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


79 Years & 4 Days Ago, An Amazing Thing Happened …
October 30, 2012, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

So this weekend is a big weekend.

Not for me – well, not directly – but for my Mum.

You see on Saturday, 3rd November, she turns an amazing 80 years of age.

Now Mum being Mum, she doesn’t want a fuss but 80 isn’t something you can just ignore, which is why we’re flying over to see her and then in Feb, we’re going to take her near the North Pole so she can see the Northern Lights.

No, I’m not doing it because I’m a bastard, I’m doing it because she wants to see the Northern Lights.

Yes, I know you can see them from Scotland, but this is something she’s always wanted to witness so I’m not going to leave anything to chance.

Obviously what this all means is that they’ll be no more blog posts from me for over a week.

Yes, it’s my Mum’s birthday but you’re getting the presents but the cost of that is that you have to hear me sign off with a post of great sentimentality.

I love my Mum.

I know you know that, but I don’t care.

Apart from being a warm, kind, generous, intelligent, supportive, compassionate, wonderful woman … she is also just ace.

You see unlike other people who are of that age, my Mum doesn’t want to consign herself to irrelevance.

That doesn’t mean she dresses like a hipster and calls herself a ‘Parental Ninja’, it simply means she wants to be part of this generation as much as she was part of every previous generation.

Whereas so many people – some half of her age – try and create a separation between their life and the life going on around them, my Mum embraces it.

Whether it’s exposing herself to popular culture in terms of movies, music, theatre or television through to embracing digital communication to do everything from Skyping, buying groceries and holidays [which let’s not forget, involves coming to see in whichever mental country I’ve decided to live in at the time] and keeping on top of World news … my Mum’s frame of reference is as relevant and informed as anybody’s and at 80, I think that is amazing and fantastic.

In all honesty, my Mum is an inspiration to me.

Not just because her life has been filled with troubles, struggles & challenges and yet has maintained her spirit of compassion, generosity, and open mindedness.

Not just because she has maintained her relevance, interest and involvement in a fast moving World.

But because she has manages to do all this without letting go of her beliefs and values.

She has always been fiercely protective of what she believes in.

Of course she expresses it in ways that are sweetness personified, but she has strong opinions on what should – and shouldn’t be done – of which ‘following your heart’ is most definitely one of them.

To be honest, I have benefited the most from this.

Whereas many parents would stand in the way of their children’s will, when they openly expressed their desire to buy a VHS player, go into music or move overseas … my Mum [and my Dad] were very supportive.

Sure, we had big discussions about it, they wanted to make sure I’d thought things through and was aware of the implications … but once they were satisfied my intentions were good, they backed me 100%.

This was never more apparent than when my Dad had a stroke 3 weeks before I was due to move to Australia.

To be honest, I didn’t want to go, but despite the hardship, stress and worry … they said I had to.

Did they really want me to leave?

No … not just because of the situation with my Dad’s health, but because I am their only son and they loved me very much.

However their view was that because this was something I’d been been planning to do for 9 months, if I didn’t go now, then I might never have the courage to take that step … so as much as they would miss me, they felt the experience – regardless of the outcome – would be invaluable for me.

And they were right, because everything I have in my life today can be tied back to that decision to encourage me to go.

That is the definition of love.

That’s true selflessness.

I’d love to think I’d be that strong for my children, but I really question whether I would … and when I take into account how she continued to protect me at a time where I should have been protecting her, I am utterly humbled by how amazing a person she is.

Would they have preferred me to have a career in law or medicine?

Probably – if only for the fact they understand what lawyers and doctors actually do – but their ambitions for me were always far more focused on leading a life of fulfillment than anything else.

And that’s the thing, they have always actively encouraged and supported me to lead a full and interesting life, not just a life of contentment.

They taught me – as my Mum still practices now – to explore and embrace possibilities and opportunities … to keep learning, listening and challenging … to embrace the weird, the wonderful and the unheard … to be loyal to the people and things that matter and ignore those that don’t … to stand up for what I believe in and most importantly, never settle for easy.

And while it can be argued I have not pushed those beliefs as far as my parents did – or wanted me too – the life I live now is testimony to the values and beliefs they instilled in me and encouraged me to maintain.

To be honest, the fact I have been able to do this – at least to some degree – is the present my Mum values the most.

All she has ever wanted for me is my happiness.

All she has ever asked for is the satisfaction of my ambitions and interests.

She is selfless to the extreme … and while that can be annoying when she takes an age to accept any help from me … it is another reason why she is so special and why so many of my friends hold her in the highest esteem.

There are so many things to thank my Mum for.

So many things to celebrate my Mum for.

But the best way I can sum it up is to say I love her with all my heart and I am proud, honored and happy she’s mine.

She is the best – not just as a Mum, but as a human being.

So Happy Birthday for Saturday my dear Mum, I can’t wait to see you.

Rx



Work With The Man That Owns This Magnificent Specimen Of A Pooch …
October 29, 2012, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

… or the man that conveys uber-professionalism in his photos.

I am of course talking about Paul Colman & Kevin Chesters, the wonderful heads of planning at W+K.

You see the London office has just launched a new initiative that offers 3 months internship in the ultra-awesome planning department of W+K London.

More than that, it’s a 3 month PAID internship … which let’s be honest. is exactly what it should be.

Now I know what you’re thinking,

“But that’s not new, agencies have been doing that for years.”

… and you’d be right, but there are a few differences with our version.

1. It’s at W+K.

2. You’ll be working alongside some of the best people in advertising [note: I didn’t say ‘advertising people’, because great communication comes from people who live life, not a lifestyle].

3. You’ll learn and develop under some of the best in the biz, not just in planning, but in every department.

4. You’ll be part of one of the most interesting, creative, challenging and downright lovely planning teams around.

5. You’ll get to do the sort of stuff – on the sort of brands – that you thought only existed in the most extreme of planner hardcore porn fantasies.

6. You’ll be in countless Paul Colman ‘insitu’ instagram photos.

While those reasons are all amazing and compelling, the best reason of all is that you’ll get to spend a bunch of time with Paul and Kevin.

Apart from being two of the smartest and nicest [when they’re in a good mood] guys around, they are also enthusiastic, worldly and hands-on.

I’ve previously written that one thing I love about W+K is that their planning departments are run by people with diverse backgrounds – from Dolly Parton/Metallica roadies to cage fighters to crime fighters to World travelers to errrrm, ex-Terrance Trent D’arby guitarists and pretty much everything in-between – which means you get actively encouraged, pushed and prodded to explore more broadly, deeply & weirdly … which not only makes your job more interesting, but helps actively create commercially valuable distinction in a world of ever-growing parity thanks to the addiction of ever-growing pointless propriety tools.

[Sorry for the utterly long sentence there. Went off on a bit of one there]

In fact the only downside I can foresee is that you’d have to listen to Graeme Douglas go on and on and on about how ace running is.

And Leeds United.

And Call of Duty.

And his kids.

But even then, the bugger is so ridiculously clever and lovely that it will be well worth the pain and sacrifice.

So if you’re interested or want more details, all you have to do is click here.

While I obviously work at W+K, the fact of the matter is that this is a really great opportunity so I wish everyone who applies, the best of luck.

You most certainly won’t regret it.



Find Out How Badly Paid You Are …
October 27, 2012, 8:33 am
Filed under: Comment

… by taking part in Heather’s latest Global Planner Survey.

It’s very useful and powerful so well worth the 10 minutes or so it takes to do.

Finally, if you’re doing the A[P]SOTW assignment, please check out this important update.

Comments Off on Find Out How Badly Paid You Are …


A[P]SOTW Update …
October 26, 2012, 6:45 am
Filed under: Advertising [Planning] School On The Web

… incase you missed it, click here and learn why you can breathe a sigh of relief.

At least for another 10 days or so.

Comments Off on A[P]SOTW Update …


Belief Versus Benefits …
October 26, 2012, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

OK, so before I begin I should remind everyone that I am not a parent so what I am about to say might be complete and utter rubbish.

Correction.

What I am about to say might be even more complete and utter rubbish to what I normally write.

So I was going through some magazines last week when I saw a feature on ‘schools’.

Similar to yesterday’s post, there were page after page of ads that were all pretty much saying the same thing.

1. We are a good school.

2. We get good academic results.

3. Your child will have a bright future attending our school.

And almost all featured photos of happy, smiling kids or imposing architecture like this:

But amongst all the parity, there was one that stood out for me.

OK, so it didn’t bombard you with statements about their academic prowess – which means it was automatically differentiated from the pack – but it did still feature a picture of happy, smiling kids on it.

But all that aside, there was was specific thing that, if I was a parent looking to send my child to an all male, private school, would attract me to them over all the others … which, I should point out, I’m not and never would do.

This was the ad:

Can you see what it is?

I’m pretty sure you can given it’s pretty much the only thing on the ad, it’s the statement:

Where Boys Can Be Boys.

Now while that might mean this school encourages and endorses violence, drunkenness and furious, self-focused, sexual adventures – I doubt it … and I’m not just saying that because the kids in the photo look like a bunch of nerdy little sods.

While I am a massive advocate of education, I am concerned where it’s all heading.

School has a number of roles – and while educating students is obviously one of them – so is encouraging interaction, collaboration, creativity and self-expression.

The problem is, as Sir Ken Robinson talked about in his landmark speech, these values seem to be being pushed further and further aside so schools can focus on academic result achievement because these are what drives profit and Government approval, not happy, balanced, expressive young adults.

As I said at the beginning, I’m not a parent and I am pretty much against private schools … however if I wasn’t and I was looking for a place for my phantom son – let’s call him FreddieBrianJohnRoger Campbell – then Cothill House would be high on my list because my view on education is that it’s role is to produce more than a production line of children all holding the same pieces of academic paper.



Same, But Oh-So-Different …
October 25, 2012, 6:11 am
Filed under: Comment

I love technology.

That doesn’t mean I’m a geek or a nerd … I just love tech.

Of course, when I say that, I don’t mean intellectual tech that can make a massive and positive difference to mankind, I mean the sort of tech that ends up producing robot rabbits, dogs and pretty much any other animal you’d find in the farm of Old McDonald 2.0.

With this in mind, it won’t come as any surprise that I read a few tech/gadget mags, of which 2 – T3 & Stuff – are particular faces.

While at their heart they’re pretty much the same, T3 is a bit more serious whereas Stuff is a bit more cheeky.

Or said another way, T3 is for tech connoisseurs whereas Stuff is for normal people who like gadgets.

This difference has never been clearer than when they launched their latest editions.

While both have done James Bond specials and dedicated their cluttered front pages to the fact … one has executed it in a way that captures the spirit and mood of Bond whereas the other just feels like a very bad impression of what someone thinks Bond is about, even though what they’ve ended up with looks – and feels – like a magazine on the gadgets of Austin Powers.

The thing is, there are occasions where the information and data you have will be the same – or at least very similar – as everyone else, so what these covers demonstrate is that the role of a planner isn’t just to furnish their colleagues with insights and context about the issues/views/considerations/habits of the audience – but to also explain the brands spirit, voice and point of view, because as I’ve said many times, the talent of a planner should be evaluated on output, not their carefully crafted powerpoint presentation.



Pens Down … Except You Don’t Have To Quite Yet.
October 24, 2012, 6:06 am
Filed under: Advertising [Planning] School On The Web, Comment

So by Sunday morning 9am, Shanghai time, all entries into the A[P]SOTW assignment should be in.

However because I’m so kind, not to mention the fact I am going to be traveling for a week and a half, you can – if you need to – have until November 4th.

Yes, more time.

I know … I know … I’m so bloody generous aren’t I.

Of course, if you’ve finished & are happy with what you’ve done, send me the presentation [or link to your video pitch], otherwise we’ll close everything off officially on the 4th.

Definitely. Absolutely. Wholeheartedly.

And because I’m sure Northern will take the piss out of me for delaying the submission, let me tell you this will not adversely affect how long it takes to do the judging. Oh no. Ahem.