Rethink the Business of Creativity

by Ian Grais, Tom Shepansky, Chris Staples

“Over the years, we've tweaked many of our original tools to better fit the realities of the digital world. That process continues, because to constantly evolve, reinvent, and challenge the status quo is what "rethinking" is all about.”


Boy, oh boy, did I love this book! There’s so much valuable information within the pages of Rethink the Business of Creativity, it blew my mind. Rethink have long been creative leaders in North America, grabbing the attention of the Canadian public from every bus stop, billboard, and brand campaign. It wasn’t until I read this book though, that I realized the full extent of their work, and how much of what they’ve produced has touched me personally as a human being living in Canada. 

The foreword is written by Chuck Phillips, and in it, he talks about the history of Rethink and how the three founders, Ian, Tom, and Chris, have “remained inseparable pals” throughout all their years of business. Chuck states that, “it’s a testament to Rethink’s tenacity and passion that they’ve forged a different path. They’ve stuck to their values and created something that just keeps getting better.”

I couldn’t agree more, just diving into their history and previous brand campaigns, I was in awe. I was thrilled to learn about how they actually worked as a company and what I could learn from them. I loved reading about their history and how they’ve changed and morphed over the years since their founding, always seeming to stay one step ahead of the game. 

Rethink the Business of Creativity is a book of tools, useful tips, processes, and beliefs. The ingredients in the toolbox come not only from the company, but also from the founders’ backgrounds, previous companies they’ve worked for, and other sources. 

The book is split into three sections: people, product, and profit. I amassed a ton of knowledge from each section, taking notes throughout. A few of the tools in the book really resonated with me though, so instead of rewriting the whole book to tell you how fantastic it was, I thought I’d highlight a few of my favourite tools from each section in this post. 

In the people section, I loved reading about The Power of Appreciation and the “powerful links between appreciation, motivation, and performance,” and how it all starts with gratitude. Another important tool in this section was Friday Updates, which highlights the importance of keeping the entire office informed on all project updates. They also give anonymous shoutouts to rethinkers for achievements so that everyone can feel recognized. 

When reading the product section of the book, the one tool that stood out to me most was Fast & Loose. It’s written for people like myself, who jump ahead with their ideas and imagine the final form right away. This tool suggests resisting the urge to rush to a finished concept, and instead to take a pen and jot your idea down in its simplest form first. 

I enjoyed reading about the Cheap & Cheerful tool in the profit section. This one recommends investing in people, not furniture. I couldn’t agree more, knowing of a few companies who haven’t survived long enough due to valuing their Eames office furniture over their talented employees. Rethink states “With the money we don’t spend on expensive furnishings we can hire more people — and invest in them once they’re here.”

One thing I loved about this book, aside from its gorgeous layout and incredible tools, is that the reader can dip in and out of it as they please, taking whatever tools they need for their kit, whenever they need them. There’s no need to digest the entire book and apply all the tools at once, because they won’t all be relevant. I liked that each tool was concise and to the point, making putting it into effect right away much more realistic. 

I had a post-it on almost every page toward the end, my copy resembling the cover image. I took a lot away from this book, a wealth of inspiration. This is a book that every CEO, Co-Founder, manager, entrepreneur, and creative should have on their bookshelf. It’s one I’m going to cherish and keep going back to, time and time again. 

About the authors

Ian Grais
 studied economics at the University of British Columbia and then advertising and design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Ian’s passion for creative problem-solving, art and design have helped him become one of Canada’s most awarded creative thinkers.

Chris Staples
has an honours degree in journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa. He started his career in Edmonton, before moving to Vancouver in 1990 as a writer with Palmer Jarvis (now DDB). Today he serves on the Rethink Board of Directors, helping guide the company’s overall strategic and creative direction.

Tom Shepansky
is a community-minded Rethink Founder with a business background and an entrepreneurial mindset. Tom started in Edmonton studying business at NAIT and the University of Alberta. He then worked at two local agencies in account service roles. He moved to Vancouver to work at Palmer Jarvis (now DDB) where he rose to Director of Client Services. Tom currently sits on the Rethink Board of Directors with his two other Founders. 

Rethink the Business of Creativity is available for purchase in hardcopy format from Indigo or in e-book format from Kobo. Check GoodReads for additional retailers.

Thank you Figure 1 Publishing for this gifted copy in exchange for an honest review - I loved it!