Author Archives: keyplayer

Mindful Monday’s Newsletter

Here is a short list of selected stories from this weekend and last week.

Moving on from Danish hygge? – ‘People just do nothing’, is the Dutch concept of Niksen the best way to relax? Niksen is an increasingly popular relaxation technique where you relinquish control and just … stop. When thoughts occur, you don’t interrogate them or imagine them being carried away on balloons, you just let them occur. At a time when meditative practices can feel like yet another thing to do, Niksen is liberatingly simple. Stop doing everything right now….!

A little London-centric this piece, but am keen to share news regarding the unexpected and very sad closure of the House of St Barnabas Club and Charity, in Soho Square, London. Having been a member since 2019, and supporting through Covid, the club closed its doors on 31st January, 10 years after inception. Loved the way they branded themselves – ‘the club that never joined the club’. This from their final email – Our journey has been epic: businesses formed, relationships started, marriages sealed, friendships made, deals done, negronis drank, espressos sipped, chips shared, dance floors filled, art adored, DJs delighted. And so much laughter.  And most importantly 307 remarkable people who have experienced homelessness have graduated from our programmes and have been supported to achieve good work, a secure home, and a supportive network.

I’m a big fan (and subscriber) of theThe Book Of Man and the work they are doing to support men, in the area of mind, body and skills. Some great content being hosted at the moment, including – interviews with Paul Mescal and Stephen Moyer. Https:// . This recent post from the editor Martin Robinson also caught my eye – Why singing is a miracle for your mental health. ‘Vocal coach Mark De-Lisser is a legend in the industry and a man spreading the word of the confidence-giving power of singing.’

An early shout out for the 4th edition of the Mindfulness Manchester Festival. Created and curated by colleague and friend Christoph Spiessens (He/Him) on the 18th and 19th October. Great line-up of partners and speakers already in place, including – Mindfulness Initiative, BAMBA, Mindfulness Network and Breathworks.

From HBR – The Restorative Power of Small Habits – Over the last few years, there’s been a renewed focus on burnout, a serious physical and psychological condition that requires attention and care. But a narrow focus on burnout ignores another key part of wellbeing — the more subtle but equally important ongoing maintenance of one’s energy, especially through the daily challenges of leadership. The author identifies five key energy batteries: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social. Once you identify which batteries are depleting and why, you can implement mini habits to help you recharge.

Finally, promoting ticket release for the International Conference on Mindfulness at Bangor, this August (ICM:2024). Arranged and hosted by The Mindfulness Network (of which I am a trustee) and Bangor University.

Nick (a wellbeing and mindfulness speaker & teacher)


November 11, 2022

11th November 2022

The UK Christmas ads are out and you can watch them all here. With different styles and tones, in tune with the times. I think the John Lewis one hits the mark this year.

From @storythings. Revisiting ‘Six Spaces of Social Media’ 15 Years Later. ‘It now looks like we’re at the beginning of the end of an era with young people abandoning some of the established networks, and many opting for more private spaces.

Just picked this up, but brilliant (I think). How Private Eye magazine covered the death of the Queen. 

How advertising really works. One of the simplest explanations ever provided?

“Ikigai (a reason for being) joins a long list of Japanese words that have been repurposed to lend an aura of ancient wisdom to banal ideas”. The Economist on the latest corporate fad.

From @neilperkin, a link to the spreadsheet of the 715 best ads of all time from BBH Labs’ ‘World Cup of Ads’.

The Beatles Get Two New Animated Videos. A couple of gorgeous videos have been made to mark the release of a new expanded edition of The Beatles’ Revolver.

Lovely piece from The Guardian (and so true), interviewing Damian Lewis – on grief, espionage and his new musical ambitions: ‘When someone dies prematurely, you’re left careering in a different direction’. is ‘a macOS app that enables you to find anything you’ve seen, said, or heard’

With Elon Musk restructuring (dismantling?) Twitter, perhaps a good time to consider  – the best tweets of all time?..and here (from MIT) is a perspective on how/why the service may break in the next few weeks.

Ten Stories From This Week

9th October 2022

Love this. Video highlights ‘Questionable Laws’ around the world to support legalisation of cannabis.

Scary. Visualisation of the Impact of the Mini-Budget. Just click and scroll. And keep going until you get to the end. This is excellent visual storytelling from Led by Donkeys. (5 min play)

I’m a big fan. ‘Why public philosophy matters to Aeon and to the world’. ‘I strongly believe that the value of public philosophy is not just to reflect back to us what we already believe, but to stimulate us to think for ourselves, and to open up new ways of perceiving the world.’ Martha C Nussbaum, The University of Chicago

A list of rules for online sanity. Don’t be mean.

RIP a titan of advertising  – Dan Wieden. Nice, short piece on how he made it OK to be different, how following a process leads to bland work, and how introverts like Dan managed difficult social events.

From the always interesting Nerdwriter. Why Monet Painted The Same Haystacks 25 Times.

From @here_forth. Hot Words. How brands are using language

Artists Share Designs in Solidarity with Women in Iran. 

Jack Nicholson’s Wonderful Oscar Acceptance Speech. When Jack won his Oscar for Chinatown he was away filming One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. So, they went live by satellite where Jack received his Oscar on set with the rest of the patients. And Nurse Ratched.
(90 second watch)

Angry Cats Unite against Technology in Tom Kuntz Film for Back Market. 

Ten Stories From This Week

15th May 2022

Great list from the Do Lectures. ‘Life is busy. There’s no getting away from that. But there are ways to make our busy lives that little bit easier. We have put together a list of 100+ tools that do just that. We hope they help.’

Inside the Apocalyptic World View of ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’. Simple but effective interactive storytelling, that highlights how frequently he uses 2 common words to divide a country. From NYT.

Powerful and positively moving. The trailer for the new LBGTQ+ VR museum from Tribeca, has dropped.  (one minute, 50 seconds)

Nice short piece on the importance of tension and showing your work: “Paul wants the group to be excited.He wants George to be happier. Most of all, he wants John to like his songs. That’s his fuel. And Paul’s practice is simple: Bring the work forward. Play a song before it’s ready. Because in the moment before it’s ready, that’s when it’s ready.” (2 min read). Drawn from Peter Jackson’s, Beatles movie on Disney +.

Another reason to get Disney +. From Esquire. ‘Danny Boyle Takes on the Sex Pistols. ‘The British filmmaker’s 30 year career has revolved around a kind of punk patriotism. For his latest, a series about the formation of the iconic band, he goes back to his roots’.

‘The Feelings’ follows a group of seven emotions working in healthcare, including Power Less, Rising Dread, Red Rage and Deep Sadness. By animating the real emotional states of first responders in a child-friendly aesthetic, the video is able to talk about a serious topic in a safe way. (2 min watch) ht@storythings.

Great overview of the re-launched C.I.A. website, including one of the pithiest ‘About Us ‘ pages around. How about this line – We accomplish what others cannot accomplish and go where others cannot go’. Woooaahhh….

Great stuff, via James Harris Design. The Periodic Table of Storytelling.

Very charming this. Fingerbot Sense. The ultimate minirobot to automate everything. ht@onlydeadfish

Striking…Platinum jubilee Queen Elizabeth Barbie sells out in three seconds. Now online traders are after at least twice the original £95 asking price of the special commemorative doll.

Ten Stories From This Week

8th May 2022

The Inner Development Goals group hosted a fascinating summit in Stockholm on 29th April. The IDG, via their Sustainable Development Goals have a comprehensive plan for a sustainable world by 2030. There is a vision of what needs to happen, but progress so far has been disappointing, as we are lacking the inner capacity to deal with our increasingly complex environment and challenges. Nice quote from their summary video (five mins long) – ‘I used to think that the top environmental problems, were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought with 30 years of good science we could address those problems. But I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy. To deal with those, we need a spiritual and cultural transformation’.  

From Fast Company. 2022’s World Changing Ideas Awards. See the 39 inspiring winners, and hundreds of honorees.

From Wunderman Thompson. A new trend report cataloguing the metaverse. New Realities: Into the Metaverse and beyond. Some stats of interest – 74% of people who know what the metaverse is believe it’s the future ; 66% believe it is going to be life-changing.

Twitter announced this week that they are testing Twitter Circles, which allows you to Tweet to a smaller group of up to 150 people

Really nice idea for anyone doing some writing. This technique for writing a first draft is weird but strangely makes a lot of sense. Try it! See how you get on. 

Love this form @storythings (a one minute read) The Original Pitch Letter For Desert Island Discs.
In 1941 BBC freelancer Roy Plomley wrote a letter to the BBC’s Head of Popular Record Programmes with an idea for a new radio show. The pitch was brief and the idea was a twist on an existing idea. It was commissioned and is still being made 80 years later. So, keep your pitches short and don’t be afraid to remix old ideas.

Cool idea from Burger King Germany, reveals the myth about cravings with inspired sandwiches. The Pregnancy Whopper (one minute watch).

How pop culture (and mainstream culture more broadly) is becoming an oligopoloy. A cartel of superstars has conquered culture. How did it happen, and what should we do about it?

The Nicholas Cage movie, museum is freaky. Especially if you reverse, so the camera looks at you. (ht @here_forth)

Montage of all the films and TV shows that have used Bowie’s Heroes. (six minute watch)

Ten Stories From This Week

2nd May 2022

Essential reading. From The Mindfulness Initiative, a new policy report, Reconnection: Meeting the Climate Crisis Inside OutThis groundbreaking report calls urgently for policy attention to the neglectedinner dimension of the climate crisis, and outlines the importance of mindfulness and compassion practices in restoring the conscious connection fundamental to human and planetary health. 

Amazon-as-a-service, integrates Prime benefits and functionality into third party merchant sites even if they don’t sell in Amazon’s store. Part of an ambition to not only to take an ever-greater slice of commerce through their own destinations (e.g. marketplace) but also to become integrated right across the entire commerce ecosystem.

Vice reports that (according to a leaked internal memo) Facebook has no idea where all of its user data goes, or what it’s doing with it…..

Wanting to attract the best talent possible (globally) Airbnb announce that their employees can live and work anywhere, in what seems to be a very enticing approach to hybrid (including the option to live and work in 170 countries for up to 90 days a year in each location).

On the flip side to the above, apparently (and no surprise?) new research shows that we’re worse at generating creative ideas on Zoom than in person.

Why Hotels Are Perfect Story Vehicles For NationsIt is doing and not telling…the marketing and word-of-mouth that has come as a result of hotels has been impressive. By making the hospitality space a proxy for the best parts of national culture, you make things more tangible, more sensory, and create a deeper emotional bond between the guest and the country.

A chart showing just how innovative Snap has been over the last 10 years. ‘Comparing this with an equivalent version for Twitter would be… painful @benedictevans

The Secret Code of Beauty Spots. Fake facial beauty spots were the emoji of the 17th century. They came in many shapes and conveyed all kinds of messages. (ht@storythings)

“Control your soul’s desire for freedom. Do not open the window or sing.” —A surveillance drone warns angry Shanghai residents not to shout from their windows, as the city’s extensive lockdown continues.

 Try Heardle (instead of wordle) where instead of trying to work out five letter words, you have five goes to name that tune (ht@neilperkin)

Ten Stories From This Week

9th April 2022

From Wunderman Thompson. Micro-dosing happiness. Consumers are looking to small, daily interactions to bring them greater overall happiness and health.

The oldest joke in the world? Jokes have a lot to teach us about what humans find funny. National Public Radio in the US suggested in 2016 that the oldest recorded joke is from Bronze Age Sumeria (an early Mesopotamian civilisation dating 3300-1200BC). The joke goes: “What has never happened since time immemorial?” (Head to the article for the punchline). ….and, why do we even have humour? “Some researchers suggest that because humour brings us together it might have an evolutionary purpose. Perhaps our ability to make light of bad situations helped us to overcome them – by joining together in laughter, we were able to reinforce our social bonds.”

The Death of Ideals. TikTok, goblin mode, and the end of Platonism. TikTokers are going “goblin mode”. Burnt out by the pandemic and the pressures of modern life, millennials and Gen Z have taken to shamelessly “slobbing out and giving up”, malnourishing themselves with junk food and mangling their sleep cycles by staying up scrolling until 3am. Described elsewhere as a “full-on rejection of self-betterment”, goblin mode is the antithesis of being “that-girl” who embodies productivity, wellness and aesthetic perfection. It is an unapologetic unleashing of the creature within, and a complete lack of aesthetic. (ht @here_forth)

Crypto clubs. What does a members-only social club look like in the age of decentralization?

Droga5 helps good ideas get found in this catchy musical campaign for Meta. 

From the BBC. This first known fossil of a dinosaur killed the day the giant asteroid struck Earth is pretty incredible

‘It takes your hand off the panic button’: TS Eliot’s The Waste Land 100 years on. 

Highlights from the top five events from the first ever Metaverse Fashion Week (MVFW).

From MIT. This horse-riding astronaut is a milestone in AI’s journey to make sense of the world. 

From Aeon. In a Mongolian burial, a body falls on the land before getting swept up to the heavens. (nine minute animation)

Hope everyone is doing well. No newsletter next week as I will be travelling. Back in a couple of weeks. 🙏👍🏽

Ten Stories From This Week

3rd April 2022

Love this.The untold story of 2021: people became kinder. Global rates of helping strangers, volunteering, and giving to charity are nearly 25% above pre-pandemic levels.(ht @storythings)

Some takeaways from SxSW 2022 – dominance of web3, holograms, sound taking centre stage, the importance of social justice and equity, and the magic of meeting in person.

Not an April Fool. Dyson’s bizarre new headphones have a built-in air purifier(ht @here_forth)

The Museum of Endangered Sounds.

In 1955, President Dwight D Eisenhower suffered a massive heart attack while playing golf. What happened next brought on the BIGGEST obesity epidemic the world has ever seen. A powerful example of selective research highlighting misleading information.

Jony Ive on ‘focus’ – and Steve Jobs as the most focused person he ever met. The secret of Focus? Saying No. (90 seconds)

Interesting combination. Ryan Reynolds Talks Cybersecurity and Skincare with Wrexham AFC in 1Password commercial.

Interesting. The unskippable opening credits for Severance. Looks worth a watch – Mark leads a team of office workers whose memories have been surgically divided between their work and personal lives. When a mysterious colleague appears outside of work, it begins a journey to discover the truth about their jobs.

Some inspiration here perhaps? Mighty Marvel Comics’, Strength and Fitness Book. Read down thread to access individual superhero suggestions.

SNL on the Will Smith slap, and this is what ‘O.J. Simpson’ thought about it. 

Ten Stories From This Week

5th March 2022

Another fascinating, engaging perspective from The Nerdwriter on cinema, in this video essay (7′:34″), arguing that explode-y superhero movies aren’t the only movies worth seeing on the big screen. Asserting that “massive faces emoting on massive screens is just as epic, if not more epic, than explosions and battles”.

In the storytelling space, this is a fantastic tool and resource for those with a creative bent or just anyone interested in this area. From this particular ‘story canvas’ has been completed using ‘Don’t Look Up’ as an example. HT @storythings.

A sad and sobering infographic from Where Ukrainian Refugees Are Fleeing to.

From CNET. We’re getting a better picture of what happens inside a black hole 🕳️ .Algorithms are helping to solve a mind-bending theory called “holographic duality.” Perhaps an alternate holographic universe may lead us into a black hole?

The video game Elden Ring (created in conjunction with George R.R. Martin) is all the rage right now. Should you join the army of avid fans? See trailer here. 

Advertising veteran and marketing expert Susan Fournier reflects on her seminal 1998 study on brand relationship theory and asserts that it’s not just a metaphor. ‘ We learned that the essence of a given brand was not an inherent property of that brand as defined by marketers and reinforced in a 30-second ad. People’s life projects, identity tasks, life themes, current concerns, cohorts, etc. provide the lenses through which brands come to have meaning’. This Is Why You Fall in Love With Brands.

I imagine we are all doing a fair bit of ‘doom scrolling’ at the moment. With this in mind, this Oliver Burkeman piece on looking after yourself in amongst the rolling news cycle, is most welcome. The news ≠ your life. 

An old truth, but always worth remembering and brought to life engagingly in this animation from The School Of Life (3′:40″) Other people have been nasty because….

Love this from The Economist’s data viz team. The Greatest Cape – estimated heights and weights of on-screen Batmen (visualised) 

And finally an online conference recommendation… 

Friend of the Filter, Paul Armstrong (here_forth) curates an annual event – the TBD Conference, which is well worth checking out. Paul is offering 33 readers of this newsletter 33% off list price. This event is for people who are after a little hope, science and want the no BS version of where things like the multiverse, NFTs,  and future of work are really going. Speakers include Twitter, The Economist, Babylon Health, FT, Russell Davies, Takram, Twitter, Grey, Futurists, Neuroscientists, Slam Poets and +20 others. March 31, Global live stream.
INFO/TICKETS: / Use ‘DIGITALFILTER33’ at checkout or click here

Ten Stories From This Week

5th Feb 2020

How to explain the metaverse to your grandparents. ‘We’re using the term ‘metaverse’ as a proxy for a sense that everything is about to change’. This is very good for those still wrapping their heads around it all. (ht @zoescaman).

When Women Make Headlines : An Interactive Essay About (Mis)Representation of Women in the News.  It looks at the frequency of words used in headlines about women and how sensationalised headlines about women are compared to other topics. Towards the end, there is an interesting section that looks at events that have encouraged less gendered and more empowering headlines.

This has been around for a while, but constantly updated and super easy to use. Idea generation tools for creative professionals. The Deck of Brilliance.

And…If you’re looking for inspiration for a campaign, dive into this wonderful collection of case studies. A Curated Collection of the Most Inspiring Creative Brand Activation Ideas. (ht @storythings).

The oldest registered trademarks in the world are for beer. 

4 principles for great writing. Love this…”People naturally remember musical language, and I would encourage writers to inject their prose with a bit of music. When you’re writing, think about repetition and variety. Crescendos and rests. Pace and punctuation. Read your work out loud, and feel the rhythm of the words in your voice.”

Mr, Doctor, Mister, Miss? Here is the vanishing art of Folk Branding.

This is nice. The Wisdom of WinterHow to embrace the cold and its teachings. ‘Take a walk to notice all the things around you that elicit joy. A bird dusting snow off its feathers. The quiet stillness of freshly fallen snow. A trail lined with green leaves; a signal that life exists amongst the sea of barren trees. Just noticing…..

A couple of, very different, ads this week. Firstly, ‘Bud Light Seltzer takes a trip to the ‘Land of Loud Flavours’ in a new Super Bowl ad. This is the first of this year’s SB ads I’ve seen, and in my view this is not one that will be remembered for long…. and secondly a radically different (and rather wonderful) pioneering music video collaboration between a German composer, tea specialist and creative agency showing how a particular mushroom can turn a violin into a refreshing drink (four minute watch).

Nice. From @StreetArtUtopia.This mural reveals its full meaning when looking at its reflection in the water. 

No newsletter for the next couple of weeks as (negative test allowing) I will be travelling. Next newsletter on the 5th/6th March. Until then, please stay safe and well. Nick 🙏