Thursday, September 19, 2019

What’s Next?

“I can well remember standing on top of Mount Everest having reached the top of the world in every sense of the term and looking East toward the great unclimbed summit of Makalu.  Instinctively my eyes travelled up the mighty face of the mountain and I automatically picked out a route which Makalu could be climbed.”  Thus spoke Sir Edmund Hillary over coffee one morning in his Remuera home in January 2000.

At some stage in our lives many of us are filled with a desire or dream to achieve something great.  Then all too often the dream fades and life gets in the way.

I was in Canada last week when a young Canadian of Romanian descent fulfilled her dream.  Bianca Andreescu became the first ever Canadian woman to win the US Open Singles – defeating all-time great Serena Williams in the Final.  A great achievement in anybody’s life.  She came from a Number 153 world ranking only 12 months ago – impressive.  But what impressed me even more was how this 19 year old answered Pam Shriver’s big question – a question I consider to be the most important we can ever ask ourselves, and one we should ask every day – “What’s next?”.

Bianca answered:
“At the beginning of the year I wanted to crack the top 100, so I better start setting my goals higher.  Let’s say top 3 by the end of the year.”
“I always dream big.  I was dreaming of this day for a long time.  Visualising it every day.”
“I never give up, always want to show my best.”
“A goal of mine is to inspire Canadian athletes as so many have inspired me from an early age.”

A big answer.
To a big question.

I hope you can answer it in your own way.  What’s next?


Monday, September 16, 2019

The World’s Favourite Airline – Not!

A couple of weeks ago I was getting ready to leave Phoenix for Manchester (via London of course – British Airways should be rebranded London Airways), when Trudy was informed our flight had been cancelled – by one of BA’s partners.  Despite my BA ticket, no-one from BA told me.  We were rerouted the following day via Philadelphia – involving 20 plus hours of travel and waiting – and I missed my scheduled Booths Board Meeting.

The straw that broke the camel’s back.

I’ve had it now with BA.  I’ve been a loyal flyer for over 40 years.  I loved Concorde.  I loved the service.  I loved the innovations.  But over the last decade all that’s been swallowed up by inept leadership and a complete lack of customer focus.

I was proud at Saatchi & Saatchi of the advertising the Agency created for BA 20 plus years ago.  The World’s Favourite Airline we named it.  And it was.

Now it’s as far away from Number One as you can imagine.

55th out of 65 in a global, reputational carrier ranking published last week; 27th out of 28 for value for money.

The Airline is racked by strikes with hundreds of flights cancelled during a two day pilot strike last week, the in-flight experience is awful – hard, tight seating way behind all major competitors, terrible food, cheeseparing everywhere and a demoralised staff battling poorer work conditions every month.  (Only 56% of BA staff said they were proud to work there in a recent survey.)

Customer complaints?  Lots of them with only one in seven ever handled satisfactorily.

Power cuts and IT disasters abound.  Remember 2017 when tens of thousands of flights including three of mine were disrupted without any real explanation.

And last year hackers stole 380,000 customers’ personal data – resulting in the Airline being fined £183 million – but with no credible programme to safeguard identity protection going forward.

My trust in British Airways is now zero.

I wrote in Lovemarks – The Future Beyond Brands that Lovemarks are built on Trust and then earn Love.  BA is now a commodity.  No Trust.  No Love.  Just a corporate management who have lost sight of customers and competitors.

‘To Fly to Serve’ has never seemed so threadbare.


Thursday, September 12, 2019

A Celebration of Friendship (Part II)

To have a friend, you must be one.
- The Lone Ranger

A confessional from under the Jolly Roger (see Monday’s blog). No flag of surrender here. It’s in praise of the to the death commitment that sustains true friendship.

That’s an investment that comes neither cheaply nor lightly. Here’s the deal; Kevin and Trudy are our house guests this week. Looking forward to their visit I was excited yet hadn’t anticipated the actual impact of the experience of being with them at home, particularly with Kevin, this time. An aspect of taking for granted the nature of the visit had crept over me. Out of such laxness I was quickly woken!

Kevin is an influence of the existential kind, the most alive to the world and others person I know. His spirit is life lived, full force into the fray, full speed whatever the magnitude or emotional consequence. No turning back, little can slow him down in what he quickly assesses as the right thing to do. He acts. His mind, creativity and attentions to others all engaged together, relentlessly. Do, be, give it all. Rust sleeps in Kevin’s shadow.

This appreciation of the man, of my friend, is what I became instantly aware of in his presence. And in the same breath my gratitude, my fortune in having him as a best friend. His belief in me beyond my own opinion of myself. A declaration that opens me up to greater capability. A caring that connects me to an affirmation of a larger world available, and within my grasp. A nudging to engage what was always there but screened with the risk of to be.

This is commitment to friendship, a given attending to another. How critical that is at any age. The simple gesture of unconditional connection. A gift of giving that feeds the dynamic of reciprocation, taking another into your life and you into theirs. What greater voyage of journey and discovery than release from a limited perspective of inner self to a greater connected space with another. There is an honoring in the attending, which reflects back and learns in the process. It is the proof in the pudding of giving in order to receive, to give and learn at the same time.

Friendship is a leap of faith. We choose our friends, unlike our families, and we are chosen. The deep investment, time and emotional commitment must be sustained. No guarantees. You do not know how it will turn out or call on your responsibility to its expectations. Always the vulnerability, the deeper the emotional commitment the more pronounced the risk of loss. We can’t ensure we are a true friend, bound by someone other than ourselves, until we are in the situation. But always, as well, the possibility, the vitality of that special, transformational connection.

To the death, to the end of time, we fly our flag.


Monday, September 9, 2019

A Celebration of Friendship

As you know, side-kick and ex-Rugby team-mate Robin Dyke has just published his second book of poems, 64 Spurs.

I was in Vancouver last week working with Destination Canada on their new branding and Purpose – more of that another day – and we took advantage of that to spend a few days with Robin and Marline at their Cordova Bay beach-side retreat on Vancouver Island.

On Friday night, over a bottle of 2011 Flaccianello, as the sun set on the deck by the water, we got to talking about the importance of friends – and friendship.  Next morning, I asked Robin to write down some of the points he had shared under The Jolly Roger, so I could share them with you.

In today’s world we are so busy – with work, social networks, family – that we can lose sight of the value true friends can add to our lives.

He’s writing a guest blog on Celebrating Friendship today.  I’ll post it on Thursday.


Thursday, August 29, 2019

Throwback Thursday (from 19 December, 2013) – Be Grateful, Be Good.

In our increasingly stressful, self-centred, Instagram world, one of the best and quickest antidotes to alleviate stress – is saying Thank-You to someone.  Expressing gratitude not only makes the recipient feel good, it makes us feel good too.

Be grateful for what you’ve got, not what you’ve not.

Here’s a post from December 2013:

There are many things that make us human. Compassion, grace, love. The ability to forgive. Another I hadn’t really given much thought to, until I read this article, is gratitude. As the author says, Thanksgiving in America lends itself to taking stock of the good in our lives. Other countries and cultures reflect at different times of the year – whether that’s Christmas or New Year. The point is, ultimately gratitude is a powerful force for good. It’s how friendships are maintained and love blossoms, because gratitude is an act of selflessness. It’s an emotion we then feel compelled to pay forward and society at large benefits.

I was struck by the simplicity of this notion, but also the complexity of how gratitude, or a lack thereof, is reflected in modern society. We live in a screen age where everyone is constantly on the go. Gratitude is often an after-thought, if a thought at all. For a lot of people, the stronger emotion is a sense of entitlement. That someone else must help them because they’re so busy. Others see good deeds imparted on them as a burden, favors they are now obligated to pay back.

But if we all just took a moment to slow down and recognize what we’re grateful for and who we’re grateful too, we can understand that being grateful is integral to the fabric of our society. It keeps us in tune with each other. It makes us better people and the world a kinder place.


Monday, August 26, 2019


In 1977 I read a landmark book, Gail Sheehy’s Passages where she predicted and commented upon the various life stages we Baby Boomers were inevitably going to pass through.

In 64 Spurs, Robin Dyke characterised them more practically in groups of four:





I merrily move between the last two groups.  You?


PS - Actually I move between all four.  KR