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


Chapters Aren’t Just For Books …

So I have some big and exciting news. Well, it is for me …

On May 10th, I leave Wieden+Kennedy.

In addition to that, on May 16th, I leave China.

Given both have been my home for the last 7 years – one of the longest periods of my entire adult life – that means this is very big thing for me and I won’t deny it is bitter-sweet.

I’ve had an incredible time and leave with a bunch of memories, stories and learnings that I can honestly say will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Of course, I’ll miss so many things – the people, the culture, the colleagues the clients and the holidays* [ha] – but I still have a lot I want to try and experience and that just wasn’t going to happen if I stayed.

In addition, I need a place where my son can go out and play.

China is an amazing country, but the pollution means there have been too many days where he’s had to stay inside and that just isn’t what I want for him growing up.

That is very hard for me to admit, because I truly love and respect this country and would never want to speak bad of it because I’ll forever be grateful for how it embraced me, educated me and helped me thrive.

As for Wieden … well they have been awesome. 

I thought I would stay at W+K forever but unfortunately, we’re a very flat structured, relatively small company, so there’s just not that many options easily available for someone like me. Everyone tried to make it work but as I have no desire to be an MD and feel I’ve achieved everything [and more] that I set out to do in Shanghai – and that I was asked to do in Shanghai – I came to the realization that for me to keep growing, I had to try something different.

That said, there is absolutely no doubt that I have enjoyed one of the most exciting and fulfilling times of my professional career [so far] but right now, I need to go and try some stuff that takes everything I have learnt – from Wieden and beyond – and mix it with a bunch of new experiences and lessons so I can see what happens in a totally different environment and situation.

I’m very excited about that but I’ll always be super thankful for the chance Wieden gave me, especially because they never asked me to be anyone else other than myself.

Even when it annoyed the fuck out of them.

To have done 7 years in the best agency in the World, in one of the most amazing countries in the World with some of the best clients in the World is an incredible honour.

To have earned their trust enough that they asked a planner – a bloody planner! – to start and run their creative talent incubator, The Kennedys, is extra special.

But to have them say you’ve done a good job and you should go and explore but never rule out coming back, shows how special – and mental – they are.

And they are. Very, very special.

And mental.

So what next?

Well, I’ll announce that soon however what I will tell you is I’m swapping one country with an evil government regime for another.

That’s right, I’m moving to America.

To LA to be precise.

I swear this is not purely because I can get away with wearing Birkenstocks the whole time.

But it helped make our decision.

I’ll reveal all soon, but I’m very excited about this next chapter in life.

It will hopefully challenge and teach me a bunch of new things while offering my family the sort of environment they absolutely deserve to enjoy – and I’m incredibly grateful I have the chance to do this, especially at this point in my life.

But it’s even more than that.

You see my parents always said they wanted me to live a life of fulfilment rather than contentment and if they knew their only son was going to have experienced life in America, Europe and Asia, they would be super-proud.

As I get older, I realise what is becoming more important for me is less about how high up the career ladder I go [though, as Harrison Ford said, I won’t undervalue all the work it has taken to get me to my current position] and more about how varied my life experiences are.

This move is another step to fulfilling that … or it will be when it happens. Until then, you’ll have to put up with business as usual, which basically means more ranty rubbish blog posts.

Onwards …
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* For the record, given many of you think I’ve done nothing over the past 7 years except go on holiday, you’ll be ecstatic to know I’ll be leaving Wieden just before I was going to be having my 6 week paid sabbatical. I guess you could call it ‘holiday karma’.




Simple Advertising Is Great Advertising …

I’m 46.

I’m a husband.

And a father.

I supposedly hold down a senior job at a highly respected company.

I have responsibilities … mortgages and a bunch of other things ‘older people’ should have.

And yet despite all that, when I saw this ad for Hot Wheels, I totally got what they were saying.

Oh Hot Wheels.

When I was a kid, they were the toy cars to have.

Matchbox made the practical but Hot Wheels made the sexy.

The daring.

The souped up.

The ‘fuck, that looks cool’.

Kids who were good at maths would play with Matchbox but kids who could play the guitar would have Hot Wheels.

I must admit, I am shocked at all this emotion coming out of me despite the fact I haven’t bought – or played with – a toy car for at least 36 years. And that’s why I love this ad so much, because in an instant – and without showing any product whatsoever – I get it.

I totally get it.

Given this ad appeared on a motorway, I am assuming Hot Wheels actually want to target people like me.

Their goal being to awaken my memories of their brilliant toy cars and introduce my kids to them.

It could be because a while back I read Hot Wheels was a billion dollar company under threat.

Not from other toy car competitors, but because parents didn’t know how to play toy cars with their children. Especially Mum’s with boys.

[Don’t call me sexist, this is what they said]

Whatever the truth is, this ad worked for me.

It not only reminded me how much I loved Hot Wheels, it made me want to play with them with Otis. Which all goes to show that while the features of a brand can be copied, it’s spirit and values are always unique.



The Last Week Of 2016 …

OK, so the title of this post is wrong given we have almost 3 weeks left before it’s 2017, but this is going to be the last week for this blog because [1] I’m going to be in LA all week [be afraid George, Pete & Baz … be very afraid] and [2] I can’t be arsed to write anymore.

Frankly, I can’t believe how quick this year has gone. It’s been stupendously quick.

And yet, when I look back at the past 12 months, I see a lot has happened … and I’m not just talking about my holidays.

From Bowie dying.

The worst Toyota campaign in years.

My favourite quote of the year.

A time of self realisation.

My best friends penis. [Hey, it wouldn’t be this blog if I didn’t reference that]

The power of design.

My beloved Mum’s first anniversary.

The launch of The Kennedys in Shanghai.

[With updates on whats going on here]

My failed April fool.

A reminder of the importance of empathy.

The best Rock n’ Roll mash-up. Ever.

China showing that for all their progress, a lot of it is only on the surface … here and here.

How Cannes is bringing the worst out of adland.

My amazing June consisting of an amazing conference in Paris, my wife’s birthday and a phenomenal holiday in too many places.

An idea that should be celebrated for it’s humanity.

My argument about what the ad industry needs to do to be relevant to the next generation of creative class.

… and recognising what new creative talent actually is.

Parenting.

The importance of fearlessness.

Saying goodbye to a couple of people who were very important to me. But only goodbye in the ‘I’m leaving Wieden’ sense. Ros and Paula.

As you can see, there’s been a lot that’s happened.

OK, so some you may agree with, some you won’t … but it’s important [for me, at least] to see it because the speed this year has gone, it would be easy for me to convince myself nothing has happened.

Recently I read an interview with ex-Take That star, Robbie Williams, that kind of summed up my attitude to working.

I know … I know … it’s Robbie Williams, but the fact is I have always liked him.

I’ve liked his attitude and his honesty – even when he’s ended up being screwed over by what he said – but for me, his viewpoint that ‘if the brain stops working, it’s all over’ feels very relevant to me.

You may not believe it, you may say there’s a lot of evidence to challenge it … but it’s something that feels incredibly true to me.

So true that 2017 is going to see quite a few changes for me … all in a bid to make sure my brain remains energised and exercised so that I don’t need a blog post to remind me that my days have been filled with stuff that has been interesting and exciting.

But that stuff will be discussed later, so until then, enjoy the final 5 days of this blog in 2016.



Wonderful Gets Another Year Older …
December 9, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Anniversary, Birthday, Daddyhood, Jill, Love, Mum & Dad, My Fatherhood, Otis, Parents

So on Sunday, my beloved little boy turns 2.

TWO!

How the hell did that happen, so quick?

It honestly feels like yesterday that he came into this World and while I love seeing him develop and grow, I do wish he would slow down a little.

One of the best/worst things has been seeing his vocabulary grow.

While I am in awe of his ability to say words – both in English and Chinese – to articulate what he wants or where he wants to go, I must admit I miss hearing the sounds he used to make before he could clearly communicate. I used to love the enthusiasm and gusto he would put behind his utterances … it was pure joy.

But on Sunday he turns 2.

He’s packed quite a lot into his life so far … from travel to hospital visits … and through it all, he’s smiled, laughed, swept and danced his way through it. Well, 94.2% through it, the rest has been screams, tantrums and looks of disappointment.

I still go through periods where I have to remind myself he’s my son and I still wish with all my heart my Mum and Dad could have met him … hugged him … kissed him.

The best compliment I can give Otis is he has changed my World.

The things I once valued no longer have the same appeal.

That doesn’t mean I don’t like those things, it’s just Otis’ happiness and development is most important of all.

The decisions I/we make are now revolving about issues we had never considered before.

Of course, that is nothing new for most parents, but for us, it’s a bit of a revelation … but it’s worth it because he is worth it.

So to my delightful son, Happy Birthday [for Sunday]

Your Mummy and Daddy love you with all our heart. Even Rosie the cat, kinda likes you.

For me, everything you do is wonderful, but when you say, “Daddy’s home” as I walk in the door, there is literally no better feeling for me in the World.

You have brought so much joy into our lives, it’s impossible for me to articulate.

We will do all we can to equip you with the skills and knowledge to handle whatever life throws at you and all we ask in return is you stay cheeky, curious and happy. Be safe knowing we will always support you in the things that excite you and move you and will love you, regardless of what trouble you cause us through the years.

But don’t push it too far …

I love you so, so much and I am so proud to be your Dad and as always, I will do all I can in my life to ensure you will be proud to call yourself, my son.

Happy birthday my darling Otis.

Rxxx



For Once, I Would Like Some Luck Rather Than Insults …
November 25, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Daddyhood, Family, Mum & Dad, Otis, Parents

So today will be the last post for a while.

Surprisingly, it is not because I’m going on holiday, it is because my beloved Otis needs a little operation and we’re going to have it done in Australia.

Just to be clear, it is a little operation but it still scares me to death.

Part of that is because I don’t want any child of 23 months to require a general anaesthetic.

Part of that is because I don’t want to see the worry and concern in my wonderful wife’s eyes.

Part of that is because the last time I was in a hospital, my beloved Mum died.

Part of that is because we just love him so so much.

And while I appreciate that compared to many, our situation is not very dramatic … it is a very concerning time for us right now, so wish us luck.

If things all go well [and they will, they will] then this blog will be back on December 5th but until then, I’d like to leave you with one of my favourite videos of my brilliant son.

I love it for so many reasons.

His enthusiasm.

His unadulterated joy.

His participation … both in [Chinese] words and actions.

The way he quickly adapts to the dance when he makes a mistake at around 55 seconds.

And then, at 1 minute 2 seconds, when he morphs into a dance that Bez from The Happy Mondays would be proud of before hearing the music start again [1 minute 12 seconds] and bopping his head to the beat.

Otis, you’re perfect to your Mummy and Daddy … never forget that.



Kids. Innocent Bastards …
November 17, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Cunning, Daddyhood, EvilGenius, Otis, Parents

Remember a couple of days ago, I asked if you could spot the difference between me, a ghost and a muppet, because Otis couldn’t?

Well I put this t-shirt on with Rick Rubin’s head on it and Otis pointed at it and said “Daddy”.

Way to make me feel special son. Thanks. Thanks a lot.



Can You Spot The Difference Between These 3?
November 15, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: Daddyhood, EvilGenius, Otis, Parents

If you can, you’re better than my son.

It appears if you’re bald and a speccy-bastard [or just have dark circles around your eyes] Otis regards you as his “daddy” … so if any of you are afflicted with these physical traits, regardless of age, species or colour, prepare to be invoiced by me for your pseudo-son’s upkeep.