Tools of the Trade: Sophie Harris of GoDaddy

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 Sophie Harris, senior video producer and creative director of GoDaddy’s “Made in America” documentary series.

Sophie Harris poses with the mobile GIF that she uses to get a moment of calm during a busy day.


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

I have a GIF saved to my phone that runs a few-second-long loop of a geometric pattern that expands and contracts slowly. It’s something I use frequently to breathe along to and meditate with. Check it out here.

The production and marketing industry can often involve a lot of quick and urgent creative decision making. We can find ourselves and our projects stuck in a feedback loop, where the more overwhelmed we are, the faster we respond. But really the opposite should be true, and a better approach would be to pause, calm and recenter before pressing forward impulsively on a response or decision. I use this meditative tool periodically during the workday, such as on location during a video shoot with our GoDaddy customers, and especially when I feel spun up by details and lose touch with the fundamental goals and heart of a project. It’s a simple method for me to recenter and realign with my North Star, or project priorities, rather than be dragged around by urgency.

Why is it your favorite?

The internet is a quagmire of mindfulness platforms, guided meditations and all-inclusive lifestyle apps that help ease anxiety. But this GIF in particular is so quick and simple, always conveniently available on my phone, and has no audio which therefore makes it non-disruptive to others, that it just works well for me—especially when I’m traveling. It helps me step away from the chaos and allows my priorities to resettle in a more appropriate order and level of alarm.

The looping graphic grabs your attention enough that you can relax and let your thoughts reset. The movement is stimulating enough to distract your mind, but simple enough to serve as a calming agent. It’s a moment to remember to breathe and I’m usually left feeling better afterwards, even if it’s just a little bit more than before. It’s also a good tool to focus on rather than spending the time doom scrolling on social media apps when I’m starting to feel overwhelmed or burnt out.

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

I learned about this GIF from a dear friend of mine—an art handler and curator to high profile clients in L.A., which can involve a bit of stress and urgent decision making. This friend texted it to me years ago when I was in the midst of a particularly challenging project and my anxiety was clouding my creativity.

In documentary filmmaking, the how of coordinating schedules, permissions, logistics and responding to constant real-life changes can be all consuming. So much so that sometimes the how overshadows the what and the why of a project. It can feel like I’m being whipped around at the end of a long rope, always responding to details and emergencies, but very distant from the heart and creative vision of the project.

How does it help you be successful?

In branded documentary storytelling, you must hold three truths simultaneously: the lives and realities of your subjects, the guidelines and messaging of your brand, and the narrative moments that make for good storytelling—and it’s your role to find the heart of where these pieces overlap, like in a Venn Diagram. It’s very important to be able to see the forest for the trees and not get swept away by reactive energy or shiny things.

That said, a little bit of anxiety can actually be good and necessary as a creative. A friend and very talented entertainer, Dizzie Ramsey, a small business owner in Phoenix who starred in season 3 of GoDaddy’s “Made in America” told me, “When you stop getting butterflies before a performance, it’s time to stop performing.” I remember those words often. The anxiety you feel is not always the enemy—it can be present because you are excited, you’re paying attention, and you’re alert. But, as a project leader, you have to make sure you’re aligned with the North Star of the project and can’t be swept away or overwhelmed by that anxiety. This GIF helps me find that peaceful middle ground.

Does it have sentimental value?

My dad was an investigative journalist—and a smoker. He was always under a lot of pressure and worked from a home office back in the ’80s and ’90s before remote work was much of a common occurrence. I remember my dad being on edge, tense and always pacing back and forth, yelling into the corded rotary phone. He was constantly stressed out, but would step outside for a smoke, and when he reentered the house a few minutes later, I’d see my dad was once again calm, collected and re-inspired to keep working. I don’t condone smoking (really, it’s horrible, my dad ultimately died of lung cancer), but the idea of having a ritual is a good one—the sanctioned excuse to step away from what you’re doing, focus on your breath and take a few seconds or minutes to not be productive. It allows you to resettle and come back to the tasks at hand with calmer and fresher eyes. It helps avoid burnout, too. I think about my dad a lot when I use this tool.

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

This GIF actually went viral within the last decade—maybe some time between 2014 and 2016, or what feels like a lifetime ago, and potentially before TikTok was even on our radars. I think it’s time for this tool to resurface—in my opinion, peaceful is the new rich.

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.