Thursday, September 24, 2020

Ageing – Part VI – Don’t Let the Old Man In

The great Roger Angell (The Summer Game) wrote a beautiful essay on Ageing when he was 93 years old in The New Yorker (February 17, 2014) – it was funny, inspiring and heartbreaking all at the same time.


One humorous piece of advice he shares comes from ‘the most trusted man in America’ – broadcaster Walter Cronkite.


Angell writes “I don’t read Scripture and I cling to no life precepts, except perhaps to Walter Cronkite’s rules for old men (which he did not deliver over the air!):

-      Never trust a fart.

-      Never pass up a drink.

-      Never ignore an erection.


Timeless(ly politically incorrect!)



Monday, September 21, 2020

Desert Dreaming – Day 180



I arrived on March 15 from the UK, Trudy two days later from New Jersey.


We decided our home, Desert Dream in Carefree Arizona, was the best place to ride out Covid-19 given its remote, secure location, superb climate, access to safe outdoor exercise, proximity of essential medical, food and takeaway dining options, brilliant time zone access to the Americas, Europe and Australasia and excellent communications/technology networks.


It has proven to be the right decision and today we were talking about what we had done during this unprecedented length of time in one place.


We have tried not to waste the crisis and have kept active – emotionally and physically.


We have:

-      Started work on a new guest house for the property (La Casita).

-      Started work on an outdoor, rooftop bar (Tonto’s) – overlooking the desert.

-      Extended our Western/Mexican art collection with some original Tom Russell paintings, two vintage Billy Schenck’s of Western Pop Art, two original Rocio Navarro’s from the Saatchi gallery and more Lone Ranger vintage memorabilia.

-      Built two desert bird sanctuaries (Mexican bird bath, birdfeeders, treat bells) in the courtyard and out back in the desert.

-      Created two new Peak Performance programmes focusing on The New Way Forward which we run four/five times per week with global clients.

-      Rewritten my Personal Purpose to focus on Survive – Revive – Thrive with Family and Friends – as well as work.

-      Trudy has become a Masterchef, creating delicious dishes from around the world (Scampi Milanese, Moroccan Chicken, Shepherds Pie, Fettucine Alfredo, Paella, Vitello Tonnato, Veal Scallopini, Fegato Veneziana), as well as making her own ice-cream (grazie Smeg) and her own French/Cottage Fries.

-      And we’re both looking forward and planning for a brilliant 2021 – once the World Reopens.


Hope you’re all staying safe, keeping busy and dreaming big.




Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Throwback Thursday – Don’t be a Polar Bear


Two years and more ago (June 19 2018) I posted a Viva La Difference blog of a speech I gave to Lancaster University’s Council, outlining 15 ideas to make a difference.


Rereading them last weekend, I thought I might give them another outing.  Here they are.


1)     Be Soft

     Soft is strong.  King Kong (and its director Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings) are big softies.  And a kangaroo can’t jump unless its tail is touching the ground.  The future will belong to soft connections.  Emotion not reason.  Software not hardware.  Soft not hard power.  Soft is transparent.  Soft is enabling.  Soft is flexible.  Soft is inclusive.  Soft is slow Cumbrian food not fast fat food.  (Try Ambleside’s Old Stamp House and The Lakeside Kitchen.)


2)     Be in Spirit

     To be inspired means to be ‘in spirit’.  To be an Inspirational Player, a radical optimist, wherever you stand or fall.  Remember the return of Steve Jobs and Apple’s ‘Think Different’ campaign?  Said Jobs: “That ad was to remind us of who our heroes are and who we are”.  Want to be in spirit?  By the end of this month pass on the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given to 10 people under 20.


3)     Be Sensuous

     Touch.  Sound.  Scent.  Sight.  Taste.  Designing products, services and experiences around the five senses calibrates a better world.  Holistic is the new reality.  In the food business?  Sell all fruit with leaves attached so consumers see it’s fresh.  With all five senses put on high alert, magic happens.


4)     Simply Sustain

     Jeffrey Sachs’ UN Millennium Project Report on poverty is required reading.  An aperture is opening.  A beam of light shines, one energised by low-cost simplicity.  In The Lakes, join the Cumbria Community, donate to the Herdy Fund.  Make a difference to those in need in Cumbria.


5)     Sleep

     Joan Klempner said: “To achieve the impossible dream, try going to sleep”.  With 24/7 lifestyles, we’re getting less and less sleep.  Yet for success, achievement, and happiness, sleep is fundamental.  Now science says our best ideas surface when we drift into sleep.  Anytime sleep is pure competitive advantage.  Walt Disney got it right “If you can dream it, you can do it”.


6)     Go Loglo

     The local/global debate is the soap opera of business.  ‘Should I be thinking local?’  ‘Should I be thinking global?’ … ‘Should I be glocal?’  Start with action in Cumbria, in the local (there are no global consumers!).  Then cross boundaries.  Wherever you are, export is the way to go.  It’s not about thinking.  It’s about acting, and going.  Act local; go global.  Go LoGlo.


7)     Learn to say: ‘ni hao’

     Unlike other Asian countries China was ‘born global’.  The dragon opened up and ventured out simultaneously, putting the globe in a spin.  China is an Aladdin’s Cave for enterprise.  Open it!  Learn to say in Chinese: ‘Hello’, and ‘Welcome to The Lakes’.


8)     Invent and Innovate

     The difference?  World changing.  Arno Penzias, a Nobel Prize winner in Physics, makes the distinction.  An invention is the product of a creative or curious mind.  Born not made.  Innovation changes customers’ lives in some way or the world in which customers experience things – and is something we can learn, practice and do!


9)     Be Irreplaceable and Irresistible

     Hating America while loving all things American is the 21st century paradox says Louis Chunovic.  Wherever you stand (and despite President Trump), America’s innovative spirit remains irresistible and a beacon for modern enterprise.  Make your Business bigger than a Brand.  Create loyalty beyond reason – just as America has.


10) Don’t be a Polar Bear

     Polarisation of values – cultural conflict – is as big an opportunity as a threat.  Businesses that take sides will lose.  Businesses that listen and bring sides together can become Lovemarks.  In the US, stone barricades erected near government buildings post-9/11 have been replaced with stone containers filled with plants.  Lovemarks are part of a human conversation.  They make the world a better place.


11) Join the Consumer Republic

     Manufacturers and retailers now work for consumers, not vice versa.  Technology has given power to consumers.  We’re in the Consumer Republic, at last!  It’s a time of instant connectivity, transparency and accountability.  Message to marketers?  Stimulate me, surprise me, intrigue me, involve me, entertain me, love me, just don’t bore me.


12) Touch Technology

     Smart objects like adidas smart shoe.  Content co-creation like blogging.  Customisation like iTunes.  All are part of this power and control shift to consumers.  Question du jour: does technology make people happy?  No.  Does it make people happier?  Yes.  Let’s get over this one and move on.  It’s technology and happiness.  It’s And/And, not Either/Or.


13) Build it, they will come

     Globally, the supermarket experience is a 20 minute dash through hell.  Radio, lighting and air-con should be done for assault.  The store where lots of purchase decisions are made, is still the biggest opportunity in business today.  Solution?  Drip it with Mystery, Sensuality, Intimacy.  Build a theatre of dreams.  Go to Booths.  Go to Herdy.


14) Build Windmills

     A Boeing 747’s wingspan is longer than the first flight of the Wright brothers.  You can resist change and go backwards or embrace it and go forwards.  When hurricanes come, build windmills!  Pursue failure, you discover your limits when you crash up against them.  When others zig, zag.  Fail Fast, Learn Fast, Fix Fast.


15) Surprise with the Obvious

     The most popular first name in the world is Muhammad.  No piece of paper can be folded more than seven times.  The stall closest to the door in a bathroom is the cleanest, because it is the least used.  Obvious.  Overlooked.  For cut through innovation, communication, surprise with the obvious.



Sunday, September 13, 2020

Making the World a Better Place


A few weeks ago I was interviewed by a charismatic, passionate sustainability advocate – Sara Bell in Sydney.  Here’s a link to the article:  And I asked her if she would reciprocate by writing a blog for us.  Here it is.  Thanks Sara.





Do we need to sell the idea of solving climate change better?  To traditional environmentalists this seems like an outrageous question.  Seeing the evidence, it’s obvious we need to act.  But this presupposes that human beings are rational, altruistic beings.  Actually, we are much more complicated than that which is what makes us so annoying, frustrating, interesting and inspiring.  All at the same time.  If we are going to successfully unleash the power of seven and a half billion people, our starting point has to be real.  Previous efforts in this field have concentrated on a combination of terrorising us and selling us a lifestyle that is less.  These methods don’t work.  Hope is energising, terror is not.  The trick to selling more through different.


So, what does a lifestyle where we are not screwing up the planet look like?  The pace is slower.  COVID-19 has shown that lots of the work travel many of us have been doing has been unnecessary.  But this lifestyle is slower – but that means more time to develop deeper relationships.  Women turn themselves on by getting dressed up.  It’s an important part of female sexuality.  This is why selling the idea of wearing hemp sacks has failed so miserably.  The reality is we can no longer afford fast fashion but who said this meant we had to give up some of the vital components of desire?


Consumers are now looking at each other and their favourite personalities who have large number of followers on different social media platforms.

This relationship between intended and realised brand associations is a central concept for me.

Symbolic benefits are often related to different needs for social approval or personal expression (Keller, 1993).  They often relate to non-product related attributes and are often connected to status, prestige and exclusivity (Keller, 1993).

One cannot directly observe others’ beliefs, experiences and their opinions, however, one can rely on signals such as facial expressions, statements they make on their online profiles, and consumption patterns in order to interpret these qualities.


Sara Bell

Friday, September 11, 2020

Old Rockers Grow Stronger Each Day

An old Procter & Gamble friend of mine – and proud Belgian – Peter Corijn has developed in parallel a brilliant music career under his nom de plume – Paul Numi.


His new album Chimera is his best yet – I’ve been playing it non-stop.


I asked him to share some thoughts about what a P&G global leader, inspirational leadership / marketing coach and Karate black belt loves about music.


Here’s Peter’s (Paul’s!) unedited and unfiltered blog – best read with Chimera blasting out.






Paul Numi’s New “Chimera” album.


What do I like about music?  For starters: “everything”.  I love the sleek design of a Fender Stratocaster, the “bursts” in the wood of a Gibson Les Paul, the jingle jangle sound of a Rickenbacker 12 string and lots more.


Nearly forty years (40!) after supporting bands like U2 and Echo & The Bunnymen, I have an indie album out again.  It’s called “Chimera”.  That means “a hard or impossible to reach goal”.  It also refers to “the dna of several beings in one”.  I always believed in being an AND person.  We can be businesspeople and indie artists, martial artists, explorers and scholars all in one.  So can you! 


The album is on all streaming sites with lyric videos on YouTube.  Here’s the Spotify link:


We’re off to a good start with over 20,000 streams already.  That would be on the low side for Foo Fighters, but for an indie artist it’s exciting.  There’s also merchandising: just watch Kevin looking supercool in the Paul Numi t-shirt!  CD’s are also available.  If interested in merc, please


Here are 5 lessons from recording the album:


1.         “Dream On!” (Aerosmith) and don’t listen to dream-stealers.

“You’re too old, it’s a young man’s game”, “who do you think you are?”, “nobody ever made it like that”, are just some of things you’ll hear when pursuing an audacious goal. All these criticisms may well prove to be true. But unless we go for our passion we’ll never know. It’s always better to live with the fact of having tried, at the risk of failure, than to have the regret of never having lived the dream.  The good news is: some people will step forward to support you. You never walk alone on the yellow brick road.


2.         “Rebel Yell” (Billy Idol). When all is said and done: go for what you think is right.

John Woolloff is a brilliant guitar player who a.o. supported French megastars Daniel Balavoine, Patrick Bruel and Swiss star Gölä. When I worked with him, I asked: “what’s the secret of their success?” John shared the following story:  “We had just finished recording an album for Patrick (Bruel). At the last minute, he came in with a new song. When he performed it, we felt that it was not good enough for the album. Patrick vehemently disagreed. Rather reluctantly, we recorded the song. That song was “casser la voix”, one of his major hits. Morale of the story: in the end you have to go for what you believe in.”


3.         “It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll” (AC/DC): Perseverance.

It took most stars years to get recognition. Before fame hit, Jimi Hendrix went to ask McDonalds each evening for the hamburgers they were throwing away to at least get something to eat.  Nirvana sold 35 million copies of “Nevermind”. In the years before that, they often had to sell the t-shirts they were wearing or beg to get some gasoline for their tour van. Many artists admit that they were close to despair before their big break came.  Define a karate black belt? It’s a white belt that never gave up.  


4.    “I get knocked down, but I get up again” (Tubthumping): Be ready to take the punches. 


Reviews can be brutal. A Polish friend of mine produces EDM (Electronic Dance Music). He just got this review on his latest single: “It’s a painfully boring song with monotonous vocals that sound like an Eastern European dying of typhoid fever”. Keep smiling! It’s open hunting season on social media. Everybody’s a critic. You just have to be prepared for that. Anyway, there’s no pleasing everyone.  Keep in mind that The Beatles and U2 were rejected, as were bestselling writers John Grisham (27 times!), Dr.Seuss (28 times!) and J.K. Rowling.  


5.         “All Together Now” (The Farm): Create a great team to support you.

John, Paul, George and Ringo recorded some great songs as solo artists. But together they were The Beatles, the world’s greatest band ever. Sgt. Peppers is still hailed as the greatest rock album of all time (Rolling Stone Magazine).  As a band, they were more than individuals. That’s what great teams do. Their different personalities, profiles and strengths re-enforce each other. There was also a 5th Beatle: Sir George Martin, the producer. It’s essential to create a support team. It makes the sum bigger than the individual parts. Bowie was highly talented but he also benefitted from Brian Eno as producer and the guitar genius of Mick Ronson. 


One more thing: “The Sparkle in my life, the fire roared, it scorched my soul, but boy I felt alive” (Paul Numi): 


Will my album be a hit?  I don’t know.  Maybe I’m indeed chasing a “Chimera”.  But perhaps the fact that it brought sparkles in my life is reward enough.  Just to say, we also need to enjoy the road.  Of course, I do hope my album will become part of the soundtrack of your life!  Do let me know what you think about the songs!




Bio: Paul Numi (a.k.a. Peter Corijn) is CEO of VUCASTAR Consulting.  Before he had senior executive roles in several multinationals.  He is a black belt karate and Krav Maga practitioner.  He loves exploration, books, is a business writer, indie artist and father.