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Tools of the trade: John Wells of RAPP

August 30, 2023

What is one tool you use all the time at work, and how does it

The pen is mightier than the sword—in this case it’s a pencil and a little black notebook.

Why is it your favorite?

I have carried the same pencil for 30-plus years and fill 3 ½ x 5 ½ black, blank sheet (or grid) notebooks. If I need to remember something, I write it down. I take meeting notes, write down ideas, doodle, write down phone numbers, dates, you name it. I write quotes, poems, song lyrics, even bumper stickers; whatever I find has meaning or value. I have used it to make mazes and draw sunsets. I bring them to every meeting, use them on every call, and they travel with me wherever I go, whether that’s NYC, Dallas, San Francisco, Chicago, London or Pittsburgh.

How did you acquire your tool or hear about it for the first time?

The pencil is a Montblanc mechanical pencil, which I have broken and replaced many parts of. It was a gift that was given to me by my then girlfriend and now wife. I typically use pencil because I make mistakes that would otherwise be permanent in ink.

This pencil has been with me my entire career. I used it back in the day when we used typewriters and the internet didn’t exist, or at least it wasn’t being used at agencies yet.

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