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


We Don’t Work …

I know the world has been affected by COVID.

I know most people are working from home rather than offices.

But … but … look at these results from WeWork:

I’ve written a lot about WeWork in the past.

I even worked with one of the founders in their early days at Wieden.

And there was even an occasion where they were talking to us at R/GA.

In every one of those encounters, I never understood why they referred to themselves as a tech company. Actually let me rephrase that. I did understand why they wanted to be seen as a tech company as it would mean their valuation would probably be even more ridiculous … but the way they talked about themselves in the early days – and the thing they were doing to make it real – meant they could still be something very powerful and influential if they’d just stuck with their path.

But they didn’t, which is why with Q1 results like that, it would appear their version of being a tech company was to be like Microsoft Vista.

Big hype.

But a terrible, terrible, terrible experience.

Which all goes to show that many in the investment community don’t make decisions on identifying new opportunities, but on being scared of being left behind.

Like most brand planning.



Blame Throwing …
June 2, 2021, 8:00 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Corporate Evil, Experience, Relevance

So when we were leaving for New Zealand, I wanted to change our house insurance to cover the people we were renting.

So I rang our insurer – Hiscox – only to be told they would not be willing to insure our house as we’ll be living overseas.

They were fine with insuring our house.

They were fine with insuring our house with tenants.

But because we were going to be living overseas, we were told:

“We don’t want to insure you”.

They used those exact words.

Now I don’t know if this is their general policy – I know we’ve had other insurers look after our house while living overseas – but their general attitude was pretty horrific, made even more pathetic when a couple of days later they sent us a letter saying, ‘we’re sorry you have decided not to use us again’.

Now maybe this was computer generated, but I wasn’t going to let them cancel me then blame me, so I sent a letter back pointing out that I had actually wanted to extend my policy but they decided “they didn’t want me”, despite me always paying their higher-than-average policy rates on time.

You’d think that would be the end of it … but then I got a letter a day or so later. Not to apologise. Not to thank me for my previous custom. But to offer me ‘a deal’ to renew my house insurance with them again.

What the absolute fuck.

The next day, I got another correspondence from them. This …

So they acknowledge they made a mistake offering me a deal they had no intention to fulfil. But they failed to acknowledge their terrible service to a customer.

So I wrote to ‘Bob’ to explain how his companies ‘premier service’ was more Premier Inn than premier. And that’s not being fair to the Premier Inn, because every time I’ve stayed there – and I’ve stayed there a lot – the service has been great.

Not great in proportion to their price.

But great.

And while I have never accepted the maxim that ‘the customer is always right’, I can assure you neither is the company.

So dear Hiscox, maybe you need to take a policy out on yourselves, because if you carry on with the customer service you handed out to me, you’ll be needing to make a claim in no time.



Convenient Stupidity …

Marketing is always trying to find a way to be ‘relevant’ to its customers.

Of course, the real reason for this is because many of them don’t care about their customers beyond what they’re spending their money on.

It’s for this reason we so much bandwagon jumping – where brands suddenly claim to care about issues they’ve never shown any interest in and, in some cases, directly contributed to the issue society is fighting against – because they need to keep that money rolling in.

It’s why we have so much ‘purpose’ being spouted in marketing decks all around the World and why so many brands appear schizophrenic as they switch their attention to whatever social issue they think will ‘optimise’ their return on illusion. I mean, purpose. Ahem.

Putting aside the fact that if a brand really was committed to their purpose, they wouldn’t be changing it in the blink of an eye … there are at least some brands who put in some effort … who actually invest some money into what they believe. However, there’s others who just look for the easiest way to lie.

What. The. Hell???

I mean, there’s greenwashing, but this isn’t greensplashing.

I particularly love how they claim to have ‘overlooked the possibility’ the naming could mislead the people.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Nothing shows how little regard they have for their customers than using that excuse.

I mean, doing such a terribly shit thing is horrific … but using an excuse like that to ‘justify their actions’ shows how they literally don’t care.

They’re laughing at us.

They think we’re stupid.

So let’s prove them right by never buying one of their products and say we overlooked the possibility they wanted us to actually buy their shit.



Smiling As A Weapon …

So after yesterday’s post about releasing your inner Adele, I have another post about the workplace.

Or should I say, the toxic workplace.

The reason for this is that I’ve spoken to a lot of people recently who – whether it’s because of COVID, or people’s slow return to the workplace or just people getting hired again after a year of being pretty much shut down – have all experienced a similar situation.

Which leads to this message to all managers …

Whether someone has a different view … a less favourable view … or just questions about your view … IT IS NOT A PERSONAL ATTACK.

It doesn’t mean they’re trying to undermine you or piss on your parade.

If anything, it means they care enough about you to want you to be even better though expanding your perspective.

But what is worse is I’m hearing more and more people dealing with it, through toxic positivity.

You will remember from this post, toxic positivity is the belief that “no matter how dire or difficult a situation is, people should maintain a positive mindset. It’s a “good vibes only” approach to life.”

While being intimidating towards people who have different perspectives is equally as bad, at least you know where you stand. Toxic Positivity does it’s damage because it not only immediately undermines you, it makes you feel your opinion literally doesn’t matter.

I can tell you, people who always look on the bright side are far more damaging than those who keep asking questions.

Of course, how you ask – like everything in life – is important, but it’s worth remembering you don’t get to great without debate. And you don’t get to debate without an environment where people are free to be honest with you and themselves.

So if you’re getting this treatment from your manager and you’re starting to question your value and worth … go to yesterday’s post and follow Adele’s excellent advice.

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Channel Your Inner Adele …

I know I’ve done a lot about Rick Rubin of late, but this time I’m using Adele.

I love her.

I think she’s an insanely talented musician, singer, and songwriter.

But this is about none of those things.

Nor is it – as were my Rick Rubin musings – about creativity.

No … this is about work.

Specifically about knowing who you should and shouldn’t invest your time and passion with.

I’ve generally had amazing bosses.

Brilliant, creative, supportive individuals, bursting with integrity and belief.

And even when I would be getting a bollocking for something daft I’d done – and I’ve done a lot – I never once doubted they cared and wanted me to succeed.

But I’ve also had some bosses who were less amazing.

Who didn’t like questions.

Didn’t like independent thought.

Actively demanded you follow their words rather than your own curiosity.

Where success was judged by the level of your complicity rather than creativity.

And that’s why at 50, I now realise there’s two sorts of manager in the world.

Those who want you to be better than you imagined and those who use you to feel better about themselves.

If you have the former, hold on to them with both hands.

If you have the latter, follow Adele’s advice.

And if you feel you can’t do that – for whatever reason – visit TheyTriedToKillMeButI.Live … because that’s where you’ll see you’re not alone, you’re not to blame and together, you’re more valuable and powerful than you think.

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