Tools of the Trade: Monica Johnson of Blah Blah Blah

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 Monica Johnson, animation and VFX agent at visual effects, animation and design agency BLAH! blah? (Blah…).

Monica Johnson poses with a piano, which she plays daily. Credit: Christine Keeley Photography.


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

The one tool that I use to help me focus and inspires my day, work and life daily is playing the piano. Piano allows me to dive deeper into my creativity and is not only grounding but sets the tone for my day and allows me to clear my head. It’s great for strength training, mental health and pushing my mind in challenging ways. Piano is joyful, therapeutic, calming, emotional and unifying. Like an artist who paints from a blank canvas, piano is my blank canvas where my works can become a masterpiece.

Why is it your favorite?

Playing the piano was something I only recently re-discovered as a result of the pandemic. During lockdown, the piano allowed me (and those who listened) to be whisked away to a happier place where anxiety could melt away. What started out one random day as a “tickling of the keys” transformed into something miraculous and beautiful. Over the last three years, I taught myself how to play and read music by learning Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart, Debussy and several other composers every day.

Piano has become a part of my daily meditative practice. When I play, the world goes from black and white to a beautiful colorful palette of good energy and positive vibes. I play with my heart and never play songs the same way twice but rather with fluidity, movement and emotion. Each time I sit at the bench, it’s a new discovery of notes, tones, pressure to the keys and release. I ended up creating an album so I and others can listen to it anytime on Spotify.

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

It’s funny how piano unexpectedly came back into my life as a result of the pandemic and became my new favorite thing. Ironically, lockdown unlocked a very dormant passion and helped me to get back to my musical roots after a 25-plus year hiatus away from the keys and only 11 months of classical lessons at age eight. I never expected to return to the piano but I’m so grateful that I not only re-acquired a love for playing but creating.

How does it help you be successful?

Success is built upon never giving up, going after what you want and never throwing in the towel. There were so many times I wanted to quit because I couldn’t read music and the uphill battle seemed impossible. Like in advertising and life, we’re dealt with some of the most challenging situations and it’s how we come out on the other side. It shows us what we’re made of.

Proper focus, consistency and determination allowed me to shift my perspective and energy which allowed me to succeed. If something moves you, follow your heart’s calling and move towards happiness/peace. My music serves as an inspiration to people of all ages. By pushing my own limits beyond anything I could ever imagine, the insurmountable challenges of the pandemic instantaneously became the fuel I needed to continue creating from within and follow my heart’s desire. Changing your mindset releases the fear of failure and the risk of taking a chance/stepping out on faith far outweighs not starting at all.

Does it have sentimental value?

1000%. There’s a lot of sentimental value behind playing the piano because I was inspired to pick up where I last left off as a result of feeling my mom’s energy. She passed away in 2014 but I’ve always felt a strong connection to her. It was several weeks into quarantine, at the height of the pandemic, when I walked past my mom’s portrait overlooking my piano and something within my spirit pulled me to the bench. She too played piano but her battle with the disease that took her life affected her ability to play and she was forced to stop. Ironically, March 11, 2020 was not only the beginning of lockdown but also the anniversary of her passing.

Do you think your tool could go TikTok viral?

It’s certainly possible. I need to get myself on TikTok first, ha ha. Everyone needs an uplift and playing classical music in today’s world is little bit of a lost art. It has so many benefits for wellbeing such as reducing stress levels and improving mood.

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.