Culture. Technology. Creativity. Brands.
We Are Up is a strategy & innovation consultancy.

Hi, Kon'nichiwa and Chōshi wa dō. Hope you're well.
Gifs by: @1041uuu
"You are under no obligation to remain the same person you were a year ago, a month ago, or even a day ago. You are here to create yourself, continuously.”

Richard Feynman

Islands In The Stream 

Kenny Rogers wrote, "Islands in the stream, that is what we are, no one in between, how can we be wrong". Dolly unforgettably sang it with it him. That’s marketing's problem right there isn’t it. Alex Murrell wrote about it in his great piece "Adland is an island". It’s illuminating. Right at the end, it references a study by BBH, which looked at Group Cohesion scores by profession. It found that marketing is a monoculture. When we think the same, we make the same.

While Diversity & Inclusion is all the rage, how much is lip service and box ticking? Some companies seem like they're genuinely trying to change things. The Publicis Group's apprenticeship program aims to help 10,000 people from ethnic-minority and low social mobility backgrounds. Which sounds legit. Netflix meanwhile, are looking to address gender inequality, with a $5 million fund to train and mentor female directors. They found that over 13 years to 2019, women directed only 4.8% of 1,300 popular movies. Netflix commissioned only 23% of female directors over 2018 and 2019. We’ve been watching the world through the eyes of men. And female characters have been shaped by men. Change is needed.

One issue with change and diversity was brilliantly captured by Brené Brown here, when she says “this is not our problem, it’s yours”. She makes the point that issues are often described as “our problem”. But when we do that, we hand the problem back and slow down progress and change. Which is bang on. 

Tom Goodwin, meanwhile, makes the point that boards have also become detached from the reality of their customers and need more diverse, different and dissenting voices. Boards he says, "are recruited to find people more alike, from within a small pool of trusted people, and to embrace the comfort and ease of casual consensus". One thing is becoming clear, the future, whether we want to or not, will have fewer and fewer islands to hide on. And that's progress.

Look Closely & Lean In
The last decade has been about growth. An obsessive, growth at all costs culture. Crushing it. #Winning, Growthmania. But, we’ve just been given this gift of time. We’ve been handed some bandwidth. So, we can look more closely at things (an exceptionally great piece on the benefits of slowing down and zooming it). 

Maybe this time has made us to look more closely at perpetual growth. Is it a good thing? Maybe we need to look closely at the laws of economics? We assume 3% annual growth for an economy is right. Is needed. But is it? It requires doubling the economy every 23 years. Which will break the Earth. This piece on building businesses for permanence not growth was great. We need to look more closely and ask more more questions about where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.

It’s a good time for questions too, when uncertainty is everywhere. Good piece on that here from Amelia Torode, on leaning in to accept uncertainty and find inspiration everyday. Uncertainty can be a positive force and a great accelerator of creativity. Just like Jazz improvisation, we can add positive uncertainty to our lives, to unlock new ways of thinking, and new ways to approach problems.

Plenty of great examples of this but Dior recently reminds us to embrace change and Knorr's “Eat for Good” campaign both signal inflection points and new ways of thinking. And both companies have looked very closely at where they're going and how they're going to get there. 
5 things we read this week:
  1. Love this, 214 ways to end a letter. 
  2. Birth control is now an app. Wow.
  3. Search images from movies by word brilliant.
  4. Did extroverts ruin WFH for everyone else, hmm?
  5. Programmer builds a way to end zoom calls. heh.

Listening: New to the world of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei? Well, he's super interesting. This short video about his sunflower seeds exhibition (which is absolutely bonkers) is beautifully made. Kind of links to the looking more closely piece above. Enjoy and more on Ai Weiwei here.'ve got this far.....good hustle....

Just to say, this newsletter is a labour of love. If you have any feedback, good or bad, it's welcome. Also. if you have a challenge or you're feeling a little stuck, we'd love to help. 
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