Strands of Genius: Doing F*** All is Good, The Process of Creative Genius, The Magik of Great Ideas

Guest curated by Laura JB

This year we’re aiming to highlight 50 creative thinkers that have inspired us, by giving them the opportunity to guest curate this newsletter, Strands of Genius. Laura JB is the Chief Creative Officer of Grey London and founded her own creative agency, Mr.President, prior.


PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT: Chief Creative Officer, Grey London

By day I’m Chief Creative Officer at Grey London, by night I’m usually found creating and running social enterprises that help advance equality. Like SheSays (a global volunteer network to advance the careers of women in the creative industries) or Ready For Business (an app to connect young unemployed people with business mentors through psychometric profiling).

I once solved my son's behaviour at school with tattoos (you can read about it in my interview).

Faris, Rosie and I have had many adventures around the world where our paths have crossed, often meeting over a breakfast buffet or cheeky cocktail in a strange corner of the world. This is a creative way of keeping in touch now that's not possible.

This is all about creativity in lockdown. How to find it, how to grow it and what to do when it's not coming.

Editor’s Note: We unabashedly adore Laura JAYBEE, and we’re very fond of her excellent son Cas as well. We collaborated on the book Creative Superpowers and love her presentations that we’ve had the chance to see, and our time hanging out with her even more. We felt a connection in the force when we met, we vibe on similar wavelengths, or that’s how it seems to us, and we’re delighted to have her thoughts here and in the excellent interview coming to your inboxes on Monday, if you’re a member of the School of Stolen Genius :)

:: THE LINKS :: 

  • Lockdown has meant for a lot of creative people that ideas come more slowly because there's less stimulus and a lot more insomnia. That brings with it the anxiety of the blank page and the constant feeling of imposter syndrome. Nick Cave this week writes about trust in the process. (The Red Hand Files)

  • Before lockdown I started a podcast with my mate Ruby Norman-Curran called 'Burst! How to hack yourself more creative in 20 days'. Speaking to 20 incredibly creative people about what they do to keep the ideas flowing. One of our first interviews was with old Blondie bass player and esoteric academic Gary 'Valentine' Lachman. We spoke about a lot of things: the importance of rituals, altered states and 'magikal' thinking - all of which are deep wells to dive into in terms of creativity and finding your Flow state. But what we lingered on was around dreams.

    I've kept a dream diary since I was 11 and often find the answers to creative problems in my sleep, though abstract. I'll dream the answer to a client brief and then unpick what that really means for the work the next day. In fact there's plenty of research showing that keeping a dream diary boosts the creative content of your work.

    It's been interesting starting a new role over lockdown, and dreaming of workmates in full when I've only ever seen them from the shoulders up. It's amazing how much your head fills in for you.

    When you can't get outside much, dreamworlds are a rich source of the inspiration you need.

    Our podcast isn't live yet, but this interview is a great intro to Gary - he's well worth digging into further and is currently researching prescience in dreams.  (The Quietus)

Looking for more from Laura JB? Those enrolled in The School of Stolen Genius will receive a deep dive from her in their inbox shortly! You can access all our expert interviews for SOSG here.


:: Game :: Superfight is a great one. It's like Cards Against Humanity but totally SFW . You build evil baddies from random cards and fight each other - the person with the best story of conquest wins. It's brilliant for the imagination and bloody funny.

:: City :: Tokyo - I spent months at a time there in my early 20s and go back as much as I can. It calls me to it, almost as much as Sydney (my hometown).

:: Book :: I HAVE SO MANY! Probably one of the old Murakami books like Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. They exist in the same dream/waking space as Lynch or maybe David Robert Mitchell. It feels like the space I live in too.

:: Podcast :: Again, hard to choose so I'm going for two, The classic of 99% Invisible. Just wow. And for entertainment it has to be the Beef and Dairy Network. It's unexplainable, uncategorisable, just madness. I loved the original Tanis and Black Tapes too.

:: Album :: Again hard to choose. I like a lot of heavy stuff, Nick Cave, NIN, Skinny Puppy and Einsturzende Neubauten are all favourites. But I need some joy today so I'll say The Avalanches - Since I Met You right this moment. It's just about perfect. I was working for a music magazine when it came out, so I have the original sample album before clearance removed a lot of the samples. Its too precious to play!


I saw this around the corner this week. What delights me is the care in the picture, and the strength of opinion (and effort) in the headlines. There's a truth and a delight in the contradiction. He has too many good quotes to list, so here's a link to the NickCaveBot, that tweets something of his every two hours.

Laura JB
twitter | grey london | she says uk

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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 :)