After a week away from Grey Fox on a family holiday, it's been a really busy first week back.
And, true to form, there's been a lot to love about this week too.
1. Nordic dreaming
The Nordic lands are a huge area of inspiration for our family. You might have seen my wife's (award nominated) blog, Nordic Notes, which talks about everything that's new, interesting and noteworthy about Scandinavian design and lifestyle.
And, for the 5th time in as many years, Scandinavia was the location of our yearly summer holiday. We stayed in Copenhagen for a week and explored the city, the island of Sealand, and took a drive over The Bridge and enjoyed a day exploring Malmo in Southern Sweden.
It's very fair to say we are officially Scandi-maniacs in our family.
Being there was a real inspiration to us. But beyond the sleak design, the efficient public transport and the highly-organised but easy-going way of life; something else really struck me as they key to the Nordic way of life.
For me, it's a simple focus on what's important in life: family, community, our environment, self-fulfilment. And it's about creative solutions from business and government to help as many people as possible to feel a sense of satisfaction and belonging within these ideas. The Nordic countries are far from perfect, of course. But it seems to me that this basic philosophy leads to them getting far more right than they get wrong.
All the great architectural, design and policy ideas you hear and read about in the Nordic countries seem to come from these points of understanding:
- What's important to people?
- What matters to them most?
- How do we use the skills, resources and our environment to provide solutions for people?
In other words; how do we employ creativity to help people to live better? And if this sounds familiar, then it's probably because this philosophy is right at the heart of Grey Fox as a business.
When I was in the process of setting up, and I was thinking about branding and my business philosophy (and how a Nordic-inspired design and way of thinking was going to be central); I had a conversation with a good friend who said to me that, as much as they liked and appreciate the Scandinavian aesthetic and way of living as an aspiration; it felt all a bit unattainable.
I get that. But I look at it a different way. For all great Nordic design, and great Nordic innovation, whilst it all looks beautiful, it's real success lies in its accessibility and how it helps humans to do the simple things in life more effectively, more comfortably, more sustainably, and with a little bit more pleasure.
For me that's my philosophy on what good communication can do for organisations. I get no satisfaction from creating things that look beautiful but have no purpose or human impact. Everything I try to do for my clients is about helping them to serve their people more effectively, thereby improving their lives.
Beauty, impact, outcomes: they're all accessible for every organisation, if we remember what's most important to our audiences as a starting point.
That's what I call doing good, better.
2. Existing clients, new relationships
This week, I've been back working with a client in the Health Innovation sector in Manchester. It's fantastic getting to know the professionals and the impact they're having on real lives.
I'm looking forward to helping them tell this story over the coming weeks, and to sharing some great content with you too.
I've also been speaking with two completely new contacts this week about some potentially very exciting future partnerships and work. It's been a great week to come back to!
3. Blog post of the week
The Digital Divide, by Kate Vogelsang is one of the best posts you will read all year. It's that simple.
In this forensic long-read, Kate explores the impact of the very real digital divide that exists in this country and beyond, and explores some amazing stories of how people and organisations are employing innovation and creativity to bridge it.
From housing associations in the Northwest of England to Residents' Cooperatives in New York, it's a piece that is both shocking and hopeful in equal measures.
It might take 15 minutes or so to read, so get a coffee and a comfy chair, and I promise you will be rewarded for your time.
Seriously, it's a brilliant, essential read.
4. Podcast of the week
I'm absolutely gripped by the new series of "Slow Burn" by slate.com.
I must admit that I have (shockingly) not yet listened to series one, which was all about the Watergate scandal; but have started with series two, which is currently up to episode four.
This series is all about the Bill Clinton White House, and how a series of seemingly unconnected events and serendipity led to the most talked-about political scandal of the 1990s; Clinton's affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
It's a fascinating listen (and, yes, given the subject matter, it's skirts on the edges of being a bit NSFW at times), but it's totally fascinating from a comms and media management point of view. It shows how, when big organisations are even slightly economical with the truth (even for sometimes honourable reasons), it doesn't take a lot for events to start hurtling out of control, bringing a sense of crisis and suspicion along with it.
If both political intrigue and the impact of poor media management are your thing, I highly recommend a listen.