Strands of Genius: Squid Game Aesthetics, Pitch for Purpose, Generations

plus, our thoughts on: friendships

WORKING ON | Proposals for two projects just gone out, finishing an article
LOOKING AHEAD | United Kingdom :: Oct 6-Nov 2 | Miami, FL :: Nov 2-4 | Isla Mujeres, Mexico :: Nov 4-9 | Tulum, Mexico :: Nov 9-17 | Isla Mujeres, Mexico :: Nov 17-22 | Nashville, TN :: Nov 22-Dec 2 | Beersheba Springs, TN :: Dec 2-18 | Atlanta, GA :: Dec 18-20 | Nashville, TN :: Dec 20-30


Since Faris grew up in London, he experiences a particular sort of seasonal nostalgia as they sky takes on its thick grey mantle for the end of the year. Rosie has no such warm(ish) feelings towards that kind of sky or weather, but London still offers her many other charms. Right now it is fully into back to school season, which inevitably means children (and therefore parents) all over are sick with colds as they co-mingle their various immune systems and invaders. It’s hard not to be in a heightened state of awareness about such sniffles, due to the larger epidemiological situation but fortunately the NHS will send you rapid Covid tests for free in the post.

Regardless, if you are ill - rest up! Rest is best. Get well soon everyone.

This week, we’re especially thankful for:

Anto&Ro&Leo and the Flats, Paul&Maggie, farmer’s market sausages, BBQs, Pished Fish, Nicole, Sara&Andy&Cordelia&Clare&Polly, Neck Oil, hilariously slow service at a guitar shop, The Morning Show (Apple+), Sunday roast dinners, & YOU.

S C H O O L O F S T O L E N G E N I U S >> H I G H L I G H T S
// SOSG x Scott Sparks | Community Meet Up
Starts Wednesday, October 20, 2021 at 12:00 PM EDT // 5:00 PM GMT

Harnessing the Power of Integration

The world of freelance and strategy consulting is full of unknowns. One of the biggest is how to integrate into agency and/or brand teams to best produce great work. In this session, we’ll keep it pretty casual as Scott shares his experience in this independent consulting world as well as two unique & highly integrated projects it led him to -- In his words, “one a huge success, the other not so much…” Whether you’re a freelance strategist looking to understand how to better integrate into an existing team, or within the agency world, hoping to learn how to work better with independent strategists, Scott’s session will get you thinking about best practices of integration. Be prepared for a short talk & plenty of Q&A hangs.  

Scott Sparks is an independent strategy consultant with a varied background spanning multiple disciplines ranging from brand design to social impact consulting to communications planning. He started his career at Translation and 360i, alongside Rosie for many of those years. He now does a mix of freelance and consulting projects for both agencies & brands, such as Mammut, Curaleaf and the Aspen Club. 

We have 5 tickets available for Strands readers who aren’t part of SOSG (and haven’t previously received an invite to a SoSG event) - send an email if you are interested!

Enroll at

Hello! Faris here.

My book Paid Attention is being published (again) in November!

(It’s November 3rd in UK and November 30th in USA because those are the cycles for the respective distributors those countries have.)

This second edition is completely updated and includes two new chapters covering the recent developments in the thinking, creative practice and measurement of attention and advertising.

Plus there is a cool new cover and I got some lovely new reviews, like this one:

“Paid Attention is the most stimulating and useful blueprint for genuinely fresh thinking about advertising and communications that I have read in the last ten years."
- Adam Morgan, author of Eating The Big Fish

If you are an academic you can request an inspection copy from the publisher here and if you haven’t read it I hope you will consider it. Thanks for all your support!


  • Tata Consultancy Services are running a Pitch for Purpose competition for US based social entrepreneurs. There is $15K and various coaching, networking, and promotional opportunities up for grabs. “Pitch for Purpose is a startup competition celebrating social entrepreneurs and their ideas that will change the world - it recognizes mission-driven founders whose startups leverage emerging technology and innovation to address social and environmental challenges”. Deadline is October 22nd so apply today. (TCS) (Thanks Matt!)

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Every time we plan a London trip, our hearts flutter with excitement, mainly because we miss our friends and family over here. Faris spent the first 30 years of his life in London, and we’ve acquired some damn good friends here. The thing about our friendships is that we aren’t always physically proximate, and time zone differences mean we don’t always speak to people as often as we’d like.

But then you have forever friends. Things pick up just as they left off, with conversations easily volleying. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been, there’s always a spark to conversations with forever friends. It feels like there’s a hunger to the conversations; we’re searching for the narrative beyond the Instagram caption and comforting not just with words but with a hand on an arm, a hug from someone you love. Is the rush stronger because pandemic restrictions are easing? Or is the spark in the air simply because it’s been 2 years since we’ve all been together?

While in most cities we stay in our own Airbnb, in London we stay with friends. Staying with friends means you have time for the serendipitous moments of connection unloading the dishwasher or reading books to the kiddos before bedtime. It’s like a friendship shot of espresso, packing a lot of living into a short amount of time.

As we get older, we plan to continue cultivating these friendships. We love traveling with friends, and settle for FaceTime when it’s not possible. Friendships are an important part of life, and of mental wellbeing.

Faris and I have spoken of this before, and it’s come up a few times recently in conversations: as men get older, they struggle to keep or maintain friendships. 1 in 5 men over the age of 55 say that they lack having a single close friend. And perhaps no surprise, but loneliness is one of the biggest stressors for men. Friendships increase our quality of life, so it’s worth investing in spending time with people you know and love.

In a recent study, “Social relations and life satisfaction: the role of friends” the authors write, “There is substantial evidence in the psychological and sociological literature that individuals with richer networks of active social relationships tend to be more satisfied and happier with their lives.”

Apparently it comes down to the benefits that friendships bring, which they summed up as these three things:

First, relationships, being key players in affirming an individual’s sense of self, satisfy the basic human need for belongingness and are a source of positive affirmation. The levels of subjective well-being increase with the number of people an individual can trust and confide in and with whom he or she can discuss problems or important matters.

Second, the presence of social relationships has positive impacts on mental and physical health, contributing to an individual’s general well-being, whereas the absence of social relationships increases an individual’s susceptibility to psychological distress. Several studies have shown that social relations stimulate individuals to fight diseases and reinforce healthy behaviors. Social interactions have the potential to protect individuals at risk (e.g., encouraging them to develop adjustment techniques to face the difficulties) and promote positive personal and social development, which diminishes the exposure to various types of stress and increases the ability to cope with it.

Finally, social relationships form a resource pool for an individual. These resources can take several forms, such as access to useful information, company (e.g., personal and intimate relationships, time spent talking together, and shared amusement time or meals), and emotional (e.g., advice about a serious personal or family matter) and instrumental (e.g., economic aid, administrative procedures, house-keeping) support. Several studies have detailed how receiving support contributes to higher well-being, although the effects may vary by the type and the provider(s) of support. In a wider perspective, social relationships serve as buffers that diminish the negative consequences of stressful life events, such as bereavement, rape, job loss, and illness. The perceived availability of support or received support from others may, indeed, lead to a more benign appraisal of a negative situation.

In this view, friendships, considered as voluntary relationships that involve a variety of activities, may contribute significantly to the overall subjective well-being.

Cultivate those friendships, y’all.


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

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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 :)