Why Is Futurist Scott Monty So Obsessed with the Past? (A Short Story About a Side Project)

It’s time for another Slingshot — short stories of creative side projects that led somewhere unexpected. And what’s more unexpected than one of the marketing industry’s most forward-thinking leaders spending time stuck in the late 1800s?

Today, we hear the story of Scott Monty and I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere. What happens when your job requires you to look ahead but you adore the past? And why is this one simple project adored by historians and NBA players alike?

Listen here or wherever you get your podcasts. (Transcription below.)


Scott’s side project: www.ihearofsherlock.com/

Scott’s newsletter and related mini-podcast: fullmontyshow.com/

Scott’s Twitter: twitter.com/scottmonty

Jay’s Twitter: twitter.com/jayacunzo

Jay’s Snapchat: snapchat.com/add/jayacunzo


Jay Acunzo: Welcome to Unthinkable. I’m Jay Acunzo, and it’s time for another slingshot. Short stories of creative side projects that led somewhere unexpected. What actually happens when people follow their intuition and turn it in to action? That’s what we’re exploring today.

Scott Monty: What I found is probably one of the most effective ways of accomplishing a goal. It’s not simply writing it down and tacking it up in front of your computer. It’s actually saying it out loud to another human being.

Jay Acunzo: This is Scott Monty. He’s a well-known marketing consultant and speaker who advises some of the most innovative brands in the world. He’s also the creator of one of the marketing industry’s most read newsletter, The Full Monty. The reason Scott say he’s an oxymoron has to do with his side project.

Scott Monty: One of my hobbies, since I was about 15 years old, was Sherlock Holmes. I was thinking, as 2005 rolled around, why don’t I experiment a little bit online? So I created what was then known as The Bakers Street Blog.

Jay Acunzo: He decided to use the project as a sort of laboratory.

Scott Monty: I really didn’t have a professional outlet to try out this new social media stuff that I was hearing about. I knew that that could have a lot more impact than my own semi-professional blog, because the appeal was to a more mainstream audience.

Jay Acunzo: One of the biggest trends that he started exploring was podcasting. I mean, if I had that voice I’d podcast, too. From there, the success of this project continued like most successful side projects go: in a way you just can’t predict.

Scott Monty: After 18 episodes, we pod-faded. We pod-faded for about a year and a half, because we just didn’t have the bandwidth. During that time, that’s when I got hired by Ford, and we moved out to Michigan. It was a lot of professional upheaval and concentration that I didn’t have time to dedicate to this hobby.

When we reinvigorated it, we brought the two brands together. Not only for the sake of ease of administration, like managing one site, but because it made sense to tie the brands together and have a regularly updating news and information site. That, oh by the way, also had an audio program to it.

Jay Acunzo: Was there a moment where you realized that, “Hey. This might be something that we now owe to our audience to continue doing. It’s something more meaningful not just to us and a small group of people, but this could be something greater”? Was there a singular moment that you look back on and see that as an inflection point?

Scott Monty: There were a couple. There was one for the website itself. We wrote an update that said, “Nicholas Rowe” — who had played Sherlock Holmes in the 1985 film, “Young Sherlock Holmes” — so we said, “Nicholas Rowe to reprise his role in updated Sherlock Holmes movie.” It was a project that was green lit, but there were no actors. There was no director associated with it at all. We postulated that Nicholas Rowe, now being an adult, would actually be good for the role. It got picked up by a Hollywood website. Well, it was an April Fool’s joke.

Jay Acunzo: Scott is a guy who straddles two worlds: the classics like Sherlock Holmes and the cutting edge technology and communication trends of today.

Scott Monty: I make sure that I constantly think back to where we came from, because there are such great lessons from amazing thinkers that have come before us. I think if we spend time understanding what the past masters have already laid out for us, that most of the time it relates to human nature. It relates to the way people think and feel and react. What motivates them. All the things that good marketers should really understand.

Jay Acunzo: One of Scott’s recent guests, a Sherlock expert and member of The Bakers Street Irregulars from Sweden, asked if he could write a story for their site.

Scott Monty: It went everywhere. He got calls by major news organizations to do interviews. It was on the front page of Reddit. I think we got about 200,000 visitors in a single week, which normally we get maybe 10- to 15,000. We just saw this explosion.

Jay Acunzo: To harness this growth, Scott knew he had to expand, and he did so in a very Sherlockian way.

Scott Monty: I was at one of our January gatherings in New York, and I said to the elderly statesman in the hobby, who does a monthly newsletter. I said, “Peter, I want to grow I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere to where I’ve got a stable of writers. I can kind of have beat reporters. I want them to handle a lot of stuff. I can’t pay them, obviously, but I’ll send them Amazon gift cards or whatever, because everybody likes books. I want to grow this.”

It’s “I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere.” If it is indeed everywhere, I can’t be everywhere. Even Sherlock Holmes knew that.

Jay Acunzo: In the end, we all do work that’s a reflection of ourselves. These are acts of self-discovery. They let you uncover parts you didn’t know were even there. When you create stuff for a living, you can’t remove yourself from a given project. It is literally impossible. It IS you.

The reason you do your work — the reason you do good work — is you.

The more we possess self-awareness and actually lean into that, the better our work can get.

Now that is Unthinkable.

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