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


Down The Rabbit Holes …

So we’ve recently had some interns join the Deutsch planning mob.

They’re smart, passionate and enthusiastic as hell.

Far smarter than I was at their age. Arguably, smarter than I am now.

So I met up with them to see how they were going and they told me how they were getting to grips with things because initially, it was so overwhelming that they found themselves going down a lot of rabbit holes.

I get it, it was super daunting to me when I started too but the one thing that concerned me was their belief that rabbit holes were a negative.

As I pointed out to them, if they don’t go down rabbit holes, then they’re no use to me.

Rabbit holes are an essential part of the planning process.

Not just in terms of exploring possibilities to tackle the problem you have been given … nor to pressure test the strategy you have identified … but to also reveal if there is are more interesting ways to tackle the problem than you may have originally considered or identified.

Rabbit holes are as much about opening possibilities as they are closing them which is why if you don’t embrace them, all you’re doing is screwing yourself – and the client – over.

Sure, focusing on what you think the client will buy may get you quicker approvals and client compliments, but allowing your brain the space and time to wander can help you get to somewhere new … somewhere exciting … somewhere that allows creativity to take you to places no one saw coming … places that will attract rather than chase … and even if you don’t end up somewhere more interesting than where you started, at least you can be sure the strategy you’re recommending has been pushed and prodded, which is why I passionately believe rabbit holes aren’t a waste of time, but a key deliverable of what we do and have to do.

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Behaviour Dictates Behaviour …
August 15, 2018, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Emotion, Empathy

A few weeks back I was in Kansas, about to fly home.

While queuing at the customs line, I noticed a young woman in front of me in distress.

It was obvious she was more than just upset, this was someone feeling a great sense of fear.

I asked her if she was OK and she looked at me like she couldn’t compute what I was saying so I put my hand out to reassure her and she jumped back as if I was holding a gun.

Because of situations I’ve seen in the past, I realized she was very troubled so calmly told her that is she needed help, she could talk to a Police Officer or ask me to get one for her.

All this time, the people around us didn’t say a word.

Nothing.

It gets worse.

As she approached the customs official, he started asking her why she was upset. She obviously was too distressed to answer properly so then he started saying he won’t let her pass unless she calmed down … which, obviously then made her worse.

I’d seen enough and pointed out she was obviously scared and could do with some assistance rather than his aggressive behaviour.

He told me to mind my own business – literally – and then told the young lady to stand by the side because he won’t be letting her pass.

That’s where I kind of lost it.

I pointed out that surely he could be more sympathetic and instead of dismissing the lady, he could try to help.

Call for assistance.

Help check her paperwork.

Reassure her he wants to make sure she’s OK.

And what did he say to this?

He threatened to have me arrested.

ARRESTED!!!

Still no one in the queue said a word.

Not even a mutter of support.

At this point I was too far gone to back down – but thankfully, the spirit of my Father possessed me – because I calmly pointed out that if he arrested me, he’d be in a lot of trouble because I would have a chance to point out his bullying in a court of law.

He called for ‘back-up’.

Still no one in the queue intervened.

Fortunately his ‘back up’ was his boss who asked what the problem was.

He told him that I was being aggressive and ignoring his demands.

It was only when I pointed to the young lady on ths side of the queue – still sobbing deeply inside herself – and explained my actions were due to my concerns for the safety of a passenger I didn’t know that the senior officer took control.

He told me he needed me to go through customs so the line could keep moving and he would personally go help the girl.

He said I could be sure he would do this as there was a glass partition where I could witness him doing it.

And he was as true to his word.

But here’s the thing … had this senior officer not come in to sort things out, what would have happened to me and especially the young woman?

No one in the queue offered any assistance of any kind.

The original TSA officer didn’t show any sense of empathy to the poor lady.

Mental health is an issue that affects all of us … either because we suffer from it or we know someone who does.

The lack of empathy from the people in the queue astounds me.

Yes, I know it’s scary.

Yes, I know there are potential ramifications for getting involved in things.

But how can we expect others to look out for us when we don’t look out for them?

I’ve said it many times how important I regard empathy.

Looking at the World through someone else’s perspective and situation is the foundation of kindness and compassion.

We could do with more of that in the World.

I don’t know what happened to that lady, but I hope she is OK.



Illusion Cocks …

So recently I was in Berlin and had one of the most underwhelming dinners of my life at Soho House.

For those of you who don’t know Soho House, they describe themselves as a ‘private members’ club for people in the creative industries’.

Maybe that’s true, but having gone to the bathroom and seen their urinals, I think Soho House Berlin is actually a private members club for men who like to think they’re big swinging dicks so will happily pay their $2000 annual membership fee just so they can keep using their toilets that have been designed to reaffirm their delusions.

Or something.

Regardless, it’s evil genius – because to paraphrase Bernie Madoff, when you offer people something they want, they never want to look too hard into it because they don’t want their fantasy to be shown for its reality.



Never Apologise For Your Emotions …

I cry.

I cry a lot.

I cry at films.

I cry at memories.

I cry at just how much I love Otis.

Now I appreciate that’s not the sort of thing you should admit, but that’s what I want to change.

I get why it happens.

From the moment we are kids, we are told not to cry.

To be fair, it’s less to do with any sense of parental embarrassment and more to do with parents hating seeing their precious child being upset, but in my opinion, it’s still wrong.

But it gets worse.

Especially for little boys.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard a Dad tell their little man who has fallen over …

“Big boys don’t cry”.

I totally appreciate they’re not saying it to be mean, but I can’t help but worry for what we are teaching the men of tomorrow.

Especially in America.

I was lucky, I was brought up in a household that didn’t try to hide emotions.

I was taught it was healthy and was encouraged to express how I felt.

Now I know that was pretty rare, but fortunately for everyone else, there was the local pub.

The pub was more than a place for drinking, it was a place for men to express their feelings.

Sure, they did it through banter and jokes, but it was where you could reveal your feelings and fears to other men in an environment that was, ironically, none threatening and none judgemental.

I have no idea if that’s still the case but I know in America it’s not.

Here, you don’t go to a bar to talk, you go to a bar to sit with other men and watch sports.

There appears little outlet for men to express their feelings which means either the pressure of situations add up to unbelievable levels or the response to situations is disproportionate or overly aggressive and confrontational.

OK, so not everyone is like that, but until we teach our children – and especially our little boys – that crying is actually the act of someone strong rather than weak, then we are going to continue stopping people knowing how to navigate the challenges and frustrations that fill our lives. Or said another way, we’ll be stopping our kids from being able to be as good as they can be … which is a crime no parent wants to ever be accused of doing.

Which is another thing we could all learn from the values taught at Otis’ school.




The NHS Put The Great In Great Britain …

The NHS is 70 years old this year.

While that is a remarkable age, it blows my mind there was a time when it didn’t exist.

The story of its foundation is a remarkable one … one filled with foresight, fight and a governments desire to raise the standards, dreams and potential of an entire nation.

Whether we will ever see something of such audacious good from a government anywhere in the World is debatable.

Obamacare may have come close, but thanks to America’s blinkered fear of socialism [despite having one FBI for example], it means its potential has been destroyed by that criminal, also known as The President of the United States of America.

And all the Republican sheep.

But back to the NHS.

Despite having not lived in England for 24+ years, it’s been a quiet partner throughout my life.

Helping me deal with some of the best and worst times of my life.

And even though there was a time I grew to despise walking along the corridors of the QMC hospital in Nottingham, I was always grateful for it … because it ensured the people I loved weren’t allowed to fall through the cracks at their greatest hour of need.

The NHS has saved my parents life, saved my sight, looked after my dear Paul when he’s undertaken acts of complete stupidity, taken care of my son when he came down with an illness [despite not yet having a British passport] and ensured my parents were given dignity in their final days … it is the single most important and valuable institution the UK has.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have lived all around the World and while there have been a number of occasions where I have needed the urgent and serious attention of Nurses and Doctors, I’ve paid heavily for that service.

Of course I’m grateful for all they did for me – they were excellent – but I was also in a privileged position where I could afford to pay for it which is why the NHS is so important because the reality is, everyone deserves the right to being looked after, not just those with a healthy bank balance.

Countless UK governments have tried to undermine or strip away the NHS … seemingly ignorant to the fact it’s one of the few things that is the envy of the World and should be treasured, not pillaged.

So to everyone who has ever worked for or fought for the NHS, thank you.

You deserve so much more than just a nations gratitude.



The Heartbreaking Beauty Of How Kids See The World …

I’ve written a lot about how amazing I am finding fatherhood.

It is beyond my expectations in every sense of the word.

Of course, a big part of that is my son is a wonderful, kind, considerate and caring little boy.

But there’s something more … and that’s witnessing his development at every stage.

As much as I want him to stay my little boy forever, each stage of his growth reveals new and wonderful traits … which helps me deal with the fact he is growing up way too fast.

One of the big changes is his vocabulary.

I remember how much I loved it when he could only use sounds to communicate.

It was so pure and innocent and yet he could convey so much of his feelings through those little sounds.

Then came the words.

At first they were a hybrid of mumble and language … but over time, he could say Dada and Mama and it melted our hearts.

But now, his language is developing at a rapid rate and while so much of what he says is his brain connecting what he communicate with the context he [so far] understands, it leads to expressions of such beauty – and sadness – that you are left breathless for hearing it.

Don’t believe me?

Look at this SMS I got from Jill a while back …

Sure, when he say’s, “the drips of my sadness” he is being literal with what they are, in the context of the words he knows … but my god, the emotions those words ignite is incredible.

Maybe we are educating the emotional expression out of children like Sir Ken Robinson said we are doing with creativity.

Either way, I love that kid more and more.



The Final Countdown …

So today is the beginning of my final full month in America.

That blows my mind.

Without doubt I am sad my time here is coming to an end so soon – its been a great honour to be able to live here and meet so many amazing people – but by the same token, I’m genuinely excited to be moving back to my home country after 24 years away.

That said, part of the disappointment of leaving is I know I got to see and experience so little.

Sure, I’ve been to a bunch of places in my time here, but when you travel mainly for work, you never really get to get a feel for a place.

Yes, I have continued to do what I’ve always done in new cities [the follow up to that link can be read here] but that’s nothing like immersing yourself in the cultural underbelly of a place.

And that’s one of the main reasons I’m disappointed, because while America is a pretty fucked up right now and a lot of the industry here prefers easy over great, it is still an amazing country that I would have loved to have understood and experienced more of.

People, portions and lifestyle aside, there will be some things I’ll always take with me.

The realisation America’s version of a ‘compact car’ is a European 4×4.

The obsession people all have with ranch dressing.

The countries fascination with holidays and how they go all out for them.

The obsessive order people follow to get off planes.

The fact people say and write “Y’all”.

That checks/cheques are still a thing.

No one can talk about race, abortion, wealth, guns, racism. Ever.

That people are not at all comfortable with honesty and truth.

The hierarchy of corporate structures and how they work and are adopted.

The utter brilliance of The Cheesecake Factory.

Oh there are so many things … things I will take with me forever that will make me smile and frown for the rest of my days … but overall America has been very good to me and my family and for that, I will always be grateful.

Sure, the feelings are different to when I left China, but thanks to some of the people, experiences and work I was able to be a part of, I can leave feeling a better person than when I arrived, which – when you think about it – is the best way to leave anywhere.

I just hope some people will feel the same way.

At least the ones who now will always matter to me.

[Though I have a month to try and change that for them, ha]