Tools of the Trade: Molly Barth of Sparks & Honey

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 people perform at their top form, from a favorite drafting table to the best software program to a lucky pen, a vintage typewriter or a pair of headphones.

Next up is Molly Barth, senior cultural strategist at cultural intelligence consultancy sparks & honey.

Tools of the Trade Barth

Molly Barth poses with her iPhone Notes app.


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

I love my Notes app. I use it to jot down thoughts, stream of consciousness thinking, recipes, advice, affirmations, grocery lists, links, lightbulb ideas, goals, passwords (the list goes on and on) while I’m moving throughout my day. If I see something cool that I could use for a project I’m working on, I write it down in my Notes app.

Why is it your favorite?

The favorite part of my strategy work comes from the chaotic information gathering and exploration that happens in the early phases of a project. Because of that, I’m sort of “always on”—constantly looking for interesting things in culture, patterns or ideas that present themselves to me in real-time. My Notes app really comes in handy for collecting everything in one place.

I also do a lot of writing outside of my day-to-day job. The best ideas often come to me when I’m just disconnected and not thinking, so I love having my notes app handy to jot things down anytime an idea pops up. It often results in some weird, illegible-to-anyone-but-me, stream of conscious-like thoughts, but I’m the only one reading these notes anyways so who cares?

I have two different Notes apps—the one on my work laptop (which skews more work related topics) and one on my iPhone (which skews more personal). However, because of the nature of my job I find that work and personal life often blur and there is usually some cross-contamination of ideas.

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

I think I’ve been using my notes app ever since I got an iPhone, but my current notes date back to early 2018.

How does it help you be successful?

A big part of my job as a strategist is to triangulate different things I see in culture and make sense of it all for clients. Sometimes that means pairing an article I see, with a stat, with a meme and then a trend I saw on TikTok. Keeping track of all that (and remembering it all) can be challenging, so having a place to collect and curate all the things I see is extremely helpful and serves as the building blocks for bigger cultural insights.

Does it have sentimental value?

It absolutely does. There’s lots of special memories and ideas preserved in my Notes apps, and I love being able to scroll back to notes from years ago to read my thoughts from that time in my life. I make a lot of notes about my personal goals, so it’s always great looking back at those old notes and knowing that I have achieved many of them.

I share some notes with my fiancée—like grocery lists—and he’ll sometimes leave little surprises in them for me. I have one note where I keep track of things I need to buy, and a few years ago I had incorrectly written “hair mouse” instead of “hair mousse.” In response, he added a picture of a little mouse that I think is so adorable that I keep it in that list to this day.

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

Definitely. A big format on TikTok is using a note as a greenscreen and talking through what you have written down (my personal favorites are “rules for my funeral”).

I think the internet would have fun decoding some of the weird things I’ve written to myself in my notes. One of my notes is just a bunch of random letters and numbers and for the life of me I can’t remember what it’s for. Could be a password, could be an anagram, I honestly have no clue. I have one that just says “no toenail polish in the winter.” I have another one that looks like half a credit card number—don’t know whose it is or what the other numbers are.

So yeah, I have some insightful notes and some that make absolutely no sense. It’s an organized chaos.

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