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

After Winter, Life Grows Again. ( ‘A Year After Redundancy’)

A year ago tomorrow, I was made redundant.

Well, I was told the week before, but tomorrow marks a year since my last day at R/GA.

While I wrote a long post at the time about how positive I was about the whole thing – especially that it was happening to me rather than a junior or a woman or a Person of Colour who normally get impacted by these sorts of decisions – it still blows my mind how well things have turned out for me and my family.

Part of the reason I was so optimistic was because I knew I was going to shout about my redundancy from the rooftops. Hell, even the Guardian wrote about me doing it.

Despite what some on here may think, this was not because I wanted to appear in a national newspaper … oh no, it was for far more practical reasons.

The first was that the more people knew I was available, the more chances I’d have of being considered for work. I mean … come on. I work in advertising, what else was I going to do?

However the second – and possibly more important reason – was I hated how many people felt some sort of shame for finding themselves in this situation.

Shit happens – especially during a global pandemic – so to carry that burden in addition to all the other stuff they have to deal with must make the pressure they’re dealing with unbelievably destructive. I would not wish that on anyone … no one at all. And while I was treated fairly, what makes these situations even worse is that some companies actively encourage people they’ve let go to feel this way … simply because it encourages them to stay silent about what’s happened which lets the company act to clients and the market that everything is fine and dandy when it obviously isn’t.

So my thinking was that by owning my situation publicly, it may help burst this corporately induced shame and reinforce there is nothing to be embarrassed about … especially as the situation ultimately has nothing to do with you – and everything to do with them – even if some companies try to suggest otherwise.

But there was also another reason for my optimism.

Potentially a stupid one.

And that was the last time this situation happened to me, it led to one of the most fruitful and creative periods of my career and I wondered/hoped/mused if lighting could strike twice.

Despite turning 50 [rather than the last time, where I was 35] it amazingly did.

Now I absolutely appreciate how lucky I am.

I also appreciate there are a lot of factors that contributed to this luck.

From the openness of my family to move countries for the 4th time in 4 years … to the wide range of contacts I’d gained thanks to having lived all around the World … to the fact I’m a white male so ‘unfair advantage’ was baked into my career DNA from the very beginning.

But even with all that, the life I now live is in many ways – or at least in many parts – unrecognisable to the one I had when I was let go from R/GA a year ago

From the work I’ve done and do.
To the clients/bands/billionaires I’ve done it for and do it for.
To the immensely talented people I’ve worked with and work with.
To the country I now call home.

Hell, I even managed to get hired and fired by the Red Hot Chili Peppers in that time.

It’s bonkers.

And while I enjoyed my time at R/GA and am grateful for the experience, I’m happier now.

They probably are too … hahaha.

That said, I miss my gang.

Lachlan, Nic, Rach, Anna, Joel, Amar, Erika, Laureen, Bassot, Ed, Hannah, Megan, Nicole, Divya, Arda, Amelia, Severine, Marissa, Insa, Toby, Ben … and the others who helped make my time – and the gang – so much fun, including Anne, Valia, Eduardo and Michael.

What a wonderful bunch of beautifully talented misfits they were/are.

Always demanding … debating … provoking … and making me smarter because of it.

Then again … given all but a couple of them have moved to do other interesting, weird, infamous and famous things, it means that even if I was still there, they wouldn’t be.

Or maybe they would. [Cue mischievous laugh. Hahahaha]

But the point of this post is not just to celebrate a year since a weird day in July … it’s a reminder that life is always changing, moving, evolving and progressing.

However bad a situation may be, it does not mean it will always be that way … even if it feels like it is.

And if anyone worries they are the exception, I want you to know I am here to chat.

Not to convince you you’re wrong.

Or try to solve your problems.

But to listen.

Because not everyone has that and not only is that important … sometimes that’s the first step to getting stronger.

Not to self-reflect or gain enlightenment … but to vent, bitch, moan, complain.

The things some people try to make you feel guilty for wanting to express or think, even though the real reason is because it makes them feel uncomfortable rather than it being bad for you.

And it absolutely is not bad for you.

At least in small doses.

Because as we all know, the first thing you do to treat a scrape is to cleanse the wound … so if anyone thinks this would be useful to you, please know I would be happy to give you a safe space to be your worst without judgement or expectation.

Because the worst times don’t last.

They just feel they do.

So thank you R/GA, I will always be grateful for what you did for me.

Especially on July 10th 2020.

You can reach me here.

Sometimes, Life Has A Way To Remind You How Beautifully Random It Is …

I appreciate the title of this post is scarily Oprahesque, but hang in there.

When you get to my age, you can feel all the surprises of life have passed you by.

OK, thanks to Otis I get to experience a bit of it through him, but generally – there’s a feeling all the weird and wonderful has gone.

Well how wrong I am.

A few weeks ago, I went to some black tie event in Auckland.

Given I don’t own a black tie and even if I did, I couldn’t have worn it because my stuff [at the time of writing this] still hasn’t arrived from the UK – I went in exactly what I would wear anyway … a jeans and a hoodie.

Little did I know that this event would prove to be one I’d remember forever.

As I walked into the venue [where security asked if I was at the right place – hahaha] I was met by a mass of beautiful people in beautiful clothes … as witnessed by the photo at the top of this post.

And as you can see from this photo, it was utterly packed …

At some point in the evening, I felt a tap on my shoulder.

I turned around to hear a man say he had to talk to the person not in the black tie.

He wasn’t saying it to be nasty, it was a genuine sense of curiosity.

But that didn’t matter, because there was something far more interesting to me.


I know.

I fucking know.

If you gave me a trillion guesses of who I might meet in a business conference in Auckland, New Zealand … I still wouldn’t have said Noel bloody Edmonds.

I didn’t even know he lived in NZ.

But he does.

And he was at this event.

And he wanted to say hello to the weirdo in the Anti Social Social Club hoodie.

What’s hilarious was he was genuinely shocked when I knew who he was.

Not as shocked as I was that he has literally not changed.

As I told him, I used to watch him on Swap Shop as a kid and here he was, 60 odd years later looking exactly the same.

It was one of the most bizarre and random events of my life … and I include the time the singer Pink told me she liked my Def Leppard Christmas jumper in LA.

But wait … there’s more.

Because if meeting Noel Edmonds wasn’t enough, I then got to meet NZ PM, Jacinda Arden.

OK, maybe it was less of a surprise to see her at a NZ business award thing … but I can tell you she was surprised when I ignored all protocol and just did what every other person in the room wanted to do but didn’t – which was go up to her, interrupt her conversation and tell her she’s ace and could she be PM of the UK.

Amazingly her security didn’t arrest me.

They didn’t even stop me.

Instead, she held my hand and gave me a hug. A HUG!!!!

Seriously, as evenings go, this was definitely a bit bonkers.

But wait … there’s more.

No … seriously. There is.

Because then they announced one of the winners and it was James Cameron.

Terminator, Titanic and Avatar James Cameron.

OK, I knew he owned a place in NZ, but I didn’t realise he lived here.

I certainly never expected him to be where I was.

And while Noel and Jacinda were bloody lovely, Cameron came across as a bit of a twat who lacked all self awareness [which is probably what ex-wife, Linda Hamilton would also say] … but that aside, to be in a place on the other side of the world … in a pandemic … and randomly meet a UK childhood TV star, one of Hollywood’s most successful film directors and the best PM in the whole wide World reminded me of a lesson that’s kinda been the foundation of pretty much all I’ve ever done

When you’re open to everything, anything can happen.

Not All Heroes Wear Capes …

… but all idiots do idiotic things.

Yes … I know it’s daft.

Yes … I know it was potentially different.

But my god, these are the stupid things that makes this industry fun.

The weird, the wonderful, the daft and the ridiculous.

I get it – it’s unprofessional and immature – but it also connects and unites. Reminds people they’re not in a corporate job. Gives you memories that you still smile about years later.

I’ve seen, experienced – and probably engaged – in a bunch of stuff that represents this.

OK, there’s some I regret – and a couple I can never, ever tell – but the reality is no one ever got hurt and those moments helped create an environment where everyone felt there were no limits to what was possible.

Hell, one of those stupid moments led to an idea where we created a rollercoaster inside a house in Shanghai for Heineken.

And while I appreciate a bunch of you who read this will see it as some bullshit attempt justify acts of stupidity, seeing a plaque made for someone who swallowed a coin creates a much more inspiring and memorable place to work than the the painfully efficient, contrived and soulless, multi-agency brand buildings favoured by so many these days.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Probably me.

The Pointless Reveals The Most Important Things …

This is a plant in our office.

I have no idea who owns it.

I must admit I don’t even really like it.

But that sticker …

Oh I like that.

I like it a lot.

Sure, to some it may be stupid.

Or even disrespectful.

But to me, it shows a company where the people within it have a mischievously creative spirit. The sort who spot creative opportunities to do something people will notice, or relate to or just feel for a whole host of reasons.

In just a single word, they found a way to make anyone who sees that little sticker not just see a plant, but a hard-to-please, always demanding, never content, forever dissatisfied pain-in-the-ass plant diva.

In short, they gave a plant a personality.

In one word.

Yes I know I have a ‘history’ with dodgy stickers – and I also loved the time someone at Wieden Shanghai put the sticker ‘freedom’ next to the ground floor button in the lift [which was promptly taken down, probably by the same person who still goes mental when they discover another of my Wieden leaving stickers hidden somewhere in the building despite me having left years ago, hahahaha] … but I particularly love this one.

I love someone thought it was worth doing.

I don’t care they may have given it no thought whatsoever – in fact that makes me like it more – because it’s those little, pointless things that reveals the most important thing you could ever want to know about an agency.

Are you entering a place that has a culture of creativity or a business that sells efficiency processes under the label of creativity?

A Year On From A Half Century …

This time last year, I was writing about how I only had 11 days left of my 40’s.

That I would soon be reaching my ‘half century of age‘.

To say a lot has happened since then is an understatement.

A year ago, I was living in Fulham, working with R/GA and stuck in the first lockdown.

Since then, I have gone through redundancy, bought a beautiful family home in the countryside, watched Forest fuck up the best chance for promotion that they’ve had in 20 years, been in The Guardian newspaper, got ‘The Hoff’ to make a video for my beloved Paul’s big 5-0 birthday, started Uncorporated with Metallica’s management … worked with even more rockstars and billionaires … as well as some fashion icons, music producer legends and the most anticipated video game in history … bought a house in New Zealand that we never saw, moved to New Zealand in the middle of a pandemic, started working at the wonderful Colenso and got to see my family start living a ‘normal’ life again.

And that’s just the big bits.

So here we are again.

The beginning of the month of my birthday.

I hope to fuck this year is not as traumatic.

I’m fine with the variety, but please, not as traumatic.