Chief Operating Officer, Sid Lee USA
I recommend the book Invisible Power: Insight Principles at Work. This book is a manifesto for the soul and the mind that is grounded in practical solutions. If you’re looking for an operating manual for the human brain, this is it. I recommend this book to anyone who wants a calmer mind, more impact, and rewarding relationships in today’s increasingly complex world. Sit back, open your mind, and prepare to be surprised by what you see!
Head of Program Management
Between Zoom meetings, binge-streaming content, and staying connected to friends and family through social networks, it's been so much more important to find inspiration offscreen and IRL. The book Our Voices, Our Histories is a fantastic collection of authentic stories highlighting the experiences and impact of APAC women in the U.S. I loved being able to see and learn more about myself, my culture, and my unique experience as a Filipino American immigrant raised in the States through this anthology.
Chef Creative Officer, Sid Lee USA
Sometimes I find it hard to filter out the noise and focus on what’s important. The book Stillness Is the Key by Ryan Holiday helps create some space to ensure that our own views don’t get lost in a sea of opinions. I highly recommend it.
This year, I've also been inspired by people, from how we've all adapted to a terrible world situation, and kept our sense of humor, to business owners who have found ingenious, creative ways to reach their customers to the world finally paying attention to and taking action against centuries-old racial inequality. The Great Reset is powered by people.
For reading material, try Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam. To call it a disaster novel does it a disservice. It’s really about keeping things tidy as the world falls apart. How holidays is that? But keep it lowbrow by dipping into your favorite comic in between chapters. Have you seen Andrea Sorrentino’s art in Gideon Falls? Oh, Jeff Lemire’s writing is fine too.
Also, you can learn to play a stringed instrument. If you play already, mix it up with a lowbrow song that is surprisingly easy to play and speaks to the current moment, like “Isolation” by Ty Segal.
Executive Creative Director
I recommend the book Intelligent Automation by Pascal Bornet. It’s not just for those who are into technology; I think this is essential reading for anyone who works for any organization that will play a role in building the world of tomorrow. I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn a bit more about where workplaces are headed in the next few decades.
Hold the phone, toxic masculinity. Let’s crank up the volume to “Watermelon Sugar” as we swoon in the glory of Harry Styles gracing the cover of Vogue. In a dress. With a name like that and voice like cotton candy, prepare to shake your body to the sweet tenor of shifting barriers. Use it as a moment to be blissfully unaware of the fine line between dread and hope we’ve been vacillating between this year.
Creative Resource Director
Read Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond the Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. Gilbert’s writing style is both funny and inspiring; it’s the ultimate coaching book on how to get ideas and inspiration to find you and how to fearlessly pursue your passions.
Listen to the This American Life podcast. I love the variety of the stories on this podcast and the way Ira Glass narrates and draws you into the stories, from a family who spends their yearly vacation at the Disneyland hotel every year without ever stepping into the park to features about refugees, babies switched at birth, and everything in between.
Executive Creative Director & Chairman, Sid Lee Paris
I recommend Bonne nuit Blanche, a special by French comedian Blanche Gardin, lauded in France as the best comic of her generation. She’s a real advocate for women. The special is available on many online streaming platforms, but if you’re trying to take a break from screens, some of her work is available on Spotify.
Celine et Clement Mornet Landa
For some inspiration, we recommend listening to Kompromat, a collaboration between Vitalic and Rebeka Warrior from Sexy Sushi. It’s not exactly the kind of music you’d sing along to as a family by the fireplace, but it’s great to listen to as you prepare Christmas dinner, particularly “Possession” and “De mon âme à ton âme” (featuring Adèle Haenel).
And while food is cooking in the oven, you can disconnect by reading Connexions Volume 1: Faux accords by Pierre Jeanneau and Philippe Ory. This comic book with an ensemble cast of characters is uniquely original, with deconstructed visuals and an enthralling story.
I recommend the podcast Entre on the Louie Media network, hosted by Justine, an 11-year-old sixth grader. She talks about what it’s like to move on from childhood, covering everything from blankets to funny YouTubers, being afraid of the dark, and what she wants to be when she grows up. It’s a very touching and intimate podcast that changes your perspective on what someone can be going through at that age!
What comes to mind is the excellent three-volume graphic novel March, an autobiography by John Lewis that explores the fight for civil rights in a country that we feel close to culturally as Europeans, however we forget that in our parents’ time, violent and systemic segregation was carried out. This trilogy takes an in-depth look at these issues in a smart and fair way. It belongs under every tree and in all schools. It’s shocking, and incredibly eye-opening.
EVP, Head of Account Services
A podcast I can’t get enough of: Beef and Dairy Network. Kinda weird and absurd, yet so intriguing and really funny. Episodes are short, 20-30 minutes, and cover really important topics like: What happens to a person who eats expired yogurt? Or: Is lamb addiction a thing? It’s like Monty Python but with beef and farms. Whacky but worth it, and great for vegans. Beef out.
Co-Managing Partner, Sid Lee Toronto
My recommendation: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is set in World War II and follows the story of two main characters: Marie-Laure, a blind Parisian girl, and Werner, a young German boy. It starts off slow and takes about 75 pages to get into, but then you cannot put it down! It’s heartbreaking in the most beautiful way.
The 2010s were a pivotal decade; I made many mistakes, but I learned a lot. I got married and I had a kid. The power that music has in evoking memories is intoxicating. Listening to old records gave me the comfort of familiarity. Plus, I discovered some new gems as well. Top albums on this list: Popcaan’s Where We Come From, LCD Soundsystem’s This Is Happening, Robyn’s Body Talk, and Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
Director of Content Growth & Innovation
I started my career working at a music label in Toronto at a time when Kardinal’s career was just taking off, yet hip hop and R&B were still considered underground. Cut to today when Drake is one of the top global mainstream artists. This is not a Drake podcast is a five-episode podcast series that is a must for any music fan, bringing hip-hop history to life while examining how diversity, gender dynamics and culture have impacted what we hear today.
Global VP, Business and Experience Design
When I’m looking for inspiration, I often turn to children’s books. There is an effortlessness to the storytelling that moves me in its honesty and simplicity. There is much to be learned by the author’s ability to distill big life lessons into easy narratives that provoke reflection for parents and entertainment for little readers. This holiday season, try What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada or Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth.
Director, Talent Management
I recommend When No One Is Watching by Alissa Cole. I appreciated how a fictional story was told while exploring Brooklyn’s history of gentrification as well as important themes such as racism and the fight for social justice.
My first suggestion is simply to enjoy the feeling of the passage of time. Sleep in. Build a blanket fort. Play some rummy, get a card game going, do a puzzle. Eat lots of cheese fondue — maybe too much cheese fondue. Skip your shower. Instill the habit of not picking your nose — in public, at least (yet to be achieved).
My second suggestion is to read all of Marianne Dubuc’s books hundreds of times with the kids. Pro tip: There are also colouring pages on her website. I recommend the book The Lion and the Bird — a contemplative, sweet and philosophical book — and Up the Mountain Path, which is a little heavier: it deals with loss and life from a very zen perspective. It’s beautiful and touching.
Group Account Director
The second period of confinement after the summer felt more difficult. In spite of everything, I buried myself in the classics to try and understand everything that’s going on. When I say “classics,” I don’t mean Jane Austen — I mean manga. I’ve loved rediscovering 20th Century Boys, in which a group of friends in 1967 make up a story that concludes with the end of the world — and in 1997, their story starts to come true. Give Netflix a break and dive into the pages of this mysterious thriller!
VP, Creative Strategy
(Re)reading Marcus Aurelius (Roman emperor who ruled during a pandemic) and Epictetus provides the keys to building an inner fortress, and it really makes things better. I recommend Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, followed by the Handbook of Epictetus. One of the basic elements of stoic philosophy that helped me in 2020 was being able to distinguish between what’s up to us and what isn’t, what we can’t control, and what we can’t change; that way, we can choose to not be affected by all that and find happiness by staying “detached from things that are not up to you.”
EVP, Global Brand Innovation
2020 has been the year of “living at work.” Simultaneously the fastest and slowest 365 days in history, this year has taught us the value of priorities, in life as well as in work. One book sent to me by a collaborator stands out: Greg McKeown’s Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less is a brilliant handbook for living a life of weniger aber besser, as Dieter Rams would say, where noise is filtered and signals ring clear.