AP Rocky.

Here A$AP Rocky speaks on his notorious beef with SpaceGhostPurp, who produced the beats of arguably a couple of his best tracks, in addition to rapping with the now-famous darling of New York rap on remixes and crew tunes with an undeniable shared charisma and energy. In other words: even if you win at Cannes, you might still hate each other.

On the flip side:

I really don’t know if I could keep making music without 40 – I really don’t know. That’s one of the biggest fears I have, is losing 40.

- Prolific Canadian rapper Drake speaks on the creative connection he shares with his producer and partner, Noah ‘40’ Shebib. If you find a good thing, stick with it.

6. Bide your time, not everyone is going to win overnight.

People said [Playaz Circle] didn’t do good numbers-wise but I’m confident in the material even up to this day. A lot of rappers who maybe didn’t [sell] well damn near committed suicide but I always thought there was something wrong with everybody else. They didn’t get it.

The increasingly popular 2Chainz described his slow-burn to success. Perhaps more directly, he brags on T.R.U. REALigion’s opening track, Got One: ”The crazy thing about it, I been known I had it/ I was being patient, y’all was being stagnant.” His current fame has been a long time in the making, a testament to his patience and determination that hard work and passion will pay off. In other words… keep at it.

7. Don’t be a hater. Collaborate without ego.

When you beef, you put negative energy out there and it brings negative energy back. When you put something positive out there, it brings positive energy back. I feel like if you want to beef go to the streets, beef with niggas that really wanna beef. If you have nothing to live for. Beef is not about money…You should avoid beef if you trying to make money. People get scared when you try to beef with people. In general, [even in street shit] nobody want to stand next to you if somebody about to shoot you, unless you have a a big lick [Ed. Note—A "lick" means a hustle.] They [used to] do that with 50 [Cent] because 50 was the bank. They knew he was going to win. People ain’t doing that [anymore].

The currently chart-topping, South Bronx-dwelling French Montana reflects on his conscious decision to stay friendly with a range of tense crews. The sentiment is simple: no one wants to do business with someone who creates and involves themselves in negativity.

8. Stay based, and positive.

Based means being yourself. Not being scared of what people think about you. Not being afraid to do what you wanna do. Being positive. When I was younger, based was a negative term that meant like dopehead, or basehead. People used to make fun of me. They was like, “You’re based.” They’d use it as a negative. And what I did was turn that negative into a positive. I started embracing it like, “Yeah, I’m based.” I made it mine. I embedded it in my head. Based is positive.

- Lil B. What words are there for the rap game’s most unique, creative individual? Lil B is possibly the W+K OId Spice campaign of the Rap Game, fathering the inspiration of a generation of young YouTube rappers who came after him. The rapper, who recently lectured at NYU, consistently preaches the importance of positivity and remaining ‘based’. In many creative industries it’s certainly easy to become jaded or negative – a little Lil B optimism wouldn’t go astray for all of us.

9. Say what you mean, mean what you say.

Yeah, if you say you don’t like somebody, you rap about them. How can you see them and not attack them or fight them?

Gucci Mane recently revealed why sometimes he doesn’t shy away from actually doing what he claims in lyrics. Although nobody condones violence, it’s certainly important to occasionally stand your ground and feel confident to give your opinion when critiquing work, whether your own or others. The best ideas emerge from the most debate – so make like Gucci and allow for unabashed honesty to fuel your creative products.

10. Sometimes it’s best to let the work speak for itself.

I like purple ’cause purple is like red to me. I like red too, but purple is just like red. Don’t it look just like red to you? Think about it… [...] I hate interviews.

In a now infamous Fader interview, Chicago drill rap star Chief Keef gave a few quotes that basically offered little to no insight on the character of some of the most arguably visceral and inspired rap of this year. Lesson: If you’re not adding value to an incredible piece of creative work, sometimes it’s best to say nothing. Especially if it doesn’t feel natural.

This is a guest post from Grace Gordon (@1800GRACIE): strategist, Australian-in-NYC, Nextness fan, rap aficionado. Thank you based Grace. If you enjoyed it, why not explore Lessons for Creatives from Lena DunhamPatti SmithDavid HockneyKeith RichardsMiranda July?


Linkness. What we’ve been reading | November 16, 2012

by Nextness published November 16, 2012 posted in Linkness

Starbucks has blown up its logo for a holiday collection in collaboration with Rodarte. Nice! Very fresh. And remember their all-white outlet in Japan? Now here are this week’s best business and creativity reads.

If you only read one thing.


  • The end of the expert: why no one in marketing knows what they’re doing | Forbes
  • On the need to design relationships: how do designers help companies see the potential for change, agree that they need to change, and then actually change? | Conversations by Fjord



  • Obama’s data geeks add up to four more years | The Observer
  • Built to win: Deep inside Obama’s campaign tech | Ars Technica
  • Why it’s going to be hard for Republicans to match the big data advantage democrats have built | The Atlantic



  • Average teenager has never met quarter of Facebook friends; Girls send more than 220 texts a week, and 12- to 15-year-olds spend 17 hours a week on internet, research shows | guardian.co.uk
  • Why online education works | Cato Unbound
  • Gen Y loves reading | Girl With a Satchel
  • Three women who are switched on to being switched off | Mail Online
  • 10 life lessons people learn too late | marcandangel


On Nextness this week.

STW Group news.


Why shopping makes introverts psycho.

by Nextness published November 14, 2012 posted in Insights

You think this is a scene from Psycho but actually it's an introvert in your shop
Nothing on this blog has had a reaction quite like our piece Introverts in ad agencies: a helpful guide. It’s been viewed nearly 110,000 times. In it, we summarise how introverts do their best work, creative thinking and decision-making alone; we talk about how to get the most out of these shy but valuable creatures in the workplace.

But what about in shops?

Countless briefs from retail stores are variations on a theme: “How can we make the act of shopping more social? How can we be more on trend and upbeat, how can we create more energy in our stores, have more personal interaction?”

Well, that’s the absolute last thing an introvert wants.

Here are the things that make introverts grit their teeth coming into your shop – and how you can serve them better.

1. You – by accident or design – put up a psychological barrier to entering the store.

Many shops consider it personal, attentive and best practise to set up their desk near the door, or stand a salesperson nearby. In fact, that creates a hurdle of anticipated dull interaction as a condition of entry that often an introvert can’t be bothered to overcome.

2. You make forming an intense personal connection a precondition of browsing.

Introverts – like everyone! – love markets, artisanal produce, design fairs. But you know as soon as you walk up to a person who has slaved over a jam or a brooch that they’re not going relaxedly allow you to browse. They’re going to to tell you where the cows came from that made their cheese or how the constant sewing of their handmade scarves formed callouses on their hands. This irrelevant personal overlay clouds an introvert’s ability to take in, assess or form a connection with your products – and drives them away.

So what should you do? If an introvert asks a question, please do share (introverts love chatting, when they have something to ask or say) but don’t tell your entire life story just because the introvert’s the first person you’ve seen in half an hour.

3. Please stop making constant inane chitchat – and worse, taking it seriously.

“Can I help you with anything?” The only acceptable answer to that for an introvert is a curt “no, I’m just looking.”  If the introvert customer verblises their vague wish to find a black skirt, they know they’ll never have a second alone – the shop assistant will shepherd them round the floor pulling out more and more ridiculous garments. “This is blue, and a pant, and I know you’re looking for a black skirt, but it’s soooo versatile.” No matter how well-meaning and helpful you think you’re being, if an introvert can’t look at your products in a relaxed state, you will lose a sale.

Here’s the test – if someone walks into your store and you say “how are you?” and they say “very well thank you” and nothing else, leave it at that. Not everyone needs constant shallow interaction. That is what Twitter is for.

4. We don’t trust you to deliver a fact factually.

Here’s what an introvert’s thinking when they have a question:

I’ve never met you before, shop assistant. How am I to know how much training you’ve had, your commitment to or understanding of the brand, how hungover you may or may not be? That is why if I do require some information – I’m looking for a specific item, say, or I want to know if something contains an ingredient – I would much prefer to consult a non-human source. Sorry, but I trust a catalogue, a look book, an ingredients list or signage 100% more than I trust you. It’s probably just better to let me look myself.


5. Oh god, don’t put mirrors on the outside of a changeroom.

This is madness. Probably even hardened extraverts hate this. The aim is to force the shopper to come out into the middle of the store where the shop assistants can weigh in – whether their opinion is wanted or not – about the fit of your clothes, the look of them, what they would match well with, and how your body needs to change in order to suit the clothes better.

Here’s the introvert’s thought bubble:

I don’t want to discuss this with you. I will make the decision to purchase something based on a private fitting in a private dressing room, without announcing it and without external input.

There are of course other things to avoid – like playing massively loud music (introverts hate having to raise their voice). But these are the main offenders driving introverts away from your store.

So how can your retail environment serve introverts better?

  • Design your shop so it’s welcoming, with staff positioned nearby if you need them, not in your face as soon as you walk in.
  • Instead of having a one-size fits all “you MUST bombard all customers” approach, train your staff to assess what kind of shopper an individual is (introverted or extraverted), then treat them differently accordingly.
  • Put all the details shoppers need on your website and regularly answer emailed queries.
  • Never. Ever. Place the mirrors outside changerooms.

What drives you nuts in retail stores? For more: Introverts in ad agencies: a helpful guide.