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


If They Were Able To Manage A Space Disaster, You Can Learn Management From Them …

There’s a lot of talk about management techniques.

A hell of a lot.

And while many are good … a huge amount take something that could be about 10 pages long, and stretch it into a book that is about 300 pages.

Recently I read an article about management that I thought was amazing.

Not just because it wasn’t meant to be about that subject, but because it highlighted that great management has nothing to do with age but everything to do with leadership, trust, empowerment and delegation.

It’s the story behind the disastrous Apollo 13 space mission.

You should read it, if only for the story that leads up to the last line:

“If you spend your time thinking about the crew dying, you’re only going to make that eventuality more likely.”

Read it here. Happy weekend.



Remember, Newton’s 3rd Law Relates To Emotions, Not Just Actions …

OK, so now we have got over the fun and frolics of yesterdays April Fool post, I want to bring it back to something serious.

Recently we decided we would have a day where Otis could make all the decisions.

He immediately went for it big time by asking to go to a local builders cafe for breakfast, where he ordered chips, drank a Coke Zero and watched Paw Patrol on his iPad.

You can see him in the photo at the top of this post.

Living the dream.

Anyway, I mentioned this on Facebook when someone I’ve not met but vaguely know wrote:

“We practice ‘good choices’ day, you should try it”.

Now while I was sure it had come out more condescending than intended – this person does have form in being judgemental from their self-appointed pedestal – and Jill decided to inform him of this.

She replied:

“You don’t know me or my son.

Your comment comes across as judgmental and condescending and makes me uncomfortable because it implies my son was making ‘bad’ decisions.

Perhaps if you did know us you would understand our parenting style more and that we aim not to use words like ‘good’ or ‘bad’ because of their unfortunate side effect of creating shame.

Decisions are just decisions, and I believe that kids need space to make a whole variety… nobody makes ‘good’ decisions all the time and I want him to grow up knowing that that’s ok, normal and part of life.

Perhaps your comment really was just about sharing what you see as a fun idea, but your way of expressing it missed the mark…”

As I am sure you will all agree, that was a pretty awesome response.

But more importantly, it highlights how we are attempting to bring up Otis.

Coming back to England has been wonderful, but the one thing that has surprised us is the pretty draconian approach to instilling certain qualities into our kids.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it’s being done for good reason, but the overt shame/reward approach bothers us. A lot.

There are many reasons for it – and of course, each to their own – but this poster sums up the one we fear the most.

This situation applies to all.

Not just kids … but family members, friends and colleagues.

What’s worse is this tends to stick with people.

It is one of the elements that has driven so many of the Corporate Gaslighting stories.

I get situations can make us angry.

I get people can do stupid things.

But when your approach to correction is shame, you’re trying to improve the outcome of one thing through the destruction of another.

You might not mean it.

You might not want it.

But you are doing it.



It’s Not Very Often You Get To Be At The Start Of Something Incredible …

As many of you know, I love technology.

I also am a huge advocate of talking to people.

Really talking … spending time with them, listening to them, understanding them.

And that’s why I am so happy that I’ve been able to bring both together through a project we’ve being doing at R/GA in London and Tokyo for the last 7 months called Human Technology.

No, I don’t mean the old Nokia saying, I mean literally meeting at the intersection of human curiosity and technological capability.

Over a long period of late nights and long weeks, a group of brilliant colleagues have been developing a new way to talk to people – a way that will allow us to conduct multiple interviews at the same time – enabling, for the first time, to get scalability on the nuance of conversation that I value so highly.

Now I know what you are thinking … this sounds awfully like a focus group and you absolutely, totally, passionately hate focus groups.

And you’d be right … there is a similarity between them.

But the beauty of this is that we are addressing the specific thing I don’t like about the way focus groups are approached.

You see the real issue I have is that focus groups are …. well, focused.

They don’t allow you to understand context … they don’t really care about having an appreciation of the audiences backgrounds or motivations, they just want to get to the answers they need answering.

So it is far less about understanding and far more about efficiency, which means you lose all nuance and authenticity, which is the difference between making work that is resonant with culture and relevant.

OK, it’s not perfect, there has definitely been more than a few occasions where things went a bit weird – similar to the AI Christmas Card experiment we did last year – but I’m over the moon to introduce you to Hans.

Look at him.

LOOK AT HIM.

He’s good isn’t he.

I admit it has taken a very, very long time to get here.

There has been a lot of mistakes, disasters, frustrations and questioning … but Hans [which stands for Human Android Nuanced Screener] is something we are all super excited about.

It’s all very well saying you want to create a new method for revealing insight and nuance, but it’s a very different matter getting there … and that’s why I’m so proud of the team as we’ve had to explore every single detail to get here.

From how we wanted the AI to behave, to what movements the robotics needed to have to feel as ‘human’ as possible … to his look, feel and sound … all in the quest to replicate the energy and aura of a none-threatening, but constantly interested person.

While there is still stuff to go, I think we’re doing pretty well, as the videos below show in terms of how we went from developing realistic hand movement robotics to building a model that allows for realistic human interactions.

[Excuse the terrible music, we’ve done these as part of film detailing the various stages of the project with one of our partners, Mert Arduino]

Creating The Hand

Creating More Human Interactions

The Different Faces Of Hans

Now the sad truth is we won’t be able to finish this to the level we want on our own.

For all the talent in the building and the network … time, technology and cost are all a hindrance to seeing this through to how we envision it can end up, which is why we are going to open this up to the creative technologists around the World, in the hope they want to be part of this project and see where they can help it go to.

Of course, few will do this without some sort of benefit, which is why I’m so happy to announce that anyone who takes part will have an ownership % so that if the technology takes off, they will directly profit from it.

We will soon be announcing how to get involved – as well as issue all blueprints and coding that we have already created to allow people to quickly add to the project rather than do things that have already been create – or we would if this wasn’t April 1st and a total load of bollocks.



Saying You Care Means Nothing If Your Actions Show You Don’t …

One of the things that has shocked me since coming back to England is the amount of gambling that goes on here.

Not just in terms of people actually doing it, but brands trying to get people to do it.

It’s everywhere.

Football shirts. High Streets. Apps. TV shows.

I know it shouldn’t really shock me as there has been so much written about it in the papers, but the sheer volume has blown me away.

Another thing that has blown me away – for equally bad reason – is the way the gambling companies are trying to portray themselves as good citizens.

That all their ads say, ‘When the fun stops, stop’ – or some variant of it – might sound like they care, but apart from the fact there’s countless stories of them actively encouraging people who are demonstrating the have a problem with gambling to keep going, it makes no sense.

Because the moment you realise gambling has stopped being fun, you’re pretty likely to be in the grip of addiction.

Or said another way, it’s too late.

Once upon a time, I was in that place.

I was young and the amount of money we’re talking is minute … but I was in a full-on addiction to fruit machines.

I was still a student and working part time as a pot washer, and within seconds of receiving my weekly pay packet, I’d be feeding all of it into a fruit machine.

Occasionally I would win big (£25) but most of the time I’d spend my weeks earnings within minutes – leaving me without a penny.

Now I’m lucky, I was able to stop – mainly because credit was not readily available back then, because if it was, who knows what shit I would have got myself into – but I can still remember how much I hated myself when I lost but how excited I was when I was about to begin.

And yet, despite knowing what I was doing to myself, I was unable to stop myself for months.

While I would not wish that on anyone, it was a hugely valuable lesson.

It taught me I have an addictive personality and helped me to manage what I do and don’t expose myself too.

Sure, I buy a shitload of pointless gadgets, crap t-shirts, guitars and Birkenstocks. But it’s also why I haven’t tried any alcohol since my last taste 34 years ago, why I’ve never tried any drugs and why I never tried smoking – though that one was easier, as I’ve always hated the smell.

I do believe that people have to take some responsibility for the decisions and actions they take – but addiction is something we have to accept, skirts the rules of logic.

You become helpless and need controlled.

And given the impact certain addictions can have on people is loss of health and/or loss of livelihood and family … having a note in small letters at the end of an ad that has spent 29 of the 30 seconds celebrating the excitement and glamour of gaming – and then puts all the burden of managing addiction on the victim – seems pretty shit.



Corporate Gaslighting Is Still On Fire …

Hello there …

Recently I spoke to a couple of people who told me about the experience they were having at work. Or should I say the bad experience they are having at work … and when I told them about Corporate Gaslighting, they looked at me as if they had literally found safety.

Unsurprisingly, this is not only because they were enduring the slow, systematic destruction of their confidence by a bad boss. but were being made to feel this was all their own fault.

While there are quite a lot of stories on the Corporate Gaslighting, it has not had many new stories come in.

I get it, it’s hard and scary.

But what I will say is this.

Not only is everything totally anonymous – and if you ever change your mind, I’ll do whatever works for you – the reality is sending in your story has 2 really tangible benefits.

The first is you feel a release in letting it out.

Part of the horror of being made to feel worthless at work is you keep it to yourself.

Of course you do, you’re made to feel you’re the failure so why would you ever want to tell anyone that.

That pressure can be hugely debilitating so letting it out not only helps you breathe again, it helps you start being in control of your situation rather than having that situation control you.

Second is your story will help others going through it.

Everyone who has written in has expressed their gratitude to read other stories like theirs.

It helps them know they’re not alone.

It’s not them.

It isn’t right.

So if you – or anyone you know – is facing this horrific situation at work with a bad boss, can you please point them to theytriedtokillmebuti.live … because even if they don’t want to submit their own story, reading others might help them feel they can get out of this, and for that alone, it’s worth it.

Thank you.



I’m In A TV Ad …

Well that was quite a week.

Otis is doing OK.

He’s feeling much better and we’re hugely relieved.

Even though the risk of kids suffering severe health issues due to corona is very small, seeing your child not well is always hard – made 10,000 worse with the media all revelling in making it sound like the bloody plague.

That said, it means we are in quarantine for another fortnight, but them so is the whole country.

Fortunately Jill and I don’t look like we have caught anything, but then it’s a 2 week incubation so who knows.

On the positive, if I do, it will mean I’ve hit the virus jackpot – which is something to be proud about. Maybe.

So back to the title of this post.

Scarily, it’s entirely accurate.

To be honest, I’ve been in quite a few ads in my time.

Blackcurrant Tango.

Triple J.

Even a Nike spot.

But never have I been one of ‘the stars’ … but I am now.

Take a look at this.

The best bit is this ad was seen by someone in Portugal who was as shocked to see me in it as I was when to find myself in it. Though I note they used a photo that doesn’t really show my face … which is obviously very wise indeed, but not quite as wise as it would have been to not invite me to talk with Mr Gladwell in the first place.

Which was going to be my long way of saying this is the last post for a week but Corona Virus screwed with the conference so now you will see me on Monday.

And you thought the effects of Corona couldn’t be any worse!



Everyone’s A Critic …
March 23, 2020, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Corona Virus, Family, Jill

After a week of listening to me in ‘work mode’, Jill said my job consists of me having lots of conversations where I ask one of 4 questions …

“What’s the creative opportunity?”

“Are you excited by this?”

“Where’s your energy at?”

“Why are we being so nice?”

So as much as I thought there were certain enjoyable byproducts of working from home’ due to corona … mainly that I get more sleep, I travel far less and spend much more time with the family … now I’m not so sure.

Suppose it’s revenge for the Jillysim blog I set up years ago.

God knows how she’ll review me by the end of this week.
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Update:

So last night Otis got a fever.

He has been quarantined for the last 2 weeks with a nasty cough so this fever – which falls within the 2 week incubation period of corona virus – has caused us some concern.

While kids are thankfully, much better placed for recovery, we will be keeping a close eye on him – and ourselves – so this is the last post for a few days.

See, corona virus isn’t all bad after all.