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

Anyone Can Be A Billionaire. Apparently.

Have a look at this …

According to Inc, the secret to becoming a billionaire is simply doing one thing.


But what could that one thing be?

They talk about J.K. Rowling … so is the one thing writing a collection of wonderful books around a single character that became their version of the Bible for a new generation?

Well it can’t be that because it would mean there would be only one billionaire in the whole wide world and given I personally know 3 [albeit in the sense I know them and they try to deny they know me] that means that can’t be right.

So what is it?

What is the single thing that links JK Rowling – who, apparently, isn’t a billionaire anymore – Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Jay-Z and Mackenzie Bezos to name but a few?

Well, according to the worst clickbait article since anything on the Daily Mail, they – wait for it – backed themselves.

Yep … that’s it.

That simple.

Have an idea … ignore the doubters … don’t sell any percentage to any other partner or party and watch the billions roll in.

Now to be fair, independence is a key element to success.

The moment you sell any part of your company, the purpose of your purpose is no longer in your hands.

But independence alone doesn’t guarantee you will become a billionaire …

Dan Wieden may be extraordinarily rich and has been insanely vocal about keeping Wieden independent, but he’s not at billionaire status whereas Phil Knight – who is – has done it while NIKE shares can be bought by anyone, anywhere.

This article is everything I hate …

It has cherry picked stories to reinforce their blatantly flawed argument, which means either they’re stupid or they think their readers are.

Yes it is important to back yourself.

Yes it helps if you own the rights to what you do.

But even before this, is the need for an idea … something you believe in that is expressed in a way others have not seen or achieved.

That’s maybe the most important bit and even then, it doesn’t – contrary to what Inc implies – guarantee success.

As I said, I somehow know a few billionaires and while they absolutely had an idea they backed, they still had to overcome a huge amount of barriers and obstacles. Some did it on their own … some did it with outside help … but the reality is their success is not down to a single thing, but a combination of a good idea, excellent timing, a dollop of luck, some belief and support from an external party [whether that was vocal or financial] and an ability to achieve distribution on a mass scale, in a relatively short period of time.

The reality is it’s not easy to become a billionaire.

If it was, we’d all be doing it and then being a billionaire would not be rich, it would be average.

To suggest anything otherwise is utterly ridiculous.

In fact it’s damaging …

I know a bunch of brilliant people who have fantastic ideas who will never make billions out of them. Hell, some may not even make hundreds.

Not because they’re not smart or business savvy, but because the path to success is down to many factors and even then, depends on how and when it happens and the hope the goalposts don’t change for the time you have your opportunity.

But then there’s those who don’t do what they do for the financial goal.

They don’t equate success with how much money they make from their idea.

For them, success is the ability to simply do what they believe in … whether that’s full-time or as a hobby.

But imagine if they were to take the bullshit Inc are spouting on face value?

Suddenly they would feel that regardless what they do or why they do it, they have fundamentally failed.

That somehow they didn’t back themselves enough.

That their wealth is a public display of tripped up.

They won’t, because they’re smart, but what it means is that while Inc [and their ridiculous clickbait] may think they are the friends of entrepreneurs, their actions and attitude show they are the absolute opposite of it.

When Distinction Ends Up Being The Same …

Once upon a time, endlines meant something.

They were distinct, explained a brands value or purpose.

And more often than not, were packed with personality.

Then Dan Wieden fucked it up for everyone.

You see his famous JUST DO IT became the benchmark for all brands.

Marketing Directors craved a line that summed up who they were in 3 words.

The number of words was more important than what it said … which is why you now get this …

What a pile of shite.

Bland, contrived, sameness …

Literally doing the opposite of what it is supposed to do.

Designed to appeal to the ego of the board rather than the hearts of the audience.

All because we have fallen into the trap of believing simplistic equates to effectiveness.

It doesn’t.

Simple might do … but simplistic is the lowest common denominator that requires zero thinking because it makes zero impression.

It’s why I sit here and can remember endlines from my childhood more easily than end lines I watched 10 minutes ago.

Handmade by Robots … for Fiat.

Refreshes the other parts other beers can’t reach … for Heineken.

Do you love someone enough to give them your last Rolo … for, ahem, Rolo.

Of course there’s a few modern endlines that work … GoPro’s ‘Be A Hero’ for example [though they went and fucked it up by changing it to utter blandom] … but in the main, companies seems to like endlines that sound like they know what they’re doing but don’t really say much at all.

At cynic we used to call these ‘Yoda Statements’, but what is even scarier is consultants are being paid a fortune to come up with this sort of twaddle.

That’s right, companies who claim to know how to help business grow are coming up with statements that literally make companies blend into everything else.

And yet they still are valued more highly by clients that companies who know how to push, provoke, inspire and capture the imagination of culture through creativity.

If anything tells you how mad the World is, surely one of them is that.

Research Is Great …

I heard a great story recently about the iconic movie, Die Hard.

Apparently in early test groups, viewers were confused why the lead character was pitched as a hero when he “keeps hiding and calling for help”.

I must admit, I laughed out loud when I heard this … mainly because it was a viewpoint that I don’t think I would have ever come up with, even if I was working on it 24/7 for a year.

It also probably says more about where the minds of American men were back when the movie came out than anything else.

And while learning this has ensured I will never watch the movie in the same way again, it does highlight the best and worst of focus groups.

I must admit I’m not a fan of this approach.

To be fair, it’s less the methodology and more about how clients are using what they find/hear.

Treating it as undeniable fact … something that needs to be followed to the letter.

But the reality is focus groups are – at best – a guide, rather than a blueprint.

Factors like group dynamics, vacuum thinking and the focus on answers, not understanding all combine to ensure there are a number of major flaws with this approach, and yet some blindly believe this is pathway to success.


To be fair, I feel this way about pretty much all research methodologies.

Not because I’m a prick, but because context and dynamics continually shape our viewpoints and behaviours, which is why I don’t like relying on one form of research but a combination of different kinds … as long as one is spent out in culture, talking … listening … learning from the way the core of subcultures live.

Not just in terms of the specific thing we are working on, but life in general.

The language.

The associations.

The labels they use.

The pressures, laughter, fears and concerns …

Clothes … music … games … hashtags … iconography …

Their thoughts about situations not just their reactions or behaviours …

What they’ve started doing rather than what they’ve always done … the ‘edge effect’ that Martin and I talked about in our Cannes talk on Chaos last year.

But that approach is still seen as the exception rather than the rule.

Interacting with real life is still viewed as a novelty rather than a reality.

Which is why, if you have to use research, I like the way Dreamworks does it.

They don’t care about what people think about their stories or characters … they don’t give a shit about the highs or lows or things they’d change, they ask just one simple question …

Were you entertained?

That’s it.

It’s the only thing that matters to them.

Simple. Focused. Clear.

Because while they want people to enjoy what they do, they don’t want people to decide what they do …

Sure, they listen to what is said.

Sure, they sometimes decide to make changes based on what is said.

But they never do what they don’t agree with because you can’t steer a ship to port when you have a thousand captains all telling you where to go.

There’s a lot of people who could learn from this.

And I don’t just mean clients …

Marcus Brown …

For all the shit I get on this blog, it has served me well.

I’ve learned things.

I’ve been put right on things.

I’ve learned my view on things can drastically change over the years.

But one thing I treasure most of all – even more than the daily abuse I cop – is how this blog has brought new people into my life.

One of those is Marcus Brown.

I’ve known Marcus for over 10 years.

It all started when he stupidly wrote a comment on this blog.

And while I’ve only ever met him once – last year – we have talked a lot via email and video.

I think he would agree that we have both experienced some personal highs and lows over the years we have known each other – because life works like that – but through it all Marcus has kept me entertained and on my toes with his infectious, brilliant, madness.

I don’t mean that in a mean way.

In fact, it’s the highest compliment I can give.

Hell, I can’t think of many people who could inspire me to make a crowd of ad students say hello to Sacrum, a character he created or contribute to iPod singing … another idea he brought to life.

Marcus is one of those people, everyone roots for.

He’s creative, dynamic, full of character and compassion … which is why I was so consistently disappointed an industry that talks about valuing creativity consistently overlooked or devalued his talent.

Without going into too much detail, I know this affected Marcus as well.

He had so much he had to offer … so much he wanted to do … but time and time again, his creativity was challenged or questioned. Not from the perspective of wanting to understand things more clearly, but from devaluing what he had to offer.

Which is why the last few years have been so rewarding.

For him … and for me, watching him.

Because Marcus has found his voice … his purpose … his calling.

He proudly calls himself a Performance Artist … because that’s what he is.

Don’t take my word for it, even Forbes – the business magazine – says so.

But not all is quite as it seems.

You see while Marcus is indeed a Performance Artist, he’s also an author.

You see he has written a book called ‘A Wicked Pack of Cards’.

And it’s brilliant.

I’m not saying this because I’m kinda in it [He stupidly asked me to write a review, which is the pic at the top of this post] but because it makes you think, imagine, feel and question.

It’s one of those books that you think about well after you’ve finished it …

I loved it and I fully encourage people to experience it for themselves.

You can buy it here.

Which brings me back to this blog …

You see, by continuously writing my rubbish, I’ve been able to meet and follow people I would otherwise never have known.

In Marcus’ case, I’ve been able to see how life has changed for a talented, kind, generous man. Where once his life was full of challenges, now it is bursting with happiness … from the love of his life to the time of his life … and I can think of few people who deserve it more.

Watching him create, invent, stretch his boundaries and being prolific in his expression is both inspiring and exciting which is why I can’t wait to see what his mind gets up to next.

Father Pride …

Being a Dad is awesome.

It’s hard work, but you get so much more than you put in.

I’d like to think I’m a good Dad … I certainly want to be.

But then I saw this father and I realised I am rubbish.

Frankly, ‪I wish I could be this dedicated as him.

Actually, I wish I could be this dedicated to anything.

Adland once defined creativity for the masses, but nowadays most of them are playing catch-up to the creativity of culture.

Including Dads.

Like this one.

Sorry Otis.