When I first started in this field, there were always people I greatly admired for their effortless ability to come up with new ideas, to find solutions to complex problems or just to see deeper into problems on first glance than I could after an hour of careful thought.

This bothered me a lot in my early years because I thought it was a sign of an innate ability that they possessed and I didn’t. Lucky for me, I’m not one to give up, but to try and supplement my downfalls with an extra helping of elbow grease. And as it turns out, over the years of grinding, I’ve learned a valuable lesson about this myth of “innate ability.” So, I’d like to take a moment and share how even I, without genetic predisposition, have hacked my brain to do what it was that I admired so much.

Anyone who has ever read “BLINK” by Malcolm Gladwell knows that your brain is the most powerful calculator of information known to man. In 1/100ths of a second your brain can analyze everything you’ve ever seen, experienced, learned, or felt and spit out highly accurate predictions or analyses of situations with little or no conscious thought. The secret is in hacking that ability.

With that in mind, you just need to look at the habits of people who are able to achieve extremely difficult feats under extreme duress with little or no thought… like soldiers, or pro athletes. And that habit is always the same… Training, training and more training.

While marketers can’t run drills and obstacle courses like a professional athlete, they can do something similar with their brains to create mental acuity. And with that comes my personal compilation of steps that will help you hack into your “A-ha moments.”

  1. Read everything you can about Marketing: theory, past strategies, new strategies, what’s hot, what’s not, who’s who, expert critiques about marketing, etc. Be a sponge. Take in as much as your mind will accept, and then keep going.
  2. Study new creative, old creative, their strategies, their communications and compare them all to one another: Look at ads, then find more ads from the same campaign, then look at the other communication from the same era, find connections, find the “message”, pick them apart, ask your friends opinions, ask your co-workers opinions, listen.
  3. Compare and contrast EVERYTHING. Find connections, find correlations, find similarities, find differences, identify the “why” behind each, get inside the mind of the consumer, get inside the mind of the creators, get inside the mind of the brand. Do everything you can to understand each perspective.
  4. Examine the complexity of the psychology behind decision making: consistently analyze your own mental activity in your day to day purchases and with your brand interactions. Ask questions of your friends, your family, your co-workers as to their experiences with the same things, analyze the similarities and differences.
  5. Continue to mix all of this knowledge together to create a your own personal knowledge of the intricacies of the marketplace, the internalization of the brand experience, form your own intrinsic understanding of what it means to be a brand.

It’s this personalization of ideas, this personal connections that you will have made that will weld them to your brain as if placed there by genetics. And this, by proxy, will allow you to harness the true subconscious calculation power of your brain.

So, the next time someone is searching for a unique perspective, the only thing you will have to do is to give YOUR unique perspective of it as you understand it. And there it is… your “A-ha” moment. Time and time again.