In a world of information overload, where devices are getting faster and more complicated, making time for deep reflection and discussion needs to be more of a conscious activity. Reading is one of the few activities which requires your undivided attention. At BlueMelon, we’ve launched a monthly Book Club to encourage our Melons to include reading in their regular routine. It’s a unique opportunity to step away from the screen and discuss concepts around creativity and design amongst ourselves. For many working across creative agencies, we haven’t been able to do much of that since design school!
Our Book Club takes place as a voluntary one-hour session each month, centred around a selected book related to creative agency work. It’s hybrid, which means that we gather around a meeting table in our IRL office at Melon HQ in Manly, Sydney, with remote workers calling in on video. Everyone is invited to the Friday meet.
Keep reading to find out more about why we decided to include this opportunity for both personal and professional development into our regular Melon schedule.
1. Reading sparks original thought and improves creativity
Whether fiction or nonfiction, books allow us to step into a reality different from our own lives. They teach us to open our minds to thoughts and scenarios outside our own existing perspective. While it’s true that “knowledge is power,” exposure to new ideas through reading massages the imaginative part of the brain too. While reading, we learn information we might not have heard before. Therefore, reading, and book club, is a way to get out of the comfort zone of your mind and venture into spaces where new ideas can be formed. Read more about the science behind activating originality in our blog on why BlueMelon likes to sponsor creativity.
2. Book club meetings brings the team together and builds camaraderie
We’ve got a number of good agency culture initiatives going on at BlueMelon, from surfing lunchtimes to shared coffee and croissants on Fat Fridays. Book Club is another one we added to the mix to not only contribute to employee development, but also to get together outside of project-centred meetings. It’s fair to say that not every employee is a bookworm, but sharing and discussing in an open, non-judgmental circle fosters connection, and encourages a sense of belonging. Plus, it’s an opportunity to show leadership skills despite your title, as anyone can speak up and present. It’s a place where employees can see each other on an equal level, and get to know each other too. Sometimes, for example, in a creative agency, designers and writers rarely cross paths. At events like Book Club, it’s a cross-collaborative opportunity for company team building.
(FYI this sort of connection and culture is a must-have for your younger employees. They famously quit their jobs over it! Read our full blog on What Gen Z and Millenials want at work for more.)
3. Reading widely increases industry and technical knowledge
If you’re keen to follow the trend of organisational development, you can encourage your workplace to become a learning organisation, aka one where people are continuously growing and developing their skills. Book Club is not quite a formal training opportunity, but it greatly complements the independent research and upskilling already happening across the floor. We’ve covered so far this year a wide array of agency-related topics in Melon Book Club, from branding, to typography, UX design, and beyond. All of which make for a unique opportunity to upskill in a fun, collaborative setting.
4. Book Club contributes to perspectives on working projects
In a book club, we learn new concepts and ways of executing creative tasks that we can then directly apply to our current projects. It’s especially useful when all employees get up to speed at once, and we develop a consistent set of language around a topic that can be used on the job. When we’ve heard the same ideas, it’s easier to adopt them in collaborative work on the floor. We stick with appropriate genres that are relevant to our work in Melon Book Club (no – Eat, Pray, Love didn’t make the cut) so that we make sure the content’s useful to our team.
5. Reading can be a mindfulness practice
You might be asking (especially while reading this article on your computer or hand-held device), can’t I receive the same benefits of Book Club from reading social media articles on my phone? We believe that’s not quite the case. And the science backs it up with a solid link between reading books and improved memory and concentration. It’s pretty hard to multitask while reading. Studies show that 30 minutes of reading can lower the heart rate, blood pressure, and feelings of psychological distress. In this way, reading unlocks states of our minds that are connected to mindfulness and meditation. Ultimately, reading and book club can be part of your mental health toolkit.
These are the books that we love for creative agency inspiration:
- User Friendly: How the Hidden Rules of Design Are Changing the Way We Live, Work, and Play by Cliff Kuang, Robert Fabricant
- Branding: in Five and a Half Steps by Michael Johnson
- Copywrong to Copywriter by Tait Ischia
- Find your Artistic Voice: The Essential Guide to Working Your Creative Magic by Lisa Congdon
So, why launch a Book Club at your creative agency?
- Sparks original thought and improves creativity
- Brings the team together and encourages connection
- Increases industry and technical knowledge (from branding to typography and beyond)
- Changes perspectives on projects we are working on
- Reading unlocks states of minds within us that are connected to mindfulness and meditation – so ultimately it’s part of our mental health toolkit
Learning has always been a part of our founding story at BlueMelon. With two lecturers as founders and directors, it’s a fundamental value of ours to provide in-house opportunities for growth.
Get in touch with us here to continue the discussion on creativity. We’d love to hear from you!