Wake me up in the middle of the night and ask me my favourite movie. A tough choice, but the odds incline strongly for Alice Through the Looking Glass. That movie works so well on so many levels, it’s hard to resist. I know you have long lists of Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and Park Chan-wook’s Old Boy, and Nolan’s Dark Night and I understand. But at 2 AM, Alice wins.
Here’s why! It’s delightful, it makes super duper complicated time bending stuff look like play, it’s witty as hell (“I got time on my hands!”) and lands a biggie flawlessly: friendship wins the day. Not to speak of the perfectly understated “girls can do it!”. And all that makes me feel like walking into my favourite 60’s looking diner in London, ready for tea with my mad party of friends.
That ease, by the way, is a completely different story to produce. Head to the idea kitchen, where the piles of half torn thoughts, scratched promising opening lines and drama premises pile to the ceiling. Let the fried brain smoke guide you. It looks effortless because there’s none left to show. It’s all in there.
How do you make stuff like that? Other than you think and stare into some void in front of you, you mean? Well, you establish a universe. Here it’s Alice’s but with you, it’s yours. Your legal practise or coaching boutique or tech start-up.
And then you choose your building blocks. It’s the toughest job there is. But if you choose well, you’re there. You made it. And since you create this world for yourself, you may just as well steal, oh, scratch that, borrow from other worlds.
What do I mean? Ever wondered what Chanel chose? In a world of fluff and corsets, she chose masculine lines and comfort. The Romanesque purity and Baroque of the ceremonial garments in the monastery of Aubazine where Coco grew up. Jersey, a fabric so unworthy of couture they only used it in the military. Black, the colour of servants and mourning. Tweed. The camellia. The pearl. Those were her DNA. Her vocabulary of fashion. And then she mixed them again and again to make magic like the jacket, the little black dress, the bag.
Your universe, your website, your headline go after the exact same principle. You establish the universe. Fiat www.yourbusiness.com! You choose to populate it with your key building blocks: your camellias, your pearls and jerseys. And then you combine them again and again into your story, talks, pitches, presentation.
It’s what I listen for when I work with my clients, anyway. What’s his thing? What does she get back to again and again? What’s underneath all that? What’s this jersey I’m feeling right now? And it goes into your about page.
You know what I do when I can’t hear it? Two things: I either ask more questions or I go watch Alice Through the Looking Glass again. Just to resharpen, calibrate and clean my instrument. It’s how I know I’m in tune and ready to rock with you.