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

The Art Of Excess …
May 22, 2023, 8:15 am
Filed under: Content, Culture, Environment

A few weeks ago, we joined Costco.

Frankly I did it more out of curiosity than any desire to shop, but one Saturday morning we all popped off to check it out.

Now I don’t know what hell is like, but I imagine it’s its similar to what I encountered and experienced.

To be fair the staff were fantastic, helpful … kind … full of personality … but the customers!!!

Actually calling them customers is wrong.

Angry animals would be a much better description.

Sharp elbows … sharp tongues and endless dickhead moves and behaviours.

It was like a cross between a rugby match against sworn enemies and the opening of the January sales.

Utter mayhem.

And while I get the attraction for big families or small businesses … for everyone else it’s kind-of like gluttony disguised as ‘value’.

Yes, the prices are cheaper than in the everyday supermarket, but is anyone ever going to consume a 9-litre bottle of vinegar?

Of course, once you’re there, there’s no way out …

Before you know it, you’re trapped in a world of superlative sizes.

Purchasing massive packets of Reece’s Pieces and Coffee Mate … an orgy of excess that reveals human evolution is based more on environment than time.

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How To Live Better By People Who Lived Hard …
May 19, 2023, 8:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Culture, Emotion, Empathy, Health, Humanity

Occasionally you read a story that just blows you away.

It may be about human endeavor … or suffering … or achievement … but you’re deeply affected by it.

Maybe it’s because you can’t imagine how you would cope in the same situation or that you can never even imagine the situation … but it changes something in you.

I’ve recently read 2 stories that have had this affect on me.

They’re both very different … one is about finding themselves, the other survival … and yet there are commonalities as well.

Blind belief.
Dumb luck.
A desire to see things through.
Acceptance of who they are or the situation they’re in.
An ability to only deal with issues when they become issues.

One is the story of Tom Turcich, who at age 17, spent the next 7 years of his life walking around the World.

The reasons behind it are both deeply personal and emotional … but the story he then takes us on is truly inspirational.

I don’t mean that in a ‘Hollywood’ type of way, but in its everyday humbleness and normality.

And it’s exactly because of that, that he explains things that have a lot of insight and learning.

One thing that really struck me was at the end, when he was asked if his journey had made him more confident in himself.

“That’s a difficult question to answer” … he says.

“It’s a kind of Dunning-Kruger. You know, the psychological study where the dumbest person in the room is the most confident? The more you know, the less confident you are. I think I was pretty confident at the beginning, but I was an idiot. Once you know you don’t know everything, you lose some of the confidence and become less sure about things.”

I love this. Love it.

It’s so true … though, judging by the bravado of so many of our political leaders – not to mention people like Andrew Tate and his blinkered followers – it seems not everyone understands that.

Well, I say that, but I feel they make it a deliberate choice.

It’s as if they realise being open to information and experiences would undermine their whole viewpoint on life … and as their entire value is based on their own delusional confidence, they’d rather choose to remain blinkered than to evolve.

The other story is about Annette Herfkens – the only survivor in a plane crash.

Her story, like Tom, is incredible and yet she also expresses it without drama or superlatives.

Again, it’s not a conscious attempt to play down her story to appear more enlightened to those who follow her … it’s a reflection of who she is and how she overcame the most tragic and challenging of circumstances.

And like Tom, what she learned from her experience has many implications on how we could all benefit in how to live our lives.

I don’t mean that in terms of ‘valuing what you have’ [though that wouldn’t be bad] … but more in terms of being quick to accept situations, however bad.

That may sound counter-intuitive – and it certainly is different to many of the ‘projection’ ideals spouted in countless self-help books – but based on how it liberated Tom and Annette from the harshest of situations, it certainly has merit.

They’re relatively long … but they’re worth it.

From a personal point of view, they’re two of the most powerful things I’ve read.

Have a good weekend.

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The Hammer And The Feather …

One of my pet hates is when people think the best way to brief creativity is to say what they want to see, not the problem they need to be solved.

Whether it was where I worked … or who I worked with … I didn’t encounter this much at the beginning of my career. But as marketing lost its clout – and so standards increasingly fell – I’ve seen it happen a hell of a lot more.

I wish I could say I deal with this sort of situation well, but let’s say there is ‘room for improvement’.

Oh I can hear Andy as I type this.

“If they don’t know how to do their job, you can do your job anyway you choose” … but fights don’t solve anything other than a temporary moment of relief.

I know … you’re wondering who am I?

Don’t worry, I did say I have room for improvement because frankly, I still suck at dealing with this sort of thing, even if I’m way better than I used to be.

One of the worst situations I ever encountered was in Malaysia when a client complained about the way an actors hand looked in a print ad.

I should point out the ad wasn’t about hands, didn’t focus on hands and the hand in question was perfectly normal … but for some insane reason, he wanted it reshot – at our cost – suggesting it would ruin everything.

I genuinely thought they were joking when they first said it, so laughed.

And then he looked at me like I’d just smashed his mother in the face and asked ‘what the hell was I laughing at?’

I’d love to say I responded in a calm, professional manner … however, well, you can guess.

That said, I also put a proposition to him that said if there was commentary about the hand when the campaign launched, we would not only pay for a re-shoot, but we would refund 25% of our costs to him. However if nothing was said, then he had to pay us an additional 50% of our costs.

He lost interest in his argument after that and – surprise surprise – there was absolutely no commentary about the freak hand that wasn’t freaky whatsoever.

I say this because I recently read about the 1994 movie, Street Fighter, featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme and errrrrm, Kylie Minogue.

The film was rubbish [though it’s now seen as a camp classic, like the Queen soundtracked ‘Flash Gordon’ that preceded it] and the making of it was a rollercoaster but writer/director Steven de Souza makes a comment that is not just insightful, but highlights how creativity not only solves problem … but can do it in the most bombastic or gentle of ways.

It’s a lesson we could all do with remembering.

Especially those who dictate what outcomes, not identify their problems.

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Ooops, ‘They’ Did It Again …

In 2019, WARC made the stupid mistake of inviting Martin and I to talk at their event at Cannes. I was so confident that this would be the only time it would happen, I even asked the audience if I could take a photo to commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime moment.

Now, it’s fair to say The Case For Chaos talk went down quite well – hell, I even got a Getty Image of me out of it [number of sales: 0] – but I also think it’s fair to say the reason Covid happened is so Cannes would be cancelled for a few years spot the industry could get over WARC’s shocking mistake.

However, as time goes on, there is more and more evidence that long covid is a thing … where the virus continues to live within people and causes long term negative effects.

I say that because this can be the only explanation as to why WARC have asked us back to present at this years Cannes Festival.

Yep … it’s happening.

June 22 at 3:30pm.

God help us all.

But before you all run off to tell George Bush you’ve discovered a real weapon of mass destruction … there’s good news and bad news.

The good is both Martin and I know we don’t stand a chance of saying anything remotely interesting by ourselves. Because of this fact, we went out and asked/blackmailed/paid if our dear friend – the brilliant Paula Bloodworth – would be a part of this with us.

As anyone who listens to OnStrategy will know, Paula, Martin and I meet up every week on Zoom to put the world to rights. Or bitch. Or ask each other for advice. So we used one of these sessions to beg for her brain and charisma to help make this something people would want to see and would actually get something out of it.

And – because we caught her when she was tired – she said yes!!!

However, it’s because she was tired that we got her to agree what our talk would be called.

Which leads to the bad news.

Because while all the other invited speakers are giving talks about the role strategy in terms of it’s future, it’s role in driving business and effectiveness, the emerging roles, trends and opportunities for the discipline, our talk is called:

Strategy is constipated. Imagination is the laxative.

And while we haven’t written a word of it yet, I’m not joking.

I’m so sorry …

For Paula.
For Martin.
For the discipline.
For all the attendees.

But hey, at least I’ll get another photo op out of it, even if it ends up looking like this:

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Lost In My Own Selfish Sorrow …
May 16, 2023, 8:15 am
Filed under: Comment, Dad, Death, Family, Mum

As I mentioned at the time, my Easter holiday was rubbish.

I got a virus the day before Good Friday and basically was ill – in bed – for the entire holiday.

To pass the time between falling asleep, I watched endless TikTok’s and Reel’s.

In-between the wannabe’s and impressive, there were more than a few that triggered a lot of emotions in me.

Posts that talked about memories and loss …. whether of friends, family or pets.

I’d love to say that I cried a lot because I was feeling sorry for myself, and while that is true – there was a lot more going on.

Despite being 52.

Despite my parents being gone for 8 years and 24 years respectively.

Despite having an utterly wonderful family and professional life.

I’m a bit of a mess.

There’s a whole host of reasons – part of it simply being a sentimental emotional bastard [as Andy used to say] but there was one clip that dug deep.

It was a kid on the streets of London who was asked what was one of the saddest times of their life.

They talked about the loss of their Dad and then they mentioned how amazing their Mum had been, because even though she had to deal with the loss of the person she loved most, she had to also ensure their son didn’t fall too far.

And while I’ve always recognised and realised that, something in their comment hit me hard.

There have been far too many occasions where I’ve been stuck in my own pig-headed selfish world. Thinking about the impact of things on me, not really considering the impact on those around me. And while most people have let me get away with this – knowing I’m going through a hard time – it still upsets me I can get so lost in my own shit.

That’s not how I was brought up. That’s not how I used to be.

So with that I want to say thank you to Mum.

Thank you for your love and support.

Thank you for sacrificing your pain to help me get through mine.

Thank you for always being there with your gentle encouragement.

Thank you for your strength when everything was falling apart.

Thank you for your love, support, patience and protection.

I am so sorry I took more from you than I gave.

I am so sorry I chose to be ignorant to the truth for so long.

Believing you were being negative about Dad’s situation when you were caring for him 24/7 and I was visiting from Australia.

I appreciate now how much additional worry I must have caused you, wondering how I’d cope with his health reality, when I chose to finally let it in.

When I would be forced to let it in.

I wish I had not been so blinkered and blind and lost in my own distress.

I wish I had been stronger so you could fall, rather than always pick me up.

I wish you had not lost the man you loved so much so early.

I am so grateful for all you did for me. And continue to do for me.

Thank you for being the best Mum I could ever have.

Love you Mum.


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