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


The Last Month Of 4.0 …

So today is June 1.

In 11 days, I wave goodbye to my forties and enter a decade that seems impossible for me to fathom.

50.

FIFTY.

Seriously, how did this happen?

I still remember sitting on the hill outside Erica’s newsagent with my best mate Paul around 1978, when we worked out that in the year 2000, we would be turning 30.

But here we are, 11 days from 50.

[Though it’s 15 days for Paul, who will LOVE those 4 days where he can bang on about how he is a decade younger than me … though he will also moan that my present for him isn’t like the full page newspaper ad I got him when he was 40, but a Forest shirt signed by all the members of the 1980 European Cup team. Asshole. He knows about this present as I bought it for him years ago so I’m not ruining anything for him. But I still have a surprise for him. Oh yes.]

Turning 30 bothered me a bit.

I was totally fine with becoming 40.

But 50!

I’m both bricking it and utterly casual about it.

And while there are some practical reasons for the shitting myself part – health, work, life in general – the fact of the matter is the older I get, the better my life has become.

I totally get the privilege of that statement, I don’t take it for granted at all, but it is definitely true.

Personally, professionally, emotionally …

Sure there have been some bumps along the way – some terribly hard and emotionally destructive ones – but looking at the big picture, the reality is my life has generally been on an upward trajectory.

Now even I know that it can’t keep going like that forever … but it doesn’t mean I have to stop trying.

The fact is, the older you get, the more you discover …

From what you like, what you don’t … to what you didn’t know and what you want to know.

And what makes it even more amazing – and annoying – is that every step you take, in whatever direction, reveals a whole host of other possibilities you would like to explore and investigate.

The problem is time is now officially, not on your side … so there’s a point where you have to accept you won’t get to try, play, experiment with all you want to do, so while that might put some people off, it kind of makes me want to try and pack more in.

And I am … because on top of work, Metallica, the school with Martin, I’ve already agreed to do a couple more projects that are intriguing and – frankly – ridiculous.

But there’s another reason for this attitude and it’s because my Dad died at 60.

Death is something I’ve talked a lot about over the years – mainly due to both my parents passing away.

I’ve talked a lot about the importance of taking about it, but I must admit, I’m scared of it.

I’m in generally good health, but fifty is still 50 and my Dad still died just 10 years on from this age.

Now of course it doesn’t mean I will … and I’ve come to this completely unscientific view that I should live till I’m at least 71 because if you take away my Dad’s age of dying [60]from my Mum’s [83] … that leave 23 years. Halve that … add it to Dad’s age … and voila, I will live till at least 71.

But then that means I only have 21 years left.

TWENTY ONE.

That’s nowhere near enough.

My wonderful little boy is only 5 for fucks sake. 26 is way too young to lose your Dad … hell, that’s even younger than I was when I lost mine.

Years ago, an old boss I looked upto said that if you can’t feasibly double your age, that is when you know you are – at best – middle aged or – at worst – the last stage of your life.

Well I suppose I can still feasibly double my age – even if it’s against the average age of death for a man in the UK [79.2] – but the reality is where I’m going is shorter than where I’ve been.

But shorter doesn’t mean less interesting.

And arguably, I have more exciting things in my life now – both personally and professionally – than I have ever had.

It also helps I am insanely immature with a desire for mischief, experimentation, creativity and adventure.

And I intend to fill it up with even more.

Fortunately I get that from a number of sources.

My wife.

My son.

My job.

My other jobs.

My friends.

My mind.

A while back, Pete said something I found pretty profound.

He said the narrative of strategy tended to focus on the importance of curiosity when discovery is far more valuable for driving the standard of the work you create and the adventure you go on.

Now I’ve written a lot about how I hate when planners talk about curiosity – as if they’re the only people who have it – but I really, really like that idea of the hunger for discovery.

I absolutely have that.

I owe so much of what I have to that.

The countries I’ve lived in. The people I’ve worked with. And most importantly, the family I am fortunate to have.

So while I enter a new decade, I will continue to live like it’s the old one.

Not in terms of dressing like I’m younger than I am – mainly because I have always dressed like I live in 1986 – but with the hunger, ambition and desire I’ve always had.

I genuinely believe my best work is still ahead of me.

Truly believe that.

And the goal of this decade is to achieve some of that while discovering new things that make me believe even better work can still lie in my future.



Happy Anniversary Mum And Dad …
May 28, 2020, 6:15 am
Filed under: Attitude & Aptitude, Childhood, Comment, Dad, Emotion, Empathy, Family, Love, Mum, Mum & Dad

Today would have been Mum and Dad’s 56th wedding anniversary.

That’s a photo from their wedding day at the top of this post.

They look so young.

So happy.

A life of adventure ahead of them.

And while they had their ups and downs – some of them insanely challenging due to health, money and family dramas – they stayed strong … they never left me wanting for their love and support and, at the very end, they were possibly even closer than they had ever been.

Of course part of this was because Dad was utterly reliant on Mum after his multiple strokes.

At the beginning that was hard on Mum.

Here was her husband – a proud, eloquent, independent man – suddenly needing her presence, love and support 24/7.

Don’t get me wrong, she loved him, but it was so different to their normal relationship that in some ways, her husband had become her child and that required a huge readjustment for her mentally as well as emotionally.

But there was no question she was not going to look after him.

This was her husband.

Looking after him was what she wanted to do.

It was how she could show her love for him.

Even when it drove her to the point of physical and mental exhaustion and stress.

I remember one day, Mum anxiously told me [I was living in Australia at the time] a Doctor had said she needed rest or she would become seriously ill.

He suggested Dad go into hospital for a few weeks so she could take care of herself.

She immediately said no, but realised that if she got ill, then Dad would be in an even worse position.

It took her days to do it, but finally she gingerly, tenderly and tearfully told Dad what the Doctor had told her.

She was so upset as she didn’t want him to think she was sending him away … but actually wanting to look after him.

And Dad, with tears in his eyes, nodded he understood.

Because he loved his wife.

And while he hated the idea of being away from her, he hated being a burden to her and wanted to help her feel stronger and better.

So they could be together again. Where he felt safest and happiest.

The great irony is that a few days before he was supposed to go into hospital, he ended up there with another stroke …

And never came home.

The end of a 3+ year journey of utter sadness.

One I would not wish on anyone, especially Mum and Dad.

I’m not religious in the slightest, but I have to admit, I really hope they’re together again, holding hands.

Miss them so much.

Happy anniversary Mum and Dad.

Rxxx

____________________________________________________________________

After I typed this I realised I was wrong.

2020 had screwed me so much I had written this 2 months late as Mum and Dad’s wedding anniversary was on March 28.

What the hell?

What makes it worse is that this is the first time of the 14 odd years of this blog, that I’ve screwed it up.

So while all the words are right, my timing – as usual – is a little off.

Love you Mum and Dad.

Rx

Comments Off on Happy Anniversary Mum And Dad …


Be Your Own Worst Enemy …

There have been times in my career where I’ve chosen the wrong path.

What makes this crazy is that there have been times where I knew I was but still went ahead with it.

Nothing bad.

Nothing illegal.

But, according to others, it was the wrong thing to do.

Now this is not because I have a death wish or want to cause trouble … it’s because a situation or certain circumstances occurred that just triggered something in me.

Good and bad.

And while – with hindsight – I know I could have handled ‘how’ I dealt with some of those situations differently, I absolutely don’t regret ‘why’ I did it … even if that led to some people labelling me as being ‘too emotional’.

Too emotional is a horrible phrase.

It aims to shame people for who they are and what they believe.

What is worse is that it is often expressed by people who have an inability to show any emotion towards anything, so act as if it is some sort of human flaw.

A fundamental weakness.

Let me be very clear, being able to express your emotions is a strength.

It’s healthy.

It’s positive.

It’s also a sign you give a fuck.

Whether that is about work, standards or other people.

Now I appreciate that doesn’t mean you can use it as an excuse to abuse others or act like you’re some sort of megalomaniac diva.

Nor do I think that just because something triggered your emotions, it means your perspective is automatically correct.

And then there’s the fact there will be times or situations where you need to restrain your emotions to a time – or place – where it is more appropriate to let out. Let’s face it, no one wants a surgeon to have an emotional outburst mid-operation just because someone handed them the scalpel in a sloppy way.

But expressing your emotions is important.

It should absolutely never be treated as doing something wrong.

Especially in the creative industry, where our goal is to literally make people feel something.

So if anyone ever say’s, “you’re too emotional”, don’t just take it.

It’s the sort of comment that – if allowed to fester – can chip away at your confidence.

Often uttered by senior figures in a company who want employees to think, act and behave exactly like them rather than embrace differences of opinion or brand new thinking … which is ironic, given that’s the main way companies can evolve and grow.

So if faced with that situation, ask them what they mean by their comment?

Put it back on them to explain.

Half the time you’ll find it is simply because they don’t like conflict.

Or an alternative perspective.

And that’s when you explain why the situation has made you feel the way it has.

Why you believe it shouldn’t just be brushed away.

Not because you’re an egomaniac who wants whatever they choose, but because you see possible implications that could have a terrible effect on the work or the company or the team at large.

Because even the person you’re discussing this with doesn’t feel it or see it as being important, doesn’t mean it isn’t … which at the very least should justify a conversation about it, especially if you feel so strongly about it.

But, as I said, there may be occasions where you will look back on how you reacted and feel you could have done it another way.

Note I said ‘how’ you reacted, not ‘why’ you did.

And that’s why it’s important to always learn from these incidents.

Discover what pushes your buttons.

Understand what you expect from yourself and others.

Reveal what standards you will and will not tolerate.

Not so you can deny or suppress your emotions in the future, but so if another situation arises, you can express your emotions in a way that will change the outcome you are responding to rather than just reacting to it.

And when you get to that point, that’s when you find being ‘too emotional’ is a superpower.

So while the guy in the video is being his own worst enemy for the worst of reasons, expressing your emotions never is.

Because regardless what some may claim, they are a sign of strength, never weakness.

It’s another long weekend here in the UK, I hope you have a good one and a safe one.

See you Tuesday.



Be Careful Of Being Too Optimistic …

If this situation has shown us anything, it’s who is comfortable with the uncomfortable and who is just making it up as they go along.

Populism has been, well – popular – these last few years. In the past it was [mainly] based on the act of having done something others liked.

Recently it has become about saying things others want to hear.

And while no one could foresee what we’re going through now, that new definition of populism has been seen for what it is.

Ego.

So I hope we get back to valuing those who have plans and proof behind their words, whether that’s planners or prime ministers.

Because anything is easy for the person who doesn’t have to do it, doesn’t understand how to do it or has never actually done it – from making great creativity or leading a country through crisis.



We Will All Be Judged …

A couple of days ago I wrote about how the reset button on society has been pressed.

How companies and people are actually working together to make sure humanity is being moved forward rather than being left to fend for itself.

Sadly, not everyone is acting in this way.

In fact, some are openly displaying they prefer profits over people.

That blows my mind both in terms of arrogance and stupidity.

Arrogance … because they literally think they’re better or more important than everyone around them.

Stupidity … because this thing will be over one day and people don’t forget.

While this is old news, there is a site that has been started who has the aim of making sure of that … didtheyhelp.com.

It’s a site that details if companies or celebs helped during this crisis.

We are at a point where society will support those who support them and not let shit behaviour be passed off as “it’s just business” anymore.

It may have cost the ultimate price, but we may end up coming out of this in a better place than we started.

I hope so.

Tomorrow is a bank holiday in the UK, so hope you have a happy and safe long weekend.



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.



The Reset Button …

There’s an old saying that where there’s crisis, someone is making a fortune.

But this time, things are different.

Whatever industry – except, perhaps, video-conferencing, pasta-making and loo paper manufacturing – everyone is being challenged.

In fact the impact of COVID-19 has been so fundamental – from how society lives to how business operates – that things may never be the same again.

That sounds terrifying, especially with so many challenges to overcome, but one of societies greatest abilities is their way of adapting to – and creating – the ‘new normal’ which is why [to paraphrase Alvin Toffler] the illiterate of business in a post-COVID-19 era won’t be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

Right now, across the World, the everything is being re-written.

What people want …
What people value …
What people expect …
What people aspire to …

And while some will claim that as things become normal, so will habits … it doesn’t take much to realise COVID-19 has already pressed societies reset.

The British government gave data to supermarkets so they could prioritise the elderly.

Companies stepped up for the greater good … from free food for the DR’s and Nurses to manufacturing products needed in the fight against COVID-19.

Communities started forming again. Really forming. Coming together to look after each other with compassion and fairness.

Humanity can work.

Government can care about the masses.

Commerce can balance compassion with profit.

The people who keep the country moving can be more respected than the people who earn the most.

We can’t forget this.

I hope we are not allowed to.