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


Moore’s Law Won’t Be Law For Much Longer …

Moore’s law – created by Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel – states that computer power will double every two years at the same cost.

Since he said this in the later 60’s, he’s been proven right, but having listened to a professor of computer engineering on the radio last night, it appears it’s coming to an end.

The reason I am saying this is because to prove his point, the Professor said 3 things that have blown my mind.

1. The iPhone has 4 billion transistors in it. FOUR BILLION.

2. There are now more transistors in the World than their are leaves on all the trees across the entire planet.

3. Some transistors are so small – separated by a distance of just 14 nanometres (nm) – that they are invisible. And when I say invisible, I mean it because they are smaller than the wavelengths of light human eyes and microscopes use.

What I loved about the talk the Professor gave wasn’t just his ability to articulate the incredible journey of innovation that the tech industry has been on for almost 50 years … nor was it his view that this rate of innovation was going to be impossible to maintain given the micro scale the industry is already operating at … it was that he felt this obsession with precision was stopping craftsmanship to flourish.

Now I must admit, my initial view was getting 4 billion transistors into an iPhone would be the ultimate demonstration of craftsmanship, but no … this Professor was saying that in our quest to automate our lives, we are doing it at the expense of celebrating and expanding human skills.

For him, craftsmanship is when a human manufactures a product by hand … they use dedicated human reasoning to work out the kinks during production to make a high-quality, functioning piece.

These pieces attract and inspire those around them, attracting more people to both value the products and want to create the products, helping humanity both evolve and appreciate what we are capable of creating and becoming.

Now of course we could say computers have done a similar thing, but this Professor was saying ‘perfect precision’ was overshadowing ‘human precision’ and while there will always be a need for technology to do heavy lifting for us, humanity is at its best when it is can satisfy and appreciate what we as a species can do and right now, we are outsourcing that to technology.

It’s an interesting argument – especially when you think of what so much of this new era of tech is being used to do from a human interaction perspective – but ultimately I believe the argument is that if we don’t get back to teaching tech what to value, then tech will start teaching us.

It already is.

In their quest to get AI accepted in households, many companies are building applications to cater for the lowest common denominator of needs. The low hanging fruit, as it were. Now that would be fine if they then evolved their offering, but as this is a fierce, commercial race, I am pretty sure most companies will end up focusing on trying to automate as many simple tasks as possible in a bid to show their ‘usefulness’ which means over time, they are educating us to value speed over quality, convenience over experiences, virtual over reality and information over understanding.

Some might think that is OK, but as Andy said in a comment a few weeks ago, the implication are frightening …

“The fucked thing about all this tech assistance isnt that its making us lazy, its that its making us selfish and dismissing anyone or anything that doesnt do what we want immediately. The arts are going to be fucked over by this shit till people work it out and by then it will be too late or they just wont care.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love tech.

I love what it does and I love what it has allowed us to do.

And it goes without saying I love that it has helped me satisfy my love of gadgetry.

But if this is all at the cost of humanities appreciation of humanity, that’s quite a price to pay which is why if the end of Moore’s law means we get to teach values to tech rather than have tech teach us our values, then I for one am all for it.

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Listen For The Quiet Ones …

The older I get, the more I realise how brilliant my parents were.

There are so many reasons.

They gave me all the love and support and encouragement you could ever want.

They gave me incredible advice for how to live my life.

They told me to go live my life when they could have asked me to stay at home with them.

But for all those things, there was one thing they taught me that I feel was even more important than all that.

You learn from everyone.

Everyone.

That didn’t mean I had to agree with their point of view.

Nor did it mean I had to adopt their point of view.

What they wanted me to understand was every person has a story and if you really listen to what they say, it can help you learn a bunch of things.

Not just in the practical ‘move ahead in life’ stuff.

But in the understanding of how life works and how everyone is trying to deal with it as best they can.

And that’s why every month – from about the age of 8 to the age of 16 – my Dad would bring a homeless person [or as they were called in those days, tramps] to our house for dinner.

The deal was they would get a hot meal, a hot shower and a nice bed for the night if they told me about their life and what they had learnt from it.

Given the work I’ve done with HUMAN_2, I imagine my Dad often received a negative response. Not because the people he asked liked the situation they were in, but because they had experienced years of false promises or – worse – open avoidance and so were deeply mistrusting of anyone who approached them. But regardless of that, my Dad kept doing it and I’m so grateful he did.

Well, I say grateful, but at the time I found it weird.

Annoying even.

But looking back now, I realise how amazing and important it was.

It defined who I am.

It shaped how I do my job.

It ensured I respect people by their approach to life rather than their possessions.

It embodied my Mum always told me “… to be interested in what others are interested in”.

It’s probably why I value empathy in a planner more than curiosity. Though that could also be because the way planners talk about curiosity makes me sick.

But even more than that, I distinctly remember hearing a number of the visitors we had saying thank you to my parents. Not just for the food/shower/bed, but for being valued and being given a chance to be heard.

Which is maybe why when we were setting up HUMAN_2, the goal wasn’t to simply provide money to the homeless, but to provide assistance to those who wanted to help themselves out of their situation but didn’t know how.

I say all this because I recently saw a notice about a local homeless guy in Manhattan Beach who sadly died.

It really struck a chord with me.

Not just because it was touching to see a community acknowledge someone who many would treat as if they’re invisible, but because in the last 2 words of their note, they said something that encapsulated empathy and compassion for humanity.

You see as much as we live in a World where media likes to promote worth and value by what we own rather than who we are and how we live, LA amplifies that superficiality by about a billion … which is why the authors last 2 words were so beautiful and so important.

I just hope gentle Artie knew it.



A Picture Releases A Thousand Emotions …

It’s Monday.

I know that’s pretty shit for all of us so I thought I’d do something nice for a change.

OK, I’m not really doing any of it … my son is … but if it affects you 1/1000th in the way it affected me, it will make your day a little sweeter.

Otis has a friend called Elodie.

Her parents – by pure chance – are English and we met them at our kids school.

Elodie adores Otis.

And Otis adores Elodie.

They operate at the same speed and frequency and while there’s the odd moment where one of them goes slightly off the rails, their affection for each other is obvious.

A few weeks ago we were all at the beach to celebrate another kids birthday [this is my life now]

Living so close to the beach is a real privilege and even though both kids are there most days, they still act like it’s their first time.

Anyway, we were there for Jack’s 3rd birthday and in-between birthday cake and opening presents, I saw Elodie and Otis walk to the gentle tide.

As they chatted to each other, I followed them from a little distance to give them space to continue playing in their own World when suddenly they did this …

There are many beautiful things in my life that have taken my breath away, but this was one of the most powerful.

Innocent.

Heartfelt.

Friendship.

Which is why as much as that lone surfer in the distance may believe they are riding upon life’s purest joy, I would like to say to them they are wrong and point them to the embrace of my son and his dear Elodie.

I think they would acknowledge I am right.

Happy Monday.

Thank you Otis and Elodie.



Is This A Subliminal Message Regarding HR Departments?
October 31, 2017, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Human Goodness, Management

My mate recently sent me this photo from Australia.

Given how I once was in a meeting where someone asked the then CEO of Y&R whether HR stood for Human Remains, maybe this company is of the same view.

That, or it could be because many people are so frustrated with their HR departments protecting the management team rather than the people, they end up going to the loo and crying their eyes out.

I’m fortunate I’ve worked/work with some genuinely good HR people in my time, but in my experience, they’re still the exception rather than the rule.

And for the record, it’s no coincidence I’ve written about this subject on Halloween.

You might be going out tonight dressed as witches and skeletons, but if you really want to be scary, you should think about dressing up as your company HR representative.



Every Now And Then There Is A Product That Makes Me Excited, Inspired And Utterly, Utterly Jealous …
October 22, 2015, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Devious Strategy, Health, Human Goodness, Innovation

… well this is that product.

How brilliant is that?

I utterly love it. LOVE IT.

It works on so many levels it’s ridiculous … from friendship, play, health and life.

The fact adland – an industry that claims to be obsessed with creativity, but really is obsessed with making ads – bestows huge amounts of praise and awards for ‘solutions’ that have questionable purpose makes me feel a bit ill.

Hell, this is a football that could even make Nottingham Forest seem like they were doing something useful. For once.

Seriously, this should have been done – or at least backed – by FIFA, given all the shit they spout about trying to make the World a better place through football.

But of course, what they actually mean is that they can make their bank account a better place through football.

For more information on this brilliant idea can be read here.



The Last Of The Originals …
August 28, 2015, 6:20 am
Filed under: Agency Culture, Charinee, Human Goodness, Planning

So today is a momentous day for me.

A day of both great pride and of great sadness.

You see today is the day the wonderful Charinee leaves Wieden after 6 amazing years to move to NYC.

In her time here, she has gone from being an intern, to creating the infamous Luan Dun to working on a global Michelle Obama initiative to being involved in a whole bunch of work for clients including NIKE, Disney, Tiffany and pretty much everything in-between.

And don’t forget, she managed to do all that while having me as a boss so that proves how smart she is.

But it’s more than that.

You see Charinee is – in many ways – the life and soul of the agency.

On first impression, she looks like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth – but that’s part of her genius – because she’s a mischievous little fuck [in the most magnificent of ways] and brings the best out of people and brings the best people together.

Everyone loves her.

Clients, colleagues, bosses, weirdo’s …

You see Charinee has got that deadly combination of smarts, charm and looks so everyone want to hear her, talk to her, learn from her and just hang out with her so it’s no surprise she’s such a killer presenter and more connected than Linkedin.

But it’s even more than that. At least for me.

Because Charinee is the very last planner of the original mob I inherited when I took the job.

The last one.

It’s weird, but this has made her leaving feel a bit different to when the other guys have left.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as happy and proud of her as I was when everyone else went on to bigger things than they could have imagined [if only for the fact it means that in a small way, I may have contributed to that] … but I have to be honest, I am a bit more emotional that she is leaving, because being the last means she’s the person I’ve had the most history with.

In short, Charinee has been a bloody legend to me and for me.

Not just in the standards of her work … nor just the infectiousness of her spirit and attitude … not just in her overall desire to be better … but in how she has protected, defended, taught and saved me in all manner of situations.

From the time she managed to get my laptop returned to me from a Taxi driver in Xiamen to helping me write presentations that made me look much smarter and informed than I really am to organising a surprise birthday party [even though she accidentally copied me on the email she sent to the agency] to just making me laugh at times where I wanted to cry.

Through thick and thin, she has been there … loyal, curious, passionate and just plain ace.

Mind you, I’ve not been too bad to her.

Sure I’ve sent her on wild goose chases.

Sure I dropped her into mad situations.

Sure I’ve asked her to deal with issues that weren’t hers of the making.

But I didn’t kill her when we reached Manilla airport after a 2 hour taxi ride through the mad streets of Manilla and she announced “I left my passport back at the hotel”.

And don’t get me started on the amounts of times I’ve overlooked her latest ‘great movie reccomendation’ [which turns out to be one of the most depressing things I’ve ever seen] or the numerous occasions she’s told me to hold her plate up while she instagrammed her latest favourite meal or the fact she is the most photogenic fuck in the universe [except when she’s eating – see below] and yet I still will allow myself to be pictured with her despite it making me look even more beastly than usual.

I’ve been a bloody saint to her. Oh yes. It’s not all been one way traffic. No siree.

Cough Cough.

But in all seriousness, I feel honoured to know Charinee and to have worked with her.

She has made a massive difference to my life, the teams, the agency and the clients.

And yet despite all this, she has remained humble, grateful, eager and passionate to improve.

We are very lucky to have had her, especially for 6 years … which in China terms, is a lifetime.

And for all she has given us, what has Wieden give her?

Me and her husband. [No seriously, they met when he was a planner here too]

Poor thing.

In all honesty, Dominic and I got the much better end of the deal, but she seems happy enough so I’m just hugely thankful – and Dom better be as well – that for once, her decision-making ability in terms of who she spends a lot of her time with, deserted her.

So my wonderful Charinee, I still might not be able to pronounce your surname, I still might take the piss out of the Rod Stewartesque outfit you once wore [but never wore again] but I can tell you I’ll miss you hugely and I’m incredibly grateful for all you’ve done in this office and for this office.

Wherever you go, they will be very lucky to have you because I can honestly say I couldn’t have achieved half of what I’ve achieved here without you and I certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed it half as much.

I’m so excited to see where you go and how you grow so enjoy the adventure, say ‘hi’ to Leon and Debi, let every opportunity grow you but not change you and see you in New York.

Au revoir, but not goodbye.

Ciao lovely. It’s been an honour.

Now knock them dead.



When Respect And Culture Come Together, It Creates Unstoppable Emotion.
August 27, 2015, 6:10 am
Filed under: Culture, Death, Empathy, Human Goodness, Love, Peace

I could say I am posting this because tomorrow is going to be a bittersweet day for me [more on that, unsurprisingly, tomorrow] but the reality is I’m posting it because it’s beautiful and moving and incredibly powerful.

First a bit of background.

A teacher in a school in New Zealand recently died.

To honour him, around 1700 kids from Palmerston North Boys High School performed the traditional dance – the haka – as his hearse rolled into the school on the way to his funeral.

It is one of the most powerful and meaningful ways I’ve ever seen someone be told, “goodbye, we will miss you”.

Their teacher would be proud.

I was.