I should state upfront: I am a serious businessman and I run a serious business.
We turn over numbers with loads of zeros at the end, we employ nearly 50 people directly, we’re Living Wage-accredited, we make massive ad campaigns that make vast differences to the bottom lines of some of the biggest FMCG brands in the UK and every so often persuade 1.2 million people to vote Green in a general election.
But, yes. It’s true. My secret work weapon is a child’s toy. Sitting proudly atop my desk, next to a photo of my son Stan being thrown in the air near a castle, a pile of invoices that need approving, a framed photo of Shane Williams topless (not really), my bike lights, my laptop and a cricket ball (that’s another story) is a bright yellow plastic box, containing six plastic eggs.
The eggs have different shaped bottoms, which means that they only fit into the spot designed for them and that they can only be facing one of two ways – the wrong way or the right way. And sometimes – not every day, but certainly every week – nothing gives me greater satisfaction than emptying those eggs out on to my desk and calmly and methodically slotting them back into place. The right place. Facing the right way. And with the right tops on them.
It takes about 20 seconds – 20 seconds during which the world slows down, the brilliant-but-exhausting chaos of our industry disappears and order descends. Twenty seconds of brightly coloured, black-and-white serenity. And then off we go again.
I suspect that in another world (or even 50 yards down the road in the City), those eggs would be replaced by one of those clicky-clacky executive toys or a pair of Asian jingly-jangly stress balls. But I run an advertising agency, I have an 11-month-old son and I loved the calmness and order that his toy eggs brought so much that he (ahem) got me a set for our first Father’s Day. And I’m OK with that.
Dan Shute is the managing partner and co-founder of Creature of London.