No doubt you've heard of couch surfing: borrowing someone's couch to crash on for a short period of time as a way to travel, escape, or "get back on your feet." But have you ever heard of "brain surfing?"
Heather LeFevre, author of "Brain Surfing: the Top Marketing Strategy Minds in the World" decided she would take the concept of couch surfing and applying it to some of the top marketing brains in the world.
And sleep on their couch.
Despite working in some of the most prominent marketing agencies in the world, LeFevre was intrigued by the apprenticeship she saw in other industries and wondered if it could be applied to marketing strategy.
So LeFevre made an unreasonable request to some marketing powerhouses, asking to follow them around, watch them work, and live with them for two weeks.
Nine of them said yes.
I was so excited to hear how Heather came up with her idea for her book as well as her truly unreasonable requests!
Stephanie Burns: Tell me about your Unreasonable Request. What did you ask for? How did you come up with the idea? What was the outcome? Tell me the story.
Heather LeFevre: A confluence of forces were in place in my life: I had lived abroad and worked in some of the most creative advertising agencies as a strategist, even becoming 'the boss,' and yet, I still felt uncertain about my abilities and how to approach projects. I read about the system of guilds and unions to develop craftsmen from apprentice to journeyman to master and was inspired apply it to the craft of marketing.
So I asked prominent, accomplished strategists if I could come and work with them, learn with them, and oh yes, live with them in their homes while I did it.
I was surprised to find that nine people did not find this request too unreasonable. I was hosted in Hong Kong by Jason Oke of Y&R, Singapore by Simon Kemp of We Are Social, Beijing by the late rOobin Golestan of DMG, Shanghai by Rob Campbell of Wieden+Kennedy, Suzanne Powers in London with Crispin Porter+Bogusky, Brian Millar in London of Sense Worldwide, Saher Sidhom in London of AMV BBDO, and Kevin May in Seattle of Sticks Consulting.
"Brain Surfing: the Top Marketing Strategy Minds in the World" is the resulting book of all that I learned on my journey. But I would say even more impactful than the book is the council of mentors I have now of these brilliant, generous people who are on my side.
SB: How were you feeling when you made your Unreasonable Request?
HL: Cheeky, I guess. As though I don't really have a right to ask but it's such a wild ask and potentially fun experience and I'm female so it's not as scary to have a female stranger in your home so maybe just maybe you'll say yes?
SB: What are the top three things you learned from making your Unreasonable Request?
HL: 1. Nothing incredible is ever accomplished alone and there are people are out there willing to help us on our journey.
2. The way that you ask is important: have you been generous in the past? Are you also offering while asking? Many of my hosts reported that my visit helped them to reflect on their own methods and I was able to cross-pollinate by bringing in ideas they hadn't come across while they were sharing new insights with me.
3. Everything we need to know is inside other people. Yes, reading and solitary discovery are important, but the most quantum of leaps in our understanding occur through dialogue, sharing, respectful debate and connecting with others.
Heather's unreasonable request is one of my favorites because we get the benefit of learning for her learnings in her amazing book. Well done, Heather, you are a truly #unreasonablewoman