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


Why People Who Believe In The Metaverse, Need To Be Dire Straits Fans …

After the amazing drama of yesterday, I need to calm things down.

Not for you, but for me … because my heart can’t take nerves like that.

And yet it’s going to have to do just that in a little over a week.

Bloody hell.

So to slow things down, let me take you back in time …

Back in 1985, the band Dire Straits launched a song called Money For Nothing.

It became famous for a whole host of reasons.

It was the first song of theirs that actually sounded slightly modern.

It had ‘modern’ day references in the lyrics.

It had Sting – from The Police – singing on it.

It had this video …

Did you watch it?

You didn’t did you?

You lazy bastards …

Well, to get back to the point of this post, here’s a screen grab from it …

Now while that image may not strike you as cutting edge, back in 1985, it was revolutionary.

Digital characters living in a digital world, where their universe was a blend of normality and possibility.

Hang on, does that sound like something else?

Something that a huge amount of the tech and marketing industry have been wetting their pants over?

Something that sounds suspiciously close to this …

Did you watch this?

You didn’t did you?

You über-lazy assholes …

Well, to get back to the point of this post, here’s a screen grab from it …

Yep.

Yep it does.

A music video from 1985 by the most snooze-rock band ever formed, not only communicated the metaverse, it did it in a style pretty close to what Facebook and every other brand have shown as ‘the standard’.

How terrifyingly embarrassing is that?

All these hip, technologists, futurists and strategists trying to look like they’re on the edge of culture creation and all the bollocks they’re banging on about was expressed by bloody Dire Straits 37 years earlier.

THIRTY SEVEN YEARS.

Hahahahahahahahaha.

I mean … when that Zuck video first broke, I wrote a post about how it was missing the point by showing things we can already do, but now – thanks to errrrrm, Dire Straits, I realise it was even worse than I imagined.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe technology and – the metaverse, even though what is being celebrated as it, isn’t what it is – will have the possibility to make a huge, positive difference to humanity. Eventually.

But making – and lauding – a film and idea that looks awfully similar to a bloody 1985 music video isn’t doing them any favours. If anything, it shows how much of this industry is filled with individuals who crave attention or adoration or just desperately seek relevance.

Not helped when you learn that, unsurprisingly, the main reason Zuck is so into the Metaverse is not for changing the world but upping his bank account.

Given how much Facebook tried to label Apple as ‘anti-business’ for the amount they charged creators and partners – which is a lot less than 47.5% – it makes the whole Meta situation even more laughable.

Don’t get me wrong, I know the new is often misunderstood.

And new technology should not be judged by the standards of established technology.

But when the ‘icons and industry leaders’ stand on soapboxes and stages to promote the future in a similar way that Dire Straits brought to the World almost 4 decades ago … it’s only fair to question if these people care about the future or simply their own career image.

Even though, sadly, we keep seeing hyping can get better career growth, than grafting.

If the Metaverse could fix that, then maybe we’d all sign up.

Then again …



Let Them Go …
May 9, 2022, 8:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Dad, Daddyhood, Education, School

One of the things that does my head in is around 3pm on weekdays when parents pick up their kids from school.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with them collecting their child – even in their cars, we do it too – but it’s the attitude they can leave their car wherever they like regardless of it blocking traffic or being placed in a no parking zone.

The level of entitlement of some parents picking up their kids is 70’s Rockstar standard.

Which is why I loved this passive aggressive sign at a school near where we live …

Love it.

Especially the ‘love them and leave them’ message underneath, because for me, it’s really saying this:

By all means drive your kid to school.

By all means give your kid a kiss and hug as they come/go.

But don’t get out the car … don’t dress your kid at the school gates … don’t hang around and talk to other parents

Come in. Kiss them hello/goodbye. Leave.

And while that may sound a bit harsh, it’s simply reminding parents that while your child means the World to you, the World doesn’t revolve around them.

Jesus … I’m coming in hot for a Monday aren’t I.



It’s Better Oop North …

Ad blogging was once a rich, vibrant community.

It was amazing how much people looked out for each other.

A lot was driven by Russell Davies … but the effect of it was something pretty special.

I met a lot of people because of that community … some, still even come on here.

Occasionally.

But when you compare it to the toxic, ego-filled bullshit of ad twitter … I can’t help but feel the blogging community was a much more valuable and positive resource for adland.

Especially if you were a junior.

While there are many positives of social media, learning the strategy discipline through 280 letter tweets is not really going to drive the craft forward.

Nowadays there seems to be only 2 people still blogging.

Martin and me.

Or said another way …

Nowadays, only Martin writes a blog that has real value and depth for the industry and discipline.

One of the people I am saddest at having stopped blogging is Andrew Hovells. Better known as Northern Planner.

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

From how much I respect him to how much I liked trolling him by sending him to see Queen in concert, when he absolutely hates the band.

But I revisited his blog recently and there’s just so, so much amazing stuff on there.

Stuff for people curious about planning.
Stuff for people just starting planning.
Stuff for people having a career in planning.
Stuff for people leading work and teams in planning.
Stuff for every level and need in planning.

And while there are many other resources for this sort information on the internet, Northern Planner’s is especially good for 3 reasons:

1. It comes from someone who could have worked at pretty much any of the best agencies in London, but didn’t and instead chose to stay ‘oop North’ and bring the planning discipline to a part of England that [i] didn’t have it and [ii] needed a lot of convincing to see it’s value. Not only did he achieve that – and validate the discipline for more people in the region to become a part of it – his work gave the supposed London ‘superstars’ a run for their money.

[He also turned down coming to cynic, which still devastates me, because he would have made such a difference to us. But it also shows how smart he is. Unfortunately]

2. He doesn’t give you a process to follow, he gives you a way to look at the discipline and the roles within it. Meaning you’re developing your own planning style and voice … not regurgitating someone else’s.

3. All of it is free. Every last bit of it.

Given the amount of amateurs ‘flogging’ their questionable, superficial and inauthentic courses that don’t have the right to even be in the same universe – let alone industry – as Andrew’s generous, considered and carefully explained lessons and insights … I know who I recommend people spend their time learning from.

I really miss Northern and his blog.

But the planning community should be missing it even more.



You Can’t Blame People For Chasing Crazy When You Made Them That Way …

OK, so Friday’s post was an April Fool joke.

I say that because some people seemed to believe it until they got to the very last line. Which obviously made me very happy … no doubt helped by the fact April Fools Day started upto 20+ hours before some parts of the World.

But today’s post is real, even though it’s even more of a joke.

It starts with a tweet I saw a few weeks ago …

I don’t mind admitting, I laughed my socks off when I saw it.

Because it’s true.

The amount of people – read, men – who talk about crypto like it’s a guaranteed money earner despite [1] not looking into how it actually works [2] realising there are a vast amount of choices that are out there and [3] all have experienced incredible and – in many cases – huge losses, is amazing.

But I also kind-of get it.

Because the sniff of winning big can be intoxicating.

Especially if you don’t think you otherwise have a chance.

And for many people they don’t …

Not because they’re not smart or talented or capable … but because life is unbelievably unfair.

Which is why for all the questions that need to be answered about the role, legitimacy and even legality of certain crypto, the reality is many people think the chance of making it big on what is essentially a giant wheel of roulette is still better than the chance of doing OK following ‘traditional’ paths.

I get it. I was in that situation.

I was living in Australia, broke … with a seriously ill Dad and a Mum who couldn’t pay the bills.

I didn’t know what I was going to do when someone I knew asked if I wanted to get involved in a pyramid scheme.

Out of desperation – and a belief I didn’t think I had anything to lose – I said yes.

Of course that is mad, because I did have a lot to lose, from the initial ‘investment’ to the chance to get out of my situation within a year.

I ended up being very lucky.

Because I got in very early. I made back many times my initial investment within 2 weeks.

[I should point out that while I was able to help my Mum and Dad out as soon as this happened, I never told them what I’d done. Part of this was because they’d have been fuming and part of it was because it was hard enough to get them to accept presents from me, so if they knew, then I’d never be able to financially help them out again]

And while the time between ‘investing’ and ‘vesting’ were some of the most exciting, intense and scary weeks of my life, the minuscule chance of making something sizeable out of it drowned out the highly likely chance of losing all of it.

Would I do it again?

No. I am in the incredibly fortunate position to be in a good position now. But I get why people would do it and why crypto is so tempting for so many.

Nothing brought this home than some information Natwest Bank sent me last week.

It was their interest rates.

I say ‘interest’ but what I mean is arrogance.

Have a look at this …

What the hell?

Seriously, what the absolute hell?

Do they think this is good?

Do they think this is going to make people want to invest with them?

Even with their ‘bonus’ percentage, their ‘best’ rate is 0.05%.

And that’s their best. The rest are 0.01%.

ZERO POINT ZERO ONE PERCENT.

Not just many times less than inflation.

Not just many times less than the amount you’ll be charged in fees.

But less than fuck all.

Why would anyone choose to invest their money with a bank?

And I mean anyone … from someone with one pound to one million.

Seriously, you somehow manage to get a million quid and Natwest will reward you with 100 pounds in interest.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

So much for all their talk of ‘caring about your future’.

Of course, they think they can get away with it because they think they hold all the cards.

And right now they probably do.

But for all their advertising claims that are seemingly designed to make the board of directors happy rather than their customers, the vast majority seem to have failed to grasp the one thing that could undermine them all.

People go where the chances are.

Doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect. Doesn’t matter what the research says. If what’s on offer is dramatically better than what the establishment offers – and it’s ‘generally’ legal even if it’s highly risky – then they’ll explore it.

I never imagined I’d be the sort of person who would be part of a pyramid scheme – but circumstances of desperation meant I did. Which means I am pretty sure there’s a hell of a lot of people you’d never imagine would be into crypto, who are.

Not because they’re money hungry assholes – though there’s definitely a bunch who are that – but because with banks taking the piss out of their hopes and dreams with a miserly 0.01% interest rates, suddenly the risk of crypto looks like the most sensible investment for the future they can make.

And then, it’s not just the banks who will be screwed, we all will be.



Unmotivation …

A while back I wrote about how some companies offer incentives and bonuses to their staff to try and boost morale when the reality is all the employees actually want is the company to act in ways they can be proud of and believe in.

Values.
Standards.
Behaviours.
Ambitions.

The most depressing part of this is that in many cases, the companies know this but just think it’s easier to try and ‘buy staff off’, than to change how they act.

But if you think that’s bad, there’s some who are even worse.

The ones who believe their staff will be inspired and impressed by any gesture the companies shows towards them … even if it is an act that shows how little they really think of them.

Acts like this …

Or this …

Seriously, what on earth were they thinking???

Even if they were giving away a bunch of bananas rather than a single one, it would still be bad … but a postage paid envelope, that reiterates this is a ONE TIME act of generosity.

Either the people behind these ‘gifts’ are evil or utterly delusional … which is why the best leaders I’ve ever worked for have been the ones who are transparent and honest, whether for good news or bad.

There’s something really reassuring of knowing where you stand. Where there is constant dialogue with where you’re at and where things are. That even in bad times, you know what is going on, what needs to change and some suggestions how to do it … because the person telling you genuinely wants you to succeed. Not simply to make their life easier, but to help make yours bigger.

While there are a lot of benefits to management, it can’t be denied it’s a tough gig.

You’re dealing with a bunch of moving parts all at the same time.

Egos.
Colleagues.
Team development.
Individual growth.
Client satisfaction.
New business requirements.
Company reputation and profit.
And then your own, personal satisfaction and growth.

In some ways, each of these moving parts can act as a barrier to the other being successful … and that’s when a manager can get into real trouble, because pressure means they can end up choosing what ultimately makes their life easier rather than what makes everything better.

Now I am not saying I am a great manager.

While I think I am OK, I definitely have my failings.

However over the years – and with some excellent mentors and role models – I’ve definitely learnt there are some ‘rules’ that I believe can help companies ensure managers create an environment where good things happen can happen, for the work … the clients … the individuals … the team … and the company as a whole.

1. Stop promoting people simply because that’s the only way to give them a pay rise.

This is more than just about managing staff cost ratios – or keeping salary bands in line – it’s the reality that some people are just much better at doing their specific job than managing other people doing their specific jobs. Often they know this, but feel they have to accept the promotion ‘opportunity’ to get the money they want. The great irony of this approach is it ends up costing everyone more in the long term. Because the promoted person ends up stopping doing the work that made them – and the company – stand out and other talented people leave, because they are being badly managed. Until the day the company realises their mistake and lets the person go who didn’t really want the job in the first place, but did it as it was the only way to get fairly valued for their talent and experience.

2. Stop thinking being good at the job means you are naturally good at managing

Being good at a job doesn’t automatically mean you are going to be good at managing others doing it. Not only that, being good at your job doesn’t mean your approach will – or should – translate to how the entire department operates. Sadly, too many companies don’t think this way. Instead they promote without consideration to the ways of the individual or the needs of the department and company. Of course, sometimes the reason for that is because it’s a way to ‘keep’ talent from going to another company or because doing it makes things more ‘convenient’ for the company when someone has resigned. What makes that approach even worse is they then place huge expectations and judgement on people so that when things don’t go exactly as planned, they start adding additional stress and barriers. The reality is you don’t make good managers through a title, you do it by giving them training and time.

3. Every level needs training

It doesn’t have to be formal. It doesn’t have to be academic. But it does have to happen.
Not just in terms of learning the company processes and org charts … but in terms of learning how to actually manage. What to look out for … how to engage … how to encourage and motivate. Not from a book. Not from an online course. But proper training with people who have done it very well rather than people who just hold the title. There are so many great managers who never got to realise that simply because they were thrown in the deep end and then kicked out because they weren’t given the support and time to train for their new position.

However I know the things I’ve suggested won’t be common, because too many companies see personal training as an expense and judge success as getting stuff done, regardless of the cost. Which is why after all the years I’ve had doing it, I still rely on 4 huge lessons I learnt from Dan Wieden and Chris Jaques.

+ When your focus is the work, every decision becomes easier.

+ Brilliant work sorts out almost every problem,.

+ Honesty and transparency is the greatest gift you can give someone.

+ The best way to stop complicity is to create an environment of openness and debate.

Sure, none of these are as easy as giving a banana or even a paid-return envelope … but I guarantee the positive effect will last a hell of a lot longer.