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


Hidden In Plain Sight …

A week or so ago, Otis was telling me about a magic trick he saw at school.

He was amazed by it.

Apparently some magicians came in to assembly and showed the school a book that was in black and white and then – at the flick of a wand – turned into colour.

So I said to him, was it something like this …

He watched transfixed before shouting with sheer joy …

“Yes Daddy, that’s it. THAT’S IT!”

So I said to him …

“Well if you like that, you may like this from a long time ago” …

He laughed and laughed and laughed, then asked me what it was.

So I told him that years ago, in 2007 in fact, a group of people did this thing called iPod Singing, which was the latest wonderfully bonkers ideas from Marcus Brown.

He looked at me for a second and said,

“Were those videos Marcus Brown?”

“No” …” I replied, “… they were of me”.

Silence.

Bit more silence.

Look of confusion and amazement on his face.

“But it didn’t look like you or sound like you Daddy”.

I looked at Jill.

“Well your voice has changed over they years”, she said.

Jesus Christ …

And while I would like to think this means I could be James Bond, the reality is I now understand why tax departments in every country I’ve lived give me shit. Because every year, it appears they think the person who has to pay their bill isn’t the person who is stood in front of them saying, “I’ve paid, I’ve paid”.

So thank you Marcus for revealing how my son only recognises me from 2014 … which is handy given all the shit I want him not to see when he’s older.



There’s Bad Day’s And Then There’s Bad, Stupid Days …

I know … I know … how stupid is that?

But believe it or not, that wasn’t the end of the tragic day.

It started badly when I booked an external room so the team could work on a project in peace only to discover the room was on top of a generator and it shook the whole place like we were on a boat for the entire time we were there.

Then, after the ‘cash gate’ incident [which the bank then charged me a further fee for as that account went wildly overdrawn, though – thankfully – Henry did pay me back] … I was going home and stopped at a traffic light when I looked to my left only to see a Police Car, with a policeman looking at me smiling.

“And why was he smiling?” I hear you ask.

Was it the beauty of my car?

No.

Was it the beauty of me?

Errrrm, no.

Was it because he was just being a friendly cop?

Well, he was, but no.

It was actually because I had picked up my phone to check an address and so – as soon as the lights went green – his lights went red and blue and I got stopped and fined.

Once upon a time there was a band called The Weather Girls who sang It’s Raining Men.

Well this day, it rained shit.

That said, I’ve had way worse days of shitty rain. Ha.

Let’s hope this isn’t an omen for the rest of the week.



Perfect Fucks You Up …

A while back, I did a presentation for the Brazilian APG about the dangers of perfect.

Or more precisely, the boredom of it.

It was my usual rambling mess of random pictures that goes off on tangents a protractor would find hard to calculate … but I still liked the underlying point that perfection stops possibilities whereas acts others may view as stupid … creates them.

[If you’re mad, you can see a static version of the presentation here]

I say I liked the underlying point until I saw this.

I really, really like this.

I love the idea that flaws help us connect.

I love that imperfection can make us feel normal. That it is something to aspire to.

Of course, the reality is perfection is just an illusion.

One persons definition of what is the ultimate expression of an idea.

A temporary moment, where they believe nothing better has been explored or revealed.

The problems start when that definition starts being challenged.

While some embrace it – seeing it as a way to push the boundaries of what they thought was possible – many fight it.

Using their definition to control, limit or devalue the work of the challengers.

Sometimes it’s due to ego.
Sometimes it’s due to money.
But everytime it aims to oppress rather than liberate.

It’s happening everywhere.

From technology processes to agency ‘proprietary’ tools.

And while there is a lot to be said for being proud of what you have done, when you use it to stop people creating their own version, it’s not.

I’ve seen too many people in too many companies follow the orders of their bosses simply because it’s easier to do that. Where they know expressing a different point of view will be seen as an attack rather than an attempt for everyone to be even better.

So while perfect might be nice and shiny and make you feel good, it also has the power to stop progress.

Or as the brilliant chart at the top of this post states, stop feeling you can relate.

Not because it’s so far ahead, but because of the speed society evolves, it’s too far behind.



If You Don’t Know Your History, Everything Is The Future …

Burning On Fire GIF by Barbara Pozzi - Find & Share on GIPHY

When I was at R/GA, we got invited to do a big pitch in China.

I was travelling a lot so asked some of my brilliant colleagues to help me with developing the overall strategy.

When I came back, I found they had done a ton of work.

Huge amounts of research.

Huge amounts of analysis.

Huge amounts of thinking.

It was fantastic, there was just one problem.

It was all wrong.

Not because what they had done wasn’t true or accurate, but simply because they’d fallen for planners achilles heel.

‘What they thought was interesting and new wasn’t interesting or new for the audience they needed to talk to.’

While they will never make that mistake again, you’d be amazed how much this happens.

I used to see it in China all the time.

Westerners coming into the country for the first time and throwing down all the things that they found fascinating without realising what they were saying was just normal life for anyone there.

The vast populations of cities.
The local alternatives to twitter, youtube and facebook.
Wechat’s amazing array of features that are embedded in everyday life.
The incredible migration of the country during the New Year festival.
The amount of money spent on 11.11

Yawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwn.

It’s such an easy and dangerous mistake to make.

Driven by a pinch of arrogance here … a sliver of laziness there … and underpinned by a big dollop of what I wrote about a while back.

I see it all the time … doesn’t matter whatsoever if it’s strategists talking about cultures of other nations or cultures in other parts of their own nation.

Hell, some of the stuff I heard spouted in London planning circles have been bordering on embarrassing.

From using data without any element of context to allegedly reveal ‘why Northern values are unique values’ right through to a continuous barrage of repurposed and reclaimed ‘trend reports’ which enables them to state with utter certainty they know how ‘TikTok is shaping culture’ … despite never once referring to China, where the platform has been in operation for years and where culture there are literally light years ahead of the West in terms of how they use it and how they are influenced by it.

Seriously, when I see or hear this stuff, I wonder if they realise it say’s far more about them than the people they are supposedly expertly explaining?.

Look, I totally appreciate there are many reasons why this situation is occurring.

And as I said, there are many parties guilty of this situation.

But – and it’s a big but – we, as individuals and a discipline, have to take some blame for it.

Thinking we don’t have to interact with people to talk about people.
Believing having an answer is more important than having understanding.
Valuing individual revelation more than contextual appreciation.

All this does is lead to work that satisfies our ego while boring our audience to death.

We can be great.

We can be valuable.

We can push the potential of creativity.

But it won’t happen if we continue to think if it’s new to us, it must be new to everyone.



A Conversation About Living. And Failing.

A few weeks ago, my friend – Philippa White, the founder of TIE – spoke to me about my life.

While many would say that is the single worst idea anyone could have, Philippa – for reasons that still escape me – thought differently.

TIE – or The International Exchange – is an amazing thing.

They link people from the commercial world [from big organisations to people from BBH and W+K] with social initiatives around the world, providing unique opportunities that will transform the lives of both parties.

It’s an absolutely amazing organisation and the people who have done it talk about how it has had a profound affect on their lives – for the experience they had, the realisation that their skills can benefit people in different ways that they ever imagined and the lessons they learnt about what they’re good at, what they want to be good at and the future they can now envision for themselves.

I have not done TIE, but Philippa and I bonded when we met over the power of overseas experiences and learning and for some reason she wanted to talk about my journey.

We cover a whole lot of topics, from family to friendship to failure and while it may only be interesting to those looking for a cure for insomnia, if you’re looking for development, growth and having more meaning and value from your life … I can assure you TIE is definitely going to be of interest to you.

Thank you Philippa. Thank you TIE.

You can be disappointed by it here.