How to Navigate the Most Uncertain Time in History (While Becoming Less Anxious & Avoiding Burnout)

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Louis Grenier Bonjour Bonjour and welcome to another episode of Everyone Hates, the no-fluff actionable marketing podcast for people sick of marketing. Bullshit, I'm your host, Louis Grenier. In today's episode, you'll learn how to navigate the most uncertain times in human history so you become less anxious, more efficient and avoid burnout. My guest today is the sexiest middle-aged British man alive and it's not even close. He's an alumni of my Stand Up Fuckout program. He is most recently the creator of The Uncertainty Expert, a unique hybrid of online learning, interactive documentary and psychological intervention. He's also the author of Be More Parrot, which is an international bestseller. He was also co-founder of Levity. He won plenty of awards, Entrepreneur of the Year, Agency of the Year, you name it. So it's a big deal. I'm delighted to have him on the podcast. I'm also delighted that if you're watching this on video, you get to see his beautiful face. So Sam Conniff, welcome aboard. Hello Louis and hello everyone listening and thank you for making me cringe slightly with such an introduction. So should we just try to avoid uncertainty in our life and create a life where we can control things from start to finish?

Sam Conniff I think this is one of those things where we devolve responsibility immediately as human beings and it's a shame. Uncertainty is inescapable. The cliche is the only certainty you can expect is uncertainty. And the problem isn't uncertainty itself. Anyway, that's coming. Trying to deny it is basically not being a grown up. That's not accepting the reality of life and much too much of life is spent trying to mitigate or deny uncertainty. The real problem is our ability at coping with uncertainty. That's what fucks us up. But if you can get your head around it, if you can get your hands around it, if you can get your heart around it, then uncertainty becomes an unlock. And I know that dangerously sounds like an aphorism and there are no shortages of aphorisms around uncertainty circulating on social media. So I've tried to with this work go deeper than that, go beyond the marketing of it and try to get close to a sense of meaning, to a sense of measurability. And I've discovered something in there that's well outside what I was expecting, but a proven method to increase what's called people's uncertainty tolerance. And that's the specific area which takes us away from it just being a broad idea into

Louis Grenier something measurable, tangible, psychological. So to be clear here, you're not a self-professed guru who's just coming up with a method up his ass, right? Like you have partnered with, I'm going to use a big word here, scientists, right? People using actual science to test stuff and pro things and experiment and stuff.

Sam Conniff Am I correct? Yes. Yes, although I'm not sure that fully negates me being disappearing up my own ass. I have spent a lot of my life trying not to do that. I do get carried away. I am very into this idea, as with all the ideas I've worked on. And so there is absolutely a tendency to disappear into it. However, I think there's a relationship between some of my previous adventures with Be More Pirate and with Liberty. Sometimes I felt really out of my depth and it was very hard to navigate or even enjoy the aspects of the success there. And as a classic marketing trope, one overstates rather than understates. The famous line is to under promise and over deliver. I've always been more inclined to over promise and then under deliver. So as I came into Uncertainty Experts, A, I was experiencing profound uncertainty myself. B, the stories that I'd uncovered, I was very, very nervous that I would be doing exactly We just said this would feel like guru, that was feel like empty kind of self-help. And also, whilst I was finding some remarkable stories and I was looking for them to contravene, to violate actually the instances of leadership that we were being given over the last couple of years, I really didn't want to fall foul of survivor bias, which I think is a tendency within marketing. Look at this wonderful story we've got. Aren't they incredible? Now let's base a bunch of practices on the back of that individual. However, if you put that individual into any circumstances, chances are they would have done well. So we had to go in looking, I came up with a framework for what I thought an Uncertainty Expert was, which we can go into. And then, fortunately, I went looking for some kind of backbone, some substance to it. I got introduced to, yes, a very specialist scientific laboratory called the Decision Making in Uncertainty Center. And for the last 10 years, since the financial collapse, their one goal has been to scientifically understand how human beings make better decisions in times of uncertainty, particularly when an industry such as the finance industry was so bad at making predictions. And that's kind of its bread and butter. So I was very lucky. They had done 10 years of work. They had some groundbreaking scientific theories that they just had published and they were looking for a real world project. I had a very real world project filled with gangsters and refugees and people who were telling great stories of how to overcome uncertainty. And I was looking for a scientific backbone.

Louis Grenier So it was a match made in a lab. That sounds like COVID. Right. So where was I? Yes, uncertainty. Yeah, it's very niche, right? This laboratory.

Sam Conniff The Decision Making in Uncertainty Center is part of UCL. It's part of the brain sciences department within UCL. And UCL, University College London has one of the most highly regarded brain sciences labs in the world, really. Neuroscience and psychology is what they accept, one of the many things that they accept.

Louis Grenier So yeah, it was a very fortuitous introduction and relationship that's formed out of it for me. Great. So before we move on to the framework and really give people listening a practical framework to follow, I just want to talk about what are the signs that someone, a small business owner, a freelancer, a consultant, or in-house marketer, because that's mainly who we are

Sam Conniff talking to, what are the signs that they are not dealing well with uncertainty? Well, firstly, hello, freelancers, consultants, and in-house marketeers. I see you and know that journey well, and that's been where I've spent most of my life too, and I actually find myself now with a new startup and being all of the different things, but particularly the marketing of it. What are the signs? I think the burnout anxiety is a compound effect. So there are stages, and being able to identify it early will help you mitigate it and maybe even stave it off. Self-doubt is one of the earliest signs. Now, that's a really dangerous one because doubt is necessary, right? We need to be able to criticize ourselves. Being overly confident can be really unhelpful. But when you begin to know, when you spend more time in doubt, when your doubt becomes limiting, when you second-guess yourself, when your default position becomes no or it's not going to work, that is a time to watch out. Our default position in marketing should probably be more towards yes or towards giving it a try. And the cost of that is risk. And particularly now, as we stand in 2023, I think the greatest risk in marketing is not taking a risk. Another really clear sign where you're going to start feeling the negative effects of all of this work is when we start looking for backward-looking narratives. So when we reach back for things that feel like they've worked before, there's a really well-sighted study, I think about 700 participants. And they were given some options between various possibilities, unknowns, uncertainties, and the chance to give themselves an electric shock. And consistently, human beings prefer to give themselves an electric shock rather than suffer uncertainty. The same study has been done in people waiting for life, consequential medical results. People would rather have a bad result than stay in a place of uncertainty. So when you and what we'll do, therefore, and it's shown on a macro scale in politics, we know this well, we will buy bullshit. We are proven, again, more likely to be driven towards ideologies, extreme ideologies. People are more likely to be recruited into very fundamental philosophies. Societies are less able to stay together. We have more conflict. We'll be more likely to fall for binaries. We don't argue so well. It has a huge impact. So when we find ourselves reaching for, we'll call them tried and tested, old ideas, once again, you're finding yourself in the in the net effect of uncertainty. It's important to look for these things because I do recognize very few people walking around again. Oh, blimey, my problem is uncertainty. You're walking around saying my problem is my sleepless nights. My problem is I can't stop going in a in a circular loop of worry about small things. My problem is I don't seem to be able to pick up the phone to make the brave call I need to do or stand up to my client. Those are the daily symptoms of increased uncertainty because it limits us so drastically. But behind it all is uncertainty. It's the number one driver of anxiety. But none. It's number one driver of economic instability. There's a great study at the end of twenty twenty two hundred different global hundred and thirty two global economies and it found the biggest correlation between an aversion to uncertainty and a decrease in innovation. So it's one of those really interesting things. It's quite big to get your arms around your head around. If you can begin to address your ability, uncertainty, you can address a whole heap of things from your well-being to your ability, innovation to leadership, decision making

Louis Grenier and crucially looking after yourself. So self-doubt specifically when you start to have like those limiting beliefs and that your default position is basically not doing anything and just know it will never work on this. As you said, the backward looking narrative where you feel the need of of control, right, which relates to the autonomy bias, which is all about control. Humans want control. They want to know that something is in their control and uncertainty is the opposite of that. It's like I feel I can control it. So therefore I'm losing my footing. You didn't mention it, but I'm going to say it like religions in general. That's exactly what they are. Right. That's a framework to help people deal with uncertainty. It's much easier to believe that you can end up in a safe place after death than not, amongst other stuff. So yes, very interesting stuff. I think we've probably well explained. I mean, you did. I'm just listening. You explained well the problems. And I think in a marketing world, just as a personal note, this is something I've noticed. It's quite crazy that marketers are the most marketed people in the world, right? And small business owners as well. And so they get this massive amount of information being sold to them all the time. Don't miss out. You're going to miss out this. Like don't forget to do this. There's this new tool. There's this new social media channel. There's this new whatever. And so I think it adds to the stress and the likelihood of burning out. And I think the profession is very prone to that. So I'm very much looking forward to asking you the deets, as they say in the street, of that framework. So let's say you provide training to teams and to individuals. And obviously, there is part of the delivery that is about watching a documentary and stuff. But for the sake of this conversation, let's imagine that we are in front of a small group of people in companies that you tend to serve. What do we tell them? How do we help them deal with uncertainty, starting with step one?

Sam Conniff OK, so let me try and put myself into a marketing mindset. So first stage, we might be taking a brief, understanding what the challenge is. And as we know, 99% of marketing briefs are actually a sticking plaster on a real business problem that's then dressed up as a communications challenge and often takes a real nerve to challenge our clients. Is this really the real brief? Is that really the real time frame? Is that really the real fucking budget? But one of those early stages, being able to stand up to the bits that you connect with, knowing that the sense of fear and doing the right thing come into conflict. Now, it's an interesting thing we learned early on in this stage. The brain lights up in an fMRI scan in exactly the same way. The blood flows to the same parts of the brain in fear and in excitement. And fear and excitement run pretty close. And anyone in marketing knows that, right? We know how exciting it can be, what a rush it can be, and then what a disappointment. And that's certainly entrepreneurs and marketing that is a heady rush of adrenaline. So those are the kind of environments we might be at, or even that notion when you're putting together the ideas. We all know we will go and pitch like three ideas, the safe one, the middle one, the one we really want to do. And again, what is our opportunity to push things further? And then we know typically, because of all the conditions around it, our clients, the budgets and whatever will end up playing safe. And we often miss, or speaking from personal experience, you see the ideas, you come up with ideas, you're like, that's the one. And it's rarely is it the actual one that goes. And on our chance in marketing so often to do groundbreaking work, the best work of our lives ends up becoming diluted because of the processes very often driven by understandable constraints, but also fear. You mentioned religion, but you know, we're equally projecting our fear onto our boss, onto the client that we don't know, onto the spreadsheet that we made up a year ago, but now we think is as true as any religion. And it's in those places keeping your nerve is where this work becomes important and hopefully really useful. To answer your actual question, which is about framework. So we interviewed, we've done 20,000 people have been through the process so far just under. We began the work with 3000 people that went through and we asked them all if they could explain emotionally how uncertainty feels. We asked that question because it was 2020 and we knew that uncertainty technically felt like working from home or having, you know, trying to be creative whilst working remotely. So we were looking for the box sits beneath and we were given hundreds and hundreds of different words that rep adjectives for emotions. And very quickly we saw they could be subcategorized into three groups. So all the words that were worry, anxiety, sleepless, we put into a group called fear and that was the majority. Now you wouldn't walk around and say I'm scared, but underlying it, that is the emotion. That's the connection. That's the deeper place we get into. The second was a series of words like confusion, indecision, I'm just going in circles. I didn't know what to say. And we called that fog, just that sense of it, just not quite sure where we can go. The third one was I feel stuck. I feel listless. I feel purposeless. I feel meh. Meh came up so many times. And so we called that stasis. So fear, fog and stasis appear to be the three states of uncertainty that sit beneath what we're able to talk about with our colleagues, to our clients, in the daily conversations we have because this is hard to say, right? And it connects to shame, guilt, you know, the level of vulnerability that most people aren't that comfortable with. But I haven't yet been challenged. No one said anything that sits outside of those three. So we feel it's fairly, fairly robust. Fear, fog and stasis. And now they're all necessary. Not only nice, but they're all necessary. There is a rare condition for some people. They're born without a fear filter in their brains and they don't live very long. They don't have very rich and rewarding lives. Once a very strange science experiment took the fear receptors out of monkeys brains. None of them lasted 72 hours after that. So fear is really necessary and that first stage of it is all important. And the same goes for a time spent not knowing. It becomes a really useful place. And every now and then getting stuck is necessary. The complication comes in the modern world in which we live, in the ultra productivity at which we all serve. None of them are acceptable, right? On a daily basis. You know, there isn't time in anyone's life. There isn't, you know, there's not a blog or a book or a, you know, shorthand that would suggest any of those are states that you want to be in. But they're natural and that's really hard. So we had clients at the time coming in saying, you know, uncertainty is messing with us. We're losing money. We're there's a huge sense of resignation and disconnection. What are we going to do? Can you help us get brave? A sense of direction, some clarity and momentum. That's understandable, right? It's what we all think we want. But if you try and take someone who's scared and get them to pretend they're brave, you know, you can write it on the wall in letters as big as you want. It's not going to work. And it's very hard to give people 140 characters of a vision. But if they're still confused, you know, you know how frustrating that is. Doesn't matter how clear you break something down. It's not about the clarity of the message. Sometimes it's the filter that the person has. And when you're stuck, you try and pretend there's momentum or give false momentum. That's when you break people. So we looked at each one of those states and we tried to go deep on it. I then interviewed a series of what I call the uncertainty experts. And these are people who spent around about 10 years in extremes of uncertainty. So people who've been through the justice system in high security prisons, they've been prisoners of war. They run gangs. They've been addicts. They've been homeless. I mean, not all one person. I interviewed dozens of people. And what I was looking for is a level of success in that world. Now success in being a drug dealer is morally ambiguous, I know. But if you know any drug dealers, I'm sure many of you do. It takes an awful lot of work, dedication, tenacity and focus to be successful in that world. It takes a lot of the same to be a successful refugee, to be successful through the justice system as a success in inverted commas. And then what we were looking for was people who kind of rewired that outlook, developed a series of coping strategies to enable them to get through that situation and then take those exact same strategies and apply them to a mainstream setting that we'd be more familiar with. So my refugees became CEOs. My inmates became successful law reform activists. My prisoners of war became politicians. My gang leaders became business leaders. And then they used the self same exact methods and strategies to succeed again in a setting that we're more familiar with. So there's a duality, a double confirmation of their success. And that was how I hoped I was getting past Survivor By. So we present a series of stories that address each one of those states, fear, fog and stasis. Here is someone, and deliberately, here is someone who synaptically will make you lean on because the time is not, you know, I'll just be god damned if I have to give another Elon Musk case study when we're talking about innovation in the 21st century. So here is someone who there but for the grace of God may have come from backgrounds similar to yours. Now they've had a set of experiences I hope you never have to go through, but their outlook is updated and there's something in there that we can learn from. So there's a kind of stimulation.

Louis Grenier And then I hand over to my step one then if I had to, sorry to cut you, but if I had to summarize what you said before we get into the solution, which is super interesting is step one just be to recognize that fear, fog and status are natural things, right? It's like first to say it's normal that you feel this way.

Sam Conniff Is that a fair summary? It's a very fair summary. Yeah. Thank you for stopping me and capturing that. Although I'd say actually that's the probably stage two. The first step we've kind of skipped over because it was there in the beginning. And the first thing we really try and make clear to everyone is that uncertainty isn't the problem. Our ability at uncertainty is the problem, which we with you and I kind of covered, but we have to make the case that we've been kind of miss old uncertainty and it's very familiar territory for anyone in advertising. It's well said, you know, how many thousands of advertising messages that we see every single day. We did a semantic review of the word uncertainty and 96% of the time that you see uncertainty ever written down or here or anywhere, it's housed within a negative sentiment. Now is true that uncertainties we've said drives anxiety, learn nothing else, but history, and your own experience tells you that it's in moments of profound uncertainty of not knowing of having to pull it out from nowhere that actually brings out the very best of us. So at least uncertainty is equally positive and negative. And then we get into describing uncertainty tolerance. And as I've kind of alluded to, but I'll be very specific, uncertainty tolerance was discovered in the 1990s when we were seeing massive breakthroughs and understanding of anxiety and anxiety reduction by a series of psychologists in Canada. See tolerance is shown to a low tolerance for uncertainty, which will be the majority of people listening. It seems about 60% of people have a low tolerance to uncertainty. And that makes you feel less decisive. It can affect you physically, can make you feel more exhausted because the world takes a greater toll out of you. You're less able to collaborate. You certainly are less patient with people you don't understand, don't recognize and don't feel familiar with. Whereas high tolerance to uncertainty is a higher level of collaboration, better problem solving, a greater level of open mindedness, a higher measure. And this can be measured, a comfort with ambiguity. You can stay with a problem longer. Now this is fucking critical for the roles that we're in because problem definition is the essence of good marketing, right? And we know we've all been there. How quickly we know the teams we work with, the clients we've had great as a good solution. Let's go there. Well, wait, wait, wait. We haven't spent long enough with the problem, but we all know this, right? People would. And this is again proven in research. Human beings would prefer to be seen as indecisive, preferred to be seen as having made a bad decision than preferred to be seen as indecisive. That's pretty messed up in a world where it's so hard to make a decision. So the one on one is to accept that uncertainty can at least be as good for you as it is negative for you. And chances are, if you learn to navigate and negotiate it, the uncertainty can be really positive place. So we'll take and we'll make that case. There's I can bore you with the evidence we've got for that. And then we'll get into fear, fog and status. These are the three natural states that uncertainty pushes you into. And yes, you're absolutely right. They're natural. And let's increase your tolerance for them, because when you're there, they can provide many, many gifts. So how do we do it? All right. Three, the way through each of these, we follow the journeys of these uncertainty experts and hopefully that causes people to lean in. There's a story here you haven't heard before. It's rare in most, apart from on the standard fucking out course, actually, not just saying that, but it just came back to me. I was going to say, I haven't been on any courses where you're given really surprising case studies of countercultural people who otherwise would feel uncomfortable. But actually, in your course, you did that really well. And then just when we've got people really surprised, I introduced Katherine, Katherine Tempah Lewis, my lead scientist on the whole program. She was the one who introduced me to the team at UCL. She's a fantastic science communicator. She works with many of the big agencies currently working with Nike, helping them understand the benefits of emotion for performance. She'll come on and she'll explain the concepts that sit behind it. So in fear, the big concept we talk about really is something called emotional regulation. That's really just how do you stay calm? How do you recognize when your sympathetic nervous system is being triggered? And uncertainty affects us all as a threat response. And so all the cortisol and adrenaline that comes in when any kind of threat comes into our life is triggered. There's a really great piece of research around this is the fundamental fear of all human beings is the unknown. And that's been the case of earliest dawn of evolution because it was a matter of staying alive. And so in these moments of uncertainty, cortisol kicks in, adrenaline kicks in, and all of a sudden, you know, we go into a panic. And then what comes out is known as safety behaviors, psychologically speaking. So at home, a safety behavior, classic safety behavior, a beer, glass of wine, if that's your thing, or starting a fight or pulling up social media or whatever. And at work, it's copy a bunch of people into an email. So you're covering your ass, organize a meeting because you know how to organize a meeting, fish out the idea that you've said before, these repeated patterns that are short term fake safes because the much harder, more difficult thing is to stay there. So actually what we teach people to do is to handle the fear that fear is a good place to be. You can stay in that place. And actually fear becomes not a limiter, not a headwind that stops us, but fear becomes a tailwind drives people forward. There is a positive aspect to it. And it allows us to step towards action, momentum, and then into the into the second stage because being able to handle your fear then allows you to to deal with fog better as well. We give people a series of exits based on based on the science that we've done. So you can actually some of the obvious ones of breathwork through to understanding safety behaviors to some more cutting edge work around senses like interreception, which is still seen as so new. In fact, you can't even spell check interreception at the moment. But in terms of managing your emotions and being able to utilize fear, these things are really cool.

Louis Grenier So I want to dive into those practical exercise. But before that, you mentioned those amazing stories from all of those people who went through stuff that very few would ever be able to experience. Can you maybe pick one and maybe try to summarize or extract the biggest thing, you know, like the refugee or drug dealer, whatever, like whichever comes to mind, just so that, you know, listeners can understand this, the power, what it actually means to deal with

Sam Conniff uncertain times. Because you said refugee will go with resguardi. She was born in a refugee camp in Pakistan. She then migrated to New Zealand, where she grew up. And it was only in the wake of the 9-11 bombings that she really kind of came to terms with her own cultural identity because she found herself on the receiving end of quite a bit of racism. And that caused her to kind of go back, understand who she was, who she is. And then she pivoted this life and went into studying law and human rights, got to Harvard, graduates there and is now dedicated to helping other young refugees access, particularly girls, access education. When I interviewed her, she was in a bill just outside, just in Iraq. And she profoundly interesting case study here because she was clearly of a high intellect anyway. She graduated from Harvard as a human rights lawyer. But what she learned in refugee camps as a child surviving, as a young girl surviving in refugee camps, was what she called early on her gut instinct. She knew that as a phrase, but she became aware of going into a room and knowing whether she could trust or having a sense as to whether she could trust the people there, knowing that when she was hearing a conversation, decisions were being made, decisions that were outside of her control that she could trust. She had a sense of what was right and wrong beyond that, which that she could cognitively compute. And what she began to do was this process of having the sensation things don't feel right or things do feel right. Then going through the circumstances and then coming back and reflecting on that. Was my gut instinct right? How did it feel? Where was it in my body? Was it was it warm? Was it cold? And this is the skill I mentioned earlier on inter reception. Inter reception is your ability to translate your internal senses. Kids have bad inter reception. As you will know, they'll they'll say they need a wee when they're actually nervous or they'll say they're nervous when they need a wee. And our ability to have good interception takes us to incredible places. Some people just close their eyes and count their heartbeats. They can they can tell what's going on in their organs. And what this young woman, Rez, became able to do was to regulate, to understand her intuition. Now, she's a highly intelligent woman. So these two things begin to combine. She uses her cognitive abilities to process her intuition, intuitive abilities. And then something kicks in. We we know that AI and other technologies are beginning to outpace humans thinking ability. But there's no technology that even comes close to existing, which can connect or catch up with our EQ or AQ. These these these broadly sense and emotion based decision making frameworks. And then when you put them together, we overcome the dualism of Descartes and philosophy that's been around far too long. Something takes place and embodied cognition, as it's called, is thought to be the most radical idea in cognitive science, because essentially it's arguing we have two brains. And it's when you put all the sensors that take place in your gut and then move up your vagus nerve in beautiful coordination with your brain. That's where we're at our best. And as she tells me the story, I mean, she had no idea of embodied cognition, what it meant. But she told me that the intuition skills learned in a refugee camp, and now she combines with her cognitive ability and applies that to change the world for other refugees. I take that story back to the lab. Fantastic. This is the one of the best examples we've seen of embodied cognition in action. And they begin to explain that to me. And then we can return that to our audiences and give them some skills to increase their own levels of embodied cognition. So you can begin to see that the loop.

Louis Grenier This is such a fantastic story. And I love everything about the story. There's so many expressions in the English language, in the French language about this kind of stuff like, you know, my gut tells me I have this, you know, feeling I don't like this person. Like my wife would tell me something a lot. Like she she she's a very good reader of people. And whenever she meets someone new, like within a few seconds, she would look at me and I would know what she means, whether or not she likes that person. And it's kind of this gut feeling, right? Like that bubbles up all the way to the brain. Such a nice way to say it. And I'm there are neurons in the digestive system, right? Am I right to say that?

Sam Conniff Is that correct? Yeah, I don't know whether you're technically cool and neurons, but nonetheless, yes, certainly all throughout our inner gut and all throughout this system, actually throughout our body, there's like 50 million. We have the capacity to pick up 50 million bits of information in the same time frame that our brain can only process 50. So the compression rate between what your body can pick up and what your brain can pick up is insane. And if you're not tuning into that, that broader picture in the story of Rez, she's going into a room and a three dimensional ability to see what's to feel what's going on. You need that working in conjunction with your brain alone.

Louis Grenier There's something I've learned to do over the last few years is to really like, as you said before, it's like once I have an idea, once I have like a concept or an angle in my mind, like whether it's about helping a company or for my own product, it's like it's like the goose bumps. I would have goosebumps sometimes, not always. And when I have goosebumps, I try really to recognize it and say, ah, okay, there's something there. I'm scared about it, but you know, it's okay. And I recognize now as a sign of, okay, I need to double down on that. There is something there. If I don't feel anything, if like a client will say stuff like, yeah, it just doesn't feel right. And then, yeah, I've learned to try to trust it more because as you said as well, the first time in my career in my life, that I felt I was actually being myself and did something that was truly transformational in my heads anyway, was this podcast. And I really completely stopped rationalized trying to do something and I just followed my gut, right? I just followed my instinct to say, I just want to talk to smart people. I just want to do that. I'm on a fucking do that and let's go. So anyway, all I have to say, great story.

Sam Conniff So to everyone listening, this is a technique. So having said that, Louis, what I would say, so everybody knows this and they have those moments. You're like, I know this, I feel this. This is the idea we should go with. Now, this is very, very hard in marketing. And I think at the moment, marketing is under extreme pressure in holding on to what it's best at. You know, it is a creative and strategic discipline, but there's been an overdefinition to data, which is interesting and necessary, but there is an overdefinition to data and a misinterpretation of data that happens a lot. There is a huge clamp on budgets. There's a saturation of the market and there's also this huge herd mentality. And all of those things can overwhelm the sense of creative instinct. So the action is, Louis and anyone listening, can you describe what it feels like in your body when you know you're right? When you have that sense of, yeah, this is the thing. Can you put it into words?

Louis Grenier Where do you feel? Like I have this sensation, the tingling sensation all the way from my feet all the way to my head.

Sam Conniff So it's shown if you can name it, then you can train it. You can train it. So it's easy to say, where does fear feel in your body? Everyone's more familiar with that. What does regret feel you? But if you can next time you look, I feel this is wrong. I feel this is right. Where is that? What does it feel like? And then go through the circumstance, pitch the idea, have a negotiation, launch the podcast, and then reflect again, just like Res did. And it's that process of let feel it. Understand it, explain it, name it, and then reflect on it. Was I right? And once you've gone through that process several times and then you begin to you can recognize, fuck me, every time I feel that way and then I reflect on it after the circumstance, I know I can rely on my gut instinct and you will then be able to have more and more reliance and confidence on your gut instinct. There's a lovely, there's a great theory called conviction narrative theory. And I'll dive into this if you don't mind, because I think it would be really useful for marketers. And body cognition is this very powerful sense where we can outpace any technology, right? Because we're using all of the these two brains in a word commerce. Now the brain has no understanding of abstract concepts like time. Brain doesn't give a shit. In fact, the brain doesn't actually give a shit whether it's it's you've had the experience or whether it's learned its experience from somewhere else. And this is why culture and marketing is so important. Because a really well told story, a beautiful film and a moving piece of theatre or art can be so powerful that the brain can update its predictive model of the world around it. Or if something if a loved one tells you the terrible thing that happened to them crossing the road, you know, you will become more wary of crossing the road. So it doesn't need to be your experience to update our outlook on the world in a similar way. You can use embodied cognition in future states. If you can project yourself into the future of pitching this idea of having that negotiation. If you can really simulate it, if you can emotionally inhabit that future state by describing it, imagining it and doing whatever whatever tools you can to try and inhabit it. You can then look to your emotions. So I'm imagining I'm there a week from now and I'm putting forward this great big idea. And what does the client say? How do I feel? What does it look like? And your gut instinct will kick in because it doesn't give it. It doesn't know, you know, the time is just an abstract concept. And then you can bring some of those sensations back to the present time and inform your decisions. And that's not that sounds like weird back to the future ship. It's called conviction narrative theory. You can look it up. Conviction narrative theory. So the worst acronym in science, CNT, right? There's this quite fun overlap between how bad science is and naming things and explaining things. You know, there could be some brilliant interdisciplinary work done more between creatives, marketers and science. CNT.

Louis Grenier Yeah, who came out that shit? Does it work as well by looking back at moments of, you know, like it worked really well and to go back in that time? Yeah, absolutely.

Sam Conniff So, you know, can I trust my gut instinct? Yes, you can. You can do it the next few times you go through this. But yes, also go back and can you really bring back that sense of emotion that you had in that time? And yeah, absolutely.

Louis Grenier Okay, so two exercises that you mentioned already. So the first one is to like feel it and name it, describe it, like try to really like almost rationalize it or it's not exactly the right verb, but make it real.

Sam Conniff Like, yeah, by articulating the emotion, you're then calling your brain and body into some degree of collaboration. So name where it feels. Can you explain the temperature of it, the location of it, the sensation of it? And then what descriptive words can you put around it? This will increase your interreceptive abilities. And interreception. Imagine you're… Go ahead. And interreception is a word you will consistently hear more of. And I think it's a really useful skill for marketers because it's, you know, it's a cornerstone of well-being. So it goes back to your first point. How can we look for signs that we might be heading towards burnout? But also it allows us to improve our skills of judgment and intuition. And that is key for creatives and key for taking and making risks.

Louis Grenier Okay. So what else? What else can we do?

Sam Conniff Well, the middle one, so overcoming the fog, right? We found this one really interesting because what everyone wants is clarity. I don't like this place of fog. No one likes the place of fog. And so you start to realize how the brain works in times of uncertainty. The widely held understanding of the brain is the Bayesian model, which is… Suggests… Well, actually more than suggests. I'll use strongly that the brain is a prediction machine. So it's constantly just making a series of predictions based on the experiences you've had. Rationalizing to try and keep you safe. And the brain is born with a negativity bias of around one in 10. So of every 10 things that might come your way, nine, no chance, no thanks. That's going to make me look stupid. That's going to go wrong. One, yeah, all right, give it a go. It was widely thought by psychologists that the negativity bias in the beginning of the 21st century had gone up to about 201. And that's because, you know, there's endless notifications, various things that can go wrong, your sorts of advertising messages telling us how terrible things could go or how badly we might look. A 200 to one ratio is pretty severe. Right? Mad. Madness, isn't it? But this is our natural state of negativity and of worry. There's great stats, my favorite stats by the National Science Foundation, who estimate that the average human being has about 50,000 thoughts a day. Of which… Right. I think of which 80% are negative. That can't make sense. Most of our thoughts are worries. But of that 80%, 90% of them are exactly the same as yesterday. Right? So we're having this today. Most of our thoughts are these worries and most of those thoughts repeat. And that is kind of funny, but if you think about the thoughts you've had today, okay, it feels frighteningly familiar. And then actually of those negative thoughts that we're having on repeat, only 2% of them ever come true. And of the 2% that come true, 95% of the respondents said they learned something or they grew as a result of their worry coming true. So the likelihood of your worries coming true is infinitesimally small. And even when they do, chances are you're going to learn something as a result. And embracing that fact means that suddenly that place of fog is a place of learning and growth, that place of doubt. If you can hold on to this idea that doubt is a place of discovery. Now, it's not what we like because there's a budget, there's a client, we haven't got much time, can you have a brainstorm? But we need an idea now, right? But actually staying for as long as you can in doubt is a place of discovery. And creativity. And these times of great fog are almost air cover. And I would argue that if in moments like this, and perhaps the last couple of years, if you haven't taken some of the biggest risks of your career, then you're going to feel like you've missed out because we can get away with shit in times like this. And that's really the opportunity of it. And whilst what we wanted to do is show people how to find clarity in fog, we couldn't say that was honest. And so what we do is we show people how to develop and increase their sense of agility and of adaptiveness. And that comes down to recognising that all that worry is just a necessary natural part of the brain. But our ability to increase our brain's opportunity for predictive processing, to increase the palette of possible opportunities that we'll have is where the place of fog becomes a teacher.

Louis Grenier So 80% of 90% of 2% or 5% is actually 0.07%. So that means there is only a 0.07% chance that whatever action you're going to take, you're not going to learn anything and it's going to end up in chaos.

Sam Conniff I can't be relied on for maths, but that sounds good. Yeah. But again, what it really means is our fear of uncertainty is far greater than the likelihood of uncertainty leading to anything bad. And so if we can begin to hold on to that, then we can tolerate the place. Oh, shit, I don't know what's going on. I'm going to stay here and see how I feel. We know our tendency. Right, I quickly want to answer. And that's like when we saw in the pandemic, how quickly did we get to the new normal? And how quickly do old ideas just get resurfaced and rebadged? And how quickly, as soon as someone says, well, just do the X strategy, we feel reassured and we're like, OK, yeah, we'll do that. And then we all coalesce and we're like, oh, yeah, great, because we've done that before. And it's a fine line because there is truth in experience and over time with experience, you've got a set of heuristics, you've done this before, you know that method works. And so you want to call on those when you don't know what's going on. And sometimes that really works. But when is heuristics or a rule of thumb, the lazy approach? And that's a tough choice for creative people and leaders to make. But knowing that you've spent long enough in a place of doubt to lead the discovery, knowing that you have a kneejerk back into something that you've tried before is an interesting muscle to flex. And when we do increase the realms of what's possible in our brain, we are more likely to be able to tolerate the differences that make uncertainty such a dangerous place. The world is increasingly uncertain. And if our response is, can I have a 30 second version? Can I have two options? Can you simplify this for me? Which is a trend that we're in. We lack the ability for nuanced, difficult debate. And this isn't a world that needs less nuanced debate.

Louis Grenier One very powerful thought that I'm cultivating, that I now believe 100% certainty, is that whatever happens to me, if I fall figuratively, I'll stand back up. I'll figure shit out. And that helped me tremendously over the last few years. It's like, whatever happens, I'll figure it out. I have a consulting tomorrow. I don't know all the answers. But I'll fucking figure it out. That helped so much. That liberates you, doesn't it? Yeah.

Sam Conniff And I think this is really necessary. The idea that we have to consider failure as an option. We slightly got it wrong. I think I over-celebrated the notion of failure. Because I know a lot of firms where they have failure written on the wall as something you should celebrate. But I don't know anyone that got a promotion because of the failing. But if we consider that the opportunity to fail is one of the things that we need to do, and knowing that that option is going to be good and will lead us to places we haven't been before, it won't make us like it less or make it feel nice. But we recognize there's something on the other side of it. The famous quote is Nietzsche, of course. You know, life's school of war. Whatever doesn't kill you will make you stronger. Now, that's an axiomatic truth. Everyone knows that. We've all been through these things. But next time something comes your way that looks like it might kill you, you don't know what's coming. It's great. This is going to make me stronger. We don't know, of course not. But if we can just begin to say, all right, fuck, this is coming bollocks, I've got to go through this. But I can recognize that as I go through this, I am post-traumatic stress is driven by exactly the same circumstances as post-traumatic growth. But because of our negativity bias, we don't read or understand as much about post-traumatic growth. But it's just as just as much of an outcome as any trauma will tell us. One of the questions we ask in uncertainty experts is people are watching the documentary. A series of questions come up on the screen, which they allowed to reflect privately and anonymously around. One of those questions is what's the greatest uncertainty that you're proudest to have overcome? The question is deliberately paradoxical. The questions were written for us in conjunction with Eniko Katoomala, who is the empathy designer for the Finnish government, which is just possibly one of the best jobs in the world. Her art and empathy design is around asking good questions. So we present this question. What's the greatest diversity that you're proudest to have overcome? And like I say, thousands of people have gone through this thing. And just to see the anonymous responses, human beings are amazing. We go through some fucking shit. The list is very rarely does anyone say anything, try it. It's divorce, it's upset, it's death, it's dysfunctions. And the next question is, of course, what did you learn from it? And people come back, like you say. And you can look at this. Look at this list and look how people respond to it. That is what it means to be human. And is that how we go into the problems we face? Arguably not. No, because we allow our negativity bias to say, oh, this is going to be the one that kills me. This is the end of it. And if we can just move that needle down towards, okay, this is going to be hard. But I'm definitely going to get better as a result of it. We begin to increase our capacity for uncertainty, not just our capacity for tolerating it, but our capacity to become more opportunistic, more creative, more robust, more collaborative as a result of it, not in spite of it.

Louis Grenier So the question, the big question to ask ourselves is what's the biggest uncertainty that you are the proudest of having overcome? I'm bastardizing it. Can you repeat the question?

Sam Conniff The question we ask is what is the greatest adversity that you are proudest of overcome? And the pride of the adversity, because lots of people will go into difficult times and it would trigger feelings of guilt, shame, failure, you know, all sorts of negative traits. So the question of what are you, the adversity you're proudest of overcome frames this in, and I think hopefully an interesting and useful way. So briefly, in one sentence, what is the greatest adversity that you are the proudest? Divorce. Or whatever. I got divorced five years ago and I've got two little girls, they were more little there. And I'd had this kind of great romance with my ex, it was, and I was quite public about it. And the sense of failure, and I had my, I lost my dad when I was very little, so I had all these kind of ideals about families and what they should be and quite a few hangups about relationships. And so the sense of failure, man, was huge, not just failure, the sense of shame was really profound and complex and I didn't know what to do. And actually it happened, I was the same age my dad was when he died and my oldest daughter was the same age I was when he died. So there's all this kind of like layers and layers. This isn't a sentence anymore, it actually is because I haven't stopped, so it's just a very long sentence. And now we're a few years into it and I'm so proud of me, my ex, how we collaborate, how we co-parent, we get asked all the time by our friends who have relationship difficulties for advice on it. Kids are in great shape, we live just around the house, corner from each other. And it didn't end up I had marriage, so to divorce, well, I mean, that's fucking difficult, hard and I learned so much. I have skills that I apply every single day because of that experience.

Louis Grenier But if you told me- What's the number one skill you apply to that you've learned? Listening. This.

Sam Conniff An emotional level. I've always thought I was quite good at listening, but really a lot of the time I was preparing my clever response. But actually, listen to someone's feelings and listen with my feelings has changed my abilities as a human being, as a dad, as a friend, and many other places too.

Louis Grenier Thanks for sharing, man. So transitioning a bit, going back to the things we talked about, so the fear we talked about, the fog, did we talk about the entire technique or is there more to this?

Sam Conniff The way out fog is to increase your ability for predictive processing is to reduce your negativity bias. And one of the key ways of doing that, if you want a technique for each one, is to violate your stereotypes. The number one method of addressing any of the 360 something biases there are is to find counterintuitive exemplars. So really radical role models. So if your bias is about age or size or background or ethnicity or whatever it is, and you're trying to overcome it, spend time with people who reflect your bias back at you. There's nothing more powerful to unhinge and overcome that bias than just spending time. And or even if you admire something, if someone's got a trait that actually you feel uncomfortable with or you'd really like, it's osmosis, spending time in those circles. Role modeling is one of the most powerful ways that we learn. And again, as with everything else we've discussed, there are some human aspects to all of this that we sometimes think our way out of. So yes, if you want to update your predictive model of the world, if you want to understand an audience going back to marketing or a client difficulty or a particular challenge amongst the group that you want to infiltrate, there is nothing that can beat spending time and long amounts of time with that group.

Louis Grenier Yeah, that's fantastic advice. I absolutely love that. That explains why, for example, diverse teams with folks coming from different backgrounds, educated differently, not educated properly or whatever, perform better than teams who are just like white dudes like us coming from middle-class background or whatever. And that's proven time and time again, right? That it really enhances creativity and the right sense of the word. So the last one is status. The first two I get is no problem, right? Fionn, Fogg, very good summary of the stuff you said. Status seems a bit different from, you know, you said the meh, you know, like, you know, feel meh, whatever. How does that relate to status?

Sam Conniff Stasis. So stasis. The words were feeling stuck. I feel listless. I feel hopeless, purposeless, meh. People are just running around and, you know, I certainly know that. I mean, when you get hit by fear, Fogg, and stasis all at once, it's, you know, then you're in real trouble. And these things happen in different ways. There's not necessarily a hierarchy to them. But a feeling of stuck is really what this point is getting to. And that's for a number of reasons. Uncertainty creates a sense of dissonance. Dissonance is effectively when two or more perspectives on the world don't add up. So this is what I'm expecting to happen, and this is what happened. Fuck, that didn't happen. And so dissonance is a horrible feeling, and it leads to a chemical feeling. And if it continues after a while, it has a negative effect physically and emotionally. So you can just become pretty stuck. The exhaustion of uncertainty, because you're on high alert, high arousal, you can wear you out. You can feel stuck. Because it erodes confidence and critical thinking. We can feel stuck. So it's come to the nastiest and most difficult of all of them. And what we really wanted to do was to find an answer which is like, here you go, here's the magic ingredient, get moving again. And that wasn't it. Wasn't it at all. And it was annoying, because fear for constasis makes a really good acronym. And I was very pleased with that. And so I wanted my solutions to lead to a similarly good one. But it wasn't the case. The thing that we found again and again that showed people the way out of feeling stuck was a sense of connection. When people felt they were able to connect to themselves, to who they are, or who they really want to be, or if the easiest one is to connect to other people, people who mean something to you. And there's lots of ways you can do that. Or to connect into a sense of purpose. What's the reason I want to be here? Or connect into my business or connect into it. I need to make some money. Whatever it is, that sense of connection is then what allowed people to pull up and get out of that space.

Louis Grenier Well, yeah. I mean, it's so well summarized and yet so powerful. That's not a cliché. That's really true. Your ability to be able to say, this is it, this is how you solve it, it's fantastic to know this. And a lot of people would know that, again, they might know that in their gut, but they wouldn't be able to say, oh yeah, but that's it, really. When I feel like shit, spend time with friends, people you really love. When I feel like shit, look back at why are you even here? What are you doing that for? Who are you? What do you believe in? Quick anecdote, quick story. Eight years ago, when I first started my business, I had 20 grand in my bank account and I basically wanted to do a startup. Pretty fast, it didn't work out. I knew that was a good move. And my then-fiancee was saying that you need to bring money in because this is just not sustainable. And so I switched to consulting. And the sense of this disconnect between who I was truly, you know who I am now. We met before, we had several calls, we never met face to face, but I think you get a sense of who I am. Who I am now versus who I was projecting then, wearing three-piece suits and trying to act like a consultant was just, it just was very, very hard on me. I didn't realize it until later, but this disconnect was so bad. When you really try to fit into a box and you belong somewhere else, it's just such a hard thing, isn't it?

Sam Conniff It's a really hard thing. It's a really hard thing. And again, this goes to the sense of distance when we're out of sorts, when I'm not acting in the way that I really believe in. But it's a really tough one as well because I think a lot of people don't know, I've had a really tough couple of years emotionally and staying with the kind of confidence and creativity I've had before. And people will say to me this really annoying line, just be yourself. That's when you do your best. And I don't know what that means. Which self they might be referring to, or that any one of those particular selves I think is on that solid ground. So, you know, there's so much talk about purpose, so much is true about purpose, and there's so much bullshit around purpose. But sometimes it's really fucking hard to know what your purpose is. But connection isn't so hard. There is someone that you love and spending time with them, looking them deep in the eye, having a conversation that's beyond the banality of life. You know, there is a truth in nature connectedness, getting outside, you know, taking your earphones out, truly appreciating the small bits. And there's a sense of connection. Again and again, it's easier to get to yourself, to your body, to get back in your body, whether that's breathing, fighting, running, doing something physical. And all of these forms of connection are basic and they can feel obvious and they can feel trite, but god damn they work. And it comes out to all of you who are listening, and this is sounding useful, but again, how do we apply it? So the thing I could suggest that you apply here is something that's known as construal theory. And construal theory, effectively, there's two gears. So you have the daily gear, which is you've got a good to do list, you know the things that you've got to get, you've got your master's, you need to hit this much income, you need to get that stuff done, you need to have these three different conversations. What are the big things you need to get done? But your other gear is what's the meaning of all of this? What is the goal that you're trying to get to? And that might be a little bit of a challenge and that might be your profound belief in proving that marketing has meaning, or it might be that you need to find a deposit for a house, it doesn't matter, but there's something to believe in. And the switch between these two gears is what keeps us going through times of uncertainty, because sometimes just having a big picture is a bit too intangible, you know what I mean? I know I believe in both, I need to get my hands on something. But if you just got to do this, so you're just navigating your way through the world, well actually, you need a little bit of belief, you need a bit of energy, you need a higher level of thinking as well. And being able to, knowing what they both are, effectively write your to-do list in the morning and remind yourself where you believe in. Being able to move between the two things is shown again and again and again to help human beings keep moving, to maintain that sense of momentum and to avoid the trap of getting stuck.

Louis Grenier One little exercise, if I may add to this, that helps usually is to look at the negative space. And what I mean by this is instead of trying to figure out who you are, what you believe in, write down what you don't believe in, what you hate. Basically lean on that negativity bias because that's, as you said, your brain will primarily think of negative shit. I do that all the time, that helps me so much every time. It grounds things, knowing who you're fighting against, what you're fighting against, really helps figure out who you are, what you believe in.

Sam Conniff I think you're spot on with that and there's an aspect of the course I really, really enjoyed. And part of your course got given some of the big surprises was in exactly that space. And this goes into the second world, how do you overcome the fog of uncertainty, this predictive model of the brain. So the brain is incredibly effective energy saving device. It takes up about 20% of the total weight of the body, but it uses about 80% of the energy and it will do anything it can to protect. So a simple one that we use in the show is around optical illusions. And it's very, very easy to show with an optical illusion how quickly the brain is willing just to not see negative space, to not see what's there. As soon as it's got a pattern, then it's very hard to see what it thought wasn't there. And this I think is essential to marketeers at the moment. I think the negative space of advertising is, you know, it's well documented and discussed, the business model. But actually beyond the current technical business model, there's an existential business model. You know, the world is currently so far over its capacity that Earth Overshoot Day, as it's called, is the day every year when the volume of natural resources that we've created in this world equal to the number of human beings there are will run out. And ever since it's being recorded, it moves closer and closer. At the moment, it's around about middle of August. So by the middle of August, we really shouldn't use any shit. Considering the majority of advertising is based on selling shit, and I mean that respectfully to a lot of the stuff that we try to sell, there's a lot of important stuff. Nonetheless, if your work in advertising is around consumer behavior, you've got a really interesting question to ask ourselves. What is the point of this? Actually, the brief isn't necessarily shift more units. The brief of advertising is this creative strategic stronghold that has been responsible for such shifts in human behavior. What is its role in a post-consumerist society? What is its role when we realign our ideas around growth for the sake of growth? And what is our role and this ability that we have to do differently, as we increasingly can't hold the logic together of a world that's built on not just sustainability, let's have sustainable behaviors, but based on truly unsustainable and extractive capitalism, so desperately trying to protect and preserve this notion of progress, which is such a limited view on where we are and actually drives part of the main causes of the problems that we're in. And that I think is the really interesting brief to advertising marketing. It's a very hard one because it's so absolutely caught up in so many of the things that are identified day in, day out as problematic. But the advertising industry needs to get its hands around it else it's going to have its kind of palm oil moment. And the toxicity of the rampant consumerism in the face of unavoidable catastrophe means that I think there's a really interesting brief and it is in the negative space and it's the hard space to look at, but it's there.

Louis Grenier So to summarize all the stuff that you shared, I'm going to try my best on that. So uncertainty is not the problem. How we deal with uncertainty is the problem. We tend to be more afraid of, we tend to prefer to take a bad decision rather than get into an uncertain state for longer. There's like three signs of like the way we deal badly with uncertainty, the fear, the fog and being stuck, right? And then we share like some techniques you shared about like describing the feeling, the physical feeling, the temperature, where it is in your body, how does it feel to know like when you're doing something right. Imagine also that you're there and that you're in that, that you've done what you wanted to do, you've succeeded, how does it feel? You share this example of this refugee. And then for fighting the fog, it's about the fact that we said 0.07% of all thoughts basically will happen will turn out like you thought it would. And the question to ask yourself is what is the greatest adversity that you face, that you're the proudest of having overcome? Another way is to validate your stereotype, as you said, and to look for radical role models to really go outside of your own bias, to fight your bias outside of your own circle.

Sam Conniff Yeah, and to be stuck. That was to violate your stereotypes, not validly. You've got to violate those stereotypes.

Louis Grenier Sorry, violate. I can't even fucking read my own stuff. So violate your stereotype. And then for the feeling stuck is as simple as getting back to the sense of connection, connection with nature, connection with yourself, connection with others, connection with your purpose and why you're here. Is that a fair summary?

Sam Conniff Fucking excellent summary, mate. Come and help me sort out the marketing around it some more.

Louis Grenier Well, yeah, I can send you some prices, no problem. Okay, before I let you go, I could only say I could talk with you for hours. I think listeners are catching the fact that I like you, which is not always the case. I like your listeners, too.

Sam Conniff What are the top three resources you'd recommend listeners today? I would recognise doing all you can to get outside the world of marketing. I think marketing suffers the age-old description of madness, which is it likes to talk to itself about itself. So I would thoroughly recommend looking at some of the really interesting resources at the moment around framing. And I don't mean pictures. I mean things like the Reset Narratives Group or the Framework Institute. I've come into it mainly through arguments around climate negotiations and climate crisis. But it's such an interesting science. And it is a science. Understanding how a problem is framed and then how we describe that problem and the role of language and semantics that comes through. And you can't underestimate the importance of this. In fact, the 19 Indigenous population gathering two years ago to decide how the Indigenous populations of the world are going to try and negotiate with the rest of the world. Because they're the existential threats that they face. Number one thing they wanted, number one demand wasn't repatriation. It was a change in language. So language in human beings is massively important. So I would urge anyone in marketing to really go and get their heads around the science of framing. And then I would push people towards philosophy. I think there is some really interesting great work being done in lots of different modern philosophers at the moment. But I would really recommend Bioamicalafe. He runs a course that is just, I mean, I think his stuff is really profound. He doesn't at all suggest that his work is in marketing. But I think it's very relevant to the world we're in. And then thirdly, I'd suggest Be More Pirate, which is my book. And I wrote it as a love letter to the possibility of marketing. I came into marketing. My first two agencies, Don't Panic and Liberty, were to change the industry and to prove that marketing can be a force for good in the world. And after 20 years of running those two guys, I believe that just as passionately as ever. But I think it's harder than ever to do so. And so as I left those, Be More Pirate was my love letter to how we fuck shit up, make good trouble, and rewrite the rules of an industry that's desperately needed,

Louis Grenier but has desperately lost its way. Sam, where can people connect with you? By the way, we've been splendid, just to let you know. It's been really good. Your words are like a nice cup of tea that you've been longing for for like two hours because you couldn't just get it. And you're like, that nice, it's warm. It's, ah, yes. You know, it's like listening to you. I think I'm going to actually take the recording and listen to it to fall asleep peacefully. I'm not saying this is boring. I'm just saying it brings me to the state of calmness. So yeah. Thank you very much. Going back, sorry, sorry. I was just daydreaming. Going back to how can people connect with you?

Sam Conniff Pretty easily. I'm the only, I'm the only Sam. There's only one other Sam Conniff that I've tracked down. It's a woman in America. So you can probably distinguish us. But I'm just Sam Conniff on the various platforms. I'm not very good at replying unless it's really important. Or I'm Sam at Sam Conniff. Or you'll find uncertainty experts will be more pirate with a simple search, but please do come and track down what we're doing. And if you can help share, and if there's any way what we're doing can be more useful. The uncertainty experts is a project that we have huge ambitions for. It's interesting and great working with the likes of Apple and Netflix and Nike, changing the uncertainty to show us their teams. But this year we want to start seeing how that plans out in the health service, in education with young people, with people on the front lines of uncertainty and in societies desperately facing uncertainty where normally that drives division and conflict. What if the work we're doing can bring people together and allow us to sit more with our nuanced problems rather than be led into the black and white, yes and no, in and outs of binary decision making that's so prevalent at the moment. So yeah, if it's interesting, please come and get involved. Oh, and also if you are listening and you're anywhere on that spectrum, especially for the freelancers out there, we do have an honesty box. So if you're between work, you're an employee, you're a student, you can get access to all the stuff we do about 20% or whatever you can afford. So whilst I'm naming name dropping the kind of clients we work for, we're also trying to make this really accessible. So that's not a sell, it's a request for help to try and make this as powerful as it can be. Sam, if it's planned, thank you so much for your time. Thank you, Louis, very much indeed. I really appreciate this and you.

Creators and Guests

Louis Grenier
Louis Grenier
The French guy behind Everyone Hates Marketers
Sam Conniff 🏴‍☠️
Sam Conniff 🏴‍☠️
Creator of #UncertaintyExperts & Author of "Be More Pirate"
How to Navigate the Most Uncertain Time in History (While Becoming Less Anxious & Avoiding Burnout)
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