2016 – The Year in (The Agency) Review

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Welcome to our fifth edition of The Year in (the Agency) Review!

First, as always, thank you for reading. Either regularly or periodically. And for subscribing. We appreciate it. Really.

And now we come to the end of 2016. What a year.

For us, there were sixteen new posts and nine more that those lovely people at Advertising Age allowed us to repost Not as many as in some years, more than in others. So it goes.

Which of those sixteen posts got the most traction last year? Once again our September 2012 review of Hey Whipple Squeeze This. Maybe that’s because we keep assigning it in classes we teach (on the other hand, we don’t teach 1200 kids a year). Second was 2015’s edition of The Year in (The Agency) Review, and third was this year’s review of Rick Webb’s terrific book Agency. Fun fact – we hope to interview Mr. Webb sometime in 2017, so keep your eyes open for that.

Speaking of interviews, we dropped the ball a bit with those this year, logging only five, and for that we offer our deepest apologies. That said, tremendous thanks to everyone who took the time out of their busy days to discuss their books with us, including Gideon Amichay (our most viewed interview this year), David Marinaccio, Virginia Postrel, Tim Halloran and Robin Marantz Henig.

(And remember, if you’re not a subscriber, all of these are now available to you. If you are a subscriber, you saw them first – and thanks for subscribing. And if you’re not a subscriber, you really should be).

Also only six editions of our feature “Backstory” this year, so much gratitude to Adam Herstig, (our top viewed Backstory), Ruchika Kumar, Jamie Collins, Rachel Zisser Kaplowitz, Augusto Marolla, and Rich Lalley for taking time to participate. These too are now available to everyone (and if you’d like to participate, please see us after the show).

But what’s past is prologue as someone once wrote. Or said another way, get on with it.

As in past years, we asked a variety of smart people – from legendary creative directors to investigative journalists to hot podcasters and beyond – three simple questions:

What was the book you loved this year?

What is the book you’re looking forward to reading next year?, and

What is the book you wish someone would write because you would read it in a heartbeat?

As in past years we’ve gotten quite an interesting mix of responses, many of which will no doubt make their way into the stacks of books by our desk and eventually into the Review.

In the meantime, thanks again to everyone for their support – from readers and subscribers to authors to publicists and publishers to marketers of every stripe. We are consistently amazed at your support, advice and encouragement.

Best wishes to you all for a tremendous 2017.

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Jeffrey L. Bowman is founder, president and CEO of REFRAME: The [Brand]TM, “The McKinsey of Culture”, which provides Total Market Enterprise TM advisory, education and training through an SaaS platform. Bowman first pioneered this new communications model – which bridges the general market and multicultural marketing communications approach – while at Ogilvy & Mather, where he was senior partner and managing director.

Author of REFRAME The Marketplace: The Total Market Approach to Reaching the New Majority as well as the highly acclaimed “The Cross-Cultural Report” and the “Brand Cross-Cultural Index,” Bowman has become advertising’s most recognized pioneering thought-leader and practitioner of the Total Market approach, which challenges the approach to marketing and advertising developed in the 1950s and taps into the new and emerging consumer segments that are currently transforming the world’s population.

Book I loved this year: 

In 2016 I read Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas L. Friedman. Friedman really does a good job of articulating the time and moment we are in. In 2015 when we positioned our company, REFRAME: The Brand, we positioned it as a business acceleration company. Not many people understood our value proposition initially because brands and pitch consultants wanted to group us as a multi-cultural or general professional services company. Given the macro shifts in technology, climate change and globalization, many people will get left behind if they do not change their enterprise organization as individuals commit to life-long learning because things are shifting so fast.

Book I’m looking forward to reading:

I’d like to read Barak Obama’s next book. Not to get too political in this climate, but we all should be proud of what America was able to do. Still a long way to go, but it was a substantial step in the right direction.

I think the book, though it’s yet to be written and published, will give us a glimmer of what’s to come in the United States and globally. If done right, it will be a blueprint for how you prepare America and the world for the New Majority through change management practices.

Book I wish someone would write:

We really have an opportunity to put the middle class and under-served back to work. This will require both low-tech and high tech. We literally just lived through the beginning of a lifetime event with the technology age. What’s different about this event versus other lifetime events is that there was a global impact AND a local one. If someone writes a book about how we begin to solve for this, then I’m all over it. I have some thoughts and will continue to work on introducing my point of view in 2017. 

Tom Cunniff is the founder of Cunniff Consulting, a B2B marketing strategy firm for brands in tech, supply chain, and services. If it’s AI or Blockchain or just complicated as hell to explain, he’s the guy to call. Founded/sold a successful early digital agency, former client-side marketer and Chairman of the ANA Digital Committee, and wrote for the J. Peterman catalog in its Seinfeld-era heyday as a side gig while working as an advertising Creative Director. 

Book(s) I loved this year: 

For business books looking backward, I loved Seth Shapiro‘s TELEVISION: Innovation, Disruption and the World’s Most Powerful Medium. So much of what we took for granted for years had to be invented and Seth tells those stories wonderfully.

Looking forward, I loved The Economic Singularity: Artificial Intelligence and the Death of Capitalism by Calum Chace. Most of us think in terms of linear change, but things are about to change at a billion times a pace we’re used to. It will be thrilling and wrenching.  I also enjoyed X: The Experience When Business Meets Design by Brian Solis.

Three of my friends wrote great books this year. Josh Bernoff wrote Writing Without Bullshit: Boost Your Career by Saying What You Mean, which is something literally the entire world needs to read. Nobody has time anymore to figure out what you mean!

My friend Rob Rosenthal wrote Short Order Dad: One Guy’s Guide to Making Food Fun and Hassle-Free. Indispensable if, like me, you don’t know what the hell you’re doing in the kitchen but don’t want it to taste that way.

Lastly, Glenn Berger‘s Never Say No To a Rock Star: In the Studio with Dylan, Sinatra, Jagger and More… is a fascinating glimpse into what the world was like at famed A&R Studios back in the heyday.

Book I’m looking forward to reading:

What I really want to read is the book on marketing strategy that I’m currently working on. I’m hoping it will be brilliant, but the author keeps re-writing chapters and tweaking things. It makes the book better but still… it’s gotta get finished!

Perhaps related to that is another book I keep meaning to read: Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

Book I wish someone would write:

A book that analyzes what has happened to media now that it is created at the speed of Twitter, spreads at the speed of Facebook, and doesn’t get fact-checked (if it ever gets fact-checked at all) until it’s weeks too late to change the narrative that has been created. The whole world is now hammering the “share” button on Facebook like a crack-addled rat, yet mostly we’re all screaming to the choir who then scream back that they agree. We’re getting dumber by the minute, and I’m not at all sure how to fix it.

Kristin Daniels is VP Client Services at experiential agency RedPeg Marketing where she leads the Jägermeister, Russian Standard Vodka, and Small Town Brewery businesses. Daniels spent most of her career with the Heineken USA portfolio, building and leading campaigns regionally including Heineken’s “Man of the World”, Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man” and Tecate’s “Con Caracter”. She has led teams to develop award-winning work and specializes in regionalization and customization of national platforms across events, promotions, tours, partner negotiations, media merchandising, strategic social and digital integration, as well as heavy retail, channel and consumer marketing.

Book I loved this year: 

You are a BADASS by Jen Sincero.
I bought it originally thinking it was one of the kitschy coffee table books, and to be honest, didn’t even open it for a couple of months.

But a long flight prompted me to throw it in my carry on, and coincidentally we had no wi-fi, so I thumbed through it.

POW. I couldn’t put it down.

“Imagine what our world would be like if everyone loved themselves so much that they weren’t threatened by other people’s opinions or skin colors or sexual preferences or talents or education or possessions or lack of possessions or religious beliefs or customs or their general tendency to just be whoever the hell they are.

It was easy, fresh, and delicious reading.

Direct and blunt, but humorous and smart. I think I kind of want to be this author! She is the perfect blend of wit and brilliance – ripe with wisdom – and she truly wants you to know to make your life better – on all angles. Work, play, spirituality. We marketers tend to over-analyze, over-strategize and over-think just about everything. This book takes those 100 self-help books you have on your shelves and rolls them into one awesome read. I have re-read it at least 4 more times, and nearly every page is ear-marked, underlined and noted. Oh, and everyone on my team got it as a gift from me…. It’s a life-changer.

Book I’m looking forward to reading:

As much as I love me a good self-help book, I do also, appreciate rich, meaty biographies and have been meaning to pick up Let My People Go Surfing; The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard. I know a bit of his story; his love of all things outdoors led him to developing Patagonia, which is a business I hugely respect for not only their brilliant marketing programming, retail efforts and advertising, but their impact on the environment. I am sure I will get to it, and expect to be inspired.

Book I wish someone would write:

The book I’d love to read is the book I want to write. Lessons and learnings from the elders all around the world. I have such an appreciation for our elderly, and so many leave this earth without their stories told. I’d love to read a collection of essays from rich and poor, businessmen and refugees, men and women, of every culture and faith. Stories and learnings from their lives but more important, lessons from their deathbeds on what really mattered.

Prior to founding DiMassimo Goldstein in 1996, Mark DiMassimo spent a decade making tongues wag for a who’s-who of top direct and integrated agencies, including BBDO, JWT, Chapman, Deutsch, and Kirshenbaum & Bond.

The author of Digital@SPEED, DiMassimo is co-founder of the Tappening and Offlining movements. He was named a Future 50 CEO by SmartCEO magazine in 2014, 2015 and 2016, and serves on both the Advisory Board and Creative Review Committee of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. He was featured in the best-selling book Leadership Secrets of the World’s Most Successful CEOs, by Eric Yaverbaum, is co-author of Inside the Minds: INNOVATION and Branding as an Advertising Strategy and is featured in Passion Brands, by Kate Newlin, for which he also wrote the foreword. 

Book I loved this year: 

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

This book informed, inspired and nourished me in 2016. It also quite often judged me and found my depth of focus wanting. But, then it provided some actions I could take to create more time and focus for deep work.

Book I’m looking forward to reading:

18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done by Peter Bregman

You may be starting to detect a theme here. I read this for the first time in late 2016, and found it the most level-headed and readable book yet on the subject that used to be called “time management.”

I started to use the relatively simple eighteen-minutes-per-day process (which takes me at least a half hour, by the way, but I’m a beginner).

I put the book in sight, and my fondest wish is that I will continue to pick it up and use it well into 2017. Let’s call that a goal.

Book I wish someone would write:

I want the 2017 sequel to Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. Something incredibly unfocused (unstuck) in time and space. The front edge of history has veered toward the surreal. It’s time.

Peter Eisler is an award-winning journalist who is currently National Affairs Correspondent with Reuters. During his 25 years in Washington, Peter’s investigations have exposed everything from lax enforcement of U.S. safe drinking water laws to poor security at Russia’s chemical weapons stockpiles, and have helped spur laws requiring compensation for sick nuclear weapons workers, fire protections in nursing homes, and safety testing for school lunch food.

Book I loved this year: 

The Men Who United the States: America’s Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics, and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible by Simon Winchester

Great book; a beautifully written, smartly organized examination of the quests and innovations that bound a diverse, far-flung collection of territories into a single, unified nation. It’s full of fascinating, adventurous, inventive personalities, and it takes a really novel approach to identifying and explaining important chapters in U.S. history that often go unrecognized or unappreciated. I found that it captured the essence – and importance – of the American spirit in a really eye-opening way.

Book I’m looking forward to reading:

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance
I’d heard a lot of buzz about this book, a personal account of growing up in Appalachia and the Rust Belt. The author, who enlisted in the Marine Corps, went on to attend Yale Law School, and ultimately landed as a big player at a Silicon Valley investment firm, is credited with writing a painfully honest, illuminating account of a part of America that has been left behind. In today’s political times, it seems like a must read. And after reading the first 20 pages of a copy that my teen-aged son brought home and left in the kitchen, I moved it to the top of my reading list.

Book I wish someone would write:

I’m not saying because I hope to write it myself. In the meantime, I wish someone would write a really good book about the rise in government secrecy and the quiet war that public officials at all levels are waging on open records laws. It’s a really disturbing trend that has tremendous implications for the future of our democracy.

Mark Fitzloff originally joined Wieden+Kennedy Portland in 1999 as a copywriter doing award-winning work for Nike and other clients. He then extended his talent for breathing fresh life into iconic American brands to Old Spice, creating a campaign that has gone on to be one of the funniest and most enduring in advertising.

Under his leadership as ECD, the Portland office has earned many distinguished awards, including Cannes Agency of the Year in 2011. Fitzloff is consistently one of the most award-winning creatives on Creativity’s Awards Report, and in 2013 was named to the global management team as global co-executive creative director.

Book(s) I loved this year: 

There are only two kinds of books: those you’re supposed to read and those you want to read.

When it comes to my own literary playlist I try to take a “one for you, one for me” approach. I’ll select something that makes me feel smarter, or better at my job, or more in-the-know, before indulging in something I’ll truly love, like something with a female space alien on the cover, or a bare-chested warrior brandishing a battle axe, or both, if I’m lucky.

But I’m exhausted. Truth be told, 2016 beat the shit out of me. I’m just not in the mood to assemble a list of books that sounds impressive or like something a “creative influencer” or “communications thought-leader” such as myself might conspicuously leave out on his desk so that others might be duly impressed. I’m just gonna focus on stuff I truly loved, regardless of what it says about my intellectual capacity.

And the best thing I read this year was…

The Nexus Triology by Ramez Naam. This cyberpunk series (Nexus, Cruz and Apex) follows a scientist named Kaden Lane who develops a drug that turns people’s brains into networked computer nodes that can be programmed and linked together. The near-future brain-enhancement technology described in the book seems totally believable probably because the author is a former Microsoft engineer and a fellow at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.

Book I’m looking forward to reading:

The book I most hope to read NEXT year is the long-awaited sixth book in George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. But I’ll skip that one since A) it’s a totally obvious answer to the question and B) I’m in the growing camp of disgruntled GofT fans who are sick of waiting around for George to finish the series, and are instead switching their allegiance to the totally awesome HBO version.

So, the book I most hope to read NEXT year is the next 12 installments of Greg Rucka’s graphic novel series Lazarus.

Lazarus is a kick-ass dystopian sci-fi comic set in a world ruled by a feudal system of 16 wealthy families. The series follows a daughter of one of these families who has been genetically enhanced so she can serve as the family’s super-human wartime consigliere. Lazarus is action-packed but also very well written and politically charged.

Book I wish someone would write:

Here’s an idea for a book that someone should write. (Maybe I’ll do it myself with all my new-found free time.) It’s called Gangsters vs Nazis. It’s a historical fiction thriller in which the New York mob gets recruited by the US government to assassinate Hitler. Maybe there’s a Dirty Dozen/Suicide Squad clemency angle to the arrangement. Other possible storylines rooted in historical fact might include the mafia’s feud with Benito Mussolini over a busted partnership in a drug smuggling operation, or mobster Bugsy Siegel’s chance encounter with Hermann Goering and Joseph Goebbels in an Italian hotel.

Yeah, I’d buy that in a heartbeat. Don’t steal it!

Kat Gordon has been called the “triple threat” of an entrepreneur, ad woman + marketing-to-women expert. Named one of “30 Most Creative Women in Advertising” by BusinessInsider in 2016 and one of “Forty Over 40” women disrupting the world in 2014, her career as a Copywriter/Creative Director spans 28 years, both coasts (NYC and San Francisco), and work in-house, agency-side and freelance.

Gordon is also the visionary behind The 3% Conference. Started as a passion project to spotlight a huge business opportunity in advertising – the lack of female creative leadership and its impact on connecting with an overwhelmingly female marketplace – the 3% Conference has grown exponentially since its 2012 launch and has hosted events in 15 cities globally.

Book I loved this year: 

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West

Part author, part warrior, Lindy West is my new shero. After years of trying to contain her large body and ideas, she finally busted out of cultural norms and went on a truth rampage. She challenges stand-up comedians over rape jokes, invites her own Internet troll to a forgiveness meeting, and destigmatizes abortion with a hashtag. The Internet is the final frontier to be made safe for women, and combatting social media misogyny is a key business issue for Twitter, Facebook and pubs like Agency Spy. I dedicate my life to helping creative women stand in the spotlight – writing op-ed pieces, gunning for top jobs and projects, judging award shows. I for one am glad to have Lindy West like a bouncer at the door, always welcoming a good debate, but tossing the sadists into the streets.  

Book I’m looking forward to reading:

Nothing. I hope to read nothing. 2016 is the year I’m gonna bench my eyes and tell my ears to suit up. The number of amazing podcasts is at an all-time high and listening while hiking in nature or with closed eyes in a state of semi-slumber gives great content a clever delivery mechanism into one’s psyche. Some favorites: Heavyweight, Dear Sugar, The Moth, Savage Lovecast, This American Life.

Book I wish someone would write:

For 15 years, I have wondered why no one has published a collection of stories and photos of people who were stranded while traveling upon the 9/11 attacks. Tens of thousands of business people and leisure travelers were forced to rent cars and drive to their destinations, thrown together with strangers at a time of deep anxiety about the country’s safety. Others were grounded in other countries, relying on the kindness of foreigners while awaiting flights to resume. Did friendships – maybe marriages – result from these moments of forced togetherness? What words of comfort did people offer each other? Advertising is all about human psychology and storytelling and I sense a time capsule of our nation being overlooked with each passing year that this book isn’t written.

Margaret Johnson, a 20-year GS&P veteran, leads the agency’s creative department, a position she assumed in 2015 after being named a partner in 2012.

Under her leadership GS&P has architected famous work with a humanitarian edge, including DORITOS Rainbows, the Oculus Rift experience for the Salvador Dalí Museum, the anticyberbullying campaign “#IAmAWitness”, the “Unacceptable Acceptance Letters” to combat sexual assault on college campuses and the Häagen-DazsHD Loves HB” campaign – which prompted Congress to conduct hearings on colony collapse disorder.

A member of the boards of the One Show and Facebook’s Creative Council, Johnson was a founding member of the 3 Percent Conference and has judged the ANDYs, the CLIOs and the prestigious Titanium category of the Cannes Lions. She’s won awards at every major show and her “Ivan Cobenk” spot was included in the CLIO Awards’ 100 all-time World’s Best Commercials.

Book(s) I loved this year: 

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey was the best book I read this year. It’s a novel about a childless couple who discover a young girl in the woods near their cabin in Alaska. As an art director, I loved that the story sits somewhere between fantasy and reality and jumps to life right off the pages. I don’t think I’ve read a book that was so visually descriptive. I could see every scene, almost as if I were watching it on film. Maybe it was so vivid to me because it takes place in the snowy winter woods, much like the ones I grew up in in North Carolina. Or maybe it was romanticized by the fact that I was reading it over the holidays surrounded by my family. Whatever the reason, it stuck with me long after I closed the cover and reminded me that sad experiences often lead to joy.

Book(s) I’m looking forward to reading:

When I received a Lucite paperweight from United commemorating a million miles traveled, I panicked that I was becoming a soulless corporate drone, like Ed Norton’s character at the beginning of Fight Club. Then, looking for the upside, I realized that I’m constantly finding myself in new cities that have restaurants in them. So I’m reading Where Chefs Eat. Four hundred of the world’s best chefs recommend their favorite restaurants in the world and what to order. Yum!

Adam Grant’s Originals is also on my “must read in 2017” list. I’ve always been interested in being the first out of the gate when it comes to putting stuff out into the world. What’s the fun in doing something that’s been done a million times before? Reading a guidebook for “choosing to champion novel ideas and values that go against the grain, battle conformity and buck outdated traditions” seems like a good way to kick off the year.

Book I wish someone would write:

The Downside: a book highlighting the three reasons you shouldn’t go to a particular restaurant, hotel or vacation destination. Call me dark, but I always want to know the bad stuff so I can relax and savor the good bits with a minimum of FOMO.

For over a decade, Nick Law has led the development of many of R/GA’s most innovative projects, including Nike+ Running, Nike+ FuelBand, and Beats Music for Beats by Dre. And during his tenure, R/GA has become one of the most awarded agencies in the world, winning every major creative accolade, including four Cannes Lion Grand Prix awards, a D&AD Black Pencil, and a GRANDY; and Adweek named R/GA Digital Agency of the Decade and Nike+ as Campaign of the Decade.

Law has been on every major award show jury (including being named Jury President for the Cannes Innovation Lions) and has twice been named in the Creativity 50, a list of the world’s most influential creative people. He is recognized as an industry thought leader and has been published globally.

Book(s) I loved this year: 

A lot of the books I read are not necessarily about our industry, but they have lessons for it. Here are three examples:

The Two Cultures by C. P. Snow

This was an influential lecture by British scientist and novelist C. P. Snow at Cambridge University in 1959. He talks about the distrust between two cultures — the sciences and the humanities — and how it was a hindrance to solving the world’s problems. It occurred to me that something similar is playing out in our industry with the distrust between Madison Avenue and Silicon Valley; between optimistic systematic thinkers and nostalgic storytellers.

The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge by Matt Ridley

This is a sweeping book on the power of ideas that are bottom-up as opposed to top-down. Again, there is a valuable lesson for those of us in the creative industries. My opinion is we need to balance the preference for the voice of the brand verses the voice of the consumer; between top-down direction rather than bottom-up emergence.

Masters of the Word: How Media Shaped History by William J. Bernstein

A book on the history of media, starting with the origin of writing thousands of years ago in Mesopotamia. It argues that there is an historical correlation between freedom and literacy and the access, creation and distribution of media. Contrary to what a lot of commentators are saying post-election, this gives me hope for democracy at this time in history.

Book I’m looking forward to reading:

Anything to do with the neuroscience of creativity; not because I think there’s a magic formula to be uncovered, but because it could help us manage creative teams.

Book I wish someone would write:

A book on the changing economics of advertising. I’d pass one out to every creative at the Gutter Bar in Cannes this June.

Scott Linnen’s innovative work with leading brands has earned him numerous international advertising awards from Cannes Grand Prix, and Gold Lions, to D&AD, Webby, One Show and Effie.

Linnen was an 18-year veteran Vice President, Group Creative Director at Crispin Porter + Bogusky where he helped grow the agency from a small creative boutique into an industry leader building marquee brands such as MINIBurger KingVolkswagenDomino’s PizzaOld Navy and Microsoft.

His work as a freelance writer/CD helped KBS+P win the global BMW business. And he helped launch Google+ at CO:Collective, NYC.

Currently Scott is Global Creative Director on Hewlett-Packard at 2016 B2B Agency of the Year: GYRO, San Francisco. You can find him on twitter @scottlinnen 

Book(s) I loved this year: 

What a year! A candidate who foments fear and hatred of “The Other” and promises drastic economic and social reforms arises. He dog-whistles for a return to “traditional American values” urging citizens to “take their country back” and wins the U.S. presidency.

After his election, this new demagogue POTUS, assumes complete control of the government and media and imposes a brutal totalitarian rule with the help of his fascist cabinet and a murderous paramilitary force. Think Adolf Hitler and the SS right here in the U.S. of A.

I’m referring to President Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip from Sinclair LewisIt Can’t Happen Here. But, it is impossible to miss the similarities between Lewis’ semi-satirical political novel of 1935 and where we now find ourselves come January 20, 2017. (Although Windrip didn’t have nukes, Twitter trolls or a comedy skit to piss him off at 3 a.m.)

The plot centers on journalist Doremus Jessup’s opposition to the new regime. He laments the nation’s fate, but suffers more from knowing that he/they foresaw it all and did nothing, “If it hadn’t been one Windrip, it’d been another…. We had it coming, we Respectables.”

Maybe that’s what it all came down to in 2016: The “Respectables” vs. the “Deplorables.” Hmm.

Eighty-thousand voters in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania gave us this man, which goes to show you just how much damage a few people can do—Russian hackers and a rogue FBI aside. These few people raised a giant collective middle finger to D.C., Wall Street and the Media. Their deepening distrust for institutions that had been bubbling up since Nixon, Roe v Wade, a black POTUS and Marriage Equality finally came to a head this year. America’s melting pot became a seething cauldron of racism, misogyny, homophobia and xenophobia.

If it hadn’t been this Trump, it’d been another… We had it coming.

I also read Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga by Hunter S. Thompson. Thompson lived and rode with the biker outlaws for a year before ultimately getting stomped by them. He describes a group of people left behind and marginalized by society, who work part-time jobs that will soon be taken over by machines. And it bugs them, he writes:

“But instead of submitting quietly to their collective fate, they have made it the basis of a full-time social vendetta. They don’t expect to win anything, but on the other hand, they have nothing to lose.”

What’s striking, and a testament to Thompson as an American political thinker, is how well he foresaw the retaliatory right-wing politics now being labeled “Trumpism.” Like the Angels, these voters never expected to win anything. They know their rustbelt factory and coalmining jobs aren’t returning. But what is saddest is that these folks are the very people most likely to be hurt by what they’ve now wrought.

But again, they don’t expect to win.

They just want to stomp.

Book I’m looking forward to reading:

Fewer obituaries. 2016 was the year the music died. We lost so many great artists they should just begin the Grammys “In Memoriam” segment now.

More objective journalism. Though, with our media so fractured, one person’s source of truth is another’s source of lies. I miss Walter Cronkite. And that’s the way it is.

Book I wish someone would write:

I’m done with the heavy stuff for a while. Just some great escapist fiction would be nice. You know, some light underground bunker reading.

Cameron McHarg is a director, actor, and creator/host of the popular Triumph & Disaster podcast and blog about male creativity and culture on iTunes. Cam graduated on scholarship with a BFA in film from Art Center College of Design, where he won multiple Addy and Telly awards as well as being a shortlisted winner for the Cannes Young Director Award for his commercial directing work. His first feature film Sitiado is currently back in early pre-production. Follow him on Twitter here.

Book I loved this year:

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALS Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

This book rubbed my nose in my own ego and reminded me of what I already knew, but maybe have strayed away a bit from over the years – that we are responsible for and must own everything in our lives. It teaches that no matter what we do or what position we have in our lives, we must lead or be led, but there is ultimately nobody to blame for anything but ourselves. Written by two former U.S. Navy SEAL officers who worked their way up from the enlisted ranks and went on to lead countless successful combat missions in Iraq and elsewhere, this book tells it like it is, and I think it’s a message that everyone can use or at least by reminded of.

Book I’m looking forward to reading:

Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa

Miyamoto Musashi was a samurai and master swordsman who wrote The Book of Five Rings in 1643. This book covered the mindset, discipline, and perception that it took to be a master warrior in life and how to achieve that. It’s been studied for centuries. Musashi is a novel written in 1996 about this man. I have never been a huge reader of fiction, but I have a stack of classics and other books that I want to tackle, and this novel is one at the top of my list. It’s a fictional account of Miyamoto Musashi’s life, and it’s racks up to a full 970 pages, so it’s a real investment. I’m looking forward to taking this one on in this new year.

Book I wish someone would write:

I’m a huge fan of Cormac McCarthy. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t read a ton of fiction, but I’ll read anything that he puts to paper. By the way, I do read a lot on Kindle off of my iPad, but when it comes to fiction, I somehow still have the need to break out a real deal paper book. I think that Cormac McCarthy is an American treasure. He’s an existential poet that knows the soul of our country and the darkness and the love of humanity. I have profound respect for his writing, and if he puts anything out in this new year, I will want to buy it (a real paper book) and read it the first chance I get.

Tiffany Rolfe is a partner and Chief Content Officer at co:collective, leading their content strategy and brand publishing practice, The Pub, which facilitates purposeful partnerships between brands and creators to build loyal communities.

Prior to that she was ECD/VP at Crispin Porter + Bogusky where she lead and created business-changing work for MINI Cooper, Truth, Virgin Atlantic, VW, and many others.

A judge and recipient of top awards at every major creative and effectiveness competition in the industry, Rolfe has been named one of Advertising Age’s “Women to Watch.”

Book(s) I loved this year: 

These days, I love any book that I can read just for me. There are mostly kids’ books in my life now.

I loved Hamilton by Ron Chernow. And not just because of the Broadway musical. I had a baby this year, Hamilton, which is a family name. I wanted to read about the original Hamilton, which is an amazing story that inspired the musical and also made living in New York so much more meaningful. He’d gone to college in our neighborhood and he named the street I live on. It’s amazing when you can connect history to your modern life.

American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin

What a bizarre story of a rich young woman joining her captors to become a wanted felon and a symbol of 60’s activism. I love non-fiction that seems unbelievable.

[Do Podcasts count? I never get a seat on the subway so it’s hard to bring a book. Invisibilia is my favorite. It’s about the invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. It takes scientific research and turns it into amazing storytelling that will make you understand people and life differently.]

Book(s) I’m looking forward to reading:

Less click bait. Less fake news. More intentional reading.

Besides kids’ books I have a growing list. I’ve decided to emphasize politics and a better understanding of the Constitution. It will come in handy with our new President.

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

The real history of our country.

The Trump Memos by my client, the American Civil Liberties Union

Am reading AGAIN the statements that the president-elect has made that would violate our constitutional rights.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

A dark vision of a future virtual world that Ty Montague has told our whole company to read. It’s supposed to be awesome.

But still, I’ll lighten up this reading list with a lot of Dr. Suess and Shel Silverstein.

Book I wish someone would write:

“RED, WHAT THE FUCK? & BLUE: The shocking series of events that led to the most controversial election in ” We may need some confidential documents to be released to really make this good.

Born and raised in Chicago, Steven Shalowitz earned his B.A. in Chinese Language & Literature at Washington University in St. Louis, and his M.A. in International Relations from The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C., and then began a career in advertising at Young & Rubicam.

While working in Singapore for Y&R (he also worked in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Ho Chi Minh City) he began producing and hosting a radio show and conceived the idea for The One Way Ticket Show which he launched after moving to New York.

An exhibited photographer with a penchant for travel to rogue nations, Steven’s adventures have taken him from North Korea to Libya, Iran to Burundi, and Syria to Burkina Faso.

Book(s) I loved this year: 

I do as much homework as possible before interviewing my guests on my podcast, The One Way Ticket Show. This means reading their book or books. I’d love to be able to say there was just one book that I loved, but really, there were many. Here are just three:

Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law by Alan Dershowitz. This had been on my reading list since it was published in 2013. While I’ve read some of his more than 30 books, I really wanted to dive into this one before interviewing him. In the book, Professor Dershowitz recounts his growing up years and the trajectory of his extraordinary career. Plus, he shares background on many of the headline-making and precedent setting cases in which he was involved. The book reads as if Professor Dershowitz is sitting beside you, sharing some of the highlights of his truly extraordinary life.

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer. In the work — which has been on a number of “must read lists” for 2016 — Hammer tells the story of how Medieval manuscripts from the Arab world were collected and housed in Timbuktu, and how they were subsequently spirited out when Al-Queda in the Magreb took over the region. At its core, it’s the story of how one man saw to all of this and frankly, I’m waiting for a movie to be made about it. For me, the book took on a personal tone since I had seen some of the manuscripts during my visit to Timbuktu in 2006.

Safari: A Memoir of a Worldwide Travel Pioneer by Geoffrey Kent. As a traveler, this was an absolute pleasure to read. In the book, Kent chronicles his remarkable life before and after he became Founder, Chairman & CEO of Abercrombie & Kent – the world’s most exclusive luxury adventure travel company. Apart from taking us to the four corners of the world, a parade of “who’s who” appears in the book, from Prince Charles to Jeffrey Katzenberg and from Richard Burton to Muammar Qaddafi! Again, this is a book that needs to be made into a movie or a Netflix series.

Book I’m looking forward to reading:

I’ve made it a priority to finally read Seth Siegel‘s Let There Be Water. In it, he illustrates how, with 60% of the country made up of desert, Israel has developed techniques to not only solve its water problems, but to create an abundance of it. In fact, Israel exports water on a daily basis to its neighbors – the Palestinians and the Kingdom of Jordan.

Book I wish someone would write:

It seems that everyone’s writing something. I’ve even heard some brag about how quickly they wrote their books (and frankly, that’s how they read!). While I don’t think there’s anything that hasn’t or won’t be written, I’ll answer this question by saying I wish there was less emphasis out there on self-help books that promise to make you more creative or more entrepreneurial. In my mind, people should read less of these works and just start doing. Because only through action comes success.

Ignacio Zuccarino‘s career began over 18 years ago at JWT and since then, he has won top accolades at the world’s most prestigious award programs from Cannes to Clio, D&AD, One Show & more.

Prior to his current job which requires him being at the top of his game as Head of Creative at The Zoo, the group of Digital Creative Specialists and Coders within Google (where he won Zoo’s first ever Gold Lion), Ignacio was Creative Agency Director at Google, VP at FCB Worldwide, founded Kingdom, ECD at JWT, and CD at Grey and Del Campo Saatchi & Saatchi, Latam’s leading creative agency.

Book(s) I loved this year: 

I had a total blast this year with Kevin Kelly’s The Inevitable. The Wired Magazine co-founder’s book is all about hinting how the world will dramatically readjust following some technological breakpoints. The book is full of mantras. My favorite one – regarding how AI will be this century’s “electricity” and how everything will be “cognified”, is:

“If you wanna know what the business model of the next 10k startups will be, follow this rule: take x and add AI.”

I made this drawing to sum it up (the hockey stick on the curve represents cognification):

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Book(s) I’m looking forward to reading:

Here’s my list:

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

How to Create a Mind by Ray Kurzweil

The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida

The Master Switch by Tim Wu

The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil

Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

Algorithms to Live By by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths

The Second Machine Age by Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee (which we reviewed here)

As you can see, I’m so into AI and its implications in how our brains work, that I plan to learn more about this and how we take decisions.

AI will be the biggest revolution in the history of humankind and I want to grasp some knowledge about what’s going to happen. Also, more and more the brands I work for will cognify themselves so I wanna give them the right kind of support.

I also plan to catch up with my Pocket list (follow me if you’re interested in AI, Singularity, the end of ownership, the end of money, etcetera: Nacho Zuccarino). Pocket is the new library of this era, where books are being replaced by articles and hyperlinks, and atheneums by clouds.

Book I wish someone would write:

What would I instantly read is “How to Build a Time Machine (For Dummies)”. I’m fascinated by the fact that there’s no limit to what we can truly do (I mean we are printing DNA!), and totally convinced that the long dreamed-of possibility of having a drink with your younger self is closer than ever.

Header illustration by the exceptionally artful Jason Roeder. See more of his fine work here.