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

Why The Best Dramas Are More Documentary Than Fiction …

For all the claims TV is dead, we’ve been living through a golden age of it.

Nothing sums that up more than Succession.

What a total masterpiece.


All absolutely stellar.

I am genuinely sad it is all done.

I am also convinced Jesse Armstrong is a genuine storytelling genius.

Obviously lots of praise has been rightfully heaped on the show, but I think Peter Friedman – who played Frank in the show – sums it up best …

“There’s been a degree of excellence that one should be wistful about, because I don’t know how soon each of us will find it again.”

Now I’ve had time to relax from the intensity of the final ever episode … I’ve realised there are certain characteristics that connect Succession to the few shows of it’s stature – for example, something like The Wire.

Attention to detail.

The need for the viewer to pay close attention.

The ugly truth of everyday reality.

For all the ‘twists and turns’ the show took you on, nothing should really have been a surprise. It was all laid out in-front of you when you looked at the character of the characters.

The greed.
The arrogance.
The ambition.
The ego.

HBO went to great lengths to understand how this manifests in real life by working with people who are genuinely from these backgrounds.

For example, no one wears a coat because billionaires are always delivered right to the door of where they are going. And no one bends down when leaving a helicopter, because they have spent their life traveling in them that no one fears for their head being chopped off by the rotor blades.

Little things we may not notice but somehow conveys authenticity through actions and behaviours.

It’s why I found Roman’s breakdown towards the end of the series so powerful.


Watching him fall apart as he realises the person who enabled his arrogant … vulgar … depraved consequence free life is no longer there, was incredible. A car crash of character that you could not take your eyes off that somehow also ignited sympathy you never thought he deserved. And then the final moment … where you witness him recognising that he’s not just free from the bullshit that has fed his life and his vacuous meaning, but that he is finally a true equal with his siblings because of their shared ultimate failure.

It was inspiring.

The whole thing was depressingly inspiring.

And I’ll tell you why … because it was all based on an ugly reality we all know but choose to ignore, and that is the ‘needy crawlers’, win.

If a company has a choice between individuality and complicity, they will generally choose complicity.

Someone who will do their dealing.
Someone who will take the heat.
Someone who knows their place.
Someone who will be obedient.

Obedience is important …

It allows the abdication of guilt for all decisions.
It creates a layer between them and the anger of others.
It ensures they always have support for whatever they choose.
It removes the risk of being challenged, questioned or undermined by those close.

By choosing someone who has an insatiable need to be associated with power and influence, not only do you know they will sacrifice anything – and anyone – to be given access to it, but you can give them the highest of high-profile corporate positions, and be safe in the knowledge they’ll still be subservient to you.

It’s the ugliest of ugly truths.

The most vulgar of corporate realities.

And a perfect expression of what I saw when I lived in America.

People managing up, regardless of consequence or expectation.
People being paid vast amounts for their complicity rather than talent.
People creating fear to ensure they always stay in power and control.

Of course not everyone is like this.

And of course, this is not limited to just the US.

But what made Succession so powerful is that even though it was about billionaires, it reflected what most people have seen or experienced at some time. That regardless of wealth, standing, status or connections … there is always someone we answer to and those who are acquiescent to them will always be the ones they choose to progress.

Despite being a show filled with conniving, untrustworthy, unlikable, spoilt, greedy and entitled bastards … I’m going to miss Succession. Though what makes the loss more bearable is knowing that should I ever need another taste of it, all I have to do is turn to reality to witness the people and companies who trade values and morals for power and control.

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The Art Of Excess …
May 22, 2023, 8:15 am
Filed under: Content, Culture, Environment

A few weeks ago, we joined Costco.

Frankly I did it more out of curiosity than any desire to shop, but one Saturday morning we all popped off to check it out.

Now I don’t know what hell is like, but I imagine it’s its similar to what I encountered and experienced.

To be fair the staff were fantastic, helpful … kind … full of personality … but the customers!!!

Actually calling them customers is wrong.

Angry animals would be a much better description.

Sharp elbows … sharp tongues and endless dickhead moves and behaviours.

It was like a cross between a rugby match against sworn enemies and the opening of the January sales.

Utter mayhem.

And while I get the attraction for big families or small businesses … for everyone else it’s kind-of like gluttony disguised as ‘value’.

Yes, the prices are cheaper than in the everyday supermarket, but is anyone ever going to consume a 9-litre bottle of vinegar?

Of course, once you’re there, there’s no way out …

Before you know it, you’re trapped in a world of superlative sizes.

Purchasing massive packets of Reece’s Pieces and Coffee Mate … an orgy of excess that reveals human evolution is based more on environment than time.

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Learn From Winners Not Just Players …

A while back I was in conversation with a very successful football team manager.

In many ways, they’re the managers, manager.

When I asked how – or who – they used to look to for guidance, inspiration or technical advice, they immediately responded with:

“Learn from winners, not players”.

And when I asked why only winners … they replied:

“Because winners face greater challenges than players and still come out on top”.

Interestingly, later in the conversation, they indicated their definition of ‘winner’ was more than simply someone who has achieved success in a league or a tournament … but someone who has achieved success in multiple league or tournaments, because – to paraphrase an old Nike campaign I did – it’s easier to get to the top than to stay there.

Which made me think about my industry …

Because when I look at who we can turn to, to evolve the standards, abilities and skills of our people, I feels there’s more players than winners.

Of course, being ‘a winner’ is much harder to define in our industry …

+ Creativity is as subjective as fuck.
+ Awards have become as much about how you enter as what you enter.
+ Success is defined by more factors than simply scoring more goals than the opposition.
+ The environment we operate in – and who against – is always changing at rapid rates.
+ You can be respected for your opinion without ever having made work that is respected.
+ Blah blah blah blah.

What bothers me most is how much of the industry outsources its training to people who are good players, but often not great players. And by that, I mean people who never made great things, even if they have great opinions on things.

Some may question why it’s important to have actually made things …

Well it’s simple. Anything is easy when you don’t have to do it, so those who have, have better advice than those who don’t.

That doesn’t mean they don’t have things of value to teach, but to paraphrase the manager I interviewed – those who have made work of note, have better lessons to give than those who have simply an opinion on making good work.

That said, it’s not players fault they’re being paid by companies to train their staff. What is far scarier are the reasons why they’re being asked:

One. It’s cheaper for companies than investing in on-going, personalised training for staff.

Two. Few companies have their own philosophy towards work, so having broad training schemes work for their needs.

Three. You are only as good as the people you are exposed to, and many companies confuse billings or popularity with craft and quality.

I know our industry faces many challenges from clients who value different things. But fundamentally, this issue was caused by our industry selling the value of creativity and understanding society down the river. By focusing on ‘players rather than winners’ to drive our standards and knowledge … we’re not moving putting ourselves back in contention, we’re just delaying our downfall.

To leave this post with a final football punditry reference.

We need to get back to playing to win, not playing not to lose.

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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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