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

Humble Brag. Without The Humble …
June 20, 2016, 2:39 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Experience, Family, Fatherhood, Holiday, Jill, Love, Otis

So by the time you read this post, I’ll be in Paris.

And yes, it’s for work.

It’s potentially the best work assignment of my life because not only do I have the pleasure of presenting to a bunch of global NIKE guys, I’m doing a presentation about Boatie McBoatface.

No really, I am.

Mind you, having written that down, I’m starting to realise the idea was better when it was in my head.

Oh well, too late now …

But if you think that’s showing off, wait till you hear this.

Tomorrow I fly home …

But it’s not to go back to work, oh no, it’s to pick up my wife and son and then get on another plane and spend a month on holiday.

I can’t wait … we will be catching up with old friends, seeing members of family and doing a bunch of new things in new places.

But most of all, we will be together … and while I’d love Rosie the cat to be with us, it will still be very special for me.

Being together is precious.

Of course that is to be expected, however when you have a young child, it takes on another dimension.

You don’t just do things together … you get to experience new things together.

Normally with a young child, life falls into 2 parts:

1. You bring them into your life. [Where they experience things you’ve done before]

2. You let them explore their life. [Where they experience things designed just for them]

But on a holiday – especially a holiday where you will be spending time in a place none of you have been before – you get to experience things for the first time together, literally share an experience where everyone is [kind-of] equal.

Now while I know it is exceedingly unlikely my 18 month old baby will ever remember anything from it, the fact is I will and I can tell you it will automatically be something important in my life and that makes me extra excited to be going away.

I’m back on the 17th July, so enjoy your holiday from me while I enjoy my holiday from you.

Repetition Builds Reputation …
June 17, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Context, Culture, Marketing, Perspective

Friday is a wonderful day.

It doesn’t matter how much shit you have to deal with, it will always be better than a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

OK, if you have to work the weekend, then that’s shit … but generally, it’s a magnificent day.

It is also a day where 2 things are cemented in my mind.

Crunchie chocolate bars and 70’s TV show Crackerjack.

I have not eaten a Chrunchie for 25 years and Crackerjack has not been on screens for the same amount of time … and yet these 2 things are still synonymous with my favourite day.

Of course, part of it is because Crunchie used to market itself as that Friday feeling and Crackerjack used to always start their show with the words “It’s Friday, it’s 5 o’clock, it’s Crackerjack” … but the fact I still deeply – and positively – associate those things with a particular day of the week is amazing.

Especially at my age.

Of course, psychologists will say I am ‘projecting’ and marketers will say ‘awareness means nothing if I’m not buying the products’ … to which I’ll respond with “of course I am” and “I would if I could buy a bloody Crunchie in Shanghai”, however it serves as a reminder that committing to a positioning – or an idea – has great value for brands, especially compared to relaunching every 12 months.

Seriously, this annual relaunch ‘strategy’ drives me mad.

Apart from the fact it demonstrates a brand trying to appear interesting rather than doing things that are interesting, the reality is that in the main, the only thing being ‘relaunched’ is the advertising slogan which – in a bid to not alienate any potential audience – has ended up being even more meaningless, ambiguous and forgettable than the one before.

Don’t get me wrong, there are occasions and circumstances where you might have to change track – sometimes dramatically – but if you’re doing it every 12 months, then it says far more about you than it does about the state of your business or culture.

So if anyone says ‘positioning’ doesn’t work … tell them they don’t know what the fuck they are talking about. Then go eat a Crunchie and watch Crackerjack on Youtube.

Happy weekend all …

Happy Birthday King Dong …
June 16, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Birthday, Comment, Family, Love, Paul

After a wonderful day for Jill’s birthday – which included a surprise visit from her Mum, all the way from Australia – today I celebrate another incredible precious person in my life … Paul.

I’ve written so much about this guy over the years …

From our childhood.

To his clumsiness.

To our epic holidays.

To his appendage.

To our history.

To my love for him.

Now my parents have gone, he is the person I have known the longest in my life and is now even more important to me today than he was before.

Every single important moment in my life has involved him.

Some directly, some indirectly … but always with him a part of it.

From my first days in the World to starting pre-school to failing/passing/failing/passing my exams to being in a band to getting a job to moving countries to experiencing family tragedy to getting married to becoming a Dad.

I swear he is one of the main reasons I’ve been able to get through the highs and lows of life relatively unscathed because at the heart of it, he brings incredible happiness into my life.

Not just for a moment.

Not just every now and then.

But every single time I’m with him or think of him.

Part of this is because when we’re together, we immediately revert back to who we were as little kids and part of it is because he gets into all manner of ridiculous scrapes, but a lot of it is because he’s just a kind hearted, wonderfully-natured idiot. Ha.

Of course he would probably say the same about me … and I’d be extremely happy about that, because despite us living very different lives, we are still fundamentally the same as we always have been – at least where we are both concerned – and I regard that as one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to me.

Sadly, I won’t be with him to share his special day today, but I will be with him in a few weeks and I look forward to smiling and laughing till it hurts because he’s more than a special friend, he’s literally good for my health and wellbeing.

Happy birthday lovely man, I hope you enjoy a day of presents, drink and general stupidity.

See you soon.

On My Wife’s Birthday, There’s Been A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On …
June 15, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Anniversary, Birthday, Family, Jill, Love

Today is my wonderful wife’s birthday.

Despite the fact she looks ridiculously young [she once was mistaken for being my daughter. Sadly, that is not a joke] it’s a ‘big’ birthday for her.

There are many things I love about my wife, but this story explains one of the biggest reasons.

So I wanted to buy her something special. Something that really marked the occasion.

I decided it was going to be a piece of jewellery but then I was stuck with what to get her.

I’ve bought her earrings before.

I’ve bought her necklaces before.

She refuses to wear a watch.

In the end, I decided I’d like to buy her a ring – but because I didn’t want to stuff it up, I told her my plans and said I’d love her to come with me to choose something she’d really love.

When I told her, she looked at me and said,

“Errrrrm, would you be OK if I suggested something else?”

Of course I replied yes … not suspecting what would come out of her mouth next.

Now before I go on, I should explain how my wife loves Elvis.

Yes, THAT Elvis.

God, she adores him.

When I took her to Graceland for her 30th birthday, she cried when I told her what we were going to do … she cried when she got to the house and she cried when she was by his grave.

She loves him so much she even has his name tattoo’d on her.

She doesn’t have my name I should add, just his.

Anyway, I tell you this because she replied to my interest in hearing her idea with this.

“You know Kristen from Real Housewives of New York is an Elvis fan?”

Sadly, I do … so I nodded.

“… well she’s a huge Elvis fan too and she wears a TCB necklace and I would love that if that is OK with you”

I should explain what TCB is.

TCB stands for ‘Taking Care of Business’ and it was the name Elvis gave the musicians who formed the core of his band.

Along the way, he designed a TCB logo and had it made into gold and diamond jewellery that he gave each member.

Now Elvis was a very talented man. Sure, his movies sucked – but where music was concerned, he was a god. However being a good singer doesn’t mean you’re a good designer because the TCB logo looked like this.

I know … Microsoft Clipart is better isn’t it?

So what is a man who has no right to be married to such a wonderful woman, to do?

I’ll tell you what … find a way to make it happen.

So after some searching, I found out Elvis’ jeweller was still alive.

Yes, his actual jeweller … the one who made all the jewellery Elvis gave to his band.

Anyway, after some of the weirdest email exchanges I’ve ever had in my life, I was able to commission him to make a necklace for my dear wife using the exact mould and materials from the exact design that Elvis originally drew for him … which is why today, the birthday girl is walking around like she’s Pricilla at Graceland.

And she deserves it.

So to my darling Jill … happy, happy birthday, I am so happy you are mine and I hope you have a wonderful day.

And remember, this is only part 1 of the present, part 2 happens in a couple of weeks. In Italy.

Boy, I hope it makes you feel a little bad for only getting me a picture on my birthday.. Only joking, that was bloody amazing. Bugger. 

Have a wonderful day my sweetheart. 

Love you.

Remember, Humans Are Not Robots …
June 14, 2016, 6:20 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Emotion, Insight

We work in an industry that focuses on emotions, feelings and states of behaviour.

Good ones … bad ones … angry ones …

In my experience, one of the things that sets great advertising apart is it’s ability to convey or ignite these emotions in powerful ways.

But here’s the thing, I’ve read way too many briefs that make it sound like there’s only 3 types of emotion in people.


Worse is when people use a word that isn’t even an emotion.

‘Fun’ is often the worst culprit, used as some sort of upbeat catch all.

God, I cannot tell you how much I hate it when people use that word.

But the thing is, humans go through a broad and varied state of emotions and feelings. There’s subsets within each subset and that’s why you should pay a visit here.

Not only is Edman’s Atlas of Emotion incredibly good and clear, it gently pushes you to delve a bit deeper.

In no time at all, you will be able to explore a whole range of states that not only helps you define a feeling or emotion with more clarity and texture, but will help you open the door to all manner of creative possibilities, simply by nature of using language rarely seen in a brief.

Of course, you should be doing this already because, but I also know we work in an industry where for many, convenience wins – either because it’s easier to get through the system or people simply don’t pay enough attention to these things.

So if you want something quick and valuable to lift your game – and your work – take a look.

But please. Please, please, please, please, remember this.

Never Trust A Brand That Talks About The Future …

Hello there.

Not that you asked, but yes – I did have a good birthday thank you very much.

I didn’t get anything stupid [which for me, means awesome] but it was lovely.

Jesus, how old do I sound!

Talking of old, I recently came across this …

Believe it or not, this photo is not all that old.

But what I love about it is that huge sticker declaring it to ‘never be obsolete’.

That’s some big claim.

It’s also a massive pile of bollocks.

Given the alleged breakthrough by Canadian company, D:Wave, all computers may soon be obsolete so for some company to suggest their 90’s PC Tower would be able to withstand decades of focused innovation and technological breakthrough is both massively misguided and massively misleading and anyone who fell for it deserves all they got.

But the other thing this photo did was remind me of the ‘stickers’.

Oh my god, back in the day, every computer had them.

Little logos explaining either what the machine claimed to do or the manufacturer of some of its components.

And people fell for it, because we didn’t know better and we were looking for some reassurance we weren’t being taken for a ride.

Even when they put a massive fucking sticker on it claiming ‘NEVER OBSOLETE’.

God we were gullible fools weren’t we and while I’d hope we have got past that, the fact is I know we haven’t.

Sure, the tech industry have started moving away from sticker pollution, but there’s a whole host of brands in a whole host of categories that have started taking it on. Just look at any car ad these days and it seems they have more logos on the page than words… which is why it seems this video is the perfect way to sign off this post.

Microsoft may no longer as bad as they once were, but it seems a lot of brands are still forgetting that confidence in your product is about what you don’t say, rather than what you do. By all means use channels to explain the benefits of your product … hell, you can even talk about who has been part of it’s development … but when it comes to the actual product, be focused and make it glorious.

I will go and lie down now.

Inching Towards Oblivion …
June 10, 2016, 6:20 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment

So on Sunday I turn 46.


I seriously don’t know how that happened.

In some ways, I still feel about 28 … however I realise that for all my immaturity, bad dress sense and obsession with stupid, there are signs that I’m not.

No, I’m not talking about my son.

I’m talking about things like my declining eyesight.

Given it’s always been bad [I have 12% vision in one eye] I’m fast approaching Mr Magoo standards.

Then there’s my stamina. In the old days, I could survive on 4 or 5 hours sleep. No, seriously. However now, when I wake up the first thing I look forward to is being able to go back to sleep that night. Then I rush for copious amounts of coffee to get me through the next 5 minutes.

But it’s not all physical collapse, one other thing that has happened is the realisation that at 45, I don’t have to be so considerate to others anymore.

Now some of you may be wondering what the hell I’m going on about, given I’ve always been one to call a spade a spade. And I have. However there have been occasions in my life where I’ve kept quiet when I should have spoken up. I’m not talking about big issues – I’m perfectly good at dealing with those – I’m talking about those small conversations where things are casually thrown into the mix but you let it pass because you don’t want to look like you’re making a mountain out of a molehill.

But here’s the thing, it’s those small things that have the potential to derail you down the line.

It’s those small things that can lead to big things affecting who you are and what you do.

It’s those small things that the people behind them often use to justify their later actions by saying, “I mentioned this to you and you didn’t say anything”.

But now, I don’t feel the need to keep quiet.

I don’t feel it wrong to speak up and elevate that throwaway comment into the real issues being discussed.

And I have to say, it’s kind of liberating.

That doesn’t mean I’m a rude prick when I do it, nor does it mean I want to make any difference of opinion a major issue … it’s just that I’ve realised that if something unsettles me, I have a right to talk about it or challenge it.

I admit there have still been times where I’ve felt myself slipping into my old ways, but now, instead of letting it go, I act on it.

Recently I was in a situation where someone was saying something about a colleague I respect. On face value it seemed relatively small, but the implication of what they were saying was very bad for the person in question.

So I asked for more clarification on their point.

And asked them to help me understand how they came to their conclusion.

Then informed them “this is not how this will go down” and highlighted their perspective was based on opinion not fact so they need to share some of the blame rather than own all of the accusation.

And it felt good.

Not purely because I protected my colleague – though that was nice too – but because I felt I’d been true to myself.

By speaking up at the exact moment it happened – rather than wishing I had or worse, only realising the implication of what had been said a few hours after the event – it made me feel sharp, alert and living in the present. It gave me a sense I was actively looking out for myself which, in a weird way, made me feel like I was more in control of my own life.

Yes, I know this sounds mad but it did.

Plus there was the added benefit that I’d sent out a subtle statement of what I will and will not tolerate to the other party, which can only be a good thing in terms of standards and expectations.

Look, I get I’m making a small thing sound like a big thing … but I’ve allowed too many of those ‘invisible, mini bombs’ to go off in my life and finally being at a stage where I feel completely at ease with dealing with them is a revelation to me. A genuine revelation.

So happy birthday to me. Age might be a bitch physically, but it’s liberating emotionally.

PS: For the record, the photo in this post is the uber-birhtday cake Jill made for me last year. Isn’t it great. It’s even the actual size of the Birkenstocks I wear. Hopefully this year she’ll make me the left foot Birkenstock so I’ll have a pair.