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


Beyonce Makes Everything Better …
March 30, 2018, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Comment, Creativity, Culture, Music

So one of the things I love watching is artists performing other artists songs.

Even better, watching artists performing other artists songs in front of those artists.

It’s a big deal to do that.

A song is so much more than just music and words, it’s about connecting to the story behind the song – often a personal situation the writer experienced or faced – so to just ‘play the notes’ does everyone a disservice.

A while back, I wrote about how the band Heart played ‘Stairway To Heaven’ infant of Page, Plant and Jones and how it obviously deeply affected them because they didn’t just capture the magic of the song, but elevated the drama of it all.

In the post I asked, what must be going through their heads while watching it.

Was it the amazement that a song they wrote in early ’70, was still being played – and loved by people of all generations?

Was it that the shock that a song they wrote in early ’70, could still have so much energy?

Or was it that a song they wrote back in early ’70, was being played for the President of the United States?

The emotion of knowing it literally couldn’t get ‘bigger than this’ or the simple realisation his impact on World history was assured?

Well I recently saw another video of an artist performing another artists song in front of them and this had a totally different energy to the Heart/Led Zep one.

This was pure extravaganza.

A mixture of energy, entertainment and sheer-bloody-power.

Unsurprisingly, it features two of the World’s most incredible performers … Beyonce and Tina Turner.

To be honest, while I’ve always admired Beyonce., I probably haven’t recognized just how great she is.

That changed with this performance.

Don’t get me wrong, I always knew she was an amazing talent, but it’s the way she delivers her performance that really got me.

Somehow, she has managed to recreate the force of Tina Turner.

It smacks you in the eyes.

You feel it inside your bones.

Part of it is because it feels the music is always about to run faster than the lyrics … the other is the backing singers routine is short, sharp and precise, keeping the energy of the music alive visually as well as sonically.

For me, Beyonce’s performance of Tina Turner’s classic ‘Proud Mary’ is a revelation and by the look on Tina’s face, it’s both a recognition of the impact she has made on culture and the realisation that the door she opened – at great personal sacrifice – was worth it.

Watch it, it guarantees you will enter the weekend with a huge smile on your face.

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Strategy Is Knowing What Not To Do …

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, when I was in NY, I was invited to speak at design gods … Pentagram.

Whenever I’m asked to speak at something, the first thing I think is ‘why?’

The second thing I think about is ‘what right have I got to talk about this subject?’

And the final thing is ‘what am I going to talk about’.

In the case of Pentagram, I didn’t know what I could say that would be of any interest of them.

Then I remembered the only reason they asked me to come is because of my relationship to a certain, famous rock band so instead of doing a deck – where, let’s be honest, they would be judging the design of each slide rather than listening to what I said – I bought 12 iconic albums on vinyl [they’re the ones in the picture above] and talked about the relationship they had with the music and the fans of the music under the heading, ‘Design is not decoration’.

Now I have no idea if they actually learnt anything from my talk, but it certainly created a bunch of conversation and debate and for me, that’s a big win.

Actually, getting out alive was the big win, but seeing some of the most talented design people in the World talk about the relationship between music, design and fans was something I’d pay for just to witness.

Which is why one of the best lessons I learned about strategy is less about what you are going to do and more about what you’re going to sacrifice.



Happy Anniversary Mum & Dad …
March 28, 2018, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Dad, Love, Mum, Mum & Dad

Today would have been my parents 54th wedding anniversary.

Fifty four years.

Incredible.

While there was the odd up and down, overall it was a relationship we should all aspire to having.

One where each other felt loved and supported.

Where they created the time and space for each other to explore their interests as well as to discuss them. Together.

It was a relationship built on closeness … closeness of values, closeness of communication, closeness of affection.

And the result was a wonderful childhood, where the bond between the three of us was watertight.

I hope they knew how grateful I was for it.

Because the older I get, the more I realise how lucky I was for it.

So to Mum and Dad – happy anniversary – I’m glad you’re together again.

Love you.

Rx

Comments Off on Happy Anniversary Mum & Dad …


Thank You For Pretending To Pay Attention …

So I was listening to the radio recently when an ad for Charles Schwab – the investment people – came on.

And do you know what the message was?

‘We really listen to what you’re saying’.

Now I understand the importance of listening [believe it or not] but is that really the big reason to use Charles Schwab?

Isn’t that one of the basic bloody pre-requisites of being a good financial advisor?

What next, ‘we always check our biro’s are working so you can sign all our paperwork’.

I get financial institutions don’t want to commit to actually saying they make you any money – or even selling you a policy in your interests rather than theirs – but come on, isn’t this just a bit insulting?

Not only that, it smacks of a company that is only hearing what they want you to say rather than what you’re actually saying.

What’s your point of view on the financial markets?

What’s your point of view on money?

What’s your point of view on cryptocurrency?

Tell me anything, except when you come into my home, you’re listening.



Fear Stops Action …
March 26, 2018, 6:18 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Agency Culture, America, Comment, Culture, Management

So recently I learnt of a particular aspect of [American] corporate culture that scared the hell out of me. I put America in brackets, because I know it’s not unique to here – but, to be honest – it’s where I’ve seen the worst of it compared to all the other countries I’ve lived in.

The paranoia of performance.

Put simply, some people seem to waste an incredible amount of their energy convincing themselves others are getting the opportunities they want – or feel they deserve – and so spend their time continually looking for signs that say, at least to them, they’re ‘out of the loop’.

These signs could be anything …

The way a boss said hello to a colleague.

The fact a client said hello to someone who is not directly linked to the core team.

An agency colleague sat next to the client at a meeting.

Sure, sometimes that can be true, but unless I’m utterly naive, I’m pretty sure in the main it’s not.

But here’s the thing …

If you’re constantly looking for the hidden meaning behind everything, it means you’re spending all your energy and angst on feeding that negativity rather than doing something that could make a difference and so at some point … the paranoia becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Now while that might make these people feel better about what they suspected all along, it’s a hollow victory given they created the situation rather than anyone else.

But what I find even worse is what it say’s about [American] corporate culture.

Or at least some of it.

Where people continually feel frightened.

Threatened.

Unsettled.

Suspicious.

All that does is make these people un-cooprerative, un-collaborative and in-efficient.

That’s not just horrible for them, but it also creates an incredibly toxic environment.

As I wrote a while back, enjoying your work is not just important personally but it’s also commercially advantageous as a whole and while I appreciate not everyone will achieve what they want to achieve, creating an environment where everyone thinks someone is out to get you rather than encouraging them to show what they are capable of is an outcome where everyone loses.



Only Music Can Make You Feel This …
March 22, 2018, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Comment, Confidence, Creativity

So Jill’s parents are visiting from Sydney and because of that, I’m having a long weekend starting from errrrrrm, now.

Just to clarify, I’m having a long weekend with them, not because of them.

As you may have guessed/hoped, this means this is the last post of the week … but wait, there’s more.

You see while I’m off to enjoy 4 days of family time, I thought I’d give you an additional gift on top of blog quietness.

Well, I say ‘I’, but it’s really Hiromi Uehara.

“And who is Hiromi Uehara?”, I hear you ask.

Well she is someone who – in 6 minutes – is going to inject you with a sense of pure joy.

Someone you’ll be in utter awe of for their talent, dexterity, showmanship and audacious, musical cheekiness.

Someone you’ll watch with liberal doses of wonder, amazement, fascination and smiles.

I know that sounds like overkill, but Hiromi Uehara pulls off some of the most amazing and emotional musicianship I’ve witnessed in my – and judging by the mile-wide-smiles of the musicians watching her – life.

It’s breathtaking.

Please watch it.

You won’t regret it.

In fact I’ll say it will make your weekend. Even if yours doesn’t start for 2 more days.



No Wonder American’s Love Their Teeth, Their Dentists Are Like A Holiday Camp …

When I was a kid, a visit to the dentist was a thing to be scared of.

To be honest, it shouldn’t have because I had great teeth … but there was always that chance something might happen and that scared the hell out of me.

If further evidence of my dental naivety/good teeth was needed, when I finally did have to have some treatment – a wisdom tooth removal, when I was 14 – I was in utter shock that they were literally pulling the tooth out of my gob as I assumed they’d give my gums an injection and it would fall out.

The weirdest bit of all is that when you left the dentist, they gave you a sweet.

A SWEET!

Though now I think of it, it probably was their way of guaranteeing further business from you down the line.

And given how bad my teeth are these days, it seems that was a brilliant strategy.

Evil. Geniuses.

Now I appreciate when I was a kid, the World was a very different – and younger – place, but having just taken Otis to the dentist, I’m jealous how ace his experience is.

For a start the interior has been decked out in different animal themes.

From Giraffe’s to Panda’s … each room has a different theme to help kids feel they’re somewhere special and different.

Then there’s the video games for them to play in reception or – if they’re too young – a huge aquarium for them to look at.

But it’s when they are having treatment the real difference happens.

Not because there’s a video screen showing cartoons.

Or wireless headphones so you can hear the movie not the drill.

Or even the sunglasses so you don’t let the brightness of the dentist light affect you.

Or even the balloon [not sweets] they give you as you leave the building.

It’s the way they make sure they spend time explaining what each instrument is and what it does. Letting the kid hold it, hear it … get an understanding of what it does so it stops being a fearsome object of pain and simply a instrument of health.

Whatever stress they have is reduced.

They feel they’re in a safe environment.

A special environment.

With people who you won’t fuck you over but actually want you to have an exciting experience with a great result.

It turns a visit to the dentist from a scary experience to a positive one.

Even an awaited one.

All because they give the time and space for patients emotions and fears to be calmed, which gives them – and their parents – the confidence to let the dentist do their thing. That doesn’t just result in more efficient treatment but makes the parent feel OK about being charged an arm and a leg because their precious child had an experience that is the absolute opposite of what they feared they’d have.

Now I know creativity needs a place where chaos and curiosity is allowed to explore and wander – something we don’t get enough of at the best of times – but in terms of getting clients into the right frame of mind to allow agencies to do their thing without skeptical, questioning and damning eyes, adland could learn a lot from American Dentists.