THE BLOG

02
Jul

Step 2: Why Your Company Needs to Build a Brain Trust

Now that we’ve talked about creative entrepreneurship, let’s build a brain trust, shall we?

It takes more than one person and half an idea, which is why entrepreneurs need to set art, imagination and design loose into the company. One’s particular if not unique talents are small in comparison to a generative, empowered brain trust. By setting talent into motion, they can systematize imagination and let art and strategic design help solve problems collaboratively.

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A company is only as good as its people. For imaginative and capable people, everything is a canvas for the imagination, to paraphrase Thoreau. But with not so capable people, ideas are a punishment to be endured. So, cultivating great talent means not only finding the right people, but also planning and building out a brain trust. As Steven Johnson has argued, most of us walk around with half ideas in our heads; and we need others to test our assumptions, put them into practice and, ultimately, accomplish our visions.

Talent who can create, spread and adopt ideas are integral to a brain trust. They animate the organization’s environment and shape its culture – no wonder creative teams need to be intellectually, creatively and temperamentally diverse. From loud to quiet, left to right-brained, logical to free-form, a blend of perspectives and skill-sets is what makes an exceptional creative team. While the process is a raucous bustle and tussle of talking, arguing and sharing, it’s how truly innovative ideas take root and grow.

We’ve built this into our culture. Transcending the design discipline to include social scientists, MBAs and humanities graduates, our brain trust is unconventionally dynamic and collaborative.

It’s not unusual, for example, for one person to question the purpose of the traditional upfront while another deconstructs a logo from a different perspective or investigates the history of lower thirds, transitions or swipes. As Johnson puts it, “chance favors the connected mind.”

17
Jun

The State of the Industry Remix

Can you see your humans in the clutter of brand work? Photo courtesy of Thomas Brault via unplashed.com

Can you see your humans in the clutter of brand work? Photo courtesy of Thomas Brault via unplashed.com 

While waiting for the venerable Lee Hunt and his annual New Best Practices talk at PromaxBDA, a quote came to mind:

“Branding is the manifestation of the human condition.” –– Wolff Olins

How can a vague psychological term relate to the future of television, let alone programming, bumpers, IDs and promos? But we see a connection between this concept about the human condition and Mr. Hunt’s strategy-oriented observations and analysis of our industry.

The truth is, industry best practices and the state of design spool out from the invisible thread of us humans. It always starts with a curiosity and drive to aggregate and distill information into something usable.

People want to be more than facial hair. Photo courtesy of Ryan McGuire via gratisphotography.com

People want to be more than facial hair. Photo courtesy of Ryan McGuire via gratisphotography.com

The future of television depends on how well we understand all that is knowable about us humans, particularly the ways science, technology, education, social science and demography tell the story of us.

Do you know how to untangle the thread?

27
May

A ‘Brief’ Encounter and Why Your Company Needs a Chief Creative Officer

brief-logo

We were recently featured in PromaxBDA Creative Brief, calling out our multidisciplinary talent.

You see, “Strategy” is more than a service offering at Oishii Creative. In fact, it’s so woven into our culture and business practices that you’re as likely to run into a political scientist here, as you are an accomplished creative director, animator or film historian.

Being a creative solutions partner to TV clients means more than having talented designers, directors and strategists. It’s pitching our tent outside the folds of “business-as-usual,” and building a culture of people who are empowered to think about the future today.

Imagine using design in new ways and always questioning everything we take for granted. Only you know what business model suits your particular strengths and capabilities, but we hope that a glimpse into the workings of Oishii’s business model and culture will illustrate a paradigm for success. It all starts with creative entrepreneurs. You can read more about this at the jump, and be sure to come back next week as we discuss the importance of building a brain trust and democratizing design solutions.

Start With Creative Entrepreneurs

hattrick

People start companies for a variety of reasons. Passion, purpose and profits motivate them to take huge risks.

Creative companies – just like us in the broadcast and design industry – are typically founded by artists who happen to be entrepreneurs. Harmut Esslinger describes it as ‘the designer who wants to use design beyond beautification.” Another way to look at it is, designers have a unique skill: creating a commercial enterprise through the mergence of design and art.

What distinguishes creative entrepreneurs from their counterparts is the ability to see the value of operationalizing creativity. After all, they’re running a business and chasing innovation.

After Harvard Business Review author and professor Jeffrey H. Dyer studied over 3,000 executives and entrepreneurs, he concluded that the most innovative leaders spent 50% more time on what his team called the “discovery activities of innovation: questioning, observing, experimenting and networking.”

This isn’t just a matter of “let’s think about television’s problems.” It’s systemic – and teams have to see how design and television are experienced through every relevant lens, whether it’s history, demographics, art, business or technology. It’s the ambient knowledge that everyone can tap into. This is how the truly creative entrepreneur wants people to find meaningful work.

08
May

Get Lost: How Thinking Like a Tourist Can Reset Your Creativity

Paying attention is a radical act in a busy day.

Paying attention is a radical act in a busy day. Photo courtesy of Unsplash/Joshua Earle

Stanley Kubrick once said “Observation is a dying art.” Kubrick was urging artists and creatives to do the increasingly impossible in our cacophonous worlds—pay attention. Sit quietly. Look and observe the small details in our day-to-day lives. Simple, but profoundly difficult.

And, it’s not just external distractions causing us to lose focus, but our own impulses. Ask any artist and they will tell you its the texture of their lives—everything from popular culture, art, television, social media, and nature to the urban life inspires them. But so much possibility for inspiration drives an innate fear of missing out on something that could spark our next idea, innovation and campaign. So embedded are we with sensory overload, we often jump to the next stimulating thought before fully processing the present.

This isn’t a phenomenon specific to our industry either—it’s built into our brains. Neuroscience research confirms that when processing information, our minds are wired to take cognitive shortcuts, we make snap decisions based on what we know. Or rather, what we think we know. So, while, say reading an interview with a creative whose work we admire, our brains are instantaneously cataloging, discarding and scanning over any information they think we already know, causing us to rush through, never really taking in the whole picture.

Henry David Thoreau saw the skill of observation as a matter of will, one that requires our attention to how we see. “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

Look at the smallest of details, it will yield any number of patterns.

Look at the smallest of details, it will yield any number of patterns.

Inspired by these thinkers and this perspective, Oishii Creative developed an ethos that encapsulates how we brainstorm, create and execute ideas: Think like a tourist.

Think like you are new to a city. Put yourself in the mindset of mild confusion, in an unfamiliar place, perhaps lost and in need of an espresso. Sounds a little overwhelming, doesn’t it? That’s the idea. Thinking like a tourist forces your brain to take in and process new information as it comes rather than skipping over the familiar bits, because, if you can truly put yourself in that mindset, none of it is overly familiar. Outsmarting your thinking habits, the short-cuts you take is key to change your patterns.

Think like a tourist is a phrase and toolkit for us. It’s our pre-whiteboard mindset and process. It’s how we organize our internal process before we upload, work or collaborate with others. We believe the subtle and often overlooked details of how we see, perceive and interact with the world around us can make us better storytellers, innovators.

Let’s go back to the metaphor of travel because it’s an ideal way to explain thinking like a tourist. When most of us travel, disorientation and exhilaration script our movements. We’re contentedly confused, even with GPS, as new patterns and pathways merge into our consciousness. The New York Times “Cultured Traveler” writer Eric Weiner describes the best travel moments as “losing our bearings and finding new ones.”

And what can become activated during travel are our powers of acute observation. As a ‘tourist,’ your attention is amplified, if even for a short time, by everything new around you. From the trees to the people to the graffiti on the buildings, it’s a new din powerfully able to pique your senses.

Once you get acclimated to places, your brain settles back into making cognitive shortcuts as it routinely does when you’re not on vacation. But for those first ineffable hours, all bets are off, jolted from the old and into the new. This is the perspective we apply to ideas.

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Auguste Rodin said it best when he quipped, “I know nothing, I only discover.” Whether you’re in a creative industry, using the world around you to make something new, the keen powers of observations are critical strengths. Art is the constant reinvention of new narratives, layers and meanings, and paying attention is no fool’s errand; it demands your whole person and intelligence.

So, before the next pitch, meeting or brainstorming session, spend some time as a tourist in your own head. Go sit somewhere and get lost, even if it’s just the park around the corner. Take in your surroundings. Embrace the unfamiliarity. Bring it back to the boardroom. And, if you need further inspiration, follow the words of poet Mary Oliver.

Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Other photos courtesy of Deathtostock.com

24
Apr

Oishii Creative Welcomes EP Danixa Diaz

Danixa Diaz at the Oishii Los Angeles offices.

Danixa Diaz at the Oishii Los Angeles offices.

Oishii Creative Welcomes Danixa Diaz as Executive Producer

Los Angeles, CA – (April 23, 2015) – Oishii Creative is excited to welcome Danixa Diaz as Executive Producer. She joins the company with two decades of creative, production and design industry experience. In 2012, Diaz founded representation firm “iartists” after spending seven years leading business development at Imaginary Forces. The addition of Diaz represents the next growth phase for Oishii, which has proliferated from a traditional design studio to a multidisciplinary full-service creative solutions studio since it launched in 2002.

“The natural ebb and flow of our industry requires us to constantly adapt,” remarks Ish Obregon, president & chief creative officer, Oishii. “Having known Danixa and her admirable work for many years, I know her blend of energy, vision and direction will compliment Oishii well. She brings invaluable experience and understanding to our team. It’s built on her appreciation of great art and design – and a keen sense of what’s happening in our industry now and what’s on the horizon.”

Likewise, Diaz has long been familiar with Oishii’s award-winning pedigree. She got to know the team better after experiencing their “visually arresting” multi-platform branding package for last summer’s PromaxBDA Conference — an organization for which she served on the board while fostering many professional connections through the years. Pointing to recent branding projects for television networks The Hub and E!, she is eager to parlay Oishii’s talent and capabilities for even more visibility and future success.

“Oishii offers clients a truly collaborative partnership,” adds Diaz. “That comes with not only exceptional creative, but also depth of knowledge and experience in brand strategy. Their long list of repeat clients, like the NFL Network, are a testament to their success in design, but also their ability to merge the disciplines of branding, design and business strategy. As more and more people recognize Oishii as a go-to name for the kind of big-thinking, top-notch creative that elevates brands, my goal is to keep getting that message out.”

From executive producing to business development, Diaz’s deep industry experience spans commercials, broadcast, feature film, gaming and experience design. Her career began in Miami in the mid-90s and took off in Los Angeles when she became Executive Producer at Three Ring Circus. She fondly remembers this period as the birth of today’s mixed-media companies, as they were combining creative solutions from motion graphics to live action – all across new media platforms.

“I simply fell in love with the design and production geniuses who were reshaping our industry back then, many of whom are still leading it today,” says Diaz.

Continuing to align her career with industry pioneers, Diaz went on to lead business development for Imaginary Forces. During her seven-year tenure with the award-winning creative studio, she remembers taking the first call with “Mad Men” Creator Matthew Weiner, who was looking to commission the show’s now legendary, Emmy-honored title design. Diaz would eventually sit on the Emmy Title Design Executive Committee.

Other highlights from Diaz’s diverse and accomplished career include an American Express campaign via Ogilvy, which introduced her to Joan Gratz – one of her biggest influences. The Oscar-winning artist would go on to participate in an all-women creative panel that Diaz organized for the annual PromaxBDA Conference.

In 2012, Diaz spread her wings and launched iartists, which focused on business development for mixed-media clients, including longtime colleague and design luminary Kyle Cooper, (founder of Prologue and co-founder of Imaginary Forces). Following three successful years at the helm of her own company, Diaz found herself eager to return to the stimulation of a collaborative creative environment and fully embed herself within a collective.

“I wanted to go back to my roots and work with a team that had excellent strategy, branding and creative talent, which is what I’ve been invited to be a part of with Oishii,” she concludes. “Between all of our creative goals and mutual perspectives on the industry and its future, Oishii was the obvious partner for my new journey.”

About Oishii Creative:
Oishii Creative is a full-service creative solutions studio. From ideation and strategy to design and production, we distinguish our clients through the relentless pursuit of the next BIG idea. While no ambition is too big or too small, it all boils down to the RIGHT idea for your brand. Our award-winning team is ready to dream with you and create with you.

http://oishiicreative.com

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17
Apr

From The Oishii Ideation Lab: Is Your Creative Passion Killing Your Team?

Harness the Power of Creativity with a Dash of Kindness

photo courtesy of magdeleine.com

photo courtesy of magdeleine.com

Mark Twain once said, “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Replace the word “kindness” with “creativity,” and it’s easy to see that these unique forms of expression are remarkably homologous to the human experience.

No wonder kindness plays such an important role in the creative field –- from the collaborative environments in which we work to the paths we choose to find the next big idea.

Look at the captivating process of brainstorming, for instance. We tend to approach it through an overly optimistic and empowering lens. It make us feel like innovators in action – unleashing the power of our brains, attacking the problem while developing something new.

You could say that brainstorming is an art in and of itself. After all, you’re setting the stage for success while managing collateral damage that we humans are seemingly wired to instill in one another. It’s a high stakes environment: team members, peers, and bosses who are watching, listening and evaluating our ideas.

At the same time, like any human activity, we’re both at our best and worst when idea-generating. This usually means reality blends with our own fictive understanding of ourselves: what we think we are capable of in a whiteboard session. As Friedrich Nietzsche so exquisitely described us humans, “In conversation we are sometimes confused by the tone of our own voice, and mislead to make assertions that do not at all correspond to our opinions.”

At some point, kindness has to find its way into the process.

On a practical level, Alex Osborne, founder of the modern brainstorm work session, believed that idea-generation required rules to ensure people participated and felt a part of the group. Why? Because empathy and kindness are gateway traits to working well together. It’s a theory that’s well-documented by neuroscientists today. Kindness fosters an open, collaborative and alert mind, allowing us to think at a high level. It let’s us go beyond petty differences and transcend resentment and everyday slights.

Playing Nice with Nanci Besser

photo courtesy of IMCreator.com

photo courtesy of IMCreator.com

Convergence is tricky. Working towards a common goal, creating a prototype, a beta project or campaign means people must work together. But convergence is tricky.

As emotions, feelings and temperaments merge – and, even, collide – neuroscience shows us the value of empathy to offset it. We’ve asked author and teacher Nanci Besser to shed some light on this through the value of emotional intelligence in the brainstorming session:

A common misconception is that kindness equates with being “nice” and granting another his or her “way.” Looking within the parameters of emotional intelligence and mindfulness, it may be ascertained that kindness involves solving problems and fulfilling needs by creating space for an outcome that is bigger than any individual ego.

Being kind is meeting someone where he or she is at, in terms of his or her state of mind. The ability to expand your perceptions to include the ideas of another requires an empathic approach. To many, the notion of conflict tends to convey a negative connotation.

However, conflict in and of itself is a neutral state. It is only our interpretations that assign a negative or positive attribute to its existence. Passivity is not the gateway to promote innovation and creativity. Only through sifting through seemingly conflicting perspectives with kindness do we answer the greatest of creative enigmas.

It is possible to garner support for your point of view without negating someone else’s dreams. In an ideal collaborative environment, there are no inherently “wrong” ideas in a brainstorming session. Some conceptions are a better fit than others and, like cream, they will rise to the top without external manipulation.

Regardless of the industry or group demographics, if everyone embraces the process of conflict, rather than attempt to usurp the outcome to favor his or her position, the possibility for genuine synergy exists. Through employing constructive empathic communications motivated by an intention of kindness, the sum might be bigger than its individual parts. In other words, 1+1 could equal 3.

Author, Speaker, Teacher
“Go Kindly (TM)”
E: nancibesser@gmail.com
Visit http://www.nancibesser.com
Connect http://www.linkedin.com/in/nancibesser/
Twitter: @nancibesser

10
Mar

Think Like A Tourist: Yurt Style

photo courtesy of ChoongChing, Flickr

photo courtesy of ChoongChing, Flickr

Think Like A Tourist: Find A Yurt

Creativity often flows through us and into our projects, campaigns and ideas. Part mystery and part an ability to focus intensely, creativity in popular consciousness remains a murky mystery to most. We may not know what creativity is exactly, but we do know we want it.

Neuroscience continues to pull apart what was once the mythical and peculiar brain activity of ideation, imagination, and creation. Early results suggest a small but powerful shift in our thinking. We should frame creativity through the lens of  “skill” rather than a character-based temperament, nature or disposition. Creativity isn’t something people epitomize or resemble, but a tangible skillset with corresponding characteristics.

And given our traditional definitions, thinkers and educators have focused less on how to sharpen creative thinking skills and more on the best ways to “funnel” our chaotic emotions, thoughts and unconscious snippets.

What cannot be studied or scanned in the neuroscience lab is curiosity. That quality we humans should always have; the desire, interest and hubris to tromp into our world and explore every crevice, and piece of technology or experience around us. #thinklikeayurt

Stepping out of the everyday world of deadlines, habits and our curated digital lives is a vital part of staying curious and interested. Oishii designer Amanda Trovela recently stepped out busy L.A. life and dropped into a yurt in Malibu. Yurts are tent-like structures that come from the ancient Turkic peoples. And while going nomadic isn’t necessarily what we should — or could — be doing full-time, yurt-living is an increasingly popular mode of escape as it is a symbol of individual freedom and clear-headed thinking in an age of enforced distraction.

We think yurt life is an excellent tool to Think Like A Tourist.

Are you ready to reinvigorate and #thinklikeayurt?

 

20
Feb

Clean, Simple and Effective: Five Visual Design Lessons from Edward Tufte

Photo Courtesy of www.edwardtufte.com

Photo Courtesy of www.edwardtufte.com

Working in visual creative is our profession, so how people see, think and process is at the core of our business. We are devoted to merging design with technology and how people relate to the world. So, of course, we are continuously inspired by data visualization expert Edward Tufte, or the “Galileo of Graphics,” as Businessweek once dubbed him. “ET,” as he calls himself, is an artist, statistician and artist, and Professor at Yale, who’s written, designed and self-published four books on data visualization. He’s worked with everyone from IBM to The New York Times to NASA, all in an effort to better deliver information.

Although ET primarily works in numbers and charts, at the heart of his analysis and lessons, is the universal language of creativity — storytelling. ET may specialize in beautifully expressing data, but at its core, it’s still telling a story, something we’re striving to do every day. And the similarities extend from there. Ultimately, ET has many theories on good design, especially this one, from his book Envisioning Information: “Clutter is a failure of design, not an attribute of information.” Here are five more lessons we can apply from ET’s teachings:

Edward Tufte Photo Courtesy of www.edwardtufte.com

Edward Tufte
Photo Courtesy of www.edwardtufte.com

Allow for Solitude
Tufte is a champion of forcing audiences to “see without words,” which he explains requires a clear mind. In order to achieve this empty state of openness, sometimes, we need solitude, or at least quiet as our brains aren’t very good at multitasking while engaging in deep, contemplative thought and communication. So deep seeing requires a fairly certain serenity of one’s self, but also a serene environment. And in that way, all the brain’s processing power can veto into seeing.

Don’t Dictate How Others See Things
Tufte warns that designers and marketers often underestimate their audiences, and thus attempt to over-explain with their design, which results in unnecessary clutter and labels that stop the audience from having their own reading of the art, instead only seeing what’s been presented to them. Trust in your audience and let them explore your design on their own. You’ll both be much happier.

Don’t Follow The Trends
Tufte has spent his life pursuing the documentation of “forever knowledge,” or guiding principles for design and data visualization that are not dissimilar to scientific principles in that they can be tested and stand the test of time. Tufte doesn’t believe in following design trends; instead, he encourages you to pursue classic designs that can stand the test of time. This isn’t to say that trends are without merit in our industry, but we should carefully pick and choose which, and how, to integrate.

Approach Design from the Outside In
Good design, according to Tufte, can speak to anyone. As mentioned earlier, this doesn’t mean that we should underestimate our audience and present a watered-down version of anything; alternately, we should consider what they really need and design from there, rather than letting the technology dictate the design. So, just because you have access to Oculus Rift doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for all projects.

Inspiration Can Come From Anywhere
ET cites Swiss Alps maps and traffic controllers’ hand signals as two of his favorite, most inspiring visuals. Okay, so maybe for a numbers geek like Tufte a map makes sense, but the fluorescent cones? They’re a language unto themselves; visual communications parsed down to the most clean and simple level allowed for. You never know what’s going to speak to you, so don’t rule any experience out. You may think you don’t have time to go for that morning surf, but when you’re out on the water, rolling with the waves might just be when the much-needed inspiration strikes.

13
Feb

TV & Modern Art

FP_MainTitle_60In the 1940s and 1950s, broadcast television design was very much influenced by art and art movements, popular culture and innovation. Design teams contributed to what Professor of Television Lynn Spigel has called the modern taste wars. Television, in its own mass appeal way, crushed distinctions between high and low art, brought together themes from museums and the streets, and blended new visual experiences altogether into American living rooms. Networks hired renowned pop art and graphically-inclined artists, wanting to project scale and “good taste” to audiences. Early TV pioneers knew the power of television: not only was it a storyteller, capturing and speaking to the American collective consciousness, but it’s also a visually dense medium that has the ability to tap into emotions and engage the senses.

In the 1970s, motion graphics operationalized “taste” culture and art into its larger brand. Graphics and technology became a tool to create identities and compelling ways for audiences to experience a television brand.

With this sort of active art legacy, we already have a throughline into art and popular art movements. That’s why we’re so loving broadcast design that looks back to the roots of art and television while thinking forward. We’ve partnered with E! on many occasions; most recently, for one of its popular series “Fashion Police.” In the show open, the chaos of abstract expressionist and pop art blends with fashion and awards season. We love playing with the legacy of television, sharing so much rich history and inspiration along the way.

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02
Feb

Dare to Aspire: Working at the Intersection of Creativity and Ambition

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Alfred Lilypaly

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Alfred Lilypaly

As creatives, we’re always working toward to the next great thing — the next project, the next pitch, the next award. But with our packed schedules and competitive industry, it’s easy to get to caught up in the day-to-day of meetings, deadlines, and output, that we often aren’t able to stop and ask ourselves, “What are we really aspiring to?”

Recently, we completed a new show open for E!’s hit series, “Fashion Police,” and found ourselves focusing on the aspirational nature of fashion for the open’s theme. The fashion industry is driven by an unabashedly honest mandate to be aspirational. As much for designers and brands as for the consumers they create for. Aspiration, along with motivation and inspiration, is a key part of the trifecta that’s essential for any company to grow, but it’s not where we usually place our emphasis in our industry.

As brand marketers and designers, we operate at the intersection of business and creative, equally influenced by both industries. In the business world, the focus is on a very outward, but down-reaching goal of how to increase motivation from interactive programs and books to motivational speakers. In the creative world, we put so much emphasis on where we get our inward inspiration, via conferences and award shows, design annuals and publications. Both have their place, certainly, but without the key ingredient of the forward-thinking key of aspiration, we’re losing an opportunity to focus on long-term change.

We focus so much on motivating employees and inspiring good ideas, but do we really focus on our own aspirations for our company? Maybe we should take a cue from that industry and as entrepreneur Curt Hanke puts it, be a little more “naked with our ambitions.”

But to really be sure we’re incorporating aspiration into our company’s mandate, it’s important to understand how motivation, inspiration and aspiration differ. Motivation is a complex driver that governs much of our life, especially our basic needs. It can be summarised as “the desire to do things.” It can be biological (“I’ve got to finish this project by lunch because I’m hungry and need to eat.”) or psychological (“I’ve got to finish this project by lunch because it was due last week, and I don’t want to get fired.”) Within this context, aspiration can be seen as a “long term hope” or “goal.” Your aspirations can motivate you to work hard and get things done to achieve your further reaching goals (“I’ve got to finish this project by lunch because I want to start working on the idea that will make me the next Leo Burnett.”). While inspiration is a sometimes fleeting injection of some higher reaching creative that we’re trying to make accessible on our own level, budget, time or talent-wise.

Aspiration is about raising the bar from within. That’s why it’s important to revisit your aspirations on a regular basis, whether for your career or your company. And, by keeping your aspirations as goals at the forefront of your company’s mission and feeling proud enough to share them with your partners, employees and collaborators, you’re essentially broadcasting your confidence in your own brand. So, even if our wardrobes haven’t changed much since the ‘90s, maybe we should all aspire a little to be more like the fashion industry and reach a little higher.


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