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


Deliberately Ignorant …

Once upon a time, a creative friend of mine rang me up.

He had been offered a job in China and wanted to hear my perspective on being there.

During the conversation, he asked if the pollution was bad.

When I asked why he was asking, he said he was pretty susceptible to asthma and while on his visit to the agency there, he had felt a bit ill, despite the weather being good.

He had asked some of his prospective workmates if they felt the weather was ever bad for breathing and they all said no and he wanted to know my take on it.

I laughed.

Not just because it’s pretty well documented the air there is not great, especially for an asthmatic – despite the government being the biggest investor in green technology in the World – but because it reminded me of something my Dad had told me while watching the Tom Cruise movie, A Few Good Men.

I know this is going off on a tangent, but hang in there.

You see, at the scene where Jack Nicholson spouts his immortal “You Can’t Handle The Truth” line, my Dad burst out laughing.

When I asked why, he said this:

“There are occasions where people will openly deny truth. Not because they hold a different opinion, but because to accept it means they would have to accept their complicity in a situation truth has revealed. Sometimes, the simple act of acknowledgement means people are forced to face and question the motives and values they conveniently chose to hide away”

His point was literally what my friend had experienced.

The prospective colleagues he asked about weather conditions knew full-well there is pollution in the air. However, their mind had almost forced them to forget it. Not because they were liars or bad people, but because if they admitted the truth, then they would be forced to ask themselves why they were there when they knew it was likely to be doing them harm.

We experience this every day.

Deliberate ignorance.

From people hired to purchases made.

Not because people are bad, but because we don’t want face the questionable decisions we’ve chosen to make to benefit our personal circumstances over health, values or friendship.

Which is why my mate decided not to go to China.

The moral of the story.

Remember people sometimes don’t tell you what they think, they tell you what protects them from you knowing what they think.



Entitled To Nothing …

Once upon a time, I was invited to a meeting that frankly, I should not have been invited to.

Admittedly I was told I was only there so I could witness the behaviour of the most senior people in the company and I absolutely was not allowed to say a word … but it still was an absolutely ridiculous decision by the company.

Anyway, so I go in and I sit quietly at the back.

After about an hour, a new member of the board started speaking.

To be honest, I was quite taken aback at the tone they were using.

It wasn’t confident, it was down right arrogant … a unique ability to sound condescending, belittling and entitled all at the same time.

It was at this point, the CEO and founder of the company stepped in with words that shut things down in an absolute second.

He looked right at the individual flexing their metaphorical muscles and said:

“You haven’t earned the right to be arrogant and when you have, you will know that’s not the way to behave”.

It was brilliant and embarrassing in equal measure and I had to do all I could not to break out into wild applause.

I say this because a couple of weeks ago, I kind of had another experience like this.

A complete stranger on LinkedIn reached out to me to ask if I worked with Metallica.

When I told them I did, they said – and I quote – “How do I talk to them about my new business idea?

To which I replied:

“You have to find an old lamp & rub it. If a genie comes out, ask them to sort it for you.”

Unsurprisingly they called me a prick, but apart from the fact I am not the bands gatekeeper – I’m much more the bands cat litter tray – why does he think I would respond positively to his unsolicited email?

I’m not asking for subserviency.

I’m not asking for fawning.

But a little politeness would be nice.

Not that it would have changed anything, but I may have actually had a desire to hear what they were thinking and then see if there is someone else they should be talking to.

But no … they went right in as if I owed them something because they were brilliant and that entitled them to my desire to help unconditionally.

If that attitude wouldn’t work on Dragon’s Den/Shark Tank … it sure as shit won’t work via an unsolicited email on LinkedIn to a petty bastard from Nottingham.

I know if you don’t ask, you don’t get, but what some people don’t seem to grasp is asking is very different to demanding.

Seriously, if this is what ‘professionalism’ is on LinkedIn, then I may be the most professional person on that platform and as you all know, that is possibly the scariest proposition of all time.

Talking of professionalism, I’m taking tomorrow and Monday off … and while you may think that is the antithesis of professionalism, I can assure you everyone else’s productivity will be up.



Would You Travel Through Time And Space To Go Back To Where You Came From/
August 18, 2021, 8:00 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Context, Corona Virus, England, Health, New Zealand

Yesterday, my life consisted of the 2 movies above.

Why?

Because despite moving 12,000 miles to NZ to get away from covid, we found only ourselves back where we started.

In lockdown.

OK, it’s only for 7 days [for now] … but the feeling of it happening was so familiar.

The gathering of your work stuff.

The dark humour between colleagues tinged with truth.

The sense of things closing in and taking over beyond your control.

You’d think having had well over a year of lockdown, I’d be OK with it, but it still felt uncomfortable, even though I am fortunate to have already had one of my vaccinations.

But there was one big difference between yesterday and March, Friday 13th, 2020.

And that was the way the Government handled it.

Where in the UK we had chaos and confusion … here we had incredibly valuable detail, clarity and calmness.

In addition, the schools not only sent out an immediate message that detailed how online lessons would be handled, the note also said the following:

Given how badly the UK government handled providing parents the tools to teach from home – not to mention the additional pressure they placed on parents to keep up with the curriculums – it was amazing to see them acknowledge the importance of providing reassurance rather than just demand adherence.

It’s a weird time, even if it’s just for a week, but the way it has been handled is light years away from what we experienced not that long ago.

Not only that, the fact the patient and doctor identified and reported their case immediately – and this was followed up with not just track and trace info, but down to individual locations and destinations – is also another reason to be hopeful that if anyone can deal with this situation effectively, it’s NZ.

We’ll see. But regardless of the outcome, thank you to the patient, the doctor, the government and the people of NZ.

If it wasn’t certain before, I can categorically say Jacinda is miles better than Boris.



The Illusion Of Sustainability …

A few weeks ago, I got a take-away coffee where the design of the cup was obviously trying to look like it had a ‘heat sleeve’ around it.

I get it …

By reducing the use of paper/cardboard, we minimise waste.

There were just 2 problems with this.

1. It isn’t a heat sleeve.

2. You end up burning your hand around the cup.

Now while I appreciate this is still better than claiming to be doing something for the environment while actively fucking it, it’s still not perfect, even if I acknowledge their thinking.

But then a few days later I saw this …

OK, so it also has flaws.

Will you remember to bring back the mug?

Will you be able to drink out of it while you’re walking?

Will you feel comfortable it has been washed previously?

But weirdly I also like it.

I like it a lot.

Maybe it’s because it’s the sort of thing only a community would try to pull off and – after years of living here, there and everywhere, it’s nice to feel part of something.

But either way, it’s got my vote … which serves as a good reminder that the real obstacle to doing something good is whether you actually want to do it or not.

And no Uniliever … that doesn’t let you feel good for producing plant bottles, especially when you continue to profit from the cultural jail and prejudice you put millions of women throughout Asia in. You’re welcome.



A Reminder About Humans To Everyone Dealing With Humans …

No matter how well planned you think you are.

How detailed you’ve been.

How many case studies you’ve watched.

How many focus groups you’ve sat in.

How logical your argument is.

People will always do what works for them, not works for you.

So think about that next time you try and claim your comms plan/user journey is a true reflection of how all people engage with brands and make purchase decisions.

For the record …

I get the role and value of comms plans/user journeys.

I have no issue with them. In fact they can make a real difference to the work.

Where I get pissy is when they’re presented as ‘fact’ rather than a guide. Acting like they represent how ALL people behave – while ignoring factors like personal situation and circumstance as well as competitive activity.

Of course this attitude of ‘unquestionable, unbendable, superior intelligence and logic’ is prevalent in many planners … probably driven more by clients wanting certainty and consistency than personal ego … however by refusing to acknowledge we’re dealing more in frameworks than blueprints, we’re not just undermining our discipline and inadvertently placing barriers on new approaches and experiments, but ultimately selling generalised convenience rather than personal intimacy which means it’s set up to be average from the outset.

Madness.

As I said to a client recently about insights …

They’re not perfect.

They’re not infallible.

They’re not all encompassing.

But when done right, they increase the odds of good things happening because they reveal the ridiculous truth behind people’s beliefs and behaviours … and I swear if we all adopted this attitude towards what we do, we may just end up making things that are more interesting and more effective as well.

We won’t. But I just like to think we might.