There are seemingly infinite ways to define strategy. The job is part energy seeker and part analyst. A strategist combines science and pseudoscience, with the ability to draw lateral connections between things like mirco-biomes, a lunar eclipse and Kanye West.
As Lauren Rader, team Director, put it, “We, as strategists, use the force to sense where we need to go in any one project.” Following this sentiment, and my love for Star Wars, we decided to leverage a metaphor to direct our 2021 vision and utilize a Jedi mindset to accomplish our goals.
This process began with formally identifying our team member’s unique super powers and it ended with a 10 part galactic mega verse of inspiration.
Although I’ve yet to cross over into Baby Yoda tattoo fandom, I have watched most, if not all, of the Star Wars series, including Bad Batch and Clone Wars. I find George Lucas and his ambitious vision for himself and millions of others, that will take a lifetime (and then some) to procure, incredibly inspiring. And now that I have two teenage daughters who are in love with Dave Filoni and all that he touches, I continue to grow with the series and consider myself a lifelong fan.
But, as every strategist knows, inspiration comes from divergent thinking. This is why great strategists have vast and varying interests. By having our hands in 1,000 different things, we are able to draw lateral insights to form innovative ideas, and this 2021 vision is exactly that.
So, what makes Curiosity strategy award winning? Following ‘the Force’ in these 10 unique ways is a good start.
1) Find your Master, young Padawan.
Our team truly embraces the beginner mindset, as every one of us seeks counsel from outside entities. Between enneagram coaches, Disney animators, therapists, and industry experts, we are always being coached and continuously receiving input to learn and grow. We’ve found that our most valuable mentors are often those who differ from us the most. My personal mentor, Rob Campbell, reminds me of this by encouraging me to embrace my own aggressive passion for the work, all the while dropping the ‘F’ Bomb in every touchpoint of our communication.
2) Develop a Council.
As strategists, we are both generalists and specialists at the same time. Our team has individual strengths that we cultivate on a daily basis (we call them super powers), and on a weekly basis, we come together to counsel each other, sharing insights from our respective super powers. Our team has a futurist/trend expert, a consumer expert, an idea generator, a writer, and more where each brings their own character and talent to the council. When I liken this to the members of the Jedi order, I think of the best of the best. When the Jedi have a problem, they meditate on it and solve it together. When we began the council it truly unburdened all of us from feeling like we are alone in the work.
3) Use the force.
It’s important to be able to sense and move with the flow of a project, and with culture. When you follow the energy and allow it to take you to new realms, you get to unexpected greatness. The Jedi believe the force binds us all and connects every living thing. When Curiosity Strategy leverages this level of empathy and understanding, we see our interconnectedness. This allows us to truly jump into the mindset of a 15 year old male teen embarking upon dating and in the same day, or even an hour later, live vicariously as a 65 year old woman who is faced with single retirement.
4) Harness your powers.
Recognize the unique talents you possess and utilize them every day. In Star Wars all Jedi can use the force, but they each harness the force in unique ways. Some have a stronger amount of empathy (i.e. Shaak-Ti) versus others who have a stronger, more powerful sense (i.e. Mace Windu). At Curiosity every strategist has a unique power that they bring to the table.
5) Fight for better.
Never get comfortable. We should always be challenging ourselves to raise the bar that much higher. Jedi are always training and always learning. They are never content.
6) Use your power for good.
As advertisers, we have power. At Curiosity we want to use that power for good. As Jedi fight the dark forces for peace in their galaxy, we hope to do our part to positively influence culture as well. With clients like Native, Farmer Focus, Basd, and Charlie Banana, our portfolio shows the many ways we are fighting for good.
7) Be a part of everything, but attached to nothing.
As a Jedi, you need to be adaptable and know that things rarely go as planned. As strategists, we have many ideas and concepts but ultimately move forward with just one. More often than not, this means leaving good ideas on the cutting room floor in search of better.
Jedi Masters educate Padawans through storytelling, which is one of the most important tools for a strategist as well. We tell stories to inspire great work, and then retell those same stories to bring finished work to life.
9) Find inspiration in unique ways.
When you seek out new experiences and push yourself outside of your comfort zone, you never know where inspiration may find you. In a vast galaxy, Luke and Master Yoda found their ideal training ground in a remote swamp. Our team members travel across the US by RV, attend drum circles, follow Michelin restaurants, go on hikes together and practice beekeeping. We encourage each other to go down rabbit holes about 80 hair bands, implicit bias and alkaline diets. We are experimenters in life, always turning over stones for new ideas and cultural cues, because we know the force works in strange ways.
10) Work with a code.
The Jedi live by a code that acts as their moral and ethical compass. At the beginning of the year, our team developed a similar code to ground us in our practice.
Keep pushing beyond the first, second and third comfortable idea to a nugget that feels like
The hairy, scary and big
Devour content from anime to Emily Dickinson, for knowledge
Empathy leads to understanding. Understanding leads to compassion. Compassion, is the fruit,
Which leads to a rich Insight
Use the consumer and culture as the north star in all we do in order to uncover their truths
Because... we Question Everything.
Following these 10 Jedi ideals has empowered our team to harness individual skills, gain new perspective, and grow in comradery. While I have no idea who or what will inspire next year’s vision with our strategy approach, a galaxy full of opportunities won't have to be so far, far away. At Curiosity, the force will be with you. Always.