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


A Dictatorship Is Not A Community …

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had 2 very unpleasant interactions with LinkedIn.

The first was when I discovered my personal account had been blocked by them.

No warning.
No reason.
Just blocked.

I had to look on Google to find out how I could get in contact with them, and after discovering that I had to submit proof of my ID – they got back to me to say that someone had found a post I’d written offensive due to it’s adult content … and as they felt it contravened some LinkedIn policy I’d never heard of, they needed me to apologise to them before they would reinstate me.

Now I appreciate the image I chose was provocative, however it was not just for shock value … it was part of a presentation/post I was giving about the terrible, sexist, bullying behaviour men subject women to in the work place every single day – so I found it remarkable they ignored the context – which was clear – and just banned me and demanded an apology.

I told them I refused to apologise because it’s a genuine presentation about a genuine issue … however, as they appeared to be OK with that sort of behaviour, I would report them to the workplace commission for equal rights as well as the #MeToo organisation.

Unsuprisingly they reinstated my account saying ‘they appreciate I wasn’t trying to be offensive’, despite having previously said they agreed with whoever complained about my post and – contrary to most legal protocols – regarded me guilty, even though they had not sought any information or context about the post from the person being accused.

But pathetic and annoying but that was nothing compared to what was yet to come.

So a week later – which seems a very strange coincidence – the Corporate Gaslighting LinkedIn account was banned.

Again no warning. No explanation. Just banned.

So I went through the same thing and then they got back to me with this …

Yep, the issue is simply the account is under Corporate Gaslighting’s name rather than my own – despite all contact details are.

But here’s where it gets even more annoying.

“Due to the nature of this account, we won’t be able to remove the restriction and/or merge this account with another one.”

That’s right.

It’s blocked. Forever.

Not because they couldn’t link it to my account but because they didn’t want to. Because of the ‘nature’ of the account.

And this is where I’m confused because surely the nature of the account is perfect for LinkedIn?

In fact, when I read the LinkedIn ‘purpose’, which states:

‘Connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful’

… then I can’t think of a more perfect partner for LinkedIn.

But no. They don’t want it.

It’s fine to have shady recruiters taking money from their clients to spam anyone they can get to. It’s fine to have men use their site to hit on women. It’s fine to pretend you’re a z-grade shrink with a guaranteed answer to everything you could ever wish for. It’s fine to allow ‘members’ to spout blatant lies about their achievements or sales tools. It’s fine to have people use the platform to talk about the conformity of professional appearance … but it’s not OK to have someone who is dedicated to helping professionals being systematically undermined by bad leaders, because the way I filled in their form is a violation of the LinkedIn User Agreement and Professional Community Policies.

I’ll tell you what’s a violation – LinkedIn’s claims they are a community. That they want to help people succeed. That they want to connect people together.

LinkedIn wants everyone to follow their orders. What they have decided is right. What works in their best interests. And if for some reason that doesn’t happen, then they let their god complex run riot – before hiding behind anonymous people and policies that don’t allow for context or conversation … just a brazen and contrived ‘computer says no’ guilty verdict, with all the humanity and consideration of an ATM machine.

Dear LinkedIn. You are in danger of becoming the absolute opposite of what you claim to be about, because if you were, you’d have created your own version of Corporate Gaslighting, but no, you’d rather just ban it. But then, when you’re paying your CEO almost $14,000,000 per year, I appreciate the last thing you’d ever want to do is to take any sort of stand against any sort of professional misconduct, for fear of alienating the companies who allow your CEO to be paid such an obscene amount.

Linkedin has incredible potential to be a real force for good.

Not just for corporations, but employees too.

It could influence real, positive change.
It could drive shifts in values, attitudes and rewards.
It could challenge the rules of what ‘professionalism’ supposedly means and looks like in the modern age.
It could help shape the future of work in ways that benefit all.

And while some could say they are doing this in their own way, the past few weeks have suggested to me their focus is on keeping the C-Suite happy rather than helping people create a new version of the C-Suite.

It’s a shame, because the whole industry is begging for some sort of major change but instead, they not only prefer to keep things exactly the same … they are using their power to ensure it does.

If you – or someone you know – are having your confidence systematically undermined, by colleagues … you are not alone. There is help out there. Not at Linkedin.com but at TheyTriedToKillMeButI.Live



Which Came First: The Dumbing Down Of Marketing Or Creativity?

Above is a point of sale sign from a local supermarket.

Look at it.

LOOK AT IT!!!

What a pile of utter shite.

Noticeable for it’s stupidity rather than it’s inspiration.

The sort of stuff you would expect from a 5 year old writing jokes for a Christmas Cracker, than a company with well paid staff, responsible for the commercial growth of an organisation.

So who is to blame?

Well there are many who should feel a sense of shame – from ad agencies to research companies to clients – however when I think of who started this horribleness to begin, I can’t help but feel it was at the hands of the marketing department.

Of course even they are not totally to blame.

The C-Suite, with their demands and expectations have a lot to answer for … almost as much as the investors, who say they want the companies they invest in to be good companies but they better make increasing profits every quarter.

But what I found fascinating coming back to Western markets from Asian – specifically China – was how little ambition there really was.

Oh companies would talk about it – wax lyrical about it – but when you delved a little deeper, you saw there wasn’t much there.

Instead the focus was far more about defending rather than growing, corporate convenience rather than customer understanding, explaining rather than communicating and short-term conformity rather than long term change.

But of course, ad agencies need to take their blame for this situation as well.

Too many doing whatever clients want rather than what they need.

Profiting from process over creativity.

Celebrating speed over substance.

What makes it worse is some think this leads to good work.

Effective work. Using ‘proof’ that ignores the myriad of small, separate elements that combine to drive success so they can place themselves on a self-appointed pedestal.

But there are some who have a bit more self-awareness.

Who know what they’re doing is not as good as it could be.

Or should be.

But rather than face their responsibility in all of this, they blame others for how this came about … turning to questionable research that is based on a few tweets, a couple of chats around the agency or claims every single person on the planet can have their attitudes and behaviours characterised by a singular colour or some other bollocks.

And from this, they will claim the public don’t care about smart stuff.

That they ‘don’t understand’ good ideas and writing.

They they’re simply not interested in creativity and ideas.

Bullshit.

Bullshit.

Bullshit.

I’ve got to tell you, I’m absolutely over it.

I’m over the focus on the lowest common denominator.

Let’s face it, life would be pretty horrible and boring if that is how we really operated … and contrary to popular belief, we don’t.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t elements of predictability in what we do, but to ignore the nuance … to suggest everything we aspire to is exactly the same, delivered via an identical approach … is just plain bullshit.

But here’s the kicker, because more clients and agencies seems to be adopting this approach.

White labelling, phoned-in solutions with a cool sounding names that actively destroys any sense of differentiation and distinctiveness of their brand from countless competitors while also directly insulting the intelligence of the customers they rely on to survive.

I get it’s less hassle to just agree with clients.

I get that having income coming in right now is very important.

I get that a single point-of-sale sign is not going to change the world.

But when we are willing to allow our standards to be determined by how quick we can make money, then all we’re doing is ensuring the long-term value of our industry – and the talented people in it or wanting to be in it – dies even more quickly.

And that’s why I am also over people being quick to piss on anyone trying to do something different.

Claiming it’s self indulgent.

Labelling it a failure before it’s even run.

Saying it won’t appeal to the audience … despite not knowing the brand, the brief, the audience or how people actually think or act outside of some hypothetical customer journey / strategic framework of convenience.

And yet, when you look at the brands, the work and the agencies who consistently resonate deeply and authentically with culture and drive long-term loyalty, growth and profit – it’s the usual suspects and a few newbies, like Nils and the fabulous folks at Uncommon.

Yes our job is to help our clients achieve more than they hoped. Yes our job is to attract rather than repel. But our job is also to help build the future for our clients … influencing, shaping and – sometimes – forcing dramatic change even before the masses are quite ready for it, which means doing work that challenges and provokes for all the right reasons … sometimes asking questions of the audience rather than boring them into beige submission.

And while I acknowledge there are risks in all of that, I personally believe it is far riskier to dumb everything down to it’s lowest common denominator, because every single thing we love, respect and covet has come from someone or something doing something different.

Whether that’s an idea, a product, a story or a new way of looking at the World … it has come from people who understood who we are but take us further than we imagined, pushing the journey and the story with every new chapter of what they create.

They could have taken the easy route.
They could have focused on optimising the rewards.
They could have spent their time ‘removing friction from the transactional process’.

But they didn’t. Or at least, they didn’t just focus on that.

They embraced the risk to create something bigger and more unexpectedly resonant.

Or should I say unexpectedly resonant by those judging them, because they knew exactly where they were going.

And this is why the people who are so quick to dismiss anyone trying to do something new need to understand their actions say far more about who they are and what they value than anything else. And in an industry that is fighting for its life, I put my faith in those using creativity to change the game rather than those who just talk about violation of some old rules.



When You Say It’s A Lie, You Can Say Anything …

I am doing a project about land ownership.

I know that sounds horrifically boring, but it isn’t.

Anyway, as part of my rabbit hole reading and research, I came across one of those sites where you can buy ‘titles’ … like Lord and Lady of the Manor.

And then I saw this …

Have you read it?

No, I don’t mean the bollocks testimonial, I mean the line near the top.

Yes, the one that basically says, ‘these testimonials may all be a pile of utter bullshit’.

Amazing eh?

I have to admit, I love their use of the word ‘illustrative’ … it’s as if they’re trying to say they want to add flair to their product story rather than just admit they’re writing lies.

Let’s face it, if you have to make up your ‘references’, you don’t have any references.

Believe it or not, the ad industry is more closely controlled than the newspaper industry … and while the owners of this company openly admit their references are illustrative rather than real, it still highlights how someone who wants to fuck with the system can fuck with it, regardless how closely regulated people may think it is.

But then even that doesn’t matter, because as I wrote in my post about Bernie Madoff, the people who fall for these scams are often – but not always, especially if they’re the elderly – complicit in some way.

Because as Bernie once said …

“I succeeded because when you offer people a deal that’s too good to be true, they never want to look too hard into the facts.

They say it’s because of trust. I say it’s because of greed.”



Some Scams Might As Well As Have A Neon Sign On Them, Flashing Scam …

Just like great PR is never seen.

And great conspiracies, always feel plausible.

Great scams should never let you doubt their validity.

Yes, I know a while back I wrote that Bernie Madoff had said that success is as much down to the individuals greed as the scammers ability to appear legitimate … but fundamentally, if something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

Which is why the ad above is probably the criminal equivalent of infant school.

Let’s face it, you don’t call yourself ‘Mystery Shopping’ if you’re going to tell everyone what they’re getting and the likelihood that SONY would allow an external company to promote to all and sundry that you can play on their yet-to-be-released new gamer machine is – and I appreciate I may be being a bit cynical here – ABSOLUTELY ZERO!

On the bright side, it does show clients that as professionals in communication, adland is much better at manipulating people than criminals. Or at least amateur criminals.

So at least we have that going for us. Ahem.

Sorry gomysteryshopping.co.uk, you’re going to have to up your game.

Or at least not make such stupid, basic mistakes.

Wait for all the consultancies that will now approach criminals with proposals to improve their efficiency and effectiveness. Now they’re definitely not ‘amateur’ criminals.



Bosses. Remember Your Behaviour Teaches Your Team How To Behave …

Next week I start blogging properly again.

I know, you can’t wait can you. Ahem.

However last night I spoke to a friend of mine who had just been majorly fucked over at work.

Not by a client. Not by a colleague. But by her boss.

That’s right, the person who is supposed to both develop their career and be a role model for how to approach work had just undermined them in the worst possible way.

Hence this post … which I’m not letting any comments on, because I’m still on ‘holiday’. Even if I’m seemingly working harder than I have in ages. [No sarcastic comments please!]

So let’s get on with this shall we?

I have a very simple rule.

The person who writes a deck, gets to decide what’s in the deck.

Sure, there will be discussions and debate amongst the team.

Yes, the goal is always to make it as concise, sharp, provocative and interesting as can be.

And without doubt, the journey to finish line will pass through a huge amount of quality-control along the way.

But fundamentally, the person who writes it – or will be presenting it – is the person who has the final say of what’s in it.

I was trained this way.

I have lives this way.

I practice this way.

But I’m seeing – and hearing – a lot of managers who have a very different approach.

Sure, they get their teams to write a deck … but the difference is, they don’t engage in that part of the process, they just come in at the last minute and change the deck as they see fit.

Without consultation.

Without negotiation.

Without explanation.

And what makes this worse is that in many cases, these managers only have a small perspective of what is going on and so often their views are inherently flawed.

But I’m not going to talk about that, I’m going to ask one question.

WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?

Nothing undermines a team like the public destruction of all they’ve been working on.

Nothing causes a team to lose respect for a boss more than an act that shows zero respect towards them.

Nothing demonstrates delusion than believing your knowledge and abilities are better than those working on the business 24/7.

Of course a managers job is to stand for standards and quality.

Of course their job is to ensure the company always presents itself in the best possible light.

But this isn’t how you do it …

In fact this is literally the worst way to do it … even if you have a successful meeting.

Because the role of a manager is to elevate your people, not undermine them.

Guide them. Develop them. But do it in a way where they feel backed and protected … which ultimately means being honest with them, letting them solve the problems you have with their work – rather than just doing it yourself – and making sure any arguments are done behind closed doors, rather than publicly or launched on them with utter surprise.

Hell, I’m working with the most successful music management duo in music history – working with some of the biggest rock stars in the World – and they manage to do it, so why the opposite of this is happening in adland again and again is beyond me.

Please don’t think what I’m saying is managers must just stand on the sidelines, blindly and wildly clapping whatever their team produces, like some management version of Paula Abdul.

As I said, you can disagree with them.

Argue with them.

Even change stuff with them.

But you shouldn’t do it like some tin-pot dictator who feels you automatically know better than them and have no one to answer to, fear or consider.

Unless you’re a total prick.

Once upon a time, I had a manager – but not my manager – totally fuck with my work without telling me.

When I asked why they did it, they said, “I don’t have to explain my actions to you”.

I literally laughed in their face before saying, “good luck with your manager of the year application”.

Let me be clear, for all the talk we hear in companies that state ‘our people are our greatest asset’, the reality is you’re not a team when you expect everyone to serve you or think you can ignore everyone around you.

Every team may need a manager. But every manager needs to remember, they need a team.

Treat them with respect or find yourself on your own.

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