Strands of Genius: 2019 in Review, The Art of Decision Making, Cities Shouldn't Be Dystopian Surveillance States

plus: our thoughts on diets & some encouragement from Kurt Vonnegut | brought to you by Nimbly, the daring insights agency

WRITING FROM | Charlotte, NC & Greenville, SC
WORKING ON | contracts & proposals for 2020  

Jan 1-Feb 3: Greenville, SC
Jan 18-20: Charlotte, NC (Rosie)
Feb 3-17: Nashville, TN
Feb 17-28: Beersheba Springs, TN
Feb 29-March 15: Nashville, TN (Rosie)
March 1-15: London, UK (Faris)
March 4-6: London, UK | Big TV Festival


Hiya! Rosie, here - coming to you from Charlotte. And hi from Faris, too - I’m still in Greenville while Rosie’s visiting with her friends in North Carolina. We’re writing this together, but separately, if you know what we mean. ;) Remote collaboration FTW.

This week, we’re especially thankful for: 

Campowerment friends, hover-boards, Bindu yoga, spaghetti squash, Oscar’s doctors on call, slippers & sweats, fruit & nut energy balls, Larabars, pork roll inna bowl, various other delicious Whole 30 Compliant meals, Substack (which seems easy to use and clean to look at - what do you guys think of the new format?), Nimbly, who have returned to sponsor Strands of Genius because so many of you reached out to collaborate with them, and of course, YOU!

:: THE LINKS :: 

  • Why is it so hard to decide what to watch on TV? Why are decision importance and the rigor applied to that decision so often inversely correlated? “One of the paradoxes of life is that our big decisions are often less calculated than our small ones are.” Using decision theory and tools can be helpful as long as we can factor in the idea that the only seemingly predictable constant (us) will change and that big decisions are really about who we want to be.(New Yorker)


This edition is sponsored by Nimbly, the most daring insights agency in the world.

Our friends Nimbly are back again to share the message, Nimbly = Daring. It’s what truly makes them different — that they are not afraid to dare.It’s in the Nimbly DNA to think faster - to experiment with wild methodologies - to report differently - to reimagine every single aspect of research. They aspire to have the most interesting projects in the world, and promise the most interesting experience in return. (What more could you ask for, really?!)

Whether you’re in the calm before the storm, or already in the thick of it, they’re ready to hear what you’re up to. They’re not aggressive in their sales, and genuinely interested in what you’re working on, the challenges you’re facing, or hearing about the cool things your teams have done. (And did we mention that the people at Nimbly are nice? Like, really nice!) Go on and get in touch, tell ‘em we sent you, and give Evan a virtual high-five for us.


Are diets good? NOPE. We know that. Lots of research shows that diets are bad for your body and mind, and are only as effective as yo-yoing when it comes to weight loss, which, if we’re being body positive, shouldn’t be your goal anyway.

Although morbid obesity is definitely bad for your health, fat shaming definitely doesn’t help. Also, isn’t morbid such a strange word in that context? You can have a ‘morbid fascination with death’ and also a “morbid waistline.” How does that work? Are you abnormally interested in your obesity? What’s that? Language is inherently ambiguous, and the medical term means indicative of disease? Fine. Whatever.

So, diets are bad, but *your diet*, in its noun form, is incredibly important. We’re learning more about the importance of gut health now — but people have been fond of saying “food is medicine,” since Hippocrates (apparently) came up with it. We’re sure food is a very good prophylactic ‘medicine’ …but probably less good for quickly clearing up a bout of malaria, let’s say.

In this case, etymology helps [when doesn’t it, asks Faris]. Diet comes from Latin from Greek diaita ‘a way of life’ [or also a day’s wages]. Short term diets are bad, but building healthy habits is good.

So why are we doing Whole 30? Because rules make games fun. We could just ‘drink less and exercise more and eat better,’ but that’s significantly harder. We often assume when we make decisions like that, we will then constantly monitor our own behavior: adjusting against our own normative states… but then when did you ever intend to eat and drink too much?

This is our first real go at this, because we had an appropriate times slot and location and place. And it’s been fascinating to observe the cultural echoes of January. For the first three weeks of the year every yoga class and gym is full, every ad is for Weight Watchers, invitations out to drinks are few and far between. Supermarkets re-arrange things to make it easier for you to be healthy. (Why don’t they always do that? We suspect if supermarkets could get rid of fresh food, many of them would since it’s a massive pain in the logistics. Ask Dollar General.) “Diet” to marketers means taking out calories or selling new products like frozen cauliflower rice or reminding you how you’re not enough. But you know you ARE enough, right? (Repeat after us, “I am enough.” In your head, or aloud.) Because you totally are. You’re more than enough.)

Anyway, we are now halfway through. We feel pretty good at this point, which, considering today is supposed to be Blue Monday, is pretty good. Apparently the last week is full on tiger blood. We’ll let you know. In the meantime, stay positive, you’ve got this.


Encouragement from Kurt Vonnegut

If we can ever be of help to you, even outside of a formal engagement, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Getting to meet like-minded folks is one of the best parts of living nomadically, so please let us know if you see if we'll be in a city near you :) 

faris & rosie & ashley | your friends over at

@faris is always tweeting
@rosieyakob hangs out on instagram
@ashley also writes for deaf, tattooed & employed

Know someone who could use some inspiration in their inbox? Send ‘em our way!


It's called Genius Steals because we believe ideas are new combinations and that nothing can come from nothingBut copying is lazy. We believe the best way to innovate is to look at the best of that which came before and combine those elements into new solutions. 

Co-Founders Faris & Rosie are award-winning strategists and creative directors, writers, consultants and public speakers who have been living on the road/runway since March 2013, working with companies all over the world. Our Director of Operations is nomadic like us, our accounting team is based out of Washington, our company is registered in Tennessee, and our collaborators are all over the world. Being nomadic allows us to go wherever clients need us to be, and to be inspired by the world in between.

Hit reply and let’s talk about how we might be able to work together :)

We're currently booking speaking gigs for the year.
Check out full descriptions and key learnings from our talks on here: