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


A Better Waste Of Time …
November 26, 2019, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Confidence, Culture

So I like going down YouTube rabbit holes.

When I’m traveling, I find myself in the middle of the night – jetlagged – spending hours seeing where I end up.

There’s some places I normally start in ….

Football … Video Games … Abandoned Buildings … Fail Army … How Ridiculous … or even People Telling Their Parents They Are Going To Become Grandparents … but within an hour, I’m in all manner of weird and wonderful places.

Recently I came across ProducerMichael.

Funnily enough, he is a UK music/film producer who is living the life in LA.

He appear super successful and basically makes my spending habits look utterly amateur … and yet, even though I should hate him for his over-the-top lifestyle, you can’t help but like him.

Part of it is the enthusiasm he approaches everything.

Part of it is the sense he can’t believe his luck he’s living this life.

Part of it is he is a Brit who has wholeheartedly embraced the American dream.

I wish I’d been able to do that when I was in LA.

I wish I could have just let go of my cynical side and embraced the World where the more you have, the better you are.

But what I like about ProducerMichael is that while he does all that, he still seems pretty open to express both his vulnerabilities and his grandiose idiocies.

Yes he is trying too hard with his earrings and conspicuous consumption.

Yes you never quite get what the relationship is between him and the videorgrapher.

But weirdly, despite the obvious try-hardness to stay relevant, the fact he was obviously successful compared to the countless other YouTube wannabes, he’s a breath of fresh air.

And by that, I mean a more enjoyable waste of your time.



Sometimes, Imitation Is The Sincerest Form Of Insult …
November 25, 2019, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Audio Visual, Comment, Differentiation

I’ve written a lot about the Getty image lookalike who is robbing me of the profits from my face.

Yes, I got my own back at Cannes, but he seems to be doing a lot better than me in earning cash from my ugliness.

But recently I was sent something that is even more unnerving.

Someone who looks even more like me than Getty man … and he looks so like me that my wife actually once mistook him for me.

Or that’s her excuse anyway.

If you think your Monday is bad, imagine how this guy in the band ‘In Deed’ will feel when he discovers he looks like me. Worse, that we also both play the guitar. Your worst nightmare?

Indeed …



Professional Prick …

Let’s be honest, I’m a prick.

Especially if you have the misfortune of working with me.

I know all the things I do wrong as I’ve had them told to me 10,000 times.

I distract people from their work.

[But get pissy if they distract me]

I take a steady stream of horrible instagrams of colleagues.

And revel in posting them. On EVERY social media platform ever created.

I buy stupid, passive-aggressive, humiliating gifts.

I have opinions on seemingly everything. And everyone.

I can get needy and emotional.

Basically, I am a liability and yet – despite this endless stream of work violations – I have been blessed with amazing colleagues and team mates who, despite all I do to them, give me nothing but support and their talent back.

Idiots.

But every now and then they fight back.

A photo of my stupidity here.

A shitty/wonderful present there.

And while they think it teaches me a lesson, the fact is I love it.

I love it for a bunch of reasons …

I love it because of the effort they put in to it.

I love it because it means we have an openness that allows it to happen.

I love it because it means we see each other as humans, not one dimensional robots.

Which is all a convoluted explanation of the picture that heads up this post … created and given to me by one of the R/GA strategists – Divya – who felt it was the scariest thing she could produce for Halloween and – lets face it – she was right.

I still stupidly hope that one day in the future, all the people I have worked with can come together and chat – not because I want them to compare notes of what a prick I am – but because I’ve been very fortunate to have brilliant people in my life and I would love to see them all together and witness the magic they could create together.

As long as it’s not a class action against my professional exploits.



Strategy Is A Direction, Not A Shopping List …

I am getting fed up of hearing strategy talked about in terms of a process.

Of course, there is one, but it seems people seem to value the process more than what it is supposed to deliver.

Which is clarity and direction.

Something that will change the behaviour of the brand/business from the very next day.

Something that will help create a clear position in culture, not just in the category.

Something that will contribute value, loyalty and appeal to the audience that will move them forward.

Something that is focused on the long-term, not just the next quarter.

That’s it.

That’s all strategy is.

And yet, I am meeting so many people who are getting lost in the process or worse, getting lost in the word ‘strategy’ … saying nothing can be done without it being deeply involved at every step – and I mean ‘every’ step – of the process.

Now don’t get me wrong, thinking and expertise is important – but to imply that only someone with the word ‘strategy’ in their title can do it, is wrong.

Actually, it’s insulting … especially when you consider that so much of the magic happens when you invite people who see the World differently to the party.

But it’s happening.

I’m seeing it everywhere.

And what it’s doing is creating so many strands to the strategy discipline, they’re getting in the way of each other.

That might be good for the agency fee, but not great for the work.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying these strands of strategy don’t have value – of course they do – but in many areas, it’s not actually strategy … it’s not delivering on any of the 4 areas listed above … it’s simply helping push along the process of the output to get to a [allegedly] more effective result.

In other words, it’s short-term tuning rather than long term creating.

Adding obstacles rather than taking them away.

Or said more cynically, it’s more tactics than strategy.

Doesn’t have to be.

Not everyone is doing that.

Not everyone thinks like that.

But my god, it seems there is a lot of it about … and when you look at the amount of work that is being produced because of it, you have to admit that while there’s a lot of optimization, there’s not a lot of distinctive, magnetic energy.



Uncommon …

A few weeks ago, I met Nils Leonard, one of the founders of Uncommon.

While I had definitely encountered his agencies work before, I had not encountered him.

I wish I hadn’t.

Not because he’s an arrogant dick.

Not because he cares more about money than creativity.

Not even because he has let all his success go to his head.

But because he’s good.

As in really good.

Not just in his talent – which is obvious – but as a person.

He’s a charming, smart, funny and – wonderfully – self depreciating.

He has built, arguably, the most exciting agency in London right now and yet the prick is still generous, open, passionate and welcoming.

I have achieved 0.2% of what he has and I’m a miserable, egotistical dick …

Hell, even my partner-in-crime, Mr Weigel, fell under Nils spell … which means he’s either a witch, a hypnotist or just one of those absolutely talented wankers who you are genuinely happy for the success they are achieving because they’re building and earning it the right way.

With the work.

That said, I’ve heard there are some in the industry who hate him.

As in really, really hate him.

I can only assume they’re jealous about what he [and Lucy and Natalie] have created and are creating and – more importantly – how they’re actually going about doing it …

I don’t blame them, I want to hate him too … and while I could focus on the fact his laugh is a bit like David Brent’s and I’m not as keen on their Guardian work as most of their other stuff [though, to be fair, it’s more the line than the work]… the fact is, there are people you meet in this life – and I’ve been fortunate to have met and worked with a few – where you realise all their achievements aren’t because they’re political, self-publisiising, manipulative, ego-driven, cold and calulated assholes, but because they’re extremely talented and hard-working in a way that means they were always destined to exist at a different altitude to the rest of us.

No wonder he called them Uncommon.

Bastard.



Days You Never Want To Happen To Anyone …
November 15, 2019, 12:55 pm
Filed under: Comment

Today I got some news that made me cry in the street.

Proper tears rolling down my cheeks – no wonder people looked down at their feet as they saw me approaching.

And while I never met the person it related to, I know the person it has directly affected and as they’re a gentle, tender, compassionate soul, the news is even sadder than it would already be.

I saw the email as it came in.

I read the first lines over and over again.

I comprehended it but couldn’t comprehend it.

The speed.
The tragedy.
The words of love and loss.
The consideration of others.
The utter respect to a person who was their all.

I had just walked Otis to school – a rare treat because I have an afternoon flight – and all I wanted to do was run back and get him.

Run back and hug him tightly.

Life can be so extremely cruel.

Stealing the future of a life filled with promise.

I am devastated by today’s news.

I don’t know what to say or what to do.

So I’m putting this out there, because while it cannot change the circumstances or even take away any of the pain, it is my way of telling you the impact you and your family have made in so much of us.

The people you are.
The dignity you have.
The kindness you embody.

I am thinking of you mate.

Of all of you.

Big hugs.

Rx

Comments Off on Days You Never Want To Happen To Anyone …


Happy Birthday Mum …

Yesterday would have been my Mum’s birthday.

My Mum’s 87th birthday.

That means she has been gone 4 years and frankly, that seems incredible.

So much has happened in that time …

From moving countries twice.

To changing jobs twice.

To selling our family home to buy a new one.

And while I am in a much better place than I was after the tragic days that she died, I still am prone to being hit by moments where her loss is almost overwhelming for me.

I wish she could have met Otis for real.

I still remember her words when I called her minutes after he was born.

I was incredibly emotional and she was so tender towards me.

Making sure I was OK, Jill was OK and Otis.

Asking if the baby crying in the background was her grandson.

Telling me how happy she was and how happy she was for us.

How she loved the name Otis.

And while she was alone in her home in Nottingham – wishing madly that she was with us – she still told me to go and be with Jill and my son because she was the most compassionate, thoughtful person I have ever known.

While Mum saw Otis on video chat, sent me countless emails/SMS’s about him and – for a brief while – was in the same room together [though sadly it was after she had passed away] … the fact is they never were together in the flesh and I would have loved to have seen that happen.

To see her face as he called her Nona.

To watch her smile he wrapped his arms around you and gave her a big hug and kiss.

To look at my Mum reading her first grandchild a story or walking him through the gardens and explaining the flowers or just watching him run around like a tsunami and then look at me with that look in her eye that tells me everything.

How he’s perfect.

How she loves him so much.

How she is so proud of me and Jill.

How happy she is right at that very moment.

That would be the best present for her – not to mention for me – and while none of those things will be able to happen for real, I will think about them tonight when I’m home and giving Otis a big hug and kiss, because while there are many things I can do a whole lot better at, my Mum [and Dad] taught me one thing I am very good at.

How to love.

Happy birthday Mum, I miss you so much.

Hope you and Dad are laughing and holding hands.

Rx