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On a mission

all done ~ bird by bird

I’ve never tackled anything as hard as writing this book.

Probably like most of you, I did pretty well in school. Papers and tests came easy for me.

With the book, on the other hand, I’ve been plugging away on weekends, holidays and vacations. For a long time, I couldn’t do anything that wasn’t work or the book without feeling guilty. I’ve written about 40K words at this point and I expect the final product to be about 75K. And through this process, I’ve isolated myself a lot. I don’t blog and I don’t talk to as many people as I used to. Part of that I like. I can sense that I’m becoming a better writer and it’s seeping into my day job. Part of it I don’t like. I feel lonely sometimes. I’ve shared what I’ve written with several people. I’ve read passages at work and to some students at Academy of Art and I’ve had encouraging feedback. I just know it’s not as good as it could be.

So I hired a professional editor. My plan has been to self-publish, but the downside with that is you don’t have a team in place to help you birth the book. You have to build your own team and it’s taken me some time, along with trial and error, to find mine.

Today I got her first feedback which can be boiled down to this line:

It feels like three or maybe four books in one.

Oy. Vey.

But it’s also encouraging to read her thoughts. Now I have something new to push against.

I’ve kept John Cleese’s talk on creativity in mind.

I’m back in the open mode of creativity where I’m pondering possible solutions to the structure of this book. Then I can get back into the closed mode where I realize it won’t please everyone and I make the most original, clever and inspirational piece I can make at this point in my life.

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Forge, The Future Factory and Saher Sidhom

Earlier this year, I spent two weeks working with Saher Sidhom, Head of IP and Innovation at AMV BBDO in London. Saher is living what we all talk about doing: experimenting and innovating for brands. This means technology, yes. And Saher is getting elbow deep in Arduino components on a daily basis. But this also means new business models, contracts, and working with brands that are expansive, that want you to have an experience that is “on-brand” and share in that experience, not just listen to them bark a message through their megaphone.

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I’m in Miami Bitch!

I haven’t made time to blog in quite some time. I’ve been putting all of my energy into my new role at CP+B Miami, getting married to my Dutch guy (in the office over Google Hangout no less), getting him a greencard, finding a place to live and oh, yeah, working on my book.

wedding at work

wedding at work2 Kiss





A lot of people I’ve spoken with were surprised I came back to the US. I was too to be honest. This has been a year of doing things I have once said I’d never do again: getting married, moving back to the US, buying Crocks… Ok, there’s no excuse for that last one. But in my defense, they aren’t the clogs and they’re really comfortable. Yes I hear myself. Moving on.

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I came back for several reasons and I thought you might be interested to know about them.

The Creatives are back in Miami

Lots of people don’t know that CPB has 34 creatives and 4 COGS (strategists) in the Miami office. And we are lead by Bob Winter, our ECD, one of the nicest, cleverest bastards I’ve ever worked with.  My interview with Bob sealed the deal for sure because there is so much potential in this office and I want to be a part of it.

It’s CP+B

There is a little magic in these halls. CP+B has won the most Grand Prix at Cannes since 2001.

Cannes Poster CPB And that’s because this place evolves and moves on and doesn’t rest on laurels. The talent is broad and deep: I get to work with top UX, creative tech, and product innovation people. And when the people who do that invite you into their club it feels pretty fucking awesome and makes you feel like you can do anything. The Miami office is our Graceland where it all began.

There are advantages to working in the US

If you didn’t know, I spent a year researching a book. I lived in the homes of and went to work with 9 incredible strategists across Asia, Europe and the US. Plus I interviewed a number of other folks in Austrailia, South America and South Africa. I’m confident in saying the bigger budgets and faster production timelines happen in the US compared to the rest of the world. And I enjoy that combination. Sure, “We need you to go to Milan on Tuesday” has been replaced with “We need you to go to Milwaukee on Tuesday.” But the tradeoff is I am working with the largest, smartest collective of people in this business moving at a pace I find stimulating.


If I’m going to live in a country that’s familiar, I’d rather be in the capital of South America where I can have sand between my toes on demand and direct flights to every SCUBA destination on my wish list. I’d rather be eating empanadas, sipping cortaditos (Cuban coffee + milk), and perfecting my Spanish while I strategize. And I love how bike friendly South Beach is. My time in Holland taught me I can cycle in heels. Come down and we’ll pop from one place to the next on bikes with the moon peering out from palm fronds.

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If this sounds good to you, we’re growing and hiring like mad. Feel free to email me your resume if you’re already legally able to work in the US (not the right time of year for new visas, I’m afraid.) We have an Associate Director and and a Senior Cog (posting soon) gigs we are looking to fill.


October 4, 2013 · 5:37 pm

The Planner Survey 2012/2013

Thanks for your patience. A lot of interesting things to share in this year’s report.

If you’re new to these, this is the 8th installment of the survey. The intent is to get a read on what is on our mind and how much money we are making to keep things transparent. If you’re not being paid fairly, these are the pages you take to your boss and ask “Don’t you think I’m at least average?”

But money isn’t everything. I hope it’s only an annual consideration and that the rest of the year we are all growing and learning. After meeting more planners around the world myself, I realized this survey can do a lot more to build a global planning community. So this year we tried to do just that.

Connecting with other planners around the world has proven to be a rewarding and enriching experience for many of you. I hope you’ll continue to connect and learn from each other.

Participation did go down for the first time. So we’re asking you – has the survey served it’s purpose? Is it time to move on? Or are biannual reports the way to go?

One other thing – take note that this year’s salary info is MONTHLY and after taxes and deductions. Makes for very interesting comparisons given the vastly different costs of living around the world. Australia also makes an appearance for the first time, getting over 50 respondents. Well done, Oz.

I’ll get out of the way and let you dig in. It’s never been more beautifully designed. Much love and adoration for Paul Savaiano.

You can download the pdf here: The Planner Survey 2012/2013


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How to attract the creatively challenged

If I was looking to fill my creative arts academy, I think I might try this approach too. Instead of vying for the “low hanging fruit” – you know, the students who are already somewhat creative, remixing memes on 4chan and scrapbooking in their spare time – I might make my school more appealing for those people who know nothing about fonts, colors and composition and give them hope that my school is a safe haven for them to become creative. As the University for the Creative Arts have done in posters all across London’s underground.University for the Creative Arts


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The House of Genius opens its doors in Amsterdam

One of the interesting things I stumbled upon along my ’round the world journey was an evening called House of Genius. It’s essentially three hours where anonymity and diversity of perspectives converge all in the service of fostering start-ups.

I found it fascinating.

So I’m bringing the concept to Amsterdam.

Our first session will be held on Monday, February 11, at the Pakhuis de Zwijger (very generous of them to host us!) Have a look of this video from New York to get a taste of what it’s like. Then visit the site to see if there’s a House of Genius in your city and apply to attend. (You must apply and have a ticket to attend.)

Our first session is also being sponsored by Petminds.



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Kevin May breaks the mold – Episode 11

Have a peak into the time I spent in Seattle working at a very different little consultancy called Sticks with Kevin May. I love how he has collected smart people with a breadth of expertise and pulls together small salons of 4 or 5 to push a problem forward in a couple of hours. I had the chance to participate in 5 or 6 and we got to new questions and ideas far faster than we ever would have staring at our screens for days. Plus it was a real pleasure to work this way.

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Meet Brian Millar of Sense Worldwide – Episode 10

Had a coffee and a chat with Brian about some of the things I have learned at Sense Worldwide. This is a company that is getting beyond every solution being a nail. They work in brand strategy, communications, product innovation with intriguing methods to get at new solutions. You should all aspire to work here when you grow up.

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The Planner Survey is Live

Hello Planners,

The Planner Survey is happening this year and it’s happening now. Everything you need to know is in the survey so click away:

Please help spread the word on twitter, facebook and blogs.

You can follow me at @hklefevre for updates.

As always, thank you for playing,

Heather and the Survey Team

If you have come across the survey here and did not receive an email then you are not on my list. To be added to the list and receive the results directly, make sure to add your info here:


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The Edinburgh Experience

My two weeks in Scotland were fantastic for a number of reasons. First off, Phil Adams and his family were lovely to me. We had so much fun I am still waiting for my application to join their family permanently to be approved.

Phil has four daughters.

And a wife.

Add me and we’re talking serious estrogen overload.

But somehow the dynamics worked gracefully.

The work week is a hectic proposition at their house. And I witnessed “back to school” in the last few days I was there. Phil’s commute is right at an hour door to door from his landed gentry estate surrounded by horse paddocks without a neighbor in sight. There’s a drive to the train station, a train ride into Edinburgh, and then a walk up a nice hill past the taunting sausage roll shop before you find yourself at Blonde.

Here’s the trip home in the car.

Phil already wrote a thoughtful post about the way we worked together. This was an evolution from the other places I’ve worked so far where I’ve mostly been given tasks or asked to attend meetings and share in group discussions. We actually worked together. We sat and did the stuff you would normally do by yourself, together. And it worked really well.

I learned loads from Phil. He’s a really good planner. Not least because he approaches life with openness and a willingness to learn that is inspiring. He’s a humble guy, but get him talking and you’ll hear about a donkey that got hit by a car and did a cartwheel while he was traveling across Asia doing the Mongol Rally. And it’s not just cool pub stories. Phil is full of useful ways to approach work. I gathered a few choice tips and tricks as well as some longer stories about the work he’s done that I learned a lot from.

To give you an idea, here’s one thing I learned. Phil has a workshop technique that he calls “The Totally Tough Tone of Voice Challenge.” I’m pretty sure you have to announce it in a “Let’s get ready to rumble!” voice.

The technique is for those meetings when you’re debating the brand personality words. The idea is that you cannot suggest a word where the opposite is not a viable choice for some brand as well. For example, we always hear marketing folks say their brand is authentic. In this exercise, this word would be eliminated because no brand would be purposefully inauthentic. I thought this would be a helpful tool.

I’ve been to 5 places already. It’s really hard for me to believe. I have another 5 people I’ll be working with in the coming months. And I’m still looking for volunteers in India, Australia and Argentina for sometime early next year. For now, I’ve got my head in my laptop. First item on the to do list is launch the planner survey, so expect to see that in the coming days.

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