Tools of the Trade: Ly Nguyen of Movement Strategy

By Kyle O'Brien 

Tools of the Trade is an AgencySpy feature to help highlight the many tools that help make advertising and marketing folks successful. The tools can be anything that helps you perform at your top form, from your favorite drafting table to your best software program to a lucky pen, a vintage typewriter or a pair of headphones.

Next up is Ly Nguyen, svp, executive creative director at Movement Strategy.

Ly Nguyen poses with her incense holder.


What is the name of the one tool you use all the time at work, and how does it inspire your work? 

My favorite tool to use is incense. I like to set the tone for my mental wellbeing before diving into a complex task and incense has proven to boost serotonin levels of your brain. It’s something I use to immediately shift the vibe of my environment to enhance clarity and focus. I love alternating between scents that help stimulate creativity or reduce anxiety and stress. It helps purify my space so I can start my task on a clean slate.

Why is it your favorite?

I believe success begins with inner wellbeing. Without that, you lack the groundwork to build upon. Incense stimulates your senses and brings instant gratification once you ignite the flame. From the comforting warmth of the fire to the calming and pleasant aromas and the symbolic purification that smoke brings—lighting incense helps set the stage for concentration no matter how big or small the task.

I use incense a couple times a week, mainly when I have a large project to complete or something that can be mentally straining to handle. I don’t ever take it with me when I work outside my office, but I definitely like to collect new scents and sticks when I come across them.

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

Incense sticks are widely used in Asian culture and have been used in my family primarily for prayer or ceremonies for as long as I can remember. However, my husband actually introduced me to using them more so on a daily basis as an act of cleansing a space or my mind.

Do you think your tool could go TikTok viral? Why or why not?

I can definitely see the use of incense becoming popular on TikTok. With self-care being such a popular and mainstream priority these days, it’s something that I think a lot of people would be attracted to. Once one understands the benefits of its use, it’s hard not to be curious.

We want to know what tools you use to make you successful. If you’d like to contribute or know someone who would want to be featured in Tools of the Trade, contact and fill out our survey.