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

The Answer To Life …
September 30, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

I remember my Mum asking me what I thought we were all here for.

That was a pretty heavy question over cornflakes, so I am sure I spluttered out some rubbish.

But she didn’t.

As I wrote here, Mum had a clear point of view on what she thought it was.

Now I am a father, I think she was right [as usual] however I recently read a comment in a newspaper [yes, just like I did earlier in the week] that I think expresses a wonderful way to approach life.

Before I get to it, I should point out the persons comment was in relation to an article about divorce, however even though the bit that grabbed me was only 12 words long, the overall comment is pretty good.

Here it is …

So the bit I loved was when they said this:

We are all passing through and wondering what it’s all about.

I love that.

I love that it frees you to make mistakes … try things … explore and experiment.

The reason I am writing this post is because I just freak out how many people I know pretend they’ve got it together.

Well, some of them are not pretending – they really think they have – but life isn’t linear and while some are born into a lifestyle that affords them greater control than the rest of us, the majority are all wandering and wondering.

When I lived in Australia I lived with a fantastic housemate.

She was Canadian and worked for a tech company.

She got paid A FORTUNE … and I remember her telling me her plan.

She was going to stay in her role for 2 years, get promoted to a very specific job and then do that for a about 3 years and then either get transferred back to Canada in a senior leadership role or get headhunted for one of 3 other companies that she was prepared to work for.

I must admit at the time, I was both impressed and intimidated.

Impressed that someone could have their shit so together.

Initiated because I didn’t and never have.

[FYI, her plan didn’t end up working out. Well, it did, but in a totally different way]

As I’ve written before, my parents always wanted me to live a fulfilled, rather than contented life, and as part of that they have always encouraged me to follow what excites and intrigues me. That didn’t mean they would be OK with my flitting from thing-to-thing, however if there was something that I truly loved and I committed to it, they’d be fully behind me, even if it meant I’d never be that lawyer/doctor/orchestral musician they’d of loved me to be. Ha.

While there’s been the odd bit of stupidity, I’ve tried to follow that approach and want to continue doing it even though the needs of my beautiful son now become a driving factor in our decisions … but contrary to what many may think, there is no plan and there has never has been a plan … and while I accept I’ve been very fortunate in so much I’ve done, those 12 words finally let me feel I’m not an idiot for choosing this path and I hope it helps the countless other people I know who are going through life looking without really knowing what they’re looking for, other than to feel that they have lived and that they have mattered – whether that’s to many or to just one.

Have a great weekend.

Everyone Is An Expert …
September 29, 2016, 6:20 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Babies, Empathy, Family, Fatherhood, Jill, Mum, Mum & Dad, My Fatherhood, Otis, Parents

So this is going to be a weird post, but it’s an important one.

You see a few weeks ago, my wife wrote this …

“As I nursed my baby into toddlerhood I noticed a shift in the messages from outside voices. From supportive and encouraging in the newborn days to surprised, questioning or doubtful once he was a walking, talking toddler.

I like to think that most people want to help with their comments or advice, maybe they worry that our ‘extended’ nursing could somehow impact negatively on my son, after all, it’s not what most people do… Dependence seems to be something a lot of them are concerned about.

I want to show them how my beautiful, sweet, spirited, glorious little boy greets the world (and taxi drivers) with a wide smile or a cheeky ‘Ni Hao!’… how he chants ‘run, run!’ as his still chubby legs stride ever faster down little hills … how he bops and boogies to every kind of music, at every opportunity, in every environment … how he sometimes forgets to even look back to find me because he’s exploring his amazing, ever expanding world … but I guess they’re not completely wrong about him being dependent on me.

He depends on me for comfort, safety, security & connection when he’s sad or tired or hurt or frustrated or overwhelmed. As long as nursing provides this place of refuge for my precious boy I’m ecstatic I can be there for him. So I want those out there who question or doubt or suspect to know, we’re doing great thanks, our version of dependence is exactly as it should be …”

OK … OK … so she writes much better than me, but the fact is, I have been shocked how many people feel they have a right to be a judge on my sons upbringing just because they have their own child.

I accept most of them do it in a well-intentioned way [and fortunately, most of our friends have said, “the best rule to parenting is to only follow your rules and ignore everyone else”] but there has been more than a few – often relative strangers – who have used a judgemental tone or look when they’ve discovered we don’t agree with letting our son ‘cry himself to sleep’, let alone play with dolls or dance whenever music is on.

But here’s the big thing …

Given 50% of Otis is from me, the fact he is turning out to be such an amazing, wonderful little boy means it is 100% down to how Jill.

What she wrote is not an attempt to say ‘our way is the right way’, the purpose of it is to remind people that we have the right to decide what is the right way for us.

But what I find even more amazing is that given how well Otis is turning out, those who challenge our approach are trying to find fault in perfection … so I’d just like them to do me a favour and be an expert on their children, rather than other people’s, though this ‘know when to talk and know when to shut up’ could apply to far more than just raising children as I am sure many of you can appreciate.

Lets All Laugh At The People Having A Terrible Time …

So writing a post this topical is a new experience for me, but I saw an ad being posted over and over again on social media this past weekend and I had to write about it.

This is the ad …

Now I admit, when I first saw it, I smiled and thought it was mildly humourous and then I realised what I was looking at was a company being massively exploitative and basically horrible.

This airline is using the break-up of a family … a family involving 6 kids … as an opportunity to try and flog their airline tickets.

Think about that for a moment.

Sure, the parents involved in the ad are huge celebrities … but does that give a company the right to literally piss on their pain for their own gain?

I don’t think so.

Imagine if someone did that to you in your moment of sadness.

Your marriage breaks up.

You lose your job.

A loved one dies.

I pretty much doubt you’d let a family member make a joke like that, let alone a total stranger.

Of course the marketing community will say I’m being a miserable old bastards and say this is a great example of being a ‘challenger brand’ or ‘cultural hijacking’ but that’s because a lot of the marketing community are a bunch of empathy devoid fucks who don’t know what the hell they are talking about.

Most of my career has been connected to challenger brands – and I’ve done more than my share of cultural hijacking – but I’ve never done work where I used an individual persons tragedy to big my client up … especially when my client and the individuals involved have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

Is taking the piss out of companies who have done wrong, fair game?


Is taking the piss out of people who have a reputation for a particular behaviour fair game?

Maybe … in very specific circumstances.

But even if the CEO of Hitler Industries endured a personal tragedy, I would never advocate using that as a platform to flog some airline tickets because if you have no empathy or standards, why do you think anyone should have it towards you.

Imagine if a Swedish Airline ran this ad after the terrible 2011 massacre in Norway:

Do you think Norwegian Airlines would be happy?

Do you think they’d say it was unprofessional and in terrible, terrible taste?

I am pretty sure they would, but it seems that rule would only apply if it concerns their wellbeing.


Of course some will say, “but the ad’s worked because people are talking about it” … but there’s 2 responses to that.

1. Awareness doesn’t mean effectiveness.

Given the ad is all about trying to flog some tickets to the US, it can only be deemed successful if they sold out. [And even that is open to intreptation given they may have only put a few tickets on ‘sale prices’ to justify the ad]

2. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.


I know you may think I’m going on and on about this, but if this kind of work becomes acceptable, where does the line get drawn?

More than that, if this sort of work becomes your baseline, what do you think people will think of you?

Sure, they may find you amusing, but does that mean they will want to give you their money.

Many years ago I was working with a big global consumer electronics brand that kept talking about wanting to do ads using Mr Bean because of the shows popularity in their market.

It was only when we pointed out that while people may like Mr Bean, how many would trust his advice to spend US$10,000 on a television.

I get the first rule for communication is to get noticed … but if revelling in others misery or misfortune becomes your schtick, then don’t start crying when people start turning on you. Just look at GREY FOR GOOD if you want more proof of that happening.

Same But Different … And Not In A Good Way

A long time ago, there was a report that claimed the only thing the general public thought was lower than being an ‘advertising executive’ was being a used car salesman.

Well, judging by this letter in The Guardian newspaper, there is good news and bad news as regards how things have changed.

The ‘good’ is there is another industry group deemed lower than us/me.

The ‘bad’ is it appears used car salesman have leapfrogged us in the distain charts.

Which begs the question, how the hell do you stay exactly the same and yet still end up worse?

Only advertising has the answer …

It’s pretty damning isn’t it?!

I can’t help but feel my Dad would be in total agreement with it too.

I’m utterly petrified for the day Otis asks me the same sort of question.

What do I say?

Do I reframe it so he won’t hate me?

Do I tell him the truth so he hates me, but maybe respects my honesty?

Do I just start talking about Birkenstocks and hope he forgets what he asked?

I honestly don’t know … so I’m relying on the fact that at 46, the ad industry will soon kick me to the curb so I can be a part-time receptionist at a used car garage and make him proud.

Ironically, I’d actually really like to do that job too.

The Boobs Have Arrived … [This Is Not As Rude As It May Appear]

For anyone who thought my post last week about Titty&Co was a pisstake …

I cannot wait for the launch of their mens retailers, Bollocks&Brothers.