Like many of our guests, Craig Elimeliah thinks a lot about things. But he’s thinking a lot about a lot of things, and trying to assemble the pieces to understand patterns. From his early start studying the Talmud, through finding his way in the early commercial web, he’s developed a passion for understanding the end user. Now, he’s leading teams and passing on that obsession with cross-discipline teams at VMLY&R. He talked to Adam about just how he approaches that.

You can find Craig on Twitter:


Adam Pierno 0:02
This is The Strategy Inside Everything. I’m Adam Pierno. The Strategy Inside Everything is the podcast for people who think for a living. If you have an idea, a question or you want to push back on something you hear in this episode, go to and leave a message or a voicemail for me. The best and most interesting messages will be added to future episodes. And I can’t wait to hear from you.

All right, welcome back to The Strategy Inside Everything. This one has been a long time coming. My guest today is the Chief Experience Design Officer at VMLY&R Craig Elemeliah. Craig, how are you? Good. How are you? Good. Craig. I think I started this podcast in like 2017. I think in either ’17 or ’18 I DM’d you and was like, ‘Do you want to come on the show?’ And you said ‘Yes!’ Like with an exclamation point. And then we never were able to do it. So 2022 – It’s happening?

Craig Elimeliah 1:11
Yeah. about social media, you get a lot of those messages. And I typically have like, an enthusiastic kind of response to those things. And they’re so in the moment, and then like a minute later, the world is crumbling around you and you just don’t think so. I’m glad. I’m glad it’s finally happening

Adam Pierno 1:30
to you. But yes, you’re right. If I did like a live stream show, I think I would probably get more of guests like you that are like, I’m respect. I’m responsive right at this moment. Let’s go here, pitch team. And let’s do it right now. Life has to be more structured than that. So, Greg, I am really looking forward to our conversation because you independently offered up something that I’m super passionate about on my own. So I wanted to dive in with you because of your expertise. But before we do that, could you give the listeners a sense of who you are, and what you’ve done before getting into your current role?

Craig Elimeliah 2:04
Sure, did have a bit of a long journey, I’ve always wanted to be in advertising as young as I could remember, I was memorizing every commercial, I saw sort of intuitively understood the strategy behind most of the ads that I looked at. And I was judging work, you know, as young as I can possibly remember, I remember, like, thumbing through my mom’s magazines, and looking at ads, and being like, this doesn’t make sense, or Wow, this is pretty cool. So I’ve always kind of been really plugged into to the industry and just ads in general. And even even as a young teen I was, I was designing ads in school and kind of distributing them, you know, to my friends and stuff just to get responses just to kind of see like, what resonated with people not even knowing what I was really doing. I was just kind of doing it for fun. It kind of really helped

Adam Pierno 3:05
me was consumer research. Basically,

Craig Elimeliah 3:08
it kind of scratched the design itch, you know, I was I was always a designer, I was always drawing and kind of putting things together. And it kind of scratch that itch for me. And, you know, for me, like design and, and, and feedback, right? Like, what else do you need, right? But then I took a little bit of a different path. After high school, I actually moved to Jerusalem and instead of going right into college actually entered rabbinical school, I was studying Talmud, in Jerusalem with some, some of the biggest sort of Jewish sages at the time, kind of an interesting journey. But even there, you know, it was the art of critical thinking, you know, it’s really like, you know, learning how to think learning how to question learning how to feel learning how to look, learning how to observe. And, you know, I think that’s what kind of drew me to want to you know, I’m Jewish anyway, so it’s kind of connected to my, my, my heritage, but at the same time, it was more of an intellectual pursuit than anything else, because I wasn’t super religious, I was more just connected to like, the pursuit of wanting to really just learn deeply. And I continued kind of doing the same thing there, you know, still designing things. And you know, I always had a sketchbook I always had, I was always cutting things out of magazines and reconfiguring them. And, you know, at that time, the internet was just starting to take shape. And when I saw that, I was just like, oh my god, like, I felt like I’ve been waiting for this my entire life. You know, even as a kid, you know, as a big gamer. I always had an Atari Colico vision, so no

Adam Pierno 4:56
one can tell we’re the same age. Yeah.

Craig Elimeliah 4:58
So you CaReNet the internet hit my brain just connected all the dots, you know, and I just really, it all came together very clearly for me, which, you know, I think for the most part in my career has been a little bit of a challenge, because I’ve always kind of been ahead of things because I was one of the very few people in the city that was both into design. And I taught myself how to program HTML, I sat with a book in my lap, and I learned, I learned HTML, and I learned, you know, a few other tech technologies and back end technologies. And, you know, it was rare at the time, and I got a really good well paying job as a creative director at an agency. I didn’t know what that was, I didn’t know what the role entails was your first that was your first job. Oh, yeah, it was, I was way under qualified, I had no clue, like how to lead a team or, you know, but I knew I was really passionate about the space and nobody else knew how it worked. So it was just like blind leading the blind. But you knew more than they did? I did, right. I didn’t know more, at least in the craft. So yeah, some of my first projects were like BMW and Price Waterhouse, Cooper, at&t, I like, designed like, one of the very first page navigations for at&t, like not knowing any, like, sort of best practice or anything. I just kind of like, I read it, and loved it. So I was like, okay, yeah, I guess this works. And then you know, and then that day came where the whole thing came crashing down, right? Like, it just kind of came crashing down. And the agency went under. And I, I was still a believer, I was very naive at the time. And I was just like, this is not going away. Like, I don’t care what the market say, I don’t care what anyone says, like, this is just this is healthy, right? Like, it’s just a reset. So I looked around and saw some talented folks. And I was like, You know what, let’s keep going. So I just started my own agency, small design group, we picked up some really good clients, we started, you know, not just doing, you know, advertising, we were doing, like, we were building software, right, like, I actually built one of the very first ERP systems for the fashion industry have actually built a whole suite of software. So it was great, you know, sort of all coming together at a very young age where design and technology and insight and strategy and, and, you know, it just sort of kind of worked itself out for me. And that was sort of how I got into the, into the, into the industry. Very shortly after that I joined a digital agency called firstborn. They were pretty well known at the time, they were, you know, joining up with them, we like we knew no wrong, like everything we touched with gold, right? It was just like, you know, we were winning award after award. Yeah, they had a great run. Yeah, we had a really good run. And, you know, we were benchmarking ourselves against folks like RGA. And, you know, some other folks like that at the time. So it was just a great time to be in the industry, I learned so much, I made a lot of really close relationships. And for me, that was kind of how I broke my teeth, you know, before I entered the agency world, like sort of the big agency world, the holding company world, you know, and I’ve been really, really fortunate in my career to have had roles in which I was really able to be all of those things. You know, I’ve never been told by anyone that you can’t be a designer, you can’t be a technologist, you can’t be a creative director, you can’t be a client service person. And, you know, and even now, you know, my role at VML y&r, you know, it, you know, it’s funny, I actually saw our head of HR yesterday, he was introducing me to a new person on the team. And, and he’s like, I want you to meet cred, I don’t even know what she does, you know, and our global, our global head of HR was like, and that’s a good thing. Like, I love that he just does so many different things, right? You know, I just learned so much every single day and just fortunate to be at such an amazing agency with surrounded by really smart people. And doing what I do, which is creating experiences for some of the biggest brands in the world.

Adam Pierno 9:30
That’s really cool. That’s a really cool background. I would imagine the, the left turn you took towards the Talmudic studies. And the critical thinking came with a model for respectful you know, questioning so you’re able to question the document, you’re able to question the thinking, but always holding at the center this like, unspoken respect that we don’t have to take the thing apart and break it to F Questions of it or to try to better understand that we don’t have to deconstruct it. But we do want to understand it more deeply.

Craig Elimeliah 10:08
That’s right. That’s right. That’s right. And you know, that that’s, you know, that, that that’s exactly right. And that’s what I sort of attribute a lot of my success to, just in regards to my partnership with my clients with strategy, right, like being respectful when it comes to truth and intellectual honesty, and really, you know, going down a path that I think we can all, you know, respect in terms of making sure we’re doing right by our clients, we’re doing right by our agencies, we’re doing right by our people. So yeah, that’s exactly that.

Adam Pierno 10:44
That’s, that’s really cool. Do you. So in your role, you have switched, I mean, you’re covering a lot of different or your work touches on so many different things. There’s technology, there’s creativity, there’s comps, there’s people and client management, that touch your work, or that your work touches, actually. And what what you and I were chatting about was this idea of, you know, getting the creative team to have that same sort of curiosity and understanding of the end user that the the, the person they are creating for, how have you started implementing that? Or how have you been implementing it? Yeah,

Craig Elimeliah 11:23
I mean, I, I’ve always been obsessed with dimensionalizing, who would be using the output of anything that I’ve done, right, like anything that we make anything, whether it’s an app, whether it’s an ad, whether it’s a banner, whether it’s a CRM platform, whatever, you know, big or small, I’ve always really obsessed over kind of, like, how is this going to be received? How is this going to be, you know, and how does it fit within the larger context of that person’s life? Right? I always tell my clients, you know, you shouldn’t benchmark yourself against your competition, you should benchmark yourself against your customers next best experience, right? And the idea is that like, nobody’s like drinking a can of Coke, and then drinking a can of Pepsi and going, Oh, I like that. Right? Like, that’s not how it works. It’s, you know, and I think I’ve always been, I’ve always been really obsessed with, like, sort of contextualized in the moment, and really understanding like, what else is going on? What are the other things that are happening in the life of that person, when they’re looking at that sort of work or interacting with that moment? That our brand wants to? wants to connect with them in? Right. And, and, you know, so when I, I kind of work with my teams via my account teams, my strategy teams, my client teams, my, my creative teams, it doesn’t matter. I always start there. I’m always sort of like, let’s let’s kind of, like quickly whiteboard like, you know, who’s our who’s our customer? Like, oh, Jenny, we Okay, let’s meet Jamie, let’s get to know Jenny, who who is Jenny? Like, yeah, this Jenny do? Where does Jenny live? Does she have kids? Is she married? Is she? Is she a partner, she’s single, like, all of the things, you know, and trying to uncover who Jenny is as a person before we even start ideating? Before we even get into our brief, right, and we really, really kind of go deep around, like, what do we know about this person? How much of what we’re doing is sort of coinciding with the other things that are happening in that moment that he’s alive, right. So, um, you know, that that I think that that’s, I start there, you know, and then of course, you know, you try to bring in as much data as you can possibly bring in. Yeah. But I also try to approach it as a person as well, like, what, what would I be like, if I met Jenny? Like, how would I greet Jen? How would I, you know, how would I react to Jenny? How would I, you know, what would I talk to her about, you know, what would I offer her? How would I, you know, where would I if I was inviting Jenny, on a date? Where would I invite her to, you know, things like that.

Adam Pierno 14:15
Totally. Would she be interested in and what would she run away from?

Craig Elimeliah 14:18
Exactly, exactly. You know, and I think, unless you’ve contextualize that very, very, you know, deep human moment, that human truth, you really can’t start thinking about an idea, right? Because, you know, I think we so often create things for ourselves, right? You know, you kind of like, you know, I’ve never been sort of that creative, that just throws shit against the wall to see if it sticks. You know, I’ve always been very thoughtful about the roads that I would go down based on, you know, the fact that I really respect people’s time and I really respect what It takes to come up with a truly great insight and a great idea. And yeah, you can get lucky. But I’m not, I don’t rely on luck, I really rely on that human truth. And, and using that to help lead us down a path that I think, you know, we’ll net us out the most success.

Adam Pierno 15:20
How has it been? Is it something new that that you’re bringing? Or is it a practice that is that has grown with you at your time that at the agency,

Craig Elimeliah 15:29
it’s, it’s grown, it’s grown, this is not new, I mean, we’ve been doing this for, you know, we’ve been doing this type of stuff before it was popular before it was trendy, you know, this is not, for us, this is not performative. This is really, this is really our process, you know, we get, we get very serious about people, we, we really spend a lot of time dissecting people, observe observing people, you know, I encourage my teams to get out there and to really observe more than anything else, and come back and talk about what we’ve observed.

Adam Pierno 16:07
That’s part of the key is that the card of the key is you can’t just have one person go out and observe, that’s an anecdote. But if everybody comes back after a week of observation, and they can all come back and say, I saw this, or I noticed this, then all of a sudden, you’re building a matrix that then you can go test.

Craig Elimeliah 16:25
Exactly, exactly. And, you know, like, I’ve sort of, you know, I’m always the guy in the room, that kind of blowing up, you know, the, the linear journey, right? Like, there is no linear journey, like, nobody, nobody wakes up in the morning is like, I’m gonna consider something today, and then I’m gonna research it doesn’t exist, like, show me one person that lives their life based on like, a consumer journey, right? Like, to me, it’s, it’s, like you said, it’s a matrix, it’s a very complex, you know, set of nodes that that are all intertwined with one another, and I see it more as a graph than anything else, you know, almost like a decision graph, you know? And, you know, you think about things that matter, you know, moments motivations, like I said before, like, what are other things that are going on in that person’s life? And then another thing that’s very important to me is culture. What’s happening in culture? Yeah, right. At any given moment, you know, there are times where we’ll get down a certain path. And I’m like, guys, let’s get on Twitter, right? Now. Let’s just go, like, what’s going on? What is happening right now? Because guess what, like, we’re trying to sell someone a car, and there’s a war in the fucking Ukraine right now. Like, consider that, consider that in a person’s life. Consider the fact that like, you know, there’s an election or there’s a weather issue where there’s a famine or whatever, right, like, so there are things that, you know, there, there are things that factor in that I think that are oftentimes left out. And, you know, again, ideas created in a bubble never really resonate or get or break through, because they don’t have any cultural resonance. Right? Like, there’s nothing connecting it to reality.

Adam Pierno 18:23
Yeah, it exists in a vacuum. And then we wonder why nobody picked it up. Right, exactly. What kind of when you’re when you’re trying to figure out who Jenny is, what kind of data have you found? Not not useful for you, but maybe more useful for the creative teams that you’re trying to inspire? and motivate? Is there a particular data source? Or is it varied?

Craig Elimeliah 18:44
It varies, it varies. You know, I think with every assignment, you know, you try to you try to bring, you know, you have, everyone loves, you know, they give you a first party data, you have a second party. For me, it’s it’s kind of like, how do I uncover some of the less obvious signals, right, like, how do I uncover some of the less obvious signals? There, you know, I’m a big believer in nonlinear data, I love to look at pictures, I love to look at social streams, I love to look at, you know, comment sections I love I love to look under those walks that people just don’t typically look under. I think that’s where all the nuggets are. And that’s where the gold is. I mean, you know, I’ve built a career on doing that, like, you know, coming up with really good ideas all based on looking in places that other people really just don’t want to bother looking. Right like I’ve even I’ve even gone so far as to build products that do that, you know, at my time. My time at Omnicom i i actually have some patents on products that are able to use things like computer vision to identify things Is that we’re going on in an image, and, you know, kind of create a little bit of a taxonomy around that and keywords and, and start to look for trends and look for, you know, things that are happening, you know, in a in a, in a very wide spectrum of, of imagery that you can easily run through an algorithm and then quickly get back some data that can help inform, you know, an insight that you would never have seen just looking at sort of first party data, which

Adam Pierno 20:30
you couldn’t you couldn’t process that many images yourself mentally and figured out what things are, what’s what’s disparate.

Craig Elimeliah 20:37
Exactly, exactly. So like, I’ve, I’ve been so obsessed with that, that I’ve actually like, built products. That’s somebody that I’ve been just to do that because, you know, there are times I’m like, Oh, my God, I just need to see like 1000 things, and I’ll figure it out. But like you said, I can’t look at 1000 things. What is the team

Adam Pierno 20:59
makeup of of the people that are helping you gather that data and collect? Like, it’s not just you and the creative people in the room? Oh, and a really good Wi Fi connection? Who else knows is helping you look at the data and sort of?

Craig Elimeliah 21:13
Yeah, I mean, we’ve got experienced strategists, we’ve got researchers, we’ve got brand strategists we’ve got, we’ve got data analytics, folks, you know, we’ve got, you know, we’ve got a whole swath of folks across a number of different disciplines, like I said, you know, every assignment obviously, you know, requires a different sort of, you know, starting five or, you know, depth of bench, you know, in terms of expertise, but, but, I mean, you know, I sit in the creative department, but like, I don’t think anyone at my agency would ever tell you like, that’s where I am, like, I’m typically like, entrenched in ever, like, I just don’t see those boundaries tied to me, it’s one team one dream. And, you know, we try to pull in as many people as, as our clients can pay for, because I do believe that there’s so many different, there’s so much value that every single person can bring to the table, and I try to involve as many people as possible, so that we can uncover a lot of that stuff. You know, clients don’t always have budget for research. They don’t always have budget for an experience strategist. And it’s like, sometimes I’ll figure out how to sneak him in, you know, sometimes I’m like, Yeah, I’m a crafty accountant. You know, I’ll figure it out.

Adam Pierno 22:37
I’ll take four hours at this time and move forward. This time out. Yeah. And you have to, to get the work done the way you have

Craig Elimeliah 22:43
to, you have to, you know, and, and there are times that you know, you barter, you know, I’ll tell a creative team, like, Hey, guys, listen, let’s hustle on this, because I need I need to shift some some time over to get those guys like moving on some of the, you know, research that we need, or some of the data we need, or some of the modeling we need done, right, like, and so we get it like no, understand the value that we all bring. So we’re all willing to kind of, you know, cut corners where we can in order to help other folks get involved.

Adam Pierno 23:13
What sort of insight or data does the does a creative team seem to respond to the best or what what have you noticed makes the biggest aha for them?

Craig Elimeliah 23:25
Yeah, I think a lot of the like, the less obvious stuff. You know, I think when, like I said before, a lot of like, the nonlinear stuff you come in, it’s sort of, I think, would look like first party and you know, like, a lot of the media stuff. I rarely see stuff that we don’t already know, we’re like, yeah, we knew that. Like, we could have guessed that, right. Like, it’s almost like, but when you can do some interesting social listening, and you can do some, some interesting sort of extraction of, of, you know, of nonlinear data, and you can bring that to the table. And it’s like, by the way, did you guys know that most of the people driving these pickups tend to like, also have like, three kids and second kid usually has red hair, like nuts, like how did you know that? Holy cow, right? Like something weird like that. It’s not it’s not so much the data point. It’s, it’s the sort of the, the all that you were able to uncover that that inspires created, because all of a sudden, they’re like, What?

Adam Pierno 24:33
What else? What else? Can you tell me if you could tell me? Yeah, exactly. Right. I love finding stuff like that.

Craig Elimeliah 24:39
Exactly. And sometimes I force it because it’s, it’s I don’t, I don’t necessarily intend to like ground the entire campaign and that one data point, I intend to get people psyched about something. So random, right? I’m just like, say that in the room and just watch everyone react. Right and that’s where the magic emerges right from that one thing, all of a sudden, like a million ideas start coming out. Everyone’s like, Oh my God. What about this? What about, you know, so that that’s where that’s where those when

Adam Pierno 25:14
you can when you can connect a couple of data points. And then you could say, Now I know this weird thing. That is always amazing moment. Yeah. So I switched from creative to strategy, because I fell in love with the data, like, it sounds like you have and finding the the insights for myself, which I think is probably cost me in terms of time, where I can’t, I prefer to do the data, digging myself to an extent versus just getting a printout, you know, a read out that analysis done, I look at it, and I read it, and I’m like, Alright, that’s all interesting. But now let me see the raw data and see what else I can find. Are you are you elbows deep in the data as well? Are you doing this search yourself? Or are you having it reported? And then pushing with questions?

Craig Elimeliah 26:00
Yeah, yeah, I mean, I try. Sometimes I try. But like, like you said, like, I just don’t have the time. You know, I’m typically working with, you know, my design teams, my creative teams, excetera. You know, but I do have great partners, you know, and we’ve built relationships where, you know, they kind of know what I’m looking for, they can know how we roll. And, you know, come back to the table with, you know, things. They’re like, hey, Craig, I, I found a whole bunch of stuff. But I thought this was really good. I thought you’d really liked it. So it’s not just

Adam Pierno 26:37
like a straight MRI demographic. Right, like, and they’re either 38 or 70. Right? Watched NCIS.

Craig Elimeliah 26:43
Exactly. Right. Right. And again, like, that’s relationship building, you know, it’s like, yeah, I don’t, I don’t need to know that. Like, I, I’m not going to do much with that. And yeah, you know, you can bury that in a brief somewhere. And, you know, we might look at that, and we might, you know, it might help, but that’s only one of many things that we need to string together to really, you know, understand who we’re talking to. So, so yeah, like I, you know, for me, like, I’ve always been very close to strategy. I mean, my, I call them my best friends. You know, they’re the people I actually hang out with, you know, they’re the people I enjoy going out for a drink with, because the conversations always really robust, but also just kind of nerding out over the data. And then making it actionable, you know, is is kind of like my promise to them

Adam Pierno 27:36
to write. Yeah, to do the digging. And I promise we will actually use it. For you. If you get it this far. I promise it will, it will be something exactly. Do you ever get? Do you turn them into? You mentioned the name Jenny. So I’m assuming you build some sort of an avatar or a persona? Do you get pushback from people that have come from kind of traditional marketing world where the where the persona quote unquote, gets that negative reputation of like the, you know, that really shallow? Oh, now we’re going to talk about shopper Suzy and shopper Suzy loves to clip coupons. And

Craig Elimeliah 28:13
yeah, I like that you use the word avatar, I would say like, I tend to, I tend to do it in a little bit more of a contemporary way. I’ve had pushback in the past, but like, I think nothing of it, you know, like for me, I’m just very, you know, I kind of I know what works for me. And you know, I kind of get into a room and you know, I think I have a pretty good track record. In then, in being able to kind of bring those those avatars to life, you know, and what is exciting me right now with, you know, web three and everything that’s going on there with Metaverse and identity and everything either just like the idea of identity is becoming, you know, so much of, you know, kind of a pillar in the narrative of everything that’s going on in our world today. And for me, I’ve always believed that people are very fluid, you know, shopper mom is not shopper mom in the evening, right? Like, she could be dominatrix mom, like, you know, like, people have fluid identities. And, you know, we’re only now starting to uncover that sort of fluidity not just in gender and sexuality, but in personality, in preference, right. And life stage in life stage. Right. And, and I think, when you think about sort of the interoperability of what the metaverse is often offering us at some point, you know, when we finally figured it out, I think that the benefit for us as as kind of people is being able to embrace that fluidity. But then the challenge to our industry of how do you We then address that fluidity, right. And I find that to be incredibly exciting. I’m actually working on an article right now, that is also on a talk, hopefully, maybe in Canada, or one of the big events, we’ll, we’ll get that on stage. Talking about the the, the, the idea that, you know, this identity and the fluidity and the challenge we, as creators now have in front of us to be able to target people as they are in that moment. Right. I just, that gets me incredibly excited. When I think about that. I just, my brain just goes into overdrive and I get really charged up.

Adam Pierno 30:43
Yeah, I mean, I think when you know, what the, what their life looks like, as that matrix of inputs and decisions, and you know, the exact coordinates of where your communication is going to land. Exactly. It’s like, Ah, so at this key point, we’re gonna say this thing, and that’s the thing they need to remind them about us at that critical time. Exactly. It’s such a, it’s like hitting a homerun, you just know, when it’s off the bat, you’re like, yes,

Craig Elimeliah 31:08
exactly. Yeah, that’s a great metaphor, you just know that that sound, right? Just feeling in the bath, that feeling of the ball, that sound, just know, that everything converged. And that’s kind of how I am sort of selling the industry now to young folks, you know, I think what we do is somewhat commoditized, I think, you know, like, every agency has great writers and great designers and great creatives. And, you know, at this level, we’re we are world class, we’re all really good at what we do, what I wear, I do think that differentiation comes into play. And, you know, what I pride, our agency at BMO y&r on is sort of the, it’s the artful orchestration of all of those things, it’s hitting those homeruns it’s, it’s swinging the bat and, and calculating the pitch and, you know, firing, you know, on all cylinders, and being able to take the work, that, that spans the spectrum of, you know, a TV spot, all the way down to the point of purchase, and making sure that every single one of those dots are connected, because the consumers are aware of it. You know, and I think when, you know, we’re in our agency bubble, we kind of like, we hand things off to like, okay, above the line, and below the

Adam Pierno 32:33
line, I was just gonna say, we’re worried about the above the line, and then we’re gonna generate demand, and then you guys handle the below line. It’s like, well, I’ve already figured out the entire map. Exactly, why would I? Why would I hand it off at this point? Exactly.

Craig Elimeliah 32:45
Right. You know, and that’s why I just hate those terms of like, Oh, your digital, your traditional, your radio, your TV, your social, like, no, like, you know, I’m not a not a huge hockey fan. But I love the beauty of like, the way a small tiny Puck is passed between or even soccer, right? Like, the beauty of being able to fluidly pass that puck or that ball across a whole number of different players. And totally, finally, the someone knocks it and you know, like, that’s kind of what we need to do that fluidity of understanding how to take a big idea, and really execute it and orchestrated across. I mean, you know, back in the day before you and I were born, what there were three mediums, right? Like you had TV radio, grant, but like now, hundreds, maybe 1000s of touch points, literally, right, like, so it’s almost like playing a game with 1000s of players on the field that all have to contribute in a meaningful way. Because, you know, like you, like I said before, you never know where that that conversion is going to hit. Right. It could be social, it could be TV, it could be radio, it could be, you know, like, some random thing we’ve never even thought about, you know, and, and that’s what I love as well. I just love the, the breadth and the depth in the scope and the scale of everything we do is just so

Adam Pierno 34:17
big. And I think that that’s what creates the challenge for strategy people, but also for creative people where we, we want a one page brief, right? But the more context you have around it, the richer you can plug it into culture, the richer you can make it make sense for that person for the journey that you’ve just created. And that’s the that’s the tension of like, I would really like to give you 500 slides. That’s probably too much. And I would love to give you a one page brief. That’s definitely not enough, but I know that’s what you need to get it distilled down to so you can you know, digest it. So it’s like figuring out the entire matrix and then saying like, Yeah, but just Look at these coordinates here for this for at this point, that’s all I need you to look at.

Craig Elimeliah 35:04
Yeah, I mean, I, you know, like I’ve, I’ve worked with some amazing strategists in my career, the one one person I’ve worked with she, she would, we would lock ourselves in the room, she would come up with a strat, like she would build briefs out of gifts, literally, like turn like, rather than, you know, creatives want the one page for you, because they just don’t want to, they just don’t want to have to do like, you know, a deep dive and they want to get to it, right, they

Adam Pierno 35:31
don’t want to do the research, the research,

Craig Elimeliah 35:33
and research or the research, which what she would do, and we used to do this a lot is we would put together, we would take that one page brief, and she’s like, you know, I need more than a page to get this through to your themes. So we put together, we take all of the, like the big points, and we turn them into GIFs. So we find gifts that would illustrate and we put together basically a show a show, right? Like, and we’d get in a room and like Okay, guys, let’s do this. And we go through like maybe 20 or 30, slides of gifts, animated gifts, and and people just loved it. Right. She was able to land her point, the craters weren’t getting bored. You know, like everyone was everyone was enjoying, you know, like, sort of the the pageantry of it, you know. I think, like, like the whole, I think, I think strategists are creatives and should be as creative in giving in giving their briefs as the creatives are in interpreting those briefs, right. I think we’re in a creative industry, and, ya know, there’s, there’s, you know, nothing should be dry, nothing should be boring, nothing. You know, I even if like, my head of data analytics is giving me a monthly readout on my clients, you know, social, whatever, like, that should be fun. That should be creative. That should be interesting, right? That’s, that’s why we’re doing this, right. So, you know, I think when you can find someone like that, you just grab them and hold on to them, because they’re such a great creative partner in being able to make sure that your teams are set up for success.

Adam Pierno 37:16
Yeah. And if you showed the same amount of slides that were all data points with no analysis, and no translation into something engaging. Yeah, you lose them. They’re like, just give me the brief. I’m

Craig Elimeliah 37:28
getting exactly. Good for nothing. Yeah.

Adam Pierno 37:31
Well, Craig, I’m really grateful for your time. Thank you. I’m glad we finally were able to get this on the books. Likewise. Same here. Yeah, of course. Where can where can people have you online? Or where can people find you online?

Craig Elimeliah 37:44
I’m pretty active on Twitter. My full name at my full name. Craig le million. I’m on Instagram. But that’s kind of, you know, I just kind of pop up there, here and there. And I’m kind of using it a lot less but Twitter’s kind of my my jam. LinkedIn a little bit for like, specific stuff. But that’s usually just sharing other people’s stuff. So nice. Find me on Twitter and love to engage love conversations, love, observations, love challenges.

Adam Pierno 38:18
If people are going to invite Craig to things just know he’s, he’ll say, yes, in the moment. You got to be real.

Craig Elimeliah 38:25
I will say yes, in a moment. But it’s, you got it. You gotta be ready. Yeah,

Adam Pierno 38:29
four days later. He’s forgotten. It’s over. Yep. All right, Greg, great talking to you. Thank you so much.

Craig Elimeliah 38:35
Thank you Take care.

Adam Pierno 38:36
The Strategy Inside Everything is produced by me, Adam Pierno If you like what you’ve heard, leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Actually, I have no idea if that helps, or if it’s ever done anybody any good. If you really want to help the show, and you liked what you heard, share it with someone else who you think will dig it. That’s the best way to help the show and keep the conversation growing. New Music for the strategy inside everything is by Sawsquarenoise. If you have an idea, a question or want to push back on something you hear here, go to and leave a message or a voicemail for me. If you want more information on your host Adam Pierno you can find it on and learn about my books, speaking and consulting practice. Thanks so much for listening.

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The Strategy Inside Everything is the podcast for people who think for a living. If you have an idea, a question or you want to push back on something you hear in this episode, go to and leave a message or a voicemail for me. The best and most interesting messages will be added to future episodes, and I can’t wait to hear from you. Music for The Strategy Inside Everything is by Sawsquarenoise.

Host Adam Pierno is an author, speaker and strategy consultant. Learn more

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