In 2017, Virgil Abloh gave a lecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. In a presentation titled “Insert Complicated Title Here,” Abloh opened up, walking the room through how his career took form and Off-White took off.

In the age of information, Virgil generously gifted students (and designers) a playbook on how his brand and brilliance came to be. A strict yet imaginative language by which Abloh goes from idea to Off-White, Notes app thought to Nike collaboration item, and voice memo to Louis Vuitton runway concept.

Like many streetwear fans, I was glued to the screen, writing down…


In the game of strategy, practice comes in many forms.

Some decide to read interesting books. Others choose to engage with strange subcultures. A few roam around the intellectual wilderness in search of obscure insights. One strategist I know even sits down and writes fake briefs.

In truth, there’s no tangible way to prepare for a strategic assignment. Planners do not take well with truth, so we search for new ways to plan.

I, too, try to perform each of these actions before a project come in. The thinking for misfits naive enough to choose this profession is that preparing…


It’s Saturday night on a cool Summer evening in New York City.

Your friends have been drinking on a rooftop in Brooklyn for hours and are looking for their next move. Naturally — as the one person who decided not to join what started as a destructive bottomless brunch — they decide to give you a call.

You need an excuse. And fast.

Uh. I’m not feeling well.

No, that won’t work. They can’t think you’re in anything less than peak physical condition before your reign of the bike path continues tomorrow.

I have work to finish.

Who would…


If a tree falls in a forest and nobody’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?

An age old question.

Unanswerable. Unsolvable. Unthinkable. Bla. Bla. Bla.

Until now.

Adam Silver and his 30 bosses have decided to turn that empty forest into a vibrant bubble.

The National Basketball Association returned nearly two weeks ago.

For the last few years, the NBA, like any business, has gone through changes. In fact, coaches can now challenge calls they disagree with. Gasp!

And, yet, no change has impacted basketball like this global pandemic.

Today, when you watch an NBA game, there…


Glen O’Brien was a legendary writer, fashion icon, and cultural critic known most notably as the GQ Style Guy and the Host of TV Party.

Glen wrote regularly about advertising in Artforum and quickly became the Creative Director behind fashion powerhouses like Barneys and Calvin Klein.

O’Brien said the reason he was comfortable working for brands on Madison Avenue was because while art and advertising were once separated by a logo, the emergence of Pop Art stripped down the walls between these two outputs.

Somehow, that was not my favorite Glenism.

My favorite was about the two best things to…


“Creativity is just connecting things.” — Steve Jobs

“Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” — Pablo Picasso

“Art is never finished, it’s abandoned.” — Leonardo Da Vinci

These three quotes, from some of the most influential thinkers in the history of mankind, perfectly summarize my newfound approach to writing.

And, yes, I agree. What an arrogant and high-minded opening sentence.

You’re a strategist. What do these geniuses have to do with you?

Advertising strategy, and the subsequent articles that come from the brilliant, loud and (sometimes) abrasive planning community, feels like a pretty mundane output inspired by such extraordinary brainpower.


July 1st, 2018. A day that will live in basketball infamy for the rest of time.

Or so we thought.

That day, nearly twelve months ago, was the culmination of a King’s road to glory and control. A reign that morphed, from Chosen One in the middle of nowhere to Villain in tropical paradise to Savior in his hometown, had reached its final destination.

And what place better reflected this storybook evolution than Hollywood?

July 1st, 2018 was the day LeBron James shook up the NBA, sports, and entertainment worlds with a shocking yet pragmatic decision to join the Los…


I’ll be honest, I hate tribute pieces.

They’re depressing, self-serving, and largely driven by a need to click-bait the unassuming reader.

Whenever someone passes away, every news outlet feels the journalistic compulsion to write about their life, legacy, and accomplishments. That urge is no different than what drives the wannabe-influencer’s “RIP” Instagram Stories and the constant barrage of hollow tweets of “thoughts and prayers.”

I’ll be honest, I have no business writing about the tragic passing of Ermias Joseph Asghedom, better known as Nipsey Hussle. I’m not from his community, I didn’t listen to his music all that much, and…


We all know the scene by now.

Belfort crawls down the stairs of his Westchester country club.

Throws open the doors to his white Ferrari with all the strength he can physically muster while limping and drooling like Craig Shilo after an accidental rabies injection.

DiCaprio’s character miraculously arrives home and sees his dear friend on the phone.

Chaos ensues. He grabs the phone out of Donnie’s hands, choking his buddy in the process. Somehow, the two survive the night. But at what cost?

Now just swap out Leo for Tesla’s board of directors, Jonah Hill for…


At this moment, my summer narrative feels pretty fucking terrific. I’m not going to lie.

With two feet in the sand and a Shocktop in hand, very few things could tear me down from the height of the Mani Schlisser Summer Brand.

Damn, that rhymed.

I kind of feel like Future out here on Fire Island.

The summer is a time for new storylines, new chapters for all of us.

Hedge fund billionaires going from Wall Street to the World Series of Poker.

Basketball superstars taking their talents from Cleveland to Los Angeles.

Soccer phenoms (and sexiest men alive)…

Mani Schlisser

Sr. Comms Strategist @ Mekanism

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