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


Listen To Your Audience More Than Your Ego …

Congrats, you survived my first week back.

OK, so it was only 3 days, but I’m still impressed.

But I don’t want you to heading into the weekend thinking you’ve already mastered the art of dealing with my rubbish, so here’s something to test you.

Good news.

It’s not about Queen.
Or Birkenstocks.
Or Nottingham Forest.

Bad news.

It’s about gadgets and cats.

You see a while back, I had to fly to the US and it just so happened to coincide with Jill and Otis being in Fiji [as you do]

While they were coming back the day after I’d left, it did mean Rosie the Cat would be on her own for a night.

Now she’s been on her own for a night before.

Hell, she was on her own for 15 nights when she had to do her quarantine when we moved to NZ – and that was after a hellish 26 hours in the cargo hold of a plane – but I still felt guilty about it.

So despite leaving more bowls of water and food to keep an army going for a year, I still wanted to know she was doing OK … which is where my love of gadgets comes in.

Putting aside the fact my plane had wifi – which is incredible in itself – I was able to use that wifi to connect to a camera in the house and see this …

There she is.

In NZ.

While I’m 40,000 feet in the air, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.

But seeing my cat in real time while being so far away, surrounded by nothingness is not even the most impressive bit.

You see the reason her eyes are glowing as she looks directly at the camera is because she’s hearing my voice as I talk to her. TALK TO HER!!! LIKE I’M IN THE BLOODY ROOM. And that’s after I used an app on my phone to lower the blinds so she could feel more comfortable.

Go back just 25 years and doing this shit would be considered witchcraft. But here we are, able to do this wizardry without much effort or expense.

Madness.

Now I appreciate this topic has been discussed before and by people more articulate than I’ll ever be – for example disgraced comic, Louis CK with his ‘simpler times’ speech – however when you experience it, you realise the impact is far more powerful than words can say.

I loved being able to still look out for Rosie while I was far away.

Or at least, feel I was doing that.

Which is why for all my love of tech gadgetry, convenience and weirdness, its real power is realised when it enables your feelings rather than celebrates its function.

I know this is not new, but it’s amazing how few companies get that.

Even Ring – who literally made this happen for me – don’t seem to get it, which gives me the chance to reuse my fave Lucille Ball quote [and Colenso strat team sticker] to kind-of highlight one of the great issues with a lot of people working in marketing. And tech.

And for people who don’t know what the hell I’m trying to say, it’s this:

Listen to your audience more than your ego.

And with that, congrats on surviving this week and have a great weekend. To make things a bit sweeter, there’s no post on Monday because – drumroll please – THERE’S A HOLIDAY IN NZ.

I know. I know. We just had the World’s longest break, but not only is there one this Monday, we had one last Monday as well. Personally that would be my government campaign to attract talent to the country, but maybe that’s just me.

Beter go. Jill and Otis are in Australia, and as much as I miss them, I have countless true crime documentaries to catch up on.

Have fun.

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Goodbye 2022. Hello Peace And Quiet …

So this is it, the last post of 2022.

Again, I want to say a big thank you to everyone and anyone who has read or commented on my ranting rubbish.

I have to say, I miss the comments.

I know it was my choice to stop them, but I do miss them – so maybe I’ll have to bring them back, even though I’ve become waaaaaaay more productive since they’ve been turned off as I don’t have to spend vast amounts of my time checking what insults have been written to me and about me, hahaha.

But lack of comments aside, it’s been a big year … mainly because it has been the first year in a couple of years without any lock-down. And yet I still find it bizarre seeing people not wearing masks and being able to get on a plane again.

To think of the isolation, suffering and pain so many people suffered, the speed of the bounce-back has taken my breath away. Of course there are still people enduring tough times … but given the horror of the pandemic has seemingly been replaced by the threat of nuclear war and economic collapse, maybe COVID wasn’t so bad after all.

That said, I’m so grateful for the ability to travel again as it meant I was able to go on a trip that I’ll never, ever forget.

A trip where I got to see my beloved Martin getting married in Portugal.
A trip where I got to see my beloved Nottingham Forest getting promoted at Wembley.
A trip where I got to see my beloved Queen in concert with a ticket I bought 2 years earlier.
A trip where I got to see my beloved Paul, after the longest time we’ve been apart in 52 years.

It was, without exaggeration, one of the most special times in my life … with stuff I thought I may never see – or see again – so you will understand why I still feel so grateful to be able to have experienced it.

But beyond that, there were many other things that made this year memorable.

We did some fun work including Beyond Binary, Rick and Morty, Phone It In and Give Up On Humans. Our agency Christmas gift was interesting too. I say interesting, but I mean ridiculous, especially compared to last years more sophisticated Restraining Order, haha.
I wrote a pretty decent April Fools post that conned a few people.
And then, more seriously, I wrote some posts about my dalliance with depression, fulfilment, prejudice and respect that seemed to mean something to people, which made me feel happy it helped in some way.
I worked with Metallica, Miley Cyrus, Muse and Journey, to different degrees of success and enjoyment, hahaha.
We produced Dream Small … which I’m not only very proud of, but has led to conversations and change I never imagined we could have.
The way Otis – and his school – dealt with his dysgraphia diagnosis.
I celebrated my Mum’s 90th.
I got to see the wonderful Maya and Bree again, after years.
I was somehow featured in a book.
My Bohemian Catsody office mural … featuring Rosie amongst others.
I laughed myself stupid about Gi’s shit explosion while also being proud as punch of my wonderful team with our WARC/Cannes Global Grand Prix for effectiveness … followed up with us winning the same achievement at the NZ Effies … followed up by us winning the Global Grand Effie a few weeks later.
Renovating the old Colenso table to give it – and the irrepressible, unmistakeable Kate Maitland – the respect and recognition they deserve.
Lizzie and Amy’s news.
And Paula’s wonderful ray of sunshine.
Then finding the brilliant Briar and Shelly … with Martin and Meg arriving in Jan. [Which in Meg’s case, is almost 2 years in the waiting]
And last – but certainly not least – seeing Boris get pushed out quickly [literally and figuratively] by Liz Truss, even though the evil Tories somehow remain in power.

Of course there was some sad and disappointing stuff.

The loss of the irreplaceable and wonderful Dan Wieden.
Queenie … which hit me far more than I ever imagined it would.
Ben. Who left us too soon.
Mike’s motorcycle accident.
Henry, Liam and Robin left the team.
My first dalliance with COVID. And Jill too.
The bullshit that Simon P was forced to deal with and face.
Not to mention the horrible situation one of our clients was exposed to by the worst of society.
And then too many terrible global events, with the situations in Ukraine and Iran being possibly the worst of them all. What makes these last two even more disturbing is how the media only pay lip service to them. As if they don’t deem the horrors ‘relevant’ enough for their viewers and readers so they hide it on pages 5 and 6 … behind articles on energy bills, political scandal and sports scores.

I know it’s Christmas, but instead of having that one extra drink or buying that one shitty pressie, donating that money to organisations who offer support and help would be amazing. Two of them are this for Ukraine and this for Iran.

2022 has reminded me how privileged and comfortable my life is.

While compared to many, I have only experienced that sort of life, there have been times that have challenged me.

1999 was horrid.
As was 2015.
And last December was arguably, the worst month I’ve ever faced.

But this year, from a purely personal perspective, has generally been pretty special for me and one of the biggest reasons for that is my family.

I know we’re all supposed to say that, but it’s true.

Not just for who they are, but because for some reason, I feel we got even closer.

Emotionally.
Supportively.
Connectively.

To be honest, I thought we were already as close as you can be, but I discovered there’s actually no limit to the level of connection you can feel with loved ones and that has left me feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Maybe it’s because NZ is so far from everyone, we feel closer to each other. Maybe it’s because we don’t see the people we love so often, we have become more reliant on each other. Maybe it’s because we just have gone through some stuff that it reinforced how special we are to each other. Maybe it’s for reasons I’ve not wanted to admit before because it challenges the priorities I’ve lived by before.

Who knows, but what I can say is I love my ramshackle collection of Campbell’s.

Including Rosie, of course.

They’re not perfect.
They can drive me nuts.
But they’re mine and I adore every bit of them.

Which is why I want to sign off by saying to them – and to the rest of you – that whatever you do over this period, I hope it gives you all you want and all you need. I am grateful for everything every one of you put in my life and I hope 2023 – as scary as many are suggesting it will be – will surprise us all with its happiness and fulfilment.

Just as long as mine is happier and more fulfilling than yours.

Hey, I may be getting more tolerant in my old age, but I’m still as only-child demanding as ever.

Have a great one. Back Feb 1. I hope to see you in 2023.

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Twitter Twaddle …

Over the last 12 months, one of the things I’ve had an almost adverse reaction to is twitter.

I can see Andy reading this – and I expect an email from him reinforcing this – and shouting:

“Now you know why I always called it twatter”

And he may … just may … be right.

I used to like twitter.

It had a similar feel to the early days of blogging.

Community. Supportive. Elevation of knowledge and debate.

But now …. well, it’s a cesspit of hate, ego and imposters.

Full of people on self-made pedestals claiming to be the next incarnation of Christ. Who believe they are better and smarter than the bastard love-triangle-child of Weiden, Edison and Ocasio-Cortez. Who are disturbingly confident in their claims of being more knowledgable about companies histories, operations and decision making than employees – or even founders – of those very companies. Or even the CIA.

And yet, when you look for any of the work these genius’ have actually made … what you tend to find is more tweets.

Tweets about what others are doing wrong.

Tweets about how they could do things better.

Tweets about how they know the answer to everything and beyond.

Tweets about how they want others to give them answers to questions that someone else is paying them to provide.

Tweets about how they claim ownership for business or societal behaviour change via articles that they had nothing to do with that talk about business or societal behaviour change.

Tweets about how their ego, arrogance, aggression, bitterness and dismissal of others know no bounds.

Tweets. Tweets. Tweets.

And this was before Elon Musk, the World’s comedy villain, overpaid for the bloody thing.

Of course not everyone is like this. There are still some amazing people on there who are generous and open with their comments and consideration … who can disagree without aspiring to demolish those who have a different point of view … however they’re increasingly becoming the minority, drowned out by wave after wave of hateful, spiteful, vicious commentary which – for the first time in my life – pushed me away for my mental health.

This was shocking to me for 3 reasons.

1. Having worked in this industry for so long, I have the thickest of thick skin.

2. I’m a social-media tart. Not just in terms of platforms I belong to, but in terms of ‘content’ I churn out.

3. No one was personally attacking or abusing me.

Basically, twitter has become exhausting to me.

A firehose of cliquey, self-congratulatory, pseudo-intellectual commentary that tries – and fails – to hide it is ego and insecurity shouting into an echo-chamber.

Personally this has devastated me.

I loved twitter – like I loved blogs – because I genuinely felt they helped me be become better at things I do or wanted to do.

It gave me a direct line to people I respected where I was able to listen, learn, interact, explore and debate.

Twitter wanted me to be better.

It wanted me to be exposed to new ideas, ideals and considerations.

But not now.

Now it’s like a digital version of The Hunger Games.

Destruction in 280 characters.

Words used as bombs and swords.

People elevating themselves by bringing others down … through verbal attacks, gaslighting or building a wall of imagined exclusivity between them and others, even if it only exists in the minds, ego and insecurity of those who post so often, you wonder how the hell they have time to do their actual job.

Anyway, the reason for all this is that I recently read a quote from Musk about what he thought Twitter was:

I couldn’t agree with him more.

In fact, I think he encapsulated why I have fallen out-of-love with his $44 billion indulgence.

Because mediums are neither rare nor well done.

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Last Week Of 2022 Starts Now …
December 12, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Advertising, Attitude & Aptitude, Business, Confidence, Culture

The good news for me is that unlike last year – the day after Otis’ birthday – I do not find myself rushed into hospital and requiring emergency treatment.

The good news for you, is that while this is not the last week of 2022, it is where this blog is concerned.

So win:win.

Except you lose, as not only is this blog back next year, I’ve already written a weeks worth of posts.

I know … I know …

But let’s focus on the positive … in just 4 days, you will be free from this blog till Feb 1.

FEB ONE!!!

Earlier this year I wrote why NZ festive season holidays are the most amazing holidays I’ve ever had. Not just for their duration, but for how the whole country values and protects them.

Now I’m not on holiday that entire time, but I will be for a bunch of it which means I’ll [hopefully] be rested so I can come back and write posts that will knock your socks off.

Oh who am I kidding?

So to get you in the mood of disappointment, here’s today’s rubbish.

Except this time, it’s not by me, but by that once great business name – Forbes.

Have a look at this …

Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos.
Sam Bankman-Fried of FTX.

The Queen and King of Finhealth and Crypto … who turned out to not be the icons of business that Forbes thought they were. That Forbes promoted them as being.

I wonder how much money they helped people lose with their misguided fawning?

Maybe if people knew Forbes editorial coverage can be purchased rather than it always being the result of independent journalistic opinion, they’d be less trusting.

Though you’d hope people would have a more cynical eye when reading anything Forbes celebrates from now on. That said, here’s another example of a brand whose blinkered quest for cash is their fast-track to a brand value crash. They should write an article on themselves as a watch-out for business.

And with that, I’ll see you tomorrow.

T-minus 4 days.

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Why Wrong Reveals The Systems Limitations Rather Than The Participants …

I recently saw this piece of brilliance …

Isn’t it awesome?

Of course some people will think it’s cute … but wrong.

Whereas others may think it’s cute … and smart.

Putting aside the fact the responsibility for clarity of communication is with the communicator, not the recipient – which means the exam board have to accept their role in the answer given – it also highlights how one persons ‘normal’ is another persons ‘lateral thinking’.

I know that sounds a big leap for what is a young kids incorrect/correct answer to an exam question … but at a time where the British PM wants to kill the arts and freedom of expression for kids in schools – in favour of even more logical and rational studies – it’s a sign how early we try to destroy/control/devalue the imaginations of the young.

What I find ironic about the British PM’s stance is that he seems to be of the belief that having people study maths for longer will make everything better.

Putting aside the fact that much of the UK’s global influence – ignoring the violent invasions of other countries – has come from the arts, that’s a big call to make.

Even more so when you consider the financial mess the UK is in right now, has come from the hands of the very people he wants to encourage more of.

As a parent this situation is very difficult.

Of course we want our children to be set up to embrace life. But if they’re all being taught the same thing … in the same way … without consideration of what their own personal talents, interests and abilities are … then are you actually preparing them to thrive or simply survive?

Recently Otis got diagnosed with a learning difficulty.

I say difficulty, but really it’s a complication.

It’s called Dysgraphia.

While this doesn’t affect his ability to learn, it does affect how he does it and what he may be able to do because of it.

We are incredibly grateful the school he goes to – Birkenhead Primary – not only embraced this situation by changing the way he could engage and present his schoolwork. They did it by specifically tailoring their classes and approach to ensure Otis could participate in ways that actively played to his strengths while maintaining the pace of everyone’s learning. And if that wasn’t impressive enough … they were the ones who first noticed there may be an area of challenge for him and were proactive in acting on it.

The impact of this approach on Otis has been enormous.

Not just in areas of his schoolwork that were being impacted because of dysgraphia, but in his overall confidence, enjoyment and willingness to participate.

He has always been a kid who tries hard and wants to do the right thing [so definitely more like Jill than me] … but thanks to his teachers, he now feels he can express himself fully rather than having to become a smaller version of himself in an attempt to find a way to get through certain areas of class that challenged him because of his dysgraphia rather than his ability.

Frankly I doubt this would have happened if we were still in the UK.

Not because the teachers aren’t as good, but because the system doesn’t allow the sort of deviation of approach that Otis’ school created for him.

What’s scary is Sunak’s attitude towards education will only make this situation for kids like Otis, even harder.

Either actively leaving them behind or setting them up for a life of anxiety, guilt and feelings of inadequacy. And yet it doesn’t have to be that way.

So many of these complications aren’t barriers to learning capacity, just accessibility.

A bit of flexibility can unlock the full potential of a child, especially with the power of technology these days.

But the schooling system is increasingly about ‘targets’ rather than learning.

Preparing you for exams rather than life.

Systems rather than needs.

And while I totally accept creating an education system that caters to the masses as well as the edges is incredibly difficult, having a one-dimensional system that ‘succeeds’ by forcing compliance and oppression is not the solution either.

What the British PM needs to understand is making kids study maths for longer isn’t going to solve the UK’s economic woes. But maybe designing an education system that enables teachers to help kids learn how to play to their strengths, is.

Or to paraphase Sir Ken Robinson … see creativity and imagination as a strength, not a weakness.

We’re so lucky Otis’ school values potential rather than parity … but I can’t help but wonder how many other clever kids are out there who have been written off simply because the system would not allow for them to be recognised, embraced and helped.

When will certain governments understand an educated generation is a successful nation?

Probably when they understand school should be about learning not teaching and it’s an investment rather than a cost.

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