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


In The Rush To Succeed, You Can Go Right Past What You’re Actually Looking To Achieve …

I’ve written a lot about craft.

The value of it.

Creatively, culturally and commercially.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate speed can have a competitive advantage – but it’s also important to remember so can craft.

In all honesty, you can easily tell those who think ‘good enough is good enough’ and those who are focused on doing things wonderfully.

They may look similar.

They may perform in similar ways.

But there’s something that separates them.

Maybe it’s the quality of materials or the attention to detail when your look closely or maybe it just feels differently … something that feels like someone sweated everything all the time.

But what is interesting is why.

Because it’s not just so they can charge someone more for what they’ve done … but, as Steve Job’s referenced in his paint behind the fence story … so they can feel they’re valuing their own talent and standards.



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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Yes It’s Another Bloody Rules By Rubin …

… however having just read a report by a consultancy on Chinese audiences – which was not only utterly generalistic, but out-of-date – I felt I had to write this.

Especially as the Rubin quote is so perfect for it. So here we go …

If you only know your audience through their transactional data … if you only speak to your audience to hear what they think about you rather than understand what you don’t know about them … if you only talk about your audience in generalistic terms … if you only interact with your audience through a one-way mirrored room … if you only interact with your audience by outsourcing to a ‘for profit’ organisation … if you think your audience only care about you and what you do … if you think your audiences lives have remained the same for over a year … if you use international trend reports as a proxy for knowing what your audiences future habits and behaviours will be … if you only talk to the same audience in the same markets [once a year] … if you only care about how to get your audience to buy more of what you’re selling … if you call your audience “consumers” …

Then I assure you, you’re definitely talking down to your audience.

If you want them to respect you, start by respecting them.



The Condiments Versus The Food …

I don’t understand what some people are thinking.

We have got to a point where ‘the idea’ is seemingly regarded as a superficial bit of nonsense.

A wrapper for marketing.

Something as interchangeable as a phone cover.

For some utterly imbecilic reason, ‘the idea’ is now seen as optional – a potential distraction to purpose, eco-systems, frameworks and anything else designed to elevate an idea rather than be the idea.

No wonder our industry is in such a state.

Not only have we sold the value of creativity down the river, we now have a business model based on selling condiments rather than meals.

This post isn’t about dismissing the different and the new.

There’s value in a lot of them – despite the fact most of them aren’t new, just in possession of a new name.

This is actually about being stubborn with the priorities …

Because an idea isn’t wrapping, it’s the fucking present.

Have a good weekend … we have Monday off here, so see you Tuesday.



The Rise Of Keep The Problem Alive …

So I know I said last week was the last of the Rules By Rubin … but then I did also say there may be some more in the future.

Well consider this the future.

Shit isn’t it?

Don’t worry, it’s just for today and tomorrow then we go back to normal.

So just as shit. Sorry.

Anyway this is about the state of the creative industry.

Whereas once, it was filled with companies all wanting to create wonderful things to put into the world – regardless of their individual discipline or expertise – the emergence of consultancies has led to the industry now falling into 2 groups

Those who can’t help finding ways to put creativity out into the world in interesting ways and those who seemingly do all they can to never put anything out whatsoever.

While I sort-of understand the theory why agencies would like the idea of being like a consultancy, what I’ve found especially bizarre is that in doing that, they’re seemingly happy to dismiss making any actual creativity at all.

At first I was really confused how they thought they’d stay in business.

I mean, there are as many competitors as there are in adland.

Their entire model is designed around making actual creative work.

The lack of C-Suite engagement is more individual than entire industry.

Then I thought maybe I was completely wrong.

That they did want to make work.

After all, why else would their excellent strategists continually write 100 page decks filled with charts, ecosystems, frameworks and playbooks to every single client meeting?

Surely that is a sign of a company actually wanting to make something.

But then on closer inspection, I saw a lot of those decks had no creativity mentioned in them whatsoever.

And the conversation around audience was simplistic, generalist and utterly contrived.

In essence, they talked a hell of a lot but actually said very little.

“What the hell was going on?” I would ask myself.

And then on a cold night one Wednesday, I worked it out.

Those planners aren’t writing strategic decks, they’re creating remuneration landfill.

Thank fuck for the others.

The ones who know who they are.

The ones who push rather than pander.

The ones who create opportunities not wait for them.

The ones who run to the edge rather than run on the spot.

The ones who finish interesting things to start making more interesting things.