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


Nothing Brings You More Down To Earth Than A Naked Bum Dance …

So I’ve been doing this advertising job thing for 30 years.

THIRTY.

And in that time, I've had the huge honour and privilege to work with amazing people around the world and do work that has achieved a certain level of fame and notoriety.

Because of that, I have been invited to speak at conferences all around the World … rubbing shoulders that frankly, I should have no right to.

The point of all this is that I've done quite a lot and achieved quite a lot.

Believe it or not, this is not a humble brag, in fact it's about to be a public humiliation.

You see a few weeks ago, while working from home, I was on video conference with a very senior member of NIKE's global team.

They were talking about some stuff, and realising I didn't have a notepad, I nipped downstairs to get a notepad.

When I came back, my client told me Otis had came in, done an impromptu naked bum dance at the screen, then ran out giggling.

To top it off, they said, “… and your son is still more professional than you”

Fortunately this client has known Otis since he was born so he found it funny – as would anyone really – and the meeting carried on as before.

Anyway, as I found this amusing, I put it on Twitter and LinkedIn as ‘the perils from working from home with a 5 year old’.

Within 3 days … THREE … it had achieved more views and shares than literally any conference, presentation, talk, blog post or tweet I’ve ever written.

In fact, it probably comes second to all of them combined.

ALL. OF. THEM.

Doesn’t matter if a talk of mine had been online for 10 years.

Beaten.

Didn’t matter if I’d written an occasionally topical blog post or tweet.

Beaten.

In 3 days, my sons naked bum dance had trounced all of them.

As of the time of writing, on LinkedIn alone, that single post has been read over 190,000 times, been shared 347 times, had over 3000 people approve it, had 100 comments and ignited over 220 different people – from big CEO/CMO’s to law firms – to ask to join my ‘network’.

Yes, my sons naked bum encouraged people to want to connect to me.

What sort of weird bastards are they?

[Of course I said yes, beggars can’t be choosers]

And while I can use this story at every birthday or celebration that Otis has for the next 30 years, nothing has highlighted how utterly futile my career has been than this.

Parents are said to always want their kids to go further than they have achieved.

Well he’s done it already.

At age 5.

Good job I love you with all my heart Otis.



Rainbows Make Everything Better …

When Corona happened and we were all asked to stay at home, the first thing I thought about was the impact it would have on Otis.

It was bad enough he wouldn’t be seeing his friends for god knows how long, so the last thing I wanted was for him to start thinking the outside and people in general were dangerous.

All this led to an idea about creating a storybook to help kids understand the situation … help parents talk about it in a way that wouldn’t be scary and maybe let everyone ask questions or talk about things without freaking each other out.

A small team, predominantly Ed, James, Igor, David, Dre, Becs and Anna came up with the story, the design, the visuals and the animation – while all in individual quarantine – and 10 days later, From My Window was born.

To be honest the inspiration for all this came from the way Sesame Street handled the death of Mr Hooper – one of the human lead characters.

When he died the producers didn’t know what to do.

Do they recast the role? Do they explain his departure as the character moving away? Do they say he quit or just retired?

Instead the writers and producers decided to create an episode that taught their young audience about the difficult topic of death – not just because they felt that was the best way to respect the character, but because they assumed many kids in their audience may have experienced a loss of a loved one and this could help them better understand what it means and find some inner peace.

The episode was written by the shows head writer and aired on Thanksgiving, 1983. Even now it is regarded as having set the standard for dealing with difficult topics on children’s television and remains the highest rated episode in the shows history.

You can read more about it here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr._Hooper

While ‘From My Window’ obviously is not Sesame Street, we hope it can help kids maintain their love for the outside and help parents deal with a situation they never could have imagined would ever happen to them.

From My Window is available for parents to read with their kids [on a smart phone or tablet] at www.frommywindow.rga.com and includes a colouring-in book. The animated version – like the one below – is also available to enjoy here.

I have to say the animated one – below – is my favourite because all the voices are from kids of parents from R/GA London.

And yes, Otis is in it … he makes his debut at the end, when he takes the story on from the beautiful rainbow … which is appropriate because he drew the one at the top of this post.

I’ve got to be honest, I love we did this. I hope in its own small way, it helps. We know it won’t change the world but it may help your kid to keep looking out the window and see wonder and excitement.

No posts till Tuesday because of the Easter holidays. Enjoy the break. Stay safe.

www.frommywindow.rga.com



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.



In Our Quest To Want The Best For Our Family, We Sometimes Forget The Most Important Things We Are Doing For Them …
February 6, 2020, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Childhood, Daddyhood, Family, Love

A few weeks ago, I got a black cab from Camden Market back to work in Shoreditch. As usual, I struck up a conversation with the cabbie and somehow we got on to the subject of our kids.

Out of nowhere, he said he felt he was a huge disappointment to his children. He wouldn’t be able to leave them much when he died and he believed he had totally wasted his life.

I was slightly taken aback but he obviously needed to talk so I asked him why he said that.

He replied he regretted so many decisions he had made through his life. Opportunities he had let go because he was too scared to grab them and now he has nothing because his whole life is spent putting food on the table rather than building something more valuable for his family.

I told him that I thought putting food on the table of your family instead of running off to follow selfish pursuits was one of the most honourable things you could do. I also reminded him that if he didn’t take an opportunity when it was there, he must have had good reason for it and shouldn’t be hard on himself.

Lastly I reminded him that nothing is written in stone and good things can always happen when you least expect it to which he burst into tears and repeated he had wasted his life.

We chatted some more until he came to my drop off point. He had calmed down a bit by then but was obviously still very emotional.

He didn’t want to charge me because he said he’d been a “silly bugger” to which I told him he would only be that if he didn’t charge me.

After paying the bill, I said something I didn’t expect to say myself.

I asked him if he wanted a hug.

He paused for a moment and said he would.

So at 4pm on a Friday afternoon, we both got out the cab and we hugged for a good 30 seconds on the corner of Clifton Street.

I told him his kids loved him and valued what he did for them far more than anything he could leave them and maybe he needs to talk to them about it rather than hold it in and blame himself for things he hasn’t done wrong.

He looked at me, wiped his eyes, told me he needed that and said thank you – to which we shook hands and off he went.

The whole journey probably was no more than 20 minutes but it has deeply affected me. Maybe it’s because I don’t want anyone to feel that way about themselves. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of a very personal and sad time in my life. Or maybe it’s because I thought that could have been me if I’d not had a bunch of luck along the way.

I wish I got his name.
I wish I could check up on him.
But most of all, I wish Mr Cab Driver feels better about who he is and what he’s done because a man who works to take care of his family is worth so much more than a man who gives his kids everything except love, encouragement and time.

This parenting thing is hard work.
Worth every second, but hard work.
So if you are one or want to be, don’t be hard on yourself. What you do is amazing already.

____________________________________________________________________________

Just to be clear, the point of this post isn’t for me to talk about my [occasional] acts of decency – which is why I’ve removed the ability to leave comments – but to remind everyone its good to be open and talk, so if you’re carrying a weight of worry on your shoulders – or know someone who is – try and open up about it. I know there will be lots of people who will do what I hopefully did for Mr Cab Driver. Ta.

Comments Off on In Our Quest To Want The Best For Our Family, We Sometimes Forget The Most Important Things We Are Doing For Them …


Thinking Of You Dad …

Today is the 21st anniversary of Dad dying.

That blows my mind as I remember how that day unfolded so clearly, it could have been yesterday.

The only good thing about all the years that have passed is that I can now remember the good times with him – when he was healthy – rather than just focus on the 3 years he was deeply affected by his stroke.

And because of that, I want to talk about a time I remember vividly with him.

I had done well at school and Mum and Dad said that I could have a toy for all my hard work.

I was pretty good at school but at exam time, I would freak out and basically become paralyzed with fear.

Anyway, Dad took me to Broadmarsh Centre in Nottingham.

Broadmarsh was – and still is – the inferior shopping centre in Nottingham, but it had a dedicated toyshop so off we went.

I was so excited.

I loved going on trips with Dad and to get a gift as well was mind-blowing.

I remember him telling me to look around and see if there was something I liked.

The problem was I liked EVERYTHING, but I knew we didn’t have a lot of money so I tried to choose wisely.

I remember there was a Dinky Toy, Bell Helicopter I liked.

It was orange but the cabin was blue and it looked cool.

I showed it Dad.

“Do you like it?” he asked.

I nodded in wild agreement.

“Well we can get that then …”

And just as we were about to go to the till, my eyes spotted a die-cast Rolls Royce.

This was not a Matchbox car, this was something else.

A ‘to scale’ model of a Roller with doors that opened, a boot and bonnet that opened and a steering wheel that actually turned the wheels.

It was AMAZING.

It was also expensive … I think about £5, which back in the late seventies, was a big amount.

Dad saw me playing with it and asked, “Do you like that more?”

I nodded but felt guilty as I knew it was expensive and didn’t want Dad to spend so much money on me.

I remember him looking at me with his beautiful blue eyes and warm face.

He smiled.

“Well …,” he said, “… you’re looking at me with those moo-cow eyes, and you have done so well at school that maybe we can do it just this once”.

I was flabbergasted.

I was going to get the coolest car I’d ever seen.

I remember being so happy and showing Mum when we got home.

I remember hearing Dad explain to her I’d looked at him with these big ‘moo-cow’ eyes and he couldn’t resist.

I remember how happy they were for making me so happy.

And while it would be easy for them to think getting me a new toy was the reason for my joy – and it certainly contributed to it – the reality is I was happy because my parents were always caring, loving, supporting and encouraging.

The things they sacrificed for me is unbelievable.

Of course I didn’t realize it at the time, but what they did without so I could live with is amazing.

I hope they know that I worked this out.

I hope I told them when they were around.

My childhood was a blueprint for great childhoods.

I never wanted for their love or support.

I never felt they didn’t care or weren’t engaged.

My Mum and Dad were amazing to me … as teachers, carers, providers and inspirers.

Sure we had our moments – often caused by me being a cheeky or mischievous little shit – but even then, I never doubted they cared.

Never doubted they wanted the best for me.

And while Mum and Dad would have preferred it if I’d followed a career in law or medicine or a formal music education … they believed it was more important I lived a life of fulfillment rather than contentment.

It is a lesson I hope to pass on to my son one day.

Their grandson.

Oh how I wish they could have met him.

I don’t have many regrets but that is one of them.

So what I do instead is instill their lessons and love into his life.

So that while he may never meet them, he will always feel their presence.

Dad, I miss you.

I miss you so much.

I would love to tell you and show you so many things.

To see your reaction. To hear your questions.

You may have been gone from my physical life for 21 years, but you are still so deeply entrenched in my life.

It gives me strength when I face challenges.

Support when I feel alone.

Perspective when I get consumed by small things pretending to be big.

I love you.

Give Mum a kiss from me as you hold her hand.

Comments Off on Thinking Of You Dad …