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


China’s Change …
August 31, 2010, 6:29 am
Filed under: Comment

Photo: China Daily

So recently a couple of us got interviewed by Wired magazine about our views of China however what we found more interesting was interviewing the journo [from the UK, but based in SF] about his views of the place.

To be fair, he had only just arrived and openly acknowledged his perspective was based on only about a weeks worth of exposure to the country … but despite that, he rattled off a lot of facts, figures and views that sounded very similar to the sorts of business books that claim to give real insight into this unique country.

In other words, it was a perspective that was one dimensional, driven by fear and – quite often – just plain wrong.

Being a good journo, he knew this was the case which is why he said he needed/wanted greater exposure to what was going on so he could make a much more informed view … but the fact is, there’s a lot of people out there – a lot of business people – who are quite happy to read a book and then think they know all that’s going on, even though if the situation was reversed, they’d think it corporate suicide.

Too many people think they are smarter than the next.

They think their talent and brainpower can bypass years of training, experience and exposure and somehow pull off a feat where thousands have failed before them.

Adland is littered with them … and planners are often the worst.

We talk like we are fonts of all knowledge and yet in terms of real exposure to real situations, we often haven’t even taken the stabilizers off our bikes of life.

The best thing I ever did was start a company.

Actually quite a few.

Some were nothing but unmitigated disasters but others – like cynic – ended up being quite special indeed.

One of the main reasons for that was that we went for breadth of knowledge, not just depth.

We were – and are – huge believers in getting multiple perspectives on the same issue because whilst we knew one extreme view was as potentially flawed as the counter extreme view … it opened our eyes to bigger issues, decisions and opportunities and by doing that, we were not only better informed, but were able to develop work that had the potential to have real relevance to a greater amount of people.

Planners, bloggers and businessmen have to be careful not to surround themselves with people who only share their same view, because if you do that, you can end up like many of the Western companies who’ve come to Asia … deluded, confused and broke.



Today Our Life In China Officially Starts …
August 30, 2010, 6:22 am
Filed under: Comment

So today our furniture arrives.

Well, the furniture that I didn’t have to put in storage because it ‘contravened’ Chinese rules.

In other words, my DVD’s, books and CD’s.

It’s been over 8 weeks since we had our stuff around us and while we’ve survived just fine, I won’t deny it’ll be nice to have it back.

It’s not because it’s expensive or classy [remember my black rocking horse sheep?!] it’s because it represents ‘home’.

Sure – my wife and cat are the most important – however a lot of the things we have are things we’ve got together and as such represent more than a couch or a table, but a moment in time.

You see I am a sentimentalist.

My wife is worse … but for a guy, I’m pretty bad.

Whenever I visit a place I once lived, I walk around visiting the places that were significant during my time there, secretly hoping that the feelings they once brought out in me, come back.

They rarely do.

Feelings and emotions are wonderful things. They help us feel alive.

In a World where we are running around at 10,000 miles per hour, the ability to find something that affects you so deeply that it stops you in your tracks and affects your mood and behaviour is wonderful.

Even if it’s something sad, it can be good – because if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from the recent financial crisis, people have short memories or an amazing ability to simply ‘move on’ so being pained by something can be good for learning and developing.

I guess the reason for all this is so I can justify going off my bloody tits with anger if there’s so much as one scratch on our goods.



Birds Do It … Bee’s Do It … Every Semi Educated Planners Do It …
August 27, 2010, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

So there’s been a recent trend of planners getting planners to submit stuff.

Of course it’s not stuff like ideas that could make the World a better place or insights that could make better ads … It’s bloody haircuts and shoes.

Well I want some of that action, so as of today, I launch my own ‘crowd sourcing/ego filling’ adventure … however not only do I intend to actually do something with the info I get, but I’m opening it up to anyone in the creative industry because my goal in life is to break down the barriers that exist between disciplines, though that actually might be a load of bollocks and the real reason is I want to try and get more people to take part.

Anyway ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls – it’s time to start – so tell all your creative friends that if they only have time to visit one place today, it’s this place.



Today A New Sun Is Rising …
August 26, 2010, 5:55 am
Filed under: Comment

There’s times in my life where I feel a failure and a fraud.

I look at my life and just can’t work out how the hell I’ve done what I’ve done … it’s a life beyond my wildest expectations and – to be honest – there’s many times where I just don’t feel I deserve it.

I’m not talking about the ‘stuff’ I’ve acquired over the years, I’m talking about everything … my wonderful wife, family, friends, experiences. The lot.

There’s a line in a movie I once watched that sums how I feel perfectly:

“I’ve worked too damn hard to be where I belong”.

I know you all think I sit on my arse writing blog posts, tweets and stupid Facebook updates, but I have – and continue to – work pretty hard and yet I know a lot of people who work way harder than me and yet they’ve had none of the breaks I’ve enjoyed, and I feel incredibly guilty about that.

I know that sounds a bit pathetic, and if I had the talent, I’d of written it better so you would realise I’m not actually being a drama/whiner queen, but that is how I feel a lot of the time. Guilty.

The reality is I have an incredible amount of hang ups and insecurities … hang ups and insecurities that cover many aspects of my life and have been there for most of my life and whilst I can keep them in check most of the time, every now and then they come out and remind me they’re there and that I should never get too comfortable because they might come out one day and stay for good.

I know what I am saying sounds like I’m depressed but I’m not – as I said, I’m just not very good at being able to find the words that capture what I really want to say because the reality is I’m just a 40 year old man trying to work out how he got so lucky and what the hell he is here for.

But that’s not why I’m writing this post.

Oh no.

Today is a good day.

A wonderful day.

A simply super day.

Why?

Well because the little fella I wrote about 2 weeks ago has had his first operation and it went really, really well and there’s no permanent damage to his hearing which makes things much easier moving forward and Brian – the man who was the reason I set up the Human_2 lobby group, moved into his first ever house last weekend.

No council assistance.

No sharing with someone else.

His own place – earnt through 3 years of dedication, passion and persistence to his job … a job he almost didn’t have because of 40 pounds, F O R T Y P O U N D S … so his news makes me incredibly proud and happy – prouder and happier than any ad or new business win could ever achieve – which is why as much as sometimes I may question what I have done to deserve my good fortune, on the other side, I’m glad it’s allowed me to get involved with a few little things that have been able to make a bit of a difference and I genuinely believe if adland followed a similar approach [ala my social capitalism rants] then not only would it help everyone in the industry feel better about themselves, it might be seen as more commercially valuable too.

So to our little friend and Brian – thank you – I owe you more than you’d ever know.



Unappetising Catering …
August 25, 2010, 6:19 am
Filed under: Comment

I guess they really don’t like veggies in Singapore do they.

OK, OK … in the interests of fair play, all Singaporean vegetarians who disagree with me, raise your hand. Oh god, sorry – forgot you’re all too weak to be able to do that aren’t you.

Boom ‘crap joke’ Tish.



Placement Is Everything …
August 24, 2010, 5:51 am
Filed under: Comment

So I was in Malaysia when I saw this:

Yep, it’s health shop GNC located right next to JCO Donuts.

I have no idea if it was intentional or just a happy/sad accident but something tells me this could potentially work in both companies interests … from the person who has just bought some overpriced GNC stuff who thinks they can now ‘justify’ eating a quick ‘bun of fun’ through to people who’ve just bought a ‘bun of fun’ who feel the should pop into GNC to buy some overpriced stuff to ‘justify’ their fried sugar meal.

Of course it could also be argued that the people who enter both shops would rather die than go into their neighbours establishment but I am always reminded of the guy I met who owned QVC [the television shopping channel] who paid a premium to ensure his channel was always placed no more than 3 channels from either a major ‘sports’ or ‘docudrama’ channel.

Why?

Because his research showed that when ad breaks are on, people used the ‘up/down’ feature on their remote control to ‘channel surf’, but never go more than 3 channels from their favourite show so if he could ensure he was in that 3 channel vicinity, he could increase his odds of selling people his tat and make a killing.

Whilst of course there were many other factors to his success – the thing he understood was that in the main, people have 3 sides … the personal, the professional and the secret … and so whilst publically, individuals may claim they would think/do one thing, in private, a very different set of choices may get made which is why things that may look like disasters can often turn into situations of great opportunity.

Finding this out is the job of the planner and the researcher … what a shame most of them take what is said on face value.



Walking Through History …
August 23, 2010, 6:13 am
Filed under: Comment

So I’m in Singapore at the moment and I have to say it’s good to be back.

Sure it’s bloody hot and there’s things about the place that does my head in, but Singapore was incredibly good to me and I have a lot of friends and memories here that counter any negative view that I could have.

The thing is, whilst I haven’t lived there for 2 years, my feelings towards the place are much stronger than in HK, where I lived just 6 weeks ago.

Of course some of that is down to the fact I spent 4 years in Sing and only 15 months in HK – but I am shocked at just how sentimental I am about the little island, especially as if truth be told, I miss it more than I do places where I lived for longer.

If I really think about it, there’s probably a whole load of reasons … from the fact it’s where I first started my love affair with Asia through to it being where I got married … but the thing is, if someone had asked me way back in 2005 whether I thought I’d ever have such strong feelings towards Singapore, I’d of laughed in their face which leads to my point …

There are many occasions in life and work where you get set challenges and goals that leads your first reaction to be something like “AREYOUFUCKINGOUTYOURMIND” when the reality is, with some thought and a bit of luck, you might be able to come up with an idea/s that allows something truly momentous and special to flow, and if that happens, you might just be able to rewrite the rule book.

As much as the brain can create magic, it also can stop it … so as one of my old bosses used to say, “don’t presume till you have the facts”.