Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Art of Branded Entertainment.

I’ve been working with FremantleMedia’s brilliant leadership team for over a decade now as they’ve created and produced shows like American Gods, Deutschland 83, The Young Pope, Picnic at Hanging Rock and of course American Idol, Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor.

FremantleMedia is all about Connecting Creativity – and Creating Irresistible Entertainment.  One of their up and coming leaders Sam(antha) Glynne is their VP of Branded Entertainment and she’s just contributed a must read chapter to a new book “A Cannes Lions Jury Presents: The Art of Branded Entertainment” – available on Amazon (of course).

A cracking read.


Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Store is Not Dead.

Am back in NYC for a couple of weeks in my stomping ground for the past 15 years, Tribeca.  I’ve been super impressed by the entrepreneurial retail spirit and sense of adventure being shown in the Downtown neighbourhoods, as outlaws and pirates brave the increasingly turbulent waters and fly their Jolly Rogers in the face of the Mighty Amazon.  The big and the small are adapting, experimenting, creating and innovating in bricks and mortar retail.

New York magazine did a great feature story on the rise, and fall, and rise of bricks and mortar retail in Soho and Tribeca last week.  Check these out:

·       My favourite Soho indie book store McNally Jackson has just opened in Williamsburg with two more outposts on the way.

·       CW Pencil Enterprise on Orchard St – a pencil vending machine selling vintage advertising pencils for .50¢, a sharpening station, a pencil testing area and a sticker department – with each shopper buying about 12 pencils per visit.

·       Roman and Williams Guild – art, flowers, books, furniture and a French restaurant.

·       Homecoming – flowers, coffee, books, homewares and an apothecary on Franklin St.

It’s not Either/Or.  It’s And/And.


Monday, July 2, 2018

Making New Zealand a Better Place.

For some years I have been arguing that the long-held belief that the role of Business was to create Shareholder Value has become outdated – first by Peter Drucker’s dictum that Business’ role was in fact to create and sustain a customer and more recently by Roger Martin’s preference for customer capitalism over Shareholder primacy.

My work with this year’s Lancaster University Management School’s (LUMS) MBA class has hardened my conviction that the role of Business in today’s Fourth Industrial Revolution truly is “To make the World a Better Place – for Everyone”.

Today’s winning organisations are creating, collaborating and connecting everyone they touch by delivering instant, intimate value at scale.  They are creating a Supervuca world of radical optimism, vibrancy and innovation where everything happens quickly, easily and efficiently – with no waste of time, effort or resource.

They are run:
·       By leaders, not managers.
·       By inspiration, not command and control.
·       By agility, not bureaucracy.
·       By customers, not shareholders.
·       And profits are the result, not the goal of their work.

So hats off to the usual suspects – Amazon, Apple, Google, Airbnb, Spotify, Tesla, Air New Zealand (and those companies who shared their ideas with us at Unfiltered Live).

Now – keep your eye on Spark New Zealand.  Under Simon Moutter and Joe McCollum’s leadership they are transforming themselves (once again) – this time into an agile, customer-led company where big issues are dealt with quickly by small accountable teams, cracking small tasks one after the other at full speed.

A fast game is a good game (ask Steve Hansen or Pep Guardiola) and Spark is stripping it all back to do just that.  And whilst they may not be Making the World a Better Place, they’ll certainly be making New Zealand better for all of us lucky enough to live there.

The Road Goes on Forever.


Monday, June 25, 2018

Phil Rigby – A Legend.

I’ve collected photos since the 60’s – my homes are full of them – heroes / icons of my youth – along with views of my hometown, my roots and my favourite place (The Lakes).  My two favourite Lakeland photographers are Old Lancastrian Jon Sparks and Cumbrian legend Phil Rigby – both of whom are totally in tune with the character and ebb and flow of life in Cumbria, Lancashire and The Lakes.

Jon has just published Lancashire in Photographs, a beautiful collection of images which captures the diversity of my home Red Rose County.  And Phil has just published Portrait of Cumbria, Life and Landscape – curated by Cumbria Life’s visionary editor (and Phil’s mate) Richard Eccles.

These books are a must for Lancastrians / Cumbrians all over the world.

Why am I telling you this?

Because Phil retired last week as Picture Editor of all CN Group’s magazines – 30 years on.  He shot both my Grasmere homes and became part of the ‘Family’, so connected was he to our homes and our ideas; the photos he took were a visualisation of our dreams.  A special man with a special eye and a special gift.

Cumbria will be poorer without him interpreting and sharing it.  But I understand via the Cumbrian grapevine that he’ll continue as a freelancer taking photos for Cumbria Life.

I hope that’s true.

Keep Going Phil.


Thursday, June 21, 2018

All or Nothing

Out now.  The first ever behind the scenes deep probe into the All Blacks – unfiltered and unplugged.  Available on Amazon Prime now.  Followed in August by a series on Manchester City – brilliant timing given the season the Cityzens had.  Bravo Amazon.  And bravo the All Blacks and City’s exec teams for having the courage to open the curtain for their fans.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Viva La Difference.

Last month Mark Smith, Vice Chancellor of Lancaster University invited me to speak to his (very!) heavy hitting University Council – two Lords, one Baroness, eight Professors and nine pillars of the Cumbrian/Lancastrian business royalty.

The topic – Winning in a Crazy World.

We talked about the importance of starting with Purpose, leading rather than managing, creating a winning culture, relishing change, building mental toughness and getting to the Future first.

And the diversity of the Council got me thinking about Differences – and how we should embrace these Differences rather than continue this mad march to Us Vs Them, and separatist polarisation.

In this VUCA world, survival and progress will be driven by flashes of inspiration, by streams of emotion, by buckets of passion, by pioneers forging ahead, and by encouraging differences not railing against them.

So here are 15 ways you can make a difference in 2018.

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.

Viva La Difference!