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I’ve been asked by a number of design graduates and students what books I’d recommend, and as I get through quite a few, I’ve decided to do a regular book review post on my blog of creative books I’ve read.

While I do enjoy the odd eye candy design book, to be honest I can’t really read them for long. And if I do, I’m left with a kind of empty feeling.

I like to know the whys and hows so for me its the books about the thinking behind creative work, the strategy (or indeed, the tactics) that I go for. While aesthetics are important, I like to see what creative work achieves and how it works rather than just what it looks like. I like to hear the stories behind the work, how creative teams came up with the idea and how they sold the idea to the client. I adore listening to people’s experiences, insights and approaches, and I love an anecdote. Enter Predatory Thinking A Masterclass in Outwitting the Competition by Dave Trott.

And a masterclass it is indeed, for every tale in this book has a lesson.


Here are a couple of my favourite bits

Paul [Arden] always used to say, ‘Its ok to feel uncomfortable.’
Just that.
It’s just a feeling, its not real.
You don’t have to do anything about it.
It just means you’re somewhere new.
So you’re not comfortable.
But it doesn’t mean yo have to let that feeling stop you.
In fact anyone who has done anything worthwhile knows that feeling.

Until we know something, it doesn’t exist as a possibility.
Once we know it, we can’t believe everyone doesn’t know it.
And yet there was a time when each of us didn’t know anything.
Not a single thing.
In fact there is still an infinity of stuff we don’t know.
We think its a sign of strength to have an immediate opinion.
But actually all that does is shut down the enquiry.
It can be much more powerful to say ‘I don’t know.’
That opens up the way to something new.

I could go on.

I raced through this book, dying to find out what else he could tell me. The familiar short story format, really works with each story only a few pages long – there are no management buzzwords and the moral of the story is clear. You’re not left at the end wondering what the hell was that or having to google the plotline (I’m looking at you Great Gatsby).

For me this book is full of penny dropping and belly firing moments. Its always a good sign if I’m constantly reading bits aloud to my boyfriend or if I buy it for a friend (both of which I have done).

I’m not a fan of the word ‘inspiring’, for me this book is motivating.

You can buy Predatory Thinking A Masterclass in Outwitting the Competition here. And I think you should.
Dave Trott is Chairman of The Gate London and also has a killer blog here and here.
Photos taken at the lovely Bakehouse in Broughton St, Edinburgh



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