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

You Feel Better If You’ve Worked For It …
August 25, 2009, 6:45 am
Filed under: Comment

I love hard work … I could sit and watch it for years.

Now there’s a quote we can all relate to. Or can we?

The reason I bring this up is that recently, a Middle Eastern billionaire bought into one of my local football teams, Notts County.

Now the reason I find this interesting is that Notts County – whilst being the oldest professional club in the World – are shit.

Yes even shitter than my beloved Nottingham Forest.

Hell, they’ve been bumbling along the bottom of the [old] 4th division – beating relegation by the skin of their teeth – year after year and yet, for reasons that still have not been made totally clear, a billionaire has decided to revive their fortunes despite living in a land about as far removed from Nottingham as you can get.

And the long and short of it is that I think it’s great.

In a sport where we’ve seen outrageous levels of investment in many of the so called ‘glamour’ clubs – here is a man who has decided not to take the easy, and obvious, path … but chosen to help a proud and historic club that is down on its luck.

To me, that say’s a lot about the man …

Sure, he’s paying the ol’ Swedish pervert – Sven-Göran Eriksson – 2 million quid a year to ‘oversee’ his investment, has promised additional funds for player acquisition and has said he wants the team in the Championship by their 150th anniversary [3 years from now] but all in all, it seems the goal is to earn the right to be viewed as successful rather than simply buying in at the top level.

In a World where people view success more by what you have rather than what you did to earn it, I find this approach both refreshing and inspiring … and whilst I’m under no illusion that having a billionaire backer and globally renowned football coach makes things easier, it’s still the path of great resistance which is why it seems to me the man behind all this positive turmoil subscribes to the view that nothing feels as great as when you’ve overcome some level of adversity – and I wish more companies adopted this view because in their quest for ‘easier’ profits, they’re potentially missing out on opportunities that could make them truly great.

There’s nothing wrong with making [m/b]illions … but to me, it’s how you made it and what you did with it once you got it … which is why I’m more likely to support the new Notts County patriarch than I am Mr Abranovich or most agency CEO’s for that matter.

Intellectual Inflation …
August 24, 2009, 6:03 am
Filed under: Comment

One of the things I love about airports is seeing all the advertising.

The reason I say this is not because it represents the pinnacle of creativity, but because it embodies the ego of so many industries.

To be honest, I’ve never really bought into the whole ‘airport advertising targets the uber-successful’.

There’s a couple of reasons for this …

1/ I go to airports a hell of a lot and I am about as successful as errrrrm, someone you’ve never heard of who isn’t very successful.

2/ The truly successful go to airports so regularly, that they don’t get there 2 hours before takeoff, but about 2 minutes before doors close – meaning they don’t hang around long enough to even notice any of the billboard ads, let alone react to them.

Anyway, getting back to the reason for this post, recently I was walking through HK airport when I saw these …

Jesus Christ, have you ever read such clichéd twaddle? Is it just me or do they sound like the sort of ‘joke’ you get in a Christmas cracker?

I’ve written before how much I value education – and I’ve also written how I don’t believe they should be run as an independent profit centres – however what bugs me is that so many universities are seemingly now positioning themselves as the ‘home for greater wealth’ which has major implications both on the attitudes of the people attending and the courses being offered.

Of course I’m generalising – however a little while back, whilst on Google duty, I was in the fortunate position of doing some work with Harvard when they announced they didn’t want to be known as a place that simply [my words] “churned out the next generation of billionaire banker, but wanted to help develop people who wished to make the World a better place”.

Now, given I’d met many of their professors, I knew this to be true however it didn’t stop me ringing my contacts [professors in law and economics] telling them that if they really wanted this to be the case, why don’t they double the admission costs [as people will still pay as it’s bloody Harvard] and let someone who has [1] no desire to be a banker and [2] no chance of ever attending, study there.

The response?

“You got us Robert”.

You see, whilst I know places like Harvard genuinely do want education to be used as a currency for good [both personal and social] the fact is, we have become a society where ‘value’ is determined almost universally on ‘financial return’ which is why the majority of places of learning hunt down ‘customers’ down with all the zeal of an FMCG … promising wealth seemingly based more on the fact companies like people with MBA’s rather than education – which when mingled with a person’s natural curiosity and pragmatism – can/will open new and exciting doors of opportunities.

As Sir Ken Robinson said in his landmark speech, the problem with all this is that so many people are now getting degrees etc, their value is actually decreasing – meaning that unless something drastic happens, we are in danger of churning out experts in process rather than individuals who can pragmatically take their knowledge and do something new and interesting with it.

If you want to see what the future looks like if universities don’t start embracing and encouraging a more entrepreneurial spirit, look no further than the students of Singapore … a production line of brilliant people who in many cases, sadly have an inability to think around a problem and/or cannot accept objective points of view.

In other words, it’s a generation who aspire to be middle management in an International company rather than create their own future and fate.

I once saw a brilliant professor of psychology [@ Utah University no less!] who said that when he started teaching in the 60’s, the campus was a hotbed of debate regarding how to make the World a better place for all who lived in it … now people just talk about how best to make a billion … and whilst money is incredibly important, if even our places of learning happily perpetuate the myth that the only things of value is first class travel and wearing a suit in an International company, then what hope have we got to make business and life interesting.

I know I am bound to be biased, but it’s for these reasons I hope Richard Branson one day starts a university because by his own admission, if he had based his decisions following the rules advocated by many of the business universities around the World, he’d of ended up being a bloke selling used LP’s at a market stall in South London.

What Do Planners Want To Be When They Grow Up?
August 21, 2009, 6:06 am
Filed under: Comment

Photo: Vincent Chow

Quick – but serious – question/s here.

If you are a planner, what do you want to do/be in 10 years from now?

Do you want to be head of your department? Maybe you like the idea of being the head of a particular region or maybe the whole of your organisation? What about starting your own company?

Without holding you to anything, I’d really appreciate it if you could tell me …

1/ What your hopes/dreams/plans are?
2/ What you think has to happen for them to come to fruition?
3/ What factors you require to be able to do the job exactly as you want?

I’d also be very interested to hear…

1/ How long your boss has been in his/her present role?
2/ Have they ever worked on a campaign that excites/inspires you?
3/ If you were offered your bosses job – exactly as it is now – would you want it?
4/ Whether you’ve ever talked about your specific plans/aspirations with your boss?

As I said, I won’t hold you to anything – and if you prefer, you can either email me directly or post your comment anonymously – it’s just something I am working on and I’d really value your input.

Thanks folks.

Burger King Needs To Abdicate …
August 20, 2009, 3:16 pm
Filed under: Comment

Despite travelling like a loon, I’ve not been ordering hotel burgers for ages.

Well all that’s changed with this beauty from Singapore’s majestic Fullerton hotel.

Obviously it cost the usual “are-you-out-of-your-fucking-mind” hotel price, but it tasted great and – compared to the burger you all thought had a dead bug on it – looked quite nice as well.

Pity that 3 seconds after the photo was taken the plate resembled a murder scene.

Thank you Singapore, it was a nice welcome ‘home’.

[Sorry Jill, I couldn’t resist! 🙂 ]

Swearing Makes You Popular …
August 20, 2009, 6:07 am
Filed under: Comment

Photo: Viz

So recently I was sent a document by a researcher friend of mine that he thought I’d find quite interesting.

As usual, he was right – even though he also demonstrated how flawed research can be.

What am I talking about?

Well, apparently a company was commissioned to find out how marketing presentations could be improved and as part of that study, they wanted to find out who Market Researchers regarded as some of the best presenters out there.

The study asked professionals from 42 countries for their suggestions and they came up with a list consisting of some 114 names … however, and here is the interesting [and flawed] bit … of those 114 names, just 10 were mentioned on numerous occasions.

And who were those 10?

Andy Dexter
Martin Lindstrom
David Smith
Neil McPhee
John Kearon
Paul Marsden
Justin Gibbons
Rob Campbell
Mark Earls
Steve Jobs

Martin Lindstrom?

Yeah, I can understand why he’d be there, just like I can appreciate Mark Earls and Steve Jobs presence on the list … in fact I can see why all of them would be there bar one.


Now I know what you’re thinking … it’s the same as I was thinking … that Rob Campbell can’t be me, but I have it on good authority it is.




Jesus, if ever proof was needed research folk need to get out more, this is it …

Seriously, anyone who has watched me bumble my way through my PSFK presentation will know I am to slick presenting what Jeremy Clarkson is to compassion and understanding … so god forbid, someone in market research land uses that as a blueprint for how to ‘connect’ with an audience.

Now, unlike the other names on the list [and I mean the 114 people, not just the members of the ‘top 10’] I am rather chuffed to be mentioned in the same breath as them – but it all goes to show that not only is research fallible, but a bit of swearing can go a long way, hence my presentation at the SPIKES is going to be called …

“What to do when the fucking fuckers don’t like fucking advertising anyfuckingmore.”