In a world dictated by your Facebook news feed, how can you think outside of the rectangle? Adventurous thinker Sally Dominguez takes us through chaos to creativity on this episode of The CMO Show.
Design powerhouse Sally Dominguez thrives on bumping people out of their expertise. The idea being bearable discomfort triggers creative thinking.
As a multi-award-winning inventor, adventurer, journalist and educator, Sally has experience practicing, observing, teaching and advocating for innovation. She helps people realise their creative potential. She teaches people to be curious.
“No one has to be an expert to suggest that our curiosity is possibly duller at this moment in human development than ever before,” Sally said.
Sally believes that it comes down to the high-pressure nature of our lives.
“Things are hitting us so fast,” she explains. “Our curiosity is more squashed than it ever has been because we go straight to the internet, which is curated for us based on our region, our language, our preferences, what we searched before.”
So how do we escape the tentacles of habit? Simply try something different, says Sally. “I always went to page six of Google when I was trying to look up things, or I’d Google something in French,” she said.
For marketers, thinking creatively is difficult in a daily landscape of processes, systems, constant output and KPIs. Classic design thinking can actually be a trap.
“If you do classic design thinking, you have to have a problem, and then you solve it by looking at customer needs,” Sally said. “It’s pretty reactive. It’s progressive, but it’s reactive.”
Innovators, Sally said, walk around a problem and poke at it from different angles. Marketers should try looking through different lenses to push through different perspectives until creativity takes over.
The simple key to thinking outside your comfort zone is knowing how to think around, up and through chaos. “It’s really important for people to not be afraid of the chaos that is everywhere right now.”
Tune in to our snazzy new makeover episode of The CMO Show to hear Mark and Nicole discuss thinking creatively when dealing with a new reality, failure at NASA, and Sally’s rock band Koolwhip.
The CMO Show production team
Got an idea for an upcoming episode or want to be a guest on The CMO Show? We’d love to hear from you: email@example.com.
Transcript: Sally Dominguez on thinking creatively
Hosts: Mark Jones and Nicole Manktelow
Guest: Sally Dominguez
Mark Jones: As consumers, we live in a world that’s being increasingly curated for us with digital technologies based on our region, our language, our preferences. So, the challenge becomes how do we think creatively? And for marketers, how do we connect with consumers that live in a world that’s digitally potentially less creative?
Mark Jones: Welcome to The CMO Show, my name is Mark Jones.
Nicole Manktelow: And I’m Nicole Manktelow.
Mark Jones: This is our 80th episode.
Nicole Manktelow: It is time for a new snazzy shake-up.
Mark Jones: That’s it, a snazzy. Snazzy? A snazzy shake-up for the oldies. It is the new music is it not? It’s modern, he says, as soon as you say modern it’s not modern.
Nicole Manktelow: No it’s not. You sound like someone trying to say trendy.
Mark Jones: I know, but I think that’s actually part of our problem isn’t it.
Nicole Manktelow: Today we’re talking about creative marketing.
Mark Jones: We are indeed and also it should be said, Nicole well done. You’re not feeling all that great today are you? You’ve got your sort of-
Nicole Manktelow: I’ve got my new husky voice.
Mark Jones: Yes.
Nicole Manktelow: Husky branding, that’s me.
Mark Jones: Yeah, that’s right. So, I like it. We’re talking about creative marketing, as you say, and how do you stay creative and fresh as marketers, as communications professionals? And how do you approach this idea of being innovative or thinking outside of the box?
Nicole Manktelow: Well, we picked up the big guns for this episode.
Mark Jones: We did.
Nicole Manktelow: Her name is Sally Dominguez and she has more design credits than you can poke a stick at. She’s won seven international product design awards and she’s judged innovation and design, including in a six year stint on ABC TV’s The New Inventors.
Mark Jones: That’s right and I’ve actually been a fan of her on New Inventors and also in the Herald, she used to do the He said, She said column in the drive car reviews and so that was when I first saw her byline.
Nicole Manktelow: And also we can say we know someone who’s exhibiting in the Powerhouse Museum. Her Highchair Nest is exhibited there. That’s a ground breaking design, as was the Rainwater Tank that changed the way most homes now use their water tanks, that won a bunch of sustainability awards.
Mark Jones: She’s a powerhouse of design, as it were, to excuse the pun. But,
Nicole Manktelow: We all knew that was coming.
Mark Jones: It was. I can’t help myself Nicole.
Nicole Manktelow: It’s being a Dad, I’m sure.
Mark Jones: I know. So, back to our topic though which is creativity and this tension between you feel like old school creativity, where we’re less influenced by digital technologies and AI and all these things that are going on in the background without our knowledge, and dealing with a new reality I think.
Nicole Manktelow: Yes, and where do you find time or space in that process to have that freedom of thinking and then how do you put it back in? It’s amazing.
Mark Jones: It is. Why don’t we have a listen to Sally.
Mark Jones: Our special guest today is Sally Dominguez. Thank you so much for joining us.
Sally Dominguez: Super happy to be here.
Mark Jones: Now, jumping straight into it, Vivid is one of the reasons why you’re here in Sydney. What’s happening there?
Sally Dominguez: So I’m running the second year of my innovation catalyzer which is like a fast moving drink and think. Idea being that if you have two alcoholic bevvies, then, your working memory is relaxed and you’re more open to working in the area of your brain that’s around possibility, not knowledge. It’s hard to bump people out of their expertise. So, a couple of drinks, and then, sit down and we slam some adventurous thinking your way.
Nicole Manktelow: It sounds like a speed dating kind of-
Sally Dominguez: Yes. Ideas generations but it’s actually more than ideas generation because it’s more about taking ideas you think you have and showing you how far you can morph those things if you work in that area of bearable discomfort, that your area of your brain you’re not used to.
Mark Jones: Is your mission then to convince people they’ve got ideas they could do something about?
Sally Dominguez: Yes.
Mark Jones: What’s the big picture going on in your mind here?
Sally Dominguez: Well for me, as I’ve got older, I’m like, “What’s my legacy?” What I think it is that I’m really good at is helping people realise their basic creative potential. But you know, when you say creative potential, people think in terms of art or drawing or something and in fact, it’s far more. It’s this ability to think in unexpected directions, think curiously, and I think it gets suppressed by the way we educate and the way we work. And what I’ve realised is I’m pretty good at bringing it back out. And then, when you see the excitement, when someone feels that state of mind, I’m like, “Ha-ha, my work is done.”
Nicole Manktelow: Do you think you have a lot of work in this so-called creative industry? So, in a way we think, we creative people and then, a lot of us sit around and discuss things that look very much like another campaign.
Sally Dominguez: Look, I think people are creative people, but yeah. Funnily enough, when I teach this thing at Stanford, I find the software engineers and a lot of accountants and people who think they’re inherently uncreative come and discover all this stuff about themselves which I love, but the low hanging fruit for me, of course, is the creative industry because ironically, they are open to try to be more creative all the time, right? And a big part of understanding your own creativity is believing you’re a creative person. As soon as you believe that, you free yourself to think that way. So, the creative people are easier to convince, but maybe a little bit less exciting than getting a physicist to think about more designs.
Nicole Manktelow: So, I think that that would be the low hanging fruit for you, right, because if you did crack open that particular mind, there’d be all sorts of ideas in there that you might never have expected.
Sally Dominguez: That’s true. Like I go into NASA and I work with these people who are brilliant.
Nicole Manktelow: Oh, my God, you have me at NASA. Such a fan-girl.
Sally Dominguez: Yeah, right? So, they’re brilliant, but they’re so fixed in their thinking. So, if you think about you’ve got that brilliance but it’s expertise and it’s maybe creativity within a certain stream, a certain type of neural pathway, but if you can bounce them like if you can invert what they’re thinking or actually get them to try something new, they are astounding.
Nicole Manktelow: Well they’ve got the whole failure is not an option historical framework that everything absolutely needs to work or people don’t make it. I think that’s wired into them, right? That would be hard-wired into your brain if you work there, getting creative often means you have to accept that your idea might not always work.
Sally Dominguez: It’s actually a big part of what I do and a big part of I’m constantly trying to make it better is helping people understand how to fail in such a way that they don’t lose their job. But of course, you have to be prolifically failing in order to move the game forward. I mean every great innovator has had epic fails, and yeah, if you’re at NASA, I’d suggest that the epic fail has a lot of consequences you never ever want to feel, so like how do you continue to prolifically fail without like killing people, is a big thing.
Nicole Manktelow: Yeah.
Mark Jones: Tell me about the
Nicole Manktelow: It’s a challenge.
Mark Jones: five lenses system, because it seems like you’ve got a framework.
Sally Dominguez: I have a system.
Mark Jones: Or you’ve got a system, right.
Sally Dominguez: Yes.
Mark Jones: By the way, I’m a big fan of models.
Sally Dominguez: Yes.
Nicole Manktelow: Loves the system.
Mark Jones: Right? But I just want to point out the obvious question here, which is you’ve got a system but yet, also, we’re encouraging people to think credibly and if you like, free, outside of the box. Don’t do the same thing over and over again, and yet, there’s a system here.
Sally Dominguez: Well, this is the beauty of this and it’s funny because I’m a super anti-system type of person right from when I was studying architecture. Our lecturer used to say, well, you know, what’s your process and you’d have to basically frame a linear process, and I could never ever. I felt like I was failing because I didn’t have a linear. I had this wave of stuff that move forward or swirled like Chris Bangle who brought in a whole lot of innovative stuff in BMW, flame welding, said, “My knowledge is an inch-deep and a mile wide.” And for a really long time, that generalist approach of trying all these multiple things at once was really frowned upon even in architecture.
Sally Dominguez: So, I’d sit there going, “Oh, God, what am I going to do?” because I don’t have this really logical process, but then, I was asked to help design tech students in these big talks at the Powerhouse understand my process. That’s when I thought, “Look, what do I do?” “What do innovators do?” By that stage, I’ve been watching a lot of people on the new inventors and looking at other people and knew a lot of innovators, and I thought, you know, what they do is they walk around the problem and they poke at it from all these different angles. And the closest I could come to a system that look like that, was Edward de Bono’s Six Hats, like that idea that you assume a certain hat and only take that perspective.
Sally Dominguez: So, actually, if you take a lens, you’re not subverting your creativity at all. All you’re doing is using one particular perspective, pushing whatever it is, like looking through that, at your issue or your problem and then, your creativity takes over. But if you push through and you try these five really diverse perspectives, it’s a way of using sort of multiple intelligences. So, basically, you’re forcing yourself to take five diverse points of view, and through that lens, your own creativity will do its thing.
Nicole Manktelow: It’s an experiment.
Sally Dominguez: Yeah, it is a bit of an experiment, like it needs be working.
Nicole Manktelow: You like have flame behind and see what happens.
Mark Jones: Yeah.
Sally Dominguez: And they work both ways. They both proliferate ideas and also, help you focus.
Sally Dominguez: So, negative space is one, which is an architectural and a graphic thing but you take it into emotional negative space and time so it’s interesting. Thinking sideways which is probably the closest to classic design thinking in terms of empathy and understanding others, but it’s a bit more proactive than classic design thinking. Thinking backwards which is a default sustainability perspective, which frankly, I think everybody should have for everything. But it uses a tool called back casting to look at where you want something to end, and then, make sure that all your functions and resources match that end-date.
Sally Dominguez: And then, there’s rethinking which is about understanding core value and then, manipulating it three ways. And then, Parkour which is my favourite, which is everyone’s favourite which is basically inverting every norm completely. They’re very different perspectives and if you whip through all five with 5 minutes each on an issue, like you’ve only gone 25 to 30 minutes, but you have this incredible at worst and a new meaning and understanding of what it is you’re trying to do and at best, you have this proliferation of concepts and options that you never would have thought of.
Mark Jones: So, like many things in design, there’s problem-solving. So, you take a problem and then, you pull it apart with this
Mark Jones: The five lenses.
Sally Dominguez: Five lenses.
Sally Dominguez: But it’s not only problems. So, I feel right now, we’re in an era that is like it’s so fast moving that it’s not always problem-solving because I think things are hitting us now so fast that we need to be more proactive than we have been. So, if you do classic design thinking, you have to have a problem, and then, you solve it by looking at customer needs, right? So, it’s pretty reactive. It’s progressive, but it’s reactive. But I think it’s important to have things that can problem-solve and they all can, but also, things that look at the norm like inversion works really well on stuff you already do well. Like to invent a new system, sometimes, is looking at something that didn’t need disrupting but if you do invert it, you come up with something so progressive that you just go, “Holy crap, we can leap-frog everything we are currently looking at.”
Nicole Manktelow: This is like this classic idea that it’s iteration that makes innovation. That you take something and you just do the next thing or something that’s nearby or two things that are working and you push them together. I was hearing this at a few conferences recently where people were talking about innovation doesn’t need to be a huge leap but can be just next thing that comes out of it.
Sally Dominguez: It can be incremental, it can.
Nicole Manktelow: And so, if you’re interrogating something that’s working now with your tools and you don’t have a problem, that’s okay. You can just take something that’s working and figure out what to do with it next.
Sally Dominguez: It’s true. It’s pretty interesting. I actually use a tool called the innovation quadrant, what’s tricky about innovation is it’s hard to measure, it’s hard to quantify. Innovation’s something we’ve been struggling with with NASA like what do we do, do we look at how many more proposals we put out or success rate or what do you look at, right?
Sally Dominguez: A quadrant based on whether something is new tech or new design or existing or new market or existing, right? Four quadrants from that allows you to mark where you’re currently working and then, look at where it can go. You can do incremental innovation and most companies now spend most of their time trying to do incremental because it’s safe. But on the other hand, if you want massive growth, you’ve got to try massive disruptive innovation because disruptive innovation, when it wins, gives you massive growth.
Mark Jones: Yeah, this is the disrupt thyself, right?
Sally Dominguez: Right.
Mark Jones: You launched an iPhone when you’ve got a great little iPod.
Sally Dominguez: Yes. That’s right. So, there’s a lot of different areas you can work in. I think there’s a lot of fear around at the moment for a lot of reasons, right? We’re scared about job security, the world. Incremental is safer.
Mark Jones: Robots.
Sally Dominguez: Yeah, everybody.
Sally Dominguez: But big leap is where growth is, so it’s interesting.
Mark Jones: Yeah. I think in marketing, in creativity, we’re constantly caught between process and systems to deliver consistent output. And-
Nicole Manktelow: KPIs.
Mark Jones: What I picked up from you is that really passion for not settling for the status quo ever. Right?
Sally Dominguez: Yes.
Mark Jones: So, how do you bring the two things together, right, because you need both, right?
Sally Dominguez: Yes. You do.
Mark Jones: Because the world can’t stay chaotic.
Sally Dominguez: No, it can’t, but I think what is really important and what I feel I want to impart to everybody, impact hopefully is everything can’t be chaotic but how great if you’re comfortable with chaos. If you feel like every time something happens, it’s unexpected, every sudden turn, every event that happens, you just go, “Oh, shit, nothing is as it was,” if you’ve got a five-year plan, if you’re Matel say who I’m working with at the moment, and nothing is working out because your five-year plan was depending on history repeating itself, and nothing is, right? How awesome if regardless of what’s going on, you feel that you can come up with options that will work. I think it’s really important for people to not be afraid of the chaos that is everywhere right now.
Mark Jones: Is this the Lego story? Like where you reinvent yourself by going out and spending a lot of time with the people who love you?
Sally Dominguez: Maybe it is, maybe it is. That’s classic design thinking too though.
Mark Jones: Right. Okay.
Sally Dominguez: No, I think it’s just an attitude that if you feel confident that no matter what anything throws at you, you will come up with options that are viable, then, you can pretty much deal with anything.
Nicole Manktelow: I feel you’re saying that you’ve got ways that we can hack our brains
Sally Dominguez: I think it is. I think it’s actually kind of mental health
Nicole Manktelow: To be more calm.
Sally Dominguez: for you to become in the face of chaos, but also, feel dynamic and excited in the face of chaos.
Nicole Manktelow: What about for the first 5 minutes, you’re feeling really calm and then, when it hits you and you go, “Oh, now, I have no idea what to do.”
Sally Dominguez: Yeah. But as long as you then go, “But how awesome because I know I’ve got the ability to deal with this.” I think right now, there’s all this drama around people saying, “I’m going to lose my jobs to AI,” for instance, right?
Nicole Manktelow: Yes.
Sally Dominguez: That smart robots are going to conquer and honestly, I feel like there’s this huge push to STEM, but the way STEM is translated by so many people is straight up math and science. Well yeah, a computer can totally do that, what on earth are we thinking. Okay, unless you have creative thinking wrapped up with that stuff, unless we all discuss that in fact great mathematicians always did drawings before they did formulas, which no one ever talks about
Nicole Manktelow: Yeah.
Sally Dominguez: Right? Or science doesn’t need It’s not right learning. Right learning can be done by computers better than we can.
Nicole Manktelow: Oh, they keep talking about teaching kids how to code for the jobs of the future. Like coding’s like the first thing that parents get
Sally Dominguez: It’s the first thing for those people, whereas, our inherent ability to make unexpected cross-connections cannot be replicated. They’re trying too hard to make AI have that type of curiosity that humans have naturally. We should be exploiting that, because that’s what gives us the advantage and makes us the awesome people we are.
Nicole Manktelow: Also, more fun people, more fun.
Sally Dominguez: So much more fun, whoo.
Mark Jones: Isn’t it like the idea that creativity is not a committee where we all sit down and agree but it’s that going along the streets, the classic kind of cliché and the light bulb goes off.
Sally Dominguez: Yes.
Mark Jones: The subconscious.
Nicole Manktelow: Like 3:00 in the morning.
Mark Jones: Becomes conscious and you, you know, that, right? Computers can’t replicate that.
Sally Dominguez: They can’t, and they can’t replicate that, “Oh. I wonder what will happen if you did that, which I know nothing about but with this thing that I totally” computers can’t grab into the unknown and the possibility because they only have the fact right now.
Nicole Manktelow: Well, humans can be so overworked that we don’t expose ourselves to enough things, give ourselves the space to connect different things together and be okay with the fact that I just spent half an hour putting all these ideas together, and I came up with bumpkus.
Sally Dominguez: Our curiosity is more squashed than it ever has been because we go straight to the internet, which is curated for us based on our region, based on our language, based on our preferences, what we searched before. I’m a journalist as well and I always went to Page Six of Google when I was trying to look up things or I’d Google something in French or I’d look for you know. Because I don’t want everything.
Mark Jones: Rebelling of the internet.
Sally Dominguez: curated for me. Bugger that. But I think we forget that sometimes we’re stressed, we need facts, facts, right, in inverted commerce because it’s curated.
Mark Jones: So, marketing automation is a big thing, to state the obvious, we’ve got 7,000 odd Martech vendors, tell me about your experience or understanding of marketers and the challenge they face, because it seems to me we’re very process-driven, creativity has become process-driven. We’re expecting the automation thing to fill in a lot of the gaps for us. How do you stay creative in that context?
Sally Dominguez: Well, it’s interesting. I was talking to a marketing person the other day and he goes, “What we’re going to do is create this viral moment.” I was like, “How interesting.”
Mark Jones: Did you want to slap him for saying viral?
Sally Dominguez: Yeah.
Nicole Manktelow: How do you create viral?
Sally Dominguez: I do. I thought, “Well, where do you start with that one?” For a start, you think that you can manufacture the viral flow of something. But if you look at, say, his target market were 20 year olds, right? They are hard to track and they won’t be tracked and so, to think like you’re almost.
Nicole Manktelow: What he meant was a stunt, right? He’ll do a stunt.
Sally Dominguez: What he meant was a stunt. He hadn’t really thought it through because he had a very boring product that was about AI used to count stuff and I’m like, ” How interesting,” how are you going to create a viral moment that markets that product and it goes out amongst this 20, like what were you even thinking. So, he has this in his idea, these buzz words, no idea how to do it and he’s, no doubt, going to pump out some too long piece of thing that doesn’t really relate back and it is going slap down and die. You know, so-
Nicole Manktelow: Did it make you sad? That actually makes me feel just sad hearing that.
Sally Dominguez: It made me sad to think of the resources and energy that would go into something that was so disconnected from reality.
Mark Jones: Probably just won’t work.
Sally Dominguez: Yeah. I would say that marketing right now is all, especially for the millennials, my kids, I would say it’s all about right now go out and do good. Like go out and make a difference, do some socially-responsible shit and not even do it with that cynical thing that everybody notices, but do it.
Sally Dominguez: I think.
Mark Jones: the marketing thing is very much sales-driven. We talk about leads, we talk about cost per lead, we talk about how we’d grow our business and all those things, by the way, are good because good business helps society. I’m really passionate about that. However, how do you do the sales thing and the good thing. That’s a big challenge for a CMO don’t you think?
Sally Dominguez: Yeah. I think that’s really hard, and I actually think, I think so much right now is re-thinking systems we’ve always used and coming out with new ones and perhaps a new system. And I’m just on the fly here, but perhaps a new system is the metrics of different maybe it’s how many people you affect and if all those people that were affected by what you’ve done spread the word on what happened because of your product however that may be then you’re going to get such good value I mean if it’s the fact now that what we’re looking for is personal recommendation, if now, we understand that word of mouth and recommendation is so much valuable than just cold calling, spluttering it out there, then, what we want to do is affect people profoundly enough that they spread the word that this was the right thing to do.
Sally Dominguez: I just think do our metrics changed, here’s how we impact.
Nicole Manktelow: It’s like an impact story.
Sally Dominguez: I think our impact now spreads, so if for every impact, five more people learn, then, we have this flowering of awareness and buying.
Nicole Manktelow: Yeah. And people are going to invest in this.
Sally Dominguez: And at the same, I’m a big fan of frugal innovations, so that’s giving more value with way less resources. Again, marketers, your job hasn’t gone but it’s actually become way more important because how are you going to add massively more value but use less.
Nicole Manktelow: So, the purpose becomes-
Sally Dominguez: And then spread that purpose and then, spread that word because what you want is for people to understand that you are so far ahead of your competition because you’ve done this, because you’ve been more frugal, yeah?
Nicole Manktelow: Sally you’re part of Engineers Without Borders?
Sally Dominguez: Yeah. I haven’t spoken to them for a while but I think I’m still their ambassador. I talk about them all the time.
Sally Dominguez: They’re out solving problems with minimal resources. Like their whole thing is to be frugal. It’s interesting.
Mark Jones: Minimum viable materials that will hold the bridge up, for example.
Sally Dominguez: That’s right. That’s right. As elegantly-simple as possible. Yeah.
Nicole Manktelow: Elegantly-simple. Wouldn’t that be wonderful.
Nicole Manktelow: I was just thinking elegantly-simple, it’s such a powerful phrase. Just thinking about all of the pitches that we do and all of the campaigns that we see, that would be valuable
Sally Dominguez: It’s so valuable because we need to limit our use of resources, and simplicity is elegant and outreach can be elegant. If you do something that’s just beautifully-delivered and epically-powerful, it didn’t need to have cost a fortune and perhaps, the money that you had set aside for that could be better spent lifting everyone’s level.
Nicole Manktelow: And is everybody able to do this? If you’re a startup or if you’re a big B2B or if you’re B2C, what if you’re a B2B?
Sally Dominguez: No, you don’t but what are you trying to achieve. If you’re in marketing for a B2B, what is your core value? I’m asking because I actually don’t know.
Sally Dominguez: And then, I work with that.
Nicole Manktelow: Well, usually, they need to stay in business, so there’s a sale.
Sally Dominguez: Yeah. So, it’s still a sale.
Nicole Manktelow: Yeah.
Sally Dominguez: And so, you still need the people at the other end to care.
Sally Dominguez: And we’re human, so why do we care? We need something to have value but again, if you offer far greater value and you’ve delivered that with less, so in your home court, your bean counters are happy you actually just to live with less and yet, your receivers are happy because you’ve delivered more value. I mean that’s where you go to frugal innovation and in fact, I was on a South by Southwest panel two years ago with Navi Radjou who wrote a book called Frugal Innovation, and it is genius based on the Indian concept of Jugaad which is doing more with less. It’s a whole philosophy that’s really taking off in the business worlds particular in Europe.
Candice Witton: Hi guys it’s Candice your producer here. I’m about to take you behind the scenes of one of Sally’s innovation catalyser speed dating workshops. Sally explains her 5 lens process and the importance of failure. Let’s have a listen.
Sally Dominguez: The whole point of these lenses is to push you outside your expert thinking. We’re all experts generally, aren’t we, that’s why we have a job. So we are problem solving the same way every time. So basically we have created neural pathways, like probably a neuro rat by this stage, because you’re problem solving the same way. You’re defaulting to the same way of doing things, because that is how you get paid the big money. You’re really good at that. My whole point of being is to bump you out of that and into the rest. So bump you out of expertise, out of knowledge, out of what you know, and into the area of possibility. Where you can then create new neural pathways by flying off in new directions and explore what doesn’t exist yet. It’s a state of bearable discomfort. I try and make it fun. I feed you lollies. We do things that sound fun, because it’s actually quite hard, but it’s also an amazing exhilarating feeling when you get it. Because who wants to be doing what you know when you could be playing with what is about to happen, and that’s the idea. So that’s what we’re going to try and do tonight in a nutshell and in an hour and a half. We’re gonna rip through. But I’ve got to show you the mindset first. And it starts with this whole concept, it’s not even a concept, it’s just a fact that if you’re an innovator it’s because you’re curious. But no one has to be an expert to suggest that in fact our curiosity is possibly duller at this moment in human development than ever before.
Sally Dominguez: So what I want you to do is push with all your professional expertise. Not your knowledge, but your ability to push through and problem solve in the realm of possibility. Because what we do is self-censor. We immediately go, “This is ridiculous,” and we stop. And that is where we fail. Failure is good thing too. And what is key is understanding that do you believe you’re creative and you give yourself permission to work on that crazy stuff that seems ridiculous. You are inherently more creative. Research shows that time and time again all you have to do is believe you are and happily, Mark
Mark Peshy: You are.
Sally Dominguez: You are. But also if you don’t think you’re creative and you are given tools and you believe the tools work, you are also way more creative. So all you really need to do is believe, like Tinker Bell says, and move on.
Mark Peshy: We believe in you Sally.
Sally Dominguez: Thanks Mark. And this is the final one. Personal fave, this. So what we need to do is remember that most stuff doesn’t really matter that much. And that’s why you should give it five minutes to see if you can make something better of it. So what I’d like you to do is grab your worksheets. Has everyone got the worksheet, or did it end up as a napkin or something down the road there. What I’ve got here So innovation is a tricky thing, right?
Mark Jones: Hey, can I ask you about another topic connected to all this, and if I was to call it something, it’s being judgmental, right? Because in the creativity, and I’m going back to your new inventor’s experience, right, what’s good design? What’s good creativity or what’s a good solution? You’ve also done motoring journalism, which we touched on before we started recording, a side passion of mine that I’ve never fully realised.
Mark Jones: You have to make judgement calls on a good car, on a good design, on a good idea, how do you do that?
Sally Dominguez: Well, I am a stickler for criteria. So, when I go in to judge anything, the first thing I say is what is your criteria, is it really clear. I could give my opinion and I’ve got pretty outstanding opinion, I’m big on delivering opinion but if I’m actually professionally judging something, then, it’s down to those people to tell me what the criteria is and if I don’t like their criteria like if they go, “Oh, X Factor,” I’ll be like, “Great,” okay, well, that means I can decide whatever I want. But usually, what they’ll do is they’ll have this so-called objective criteria and then, they’ll be super subjective in their delivery of it, right? Which I get very cranky and outspoken on.
Sally Dominguez: But I think judging anything, it comes down to criteria and you should actually be audited on your decisions based on really clear criteria and you can’t judge something without it. So, the people that are organising, they need to sort that.
Mark Jones: If we were to judge marketing creativity, to borrow from the car world, because you’ve
Sally Dominguez: Yeah. Let’s do it.
Mark Jones: got noise, NVH levels and you’ve got all the stuff, right?
Sally Dominguez: Yeah, you have technical
Mark Jones: Technical.
Sally Dominguez: you have sustainability?
Mark Jones: Yup.
Sally Dominguez: You have value for money. So, this is all totally relevant. You have safety, maybe less relevant, although who knows, safety is a whole thing, we could talk about it.
Mark Jones: Well, who wants to buy less than five-star car?
Sally Dominguez: Well, I’m doing my marketing now.
Mark Jones: I know but
Nicole Manktelow: Yeah. Who wants to
Mark Jones: I’m applying it across, right?
Sally Dominguez: Yeah, right.
Mark Jones:One of the we’re just trying to keep it, that’s-
Sally Dominguez: So yeah, tech value, sustainability, which I think is, it’s just a default for everything. Have you done the best you can in limited resources. And then, also, say a campaign and march with the car, what’s going to happen at the end of its useful life? Have you made sure that every aspect of that either recycles or disintegrates to something that doesn’t harm. That’s just as valuable with the campaign as with the car too.
Sally Dominguez: Because car manufacturers really do end of life in a way. The best marketing thing I’ve ever heard of really was somebody in the ’50s, labelling the super toxic non-biodegradable, bioleaching waste from a car as fluff. So, you’d be like, “Oh, we’ve got everything out of the car. We just left the fluff,” and it sounds so benign and it’s actually bio-accumulating toxic crap, but labelled fluff, which I think is genius.
Nicole Manktelow: Genius and evil.
Sally Dominguez: So evil. So evil. I think of a teddy bear but this is like an evil one that’s changing you biology so that you get no protections.
Nicole Manktelow: Polluting the environment.
Mark Jones: I’m just trying to imagine a perfect world where like a client came in and said, “Here’s my criteria for judging the success of your creative campaign,” right? What would it be like you see most agencies and said, “Here’s the criteria for design success.”
Sally Dominguez: Like how exciting
Nicole Manktelow: Isn’t that nice?
Sally Dominguez: to be a creative I mean always found, as an architect, the harder the brief, the more exciting it was, because you’re creative, right? You know you are, and so, if you’re given restrictions, it’s much more fun.
Nicole Manktelow: It’s much more fun, it’s a puzzle.
Sally Dominguez: It’s much more fun. And they’ll go, “I have had clients that have gone “Oh, here’s $2 million, do whatever you want,” and I’m like, “Uhhh,” that’s no fun.
Sally Dominguez: Yeah, seriously, we should because we didn’t need it. You can do amazing things, you know you can with less, and whether the restrictions are length of campaign or whatever the restrictions are, it’s more fun. So, of course, they should do that.
Mark Jones: Hey, before we wrap up, we’re actually going to throw some fun questions at you in a minute too, I think.
Nicole Manktelow: Rock band.
Mark Jones: Either.
Nicole Manktelow: Museum collections, which is your nest high chair.
Mark Jones: You are the singer.
Sally Dominguez: Yeah.
Nicole Manktelow: Actually, have to also be in a rock band.
Sally Dominguez:I do have to. I love it. I love performance. I just love connecting with people. Because I work solo. I work in this splendid isolation. Everything I’m doing, I’m just doing on my own and people don’t say, “Oh, you’re awesome,” they say, “Hmm, I think it sucks,” if they say anything, right, especially Australians.
Sally Dominguez: feel that awesome, everyone’s happy and joyous in a room. I like that.
Nicole Manktelow: So, what do you sing?
Sally Dominguez: We do funk rock mashups. I write music. And the interesting thing about writing music now is you don’t have out playing an instrument because if you, for instance, like me, sit at the keyboard and push keys down until you get a satisfying smoosh of noise, then you can write down those notes, feed it into your computer, it tells you it’s just crazy diminished seventh jazz chord. You put a few together, it’s a song. You can tell people the chords because you put it in the computer and then, jazz people, well, they’d go, “Amazing sequence of really cool chords,” and you’re like, “How awesome,” when in fact, I didn’t know that, right?
Nicole Manktelow: I haven’t thought of that.
Nicole Manktelow:Because the tools are there now.
Sally Dominguez: Technology, man. Harness technology.
Nicole Manktelow: It’s so cool.
Mark Jones:our five lenses, the inversion, that’s what you did.
Sally Dominguez:Parkour, that’s exactly what I did.
Mark Jones:You parkoured music.
Sally Dominguez: Write a song without knowing how to write music. Yeah.
Sally Dominguez: I’m focusing very much on education. I’ve written a version of STEM that I call systemic which is basically taking STEM which is science, technology, engineering, maths and combining that with creative communication and innovation, because I think the key to us, in fact, being an innovative nation and I’m back to Australia here, is we have to understand that it’s not enough to do math and taking all these other stuff unless we think laterally and have this amazing creative confidence. It frustrates me when a chief scientist says, “Oh, we’re going to more science and maths,” and I’m like, “Blah, boring.” If you’re not a rational thinker, that discards you and in fact, non-rational thinkers. Buckminster Fuller himself said, “There is nothing about a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.”
Sally Dominguez: So, all these people that say rational thinking is the key, I call them on it because there’s so much in nature that’s not rationale. There’s so much we can do that isn’t rationale thinking, and yet, every part of education is about getting rid of those people that don’t think rationally and stuff that, you should be bringing it. I’m just trying to outreach and work out how can I affect enough kids, especially teenagers to have a confidence in what’s coming and to understand that their creativity is the key to them succeeding in this uncertain world.
Nicole Manktelow: Look at that smile. Okay. No one can see this because it’s a podcast but the smile on your face is delightful. I can feel you’re going to war and you’re going to enjoy every minute of it.
Sally Dominguez: I just had to stop drinking. Then, I stopped eating meat and I stopped eating dairy and it appears to be on the lowdown right now. It’s quite amazing. I’ve never ever had any form of major sickness. That stopped me a little bit. It actually does literally stop you.
Sally Dominguez: Super painful and quite dangerous, but then, you come through that and that’s actually when I started thinking about legacy. I was like, “If all I’ve done is design a couple of products in a museum, is that enough? No, of course not. Brought up two cool kids, is that enough? No, it’s not. You’ve got to think bigger.”
Mark Jones: What inspires you?
Sally Dominguez: There’s so much you don’t know. So much that I don’t know. Like every morning, I read this product design and development website, right, and I don’t understand any of it. It’s all techy, like it’s self-folding robots, all that stuff I don’t understand. Awesome.
Sally Dominguez: I don’t really have a bucket list, just do stuff. Somebody said, “If you could talk to your 20-year old self, what would you have said to help blah, blah, blah,” I’m like, “Nothing.” I would have just said go for it.
Sally Dominguez: You want to do that, you do what you do, you do it with complete confidence and you rock that thing and so, I feel like yeah, that 20-year old self thing and I was like apart from that, I’d go, “Yeah, go for it, mate,” like do everything.
Sally Dominguez: No. No, I think about grade eight at school, because I was so tall and I really did physically stand out. I was awkward and I moved a lot. But I actually thought, you know, it’s a weird thing for a grade eight but I remember this still that I thought, I can go through life feeling shy and inhibited or I can make a massive effort to become an outward person, and I decided that you know what, it was better to just talk to people and try and be an outward person. I get depressed and so Not that I knew that then but outreaching and communicating with people is key, and I decided to do it.
Mark Jones:And look at the difference it’s made.
Mark Jones: That’s awesome.
Sally Dominguez: As you get older, you do it more, right, you just go, “Nothing actually matters.” The stuff that matters is right there in front of you, and everything else, you can do whatever you want.
Mark Jones: That was, of course, what we were talking about cars, one of my other favourite subjects, right. So how do you judge cars and so by definition or by extrapolation how do you judge marketing? How do you judge results? How do you put together a creative programme that you feel like fits within certain guidelines?
Nicole Manktelow: Criteria. And think about it, it’s like a good science experiment. You set up what it is that you attempt to achieve. What do you want to find out? And they can actually measure what you’ve achieved or created.
Mark Jones: And I also liked her comment about being a big fan of frugal innovation. We’ve heard this-
Nicole Manktelow:Times are tough, right.
Mark Jones: I know. Times are tough, but there’s a lot of jargon particularly in tech land, right. So fail fast. This idea of test and learn. Agile. I mean there’s a whole stream of thinking here, right. And so, to be able to sort of tap into that and say you don’t actually have to overspend in order to test a theory.
Mark Jones: Right, and so how do we apply that to marketing? How to we apply that to campaigns? How do we use digital technologies, whether we’re going to use something in the cloud, there’s plenty of powerful servers out there that you can use to run test.
Mark Jones: Also, success criteria. We’re hearing this with clients all the time, right. So, do we have a very clear picture of success from the onset.
Nicole Manktelow: But when they don’t it’s our responsibility to go back to them and say this is what it will look like.
Mark Jones: Right, and you can apply that in the business as a CMO defining success for the board, for your team, and making sure that everybody is aware of that upfront going into this thing.
Nicole Manktelow: You can even make creativity and trying things along the way a KPI.
Mark Jones: Right.
Mark Jones: Well, I hope you’ve had some good food for thought, if you like, some innovative thinking.
Nicole Manktelow: Oh, I think my mind is blown by her.
Mark Jones: Yeah, fantastic conversation. And great to see her doing well both here and in the states. So that’s it for this episode of The CMO Show. Thank you once again for joining us.
Nicole Manktelow: Like us, love us, find us on all the good podcast vending places that you go.
Mark Jones: Download and share it with your friends and we’ll see you next time.
Mark Jones: On the subject on innovation and creative thinking, Richard Branson has always been inspirational to me and he’s somebody who still to this day, to the best of my knowledge, brings his team around an old school camp fire to talk about new ideas and to come up with the next big thing So, I wanted to share this very quick quote, which speaks to how he thinks about the connection between storytelling, entrepreneurship, and innovation. He says, “I’ve been fascinated by the intersection between storytelling and entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs who make a difference are in effect professional storytellers.” So there you go, Sir Richard Branson and the connection between being a storyteller and being an entrepreneur. It turns out you can’t be one or the other, you need to be both.
Mark Jones: The CMO Show is a podcast produced by Filtered Media and a quick shoutout to our incredible team Candice Witton, Charlotte Goodwin, Ewan Miller.
Nicole Manktelow: And our engineering wizards: Tom Henderson and Daniel Marr.
Mark Jones: You guys are the best!