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  • Ally Castle

Happy 1st Birthday, Ideally!

Ally celebrates the first full year of trading with some of her tried, tested (and very much borrowed) favourite pieces of strategic wisdom.

I’m really happy to celebrate a year since Ideally Consulting was born. It’s been a fantastic adventure, both personally and professionally – completely made by the brilliant people I’ve worked with and the interesting projects I’ve been involved in.

From bad first date stories to international urban sports, via the Battle of Waterloo, recipes for chocolate pizza, China’s favourite Doctor Who and just why it is that Candy Crush is so horribly addictive… there is never a dull moment helping the great and the good of broadcast & digital content with their creative strategies.

To celebrate, here are my current five favourite pieces of wisdom to support strategic thinking and creative genius. If you’ve worked with me in the last year, you may recognise one or two!

# 5 : Embrace the shake

The title of a short film (which turns out to be an advert for Mazda, so well done to their content marketer) about multi-media artist Phil Hansen who specialized in pointillism – until he got serious RSI and thought his career was over. But then he learnt to work within his restrictions, to find ways to express himself that he otherwise would never have explored. ‘Embrace the shake’ is essentially a shortcut to the notion expressed by philosopher Sean Kierkegaard that “the more a person limits himself, the more resourceful he becomes.” Or she, of course. Watch the film here.

#4 : A space where ideas can have sex

Author & theorist Steven Johnson talks about ideas as networks rather than moments –and how, in reality, they don’t come out of the blue but are cobbled together from different existing things that we happen to find around us. Because of that, ideas thrive in chaotic environments with lots of people with different backgrounds and interests, sharing problems and bouncing thoughts off each other. It’s a more attention-grabbing way of the expressing the concept that everything is a remix, and how we need to have lots of existing ideas in the frame to come up with new ones. Steven recommends that the offices of creative organisations resemble the hectic coffee houses of the Enlightenment period. I can testify that many already do. See his TED talk here.

#3 : "I doubt I would have written a line … unless some minor tragedy had sort of twisted my mind out of the normal rut.”

My literary hero Roald Dahl speaks here not only of the potential for carving something positive out of our difficulties, but also of how pattern and predictability can be the enemy of creativity. I agree that sometimes we need to be shaken up - or we need to take the energy from being shaken up and see the opportunity in it. If nothing else, to enlighten us to the human condition so that our creative endeavours are richer and more credible. No creative genius ever had an easy life. Read more here.

#2: “All good stories should give you a promise […] A well told promise is like a pebble being pulled back in a sling shot and propels you through the story to the end”

Andrew Stanton, the writer behind the Toy Story movies and the writer/director of Finding Nemo and Wall-E on the craft of good storytelling. He also talks about making people care, evoking wonder, having a strong theme and capturing truths. A masterclass in storytelling. And another TED talk, of course. Watch it here.

#1: ”It really has affected the people I made it about. As an artist, that's what I want"

Grayson Perry talking about his architectural creation A House For Essex in the documentary that follows the process of its imagining in his head (and heart) and then its coming to life on the Essex marshes. Here he expresses – more simply than I do – my concept of transactional creativity. This is the idea that creativity needs an audience, that it is an exchange. How it has a life beyond just its creator, but is a call and an answer - even if that answer is dislike or ambivalence. The documentary is a fascinating watch, and speaks to the power of story as the driver in the creative process – in this case, in reflecting the Essex woman back to herself in reality and with pride. It is truly, as the programme blurb says, “a loving tribute to the people he grew up among, his homeland of Essex and Essex women”. True to form, Grayson also carries off some fabulous outfits. Watch the documentary at

Once again, thank you for all your support over the last 12 months - and here's to the next successful year for Ideally!


#creativestrategy #ideally

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