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


Peak Planner Cat Lady Who Is A Bloke …

As you know, I love my cat Rosie.

I have written A LOT about her over the years.

Like this.

And this.

Or this.

And this.

To name but a very, very few.

But recently, I got the opportunity to give a presentation about her to senior members of our clients.

Better yet, it was about what they could learn from her.

Yep … an entire presentation about my cats superior brand building capabilities.

Of course it went down well …

By ‘well’, I mean they didn’t report me to my bosses or the Police.

Which is why I am of the opinion I’ve achieved all there is to achieve and can now bask in the glow of having just achieved the top level of the classic planner game ‘things you can learn about brands from _________’.

And I can tell you, that is better than winning any Cannes, Effies or WARC Grand Prix.

Oh, have to go, there’s a knock on the door and I can Doctors and Nurses outside holding a jacket that has no arms in just my size …

Have a great day.

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Lost In The Wilderness …

For 16+ years, I would wake up and generally find a world of insults, banter and builds on whatever post I’d set to be published while I slept.

I have to be honest, I liked it.

A lot.

Part of this was because of the childishness … part of this was because of the way it pushed my thinking and part of it was because it was nice to feel part of some twisted social club.

And then, a few months ago, I decided to stop it.

It was the right thing to do and this post written by the brilliant Armando, reinforces that.

And while I still wake up to insults, banter and builds – albeit on individual emails, rather than on group blog comments – they’re not the same as when there was a group pile on.

I know … how picky can I get???

Now this doesn’t mean I’m going to open up the comments – at least not yet – but it does highlight how great it is to be surrounded by people you like and respect.

Yes, I guess I’m saying I liked and respected many of the people who commented on here. Which is probably as much as a surprise to you as it is to me.

The thing is, I’ve generally been very lucky in my career and ended up with lots of people I’ve felt that way about. People who added to the culture and the creativity rather than sucked the life out of it for their own gain/god complex.

But there have also been times that’s not been the case.

There was one person in particular who was beyond toxic.

They were manipulative, destructive, undermining and bullying. They thought they were always right and yet produced the same thing over and over again – trying to squeeze claims of uber-intelligence out of micro thinking. So many people were hurt by their behaviour but because they made money for the agency, they weren’t just tolerated but revered.

What makes it worse is they knew they were burning people and yet rather than feel any sense of shame or embarrassment for it, they felt invincible. They’d publicly label the people they’d forced out as weak or inferior and yet the company he worked for – one who talks a lot about humanity – just turned a blind eye.

As so many do.

Which is why when you find people on your frequency, it’s something special.

Of course it can also be dangerous because it’s not a big leap to ending up thinking you’re special and everyone else is wrong … but with the right combination, you can enjoy working together while pushing each other to be better.

And it’s here that the specialness really reveals itself.

Because whether through banter or arguments, it never becomes personal. You all know the opinions expressed are only at making the work better. And it’s that feeling – that ability to be truly honest to each other without hurting each other – is something truly special.

You may not realise it at the time.

You may only realise it once it’s gone.

But it’s the difference between work being hard and work being exciting.

Not all the time, but a lot of the time.

And even if someone does fuck up and crosses the line, the energy in the environment allows you to call it out and everyone deals with it, with grace and objectivity.

Because the respect for each other trumps any need to win by destroying each other.

I’ve had it a few times.

I had it on this blog.

And maybe I just realised that.

So thank you.

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Keep Them Mean To Keep Them Subservient …

As it is the first of August, I thought I’d change the tone of the posts from the rather heavy ones of July to something a bit more ‘light’.

Which is why today I’m writing about cats.

As you know, I love those feline sods.

Specifically my feline sod … Rosie.

The things I’ve done for her.

Taken her around the World.

Got an import licence in China so we could get her her favourite treats.

Built custom ‘penthouse cat houses’ for her, so she could enjoy the outdoors in safety.

Got a company to make a bloody stuffed toy version of her for us.

In fact, it’s so realistic a client once thought she was stuck on a wardrobe during a zoom call.

And what do I get in return?

Complaints.

Demands.

Distain.

And a distinct lack of love or emotion.

Oh I know she loves me really.

Not as much as we love her, obvs … but there is affection there. Deep down.

However I recently saw something that not only summed her up, but summed all cats up which perfectly explains why some people hate them, and why some – like me – are at their mercy, will and command.

If humans treated humans this way, it would be considered an abusive relationship.

But cats powers of manipulation has managed to reframe that as ‘personality’.

Seriously, if you want to know the art of strategy, forget the Weigel’s, Bloodworth’s, Ritson’s and Collin’s and just study cats.

They’re bastards. But they’re brilliant bastards … as demonstrated by this photo that, for me, is the best encapsulation of cattidude you will ever see.

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How To Bite The Hand That Feeds You …

The management team at Metallica asked me a while back if I’d give a presentation to a bunch of music execs about ‘artist strategy’.

They said they wanted me to explain how I work with them, how I approach my job and what some of the work we have done together has manifested itself into.

So I pulled a presentation together, took them through it – got their nods of approval – and prepared for the talk.

When the time came, I found myself on zoom at 12am Auckland time … presenting to 200 odd record/band executives in London, NY and Nashville.

Despite looking so tired I probably resembled a Zombie, all went very well and I was happy to answer questions.

One of the people in attendance asked how much ‘power’ I have over the artists actions and decisions.

Despite the reality being absolute zero – and, nor should I have any – I replied that I had a hidden slide that could best explain my influence, to which I showed them this …

At least I found it funny.

And – to be fair to me – it’s a fair reflection of the actual power I have over the band.

Though I appreciate I probably have just sent myself to the ‘where are they now’ dungeon … even though I’m going to try and justify it by saying nothing is more rock n’ roll that smashing up your career. Ahem.

Thank you Q and M for not just putting up with me, but still involving me in this stuff.

My wife has ‘had words’ with me regarding my professionalism. Ahem.



Time Machines Suck …

I’ve written this blog consistently for 15 years.

FIFTEEN!!!

My god …

But it gets worse.

Because bar a few weeks of holiday, it is something that has been written every single Monday to Friday.

That means there has been over 3,900 posts of utter gibberish for over 780 weeks.

And as tragic as that all sounds, there’s an awful lot of people who comment on here who have been here pretty much all that time.

LOSERS!!!

Now, I have to say there are some lovely benefits to long term blog writing.

In some ways it’s like a diary … capturing what I was thinking or doing at any given time.

It also is a lovely way to see how my opinions and thoughts have evolved over time.

Plus there’s the hope that when I’m gone, Otis will still feel his Dad is close.

OK … OK … there are some posts I definitely DON’T want him to read, but there’s others I’d be glad for him to keep going back to.

Putting aside I basically write the same 3 or 4 posts over and over again … there is a lot of my life contained in these pages.

From getting married to losing my Mum to having my son.

Proper life-changing stuff … and that doesn’t even cover the moves to different countries, jobs and homes.

The best and worst of my life is detailed here which is why – despite all these big life events being sandwiched between endless amounts of shit – I still like it.

Occasionally I randomly click on a date and just see what I wrote.

Recently I did this and was reminded what a little shit I was.

OK, can be.

It’s this.

Yep, it’s the time I tried to auction off Martin Sorrell’s business card so people could send him stupid messages or texts.

On the plus side, I was offering to give any money to charity.

On the negative, I was working for WPP at the time.

If you think that’s stupid, there was the time I wrote a post featuring a photo of Sir Martin with a picture of Toad of Toad Hall under the caption ‘Spot The Difference’.

And the weird thing is that while I don’t agree with his approach to creativity, I do respect him. I have met him on a number of occasions and he was very, very impressive.

Though it’s fair to say that respect was only one way, Especially when there was an agency Q&A and I asked him ‘what do you spend all your money on?’

So Sir Martin … even though I know you would never read this blog [more proof you’re clever] I would like to take this opportunity to apologise for my stupidity. It was ridiculous … but if it’s any consolation, at least it wasn’t as bad as this.

I know … I know … this was a terrible post even by my standards.

So celebrate in the fact that tomorrow is Good Friday so I’m off till next Tuesday and you’re not going have to deal with any more of this shit till then.

I don’t know about you … but it’s the sort of news that makes you almost believe in God, doesn’t it.

Happy Easter, enjoy the sugar rush.