What really shapes the way we think? Is it our education, our family background, our ethnicity, our employer? Or is it more to do with our psychology, our biology… or something else?

This was the big question that the inimitable Jon Leach, former Planning Director at celebrated UK agencies Chime Communications and Bell Pottinger sought to answer in front of a packed crowd at BBDO in Toronto.

Hot on the heels of leading two days of Agile Strategy training, Jon deployed a killer mix of impassioned argument, mind-blowing infographics and practical tools to explore some possible answers to this tough question.

In the middle of the session he caught the audience off-guard by shifting gears and setting us all a hypothetical challenge: how to convince a middle-aged client to use an unknown ‘grime artist’ as the new face of their QSR brand?

After some awkward seat-shifting the room was soon filled with animated discussions as they grasped this task with both hands, using one of Jon’s many amazing infographics (in this case a map of musical subcultures) to make connections from UK grime artist ‘Stormzy’ to Bruce Springsteen.

Jon convincingly argued that this approach will work for understanding any topic that presents itself to us as Planners and strategists. That all you need to do is read big complex books and then summarize them using maps of connections within the content. Jon shared countless examples of how he had pursued this approach throughout his career with great success, the map making process forcing a greater understanding of the content than reading alone.

Our fantastic speaker closed a wonderfully inspiring evening by imploring us all to read more than just our social media, to venture off the beaten track whenever possible, to stop buying so much and again – read more.

What we all needed to hear.

Until the next APG event!

Jon’s great reading list can be found here:

About Matt Foulk

Matt Foulk has written 4 post in this blog.