13 June 2024
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Read this book and get thinking outside the square…

Peter Switzer
6 June 2024

By Remo Giuffre

Get outside your algorithm. The best new idea for your business or life might come from a printed book.

When people of a certain vintage meet me for the first time, I’ve learned to understand that look on their faces: “Are you that Remo? The one that had the REMO store on Oxford Street in the late 80s and early 90s? I loved that store!” After some reminiscing, an “Oh, shucks” or two from me, and the obligatory listing of their favourite REMO T-shirt designs, I tell them how the path of my career took an interesting twist post 20th century-REMO, that involved me with the TED organisation in New York. And that landed me in the hot seat as the licensee for TEDxSydney — an endeavour that I founded in 2010 and something that was more about ideas, and less about T-shirts.

Fast forward 13 years and I felt that I had done what I set out to achieve with TEDxSydney. We had grown into (and eventually out of) the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House, while at the same time becoming Australia’s leading ideas platform and the world’s leading TEDx event. Over those years, we had produced over 700 talks and performances that have been viewed almost 250 million times by people worldwide.

So, in 2022 I decided to go full circle, step back from the operational leadership of TEDxSydney and return my personal attention to the REMO brand. However, this time with a pivot in focusing away from things to ideas and stories. In truth, REMO had been a storytelling brand from the outset, but for this new media-like version of the business the outcome of any customer “transaction” was going to be more about the delivery of entertainment, delight and inspiration, than it was going to be about things and consumption.

And so was born REMORANDOM, a biannual series of printed BOOKS containing a random curation of snack-sized stories, ideas and observations designed to inform, entertain and inspire a global community of curious readers. Uncommon knowledge. Everything interesting.

Each REMORANDOM issue contains 90 fresh single-spread chapters featuring a diverse range of topics: culture, design, history, ideas, nature, people, science and things. The mix is radically random and always surprising.

With everyone else ZAGGING to digital, optimising REMORANDOM for print is admittedly quite a big ZIG. Even so, we published RR#1 in October 2023, and people seem to really love that little red book. There are already many enthusiastically positive reader reviews on our website, and literally ALL of them are 5-star … unprompted, I promise! Some of my personal favourite extracted phrases: “TikTok in print”, “cornucopia of curiosity”, “great social history and window into human creativity”, “insanely eclectic”, “endlessly illuminating” and “hilariously educating”.

Media reaction has also been overwhelmingly positive. Caroline Overington, Literary Editor for The Australian wrote in her review: “I’m not quite sure how to describe this book, other than to say it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, and exhilarating." Stephen Todd, Design Editor for The Australian Financial Review in a magazine feature titled “Creative Thinker” references the “savvy curation” and “the Remo USP – to find the fascinating in the everyday.”

This is all very encouraging for a serial entrepreneur such as myself. Most ideas don’t cut through, but a few of them do, and there’s nothing quite like the feeling of being in the right place with the right idea and (critically) at the right time.

Why is it the right time?

There are a few trends blowing wind into the REMORANDOM sails:

  1. People have an insatiable need/desire to be informed, amused and entertained
  2. Short form and concise is winning e.g. Instagram and TikTok
  3. People crave community (shared rituals) and a sense of belonging (shared interests)

One further aspect, although not intentional, is proving to be super relevant, and that’s this:

As a creative strategist, I have become lately (and understandably) fascinated with the power of diversity, cross-disciplinary thinking, serendipity and the radically RANDOM, and how all of that helps brands and people cut through. Also, the interesting thing about a printed book is that it doesn’t know who you are, and that is helping it to take people out of their algorithms in a way that promotes creativity and out-of-box thinking; just like the TED conference did for its mesmerised attendees when it launched 40 years ago.

When I noticed a few bulk orders of REMORANDOM #1 coming in from corporates late last year, I asked those customers what they were planning to do with the books? They said they would be gifting them to team and clients as a way to both entertain and delight, but also potentially inspire and encourage them to think differently and freshly about various problems and opportunities.

As someone who has worked at the innovation coalface for a very long time, I love this angle … although in truth what I love even more is receiving a constant stream of feedback from readers who can literally not put the books down until they are finished. As a chronic communicator and long-time showman, the image of those transfixed readers continues to make me very happy.

Remo Giuffré is the founder of REMO, TEDxSydney, General Thinking and Bondi Observer. His new printed book series REMORANDOM is orderable online at REMOSince1988.com/Subscribe


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