At the beginning of 2020, Dominic Cummings, chief advisor for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wrote a blog post in which he called for the hiring of more “weirdos and misfits with odd skills” to work in the UK government. Britain, he said, needed people with “genuine cognitive diversity,” not just polished Oxford and Cambridge grads from the right families, to figure out what Vladimir Putin might do next or how an international terror cell might try to hack into Parliament.

Cummings wrote, “We need some true wild cards, artists, people who never went to university and fought their way…

by Sunny Bonnell

Google. GoDaddy. Zynga. Hulu. Zillow. We could go on (but we won’t). But it would be really easy to make a list of high-profile businesses with names that sound, well, dumb. Some are portmanteau words — that is, two or more words squished together. Some are misspellings (Google comes from “googol,” the word a mathematician’s nephew came up with for the number ten followed by one hundred zeroes. Some are acronyms (did you know that Yahoo stands for “yet another hierarchical officious oracle?” If you did, you get to write this column!). And some are complete nonsense.

by Sunny Bonnell and Ashleigh Hansberger

We’re fond of audacious people. Our favorite clients are entrepreneurs and corporate leaders who relish the opportunity to attempt the ridiculous, to do the impossible. Stoic, mannerly executives with Ivy League credentials don’t float our boats all that much, but when we sit down with some wild-eyed maverick with a bug up her butt about this industry or that technology, and she gives us a breathless half-hour rant on why she can be the next Emily Weiss or Ayah Bdeir and turn the world upside down, we’re hooked.

If you think about it, isn’t…

by Sunny Bonnell

I think we can all agree that rage has no place in the workplace. Well, that memo hasn’t ever made it to the desks of some of the country’s most successful (and notorious) CEOs and cultural titans. Some of them have become infamous for their foul tempers and abusive tendencies, and a cynic might argue that it’s their very ability to intimidate rivals that’s gotten them to the top.

For example, film producer Scott Rudin, who made The Truman Show among other hits, reportedly chewed through more than 250 personal assistants in five years, in some cases…

By Sunny Bonnell

Fifteen years ago, down in a small, coastal town in South Carolina, we dipped our toes into the world of marketing to start a branding agency called Motto. We were twenty-something, had $250 in our bank accounts, and had never run a business. Everyone told us we’d fail.

From the beginning, we were swimming against a rip current of doubt. People said we were too young, too female, too inexperienced, and too broke to succeed in a world where sixty-ish admen made the rules.

The more we saw how the area’s old-school marketing shops (all run by…

By Sunny Bonnell

We all want to be accepted for who we really are. That’s especially true for Rare Breeds, the gifted, stubborn misfits who won’t conform to society’s arbitrary standards because that feels like hypocrisy and self-betrayal. If you’ve never felt understood, if you’ve always known there’s a side of you that’s waiting for its moment in the spotlight, you get it.

This is especially true at work. Work is where we spend most of our waking hours, meet friends, and have an impact on the world. So when you start to follow a career path, it matters that…

By Sunny Bonnell

We’ve all heard the diminuitive phrase, “You’re so emotional.” But after more than fifteen years leading an agency in a male-dominated field (and growing weary of hearing it), we’ve finally cracked that code.

“You’re so emotional” means, “We’re terrified that you have emotions.” This is especially true in the workplace where we’re all expected to check a good chunk of ourselves at the door.

Scientific research says that emotions are actually sensations in the body, not the mind. Butterflies in your stomach before a first date, that warm glow you get when you’re alone with someone you’re…

By Sunny Bonnell & Ashleigh Hansberger

Hundreds of acres of virgin forest will probably be chainsawed in the coming weeks to print all the paeans and tributes to the late, great Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. So yes, we’re well aware that we’re treading on busy ground. But we’re not here to praise the “Notorious RBG” (who we already wrote about in our book, Rare Breed) but to thank her. …

By Sunny Bonnell




Great CEOs and other leaders, from groundbreaking artists to politicians, can often be described in this way. They might be spellbinding orators or fearless visionaries who paint word pictures of alternate realities that convince employees to become acolytes, but however they work their magic, the result is always the same. Some people become beguiled, willing to say and do anything in order not to break the spell.

There’s a name for that effect: manipulation. We don’t have to tell you that’s a word freighted with a container ship’s worth of negative baggage. It conjures…

By Sunny Bonnell

Over our years studying great leaders and seminal geniuses, we’ve run into plenty of people who embody common entrepreneur stereotypes. There’s the abrasive, sharp-tongued wunderkind with a sky-high IQ and no tact, who pisses everyone off even as they’re admiring his brilliance. There’s the charismatic charmer who could talk a rabbit into tiger cage but who often stays dangerously close to manipulation, especially when it comes to convincing people to part with their money. …

Sunny Bonnell

Sunny Bonnell is author of Rare Breed, speaker, host and co-founder of Motto. Wordsmith. Entrepreneur. No slave to the ordinary.

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