The 47 simple steps to the perfect handshake

I’m going to ask you to use your imagination.

I want you to list out the steps to the perfect handshake.

Got them?

Now you’ve thought about what they are for approx 1.5 seconds, I now want you to go one step further.

How would you demonstrate the perfect handshake in the most interesting, compelling and entertaining way to make someone care about what those steps were?

You could use any medium you want. Create a sculpture, make a film, bust out a rap - whatever.

Spend double the time thinking about that part of the process (3 seconds).

Now that you’ve spent 4.5 seconds on not only your idea but also the execution, you probably have landed on something that’s straight to the point, simple, and, well, good (if I may say so myself!).

But now I’m going to stuff up your idea.

This time, pretend that I’m giving you $500,000 to produce your idea, and $2,500,000 to broadcast your idea. You also need to choose all the channels you think will get your awesome idea of the perfect handshake out to the world in the most effective way.

To make this scenario even harder for you, it’s no longer ‘your’ idea. It’s the idea you’re creating on behalf of Massive Corporation X that’s willing to put $3M toward advertising that they are the one company that know the perfect handshake better than any other company.

Now that you have so much money to create such a simple idea you previously thought of in 4.5 seconds, what do you do?

You’d probably second guess your idea. For that much money, it must take more thought than you previously given it.

Well it doesn’t matter anymore, because your employer at Massive Corporation X would never trust you with that money anyway so now you’re working with an agency for the idea and production of it, plus another agency for the media channel planning and distribution. Oh, and if you hadn’t noticed, you’ve been demoted to one of a few project managers on this (and have been moved to the basement).

So take a second to pick yourself up. You can still do this.

It’s a demonstration of a handshake. How hard can it be.

So you’ll brief the job into your agencies, see the ideas come back and pick the coolest. Shouldn’t be too hard.

But have you considered that with 10,000 people employed by Massive Corporation X, you now have about a hundred different bosses on this project all offering you opinions on every piece of creative, building their personal ideas into them and ensuring to mitigate risk at every stage of feedback?

Now you’re here, are you any longer even capable of producing a simple idea?

Richard from upstairs insists that every handshake begins by putting on the perfect suit, so including that is non-negotiable. Stephanie from risk (also upstairs - remember you’re still in the basement, now further away from the window and closer to the bathroom door) points out that there’s a concurrent campaign about ethnic diversity within your company in market, so you’re handshake must include a person from every race on the planet and equal gender weighting. Obviously non-negotiable.

By now, you may have an idea you love that has come back from your agency. You probably also have one that will be easier to get approved by the Richard’s and Stephanie’s of your organisation.

So are you prepared to fight for your idea? That as we’ve established isn’t actually your idea anymore..? Or do you take the path of least resistance?

You know, if you want to go head to head with Rich & Steph (you’re trying to establish a good rapport with them now so you’re shortening their names when you greet them in the hall. It’s not working.), it probably takes more late nights of work rationalising what you believe in. But your badminton team has just made the quarter finals of the competition you care about so don’t want to miss training this week.

Wait - how did this ever become so complicated? Aren’t we just communicating the simplest of human greetings? Why is badminton now involved?

Don’t look at me - you’re the one using your imagination here.

But now that we’re talking about me, have a look at this campaign I worked on with one brilliant creative team of two, and one awesome client (4 people total) with two weeks to produce and despatch. It’s called Veet Hairy Questions Kit and it was a great demonstration of the above process not derailing a simple idea.

These campaigns are rare.