20th August, 2012 at 6:30pm
A Summer of Learning — Strategic Reading Lists
| YCN — Free

On August 20th, we welcomed a number of speakers from the worlds of brand planning and strategy to the YCN Shop & Library.

Each of our guests were invited to introduce one book they feel has inspired and shaped their work to the YCN Lending Library. The event was hosted by YCN Studio Strategy Partner Collyn Ahart, who kicked off the evening by introducing her contribution, On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt.


The essay, which was originally penned by the philosopher back in 1986, sets out to define exactly what people mean when they use the phrase "bullshit", why they do it and how this differs to the practice of lying. Collyn suggested a great deal of thinking behind strategy and planning is centred around "understanding people, how they do things and the way they do things", something which Frankfurt's bestseller offers a great deal insight into.

Next up was freelance planner Katy Lindemann who introduced Quirkology by Richard Wiseman, a title exploring the quirky science of everyday life. The book is full of experiments which attempt to unravel unorthodox human behaviour and figure out exactly why we do such strange things sometimes.

Katy talked through some of these experiments, which include how you can tell when someone is lying and what the funniest joke in the world is. Katy shared some of the revelations which came to light as a result of such experiments, including the fact that you can tell when someone is lying by listening to the words they use rather than the more popular idea of observing their body language, and that the letter K is the funniest letter of the alphabet!

John Willshire, founder of Smithery, spoke next, introducing a copy of The Wealth of Networks by Yochai Benkler. The book evaluates the role of information in today's world, investigating the recent changes to ownership and availability of it with the advent of the Internet. John discussed how Benkler's book "completes the circle" as it is a response to moral philosopher Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, and so in many ways offers the big answers to the big questions first posited in that publication over 200 years ago.

Anjali Ramachandran, who works as Head of Innovation at PHD, introduced What Technology Wants by founder of Wired magazine Kevin Kelly. Something of an encyclopedia about technology, the book explores the way hardware has evolved (much like people) over time, and the lasting impact each stage in the chain has on society and culture.

Finally, Mark Hadfield, a Senior Planner at Weapon 7 spoke about his contribution - Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. The celebrity chef's book is part memoir, part instruction manual, and whilst not relating directly to worlds of brand strategy and planning, Mark believes it does offer up some invaluable advice for those that do work within those industries. Mark suggested how simply swapping the word "food" for the word "communications" and the word "restaurant" for the word "creative agency" throughout the book will make the reader aware of just how similar the two industries are. In addition to a full chapter detailing one of Bourdain's most unsuccessful job interviews, the book offers more pragmatic advice in it's last section entitled "So you want to be a Chef?" Directives such as "be fully committed", "never be lazy or sloppy", "try not to lie", "read" and "have a sense of humour about things, 'cause you're going to need it" are insightful and applicable whichever industry you are in.

All the titles talked about over the course of the evening are now available to borrow from the YCN Lending Library. Stop by our Shop & Library on 72 Rivington Street to join for free and borrow the books for yourself.

Event Details
  • Location:
    72 Rivington Street,
    London, EC2A 3AY,
    United Kingdom
  • Start:
    20th August, 2012 at 6:30pm
  • End:
    20th August, 2012 at 8:00pm

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