“Greetings from Tel Aviv”


Alan Weinkranz sent me this photo from Tel Aviv- one of the Rackspace Israel posters we did for them.

I’m not Jewish myself, but I’ve always been very pro-Israel; I was utterly delighted to draw something not only nice, but actually meaningful to people over there.

So much of marketing and communication is just about “why you should give me your money, right here, right now” i.e. short term transactional.

So on those rare occasions when it taps into something much larger and timeless (five thousand yearrs of history, say), it’s powerful.

i.e. Advertising & Marketing are the same as any other form of writing. The eternal truths generally hit A LOT harder than the latest fashionable ones. Don’t expect that to ever change.

[For those of you who don’t know Rackspace well, they work with A LOT of startups; it’s central to their DNA and it’s something they are very passionate about. So that’s where the idea for the drawing came from etc.]

Microsoft at Gapingvoid HQ


[Myself, Microsoft’s Steve Wiens and their trusty photographer, Brian Smale setting up the tabletop shoot.]

Microsoft recently commissioned me to draw them a set of new cartoons, based around the new company vision of their CEO, Satya Nadella .

They asked me to draw them non-digital, old school, i.e. pen & ink on blank business cards, like I did in the earliest days of gapingvoid.

Best of all, they wanted to photograph everything, so they flew in Steve Wiens and Brian Smale to direct the shoot, all the way from Seattle.

Steve, a Senior Content Director at Microsoft, was integral to the creative process throughout.

The images haven’t gone public yet, so I can’t really show you what I drew. What I will say is, it was really amazing seeing the cards being photographed by a pro, table-top style. It’s a lot more slow and careful a process than just Instagramming them, the way I normally do.

The cartoons were built around redefining the idea of “Productivity”.

As Google owns “Search”, Facebook owns “Friends”,  and WordPress owns “Blogging” etc, Microsoft is on a mission to own “Productivity”, to make Microsoft the most productivity-increasing company in the world (You could argue it already achieved this once before in the 1990’s, but now is a competely new era with completely new challenges).

Satya Nadella calls it a “Cloud first, Mobile first” strategy.

We’re already at the stage where everyone in enterprise has a smartphone, and everyone in business will have to access the cloud. That’s a given.

Where the opportunity lies, is how the two relate to each other i.e. the tools. That’s where Microsoft comes in.

Three things that come to mind:

1. Satya is the first second-generation Microsoftee to lead the company. So it really is a new era.

2. Before becoming CEO, Satya was a cloud guy. He was instrumental in Micorsoft building one of the most sophisticated and robust clouds on the planet. The fact that Microsoft made one of the top cloud guys in the world their CEO (as opposed to say, a sales guy or a brand guy), speaks volumes IMHO about where Microsoft’s plans to go in the future.

3. Productivity doesn’t just mean doing the same ol’ stuff, cheaper and faster. Productivity means getting rid of the unnecessary crap in our lives, allowing us to do stuff that’s more meaningful. It’s more holistic definition of the word, that even if it takes Microsoft a while to articulate fully to the world, is a good cause worth fighting for.


Live drawing and public speaking in Banff, Canada

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This is a picture I took last week in Banff, Canada, where I had a live-drawing gig for the Western Canadian Realtors Association’s biennial meetup.

For those of you who don’t know what I mean by “Live Drawing”, it’s what I increasingly do for a living. Basically, I turn up to events, tradeshows and conferences, draw some pictures related to the event, then deliver a mini-keynote at the end based on the usual 20-or-so drawings I’ll compete by the end. The full pitch is here, over on gapingvoid.]

Banff was one of the best gigs I’ve done in a long time. The people were great, the location was great, the food was great, some of the speakers were amazing [Note to self- Scott Stratten is REALLY good at public speaking, he’s a real pro].

What did I kearn from the event? That it isn’t just Silicon Valley, Wall Street and MIT who care about the future of work. Realtors want to know, as well. So does every other industry.

It’s a huge opportunity, for those willing to take the time to look around. It’s a big world out there. [#futureofwork]

Special shout-outs go to Bill Madder, Teri Conrad, Jeph Maystruck, Scott Stratten amd Dori Lionello. Thanks for making it a special and amazing time.

[NOTE: Yes, besides the live drawing, I do quite a lot of public speaking. My speaker’s page is here.]