Strands of Genius: Centaur Creative Directors, How The Govt Wastes Your Time, The Brain Changing Magic of New Experiences...

plus our thoughts on social serendipity

WRITING FROM | Porto, Portugal
WORKING ON | Wrapped the strategy sprint, did Miami AdSchool Bootcamp and office hours, did a gig for TikTok’s Creative Lab crew. Working on a proposal for a global CPG brand. Also - taking a spontaneous camping trip to meet up with some friends!

July 21-August 15 | Porto, Portugal
August 15-August 29 | Lisbon, Portugal
Aug 29-Sept 7 | Orlando, FL
Sept 8-Oct 3 | South of France


Update: we have now eaten some Francescinhas. If you aren’t aware of the ‘Frenchie’:

(It is served with fries, not seen here, but definitely eaten)

"Francesinha is a Portuguese sandwich originally from Porto, made with bread, wet-cured ham, linguiça, fresh sausage like chipolata, steak or roast meat, and covered with melted cheese and a hot and thick spiced tomato and beer sauce. It is typically served with french fries. "

It’s a lot, even to share, but it’s certainly an experience, even if, as my friend Lucy said, it’s a “heart attack on a plate”. We have also been eating poke bowls, we are well balanced gourmands.

In general it feels amazing to be back on the road. In Portugal, as my friend Neil noted, people are going about their business, everyone is masked, and life continues. Whereas in the USA half the country is pretending there isn’t a pandemic, and the other half are frightened to leave their homes (obviously exempting those with conditions that require increased circumspection), in part because of the first half.

Regardless, despite being somewhere where the pandemic continues very visibly everywhere thanks to mask wearing requirements and proof of vaccine to eat indoors at a restaurant, it still seems much calmer, all things considered but that also maybe be a function of being in a country where we do not / cannot consume the local media in any depth or quantity.

This week, we’re especially thankful for:

Assembled - behind the scenes of Loki, Neil&Chelsea, Jean&Luz, Fixe (poke) Bowl, Rua Music and Tapas, TikTok, Lisa Batty, Philippa Dunjay, Mariano, Peloton Yoga, Port wine, vino verde (it’s not really green it’s just young) and we were disappointed in Black Widow (although Florence Pugh was excellent) which is a shame - you?



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Serendipity is a pretty word that was coined from whole cloth in 1754 by someone trying to explain the phenomenon with reference to a Persian fairy tale called “The Three Princes of Serendip”.

The phenomenon in question is unplanned fortunate discovery, and the word was an old name for Sri Lanka (Ceylon). Serendipity is common and often crucial in the worlds of scientific invention and product design, lots of the myths of innovation rely on a serendipitous encounter that inspired some analogous pattern in another domain. Very famously, velcro was invented by a Swiss engineer who noticed the hooks of cockle-burs were stuck on his trousers and in his dog's fur and wondered how they attached themselves. Velcro is short for velvet crochet, if you didn’t know.

Beyond discoveries, serendipity is also classically associated with travel, as per the original example. When you carve a new path across the world, you create opportunities for things and people to cross that path. It’s always been one of the joys of nomad life, bumping into people in random places, and it’s something that social media is very good at facilitating.

However, for those of us who have been very online and knee deep in socials, personally and professionally, for about as along as they have existed in their current forms, it’s hard to maintain, especially as platforms multiplied and replicated each other. Faris did not realize for years that Instagram had an inbox and as every platform pivoted to include messaging, every new platform came to feel like a new inbox to manage, another set of chores. Avoiding some and no longer using location based check-ins very much means that the joyous encounters in NYC that Foursquare engendered as much less likely.

Regardless, we’ve been delighted that via random interactions (possibly encouraged by the algos of course) on the platforms we do still us, we managed to catch up with the lovely Joe Cole the one night we overlapped in Porto. And today we spending time with our friend Lucy and her family, who are staying a few hours away, giving us an excuse to take a train and explore some other part of the country.

This semi-structured serendipity takes a bit of initiating and some work on each end, but it’s funny how it turns out. When we were in NYC our dear friends Jason and Nikki happened to be in town for the weekend. A few years ago in July we hijacked another vacation Lucy’s and her family were on in Isle De Re, an island off the West coast of France, because we happened to be nearby.

Fortune favors the travelled! And hey, it comes with all the benefits from the last link (above) and the image below as well.


Speaking of the benefits of new experiences, we like this sign and you know what, traveling is funny. -Enjoy life!-

If we can ever be of help to you, even outside of a formal engagement, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

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? Forward this email to them! We appreciate you spreading the word.


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 :)