The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


Communication Requires Listening Not Deafness …
August 6, 2021, 8:00 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Comment, Creativity, Culture, New Zealand

I posted about the one thing that is doing NZ harm.

It’s reluctance to talk about suicide.

[The link is from 2017, just to highlight this is not a new thing]

The more it sits with me, the more it confuses me.

Let’s not forget – as I also wrote in that post – this is a government who have demonstrated the power of open discussion over issues such as COVID and terrorism.

And while this issue has been around for longer than the current government have been in power, I would have thought Jacinda – who is one of the most inspirational leaders of my life time – would be the first to recognise the current approach is actually working against them.

Anyway, whether popular or not, I decided I would bring up the issue with everyone I meet. To see what they think. To discuss how they can help. To encourage them to do things things that are directly for youth, rather than about them.

I am so happy the people I’ve spoken to already are open to helping in a range of ways.

This is important because there’s seems to be some strange views in terms of communication here that I feel is complicit to the problem rather than help defy it.

I say strange, but I get where it’s coming from.

For example …

“With a population of less than 5 million, you need to go mass with all communication to make anything stand a chance of getting a return on investment.”

It makes sense doesn’t it. Except it’s not true.

It’s a ‘throw as much stuff against a wall as you can’ strategy.

Maybe that explains why so much work doesn’t have a point of view, just wants to be noticed.

Though we are also seeing some adopt an alternative route – the same alternative route favoured by so many around the world … precision marketing.

The thing with this data-driven approach is that while it sounds amazing – the reality is, as we have seen around the world, there are some pretty inherent flaws in it. It will get better, but right now, it’s not quite precise enough and/or not personal enough and/or not emotive enough.

The irony is in a nation of less than 5 million, we should not only be able to reach everyone, but we should be able to do it in a way that is much more intimate and individual. And while I’ve only been here a short time, I’m not seeing much that does that … instead it’s far more super generalist messaging to super generalist audiences with – in many cases – super generalist benefits or offers.

ie: Price.

Add in the communication attitude that often feels like that goal is to ‘only target people with the cash right this second’ – rather than any play towards the future of your business – and it’s no surprise youth can feel isolated, ignored or limited in their choices.

Now I appreciate I sound like a prick.

A condescending, patronising, judgemental prick.

One of those British assholes who comes to a new country and says, “let me tell you everything about your country”.

The irony is this is the last thing I want to do.

I totally appreciate I am new here.

I completely respect I have so much to learn here.

And I absolutely acknowledge the country is doing pretty fucking well in so many other areas – areas the rest of the world are terrible at.

But I also have the benefit of experience and looking at things with fresh eyes and – as I said in my previous post – this is the first country I’ve lived in, since China, where I see a generation who feel they don’t see the ability to express who they are but have to live up to who others want them to be.

Not all, but a lot.

And regardless of the size, the implications of this on individuals – and the nation – are huge.

But as much as people leaving the country or simply accepting the status quo has huge economic impact on the direction on this wonderful country is heading, the loss of life is far, far worse. And it’s happening in – proportionately – huge numbers.

I know no one wants this to happen.

I know many of the public feel helpless in what to do.

But one thing we can all do – even before we lobby for the government to change their stance on talking about suicide in the media – is to recognise them and value their individual tastes, beliefs, habits, ideas and ambitions.

To rob them of that is to rob them of something fundamental.

It’s really important for me to leave this by saying how much I love this country.

It has already been incredibly kind, generous and compassionate to me and my family.

The actual intent of this post is not to point fingers, but to try and repay my faith in the country that has been so kind to me by trying to do something that gives back. Whether that is as an individual or as family or something more.

And while I may cop flack or be told I don’t know what I’m talking about – which may all be true – one thing I do know is not talking about the issue is not helping the issue.



Tattoos Tell Stories …
August 5, 2021, 8:00 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Authenticity, Comment, Creativity, Culture, Love, Taboo Categories

I had my first tattoo at 40.

I had always wanted one but between being a chicken and just not knowing what I wanted, it took me 4 decades before I finally had one.

My first was big.

Down the entire underside of my left arm.

A phrase my Dad used to always say to me.

It was important I went big because I wanted to break my own barrier.

And I did, because from that first tattoo at Venice Beach in LA, I went and had more and more and more.

My Mum never really liked them, even though many were about her and Dad. In fact she famously said, “I wish you’d have got these out your system when you were younger” … suggesting that they would have been and gone by then. Haha.

But tattoos have become very important to me.

Very important in feeding my sentimentality.

From my cats nose to my old phone number to the date of my marriage, my parents passing and Otis’ birth. There’s a lot on there and a lot still to come, helped by the fact that I hardly ever feel any pain from them. In fact a few times I’ve fallen asleep … which says more for how tired I am than how tough I am.

And while I appreciate not everyone has tattoos that are so deeply personal, every single tattoo has a story attached to them.

A moment.
A situation.
A historic event.
A time with friends.
A need to just do something different.

While I appreciate tattoos are not to everyone’s taste, I find it interesting how much judgement some people have towards those who have them.

My favourite insult is when they say, “don’t they realise they’ll be saggy when they’re old?”.

Yes we do.

And yes, it might be unpleasant.

But the reality is whether sentimental or opportunistic … the point of them is as much as what they represent in our memories as they look like on our skin.

Because to paraphrase my favourite line in one of my favourite ever ads – the Playstation Double Life – at least we can show, we have lived.



More Than The MD, But The Boss …

This is Angela.

Her official title is the Managing Director of Colenso.

But actually she’s the boss.

Not just because of how she is sitting, but because of how she operates.

Leading without dictating.

Encouraging without patronising.

Liberating without restricting.

The great, great thing about Angela is that for all the experience and success she’s gained, she is open and hungry to let the energy, ambition and values of youth to keep shaping and changing where we are going.

Angela’s strength is she wants everyone to win.

She opens the door to opportunities for talent to run in and do their thing rather than closing it behind her so she can have all the power.

But then female leadership has always seen winning differently to a lot of men.

Progress for all rather than power for one.

And before certain men start spouting their sexist shit at me like they did when I wrote about how more female leadership will give the industry a real chance to grow, I appreciate not all male leaders are like this.

But a hell of a lot are.

And – if you look at Corporate Gaslighting and/or read Zoe Scaman’s brilliant, brave but totally unsurprising Mad Men and Furious Women – many of them are doing stuff … and are being allowed to get away with stuff, often by companies that talk about their commitment to their staffs wellbeing and mental health … that is a fuckload worse.



The Illusion Of Sustainability …

A few weeks ago, I got a take-away coffee where the design of the cup was obviously trying to look like it had a ‘heat sleeve’ around it.

I get it …

By reducing the use of paper/cardboard, we minimise waste.

There were just 2 problems with this.

1. It isn’t a heat sleeve.

2. You end up burning your hand around the cup.

Now while I appreciate this is still better than claiming to be doing something for the environment while actively fucking it, it’s still not perfect, even if I acknowledge their thinking.

But then a few days later I saw this …

OK, so it also has flaws.

Will you remember to bring back the mug?

Will you be able to drink out of it while you’re walking?

Will you feel comfortable it has been washed previously?

But weirdly I also like it.

I like it a lot.

Maybe it’s because it’s the sort of thing only a community would try to pull off and – after years of living here, there and everywhere, it’s nice to feel part of something.

But either way, it’s got my vote … which serves as a good reminder that the real obstacle to doing something good is whether you actually want to do it or not.

And no Uniliever … that doesn’t let you feel good for producing plant bottles, especially when you continue to profit from the cultural jail and prejudice you put millions of women throughout Asia in. You’re welcome.



Knowing How To Scramble An Egg Doesn’t Mean You Know The Future Of Chickens …

It’s August.

Month 8 of 2021.

Month 17 for so many of my mates working from home.

It’s quite interesting sitting in New Zealand and reading all these companies releasing reports about ‘the future of work’ when they are doing it from a position of semi-blindness.

Yes, there are many, many benefits from working from home.

For a lot of people, the hours saved on commuting are incredible.

And there’s definitely a lot of benefits for companies having people work of home.

The savings on office space alone do that.

But the reality is after a year of that, being back in an office – albeit in a country that has dealt with COVID better than anyone – the impact has been huge on me.

It reminded me of the thrill of working with other people.

Debating ideas.

Discussing issues.

Talking bollocks.

There’s a camaraderie that you don’t get on a video conference.

In addition you don’t have to always be ‘on’.

Always look like you’re busy.

Always look like you’re paying attention.

Always look like you’re on top of everything.

That doesn’t mean you can be a slack bastard in an office, but it means the pressure of ‘being on’ reduces. That may seem counter-intuitive in an environment where you are always seen, but it is because of that you let your human side come out. The different forms of your energy and presence.

What all these companies banging on about having fixed ‘the future of work’ are actually saying is what is the future of THEIR work. What they want THEIR environment to be. What THEIR individual category allows them to do.

They can put out as many survey monkeys as they like to their employees, if doesn’t mean they know the future of work.

It’s also laughable these organisations are proclaiming they have all the answers when they were often the ones who encouraged/forced people to come to their offices every day … and would then actively fight against anyone who wanted to operate under slightly different terms.

If we want to learn what the future of work is, we’d be far better off listening and learning from companies or organisations who operated this way since before COVID forced change than anyone else. Which means I’d trust Mary Kay Cosmetics or even Anonymous more than many of the big talkers out there right now.

The reality is people can adapt more easily than companies have ever given us credit for. But what the future of work is for them and us is going to dependent on many factors … of which one is remembering what it is like to be in an office again.

At the end of the day it will likely be a balance – something that works for the 3 main parties of people, clients and company – but what I’ve found interesting from the people I’ve spoken to who don’t want to go back to the office, is they’re not just saying it for financial/commute reasons, but because they hated how the company made them feel constantly oppressed and judged when they were inside their 4 walls.

In fact, having spoken to a number of people on Corporate Gaslighting … many have said that working from home would have saved them from the worst of bad management.

Which is the real lesson about the future of work for companies post covid.

Do you have a culture people want to be a part of or want to stay away from?