Strands of Genius: Quality of Your Relationships, The Beach, Pivot

Guest curated by Tom Donald

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. Tom is the Sydney Head of Strategy at The Royals. We were introduced to him by Mark Pollard.


LOCATION: Sydney, Australia
PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT: Sydney Head of Strategy at The Royals

Greetings and salutations. I'm Tom, a long-in-the-tooth planner – these days 'strategist', but I prefer the old term – who has worked across several continents in brand consultancies, design firms and ad agencies, including client-side stints and stretches of freelancing. Though I've never met Rosie and Faris, I followed them on Twitter for years, before deleting that particular 'outrage algorithm' in early 2020, which did wonders for my mental health. Currently finishing raising teenage daughters in Sydney, Australia after which it will be adventure time.

Editor’s Note (Faris): I’ve known and interacted with Tom on Twitter for years and had wondered why I hadn’t seen him lately! He’s worked at a number of agencies we know and respect down under, and has an impressively broad history, moving through advertising, design, starting his own thing, brand consulting and innovation, across London, NYC and Sydney. Whilst innovation director at Suntory he developed the Roku Gin we have recently seen appear all over the world. Thanks Tom hope to meet IRL sometime soon.

:: THE LINKS :: 

  • The Beach is a six-part documentary (with short episodes) by Warwick Thornton about his reconnection with country in a remote shack off the Dampier coast of Western Australia. It is by far my favourite piece of Australian film-making ever. I have watched it five times so far, and will likely watch it every couple of years till I die. An 'ode to slow', it will move you and make you think. The cinematography is out of this world, so if you are lucky enough to live in a place where weed is legal, I would say "Toke up, lean back, and sink in". (The Beach)


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


:: Game :: NRL (rugby league... as a spectator and punter)

:: City :: Sydney. It's home. But after 12 years back, I'm increasingly itchy for something new.

:: Book :: The Turning by Tim Winton. A masterful collection of Carver-esque short stories that capture the Australia I grew up in like no one else

:: Podcast :: Ram Dass, Here and Now. Equal parts spiritual guru and stand-up comedian.

:: Album :: Dope Lemon's "Smooth Big Cat" or AC/DC's "Powerage"... depending on mood


"All good things are wild and free."

"Assumption is the mother of all fuck ups."

"Security is a false God. Begin to make sacrifices to it and you are lost,"

Stay frosty. (Actually, that's David Lee Roth's sign-off... I don't have one, but genius steals, right?)

Tom Donald


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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 :)