Today our expert guest is Jamie Mustard. He’s a strategic multimedia consultant, artist, designer, and product futurist. He has codified the primal laws of what causes anything to stand out and take hold in the human mind, regardless of medium. His breakout work, “The Iconist: The Art and Science of Standing Out,” won the 2019 Outstanding Works of Literature Award. Jamie is a resident staff writer at Forbes, and Rich Karlgaard, Forbes’ publisher, says he has cracked the code when it comes to magnetizing attention.
He has worked with some of the most incredible, well-known companies in the world such as Nike, Cisco, Intel, Adidas, Semantic, and TEDx and, today, we’re going to talk about his passion for understanding the art and the science behind noticeability.
The early part of Jamie’s life was very difficult. A child of extreme poverty and neglect, and with parents in and out of his life, Jamie was only semi-literate through most of his teens. Desperate to turn things around, he moved to live with a relative so that he could attend school, took remedial classes in community college, and five and half years later, graduated from the London School of Economics. Now, his life is almost the opposite of where he started: teaching some of the most successful artists, brands, and CEOs how to stand out in a world of overload.
After living a life of invisibility, Jamie realized that through all of the noise of this world, we’re all experiencing the same thing. Growing up, he learned to recognize the primal laws that explain why we pay attention to some things and discard others, and he managed to write them down to share with others. Now he helps people apply these primal laws to anything from music to social change.
Everyone experiences content bombardment and we’re all harder to see in this day and age. It’s nearly impossible to get the attention of those we desire. In the 1950s, you would be subject to around 250 pieces of advertising a day. By 1970 that was up to 500. By the late ’90s, the average person was being bombarded with five to seven thousand and, today, that number is even higher, still: between ten and fifteen thousand.
Jamie calls one of his primal laws “The Block.” When you put a toy block in front of a baby, it freezes. This happens for a few reasons: the block is comparatively large to them, there are intricacies to it, and it’s unusual. Anything big and complex makes us stop and look. A block is a monolithic, simple thing that you can duplicate over and over again. Forget fifty years; it’s possible to make it iconic within five minutes.
Today, Jamie is working on something entirely different. So many people have experienced trauma in their lives and trauma is relative. Jamie is no stranger to trauma, himself, and while working with a doctor, he learned that post-traumatic stress disorder isn’t actually a disorder at all: it’s an injury. He’s making a film to explore this topic and find a way we can fix this epidemic.
The Biggest Helping: Today’s Most Important Takeaway
“Curiosity. As we get older we lose our curiosity. Curiosity is a discipline and – despite whatever we’ve been through – focusing on what we have: human connection and relationships – which are our true net worth, not money. What we have in terms of wealth is our net assets; it’s not our worth. Our worth is our meaning and our relationships. Do we work in a life of meaning and do we have good relationships? That’s our net worth. That’s driven by curiosity and gratitude – finding what to be grateful for. Our minds – because of our evolutionary biology – are psychologically hardwired to be velcro for the bad and teflon for the good, so when you’re curious and you focus on reframing things towards gratitude – no matter what bad happens – you get more good and you have a more positive outlook on life.”
Thank you for joining us on “The Daily Helping with Dr. Shuster.” Subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or Google Podcasts to download more food for the brain, knowledge from the experts, and tools to win at life.
The Daily Helping is produced by Crate Media