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


Gary V Proves The Importance Of Self Awareness …

As I’ve written a few times previously, I am not Gary Veynerchuck’s biggest fan.

From rewriting history to celebrating inauthenticity
… Gary seems to be an individual who represents almost the opposite of everything I value.

Of course, given he is more successful than I’ll ever be, you could argue you should listen to him rather than me – but then values shouldn’t be evaluated against what you have, but how you live.

Anyway I digress because I recently read something that I agree with him on.

No … this is not a joke.

It’s the art of delegation.

This is what Mr V said …

I agree with him.

Too many people completely miss the point of what delegation means.

They think it’s about handing over the shit you don’t want to do, but it’s not – it’s enabling colleagues to bring their talent and way of seeing the World into a project you’re working on in a way where they can win on their terms.

That doesn’t mean you have to blindly support whatever they do.

But it is about backing, supporting and encouraging them every step of the way.

Letting them do what they think is the way to win rather than expecting them to redo what you’d do.

To do that, you do have to let go of your ego.

To do that, you do have to have faith in the talent you work with.

To do that, you do have to want to see your team grow and progress.

In essence, you have to open the door to opportunity and let your team walk in and do their thing … it’s not about opening the door for only you to walk in and leave everyone else behind.

Making sure your team feel backed is vitally important.

Giving them the time and space to think, challenge and be challenged is everything.

But most of all, handing over the spotlight to them with your full support is – at least to me – what delegation is all about.

Not keeping things from them.

Not limiting what they want to do.

Not stopping them from forging their own direction and destination.

I know it can be hard, but it’s also worth it because while you are responsible for the standards being produced – doing it in a way that lets your team grow and develop is the foundation of management success … because the reality is when you get to run a department, success should be based as much on what your team achieves as what you personally do.

If they win, you win.

Simple as that.

Maybe there is hope for Mr V after all.

Maybe.

Though ‘a lack of ego’ and ‘Gary V’ have never appeared in the same sentence before and likely never will again.



Cultural Appropriation …

Cultural appropriation is a big subject these days.

I have to admit, I am torn by it.

Of course, when someone adopts anything from another cultural background and doesn’t acknowledge it’s origins – or doesn’t ensure it is expressed with the respect and context it deserves – then it’s bad [I’m looking at you Gwen Stefani] but I can’t help feel that in some circumstances, it can help build ties between heritages that can encourage understanding and acceptance.

Jesus … I sound like a Ms World contestant don’t I.

If that wasn’t bad enough, it’s all because I wanted to show this photo …

Yes, that really is a pizza with chips on it.

CHIPS!

And it was at Whole Foods.

An American firm using British chips on an Italian cuisine.

If I was Italy, I would see this as a legitimate reason to declare war … but then, based on this campaign from my mate from a few years ago, maybe Italy culturally appropriated pizza from South Korea.

Maybe.



When You Don’t Even Have To Try, You Should Still Try …

One of the places I find most hysterical in the World is San Francisco.

Yes … the entire place.

I find it hysterical because it’s often referred to as a liberal, hippy paradise when the reality is it’s one of the most expensive, exclusive and divisive places on earth.

Of course it wasn’t always this way, but the rise of tech has seen so much money coming into the place, that not only is everything hideously expensive, but the service industry – something America was once famous for – has seemingly given up making any effort whatsoever, safe in the knowledge they’re going to get people giving them money for stuff regardless.

No where is this attitude more prevalent than the hotel industry.

Because there are so many people coming into the place – hotels are almost always full.

What that’s resulted in, is even crappy hotels charging rates plush places in LA would balk at.

Case in point, the hotel I stayed in – The Taj – cost more for 1 night than the 2 nights I stayed at the Ritz Carlton at Marina Del Rey.

Which had a water view.

And breakfast included.

What I got at the Taj, was this …

Now I used to have Taj Hotels as a client.

I know their history and the way they approach their business.

Thanks to the Silicon Valley goldrush … the Taj San Fran doesn’t embody any of them.

In fact, I would say the only thing it’s suitable for, is a Martin Parr photo assignment.

For those who don’t know the brilliant Mr P, he is a photographer who specialises in brilliantly capturing the utterly mundane … usually in Britain.

With that in mind, I’ve written him a letter, dedicated to the experience I had at the Taj SF.

Dear Martin Parr.

If you’re looking for inspiration on what – and where – your next photo project could be, may I suggest The Taj Hotel in San Fran.

Not only does it have the depressingly bland interior design qualities of 1980’s middle England that I know you love love, but it comes with the price tag of a modern of Russian Oligarch.

Even when I came back to the room at 2:30am – after a long day at the office – I was reluctant to sleep there, for fear the rundown averageness of the place would do me irreparable damage in the night.

It is a photo exhibition waiting to happen.

Possibly your finest ever.

I even have a name for the shot … Expensive Beige.

You’re welcome.

Rob



Signs You Know You’re In Italy …

So as you all know, I recently lost my Aunt and so travelled to Italy for her funeral.

On my return back to England – now with an ability to see through the tears – I realized there were many things in Italian cultural context that really reflected some of the unique values of the place.

From the signage that appeared on the aircraft hangers at Milan airport …

[yes, a bloody aircraft hanger]

… through to the stylish [at least comparatively to the UK equivalent, on the left] of their toy ‘play people’.

There is something so effortlessly stylish over there, proven by the fact things that shouldn’t work on paper, somehow do.

Now many would say that is the power of confidence, but I think it’s more than that.

I think the beauty of the Italian culture is their ability to be comfortable with being authentic.

Of course there’s exceptions … and yes, I’m definitely being generalistic … but there’s a wonderfulness in how much people seem to believe a successful life is more about how you live rather than what you have.

Or how something makes you feel rather than what it makes someone think about you.

Which is why I find Italian beaches are the happiest beaches because the undercurrent of competitiveness and social judgement that often infiltrates other countries sand and sea just isn’t there. Instead, there feels a common spirit of ‘happy contentedness’ … where the simple act of being in a place with people you love is embraced and enjoyed by all.

And when everyone loves and respects everyone else for living with that authenticity, then things like body shape and beach fashion just don’t really come into it … because at the end of the day, you’re not trying to impress others, you’re just comfortable being yourself.




Your Enemy Is My Friend …
May 15, 2019, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Audio Visual, Music

So recently, the lead singer of The Prodigy, Keith Flint, died.

This news was met with an outpouring of grief from all sides of the music industry

Uniformly, he was celebrated for his passion, talent and his humility – best celebrated by, of all people, James Blunt.

But there was one person who – for me – captured the essence of why Flint was so special.

Kathy Burke – an actor. not a musician – sums up his brilliance as well as the state of the music industry in just 19 words.

That’s not just about her brilliance with words, its her ability to get to the essence of what bands mean to us.

Especially when we’re young.

Where the music we like isn’t just about cultural currency or even generational inclusivity … but to actively demonstrate our independence from our parents choices and preferences.

A thing for us, not them.

Something that speaks to us but shouts at them.

If only planners had such insight …




One Degree From Beastiality …
May 14, 2019, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Cats, Comment, Love, Rosie

When I was young, I used to look at people who loved their pets as a bit weird.

Maybe ‘love their pets’ isn’t right … I mean overlove them.

Buying them presents.

Signing their name in birthday/Christmas cards.

Kissing them goodnight before you went to bed.

Maybe part of this is because the only pet I had as a kid was a goldfish.

There was a moment I almost – emphasis on almost – managed to talk my parents into getting me a doberman, but it fell short.

So my relationship with animals at home was severely limited.

Then I got Rosie.

For a street cat from Singapore, she struck gold.

She’s lived around the World. She’s been given treats and toys to her hearts content. She’s even had special cat houses and nooks built for her personal pleasure.

Hell, I have even done freelance jobs to ensure she could be flown inside the cabin of a plane rather than in cargo!

And what have I got in return?

Complaints. Loud meows. And a general feeling she’s always disappointed with the people who saved her.

But despite that, I love her.

I love her with all my heart.

In some respects, I regard her as my first child … demonstrated by the fact that when Otis was born, I went to great lengths to ensure Rosie still felt a valid member of the family.

If I heard someone say that prior to having a pet of my own, I admit I would have either wanted to smash them in the face or call an ambulance.

But it gets worse.

Oh yes … the man who wrote only a few sentences ago, that he was suspicious of people who ‘overloved’ their pet is about to admit being peak ‘pet overloverer’.

You thought it was bad when I spent a shitload of cash for a cuddly toy that was made to look like Rosie didn’t you?

And you’d be right to think that.

So I daren’t imagine what you will think when you learn that I paid an equal amount of stupid cash on this …

If that wasn’t bad enough, I really, really like it.

Alright … alright … I’ll let you have the first punch for free.



Wakey Wakey Zombies …
May 13, 2019, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Culture, Relevance, Resonance

Once upon a time, coffee was something I enjoyed.

I was never a coffee snob – in fact, I still prefer a cup of Nescafe with some Coffee Mate in it – but I would treasure the taste and the moments I got to have it.

Part of this was also to do with the time of my life.

My appreciation of coffee started when I moved to Australia … where there was a real coffee culture, which basically translated to being able to legitimately sit outside a cafe for hours on end and people watch without fear of being arrested for stalking.

But now my relationship with coffee is different.

It’s no longer a pleasure, if anything it’s more like a medicine … because quite frankly, if I don’t have it, I’m even more useless than when I’m wide awake.

I know … you find that impossible to imagine don’t you?

But coffee changes how I look at the World.

Without it, it feels everything is moving at such speed that everything around me is slightly blurry.

Impossible to understand.

Improbable to achieve anything.

But with a big cup of coffee – or, coffee flavored power – it all changes.

I am present.

I feel I’m not going to be left [too far] behind.

I feel I might be able to convince others I have some capabilities.

And while we have seen countless ads in our time where someone sips a cup of coffee and then they’ve suddenly had the clarity to build a bridge out of straws or something … the reality is coffee doesn’t inspire you to do shit, it just makes you a slightly nicer human which – when you come to think about it – is probably more motivating and inspirational for an over-40 audience than 20 hours of brilliant Nike ads, and if not for you, it is certainly is for your family, friends and colleagues.