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Brain Surfing: The Top Marketing Strategy Minds in the World

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Heather LeFevre set out on an expedition to apprentice herself with today's most brilliant marketing strategists, traveling from Beijing to Seattle. The twist? She lived with each of these mentors, in their homes, commuting to work with them each day, and uncovering their principles for building many of the world's most respected and profitable brands.

Brain Surfing is a book that combines marketing know-how with life philosophy. One minute you'll learn about smart brands on the other side of the world, the next you'll be inspired to take off on your own adventure. LeFevre guides you through today's complex marketing landscape, uncovering the secret ways of working of each of her coaches. Brain Surfing will surprise you with how much you learn while thoroughly enjoying the journey.

214 pages, Paperback

First published October 18, 2015

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Heather Lefevre

1 book3 followers

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5 stars
103 (49%)
4 stars
61 (29%)
3 stars
35 (16%)
2 stars
7 (3%)
1 star
2 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews
Profile Image for Seth Odell.
7 reviews20 followers
January 30, 2016
This book was fairly middle of the road for me. While I appreciated the author's candor and recognize how her personal story was very much driving her project, I kept waiting for more substance from the folks she spent time with. Perhaps it was the people, or just the narrative style, but I felt far more time was spent talking about the settings, the meals, the travel, etc, rather than the lessons learned from the folks she apprenticed with.

It read to me more like a long blog post than a marketing or strategy book. To be fair, I believe that is intentional on the author's part, and it is a quick pleasant read, so it's entirely possible I'm just not the right person for something like this.
Profile Image for Gaëlle.
34 reviews
March 5, 2021
Insightful, brave and inspirational! Really enjoyed reading this book!
8 reviews
February 18, 2021
If you’re a strategist I think this is a must read. This book is a wonderful reminder that being a strategist can mean such different things to different people, and that’s so exciting. I had many take always from this book, but my biggest one was that it really is so easy to connect with other strategists / people all around the world and learn from each other. Which is ultimately beyond fun but all the while making you a better strategist ☺️
Profile Image for Olivia Adams.
60 reviews4 followers
August 14, 2020
Pretty interesting read, almost felt like I was inside a strategist’s journal. I thought I was helpful to understand how strategists around the world approach branding and come up with new ideas.
Profile Image for Willem van der Horst.
18 reviews2 followers
November 11, 2015
Brain Surfing is a fantastic combination of some of my favourite topics: travelling and marketing / advertising strategy. I always enjoy meeting fellow strategists around the world with whom I have interesting and enriching conversations over coffee, so this is like a concentrated expresso drip version of coffee meeting goodness in one book I wouldn't be able to find anywhere else.

Heather has gathered and synthesized learnings from nine amazing professionals from different parts of the world, the kind of endeavour that takes, well in this case two weeks per person - 18 weeks - plus travelling and writing time after wards. All the best bits of that in a thoroughly enjoyable read. I just couldn't put the book after starting and read it in a weekend.

The story flows seamlessly with a chapter per mentor, from Hong Kong to Edinburgh by way of a few other destinations around Europe, Asia, and the US. Each of the nine strategists have different specialisms in fields such as branding, business innovation, social media, advertising, and marketing. Each one of them contributed valuable stories and lessons to end their chapter. The conversations, research (including other must read book references), remarks and insights into the current state and evolution of the role of strategy and strategists in the creative communications industry are fantastic.

I highly recommend reading it, definitely a must for strategists in this field of work! Beyond that, I think it's definitely relevant to anyone interested in business communications, perhaps for people who are questioning what they're up to in their careers as well, and finally maybe for people who will enjoy a fun and novel approach to a travel book.
Profile Image for Louise.
6 reviews
January 5, 2016
I absolutely adore this book. It's filled with an endless amount insight and inspiration. I ended up reading it with a pen and paper in hand, something I've rarely been compelled to do.

It's a must read for anyone in strategy...
Profile Image for Sagnik Ghosh.
14 reviews2 followers
June 11, 2016
Great experiment! Completely enthused by reading it. Hope planners pick it up.
80 reviews2 followers
January 30, 2018
Good book overall

It's a good book overall, however, it's not a book on marketing strategy. Heather has interviewed 9 marketing strategist from 6 countries. She has not follow a rigid pattern of questions, instead, she has kept her mind open. This has made the book an interesting read. She vists and stays with these people to get a glimpse into their life and thinking process.

The Good : Heather went on a self-discovery kind of world tour, trying to understand what other people ( marketing professionals) think , plan and act. Because of Heather's open approach to questions , the book becomes really interesting.

The Bad : If you're specifically looking for marketing strategy advise, this book is not the right one. It's a good general read on marketer's outlook of life.
February 7, 2017
If you're a strategist or aspiring to be a strategist, I recommend picking this one up. Heather spends a chapter summarizing the highlights of her stay with each host and unlike every other marketing book, she doesn't over emphasize the point. I felt like I was on the journey with her. Insightful, enjoyable, applicable and most of all, inspirational.
Profile Image for Andjelka Jankovic.
168 reviews7 followers
April 19, 2019
An interesting insights into the world of ad agencies from strategy - with surprisingly heartwarming moments when Heather is very real about her observations, struggles and learnings.

I like the recurring sentiment that time is the most precious non-renewable resource we have.
Profile Image for Kylee Muir.
3 reviews
September 7, 2021
Heather’s book is a quick read that I took my time with — and I’m glad I did. It reminded me why I love strategy and gave me small nuggets of wisdom to test out. I especially enjoyed the essays. This is a book I’ll keep on my bookshelf for when I need a push to try something new.
Profile Image for Krystal.
48 reviews1 follower
November 19, 2018
Immediately useful and inspiring for seasoned and aspiring strategists alike. Makes you feel a lot of love and respect for our kind.
Profile Image for Marianna Zelichenko.
Author 2 books6 followers
July 20, 2020
This book is a true gem if you want food for thought on marketing related topics. I stretched it out for a chapter a day and spent nine delicious mornings savouring the content. Generally I rate non-fiction books based on two elements: how engaging is it to read and how much did I highlight (= amount of learning). Well, the book is practically green pink, it's left me with new ideas, new books I want to read, new habits to develop and new insights about my own business.

Having read all this you might wonder: why only 4 stars, why not 5? Ah, that's because I didn't think the ethnographical part was particularly engaging. It was rather descriptive, but I didn't feel any emotional connection to most of the characters. Which means it remained strict non-fiction and the memoir it was didn't touch me (apart from the epilogue, which showed more of Heather's emotion and did make me feel more connected to her). Still, the book is very much worth reading for the wealth of inspiration and I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Ava.
15 reviews
May 7, 2020
Excellent read for anyone interested in brand strategy, and marketing in general. It’s a very interesting cross-cultural informal report of how various agencies around the world function and devise their brand strategies in their respective markets. This IS NOT a professional detailed report, rather a personal account of her experience, told from the perspective of a brand strategy veteran in search of inspiration who stayed open-minded and reminds us to be too!
Profile Image for Maria Alvarez Olmos.
40 reviews2 followers
December 31, 2022
Thought-provoking collection of life lessons, gathered in a highly unconventional manner and turned into marketing insights from great minds. Insightful, enjoyable and applicable must read for account planners, brand strategists and marketers!
Profile Image for Djuana.
32 reviews
December 30, 2015
Wonderful, inspirational book about travel, career change, and always being open to learning something new.
March 10, 2016

Everyone should read. It inspires us to become a better person, stand up and look for new experiences and perspective.
Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews

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