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


The Power Of Pettiness …

Of all the types of revenge you can get, petty revenge is one of my favourites.

The beauty of it is that it’s petty. Meaning it’s for something the aggressor doesn’t even realise they have done. At least not until they experience the act of revenge.

The other wonderful thing is that the pettiness often extends to the act of revenge.

In most cases it’s about forcing some sort of ‘inconvenience’ upon the victim … even if organising it took longer than the actual inconvenience lasted.

It’s why the question asked of many revenge makers is, “was it worth all that time just to do that?”

And almost universally, the answer is “yes … it most definitely was”.

Over the years I’ve embarked on a reign of petty revenge terror. Seeking to even the score against people who have either inadvertently- or consciously – tried to fuck me or a mate over.

This has resulted in all manner of acts.

From stealing a single wheel from their desk chair so it was annoyingly lopsided … to having stickers printed so I could put the word “last” over all their out-of-date ‘agency of the year’ posters … to placing a ‘honk if you hate the police’ bumper sticker to the back of their car to having badges made that said “I’m a sexist twat” that we sent to every male boss who had harassed my female friends to – in the very old days – changing the keys around on their laptops in the knowledge they couldn’t touch type so every time they wrote words like ‘they’, it would type a very different word.

I would like to point out 3 things:

1. They all deserved it.
2. This was all a very, very long time ago.
3. I’m much more sensible these days.

Well, I say that, but when we lived in London, a neighbour denied they had taken delivery of my Amazon order – despite me being sent photographic evidence of them accepting it – so I spent 2 days signing them up to every catalogue I could find and I hope they’re still getting them. I added a nice touch by addressing it to, ‘Ima Lyer-Antheef’.

But compared to my friends, I’m still an amateur. The stuff they’ve done is incredible in it’s pettiness and time consumption.

There’s one involving a famous cereal manufacturer – that I can only say when on my death bed – that still raises a smile even though it occurred 16 years ago.

But all that pales into insignificance compared to this …

They say heroes wear capes.

Well sometimes they wear their pettiness on their sleeve.

All bow down to a true master at work. Bravo. Bravo. Bravo.



Blame Throwing …
June 2, 2021, 8:00 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Corporate Evil, Experience, Relevance

So when we were leaving for New Zealand, I wanted to change our house insurance to cover the people we were renting.

So I rang our insurer – Hiscox – only to be told they would not be willing to insure our house as we’ll be living overseas.

They were fine with insuring our house.

They were fine with insuring our house with tenants.

But because we were going to be living overseas, we were told:

“We don’t want to insure you”.

They used those exact words.

Now I don’t know if this is their general policy – I know we’ve had other insurers look after our house while living overseas – but their general attitude was pretty horrific, made even more pathetic when a couple of days later they sent us a letter saying, ‘we’re sorry you have decided not to use us again’.

Now maybe this was computer generated, but I wasn’t going to let them cancel me then blame me, so I sent a letter back pointing out that I had actually wanted to extend my policy but they decided “they didn’t want me”, despite me always paying their higher-than-average policy rates on time.

You’d think that would be the end of it … but then I got a letter a day or so later. Not to apologise. Not to thank me for my previous custom. But to offer me ‘a deal’ to renew my house insurance with them again.

What the absolute fuck.

The next day, I got another correspondence from them. This …

So they acknowledge they made a mistake offering me a deal they had no intention to fulfil. But they failed to acknowledge their terrible service to a customer.

So I wrote to ‘Bob’ to explain how his companies ‘premier service’ was more Premier Inn than premier. And that’s not being fair to the Premier Inn, because every time I’ve stayed there – and I’ve stayed there a lot – the service has been great.

Not great in proportion to their price.

But great.

And while I have never accepted the maxim that ‘the customer is always right’, I can assure you neither is the company.

So dear Hiscox, maybe you need to take a policy out on yourselves, because if you carry on with the customer service you handed out to me, you’ll be needing to make a claim in no time.



A Year On From A Half Century …

This time last year, I was writing about how I only had 11 days left of my 40’s.

That I would soon be reaching my ‘half century of age‘.

To say a lot has happened since then is an understatement.

A year ago, I was living in Fulham, working with R/GA and stuck in the first lockdown.

Since then, I have gone through redundancy, bought a beautiful family home in the countryside, watched Forest fuck up the best chance for promotion that they’ve had in 20 years, been in The Guardian newspaper, got ‘The Hoff’ to make a video for my beloved Paul’s big 5-0 birthday, started Uncorporated with Metallica’s management … worked with even more rockstars and billionaires … as well as some fashion icons, music producer legends and the most anticipated video game in history … bought a house in New Zealand that we never saw, moved to New Zealand in the middle of a pandemic, started working at the wonderful Colenso and got to see my family start living a ‘normal’ life again.

And that’s just the big bits.

So here we are again.

The beginning of the month of my birthday.

I hope to fuck this year is not as traumatic.

I’m fine with the variety, but please, not as traumatic.



If You Want To Know What Is Really Important, Talk To Someone Who Has Been Struggling With Their Truth …
May 31, 2021, 8:00 am
Filed under: Comment, Love, Truth

A few weeks ago, out the blue, someone I know wrote to me to tell me he was gay.

He told me this was something he had struggled for decades to deal with but he had recently accepted his truth and was slowly getting comfortable with it.

And – for reasons even he wasn’t sure of – he wanted me to know.

I read it and then read it again and then just stopped to take it in.

It was one of the few moments in my life where I was highly conscious of all the incredibly different emotions going through me at that very moment.

Overall I was just so incredibly happy for him.

I had absolutely no idea so cannot imagine the hugely challenging and emotional journey he has been and will – hopefully to a much lesser extent – continue to be on. But to get to the point where he is comfortable with embracing who he is makes me so so happy.

He’s a wonderful human. A wonderful, talented human and all I have ever wanted for him was to be happy. In time, I believe this will make him happier than he may ever of dreamed was possible.

And then there was the feeling of pride.

That he had found the strength to admit it to himself.

That he had chosen to take the path of his truth, despite it opening up some other doors he will now have to navigate.

People struggle with all manner of issues in their life, but this must go to the very heart of who you are. Identity. Expectation. Judgement.

What I imagine was the intensity of pressure is beyond anything I can imagine … but he didn’t just deal with it, he beat it.

That is fucking incredible and amazing.

And then there was love. Genuine love.

That he would trust me enough to tell me something so deeply personal.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve known each other for a while and I’ve always thought incredibly highly of his character … creativity … compassion … and kindness … but we’re not constantly in each others lives so to share something with me that he has just come to accept himself is the highest honour I think I may ever have felt.

As I told him, I just want to go give him a massive hug and tell him he’s ace.

The point of this post is two fold.

I hope that one day – by hook or by crook – he see’s this.

So he knows how much some old bloke from Nottingham thinks of him.

How proud I am of who he is and what he has done.

Which will be the same as everyone else he tells will feel.

Nothing changes of course because we’ve always adored him but we will all be so happy for him for being happy with himself.

The second point is a reminder.

No one knows what someone is going through.

Too often we look at people based on what we’re going through our own lives rather than considering what they may be going through theirs.

Just remembering we’re all dealing with different sorts of challenges may just open the door to people feeling more comfortable or confident to express or share. Or simply feel the World isn’t a cold, cruel place.

That they’re not entirely on their own unless they choose to be.

I’m so so proud of you mate.

And I’m so excited for the life you can now live.

Because while society often talks about material assets as symbols of a life worth living, the best thing you can have is a life of truth.

Love ya …

_____________________________________________________________

I know this blog has a rather dark sense of humour, but please not on this post. I am sure you know why, but save your sarcasm and abuse towards me for tomorrow. Ta.



Nothing Shows Respect Like Letting Someone Argue With You …

A career is a funny thing.

I mean literally, as a concept – it’s quite bizarre.

The idea of working in one industry and hoping to move up a fictional ladder and somehow hope that by the time you’re pushed off it – and we’ll all be pushed off it at some time – you’ve built up enough reputation or cash to keep you going through till the bitter end.

Hahahaha … Mr Positive eh!?

Anyway, by hook or by crook I’ve somehow managed to have what I’d call a career.

Admittedly, I fell into it – but overall, I’ve had a pretty good one.

I’ve worked at some amazing places.
I’ve got to live literally all around the World.
I’ve met people who have literally changed my life.
I’ve been part of work that still excites me years later.
And somehow, I’m still doing all those things, which is insane.

But as wonderful as all that is, one thing I am particularly proud of is how many of my old team mates are now at some of the most highly regarded creative companies in the World doing all manner of interesting things.

Of course, I had little to do with it – it’s all their talent – but the bit that makes me proud is that they are forging their own careers based on their own ideas and their own opinions and their own voice.

About 2005, I realised how lucky I had been with previous bosses.

All of them encouraged me to find my own voice rather than duplicate someone else’s … and while that often got me in trouble, they never strayed from their path of encouraging independent thought.

Now I appreciate a lot of companies say this, but this wasn’t some PR bullshit they could spout in a magazine, they lived it – openly and actively welcoming, encouraging and igniting debate.

And they never ‘pulled rank’.

It was always a discussion of equals – which was one of the most empowering and liberating professional feelings I ever had.

It showed trust. It showed respect. It showed value.

And even though I’m an old fuck who has done OK in my career, I still get that same feeling when I am working with others who embrace the same value.

As much as rockstars and billionaires may have a reputation for demanding diva’s, I can honestly say the ones I’ve been working with have been amazing in welcoming opinion. They may not always like what is said, but they always value why it has.

And that’s why, when I saw a shift in planning from rigour to replication … challenge to complicity … and individuality to impotency [driven by the global financial crisis of 2008] I realised the best thing I could do is encourage my team to be independent in thought, voice and behaviour.

I should point out this was not selfless. By having great creative and cultural thinkers in my team, they would help make even better work and that would have a positive effect on me too.

I know, what a prick eh.

And of course, I acknowledge not every planner was following the replication path. Nor was every agency. But it was definitely happening and arguably, this is why Australian planners have risen in position more than those from other nations [ie: Tobey head of planning at Uncommon, Paula global head of Nike planning at Wieden, Andy head of planning at Wieden Portland, Rodi, head of strategy at Apple South East Asia and Aisea MD at Anomaly LA to name but 5] because – as much as the Aussie government may like to say they suffered – the country was largely unaffected, which meant training continued, standards continued, creativity continued.

So while there was a bunch of other values we continually encouraged and practiced, the desire to develop independent thinking, openness and debate were a real focus of mine and have continued to be.

Whether I was successful is up to the people who had the awkwardness of dealing with me, but I distinctly remembering being in a meeting at Wieden in Shanghai after Sue, Leon and Charinee had just challenged a bunch of things we had just talked to the agency about.

One of the global team was there and said, “they’re very outspoken”.

And while normally that could be read as a diss, it wasn’t … it was more of a surprise because many people in China – especially the young – tend to keep very quiet, especially in front of people who are at a more senior level to them and this mob had gone to town.

To which I replied, “I know. It’s a wonderful headache to have”.

And it was.

And it is.

Which is why I will continue to believe the best thing any head of planning can do is encourage independent thought and respect for debate and rigour … because while it can creates moments where it’s a right pain in the arse, the alternative is far more disagreeable.

Have a great weekend.