Book Review: Dave Trott, One + One = Three

By Ann Binnie, Managing Partner, Tovera Consulting.

Summary view

Dave Trott tells evocative yet sparely written stories, each illustrating an important point about creativity as it applies to life, art and the world of advertising. He always has told good stories, even before “storytelling” became fashionable. So it comes naturally and this book is a pleasure to read. It’s unclassifiable in terms of where it fits in my reading repertoire: I have three main piles of reading – work-related: specific writers or topics on brand, reputation, communications, corporate governance etc; life-related: news journals, thought and analysis on the issues of the day, arts etc; and escapism: novels, modern and classic. Where does this fit? Well not strictly in any of those piles – it applies to my work, my life and also fires my imagination. I’d say you should definitely read it.

What’s it about?

First published in 2015, the book is divided into nine parts, each representing a core creative theme to demonstrate creative thinking and why one+one=three. Each title is carefully and tightly expressed eg “Disaster is a Gift”, “Creativity is Messy” and (a personal favourite) “Question the Question” and within each of those sections short, pithy stories are told, mostly around three pages each. The stories cover geographies, time, personal reflections, history, politics, science, behavioural economics, art, music, business and – occasionally – advertising.

What do we learn from it?

That we need to see creativity as something that we can all do to some extent and that there are characteristics of those of us that do it so well we can earn our living from it that are common. We need to be open to all kinds of inputs from every possible source and we need to stay open and alert to unexpected connections. We need to strive to understand what’s going on in the world and – importantly to those of us in and around marketing – in the minds of our consumers and stakeholders. And probably most importantly, we learn that we should venture outside our natural comfort zone and enquire what’s going on elsewhere, explore it, internalise it, link it with what we already know and see the sparks fly.

Why recommend/not recommend?

***** I’d give it 5 out of 5 and heartily recommend. Instantly readable, dip-into-able but also worthy of deep study. I’ll be going back to it again and again.