Lee Clow - How a California beach bum got the world to think different


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In this episode, I speak with advertising legend, Lee Clow who, for 25 years, partnered with Steve Jobs on some of the most brilliant pieces of advertising the world has ever seen: 1984, The Crazy One’s, and Mac vs PC (to name a few).

I go into some detail about his career at the beginning of the interview so I won’t list everything here. Suffice to say, he is in every hall of fame you can think of and then some.

We sat in his home studio in Palos Verdes, California. His studio felt like a museum I could probably spend a lifetime in.

Lee has three dogs, one of which had much to say throughout the interview. Lee’s wife, Eileen, of 50 years drops in for a quick hello. It was an honor to meet the woman Lee attributes most of his success to.

It was not an easy interview for me, given that Lee has been interviewed four million times before and, well, it is Lee Clow.

What I think you will find interesting in this interview is his memories of working with Steve Jobs and the “real story” behind the Think Different campaign.

We also talk about the origin of the “Impossible is Nothing” line, which actually has two stories. We didn’t quite get to which one was the true one, but both are worth listening to.

Lee also talks about the role of surfing in his work and creativity. Surfing is the mother of all extreme sports and the nature of the sport compels people to try to outdo each other. Sounds like how advertising should be.

We also delve into his childhood and talk about the role his adoptive mother and first grade teacher played in his development as an graphic communicator. Without them, he probably would have been a plumber (so he says).

While his mother encouraged his interest in art, it was his father who taught him the value of hard work and responsibility. Responsibility and resilience helped Lee reach the very top and stay there for fifty odd years.

I hope you enjoy this episode. Please subscribe and share if you feel compelled to do so. Or not.