Leland is a designer and business executive. He is currently chairman and CEO of COLLINS — the brand transformation firm he co-founded in 2008. Between 2016 and 2021, he led Chobani as it first Chief Creative Officer and then as its Chief Brand Offer. The World Economic Forum selected Leland as a “Young Global Leader,” […]
Leland is a designer and business executive. He is currently chairman and CEO of COLLINS — the brand transformation firm he co-founded in 2008. Between 2016 and 2021, he led Chobani as it first Chief Creative Officer and then as its Chief Brand Offer. The World Economic Forum selected Leland as a "Young Global Leader," IBM honored him as a "Design Thinking Leader," and Ad Age ranked him as a "Young Influencer."
He has won honors from every major award show including Cannes, D&AD, The One Show, ADC, Clios, Dieline, and others. New York’s Museum of Modern Art selected his generative typography for its permanent collection.
His specialist is in building high-powered creative cultures and organizations, which are regularly honored as the most innovative in the world: "Design Firm of the Year" (Ad Age) x3, "In-House Agency of the Year" (Ad Age), "Design Firm of the Year" (D&AD), 30 Most Important Design Companies in the World" (Fast Company), "Most Innovative Company in the World" (Fast Company) x5, "50 Best Places for Innovators" (Fast Company), "Agency Inventing the Future of Brand Building" (Forbes), "Brand that Matters" (Fortune), and "Brands Changing the World" (Forbes).
FULL TRANSCRIPT STARTS HERE
Hank: Everybody, welcome to our broadcast today. Thank you guys for coming. And before we get going, I just want to say that we, M.AD has a great opportunity for what we're calling an idea-athon. Formally, parens ackathon, that we're going to be doing amongst all of the schools around the globe. And this is your opportunity to be a part of that. It is really fun to be a part of that, to be able to work with students, perhaps, in Germany, or India, or south America. All over the globe. You'll be put into teams. And we would love for you to sign up for it, but you got to move out on the sign up. It's only open until May the ninth. And I believe that Reed has put the sign up into the chat box.
Hank: So if you would, sign up and become involved. It's going to be so fun. It's going to, we are going to be working with WhatsApp and we're going to be doing a project that centers around, the brief hasn't come forward yet, but it's going to center around refugees from the Ukraine. So sign up and come on board. That said, housekeeping done. I'd love to move into the main platform now. Today, Leland Maschmeyer, who is a designer, both a designer and a business executive. He is currently the chairman and the CEO of Collins Agency, and their brand transformation firm. And he was one of the co-founders, but way back in 2008. So between though 2016 and 2021, he led Chobani as his first creative officer. And then, its first chief brand officer. The world economic forum selected Leland as a young global leader. IBM honored him as a design thinking leader. And Ad Age ranked him as a young influencer.
Hank: He has won honors from every major award show, including Cannes, D&AD, the One Show, ADC, Clios, Dieline, and many, many others. And he's represented in New York's Museum of Modern Art. And as they selected his generative typography for its permanent collection, his specialist in building high powered creative cultures and organizations, which are regularly honored as the most innovative in the world. Design firm, listen to these acclamations. Design firm of the year, Ad Age, times three. In-house agency of the year, Ad Age. Design firm of the year, D&AD. 30 most important design companies in the world, Fast Company. Most innovative company in the world, Fast Company, times five. Now, 50 best places for innovators, Fast Company. Agency inventing the future of brand building, Forbes. Brands that matter, Fortune. And brands changing the world, Forbes. And not to go unnoticed or unmentioned, the M.AD identity that Leland and Collins created with us. Ladies and gentlemen, if you will, please welcome one of the world's great brand specialists, and designers and businessmen, Leland Maschmeyer.
Leland Maschmey...: Well, thank you, Hank. I really appreciate that. And one thing I do want to say is, I actually, personally, didn't work on the M.AD identity. That was Brian and a collection of members at our team. So I want to make sure I don't take any credit for that great work, because those people put in a lot of hard work for it. The first thing I want to say is, I love the name of this event. I don't know who came up with the name, but it's great. I love, I just love the play on words there. So kudos if you're in the audience or whatnot, but it's a great name. So as Hank mentioned in a few different ways, I like to straddle different worlds. For me, being a designer, I'm also drawn to business. But I'm also drawn to art. I'm also drawn to literature.
Leland Maschmey...: I'm drawn to all these different types of things, because I'm always searching for lots of really interesting ideas and stuff. And so, oftentimes, a lot of my talks are chances to bring a lot of this together. If any of you have ever heard of Bell Hooks, she's a feminist theorist who wrote a book called Teaching to Transgress, which I highly recommend to anyone. But in it, she has this really beautiful concept that she named in the experience of her classes. And it's called the difference between the authority of experience and the passion of experience. And lots of times, people will stand on stage and talk in this very authoritative tone, trying to communicate that what they're saying is the way the world is. And I've come in many ways to learn, that the world is all completely made up in constant flux and constant change.
Leland Maschmey...: And so, I always love to make a point, that what I'm going to share with is my passion of experience and no way am I saying this is the authority and this is the way that it should be, but this is what things that I have learned over a period of time that I have become very excited about and also integrated into my practice of design, my practice of business building and so on. And hopefully there will be some insights that insight you in the course of this. So one of the key themes that has emerged over the course of my career, and I've really only recognized this in the last three years or so, is that in many ways, much of what I've been doing has been pursuing what I call a Modern Praxis of Strategic Management. So strategic management is often what you go to get your MBA for, or work in a management consultancy for. There's a lot of financial due diligence, clinical, analytical rigor associated with the stuff. And all of that is necessary.
Leland Maschmey...: There's nothing inherently wrong with it, but what I've been learning over my career, and discovering through doing the work, is that that's not the only way into strategic management. Because when you really get into strategy, and trying to really understand what it is, because it really is a really overused word, there is an insight in the idea of strategy that I think is really important. That strategy is about creating the path to sustainable superior returns, for a business or an individual, in significant markets. Now, that might not sound like it has an insight inside of it, but what's important is, is that it, that when you ruminate on this a little bit, what it says is, is that strategy, ultimately, is about doing something different that creates an avalanche of desired returns for you, or a creation of a desired in-state for you. And so, if you're doing the same thing that everyone else is doing, you're not going to get the returns that you want.
Leland Maschmey...: You have to do something that's fundamentally different. So in a sense, all strategy has to start with creativity. Not analytical rigor, not number crunching, not financial due diligence, as is often taught. It has to fundamentally start with creativity, and seeing the world differently, so that you can find a path to that outcome that no one else saw, and that only you and your group, or your company, or yourself, can walk to achieve. That's when you win that entrepreneurial profit as economists talk about. That's when you build something that is durable, and defensible, and remarkable, because it not only establishes that path to that end goal that you're looking for, but it also, in many times, can cause a category to reshape itself, which is often the term associated with disruption. Now, what's really interesting about this is, well, how do you go about doing this?
Leland Maschmey...: And there's a waterfall knock on effect that I've discovered over my careers. And this is something that's very central to Collins. And Brian learned this a long, long time ago, but it's something that he and I have embedded into the DNA of Collins, which is, you got to find stories. Because when you find stories, you're connecting the dots between things that might not have been connected before. And so, you're creating new relationships. And when you have those new relationships, you're able to discover new value in those relationships, or from those relationships. And ultimately, new value is new innovation. If you're able to rearrange the world, or rearrange a company, or rearrange elements of a work of art into new relationships with each other, that ultimately is what creates innovation. But it's driven by an idea, a narrative of how the world should be behind all of it.
Leland Maschmey...: And so, when you try to truncate this, this is really about how stories are the source of innovation. So I'm going to explore this a little bit in this talk, because ultimately, the question becomes is, well, how do you find these new stories? Where do they come from? And I've always been inspired throughout my career, by a quote from the Finish architect, Eliel Saarinen, who is also the father of another famous Finish architect, named Eero Saarinen, who, if you've ever had a tulip chair or a lot of space modern type of architecture and furniture, that was the designer behind it. But to paraphrase Eliel, the father, a little bit, he said, if you ever want to, if you're ever designing something, always consider its next largest context. So if you're designing a chair, think about the room. If you're thinking about the room, think about the house.
Leland Maschmey...: If you're designing a house, think about the city. And if you're thinking about the city, think about the environment. That's how we start finding larger and larger context, in which the thing that we are focusing on, the form that we have to design, the solution that we have to create, will be influenced and shaped by. And so, this talk is about story. It is about a new practice of strategy, but it's also about talking about casting a wider lens, and looking more broadly at the world than we might have otherwise, to discover those stories. And that quote from Eliel, is as true of architecture or designing a chair, as it is about comic books. And so, I want to talk about comic books for a little bit, because there's some really wonderful learnings from the world of comics. I want to go back, all the way back to the 1940s.
Leland Maschmey...: When this character called The Red Bee came out with Hit Comics. And he, it was the name of a fictional character. This is the very first issue, but it was a secret identity. He was an assistant district attorney in Oregon, and his superhero motif was to put on this red and yellow costume. And he had bees that he trained, and a stinger gun that he shot bad guys with, to fight Nazis and gangsters. And his, oddly, his favorite bee's name, the name of his favorite bee was Michael, which lived in his belt buckle, and always came out for special circumstances. This was the very early years of comic books. But what was hilarious about it, is just how hokey it was. But this also was the blueprint for a lot of these early comic book characters, who were just as equally hokey.
Leland Maschmey...: So there's this one character called The Almighty Dollar, who was a normal CPA until an evil scientist gave him this superpower to magically shoot pennies at people. So quite literally, this is a character that was throwing money at the problem. There was also this woman named Victoria Murdoch, who was a scientist. This was also a comic from the forties. And she had the unfortunate honor of creating a suit made out entirely of asbestos, which was made her flame retardant and stuff. But it also meant she wore a suit, essentially made of cancer. And then, there was Hindsight Lad. And this guy's great. He goes down in history as one of the dumbest comic book characters, and probably one of the most irritating, because his superpower, which you can see suggested by his form right there, was about being able to say annoying things like, "Well, if only we had done it my way," after a big failure had happened, and the world was crumbling around these superheroes.
Leland Maschmey...: So with Hindsight Lad, it was a little bit like saying his superpower was essentially something everyone suggests, which is the ability to say, "I could have done it a better way." And so, this was the era of comic book characters. Super hokey, strange little, even bordering on stupid, superpowers. But then, there was a comic book that came out in 1939. It first appeared in detective comics. Number 27 from the artist, Bob Kane, and writer, Bill Finger. And it was about this wealthy American playboy, who went around fighting crime, and supported by his butler. And he was originally called The Bat Man. All different words. And everything he used, was bat inspired equipment. He had this whole theme about bat stuff. And the thing that was so remarkable about this, is it was just as hokey. It was just the same person dressing up the way those other characters did. But it was this character that soon became so incredibly popular after the first initial issue, that he gained his own comic book title.
Leland Maschmey...: And he became known as The Batman. And 60, 80 years later, we are making movie after movie about Batman, constantly plumbing the depths of the story, to more fanfare, more innovative takes and twists on the Batman, and so on. And so, the question, really, with this is, why The Batman? A guy who dressed up as a bat, and not The Red Bee, a guy who dressed up as a bee, why did The Batman succeed where The Red Bee didn't? And I think that's a really interesting question to ponder, and it can give us a lot of insight into some of the stuff that I set up earlier, about finding really interesting stories that resonate and lead to innovation. And to understand that, I think we need to go back to being really young. And real, at the baby level. Because one of the very first things that we as humans discover, is pattern. Patterns of hunger. Patterns of sleep. Patterns of communicating. Even that's crying, and having a mother or father come and react to you.
Leland Maschmey...: We learn about patterns of the day, and so on. Ultimately, what we begin to learn from a really young age, is that life is a interlocking series of patterns that are there for us to decode, so that we know the structure of life and we can navigate by it. Now, we're not consciously doing this. This is a lot of intuition of trial and error, and discovering action and response mechanisms in our world. And obviously, being a newborn, you're not consciously thinking this way. But nonetheless, we start to ingratiate ourselves into patterns, even the circadian rhythms of the body. Because what we start to realize through this intuitive interaction with the world, is that the more we accord ourselves to pattern, the more we start to understand the world, and the more that we can effectively navigate life and live within it.
Leland Maschmey...: And it's not just when we're young. They're natural patterns. As full grown entities, and tribes, and cultures, we saw the natural patterns of the day. Even today, with hunters, going back then and tracking mule deer, you tap trap a GPS sensor to a mule deer, and you can all of a sudden see their entire travel pass of where they're going throughout the year. We see it on YouTube, or not YouTube. But well, actually, technically on YouTube, but this is a Instagram channel that talks about it. If you are an influencer, and you've done something wrong, and you need to apologize to your followers about it, there's a certain pattern that you follow in terms of what you wear, where the video is taken, what you say, and all that type of stuff, to effectively apologize for some misstep that you had. Fashion is defined by this.
Leland Maschmey...: Even you have punk rock from the seventies, which was all about rebellion and independent freedom. They're all mimicking each other. They're all saying, "Oh, this is the pattern of rebellion. So we're going to dawn it, and be just like all these other rebels. And of course, Hollywood does this all the time. There is a formula to romcoms, that you follow to make them successful. Even travel influencers have a certain pattern of the way they shoot stuff. And you look at Wall Street, and Wall Street and the alternative assets market of private equity, it's all pattern matching. How do you find patterns in one geography, that you've seen in another geography, and use that to navigate where you allocate capital and stuff? But it's also much more than just the novelty of understanding how certain things work. There's a life and death aspect to it as well.
Leland Maschmey...: The Ancient Egyptians had to understand the patterns of the Nile River, in order to properly grow and harvest crops. Because getting that wrong, would mean crops would be flooded, and you wouldn't have that. And so, the Ancient Egyptians very much and remarkably understood, that the more they match themselves to the patterns of the cosmos, and to the movements of Earth and stuff, the more they could thrive. And so, obviously, the arrangement of the pyramids of Giza to the Orion Belt is one really great example of it. And there was this, for them, there was a sense of truth and aliveness when you associated with these natural patterns. So we are pattern seekers. There are patterns in the world that we are constantly trying to align ourselves to. But our relationship to pattern goes beyond just a mere mechanical alignment of ourselves to them.
Leland Maschmey...: We're also deeply associated. We also deeply seek patterns, because patterns deepen our experience of life. We can look at just objects in the world, and we see them literally. It's just noise. They're just circles, and arcs, and stuff like that, that have absolutely no meaning to it. But we're always seeking to move these meaningless objects around until they start to reveal a higher order. And all of a sudden, something that was meaningless to us, when it's put in the right pattern, can all of a sudden yank something from the realm of nothingness, and activate it with meaning and a depth of experience that previously wasn't there. We literally, when you put it in the right position, you don't see the circle and the half circle anymore. You see a face. You see an emotion. You see something beyond the literalness, the superficialness, of the elements that compose this face.
Leland Maschmey...: And this whole issue is a really important one, because patterns, like I said, again, deepen our experience of life. You can't look at this balsamic and olive oil and not see a certain emotion, not feel an emotion to it. And in fact, we're so used to doing this, that there's actually a name for this. It's called pareidolia. It's the phenomenon of seeing faces and things. That's a, we constantly are trying to find pattern in the noise that's all around us. And we imbue that pattern with meaning beyond just the recognition of, "Hey, that looks like a face." This is burnt toast from a toaster, but there is a person who thought this was Jesus talking to them from beyond the grave, to deliver a message. My son, one time, was in a car, and he looked up at the sky, and he goes, "Daddy, it's a dragon."
Leland Maschmey...: There's no dragon in the sky. It's just water vapor, just hydrogen and oxygen molecules. But my son saw a dragon in the negative space of these clouds, and it filled him with this sense of magic in the world, that there were dragons that he had read about in the book. And he got all that from hydrogen and oxygen molecules. There's this really beautiful photo of these two interacting galaxies. It's an interaction called ARP 273. And it was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. But it's this one galaxy moving into another galaxy. Of course, you can look at it in a scientific and mechanical way, and say, "Well, that's two galaxies crashing into each other, because of the gravitational forces of the stuff. But you can also look at it more meaningfully and say, "It's a rose." And that it is a symbol of the deep inherent beauty within the universe.
Leland Maschmey...: And so, I think this is a really important concept for us to hold onto as creators in this world, is that patterns are not something that just exist in the world, and we mechanically have to align ourselves to them. But there are opportunities to engage with pattern, to create patterns so that we deepen our experience of life. And I think this is ultimately what the greatest creators do, is they turn to pattern, and reinterpret it, and take the chaos of the world and align it to these eternal patterns, so that we can have a deeper connection with the world around us, and a deeper sense of experience of that world. Bruno Munari, very famously went and studied faces, the two eyes and the smile. And while these are all follow the exact same pattern, because they are reinterpreted differently, they have a quintessentially different emotion attached to it.
Leland Maschmey...: Some look confused, some look mischievous, some look calm. But it's not just the artists that do this. We are all pattern makers. Every day, when you write something, you are creating pattern. Because typography, letter forms, they're just sticks that we arrange in different order, same sticks, same lines, to create something, that all of a sudden, we see beyond the form to see a deeper message, once we arrange those. And in a way, pattern making is magic, because it transforms things that are basic, into things that are remarkable, and have depth, and have power to move and shape people and their minds. That is what power, that is the power of pattern, and being a pattern maker, and recognizing that pattern. Now, artists, this is the central premise of art. And it was one of the things that I have found so inspiring. So you can take James Turrell. And James Turrell is drawing upon a pattern of eternity that far preceded him.
Leland Maschmey...: This is something that Rothko worked with a lot. Or J.M.W. Turner and his paintings of the sky, and the light that was there. But even when you look up at the sky, this is a photo from a Hubble telescope. But if you've ever been to a part of the world where there is very, very low light pollution, there's no electronic light around, the sky looks remarkably similar to this. And so, you can imagine J.M. Turner way back in the day, and even people back in the 1400s, 800s, and so on, looking up at the sky and seeing this rich pattern of affinity, with all these dots and colors associated with it, you start to get a sense that this is a natural pattern of infinity, that has been reinterpreted by these artists throughout time. Even there's powers of pattern.
Leland Maschmey...: So Kehinde Wiley specifically works with these patterns of power, where he tries to bring people of color into what he calls the field of power, which is his reference to the way wealthy people and royalty had been painted throughout time, but were always white. And so, what happens when you bring people of color into that field of power, and use many of the same gestures that those earlier images of power were using, but confer them upon people of color. And what you can see here, is he's drawing upon the gold motifs, the circular halo motifs, which is an expression of light, the hand gestures, and so on. This is all very, very conscious decision making, to draw upon these powers. Victor Moscoso and the pattern of euphoria. You could even call this the pattern of Dionysus, going back to Ancient Greece.
Leland Maschmey...: But this is something, what Victor Moscoso was doing, was the same thing that Alphonse Mucha was doing, as part of the Art Nouveau movement, and trying to break away from the machine age, and try to bring nature back into society. Something that felt more organic, which in of itself, was a reference, whether directly or intuitively, of the Hellenic myth of the Garden of Hesperides, which is a blissful garden, where everyone can exist without constraint and without want. That was a spirit that Alphonse Mucha was reinterpreting in his Art Nouveau work, to counter the ideas and the principles of the machine-
PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:25:04]
Leland Maschmey...: Nouveau work to counter the ideas and the principles of the machine age. There are patterns to motherhood and there's this iconic image from the American depression of Florence Owens Thompson she was a 32 year old migrant pea picker that was kind of destitute living on the side of the road in Oklahoma because the weather had frozen all the pea crops so there was no work for her. And so she was scavenging for food and killing crows and things like that to find her family. And it wasn't until Dorothea Lange found her and Dorothea Lange was going through and taking all these, excuse me, Dorothea Lange was going through and taking all these pictures of the American experience of the depression. And she took this picture. And this picture fundamentally transformed America's understanding of the desperation of this entire group of people during that period. And it changed legislation. It started funding money and support to these people.
Leland Maschmey...: But when you look at that picture, it was like, all these pictures were taken, but why that one, because it's drawing upon many of these classic pattern making around motherhood to signal that. And so by drawing upon that pattern, Dorothea Lange was able to rewrite the script of around impoverished people. There's so many of these. There's Gordon Cooper during the 1960s astronauts. There's no reason for that astronaut suit to look like that. But NASA was intelligently and knowingly through its art directors drawing upon the space comic books from the 1930s. So there's a Skylark Smith because they wanted to give the sense that NASA was embarking on an adventure. That it wasn't just a scientific experiment. There was adventure at the heart of it. So they were drawing upon these old comic books, but those comic books themselves were drawing upon knights and the idea of armor, moving into a territory, encountering adventure along the way.
Leland Maschmey...: The very first time that I saw Hamilton, I couldn't help but laugh for probably the first 30 minutes and it wasn't laughing at Hamilton. It was laughing in absolute astonishment that someone was able to take the patterns of hiphop culture, marry it with the narrative of American mythology and create something entirely new and remarkable for it. I was so blown away by the artistry and mastery of pattern in that.There's this pattern of spirituality and rebirth with Louis Kahn and the National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which drew upon the lotus leaf, which is central to the Hindu belief system.
Leland Maschmey...: There is also this pattern of the circle with the center. So you think of the circle as the center, as there's a center where everything is controlled, known, clear, clarified. It is the point of the mountain and everything on the edge of it is the fringe, the unknown. It starts to move into the chaos. And this is a fundamental pattern of city building. And you see it in lots of different places, but if you look at it on a lot of the Greek sculpture and stuff, you see the arrangement of Zeus in relation to all these other deities. Zeus Sits up higher. He is the top, the center of that pyramid. You look at the Acropolis. The Acropolis, the center, the most important thing in Greek culture was the mythology and the religions and that sat higher than anything else in Athens. You can look in Spain and see this with the church. You can look in Renaissance cities in Florence and see it. Or you can look in modern day cities and see finance buildings that tower above everything. One of the quickest ways to understand what is most important to a city or a culture is to see what its tallest buildings are and what exists within those buildings because that says that symbolically, that is the most important thing at the heart of the company or at the heart of the culture.
Leland Maschmey...: There's even a pattern of hell. If any of you have ever seen or were familiar with the old show Gilligan's Island, there's a purgatory pattern used here. So these are seven hapless characters who got stranded on this island and even though over the years, over the episodes, over the six years, there were all of these people who could come to the island, but no matter how much these people tried, they couldn't leave the island. Well that's because they were living in purgatory. And these seven castaways represented each of the seven deadly sins. There was lust, greed, gluttony, and so on. An entire television show was, of comedy, was 30 minute American comedy show, was built off of a reinterpretation of the patterns that Dante created.
Leland Maschmey...: But it's not just culture, it's not just entertainment architecture. You can see this in great work in our industry. I have absolutely loved, since day one, Wieden Kennedy's, Levi's Go Forth campaign because they drew upon the patterns of the pioneer. Youth, rawness, messiness, work clothes, Levi's comes from this. They were a brand from the West. They were born and steeped in this idea of moving West in the pioneering spirit and Wieden Kennedy intelligently drew upon this and channeled it into one of the most beautiful and remarkable advertising campaigns in my opinion, that I've loved every single piece that they had put out. I felt it was a far too short lived campaign.
Leland Maschmey...: But you also look at Nike. Nike is the story of Hercules. A mortal who has been charged with taking on kind of key challenges against god's and against seemingly insurmountable challenges to become immoral and eventually join Zeus and the Olympians on Mount Olympus. And that is exactly the story of Nike. How do you overcome these challenges to achieve immorality, long lasting fame. And I think this ad just kind of does it perfectly. Isaac Newton, when he created his thing was actually seen as a demigod. I mean, he had achieved the knowledge of the gods and he became famous and extremely wealthy for the work that he did. But to show that Michael Jordan sort of overcame Isaac Newton is a subtle, intuitive nod to this Herculean effort to overcome things that mere mortals can't.
Leland Maschmey...: Target and it's design for all has been about the Promethean of taking something that only the few had, the flame, and bringing it to everyone in this case design and bringing it to the masses. And even in my work for Chobani, Chobani was built around the mythology of paradise and I don't have time to go into it, but this was the very core thing that I believe, and I'll never be able to prove it, was the very thing that caused people to fall in love with yogurt and say things like, "The Chobani rebrand made them happy. That made it felt like a hug. That felt like something was right in the world." These were things that I never thought anyone would say about a rebrand, let alone a rebrand for a yogurt company. But I intuitively believe that it was because we built these mythological patterns into the brand. That that was what they started to feel. Oops.
Leland Maschmey...: And the last one that I'll end on really quickly, just before I go into the closing is Albert Einstein. Albert Einstein was a deep, passionate fanboy of Mozart. He played the violin all the time, played Mozart over and over and over again, not just because he loved the music, but in interviews with Mozart, he said, "because I felt that Mozart had understood a hidden pattern, a hidden structure in the universe and channeled it into his music. And so I wanted to keep playing Mozart so I could figure out what that pattern was because it was the pattern that I was seeking, that elegant pattern in the universe," through his works in physics. And he actually credits Mozart and his discovery of the patterns that Mozart had discovered, with being a major influence over his theory of relativity.
Leland Maschmey...: And so all of these people we discussed who had reached the sort of the Pantheon and brands that had reached remarkable stuff, are all people who have gone back to pattern to find the basic constructs of stories worth telling in new and modern and really relevant ways. They have found these long standing meaningful patterns and said, "There is more to tell here and these are the patterns that I want to bring back from my time, my context and my situation to tell it in my way to awaken people to a story or to an experience of life that they haven't otherwise felt." But the question becomes, how do we know that? How do we know how to turn meaningless, superficial objects in our world into things that transcend the literalness of them and take us into these mythological, almost symbolic experiences of the world when we encounter it?
Leland Maschmey...: And for Western cultures, this is a return to the archetypical patterns is typically associated with return to Greek mythology. Now it doesn't have to be Greek mythology for obvious reasons. It just in the West, that's what it tends to be, but it's really any mythology that taps into these deeper structures. But for Western culture, it's tended to be Greek mythology because it's the richest, it's the most complex, it's the most well known of ancient mythologies available to us. And so many people have gone back and plumbed these depths. And so what ends up happening... Actually, I'm going to skip all of this just for a sec, just to get ahead of it.
Leland Maschmey...: What has happened when people go back to these patterns is that these patterns are informing so much of what they do. In fact, let me just skip ahead even further. The Romans actually went back to those patterns and actually created their own religion off of the Greek religion. The Renaissance famously went back to it to create humanism and really used that as the building basis for the concepts and the spirituality of the Renaissance. Revolutionaries, whether it was the American revolutionary of Toussaint Louverture and Haiti or Plutarch's account of Spartacus, or even the French. These were all people who went back to the writings of ancient Greece to find their inspiration for the revolutions that they were leading. Romantic literature in Europe is famously went back to this. Frankenstein was drawn upon from Prometheus. The suffragettes in England and America often started their meetings, their political meetings, by reciting speeches from Euripides the Greek tragedy and who gives a lot of beautiful narrative and language on economics, political and sexual oppression of the female sex. And that's where these suffragettes drew their inspiration from and much of their insights to help lead them forward.
Leland Maschmey...: And then finally, the modernist, especially the early modernist. The Vienna Secession was the formal beginning of modernism. And the entire Vienna Secession building is built with Hellenistic influence. In fact, Gustav Klimt and many of his fellow painters and graphic artists cultivated a keen sense of the symbolic nature and allegorical figures in ancient Greece and Roman culture. And many of them made Athena central to a lot of their symbolism that they were using at the time.
Leland Maschmey...: And so when we come back to Batman, what is it that made Batman stand out? Well, whether directly or indirectly, there is a pattern, or directly known to the creators of Batman, there's a pattern of redemption built into Batman. And this goes back to a biblical origin story of Adam and Eve being in the garden and then cast out from the garden. So within the garden, Adam and Eve lived in this beautiful garden where they're free from death and the hostility of the world. But then they're tempted by a snake, which is an image, a symbolic image of chaos and the undefined. Then they're cast out from Eden because they've discovered their nakedness, which means when they ate the apple, they had the veil lifted from their eyes and they saw what they lacked, that they were naked and did not have the tools to kind of live. And so they entered in this world of duality of there's me being separated from Eden when they were cast out. And so because they recognized their nakedness, they had to cover themselves and cover their insufficiencies with animal clothing and go live in a cave. And they had to actually develop technologies to help them thrive in the world outside of Eden.
Leland Maschmey...: Now, if any of that starts sounding familiar to Batman, it's absolutely very similar. So Batman lived in his metaphorical garden called Wayne Manor, where he was separated from the chaos in the crime of the city. And as the story goes, a young Bruce Wayne and his parents were drawn into an alleyway, which if you take the shape of an alleyway and compare it to the shape of the snake, it slinks and is long and narrow, so they were tempted into this space of chaos, this sort of side space off of the main area that they were in and they were unaware of the dangers located there. And of course, much like Adam and Eve, ate the apple and discovered that they were no longer in this safe space. When Bruce Wayne's family was shot, he discovered as a young boy that the world was no longer a safe place. And so where did he retreat? Well, he retreated to a bat cave under Wayne Manor. Covered himself in "dead animal skins" of a bat and created technology to help him thrive in this world of good and evil and try to conquer that evil to sort of create a return of Eden and of safety and so on.
Leland Maschmey...: And so what you see here is this deep pattern to Batman that whether or not the readers or the viewers of Batman literally understood this is the pattern. There is a sensibility that we have developed since being kids that we recognize pattern in the world and we gravitate towards it. We navigate towards it. And as creators, the more we can understand those patterns and draw upon them and use them to fuel the work that we do, the more powerful our work can be in whatever medium and whatever industry that we work in.
Leland Maschmey...: And so I'll leave you with this one last thought with... Actually, I'm going to skip the Batman and the Joker and kind of go to this. So when we go to stories leading to relationships and innovation, and so on, the one thing that I want to add there to kind of close it off is that patterns... Oops I should have built properly... Patterns are the things that lead to new stories because when we understand the underlying mechanics of it starts to inspire us new ways to tell that pattern of that story in ways that haven't been told before, but are as equally resonant and creates relationships to things like a bat costume and an American Playboy and a cave underneath a mansion in a way that was never there before and unlocks all sorts of new value and innovation that people would not have otherwise seen. So it's all about pattern at the end of the day to get us to that innovation.
Leland Maschmey...: So I'll stop there and open it up for any questions on this or anything else that you guys would be interested in chatting about. And thank you for the time.
Speaker 1: Hi Leland. First of all, thank you for your time. You just opened my brain in a new higher level and begin looking for patterns and stuff. I just want to know, really so fresh, how you select that story or that pattern that will help you construct that new way? How your mindset when you go inside a first product and say, "This will be the perfect pattern to develop this product." Or this imagery or whatever you are designer developing in that moment?
Leland Maschmey...: Yeah. That's a good question. So there's two ways that I do it. One is I overwhelm myself with information. I get to the point where it's if I have one more piece of data, it's going to break my back and I'm going to collapse. That's usually a point where I can say, "Okay, I can step out of the data and then start looking externally for patterns that seemingly start to create connections in the data that I hadn't seen before." So again, that's pattern matching in that case.
Leland Maschmey...: In other cases, I will actually, just kind of how I opened up the talk, I will just widen the context. So in the case of Chobani, what I did was I said, "Well, rather than thinking about this as a health food company, why don't I think about this as a wellness company and why don't I start looking at wellness in general and trying to see the patterns that are in the wellness culture and see what those are pointing to and suggesting and then see if that then still applies to Chobani as well." Because I think it's really important to know that when we're working with companies, companies don't exist on an island in isolation. They exist within cultures. They exist within movements, no matter how big or small a company is. And so sometimes it's helpful just to widen that lens and try to understand the context the company lives in and participates in rather than just focusing on the data of the company itself.
Speaker 1: Awesome. That makes a lot of sense. Thank you for your time.
Leland Maschmey...: Yeah. Thank you for the question.
Speaker 2: Hi. I have a question. First of all, I wanted to say thank you so much because I went to your last design talk back when we were in person at MODA and your explanation for the knot is something that's changed design for me forever. So I'm really, really grateful for that. And I'm just so amazed by your clarity and your ability to, like you said, zoom out and really take things for how they are. So I was wondering whether in practice for design or just in your life, how you gain that clarity and that bird's eye view in general, because I find it so amazing.
Leland Maschmey...: Well, first off, thank you for saying the nice words. I'm glad the sequel was held up to the first one. So it's just about curiosity at the end of the day, being curious about stuff and reading a lot. I am constantly reading stuff. I kind of oscillate because just because also because of my personality between very practical stuff and also very poetic abstract philosophical stuff. One minute I'll be reading stuff about pricing strategy and acquisition company models and then the next thing I'll be reading Greek literature and French deconstructionist philosophy just because there's usually just like a thing in it that's really interesting to me and I'm kind of drawn to it or I'll just have... I'll identify a space that I'm kind of curious to learn more about and then I'll just kind of find whatever I can find in that space to start digesting it. But what I've found is that the more you read, the more you stay curious. You will naturally start creating connections without much effort in the work that you do. And you'll find your own philosophies, you'll find your own approach to doing stuff and insights that help you stand out in your work and help you stand out in your thought leadership. But it all goes back to intellectual curiosity and being a veracious reader.
Speaker 2: So if I can just follow up that question with another, which would be, I know there's millions of books and for an intellectual like yourself, there's probably hard to narrow down to a couple, but if you had a place for us to start, as most of us are beginning our career, some of us have already been into it for a while, but just to get that ball rolling, if you had any suggestions on books.
Leland Maschmey...: So I'll give you two answers. My best answer is just think of whatever is curious to you that is outside of your normal course of work and study and just go find a book in that and just start there. My more specific answer would be there's a wonderful book by a philosopher named James P. Carse. It's called Finite and Infinite Games. It's not a long book, super easy to read, but it is incredibly profound. If you are someone who underlines and writes in your book, like I do, you'll find that not only is every page has something written on it, but every sentence is underlined and notated in some way. It is the most dense book in terms of just mind popping insight that I've ever come across in the smallest package and it's a broad enough philosophy on the world that it just kind of gives you kind of like this blanket view of life that you can pull from pieces of it and use that as a shovel to go digging into whatever is curious to you in the moment.
Speaker 2: Wow. Thank you so much. And just for one more time in case anyone missed it, can you repeat the name and the author?
Leland Maschmey...: Yeah, it's called Finite and Infinite Games.
Speaker 2: Perfect. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Speaker 3: Hi, I have a... Well thank you very much for your time. All of your work is really impressive and was really a mind blowing and interesting conversation for sure. I just have a philosophical question, I think. When you're talking about patterns, do you think we ever create new patterns or do you think we always kind of revert back to the mythology and everything?
Leland Maschmey...: So very good question. I think we don't ever create new patterns. I think what we do is we recreate their manifestation or a better, simpler way to say is we reinterpret them. Mythology is often understood as an unscientific people's explanation of how the world works. That's wrong. If the Egyptians were able to build the pyramids with what they did and they were prescience pre-enlightenment, they certainly had a legitimate insight into how the world works and an analytical rationality to be able to invent and build the things that they did, that we don't even know how to build today.
Leland Maschmey...: So that's one piece of evidence, but it's an outlier to what is the common understanding of mythology. Mythology for people who think about it, not in a mechanistic materialist sense, but in a symbolic sense in a humanistic sense, have come to understand that mythology is really about codifying and storing the understood, known patterns of existence of life. As you move from young to old, as you are tempted by greed, as you are attempted by hubris, as you are tempted to murder someone, these are all universal experiences to humanity, and there is, as the mythologies tell us, a way to move through those experiences successfully. And what successfully means is that you learn and you grow in your process to it.
Leland Maschmey...: But what mythology also does as its third part is it also maintains a sense of wonder about the world, a sense of mystery about the universe, that you can't know everything, that no matter how much the mythologies try to convey to you, there's always a part, if you remember that ring, there's always a part outside of the ring that is unknown. And so you have to maintain a reverence and a humility to what is unknown cause you can't control life. And so that's where the intellectual curiosity bit comes in. It's knowing that you don't know something but seeking to know, seeking to widen that circle. So in many ways I...
PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:50:04]
Leland Maschmey...: Widen that circle. In many ways I think there are so many patterns to life, both natural and discovered through the dynamics of humanity that there's really nothing to repeat. We are all molecules flying around on this planet, whether you call that molecule or an oxygen atom, or a human, or a city, we're all just larger scales of the exact same forces and dynamics that underpin all of us. We're all interconnected and independent. I personally do not believe that there are new patterns that can be created. There are only patterns that we can reinterpret and their reinterpretations might obscure the source of the pattern and make it feel like we created a new pattern, but it always goes back to kind of natural patterns rather than net new ones, in my opinion.
Speaker 4: Cool. I like that. Thank you.
Leland Maschmey...: I love questions like that, so thank you.
Speaker 5: Hi, I have a question at the Atlanta Campus. You are talking about these patterns and these mythological stories and you mentioned a little bit about working with and how you found the story that worked with their brand. I was just wondering are there certain things that you look for when you're starting to investigate a brand and how do you look at this brand and then connect them to one of these stories, one of these patterns, and how do you in that process, I guess?
Leland Maschmey...: Yep. Great. Very practical question. I love it. It's a very important one, because you can kind of it seemingly start anywhere. It can be a little overwhelming. At the heart of story at the heart of mythology is a transformation. Whether you are Icarus having the Hubris to fly up the sun and then collapsing whether you are Gilgamesh and the Dragon being conquered, there's always a change, a shift, that happens in the story. What I work really hard to do early on is identify where does that transformation happen in the experience of the customer or the experience of the industry that the company plays in and what's the value on the previous side, and what's the value on the after side of that transformational turn. And that takes a lot of work kind of fine tuning it.
Leland Maschmey...: There's no scientific approach, there's no method to it. There's just kind of a tuning to what that is, sort of like tuning strings on an instrument or tuning a piano. You know you hit that resonance when you find that right value, but at least it gives you a place to focus and then when you can start to understand the arc of change in that story, you understand the kernel of the narrative that you can then go and start looking at around mythological patterns or other patterns to find. Does this point of transformation match up with other mythologies that I have come across? Then if it does, then you can start to say, "Well, this company might be living this specific mythology that I just found a match with."
Speaker 5: Okay, great. Thank you. That's super helpful.
Leland Maschmey...: Thank you Alex.
Speaker 6: Oh, hi. Thank you so much for your chat, it was really lovely. I was really enthralled by your use of typography in your deck and I was wondering if you could just speak to that for a moment?
Leland Maschmey...: Sure. The typeface is editorial new it's from Pangram Pangram or Pentagram Pentagram, it's modeled after 1990s type, so it has a little bit more of a retro vibe to it. I grew up in the nineties, so it's not so retro to me, but that's what it is. It's something that works as both a display face and a book face. I happen to really love it, because it's a little more fashiony stylish version of a bookish type of face, and I'm a giant nerd and what you can tell is pretty academic. I feel like it's a typeface that actually works really well for my brand. That's why I chose it. I also like condensed faces a lot as well.
Speaker 6: Thank you so much.
Speaker 7: A really interesting talk. Do you have a moral or an ethical outlook or philosophy on advertising? And if so, would you be able to describe that?
Leland Maschmey...: Interesting question. I don't have anything pre-baked. I used to work in advertising. I did a lot of work for Sony, NASDAQ, Audi and Travelocity, I was part of the team that launched the Travelocity Romino, if any of you were old enough to remember that. I don't have a strong stance on it one way or the other. I think advertising can be really beautiful and really meaningful, but I think too many companies use it incorrectly. They use it as an extension of the sales team, where it's a hard sell you're pushing product and you expect to see impact to revenue within days of it. But every study that has come out throughout decades and continues to come out in the post growth marketing world says that advertising is a weak force or I should say brand advertising is a weak force.
Leland Maschmey...: That's not a criticism, that's to say brand advertising builds a desire, awareness and preference, and pulls people, and primes people to be ready to buy your product, when they're ready to be in your market. One of the things that people who run companies don't fully understand, is that nobody's in your market in the market to buy your product and they're not loyal to your product. The brand loyalty has proven over and over again to not be a real thing. Brand marketing, the real storytelling marketing is about creating that preference through week forces that build up over time, so that when someone decides they're in your market to buy a car or to buy hair replenishing serum or whatever, they're already primed to buy from you. It's an investment with compounding benefits. If you want to establish it to a capital market's idea, you're locking up your money in an alternative assets and investment in real estate that has to sit there for seven years before you can get returns on it.
Leland Maschmey...: But when you get... When you pull it out after seven years, you'll have turned like a million dollars into a hundred million dollars. Most people who run companies don't understand that or are not incentivized for that because most CMOs are fired after two years, so they turn to performance marketing and the qualm that I have with performance marketing is that people say, "Performance marketing is brand building." It is, I mean anything that you market with your product is going to grow awareness, but it's not building equities. In fact, if anything, it'll build the equity of cheap and transactional. And if that's your brand, great, yeah. Performance marketing absolutely builds your brand, but performance marketing is about harvesting all the money that you invested in equity building and any performance marketer when the doors are closed, will tell you that growth marketing, performance marketing works significantly better when there's strong brand equities behind a company.
Leland Maschmey...: Look at Google and these people who've built their fortunes off of performance marketing, they do brand marketing. And if that tells you anything about the limits of performance marketing, that's a really glaring one. So I don't know that I have a philosophical perspective on advertising. I really have much more of a mechanical perspective on it as a tool properly or improperly used in growing a company's revenue and moats and durability of that revenue over a period of time.
Speaker 7: And as far as ethically, if advertising can sort of in some way serve to beautify the world or resacralize it in some way, then that is a justification in of itself.
Leland Maschmey...: Well, advertising's a tool, like a hammer can build a home for homeless people or it can murder someone. It's just in whose hand is it in and what is the intention of its use. So, absolutely, I think advertising can create narratives that inspire us and galvanize us, and give us hope. I mean, how many people had Michael Jordan print ads on their walls growing up, because Nike understood this and Wieden was so exceptional at it. Part of the reason why I love the Go Forth work by Wieden, I sound like a Wieden fanboy, because I kind of am, but why I love the Go Forth work from Wieden is... I think it's one of those campaigns that transcended advertising, much like Hamilton transcended Broadway. I think the Go Forth campaign transcended advertising. And I think in those moments it does become art.
Leland Maschmey...: It does become a cultural artifact that symbolizes the best of of our ideas. And even Marshal McLuhan, the Canadian media theorist, if any of you have ever read him, he's very famous in the sixties and stuff. It's still a little bit today, but he said that the greatest work of art of any modern society is advertising, because it expresses the hopes and dreams and desires and ambitions of a people and the stories, the mythologies that hold us all together. And in a way advertising, the TV is the campfire that we all get around and advertising as the story is told around that campfire to a certain extent.
Leland Maschmey...: And so if we're talking about transaction, if we're talking about money, if we're talking about beauty, those are the things that the society values that we've given our talents of expression to. If we talk about more noble values, then that's who we are. I think as far as ethics goes, it's really more in who is holding the advertising and making the advertising versus the person who is looking at it, because it's really a reflection of who we are and carries the things that we value as a society or don't value.
Leland Maschmey...: But thank you for that question. It's a good one, I've never been asked that one. That's why I had to kind of stumble through my answer a little bit.
Speaker 8: With all the different forms of mythology and patterns in mind. What are you reading these days or watching that's keeping you inspired?
Leland Maschmey...: I have two young kids, so I don't get a lot of time to read the books that I want to anymore, but I do have some books sitting on my shelf that I want to get to. However, like I said earlier, I'm really into understanding sort of the mechanics of business. It's been easier for me through podcasts and articles to do learnings and research on capital markets and private equity and alternative asset business models, venture capital models, so I've been doing a lot in that space. That sounds completely random based on what I talked about, but it is the things that I've been trying to understand right now.
Leland Maschmey...: See, Tony has her hand up.
Leland Maschmey...: Tanya. Sorry.
Tanya: It's Tanya. Thank you. I really enjoyed your talk and I actually found that Finite and Infinite book. I bought it out of flea market a while ago, so you inspired me to pick it back up, which I'm excited about. On a personal note, the tidbit about Einstein and him tapping into the frequency that Mozart was on, was a really beautiful connection that I liked in your talk and if I had a question for you, it would be who right now would be on a frequency that you are trying to get behind or feel you could tap into to understand something differently.
Leland Maschmey...: So your question is, is there a specific person in the world better alive that I try to make a residence connection?
Tanya: Like you're seeing that cadence with their vision and something that they're maybe tapped into a wave that you were trying to ride as well.
Leland Maschmey...: I know the answer's yes, but the name's escaping me right now.
Tanya: That's okay with you.
Leland Maschmey...: Yeah. Now that's in my head, let me answer some other people's questions and midway through my answer on those it'll pop into my head and I'll answer your question.
Tanya: Well, thank you for the talk. It was really awesome.
Leland Maschmey...: Yeah. Thank you.
Speaker 9: You were saying that you don't have much time now with your kids and all to be reading the books that you want for the most part and you said you're listening to a lot of podcasts. I was curious what podcasts you're listening to or that you find interesting.
Leland Maschmey...: Well, let me pull it up. These are going to be really uninspiring. This is probably more that's closer in, there's a podcast called On Being. It's a podcast of poetry and philosophy. There's a wonderful human named David White, who we've actually had speak at Colin several times, who's an Irish poet, who speaks on there a lot. It's just really wonderful to kind of listen to people talk about a deeper, richer experience of life. There's another podcast called The Soul of Enterprise, which... I don't like any of the newer stuff. I was listening to the super old stuff, but it's about subscription model pricing. This is of no relevance to you, but there is an incredibly interesting universe called pricing strategy, which if you understand pricing strategy, you understand that it's not actually finance and analytics.
Leland Maschmey...: It's actually art and design. And when you understand that and you start understanding how business models are built, you understand that all business models go back to what's the pricing transaction. What's being transacted, how, under what terms and what price. And all of a sudden a business model is built around that. Similar, if we talk about pattern, it's very similar to understanding what's the transformation in the mythical pattern and then how do you go and do that, because the mythology's built around that transition. Same thing with companies, it's built around that transaction. And if you can understand that, you can start to speak it fluently, you find yourself standing at the middle of the Rubik's cube while the world spins all around you, because you understand exactly what the focal point is, particularly in business. So there's that I was listening to a lot.
Leland Maschmey...: I listen to a podcast called Acquired, which is by two venture capitalists, but they really look at business building and so they have these great long in depth analyses of the history and growth of standard oil or Berkshire Hathaway. You learn just really amazing business case studies that aren't the typical big case studies that you hear in school or in our area of work. There's another one called The Generalist, which does what The Acquired podcast does, but while The Acquired podcast does that mainly for bigger companies, those in depth case studies, The Generalist does it for alternative asset companies like private equity companies, leverage bio companies and so on, so super deep analysis on that.
Leland Maschmey...: I'll give you one more, there's one called Invest With The Best or is that what it's called? Invest Like the Best, and again it's another VC venture thing, but the conversations are really good. They're really high quality conversations, the person actually knows how to interview people. These are all just really great podcasts for understanding business building, because there's brand building, there's culture building, but then there's also business building. Oftentimes business building is the thing that creates path dependencies and constraints on what you can do with culture building and brand building.
Leland Maschmey...: All I care about is great design, but if I want to do great design, I have to understand all the culture that leads to great design. Then I have to understand the client relationship model that leads to that kind of agency building. Then I have to blah, blah, blah. And you keep going out wider and wider, and so part of the outer ring that I'm on is literal company building. I spend a lot of my head space in the world of finance understanding that. So Mandy, I'll just type it in here. It was called Invest Like the Best.
Speaker 9: All right, thank you. I'll be sure to check them out and thank you for your time. I was also wondering if there was any mythology podcasts, I just thought that would be in your wheelhouse, but if there's not a good one.
Leland Maschmey...: You know, it's a good question, I tried to find them, they're really bad. It's just these monotone dudes reading ancient mythology books, really uncompellingly. It's hard to listen to and what I really wanted was a symbolic, analytics of mythology. There's actually a really good book called The Symbolism in The Book of Genesis. It's not a Christianity book, it is a mythology book written by a mathematician, that looks at the book of Genesis through the lens of mathematics. And if you know anything about mathematics, mathematics is about symbols and relationships between symbols.
Leland Maschmey...: Math is not the one and the one, and the two it's the plus and equals. And then you swap out the one with an X and then all of a sudden you have algebra. It's all about relationships. It's an incredibly good book, incredibly well written, where it's written by a guy named Matthieu Pageau, he's French Canadian from Quebec. He like a very dry, clinical mathematician, just breaks down all these relationships in the book of Genesis and shows you, how those relationships replay themselves throughout the book, that same book with the context and the characters, and the specifics changing, but the pattern's the exact same. It's really, really good, if you're interested in sort of a symbolic analysis of stuff.
Speaker 10: Could you repeat the title of that?
Speaker 9: Thank you.
Leland Maschmey...: Yeah, I'm typing it in there. It's by Matthieu Pageau. Actually it should be Matthew with U. It spell checked, I think this is the right way to do it. Tony, I'm sorry that person still hasn't popped in my head yet.
Speaker 10: I had a question regarding... You were talking earlier about how us living in Western culture, when we're going back to looking at different mythologies that have shaped our culture, we tend to typically look back at Greek culture and how it's influenced all revolutions and all our new enlightenments and all these different ideals. When you're working with not only brands, oftentimes a lot of these brands are taken from Western cultures and have to be interpreted in other cultures, because they have such a wide reach because of how big they are. What do you think are the main challenges that come with that translation of that mythology, that viewpoint into other cultures and how do you transcend this?
Leland Maschmey...: Yeah, good question. And I'm going to go back to what I was saying to one woman on the call earlier. I think it was Catarina, where the experience of being human is common across a lot of cultures. And so you'd be surprised how many cultures share the same fundamental patterns in their storytelling. The gods might be different names, the locations might be different, some of the actions of the heroes and heroines might be different, but it's the same pattern. The flood mythology is common to almost every ancient mythology, origin stories often equate to humans being made from the Earth or made from a God. But it always is, in many cases, the Earth is the God or the God is a celestial being that's been placed, so there's a sense of divinity in matching of the material or the spiritual to the material, regardless of the specific narrative of it.
Leland Maschmey...: So there are a lot of common mechanics underneath these stories. If you're trying to think of a mythology to draw upon, to use as part of a cell, in as part of manifesting the mythology, as part of telling the story. Yeah. I agree, I think if you're working with a Japanese company, but you tell a native American mythology, they're only going to see the native American mythology. They're not going to see the mechanics of it. If you're able to find the mythologies that have the pattern that matches the right pattern, that you're looking for, but tell it through the lens of that company's culture, where they're from, then they can see it better, because it's the specifics of the story are not blocking the pattern underneath it. They can identify with it more.
Leland Maschmey...: Now that being said, all cultures are not homogenous. And I, in no way claim that I'm an anthropologist and know all of this stuff. So I'm peeking more from my personal experience in my journey and learning a lot of cross-cultural mythologies, but I do know that there are patriarchy cultures and matriarchy cultures, where the emphasis of values are different. I think some of the lessons, the interpretations of the patterns can vary, but the patterns tend to be universal in my experience. Every human goes through a match, a pattern.
PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [01:15:04]
Leland Maschmey...: ... experience. I mean, one still ... every human goes through a pattern of maturation, and there are tons of mythologies about maturation and the challenges that an individual has to go through. The lessons conveyed by that specific telling of that pattern might be different in one culture versus another culture. If you were to strip away the surface coding of all the specifics of time, place, context, and characters from it and see the basic actions in almost a neutral way, you'd find that it's pretty similar. If not the same. Did that ... I hope that-
Speaker 10: [inaudible 01:15:40] Oh, sorry. I also wanted to ask you a particular question that's been interesting me throughout this chat is ... so we're trying to find these generalized patterns of these human experience that we could find to relate to these people, to talk to these people, to communicate with these people. What kind of strategy, or what kind of approach do we take when somebody, when you're trying to approach somebody who you already know is not going to be particularly infused or receptive to what your message is? I've seen a lot with like, the past few years of how, especially like putting it within the context of the United States, how we've become very divisive. It's like there are people who are trying to make messages and reach across the aisle, but it's just not landing because we've just been so uptight that we can't see from other perspectives, unfortunately. How do we rearrange ourselves to ... I'm sorry if I'm just like rambling, it's hard to like put in a concise way, but basically, how do we approach people who are trying to distance themselves off from these ideas or concepts or different ways of thinking.
Leland Maschmey...: Let me play that back to you to make sure I understand the question. Are you saying when we're trying to bring opposing parties together, whether it's in a meeting or culturally, society wise, how do we do that through patterns and mythology?
Speaker 10: Yeah. How do we utilize the patterns and the messages that we have, and trying to find ways to just make everybody kind of be able to at least listen to the message? I think the hardest part now is getting people to even listen to something, where it's not ... like people are just not receptive anymore, or at least they were at least more, a little open minded before, but I don't see that often in this day's culture.
Leland Maschmey...: Yeah. If I knew the answer to that, I would be in ... I would have a very valuable thing that I would need to tell a lot of people and politicians and so on. That is a very important and very hard and very complicated question. I think from my personal experience and personal view of it, I look to history and this is an American centric point of view, just because of my knowledge base and upbringing. This goes back to if any of you saw my space talk around the knot, but America in the 1960s was in Cold War with Russia and Russia had launched Sputnik and the theater of space was seen as star wars, a theater of war. There was a lot of division in the country and you know, it wasn't just because of this, there was just a lot of division in the country at that point. Kennedy gave a speech that he had a choice ... you ever heard the fable of the two wolves? Which wolf wins, the white wolf or the black wolf, the good or evil? It's well, it's whichever one you feed is the lesson of the parable. He had that choice. He could either feed the wolf of anger and violence, or he could feed the wolf of hope and he chose to feed the wolf of hope. He gave a speech at Rice University, which drew upon the mythology of America as a pioneering country. Now we all know there's all sorts of flaws with that mythology and it's manufactured and so on, but that pioneering mythology is embedded in the DNA, the cultural, the collective hallucination of Americans generally. He drew upon that and said, we choose ... basically we choose to go to the moon, not to fight a war, but to unleash and discover a new frontier for the betterment of all of humanity that we can go and find not only greater and grander things, but we can find our better selves and unite around this greater mission than the divisions that divide us here on earth. He chose to frame it that way, rather than we're going to get to the moon before the Russians and bomb the hell out of them from the moon. That is a point in time when that type of metaphor has been drawn upon to unite the country. I think what is hard about today that is different than then is that there are many more powerful, or at least, I'm 40, so people who live back then might disagree with me. From my perspective, there are many more economic incentives for people to profit from the division today than there were in the 1960s. Until those incentives change, I don't personally see unity happening. Charlie Munger, a very famous investor with Berkshire Hathaway said, "If you want me to predict the future a company's future, show me what the incentives are, and I'll tell you what's going to happen." Same thing here, just too many people are profiting off of the violence and the hate and the discord in the country right now. It's a sad thing, and I wish I had a magic wand to fix that type of stuff and I wish things like pattern could change that, but I think it's a stretch to imagine a mythological narrative being the salve for what ails us right now.
Speaker 10: Oh yeah. I didn't figure there'd be like one exact myth that you could just ... I just meant more like opening the doors to communication where it's like, I guess you have to like win if a battle of inch per inch it's not really like, one big thing you could say, it's you have to win them over people over slowly.
Leland Maschmey...: Yeah, and look, I think that's a negotiation too. I mean, that's a negotiation model where anytime you're trying to persuade someone, you're in a negotiation. The dynamics of negotiation enter into that story. Storytelling can set the context and maybe help with the communicating of interest and the aligning of interest, but that happens within a model, within a dynamic of a negotiation.
Speaker 10: Okay. Thank you.
Leland Maschmey...: Sorry I gave you the long winded answer on the wrong thing.
Speaker 10: No, no, it's fine. It's fine.
Speaker 11: Leland?
Leland Maschmey...: Yes?
Speaker 11: I wouldn't disagree with you about the sixties, but I would say it's kind of been the arc since then. I would say go back to Eisenhower and his warning about what was developing the military industrial complex. It sounds trite now, but I'm just saying there are more in entrench power structures now than there were back then. Nowadays, we've seen it in the last two years is the difference between misinformation and truth is oftentimes six months. I think it is incentives, but who are the people giving out the incentives? But my question is, and it kind of relates back to the earlier question was, you mentioned the Levi campaign about "Go Forth" and it draw on the mythology of Americana and exploration and the whole bit, and you showed Nike, but one of the highest profile ones was the Kaeperkick campaign, and that seems more iconoclastic. I know there's a positive message in there somewhere, but I'm saying it's more iconoclastic in terms of take a knee, the flag, the national Anthem. I want you to compare and contrast those. You had mentioned that even the Batman people, they may not be aware of these structures, but they have it. I've always want ... this whole idea of the subconscious and the collective unconscious and what power that has over us. Freud said, sometimes a cigar is even a cigar. So his only cigar ... my last question, because of all your research recently is what's your prognosis for Fiat currency, and is Bitcoin going to zero or a million dollars?
Leland Maschmey...: Talks these days always go to one to two places, star wars or Bitcoin. That's always where it ends up. So let me start back with the Nike thing. Do you want me to contrast the ad I showed with the Kaepernick one, or just comments about the Kaepernick one specifically?
Speaker 11: Well, just the whole thing that it seems like that's antithetical to what you showed in terms of drawing on a positive mythology that the Kaepernick thing is ... and it goes to the issue, I think that was the question earlier is when there is a predominant structure, how do you break through that? Listen, I don't want to get political, but I'll just say one that blew up recently, because New York Times was Hunter Biden's laptop for 18 months, two years that was denied and New York Post was censored and taken off Twitter, and now that has changed and there's other things coming down the pipeline that ... how do you break through that structure that people hold like my sister-in-law?
Leland Maschmey...: So in a way you're saying like the Kaepernick act and the Kaepernick ad broke through the miasma of culture to start a conversation.
Speaker 11: No, I'm saying I'm seeing this more iconic CLA they're tearing down, they're questioning that mythology of America and the National Anthem.
Leland Maschmey...: Oh, oh yeah.
Speaker 11: I'm saying they're two different things and I'm just curious how you think about that.
Leland Maschmey...: Gotcha, yeah. Really good question. The way that I think about that is you're a hundred percent, right? That when, when individuals within a community start to question the symbols and the narratives of that community, what they are doing is questioning the center and is the center ... if we go back to, remember that circle that had the dot in the middle? They're questioning the center that provides the source of truth and the source of identity for the community that exists within the broader circle. They're questioning that because that center no longer explains their reality, they are the outlier to the narrative that their community is telling. When you have that dissonance ... when that dissonance becomes so strong and so intense, you can't sit in it happily, you bang on the door. Tupac had in one of his interviews had this really great story about how like there's ... I'm going to paraphrase him and do it terribly, but he basically said like, when you have a bunch of poor people sitting locked outside of a banquet where all these like select people are eating and the people outside start to get hungry, they politely knock on the door and say, "Please, can you let me in." Time goes on, they get hungrier, they knock a little harder, a little louder. "Please. I'm really hungry. Can you let me in?" Then this goes on and on and on until they're banging on the door, then eventually they kick the door in and with guns blazing, drive everyone out and take over the banquet. That is people on the outside of the cultural narrative that has been constructed to define a community saying that narrative no longer supports them, and when that happens long enough, intensely enough. And more people fall outside of that circle and experience that dissonance, there's more pressure on the circle, in the middle, the dot in the middle. What ends up happening is there's two choices. One is you change the meaning of the symbols and the narrative at the center to embrace and be more inclusive and equitable of all people or revolution you overturn it and install new symbols, new narratives. Christianity is really good as it expanded from the Middle East and into the Roman Empire and into the far stretches of Britannia and stuff. Religion evolved its story, evolved the meaning of its symbols, even added new symbols to embrace all of these Frank and Golic tribes and stuff to Christianize them and make them part and feel included within the cultural narrative. The book Finite and Infinite Games talks about not that specifically, but that an infinite game in Christianity, he calls an infinite game is constantly changing the rules so that it can keep being played, whereas the finite game doesn't change the rules it's locked, it doesn't change. In the instance of America during the British rule, the Britains said, this is a finite game. There is a king, there are peasants you service, give us your taxes, shut up, and enough happened that the American revolutionaries and even same thing in France, the French revolutionary said, Uh-uh (negative), this is not the center anymore, and we invert it, and now it's the people at the center, not a ruler, and that the people who are at the center, the rulers are now the servants, the public servants of the population of the democracy. It's an inversion. Actually the movie Shrek is a kid's version of an inversion where the ogre becomes the king and the king gets kicked out. But that's the choice, either you play the infinite game and you evolve the narrative to be more inclusive and equitable of people who were left out and harmed by the longstanding narrative or revolution happens and you kick over all the old symbols. America's going through that negotiation. If we look at what's happening in America right now through this symbolic lens, that's kind of what's happening. It's a negotiation. Are we going to evolve our narrative and state keep the narrative structure, but expand and diversify the meaning of it? Or are we going to hold that narrative and say, no, no, no. You need to get comfortable with your place in this narrative, because statues are being brought down. We're changing pictures on dollar bills. All these positions of leadership are changing their genders, they're changing the races and ethnicities of people within those groups. We're challenging all sorts of things right now. And so, if you look at it from a philosophical, symbolic perspective, you can't predict where it's going, but you can see that's the pattern that's happening and very quickly connect it to similar patterns of previous centuries. I hope that answered your question. I hope I understood it properly. Yeah. Crypto. Oh yeah, crypto. Yeah, crypto's insane, man. The future of Fiat, look, if you pull out and just say more broadly that everything material is becoming is turning into bits, atoms into bits and anything that is abstract in its value, whether it's music or art or currency, or I should say value, all of that's being converted into a digital form, so in a way it's inevitable that it's going to end up as Bitcoin. I think the trouble is that ... and I am no way am a monetary theorist or an economist, these are just things that I've kind of picked up over time. But so much of the world power structure is actually built on top of the basis of currency dynamics. The U.S. dollar is the currency for everyone. When that's no longer the defining currency for every other country and every other country is no longer holding their debt in U.S. dollars, that has what I would call a trickle up effect, or it sends a crack up into societal power structures. There's a lot of economists and monetary policy makers who are absolutely terrified of Bitcoin, but at the same time, Bitcoin is also not the democratization and the movement of monetary control over to individual people. The way they say it is. Most of Bitcoin is controlled by the same wealthy groups that control most of the paper currency today. So who knows, I don't know where it's going and I was not expecting this conversation to go in this direction, but that's kind of the little bits that I've picked up on crypto.
Speaker 11: You have to come to Miami and we'll have a three hour conversation.
Leland Maschmey...: Yeah. Oh, Molly. I didn't even know Netflix had a Rise and Fall of Abercrombie. I would be very interested to watch that. My middle school and high school years were in the nineties, so Abercrombie was everywhere. I'd love to hear the backstory and that-
Molly: It's pretty insane. I don't know if it was released yesterday or what, but I watched it and I mean, I graduated from high school in '09 and if it wasn't Abercrombie, it was Hollister, that was the brand. It's really interesting talking about everything that we're talking about today and just like coming out of freshly watching that documentary, because it's so much perspective, as you talk about questioning the center. I mean, I'm not saying anything that Abercrombie did or how they positioned themselves was great, but it's really interesting to see what those definitions were for that brand, and how people kind of played into that, so yeah, check it out. It's there.
Leland Maschmey...: I will definitely watch that, thank you. Yeah, I wore a lot of Abercrombie in high school, too.
Hank: We've over time, in those early days, we had so many people that worked at Abercrombie, and they helped build. We actually had one guy that actually worked with Michael Jeffries, the CEO, and we had so many people working there. Every Christmas, I would get a bottle of very expensive champagne from Michael Jeffries and wrapped like you couldn't believe. We have nobody there now, but.
Molly: That's interesting. [inaudible 01:35:08] They're ... sorry. They're experiencing a little bit of a resurgence, I guess. That's kind of what they talk about towards the end of the documentary, but very exclusionary in the beginning and kind of perspective now flipping that on its head. Of course it makes sense context wise and culturally to be inclusive and to highlight less represented groups, but oh my gosh, what a case study for everything that you're saying here today, Leland.
Leland Maschmey...: Molly-
Hank: In Atlanta, we have, I have all of the Abercrombie books that they put out from the very first one, which was, I can't remember the name of it ... Naughty and Nice. Naughty and Nice was the first one.
Leland Maschmey...: Mmm. Yeah. Very interesting. I mean, going back to the whole thesis there, life is nothing but a bunch of nested patterns. The more that we kind of understand them, the more that we ... sorry, someone texted me, I have to go to a meeting now, I didn't realize we were this over. The more that we understand them, the more that we can navigate life successfully, and that's the core lesson of mythology.
Hank: Leland. This has been amazing. Thank you for coming today and sharing. It's absolutely amazing. I think when you can wake up tomorrow morning and relive the conversations of today, which I'm pretty sure most everybody here is going to do, it's been a good presentation and thank you so much for sharing your wealth with everybody. If people have questions for you, can they reach out?
Leland Maschmey...: Yeah. Of course. I'll throw my call-ins email in there.
Hank: Okay. Super.
Speaker 12: Thank you so much, Leland.
Leland Maschmey...: Yeah, thank you everyone for all the great questions and spending some extra time with me and giving me a chance to talk about stuff that I really personally love and hopefully was useful for y'all. Thank you so much.
Speaker 13: Thank you so much for tuning in guys. My name is Tyler. I'm going to be one of the admissions advisors helping you guys to start your creative careers here with the Miami AD school with our four portfolio programs, art direction, copywriting, photography, and video and design, as well as our bootcamps. We are well equipped to make you well equipped for the creative industry. My job is to help you transition smoothly from prospective to enrolled student. We have financial aid and scholarships available for all of our portfolio programs and our four U.S. Locations, Miami, Atlanta, San Francisco, and New York, as well as our international locations are ready for you guys to go ahead and enroll when you are ready. Feel free to go to our website, www.miamiadschool.com , hit apply now, start your application, and if you have any questions set up a call and we will be happy to help you.
PART 4 OF 4 ENDS [01:38:27]