Which marketers think a bike is more valuable than any of their electronic kit? And who is most productive completely offline with their trusted pen? The Shiny New Object podcast has put together a list of top things our guests have spent their money on. 

1. The Bike: Clear your mind and get ‘in the zone’

Whether to boost creativity, relax after an intense day in front of the screen, or simply find an active form of escape and meditation, the bike is hands-down the best thing most of our guests have ever spent their money on. 

David Byrne, Brand Marketing Lead at Aviva, loves the bike because of “the time it buys you to think.” David tells us that you can reach an almost meditative state when you’re focusing on the road and the journey (in this case the commute to work) without any distractions, clearing your mind and allowing you to better focus when you do start a work project. 

“There’s just something about riding a bike, getting into that rhythm, where you just kind of think of your best ideas at that time. I don't know what it is, I think it has something to do with increased blood flow to the brain. The fact that there's some sort of rhythmic movement, but I found that that's usually the time when I get my best ideas on the way home or on the way to work...People talk about getting into the flow [...] in sports, and when you’re riding the bike in traffic, you kind of have to focus on not dying, not getting hit by a car and stopping at red lights. So your whole body and your mind is just kind of focused on one particular task. And that just lets other parts of your brain just wander.”

And it’s three votes for the bike with Kristof Neirynck (Chief Marketing Officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance) also reaching for his Brompton a lot… but also for his saddle chair! To save his back from the strain of bending over all the time at his desk, this unusual purchase recommended by a dentist forces him to sit upright and engages his core muscles a lot more. 
Kristof says: “It’s made a huge difference. Because of course, we spend probably too much time on video conferences and… you’re stuck in the same position. And what the saddles do, it’s kind of what it says on the tin, it’s literally a saddle so it just forces you, because it doesn’t have a backrest, to keep your back in a good position.”

2. Lights, Camera, Action: Enabling communication during lockdown

For most of the world, lockdowns brought movement to a stop and dramatically changed how we communicate. Timo Elliott, the Global Innovation Evangelist for SAP, would spend a large part of his day sharing knowledge, meeting people and doing public presentations. It all stopped and moved online in 2020, so it was time to invest in an at-home “film studio.” He bought it all: 3-4 sets of lights, a high-quality camera and a big monitor.

[Meetings] all got canceled, believe it or not, rather than move online. And so I have done as much as possible to convert the conference, keynote type presentation, but in an online environment, so I spent a small fortune and equipment to do that as effectively as possible.

3. AirPods for multitasking

Video technology and good cameras are not the only great tech tools to invest in if you’re a leader in the marketing industry. Sometimes, it’s the small things that make a difference. 

Luna Froumine, Senior Marketing Director at WalkMe, thinks her AirPods have helped her delve into podcasts and multitask at home. From cleaning up while getting ready for a teleconference, she’s able to do it all without anyone even knowing. Some meetings are all about listening to understand so you can fold clothes at the same time, but of course that doesn’t work if you’re meant to be leading!

Luna says: “My AirPods enable me to be like a true woman and multitask. Sometimes I’m on a call and have no idea what to do with my hands… so just cleaning the mess for my kids.”

4. The Kindle: Reading on the go

As for Alex Jenkins, Editor at Contagious, his best investment has been in a Kindle. For an avid reader it’s the ideal tool to take in lots of information but also to highlight and mark down important passages.

For me, the Kindle is like an exocortex. The ability to just highlight passages… that will be useful at some point in the future… then I can just go back, I can find the bits that I thought would be useful. It’s just an insanely useful thing for me.

5. Mindfulness Apps: Investing in mental health

Going back to mental clarity and meditation, albeit a digital product, it’s apps like Calm and Headspace that were the best investment for Olly Rzysko, ex-CMO of Mahabis and Founder of Good Candles and Ecologi. Just like riding a bike to empty your mind of overwhelming thoughts, using these apps enabled Olly to overcome a period of critically low mental health where he was suffering from pushing himself too hard.

6. Pens and Stationery: Drawing creativity from going back to basics

The best investment doesn’t have to be a big thing: Hyundai Motor Europe VP of Marketing and Product Andreas Hoffman absolutely loves his pen, the one physical tool that he gets most daily use out of, scribbling down ideas before anything becomes a bigger end product. It’s one small element that is a guiding line throughout his career really. And if you think it might be difficult to transfer information like this, all it takes is a photo of the scribbled-over whiteboard full of ideas.
Writing implements create a particular connection and can foster creativity especially in the world of marketing, as tech dominated as it might seem today. One of our early podcast guests, Penny Parnell from Not On The High Street, spoke fondly of her investment in so-called “fancy stationery” because she writes so much. And if she had to go digital, it would be the Notes app on her iPhone.

What has been the best thing you’ve ever bought with your own money and now use for work? Do you agree with our guests’ picks? Let us know on social media by getting in touch on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

The host of the Shiny New Object podcast is Tom Ollerton, founder ofAutomated Creative.