Damn Good Advice (For People With Talent!): How To Unleash Your Creative Potential is written by George Lois, America’s ‘Master Communicator’. I was very apprehensive about reading this book as it has had quite a few mixed reviews. Some people didn’t find the content to be that inspiring in terms of creativity and it focuses heavily on the marketing and advertising industries which some readers were against. I wanted to give the book a read for myself so see if my opinion differed from this.
The book is marketed as an inspirational guide to creativity and success. There are 120 separate pieces of advice. I found that it focuses on presenting iconic lessons from the author and showing some breakthrough thinking. It is a book full of lessons for a life lived to the fullest and written for anyone looking to make a creative difference.
When I was reading this book, I felt that it would be perfect particularly for artists and entrepreneurs. Lois offers lessons, practical advice, facts, anecdotes, and inspiration for everyone looking to succeed in life, business, and creativity.
These are the 9 points that resonated with me when I was reading the book.
1. ‘There are only four types of person you can be. Identify yourself.’- 1. Very bright, Industrious. 2. Very bright, Lazy. 3. Stupid, Lazy. 4. Stupid, Industrious.
2. ‘When I was 14, I had an epiphany that inspired my life. Maybe it can be yours!’ He basically taught himself that his work had to be fresh, different and seemingly outrageous. From then on, he understood that nothing is as important as an idea.
3. ‘All the tools in the world are meaningless without an idea.’ In other words, without an idea, you are unarmed. When an idea spring’s out of a creative’s mind, the artful blending or juxtaposition of concept, word, image, and art can lead to magic. He states this is where, ‘…. one and one can indeed be three.’
4. ‘But creating ideas without a work ethic to follow through is inconceivable to me.’ My work ethic is something I’m always been warned about; people always tell me to stop working as hard as I will end up burning out. At the minute, I have given myself totally to my work, both mentally and physically. Although sometimes I end up not being able to see straight, I really like feeling that I have committed myself fully to something.
5. ‘Words cannot express how articulate I feel.’ I know myself that I have a problem communicating on my feet, I like to plan what I’m going to say and if not, I just don’t say anything at all. However, I have come to realise that if I cannot passionately and succinctly explain my creative idea, I should just forget about it and this shows me that I am not fully committed to the concept.
6. ‘Never listening to music when you are trying to come up with a big idea.’ This is something I do all the time, either this or a podcast! Music can transport you and carry you away from where you don’t want to be when you need to solve a specific problem with a communicative idea.
7. ‘Throughout your career, be thrilled that you’re doing work that you love (and getting a pay cheque for it!).’ This is something that I am passionate about aiming to achieve. Ideally I don’t want to be in a job for my whole working life that I hate. I know this is not always easy or possible, but I want to have a positive reason to get out of bed every day; spending the day doing something I enjoy.
8. ‘Make your surroundings a metaphor for who you are.’ If someone walked into my room now, I’m quite certain that they would be able to instantly guess the type of person I am. Organisation, precision, clarity and simplicity are just reflected in my work space alone. I whole heartedly agree with Lois who states that, ‘…. your home should not be a presentation to your friends. Surroundings should relate to who you are, what you love, and to what you deem important in life.’
9. ‘A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage.’ Basically, ‘… the courage to create only superb work, through thick and thin, and fight to protect it at all cost, is not generated in the head. It comes from your very heart and soul.’ Having courage with my ideas is always something I have struggled with; I’m never confident enough to be fully happy with them!
Overall, I, like the reviews that I have seen, have mixed feelings about the book. I do consider that at times Lois was quite touching, gave interesting tips and wrote in a playful way, but at others, his writing came across as quite arrogant. There were some parts that did inspire me to have more creative bravery. It also gave insights on how to make your work and world better which I feel could be applied to everyday life for the majority of people. Furthermore, I like how each numbered point is short and sharp and to the point. On the other hand, I did find some of the advice quite obvious and some of the anecdotes from the author’s previous experiences and successes become quite repetitive after a while.