Temple Grandin received her BA from Franklin Pierce College, her MS from Arizona State University, her PhD from the University of Illinois, and is currently Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University.

She’s had a book on the New York Times bestseller list; Time Magazine rated her one of their 100 Most Influential People; she’s had an award-winning HBO movie made about her.

But what makes her unusual is that Temple Grandin was born severely autistic, she couldn’t even speak until she was four, she would  throw tantrums and chew the wallpaper.

Because no one understood autism she was diagnosed as brain-damaged.

Because of her experience, she divides the world into two kinds of thinkers: those who think verbally and those who think visually.

Verbal thinkers use logic, progressing step-by-step towards a conclusion; our entire civilisation is based on verbal thinking, all laws and agreements are made of words.

But visual thinking only concerns what is happening right now.

Verbal thinking depends on a shared understanding of how things should be, visual thinking is solely concerned with what is being experienced.

Temple Grandin said that the first time the world began to make sense to her was when she spent the summer on a farm as a youngster.

She connected with the world of animals, animals didn’t think they just reacted.

She understood animals and that became her area of expertise, her vocation.

As she became an authority on animal science, stockyards began asking her advice.

The farmers couldn’t work out why the cattle fought and panicked and injured each other.

So Temple Grandin did the thing that none of the farmers had thought to do, something that made them think she was crazy.

She got down on all fours into the chutes that the cattle were driven along, and she made the journey the exact same way the cattle would.

And she noticed things the farmers never would, a piece of metal glinting in the sun, a chain rattling as it hung down, a piece of flapping cloth, a gate making a loud clanging noise.

All these things were trivial to the farmers, there was no reason to be frightened of them.

But Temple Grandin explained that cows weren’t verbal thinkers like the farmers, they were visual thinkers like she was, plus they were prey-animals.

Prey-animals don’t have time to work out what’s a genuine threat, their instinct is to react and run without thinking.

That’s what she could feel walking through the chutes just like the cows would.

Unlike the farmers she wasn’t thinking what made sense to them, she was thinking what would scare the cows.

All over the US, farmers began to adopt her methods, not because they’re sentimental folk but because they saw that calm cows gained weight quicker and made more profit.

Now half of all beef in the US is prepared using Temple Grandin’s methods.

That’s something we could learn from her.

Advertising and marketing are mainly composed of verbal thinkers, people who’ve been to university, which is mainly verbal thinkers.

People who learned to write strategies, and briefs, and advertising campaigns based on a style of thinking they learned at university.

People who create advertising based on intellectual arguments about what should work according to their own logical, rational thinking.

Maybe it would be a good idea for us to introduce some thinking that was more like Temple Grandin’s: visual thinkers instead of just verbal thinkers.

People who don’t just think like farmers but get down and walk where the cattle walk.

Maybe we need people who can think like the people we’re supposed to be talking to.