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


Fashion Victim …
May 4, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Fashion, Friendship

When you look at the title of that post, it can only be one of 2 things.

I’m going to write about people who are slaves to the latest trends.
I’m going to write about how tragic my fashion tastes are.

Well you’d be wrong on both counts because I’m going to write about integrity.

You see a while back, I was told I was going to receive a sweatshirt that was apparently ‘made for me’.

The design was this …

OK, so it says Birmingham instead of Nottingham [though I appreciate ‘heavy metal’ was supposedly born in Brum] but yeah, I get it …

I was born in 1970.

I like heavy metal.

I work for a band that are masters of heavy metal.

It was pretty nice so I said thank you and waited.

A few weeks later I received a package.

The weather in Auckland is just starting to turn into Autumn, so the slightly colder days meant the timing of a warm sweatshirt was perfect.

So imagine my surprise when I opened the package and saw this …

Leonardo Dibloodycaprio.

And it was at that moment it all made sense.

The evil, piss-taking, lying bastards.

Bloody geniuses …

And while they were all no doubt pissing themselves back at home thinking they’d got me, the reality is I ended up having the last laugh.

Because not only is it cosy as hell, it’s still more stylish and fashionable than anything I have in my wardrobe … so in their attempt to take the piss, they’ve inadvertently made a more suave – and warm – version of myself.

Though I admit I do get strange looks when I wear it outside.



How To Bite The Hand That Feeds You …

The management team at Metallica asked me a while back if I’d give a presentation to a bunch of music execs about ‘artist strategy’.

They said they wanted me to explain how I work with them, how I approach my job and what some of the work we have done together has manifested itself into.

So I pulled a presentation together, took them through it – got their nods of approval – and prepared for the talk.

When the time came, I found myself on zoom at 12am Auckland time … presenting to 200 odd record/band executives in London, NY and Nashville.

Despite looking so tired I probably resembled a Zombie, all went very well and I was happy to answer questions.

One of the people in attendance asked how much ‘power’ I have over the artists actions and decisions.

Despite the reality being absolute zero – and, nor should I have any – I replied that I had a hidden slide that could best explain my influence, to which I showed them this …

At least I found it funny.

And – to be fair to me – it’s a fair reflection of the actual power I have over the band.

Though I appreciate I probably have just sent myself to the ‘where are they now’ dungeon … even though I’m going to try and justify it by saying nothing is more rock n’ roll that smashing up your career. Ahem.

Thank you Q and M for not just putting up with me, but still involving me in this stuff.

My wife has ‘had words’ with me regarding my professionalism. Ahem.



Confidence Is Spelt Beverley …

There’s a lot of talk about confidence.

People who have it.
People who think they have it.
People who don’t have it… but think they do.

The reality is confidence ends up being defined in two parts … the person who thinks they have it and the person judging them if they do.

And while there is always that risk that someone could come over as arrogant, there is something glorious when you watch someone with it in full swing.

Someone who you know has sweated for their craft and skill.
Who has the control and power to achieve at a level few will ever reach.
An individual who never phones it in, even if they could and still be exceptional.

I recently saw a video of the singer Beverley Knight perform the Stones classic, Satisfaction.

It is breathtaking.

Truly breathtaking.

The first time I watched it, I actually cried – it’s that powerful and joyous at the same time.

And while Jeff Goldblum is losing his mind as he watches her – which is beautiful to watch – you know she knows exactly what she’s doing … exactly how she’s impressing and exactly where and when she is showing off.

But it’s not an ego-play … this is simply someone who cares about giving their all. That believes they have a responsibility to themselves to never phone it in. Who wants to show just how good she is … and that is exactly how it comes over.

She’s fierce, audacious and talented as hell … backed by a band who create a platform for her that is more like a catwalk of sonic celebration.

Confidence can be misused.
Confidence can be delusional.
But when it’s real, justified and powerful … you just have to sit back and enjoy it, because it’s something special indeed.

Watch this.

More inspirational news …

I go on my first business trip in 2 years so there’s no more blog posts THIS WHOLE WEEK.

It’s a weird feeling knowing I’m getting back on a plane for work. I used to fly over hundred times a year for pretty much the last 20 years, and yet this 2 year gap has left me feeling very comfortable at home. Maybe that’s more because it represented ‘safety’ in a COVID world but the idea of starting again has really conflicted me. Not for you though … you get 4 days of peace … so have fun and see you next Monday.



Principles Cost Something …
April 21, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, America, Politics

A long time ago, I watched a documentary called, This Divided State.

It’s very old … but it’s about the University of Utah inviting Michael Moore to speak at a student organised event.

There is uproar.

Students are divided.
Parents are incensed.
And the university is sued.

What makes things even weirder is that the other speaker – Fox News Hypeman and false news peddler, Sean Hannity – is allowed to come and spout his rubbish without so much as a turn of the head.

It’s a brilliant example of how politics in America is not based on issues and solutions, but tribal blinkered loyalty … where you stick with your party through thick and thin and view anyone who acknowledges the opposition has a good point is a traitor.

This is the trailer:

The reason I write this is because I recently saw the modern day equivalent of this situation.

Again in Utah.

Spencer Cox, the 18th Governor of Utah, was recently asked to pass a vote on trans rights,

Given how many people hated Michael Moore coming to their local university to ‘corrupt’ the kids minds, it’s no surprise that [1] they are a deeply republican state and [2] many don’t agree with trans rights.

Which is why what Mr Cox did is incredible.

Because he voted against the bill.

Or – said another way – he voted against the will of his constituents.

But what I respect even more is his explanation on why he did that.

He doesn’t shy away from the unpopularity of his decision.
He doesn’t shy away from complicated this decision is.
He just explains the reality of the situation and that for the people this affects – the people often forgotten about in debates literally about them – it is about belonging, not disrupting.

I don’t know Spencer Cox.

I don’t like much his party represents.

But I do know that by doing this, he is a politician who is actually doing what his job is supposed to be about – which is represent ALL the people in his state, not just those who voted republican.

Let’s hope the republican voters of Utah and the senior figures in his party don’t view him as the enemy for that. Sadly, history suggests they will.



Why Longevity Is About Commitment, Not Expectation …

I recently read an article about footballers who continue to ply their trade in the Premiership despite being in their mid 30’s.

The key takeout was that talent might be able to get you to 17 … but it’s character and commitment that gets you to 35.

It was an interesting view, because there’s a lot of parallels with the ad industry.

Let’s be honest, this industry doesn’t like older people.

We’re expensive.
We’re not willing to work the insane hours it likes us to work.
We’re not as connected to society as our younger colleagues.
We’re all a bit cynical about the claims and promises.

Of course, there is a counter-argument, that these are exactly the sort of attributes the ad industry needs more of.

Experience.
Balance.
Understanding.
Pragmatism.

But what bothers me most is the blanket belief that if you’re not in senior management by a certain age, you have nothing to add. That your value is only in managing the business rather than adding to the creativity.

I wrote about how shortsighted this view was ages ago … reinforced by how much I loved Wieden looked for the creativity in the person rather than the age.

Which leads to my point about footballers.

One of the biggest problems when you’re older is people expect you to know it all.

Of course, some people think they do, but there’s this undercurrant that you should.

So any ‘failure’ is seen as a sign of no longer being appropriate.
Any ‘disagreement’ is viewed as a sign you are not a ‘team player’.
And ‘curiorsity’ gets labelled as trying ‘too hard’.

And yet these say far more about the person judging than the person doing it.

Because in my experience, a failure means a willingness to keep pushing boundaries.
Disagreements don’t mean you’re not a team player, you’re someone who wants the team to be better.
And curiosity is a demonstration you want to play an active role in culture rather than just let it pass you by.

Not to mention the declaration of desire.

Because anyone who chooses to keep pushing their standards and knowledge when they could be choosing an easier path is showing just how much they still want it. Especially when the odds are even greater of them ever achieving it, compared to those younger than them.

For me, these are the advertising equivilent of the footballers character and commitment.

Or said another way …

It’s someone who can keep pace with the needs of the team, while adding to the standards and success of it.

Keeping pace is not simply about speed, but relevance, ambition and creativity.

Of course age doesn’t shouldn’t have anything to do with this – I have met just as many younger people without it as much as I have older – but character and commitment does.

And while there is nothing wrong if you don’t subscribe to this, if companies only measure ‘talent’ by age … they’re not just stupid, they’re showing that they don’t actually care about creativity, just the cliche of it.