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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > articles >  Shit Disturbing Is Saying “I Care”: An Interview With Doubt

Shit Disturbing Is Saying “I Care”: An Interview With Doubt

Posted on March 28, 2011 and read 5,174 times

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paul Shit Disturbing Is Saying  “I Care”: An Interview With DoubtPaul Lavoie
Chairman and Founder

In a rare and candid interview, I ask Doubt, the sometimes revered and often reviled philosopher, about himself and his upcoming book titled DOUBT: UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM FROM THE WORLD’S GREATEST SHIT DISTURBER.

PAUL LAVOIE: Professionally you have been recognized as the sixth member of the Beatles, personal muse to Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, Charlie Kaufman, Howard Stern, Jackson Pollock, and Franz Kafka. You’ve been credited with the creation of the Renaissance, cell phones, Velcro, space flight, hair gel, convertibles, square golf clubs, high definition, Google, hip hop, climate control, indoor plumbing, Woodstock, unicycles, Astroturf, skateboarding, The Simpsons, and the autobahn. But who is Doubt, personally?

DOUBT: On a personal level, I have no personal level. No family. No pets. No hobbies. No favourite sports teams. No special recipes. Which I’m okay with. Because I’m not looking for friends. I’m looking for people who want to change the world. And to do that, they need me. And unfortunately, I’m a bastard.

PL: Yes, I have a quote here from Einstein: “That little a-hole helped me solve some serious physics shit.”

D: I make it my business to push folks—not off a cliff or into a well—but to think for themselves and find better ways of doing things. I’m that voice in your head that says, “Hold on a second. There’s a better way.” That f’ing voice you hear and think, “Not again.” But you know I’m right.

PL: So all your shit disturbing is your way of saying “I care”?

D: Listen. Conventional wisdom tells us not to challenge popular opinions, beliefs, and ideas, which means we should still be living in a cave and waiting for fire. Unconventional wisdom says, “Screw this cave. Let’s build palaces with thermostats and indoor plumbing.” So yeah, I’m responsible for a lot of shit disturbing.

Shit Disturbing is Saying “I Care”

PL: You know you are generally more reviled than revered?

D: Yeah. By pop song lyricists, house cats, classic rock radio programmers, grandmothers, big-box shoppers, and all left-brain-thinking people. What have they ever done for the world?

PL: You mean versus those who have? You spend a lot of time in your book talking about people who have brought about positive change by doubting conventions. Tell us about these “Disciples of Doubt.”

D: Personally, I’ve been throwing dynamite at history since the beginning of time—but these guys are serious kamikazes. They’re out there teetering on a seesaw between skepticism and optimism, hell bent on their quest for a better way.

PL: There’s a story about the City of Denver’s dual-purpose parking meters/charity donation boxes. The city anticipates contributions worth $100,000 per year, with all of it going to Denver’s homeless population. Were you involved in this project?

D: Are you listening? None of this shit happens without me. Even kamikazes need a maniacal dictator to point out the enemy. Disciples of  Doubt aren’t born every day—it’s hard work to uncram your creativity from the mould your career slotted you into.

PL: You are quoted as saying, “Ditto is the shitto.”

D: That’s right, get off the beaten path and head on up the creek without a paddle. I admit that the sadist in me loves watching—then bang! You’re slamming into something amazing you never knew was there.

Ditto is the Shitto

PL: Some of these Disciples of Doubt have come across things that actually seem sort of dumb obvious. There’s a story about U.S. physician Peter Pronovost introducing an intensive-care checklist protocol that ensures doctors follow five basic steps. He proved infection rates could decline from one in ten patients to zero. A hospital in Michigan further confirmed the efficacy of Pronovost’s simple checklist by saving over 1,500 patients and a staggering 100 million dollars over an 18-month period. What took you so long to come up with that one?

D: I bet you’re one of those guys who looks at a Jackson Pollock and says, “Whatever. Spilt paint.”

PL: Actually, I’m a bit of an artist myself.

D: Yeah, yeah. I know. Creative “gooroo.” How about that campaign you presented yesterday?

PL: That’s low.

D: Damn right. We’re down in the trenches together man. To the creature of habit, even a tiny change is the bogeyman. But what’s scarier is missing an opportunity.

PL: That’s what I always say!

D: And what I always say is that people think the winds of change smell kinda funny. But what really stinks is people crapping themselves at the suggestion of change. It’s fear—and even you aren’t immune.

The Winds of Change Smell Kinda Funny

PL: Hold it. At TAXI, our credo is Doubt the Conventional. We leave fear with our umbrellas at the door.

D: Ah, c’mon. Even the bravest doubter gets the “3 a.m. I don’t have an idea, I think the question must be wrong, the research must be wrong, I am going to look like a loser unless I crack this” kind of fear.

PL: Ego.

D: Right. To be an agent of change, you need to put your ego aside first. Then, take the time to understand the root of other people’s fears. If you can prove your intentions are not really scary at all, people will be ready to listen to the benefits of the kind of change you have in mind.

Doubt the Conventional. Create the Exceptional.

PL: At TAXI, that kind of generosity is essential for collaboration. But it’s not about polite consensus. Everyone has to be willing to be brutally honest.

D: I’m buying the brutal part.

PL: Well, you’ve already said you’re a sadist who enjoys sending people into the abyss. And I read in your book that you’re into domination, too?

D: I tell people to make “no” your bitch.

PL: No?

D: Yes.

PL: Yes?

D: No. Think about it. “No” is a silent alarm. If an idea isn’t meeting resistance, you should really start to worry. It’s your first hint that it’s docile and predictable. But when the “no” faction is sounding off like a five-alarm fire—there’s your cue that you’re on to something great.

Make “No” Your Bitch

PL: Well, the naysayers must have howled at this story from your book: Western banks lending money to the world’s most impoverished people to start up their own businesses? The conventional view of the Third World is that it’s a black hole of lost causes, where loans and donations disappear, never to be seen again. I can hear the “no” from four time zones away.

D: And that racket draws a lot of attention. Microcredit is a financial innovation that grew out of Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank, where they see credit as a human right. As miniscule as these loans are by Western standards, they are life changing to say, a Nepalese hill farmer or a Senegalese street vendor. Microcredit helps them help themselves so they can eventually earn their way out of poverty.

PL: So successfully that microcredit is no longer just a program, it’s a buzzword. Western banks are falling over each other to launch their own microcredit programs as a source for future growth.

D: Yup. Ka-ching is the sound of the tide turning—when people stop resisting change and see that a social benefit and a business benefit can get it on.

PL: At TAXI, we believe that creativity gives our clients a competitive edge. We’ve fostered unconventional thinking in order to get new brands noticed and snap tired brands out of a coma.

D: TAXI schmaxi. You get it. So I’m going to be straight with you.

PL: Somehow I doubt that. But go on.

D: You said it.

PL: What?

D: Doubt. It’s about moi. It will always be about moi.

PL: Fer Chrissake. Do you google yourself, too?

D: Relax. All I’m saying is that TAXI is nothing without me. Doubt the Conventional. Right?

PL: We are devotees of your pesky presence, yes.

D: And I call you to the mat when you aren’t thinking big enough?

PL: Mmm hmm.

D: But I also give you a leg up to a bigger, brighter world.

PL: Yeah, yeah.

D: Okay, I’m done here.

PL: Geez.

Paul Lavoie is chairman and founder of TAXI. At the helm of TAXI’s integrated approach to creativity across seven offices in Canada, the U.S., and Europe, Paul’s credentials include:
Marketing magazine, in August 2008, named Lavoie one of the 10 most influential pioneers in Canadian marketing over the past century. In 2006, he was listed by Creativity magazine among the 50 most influential creative minds. That year, he also became the youngest inductee of the Canadian Marketing Hall of Legends. In 2007, Paul received the Spiess award for lifetime achievement by the Bessies Awards. Paul is the President of The Art Directors Club Advisory Board, an ex-member of the Marketing Advisory Committee of the MoMA, a board member of the Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter and a member of the International Advisory Board of the
École des Hautes Études Commerciales (HEC – Montréal).

Shit Disturbing Is Saying  “I Care”  first appeared in Applied Arts.




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