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

The Delicious Taste Of Stubborness …

Years ago I wrote about how standards are driven – and protected – by stubbornness.

Well recently I heard a great story about the man who started the sauce company, Si Racha, who embraces this value.

David Tran arrived in America in 1979 after fleeing Vietnam after the communist takeover.

He found himself living in LA with nothing but his passion for spicy food.

The Vietnamese are one of the most magical and industrial cultures on the planet so David decided to turn his love into an outlet and started making hot sauce in a bucket and selling it from his van.

The name Si Racha came from a Thai surf town where he liked the sauce.

[You thought that was the name of the sauce rather than the brand didn’t you?]

Anyway, David didn’t care about branding or advertising … he just focused on making the best sauce possible. And it worked, because word of it spread like wildfire and suddenly people were buying it in their droves and putting it on everything they ate.

Over time, David started partnering with local Asian restaurants & grocery stores … and more and more people got to experience it.

One day someone said his product was “too spicy” and suggested he adds a tomato base to sweeten it. His friends agreed, saying it would pair better with chicken. But this is where David’s stubbornness started to come through.

“Hot sauce must be hot… We don’t make mayonnaise here.”

Over time Si Racha has become a cult phenomenon.

Famous chefs talked about their love of it.
Obama talked about his love of it.
And in many ways, the sauce became a symbol of both the diversity in America and the opportunity of America … because here was an immigrant who pursued his dream despite all odds and succeeded.

Today, Sriracha sells over 20 million bottles per year, generates over $150 million in annual revenue and has made Tran a very rich man.

But rather than just produce more and more of the sauce to make more and more money, it’s production is strictly managed.

David is adamant on quality, so because Jalapenos have a short window for being at their optimum ripeness, he has created a production cycle where a year’s supply is executed in just 10 weeks.

Tran owns 100% of his company – which he named after the ship that brought him to the US.
He still works at his factory in Irwindale, California and he still wears the same blue shirt and hat every day.

But what I love most is his attitude towards why he so conscientiously and strictly makes his product …

“I don’t make hot sauce for money. I make money for hot sauce.”

We could all do with more David Tran’s.

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If A 1970’s Comedian And A Butcher Had A Baby …
April 27, 2023, 7:45 am
Filed under: Advertising, Comment

… they would open a shop and call it this …

No doubt if they were called out on it, they’d say “I don’t know what you mean, it’s because our meat is ‘well hung’ to preserve its quality”.

But we all know the truth. The juvenile truth.

Of course, the joke is on them … because by putting a meat cleaver on their logo, it makes men of a certain age wince and think if they shop there, they’ll all become versions of John Wayne Bobbitt and their crown jewels will be sold as chipolata’s to further damage their ego.

And yes, if you hadn’t guessed it, I couldn’t really be arsed to post something today.

Or maybe you hadn’t guessed because – let’s be honest – there’s not much difference between today’s post and the rubbish I’ve been churning out for 17 years.


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Live The Best Algorithm Life …

So I’m back.

I had a lovely time and Croatia is proper beautiful.

I know that’s a big call given I spent 2½ days there, the rest travelling, but it was.

God I miss travelling.

You’d think after almost 20 years of basically living on an airplane, I’d be over it … but there’s something so magical visiting new places and meeting new people.

Of course the environment is even more important – and COVID has shown we can do a lot without having to be in the same room – however being in another country and culture is a powerful and important experience. Especially given all the nationalistic bullshit going on … so having people engage with each other in different environments and geographies – rather than just stay in their own bubble – is probably better for the state of the World than just keeping to your own shores.

Nothing highlights this more than the paranoia regarding TikTok.

All apps are harvesting data, but because the parent company of TikTok is Chinese, governments and business are telling their employees they can’t have the app on their phone.

And yet TikTok, unlike other social media firms, have not – as far as I understand – been caught using the data in illegal ways. And even if they have, I am sure it’s no where near to the level of other companies that have been caught.

But here we go … the classic racism and prejudice towards China.

I know I’m biased.

I also know China has many issues.

But as I’ve said many times, the actions of other governments are equally as bad … they just hide it better, package it better [if that’s what you can call something as sick as Guantanamo Bay] or use the focus on China to distract people more convincingly.

Then there’s the fact some of the stuff the Chinese Government do get away with – and they do – is other politicians wet dream. Specifically the Republican and Tory parties.

Anyway, I don’t know what the problem is because as you can see from the photo above, if TikTok thinks I’m 15, then the data they’re harvesting is nothing to worry about.

Oh hang on, unless that’s my mental – not physical – age, and then we have a lot to worry about indeed.

Sorry for the rambling, jet lagged, post.

I wish I could say tomorrow will be better, but we all know it won’t be.

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Zdravo …

So tomorrow I am off to Croatia to do my Jerry Maguire talk.

That means there will be no posts from me until the 26th.

You lucky, lucky people.

I’ve never been to Croatia, so I’m looking forward to it.

Or I should until I checked the website of the festival and saw the names who will be in attendance and felt massive imposter syndrome … only cranked up to 11 when I saw I was a key note speaker.

Oh jeez.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, I’ll be presenting slides like this:

I know … I know … it sounds like the sort of inner-monologue you’d hear on an episode of Peep Show.

Worse, it sounds like the inner monologue of Mark AND Jez.

I’m doomed … but not a much as the audience in Croatia. Boom Tish.

Have a lovely time without me, see you – very jet-lagged – on the 26th.

[Unless I discover Zdravo doesn’t mean ‘hello’ in Croatian and I’m arrested for indecency]

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Don’t Let Work Cost You Who You Are …
April 14, 2023, 7:45 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Advertising, Attitude & Aptitude, Culture

There have been a few times in my life where I have felt my brain was full.


That to fit anything new in, meant I had to tip something out.

Obviously I now realise that the occasions I felt that way, my mental health was suffering.

Except I didn’t know about mental health back then.

No one did.

Oh I accepted I was stressed.

I appreciated my workload was out of control.

But I thought the only way to deal with it was to deal with it.

Late nights.
Over-consumption of bad food and cans of Diet Coke.
Pretend everything was OK.

Except it wasn’t.

My girlfriend at the time, Jill – now my wife, saw it and told me it was madness. I had to stop.

But I was in a job I didn’t feel I deserved to have … with a new company … in a new country that had zero understanding about work/life balance … in a new relationship where I had taken her from her home country to somewhere totally new where she knew no one … so I felt I needed to show my commitment and ability.

To Jill. To my new colleagues. To myself.

And the worst thing is, I managed to do just that.

I got through it.

Which meant I wrote the episode off as ‘stress’ and ‘workload’ and believed if it happened again, I could deal with it.

Which is exactly what I did.

Or should I say, I thought I did.

Because as I got older, I have felt the scars it left.

Sometimes hidden. Sometimes in plain sight.

And what I came to realise was it was so much more than stress and workload … but burnout.

Not just in terms of physical tiredness.

But mental and emotional.

I was cut adrift from who I was … where living was surviving.

No one should think they can’t take any more new information in.

No one should finish work at 3am and think it’s OK to be up 2 hours later.

No one should think a weekend without any work is uncomfortable.

No one should feel it’s wrong to say, “I need some help” or “I just can’t do this”.

Doesn’t matter if it’s for a month or a week … it’s just stupid.

Ironically, I owe a great deal of thanks to one of the worst clients I’ve ever worked with.

They worked for a major technology company and basically were a total prick.

Treated me like shit.

Demanding things. Expecting things, Dismissing things.

And while all my other clients were great and we were doing great things … this one sucked all the light out of everything. Almost revelled in doing it.

The breaking point came when he asked me to write up some things we had discussed and agreed on, then wrote an email saying it didn’t make sense and I wasn’t paying attention to his requirements … EVEN THOUGH IT WAS WHAT HE HAD SAID WORD FOR WORD.

Bear in mind, this was also the same person who asked me to present to a room full of his team only to tell a colleague of mine that no one spoke English – so it was simply for their amusement.

I had words with them then.

But this time I snapped.

I rang Jill and told her to pack a bag for us, grab our passports and meet me at the office.

I then met Jill downstairs where we went straight to the airport and boarded a plane to Australia where we spent 5 days away from everyone and everything.

I didn’t even tell work until we landed in Sydney and even then it was via an email – including a bunch of evidence of how I, and the agency, had been treated.

Now you may think this is where I tell you I was sacked.

But I wasn’t … because the CEO was – and remains – an absolutely brilliant human.

He was pissed off … but at the client for acting that way and at me for not telling them about it.

And he dealt with them so I felt OK to come back.

What’s interesting is while you may think I would feel embarrassed by my response, I didn’t.

If anything, I felt euphoric.

Oh I’m sure people were talking behind my back, but I didn’t care … because I’d survived.

It had taken too long.

I’d suffered more than I knew.

But I’d survived.

Ironically, it is only relatively recently that I grasped how terrible it was that I felt good about ‘surviving’, when no job should ever make you feel that way.

The only positive of this whole situation was it had such a profound affect on me that I vowed I’d never allow it to happen to me – or others who work with me – again. And I haven’t. Whether a company or client … receiving money for a service doesn’t equate to ownership of your opinions, self-worth or life, it equates to doing what you have been paid to do in a respectful, conscientious, considerate and honest manner.

That’s it.

And if anyone thinks differently – and there’s a lot of those who do – then they’re wrong, regardless how much they try to shift the blame.

Last year I wrote about depression.

I said that while I appreciate the privilege I have being able to talk openly about this – mainly because I am an old white man so any ramifications will still be far less than if I was a woman, a person of colour, non-binary, a member of the LGBTQ+ community or just younger in age – I hoped by doing it, it may normalise it in some way.

That’s why I’m writing this.

No one is immune from mental health challenges.

To have people feel they can’t acknowledge or discuss their situation doesn’t make it go away.

In fact it makes it worse.

There’s countless stories on Corporate Gaslighting that show that.

Which is why if anyone out there feels they’re in a situation where they don’t know how or who to talk to … or suspect they may be entering this cycle and want to talk it out … or are in a situation where they can’t afford to leave their job but their mental health can’t afford to stay … please drop me a line. I am not qualified to help. But I would be very happy to listen.

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