top of page
  • APG

Information Diet | Katie Mackay-Sinclair

This is part of the series 'How to be Curious - Cognitive Fitness for Planners' by Ian Leslie, our APG Guest Editor during April 2018. He believes that strategists need to be curious and stay curious and the only way to do that is to excersise your brain as you do your body. One important aspect of fitness is diet.

Here he gives you a look at the information diets of different strategists, via a Q&A.


Katie Mackay-Sinclair | Partner at Mother London

1. Outside of ad industry/marketing sources, what are your daily must-reads for information?

I think it’d be fair to say I have daily must-scans, rather than must-reads. In no particular order, these are: The Guardian. Instagram. The Pool. Accuweather. My twitter notifications because I follow way too many people in no small part because of the days of and therefore am entirely overwhelmed/terrified by my actual feed.

I also love the diversity of the Read Journal, which I receive on whatsapp every Sunday and read their links throughout the week. It’s the best of the best things written over the last week from such a diverse range of sources it always surprises, entertains and informs – and wards off the crippling feeling that there’s just too much out there that I should be reading which has the dire consequence of making me read nothing.

2. Which websites, if any, do you go to when you want to spark new ideas and insights?

I love Aeon

3. Are there any magazines/periodicals you read regularly?

They are almost exclusively fashion and interiors based. That said, I go through phases of reading the New Statesman every week for months, and then take a break. But to stick to the definition of regular, I read Livingetc cover to cover the moment my subscription arrives and tear out inspiration to stick in a physical scrap book with pritt stick. Alongside, I’m a die-hard Vogue and Elle reader, and still love to curl up on the sofa with a cuppa and one of those.

4. Are there particular writers you find to be a regular source of insight and inspiration?

I read everything Julian Barnes writes, the moment it comes out. Not perhaps technically a writer sought out for insight and inspiration for the Strategist, but his wonderfully unreliable narrators and the earth-shattering emotion he stirs are timely reminders of the power of language, the fallacy of memory and the universality of experience. I highly recommend everything he’s ever written.

5. Which social media, if any, do you find most intellectually stimulating?

6. When and how do you find time to read books, and do you pursue any particular reading strategy (fiction vs non-fiction, recommendations, etc)?

I read every morning and every evening, on my commute and before I fall asleep. I’d say my rotation is one work-focused book to three or four fiction, perhaps more of the latter if I’m totally honest. I love nothing more than a book that makes me cry.

There are lots of recommendations in all of my answers, but if I had to pick just one, without a doubt, it’d be The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Each one of those short stories affected me profoundly and has stayed with me long after I put the beautiful turquoise book down. Viet Thanh Nguyen’s ability to move you in such a short narrative is nothing short of spectacular.

7. Is there a book or books that changed the way you think about your work?

Every single one of the Do Books is worth a read. They fit in your pocket and are perfect commute reading. Bobette Buster’s Do Story was so good that I went on to attend a full-day workshop with her and loved every minute of it. A rather good reminder for us all that we’re storytellers, and only the good stories get noticed.

At the risk of sounding like a Richard Shotton fan girl, I’ve also been raving to everyone about his new book The Choice Factory. If you haven’t got it already, you should.

And finally, read The Cicero Trilogy by Robert Harris (make sure you read them in the right order - Imperium, then Lustrum, lastly Dictator). Not only will you feel flabbergasted that you’re not actually in Ancient Rome when you tear yourself away from the page and lift your head to face reality, but you’ll also get a wonderful insight into ambition, manipulation, the timeless nature of political manoeuvring and the human condition. I felt a bit bereft when I finished book three, but also somewhat bemused that so little has really changed since Roman times.

8. What topic would you most like to learn more about?

Kaizen. But not the theory of it; rather the practice in all aspects of Japanese culture. I’m starting with Matt Goulding’s deep investigation into Japan’s Food Culture – Rice, Noodle, Fish.

I think the world would be a better place if everyone in it was on a journey of continuous improvement rather than a furious dash to get there, wherever there is. (And I have a burning desire to visit Japan.)

bottom of page