March 28th, 2017 by Bob Bly
I find I’m most productive working in a space that’s comfortable
and filled with things I like — which in my case means my home
What can you tell about a person by the way he decorates his
In my case, I look around and immediately see the following:
1–A fax machine. People tell me fax is old technology. I wouldn’t
give mine up; I even maintain a dedicated phone line for it.
2–A gigantic wall poster of about two dozen of the major Marvel
3–A small abstract oil painting by my friend and sometimes
coauthor Gary Blake.
4–A framed picture of my two sons when they were young. Press a
button on the frame and it plays a message they recorded for me
around when the picture was taken!
5–Many other photos of my kids all over the walls.
6–Several toy robots including Robbie the Robot from Forbidden
Planet and Robot B-9 from Lost in Space.
7–My two favorite coffee mugs, one that says “I’m a chemical
engineer — just like a regular guy, only smarter” … and the
second which reads, “My story begins in Paterson, NJ.”
8–A picture of my little sister and I when we were very young,
9–A picture of Stan Lee, personally autographed and made out to
me and my boys — a gift from copywriter Peter Fogel.
10–A scale model of a 1962 Chevy Belair, the car my father bought
new when I was 5. He died 22 years ago when I was 37, so it has
great sentimental meaning to me.
11–A framed certificate recognizing me as a member of the
American Institute of Chemical Engineers since 1979. Why? It’s
a beautiful certificate, nicer-looking than my college diploma,
which hangs directly below it.
12–A handsome Successories desk clock with a transparent center
through which you can see the faux gears (the clock runs on a
battery). Also a gift.
13–A cabinet and rack with dozens of assorted CDs — mostly rock,
jazz, classical, and pop — from Madonna and Elvis, to Maynard
Ferguson and Beethoven, to Gerry Mulligan and Eminem. And of
course a boom box to play it.
14–A poster of Grumpy Cat that says “Go Away.”
15–A desk lamp that simulates the wavelength of natural sunlight.
It is supposed to make one less grumpy. I have no idea whether it
affects my mood one way or the other, though I suspect not.
16–Oddly, only a very few reference books. Reason: I need the
shelves in my office bookcases for three-ring binders, which hold
the background materials for each of my current and recent
copywriting projects. I have plenty of bookcases in nearby rooms
holding my other books. No need to clutter my limited workspace
17–My desk faces a window overlooking our one-acre heavily wooded
back yard. Almost every day I see a small herd of deer march past
my office window.
18–I had a fishbowl with a beta fish I got as a gift, but it was
too small. So I got him a tank with proper lighting and
filtration. But I was out of space in the office so he’s now
across the hall. I miss looking at the little guy!
19–I have two 4-drawer metal file cabinets that hold hanging file
folders — and a few steps away, down in a large finished room in
our basement, 8 more just l like them.
20–I have a framed Mark Alan Stamaty poster with a slightly
mocking cartoon of how Madison Avenue advertising agencies work —
a gift from the Village Voice given back in the day when I was an
advertising manager who bought ad space.
My dirty little secret: all of these add up to a strangely warm,
familiar, fun, and comforting environment in which I MUST be to
do my work.
I am in awe of you who are able to work productively anywhere
outside of your home office — on a plane, at the beach, in a
hotel room, Starbucks.
I just can’t do it. Nor do I want to. Since I love to work and
can only do so at maximum output in my home office, the result is
I am here 12 hours a day, despise travel, and seldom go anywhere.
So … what’s in your office that you treasure … that you like …
and that would tell me something about who you are or what you