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Miu Miu has “had a thrilling year, delivering viral products coveted far and wide.” According to Lyst’s “Year in Fashion,” the Italian label is the World’s Hottest brand, again (Miu Miu / Hypebeast)
🔼 Diet Coke prices. Here’s why »»
🔽 US Treasuries. No one wants ‘em »»
💬 “Daycare is astronomically cheaper.” Americans who moved to Europe’s priciest cities say it’s worth it for a relaxed life with shorter work days and cheap childcare »»
🛫 Barcelona’s coolest spots »»
Chevy “is giving a brand new look to its bread-and-butter full-size SUV pair, the Tahoe and Suburban.” The Suburban is believed to be the the world's oldest continuously produced car model (Chevrolet / Jalopnik)
Abu Dhabi airport opened a brand new terminal and lounge complex »»
Subway’s going to sell a footlong cookie »»
The big bet on “tiny homes” to fix homelessness »»
Southeast Asia is on the cusp of a “supercharged” digital payments revolution »»
America’s economy is growing even more than previously indicated »»
You’ll soon be able to order an iconic London black cab on Uber »»
And: Deliveroo users in the UK will soon be able to get DIY, electrical and homeware items delivered to their door, as they expand beyond food »»
Everything new in the updated 2025 Chevy Tahoe and Suburban »»
And: Innovation or folly? The Cybertruck will test whether anyone still trusts Tesla »»
Docu is a new ChatGPT wrapper devoted to contract review »»
Forced to use real names on platforms like Weibo, Chinese influencers are quitting social media instead »»
Concorde 2.0? Supersonic planemaker Boom is planning a test flight before the end of the year »»
Heathrow’s largest shareholder sold its 25% stake in the airport to a French private equity firm and the Saudi public investment fund »»
More: While Heathrow remains a major global gateway, growth prospects have been hampered by the lack of progress on a third runway »»
A W hotel opened in Edinburgh »»
The debt-laden parent company behind luxe department store Selfridges has filed for insolvency »»
Would you want to work for you?
Apple’s “Think Different” campaign from TBWA\Chiat\Day in Los Angeles ran from 1997 to 2002
THE BIG IDEA
What I write below is going to sound odd coming from a “creative.” (Backstory: I spent a dozen years as a writer, and then a creative director, at some of the world’s best known ad agencies, working on many of the biggest, most liked/loved brands in the world and I have run fate v/ future, a marketing services company that shares a name with this newsletter, for the past 5+ years.)
In the creative department at many ad agencies, “the idea” is sacrosanct. It’s usually called the, quote-unquote, “big idea.” Here’s the best way I can think of to simply describe what that is:
a logical and lateral look at a brand or product,
usually in the context of a problem and/or a solution,
presented in a likeable way
A quick primer on some of the most famous “big ideas” in history:
Volkswagen’s 1960 “Lemon” print ad by agency Doyle Dane Bernbach is widely credited with inventing contemporary creative advertising. That’s because the ad used a lateral twist (as opposed to a literal message), which was a totally novel approach at the time. The ad’s simple, one word headline called Volkswagen’s flagship car a “lemon” (which is old time slang for a dud car). The line was an unusual, attention-grabbing way to make the point that the VW factory employed thousands of inspectors to monitor each stage of production (apparently, 1 out of every 50 cars was pulled off the assembly line for not being good enough). Meaning: the ones that made it to dealerships were the very best, delivered without flaws, to last longer, and require less maintenance too.
Nike’s late 1980s-era “Just Do It” tagline from agency Wieden + Kennedy is —to this day— inextricably linked to the brand. Nike was very much fueled by the company’s co founders, one of whom was a successful college track and field coach who brought an “if you have a body, you’re an athlete” mentality to the then fledgling shoe company. “Just do it” was a simple, three word encapsulation of that ethos, one that proved to be as likeable, as adaptable, and universal as a tagline can be. Proof: the line remains every bit as fresh, powerful, and applicable to anyone and anything Nike touches some 3-1/2 decades on.
Apple’s 1997-2002 “Think Different” campaign from TBWA\Chiat\Day was launched when the firm was on the verge of bankruptcy (unbelievable as that may seem today). “Think Different” is based in an irrefutable truth about the product: both the hardware and the software of Apple’s computers are vastly different from the more popular Windows-based computers. The strength of the idea comes from seamlessly fusing that product truth to an incredibly compelling societal-level insight: history’s greatest achievements have often been at the hands of people who “thought different.” It seems simple in retrospect. It’s not. There’s a lot packed into that incredibly elegant, two word thought that is based in the brand, based in truth, and based in human desire. Today, Apple is regularly at the top of the list of the world’s most valuable firms.
BUT. THAT’S ADVERTISING
In business overall, novel ideas take a backseat to superior execution.
Nike did not invent the concept of jogging (though they did ignite its popularity in America), nor were they the first ones to develop basketball shoes.
Apple was not the first-ever company to come up with visual/graphical UI —and the company did not come up with the idea of a mouse to control it either.
Facebook was not the world’s first social network.
Google didn’t invent the search engine.
But what all of these firms did do is execute brilliantly, and iterate off the back of their success.
IDEA v/ EXECUTION
I think about this idea v/ execution tension a lot, actually. In my day job running fate v/ future, I work with a lot of early stage founders who are writing pitch decks, or working through things like their ideal marketing approach and budget, or their brand/go to market strategies.
It’s all very top of mind for me right now, especially as my own firm runs through its own 2024 strategy, all of which is why I was intrigued by this little nugget I found in Houck's Newsletter, a tactical email offering startup advice “from an a16z-backed founder.”
Here’s Michael Houck, writing about and then quoting Sam Altman, CEO of ChatGPT parent company OpenAI:
OK, WHAT’S THE POINT HERE?
In startupland, ideas tend to come and go with passing trends. In this context, Altman’s words really land.
It’s tempting to think that the “ideal founder” must be technical in some way shape or form, or an accomplished entrepreneur, or from Silicon Valley.
But that’s not what Altman's criteria is. And he knows a thing or two about founders; the firm he headed before OpenAI, Y Combinator, is the world’s most famous startup incubator.
Altman doesn’t look for repeat founders. He doesn’t seem to care about technical prowess.
He doesn’t even mention ideas at all!
What he does look for bears repeating. The main question Altman asks himself is “would I work for that person?”
What an incredibly simple litmus test for a founder. And while the answer obviously depends on a lot of attributes, including the ones (scrappiness, courage, etc.) that Altman mentions, last I checked, you don’t need a degree, or any experience even, for any of them.
In the last issue, I wrote about charisma, and how it actually comes down to a simple combination of warmth x competence.
That point seems salient here as well.
If you are pondering any entrepreneurial journey, it’s not about your idea. It’s about your execution. And the most important thing you can execute?
Be kind of person that people want to work for.
If you are, you're further along on the path to startup success than you might think.
Don’t take my word for it, take Sam Altman’s.
What Sam Altman looks for in founders »»
Steve Jobs introduces “Think Different” »»
Written by Jon Kallus. Thanks for reading.