Pep Talk Wednesday: Elizabeth Gilbert on Fear & Authenticity


If you haven’t watched Marie Forleo’s interview with Elizabeth Gilbert, it is definitely worth a watch (especially if you are in the creative fields!) The interview talks about the ideas that are shared in Gilbert’s new book, Big Magic. I watched the interview for the first time a few nights ago and have not been able to stop thinking about it.  There were so many gems and great take-aways.

If you are short on time (the full interview is 47 minutes long), here are my personal take-aways. The video is included below too if you want to watch.

Fear as a Necessary Companion

Gilbert talks about the idea of fear being a necessary companion in any creative process and also life in general. Fear is what keeps us safe and alive but at the same time, it is often also what holds us back from pursuing our creative ventures. So instead of trying to conquer fear or ‘to punch it in the face’, what we should be doing instead is to embrace fear and to bring them along for the ride – just make sure they are in the backseat.  Creativity is all about uncertainty so when your fears speak, you have to just say, “Thank you for how much for how much you care about me. Your services are not needed here, because I’m just writing a poem!”

Creativity will always provoke fear because it asks you to enter into a realm of uncertain outcome. – Elizabeth Gilbert

On Originality and Authenticity

As a marketer, I often have this (irrational) fear of running out of original ideas or not being original enough.  I’ve dismissed many ideas this way – with a simple “it’s probably been done before”. In fact, it has probably been done before but you are allowed to add to the pile.  I guess the beauty of marketing is that ideas can be recycled – as long as you put your own spin to them.  I guess that is called finding inspiration!

On Living a Creative Life

Living creatively requires commitment.  Every pursuit, no matter how glamorous it may seem, comes with a ‘shit sandwich’.  Gilbert says this in her new book, Big Magic, “Finding your true purpose is really about deciding which flavour of shit sandwich you’re really in for.”  Every venture will come with ups and downs, it may pay the bills or it may not. But if it is what you love, despite all the ups and downs, then stick to it, do what you have to and don’t quit.  Luckily for me, my creative outlet does pay the bills.  But all the same, my biggest take-away here is that the road to creativity is not a smooth ride.  Creativity takes dedication and a willingness to try, to venture outside of the box and to not fear failure. There will be days when ideas don’t come easily but it is the price to pay for all the good ideas to follow. Not every idea will turn into a viral campaign but it is the persistence and commitment to innovate that counts.


Here is the video.  I can’t wait to pick up a copy of Big Magic!


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GIF It: Bringing Back Animated GIFs

GIF’s have become cool again!

The emphasis though, is on the ‘again’ part.  As I have learned, GIF’s have actually been around since 1987.  But unlike back in those days, the GIF’s that I see today are much more than spinning globes and waving flags.  GIF’s or Graphics Interchange Format is a compressed bitmap image format that supports up to 8 bits per pixel referencing a palette of 256 colours.  The format also supports animation to create low resolution clips.

The New Yorker recently experimented with a GIF animated cover for its website and mobile apps.

New Yorker GIF Cover

Created by artist Christoph Niemann, the cover featured a rainy New York City as seen from the inside of the cab.  The image was simple with the raindrop falling as the animation.  Somehow, the raindrop turned an otherwise dull image to striking.  What a different a simple movement can make to a picture!  Imagine the impact you can have by adding a little movement to the still imagery on your site – you are able to tell a better story and build a stronger emotional connection to your audience. If a regular picture is worth a thousand words, wouldn’t you say an animated GIF is worth even more?

Aside from cover art, I think GIFs have so much potential and can have this same effect on your web content!  Here are a few more ways to incorporate animated GIF’s onto your websites:

Banners – I know an animated banner is nothing new since we’ve all seen our fair share of the animated banner ads but I don’t mind a well designed banner on a website which can help bring attention to important messages like upcoming promotions or events.

Product Images – You can either replace the image gallery all together or show a 360° view of your product.  You can also use the animation to show how a product works in a fun and interactive way.

Events – In the same way that an Instagram video or Vine video would work (without sound), you can show a series of pictures from an event or to highlight certain moments with a replay GIF. But unlike a video, they are shorter and require less commitment for interaction.

Demonstrate UX – Animated GIF’s can be used to demonstrate interaction on an application or site.

Call to Action – They can also be effective Call to Action’s since they are able to draw the viewer’s attention without being obtrusive.

Add a Bit of Humour to Your Content  – GIFs and Memes go together like no other.  Take advantage of this by creating memes that are funny and engaging to your audience.

Use them on homepages, product pages, blogs, landing pages, social media properties or even your email.


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Forging Ahead: 20 Companies That Dare to Do Things Differently

I have always been impressed by SlideShare and the abundance of valuable information I find that every time I visit.  Such was the case when I stumbled upon this slide deck from Paul Taylor titled “20 Businesses That are Changing the Way We Work and Play”.  These 20 companies are all leaders in their respective industries.  For me, it is both refreshing and inspiring to see that even companies as big as these can find new and innovative ways to operate.  In business, there is no ‘one size fits all’ and I admire these companies for investing in their people and building workplace culture that is unique to their business and their needs.


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It’s a Bloody Big Deal

I usually don’t watch any TV.  Or more accurately, I rarely watch live programming.   But when I do, I am not one to fast forward past the commercials which was how I got to discover this gem:

Title: It’s a Bloody Big Deal
Agency: Sid Lee
Client: Toronto FC

I think it’s bloody genius – the anticipation of the news, the music, the typical and expected British characters… all put together to create this witty little commercial spot.  Seeing as soccer (or football, rather) does not generate the same level of hype as hockey or basketball in this country, this spot was able to drum up a bit of excitement for this bit of soccer news.

Not sure how well it fared across the pond though. ;)

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What You Don’t Show is Just as Important

When I write, I tend to get very wordy (Probably a skill I picked up while in university, writing papers that had a length requirement :D)  Now a days when I write, I always try to remind myself to be more concise.  Whether I am writing for an email campaign, a mailer or an ad, the challenge for me is figuring how to say more, with less.

With the amount of advertising ‘noise’ consumers are bombarded with on a daily basis, it is more important now than ever before to use short but impactful messaging.  You may only have a few seconds to catch their attention and to get your message across.  Consumers’ attention spans have shortened and it is our job as marketers, to present better content (whether it is more entertaining, meaningful, funny, or educational etc.) in a more concise and succinct manner without compromising on the quality.

I saw these YouTube ads for divorce lawyers the other day – and I must say, they do a brilliant job of saying a lot with very little.  This just goes to show that sometimes, what you don’t show or say can be just as effective in getting the message across.  I will have to remember this for my next email campaign – maybe I should learn to leave more to the imagination!

*Also, when you are watching these videos – just let them play! Don’t believe it when they tell you the video’s been removed :)

Agency: Wing
Advertiser: Esteban Gergely Law



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The Marketing Anthem

Fellow marketers, enjoy this Friday morning Marketing Anthem. A little pep talk to remind you to stand tall and keep your chin up :)


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Santa Loves Cookie Balls

Oreo advertising makes me laugh!  Here is the latest ad / song from the same agency that brought us “Wonderfilled”:

Oreo Cookie Ball Song Feat. JINX
Agency: The Martin Agency
Client: Oreo

I love how much fun they are having with these songs. They are memorable, fun and different – no annoying jingles here!  I was left oddly intrigued by the  idea of these cookie balls (or cookie “bawwls” according to JINX :D) but as it turns out, they are not actually an Oreo product!  You make them yourself by crushing Oreo cookies and mixing the crumbs with cream cheese, then dipping them into chocolate. (YUM!) What a great way to turn a non-holiday snack into a ‘balliday’ favourite, have some fun – and stay on holiday grocery shopping lists.

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