Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Emirates: Hotel With Wings

A couple of weeks ago, I had one of the best experiences in my luxury, vagabond days. A three hour drive from the Gulf of Western Thailand to Bangkok was not the best start to the day, given what you find on the Thai roads in the early hours of the morning. Nonetheless, we made it in one piece to catch a six hour flight to Dubai. After three hours transit in the incredible experience that is now Dubai Airport, I boarded an Emirates flight for Sao Paulo. Fifteen and a half hours in a flying metal tube at 35,000 feet is not usually my idea of heaven, but Emirates changed all that. They’ve introduced the next level of luxury in the form of a separate private suite reminiscent of the great Oriental Express train journeys of yesteryear.


On board there are two rows, each with four individual suites, and I was in 2A by the window. The floors are wooden and the compartments individualized and completely private. They are made of beautiful wood paneling and you can close the doors as soon as you enter, sit back in your luxurious leather seat, watch your widescreen TV and let the world pass you by. They’ve pretty much thought of everything. There are 50 new movies on the system. They include great classics, all the top TV shows, terrific sport – including 11 cricket episodes and 6 rugby episodes - and the most amazing music choices. All you do is hit 4 digits to put in a year, like say 1964 on your channel, and out comes the Top 20 hits from the year, ditto 1965 right through the 90’s. There’s also a list of 50 great artists from The Beatles through to Radiohead, with all their albums available.

Emirates is officially, as of today, my new Lovemark. They’ve had a great reputation and trust for years, but they’ve now added mystery, sensuality and intimacy to their offering. This is an airline that has come to understand how important intimacy is in today’s 24/7 world, and particularly to people like me who are on the road 250 days per year.

It’s all about flexibility, personalization and privacy, and their menu reflected this perfectly. Instead of the standard set meal format, there were thirty items ranging from breakfast omelets, to pre-lunch caviar, to the Lobster Sheppard’s Pie (make a note of that) for dinner. And let’s not forget the creamy lobster medallions from the Gulf, topped with spinach and cheesy potato; can’t wait to get mother-in-law, Rita, onto that little delicacy (making it for me I mean, not eating it!)

I was so blown away by the experience I slept for eleven hours. Of course the luxury leather chair converts into a beautiful full-length flat bed, complete with duvet blanket and soft down pillows.

So I arrived in Sao Paulo refreshed and ready for action. Unfortunately, it was 9:00pm at night, so I went straight upstairs to the gym at the Emiliano (one of my favorite hotels) and had an hour’s workout to get the heart rate up a little bit from it’s comatose sleeping position. That worked and got me geared up to face the next two days of visiting our agency in Sao Paulo (led by the creative genius, Fabio Fernandes). I was also giving a speech to Unibanco, a key client in Brazil, and presenting at the HSM management forum, along with Anne Mulcahy, CEO of Xerox, Michael Porter from Harvard, Alan Greenspan and Michael Eisner.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Frozen Island Discs: My All Time Top Ten Canadian Tunes

I lived in Canada for a while in the late 80's - in Toronto - and got involved in the music scene through Pepsi and some friends at Much Music. Stuart Payne recently joined Saatchi & Saatchi in Canada from Lexus as President and CEO. He's just sent me his very personal top 10 songs - by Canadians about Canada...Worth a listen.


1) HelplessA great song by Canadian, Neil Young, about growing up in a small town in north Ontario. Its haunting lyrics capture both the memories of youth…"And in my mind I still need a place to go. All my changes were there,” and some great Canadian imagery…“Big birds flying across the sky, throwing shadows on our eyes”. It is sung in a spare, stripped down style and you can hear the loneliness and coldness in the recording. It sounds like a day in a dark, cold, northern town. Neil is an amazing artist whose career has now spanned decades and multiple musical styles but has always stayed true to his Canadian roots.

2) Lovers in a Dangerous Time
Originally written and recorded by Bruce Cockburn and inspired by seeing teenagers expressing romantic love in a schoolyard. The version I prefer is the cover by the Barenaked Ladies from the 1991 Cockburn tribute album Kick at the Darkness. Cockburn can not come close to matching the harmonies on the cover version, and the black and white video of the young Barenaked Ladies (I love writing that…) driving around a frozen Scarborough in the back of a ratty old pick-up truck is perfect. It looks like they spent about $500 on the video. Check it out on YouTube, it’s fantastic.

3) Acadian Driftwood
The Band has to be one of rock and roll’s most important groups. They originally backed Ronnie Hawkins as the Hawks, worked with Bob Dylan when he turned electric, and then finally wrote and recorded their own material as The Band. Anyone not familiar with their work should check out the Martin Scorsese film The Last Waltz. Great music and great cinematography.

'Acadian Driftwood' is an epic song written by Robbie Robertson, about the deportation of the French colony of Acadia (now Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick) in 1755. The song is told in first person about the despair of being exiled, and eventually settling in Louisiana (Acadians became Cajuns) and yet still yearning for their cold Canadian homeland. The harmonies of Helm, Danko and Manual are remarkable and the song has fiddle, giving it a rootsie, rustic sound and closes with a wave of French Canadian lyrics…very cool.

4) 50 Mission Cap
OK, there has to be a couple of songs about hockey in any list of great Canadian music, eh?

The first song is by The Tragically Hip, a truly great Canadian band that never quite made the big time outside of Canada. This is a guitar driven rock and roll song that tells the story of Bill Barilko, a Toronto Maple Leaf player that disappeared in a bush-plane crash while on a fishing trip in Northern Ontario. The Leafs did not win another Stanley Cup championship until they found his body 11 years later. You just can not make this stuff up. Woven into the song are also lyrics about a “50 mission” cap, which has nothing to do with the hockey story but refers to a cap that WW2 pilots got if they managed to fly 50 missions successfully.

OK then…did I mention the song totally rocks?

5) Four Strong WindsAn amazing song written by Cowboy (not country) singer Ian Tyson in the early 60's. “The song is based on the lives of transient farm workers, forced to work where work can be found, but its theme is the sometimes temporary nature of human relationships.” The song has been covered by everybody and their dog and still manages to sound great no matter who sings it. I sat next to Ian Tyson on a small plane about fifteen years ago. He was heading to a music concert in Halifax and I was on my way to visit a Lexus dealership. I had on a dark blue Armani suit and he wore cowboy boots, wranglers, a big ass belt buckle, cowboy shirt, down vest and huge cowboy hat. He was dressed way cooler.

6) Jolie LouiseDaniel Lanois is not only a superstar producer to the likes of U2, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan and Robbie Robertson, but he has also written a number of great albums himself. 'Jolie Louise' is off his first album Acadie, and on first listen is a “nice” upbeat song, sung half in English and half in French. It is only when you listen to the lyrics that you understand the “nice happy” song deals with the shame of losing your job, alcoholism, spousal abuse and then finally divorce. Not exactly uplifting, but its use of the two official languages and how the language is used make it a very “Canadian” song.

7) The Collection of Marie Claire
Another Daniel Lanois song. This one does not try to sound happy at all and is a very haunting song off the album The Beauty of Wynona. Again, sung in English and French, Daniel writes the story of someone kidnapping a bride to take with him up to Labrador. All I can say is that it’s a long cold winter up there and a man has to do what he has to do.

8) Hockey Night in Canada theme songTime to lighten things up after the last two Daniel Lanois songs. I have no idea who wrote or performed the theme song but I bet everyone in Canada can hum it.

I have great memories of me as a child lying next to my Dad on a Saturday night in Vancouver watching Dave Keon play for the Toronto Maple Leafs on our black and white TV. The song has been around for a long time and it is still great.

9) Hawaii
I graduated from high school in 1978. The Vancouver punk scene was in full swing at that time and was an influence on me. One of the best bands of that scene was the Young Canadians (formally the K Tels until legal challenges by the cheesy Canadian direct marketers of the same name sued). They recorded a classic song mocking the hordes that would flee the never ending, depressing, overcast, Vancouver drizzle (November to March) and fly in overbooked economy charters to Hawaii to escape. The song is driving, witty and has a great obscene chorus perfect for a drunken sing along. Find it if you can.

10) The Wreck of the Edmund FitzgeraldAnother depressing song about life in Canada, this one about a shipwreck. Sung by iconic Canadian singer songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, the song deals with the sinking of a Great Lakes vessel in a gale on Lake Superior. The song drove me crazy when it was overplayed on Canadian radio as a hit, but hearing it again recently for the first time in a while, I was surprised by how good a story it told and how strong the music actually is.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Susan Kare

When we were developing what made up Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy, the three qualities of Lovemarks, icons were high on the Mystery list. I love the way icons are so succinct. Communicating so much with so little, they’re like a rush of blood to the heart. Whether they are representing a sport, like the late New Zealand’s Sir Edmund Hillary or a brand like the Pillsbury Doughboy, these fast paced images infuse our lives with memorable moments. When it comes to creating icons on screen, no one gets close to Susan Kare. I first came across Susan’s work, as many of you probably did, in the trash. I’m talking about Apple’s trash icon. She designed this key icon way back in 1983. And where did Steve Jobs find Susan Kare? As a working curator at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco where she went after finishing a PhD on humor in sculpture. That hire is the sort of sideways thinking that has made Apple a design legend. The reason Susan Kare springs to mind right now is that once again she has found herself ahead of the game. My advice? Where Susan goes, follow as fast as you can. Today she is the designer of Facebook gifts. If you have ever been on Facebook (and if you haven’t, whatever your age, at least have a browse), you will know that members can give their friends gifts. These are small icons that range from cute penguins, Prada pumps and balloon dogs, to just about anything you can think of. If you think that supplying cyber gifts is no way to grow rich, think again. Facebook charges a buck for most gifts and has already sold over 20 million. The power of icons. Again.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Thinking about Graham Henry

Once again, the New Zealand Rugby Union have acted maturely and professionally.

Late last year they reappointed Graham Henry as All Black coach despite the crippling disappointment in Cardiff where a fired-up France knocked the All Blacks out of the World Cup for another four years.

New Zealand had two outstanding candidates in Robbie Deans and Graham Henry, and Australia moved swiftly to appoint Deans as the Wallabies coach. This is epoch changing for Australian sport. Australia has not only gone outside one of their own, but in choosing a dreaded Kiwi to boot, has Peter FitzSimons and other Australian critics spewing.

Wales also benefited by appointing Warren Gatland, another Kiwi, to coach their underperforming squad. Add Japan based John Kirwan into the mix and we have the world doing a great job of providing international experience for more New Zealand coaches. Thank you world.

Here’s the beautiful paradox. Isn’t it odd that despite not winning the World Cup since 1987, our coaches are still the most sought after?

One thing’s for sure, all four of these guys are the real thing and I’m confident they will learn from their new jobs. At Robbie Deans’ inaugural interview in Australia, he revealed that he had recently spoken to John Wright, a New Zealand cricket legend who coached India against New Zealand. He asked John what it was like to coach against your homeland. Wright told Deans, “It was fantastic, like competing against your brother in the backyard”. And that’s as good as it gets for any red blooded male!

It will certainly set the scene for a tremendous Bledisloe Cup this year, and will re-ignite interest in the All Blacks back home. I will be interested to see how Canterbury and the South feel when their man Deans brings the enemy over the ditch.

So, like Clive Woodward in England a few years back, Graham Henry has now been given another chance to deliver.

Graham’s a top guy, a top coach and a top New Zealander.

Now it’s about learning from Cardiff, building on what went before, and figuring out how to develop the side. All this in an environment where many of our best players have left for the Northern Hemisphere and other teams scent vulnerability. Change is inevitable, but in my experience, the most important part of the process is knowing what not to change. This is why I believe the NZRU have done the right thing in choosing Graham. Changing him would have been reactionary and high risk. Changing things in his planning (like the dreaded reconditioning program and the rotation policy) whilst building on the strengths of the program should result in progress. (Watch for NZ Rugby World next month for a 10 point change plan). Keeping Steve Hansen in the mix is also a huge plus.

I know adidas have worked hard to bring back the idea of non-international games for the All Blacks, starting with two of the greatest sides in Europe, Munster (where we have a bit of history) and Stade Français. These will be full-on sell-out fixtures, and give us an opportunity to blood players for New Zealand without giving them test jerseys. I believe the game needs this injection in the arm and I believe rugby lovers throughout the world will welcome its return.

I still haven’t watched the Cardiff game on videotape and I’m steeling myself to do that over the holidays. We all need to get that out of the system. Then we can enter 2008 full of hope and rugby!

Over to you, Graham.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Air Bourne with Jason

In all the hyperbole surrounding the best James Bond since Sean Connery (Daniel Craig), I think the real heroic cold war spy has been missed. When I first heard that Matt Damon had been cast as Jason Bourne I thought somebody was kidding. I have grown up reading Robert Ludlum’s novels and felt that Jason Bourne was a tougher, more physical personality. As it was, Matt Damon was inch perfect. A misguided, programmed Patriot with amnesia who never gives up. For the holidays, I traveled back to New Zealand courtesy of Singapore Airlines. I slept for 8 hours on the London – Singapore leg and, as a result, was wide awake for the 9 hour Singapore – Auckland jaunt. Perfect. I gorged myself on the 3 Jason Bourne movies - The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum.


Great sets, great car chases and terrific moral victories for the good guys. Matt Damon handles the mantle and physical stresses of the role perfectly, and the roof chase in Tangier is as good as it gets.

I spent some of my formative years living in Morocco working for Procter & Gamble. I love everything about the country. Tangier is a special place full of mystery, romance, adventure and great 70’s stories around every known vice. The rooftop chase in The Bourne Ultimatum brings back the sensual chaos of this truly international city in a beautiful way.

Jason Bourne hits all the cities on my normal itinerary and actually drives like some of the taxi drivers there too. Not a bad way to pass 10 hours at 35,000 feet.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

In the memory of my Papa, Paolo Ettorre (1946-2007)

A year ago my friend Paolo Ettorre passed away. Here's a tribute from his eldest son, and my friend, Andrea. KR

January the 20th marks a sad day in my life, as it a year from the loss of my papa, Paolo. From that date I turned from a boy to a man and learned the rules of life.

The loss of a father to a son is immense. Even though not being able to speak to, hear or see him is hard to accept, the memories crystallized in my heart can never be erased.

My father was a great man and he built his greatness on respect and love. These are the key elements that he built in me and will guide me for life.

Last September in Rome we celebrated my father with an exhibition on social work, which was my father's passion.

On that occasion we launched the “Socially Correct” award dedicated to my father. The competition was, of course, in search of the kind of compelling creative ideas that my father loved.

It is important that Paolo’s legacy remains true to his spirit.

The brief was called for a campaign to help stop the careless development of the Italian countryside.

There have been many entries to the competition and we have received some great work which we are all thrilled about.

I am very proud here to announce the winning idea of the competition. The essence of the idea is that at the end of the day we are all losers in the game. A special thanks to Saatchi & Saatchi Italy and all the people involved to keep my father's passion alive.

"A man's desire for a son is usually nothing but the wish to duplicate himself in order that such a remarkable pattern may not be lost to the world" Helen Rowland.

I am proud to be my father's son.

Andrea


Friday, January 18, 2008

Rob-Loud Returns Home to New Zealand!

17 years ago I lived in Sydney running Lion Nathan’s business there following its acquisitions of the XXXX Swan and Tooheys Breweries from Alan Bond. My three kids were all hyperactive subteens and we discovered one of the greatest resorts in the world on Hayman Island in the Whitsundays. On our first visit there, I went down for a game of tennis and the kids moved into the Activities Center where we met someone who was to become a lifelong friend, Malcolm McLeod.


Malcolm was an ex-Policeman from Brisbane who then spent time in the prison service before becoming the tennis coach and head of the Activities Center at Hayman. During his time as a copper and in prison, Malcolm had become fascinated by criminals’ handwriting and had spent time with the handwriting expert of Australia so he could learn about what handwriting said about people’s characters. He turned this into a real skill and it’s now the cornerstone of his own inspirational leadership business, as well as one of the world’s greatest ice-breakers and party tricks.

You write one sentence and your signature, and then sit back while Malcolm gets you, your partner and your friends all nodding as he analyses your personality. He came over to spend New Year’s with us in Auckland and I dug back into my files to look at the analysis he had made of my personality in 1995. A handwritten two-page summary, which frankly was more insightful than any Myers Briggs or leadership profile that has been done on me. And still true today.



We went to Hayman loads of times and spent lots of time there and, in fact, I took over a bunch of tennis pro mates from Australia, Charlie Fancutt (pictured above), Michael Fancutt and a bunch of others, part of a tremendous family, parented by Trevor and Daphne where 5 of them actually played at Wimbledon. Charlie beat Ivan Lendl and Michael got to the Semi Finals of the Men’s Doubles.

In 1992 the Rob-Loud trophy was conceived and was played for regularly between Malcolm and I. Young Malcolm has held it for a decade but I’m glad to say 2008 has started in the right way with a two sets to one victory to yours truly sending Malcolm home to Queensland with his tail between his legs leaving the Rob-Loud trophy in prime position in my bar.

New Year’s don’t get much better than that.

Mind you, Malcolm left his mark. My torso is covered in bruises from short pitched pacey deliveries in our cricket net. Not wearing a thigh pad and rib armour at the age of 58 is probably overly optimistic when 6’2” Malcolm is giving it everything. His son, Fraser (aka the glow worm prior to his birth), is now a notable quick bowler too. Having Fraser around the place reminded me of when Ben and Dan were teenagers. You have a built in mate on tap who is ready to play cricket, tennis, pinball, pool, soccer or touch rugby 24/7.

It was also great to catch up with Michelle who met Malcolm when she was flying with Ansett and made the mistake of succumbing to the handwriting trick early on. She’s retained her sense of humour throughout!

Malcolm is threatening to return in the first week in February but for now the Rob-Loud is safe and secure in New Zealand.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Year's Dining



There are three dining experiences not to be missed. The Fat Duck in Bray and El Bulli near Barcelona were named the top two restaurants in the world last year. Both feature incredibly innovative science-driven cooking underpinned by classic Lovemark thinking. Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy drive every taste, every serving, every course and every presentation. I’ll be at The Fat Duck again later in January with Stephen Jones, The Sunday Times rugby correspondent, and Sean Fitzpatrick to make sure Stephen does not indulge in excess Kiwi bashing.

The third great place to eat is Euro in Auckland (when Simon Gault is at the stove). Simon (pictured right) is New Zealand’s best chef and he and I used to have a restaurant together, which we sold prior to the America’s Cup. On New Year’s Eve, Simon flew back from vacation to cook for seven of us at Euro in the midst of the occasion's festivities.

Maybe Sydney Harbor is the best place in the world for New Year’s, but Auckland’s Viaduct Basin runs it close. Fireworks from on top of the Sky Tower can be seen for miles around, the Harbor is full of boats and the Viaduct is just full of people enjoying New Zealand’s beautiful summer. I don’t get back to New Zealand often enough and it was a fantastic New Year’s present for me when Simon said he’d come back and prepare the meal for us. George Duncan (the All Blacks' muscle therapist) and his Canadian wife Jennifer joined us, along with Malcolm, Michelle and Fraser McLeod from Queensland. George and Jennifer have been fans of Simon’s cooking forever, and this was to be a first for the McLeods.

Simon is one of those rare chefs who can combine French, Italian, Asian and the new scientific styles without missing a beat- as well as producing the most natural whitebait fritta from New Zealand’s West Coast you can ever imagine (this was a special request from George on the spot who remembered Simon cooking one for him 3 or 4 years ago). The highlights of our 8 course degustation included some hard to find grisini wrapped in even harder to find Bellota Gran Reserva (the king of the Ibéricos), along with an amazing slow poached egg (Simon picked the eggs up from the farm that morning and poached them for 45 minutes), on a mushroom polenta porridge with shaved Alba truffle. Heston Blumenthal and your snail porridge – watch out! We finished with Black Truffle ice cream, a poached egg which, this time, was yogurt centered with manuka honey and gorgonzola dolce, melon caviar with passion fruit sauce and apricot tea centered with lemon ice on four different spoons.

The full menu follows.

And if Simon is not at Euro, Shane Yardley and Nigel his two major elves can be counted on to do the business too.

New Year’s Eve at Euro

Grisini wrapped in Bellota Gran Reserve (the king of the Ibéricos) w fig & marsarla & rocket lettuce

**

Snap fried white bait (west coast) on parsnip puree topped w lemon curd sphere
Peking duck on parsnip puree topped w lemon curd sphere

Tuna line w melon & jalapeño caviar, apple ricotta salad w apple balsamic
Seared firstlight wagyu on harisa orange w bacon froth

**

Pork (Havoc Pork) cheek soup w green pea sphere

**

Scallops on white asparagus w Contreau & lime chive butter sauce
Potato gnocchi w trumpet (very new in NZ and only at Euro) mushroom and cognac sauce

**

Slow poached egg (45 minutes) on mushroom polenta porridge w shaved Alba truffle

**

Venison crusted in juniper & orange crush served on fennel & onion w giant white bean (sphere)
Centered w foie gras and duck w citrus jus (orange & onion)

**

Warm melting chocolate dessert w saporoso (Balsamic) ice cream & sesame wafers

**

Spoons 2010
Black truffle ice cream, poached egg (yoghurt centered w manuka honey and gorgonzola dolce)
Apricot tea centered w lemon ice, melon caviar w passion fruit sauce

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Thoughts on integrating the work-life balance

A recent survey of CEOs claim the #1 issue on their worry list for 2008 wasn’t the environment, or keeping their job. Nor was it fretting about the consumer or the customer. The big issue for 2008 is creating a sustainable work-life balance for them and their people.

To paraphrase Edward De Bono, “There’s no point being brilliant at the wrong thing”. To me, the whole issue of worrying about work-life balance is facing the wrong way. For a start, it implies compromise. As far as I’m concerned, it isn’t about balancing two objectives, it’s about working with each of them to passionately enjoy both. The trick is to be great at work and great at home. It’s about work-life integration and bringing passion and harmony to both. That way there’s no question of balance, no compromise, just sheer joy and fulfillment. Ok, it’s a tough ask, and that’s why my company, Inspiros, is working hard on coming up with ideas to help in this area.

The Harvard Business Review had a crack at this issue and recently published an article suggesting that understanding how marriages work can be important to the study of management.

I don’t think so.

I’ve got to tell you that our work-life integration studies recognize fundamental differences in the two environments. The idea that people with good marriages also have good relationships and success at work is unproven - to say the least! I know, and I’m sure you do too, hundreds of examples where this is simply not true. I would say most of us are significantly different people at home to what we are at work, which I think is the right approach. It’s how you adapt to each situation that makes for holistic fulfillment. At work it’s about cooperation and collaboration driving the great result. At home it’s about love and life, compromise and passion, dedicated to driving long term commitment not short-term results.

I read somewhere that there are four things that derail marriages. Criticism, Defensiveness, Stonewalling and Contempt. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Personally I don’t buy into this. The first three Horsemen are pretty frequent visitors to most marriages and rarely have any kind of critical effect. They are also prevalent in most work places, particularly those of Anglo-Saxon extraction. The fourth Horsemen, Contempt, is a true wrecker. Once that sets foot in the house it’s all over, red rover.

In my experience, combining success in work and success at home is more difficult to achieve than you might think. It calls for new approaches to work. Many successful people at work are in trouble at home because of their naturally competitive spirit, their need to win, ego, and the amount of time they have to put in at the office to climb through the ranks. None of these really help at home and have to be checked at the door.

One area where the two do come together is recruitment. Finding the right talent, the right fit for the right job and the right culture are vital to success at work. The same applies to marriage. Finding someone compatible to you and your personality at the outset is by far the most important step for success.

So, whatever your personal bias, as 2008 starts, let’s all find ways to find fulfillment and joy at work, at home and in the community.

Go to it!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Looking back, looking forward

The beginning of a New Year feels like the right time to check out what touched KRConnect readers most in 2007.


What would you think was the most read post of the year – and by a country mile? I’ve got to say it caught me by surprise. 'Darkly Dreaming Dexter' a review of the book by Jeff Lindsay. Jeff is the pen name of crime writer Jeffry P. Freundlich (nice branding shift Jeff) whose wife, Hilary Hemingway – yes, those Hemingways, she’s a niece – is also an author. As most of you will know by now, the TV series was closely based on the Lindsay book but I hear series two will be written as original story lines. A word of caution to the Showtime network: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Make sure Jeff Lindsay is part of the mix to preserve his compelling tension between empathy and horror.

Number two? You loved the idea of the Cartier LOVE bracelet. Let’s hope some of you got one for Christmas.

Third was my top ten list of magazines. You have to admire the magazine business. Every month I hear that it is all over for them and every day I spend some of my most enjoyable moments flicking through their pages. If magazines are heading for the exit, someone needs to come up with a fantastic alternative. I certainly don’t fancy a long flight without an armful, and although I respect the ambition of Amazon’s Kindle, I just can’t love it.

Your fourth most read post was my thoughts on where high-definition TV might take us. You must rate the prospects for human authenticity in the high-def world as I do: high.

I was touched to find that my piece honoring my great friend Bob Isherwood came in at number five. As Susan956 commented, Bob is a hard-to-beat mix of savvy, humility and an intuitive sense of what’s important; making his the driving passion behind Saatchi & Saatchi’s creativity. How fitting that he was recently awarded a Doctorate by his alma mater, RMIT, in Melbourne.

And that brings me to slot number six, the post on Every Day Matters for JCPenney and a good way to go out. I think Every Day Matters is one of the great ideas for any brand and a philosophy that will make JCPenney a great Lovemark.

It’s been quite a year.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sir Edmund Hillary

On January 11 a great New Zealander passed away. Sir Edmund Hillary died at the age of 88 having never recovered from a fall he took in Nepal 8 months ago.

Ed lived up the road from me. (Only in New Zealand heroes/icons live “up the road”.)

I got to know him 10 years ago when we were writing our first book on Peak Performance. We talked to Ed for hours and got lots of private footage of him talking about his experiences, his attitude, his beliefs. We use these to this day as the core of our Peak Performance Inspirational Leadership Program. Ed wrote the foreword to the book.

He then helped us enormously when Toyota took a Rav 4 to Everest and we shot commercials and a documentary around that. Ed was the voice.

I asked him what were his first thoughts on summiting Everest. He told me, “Well, firstly I was buggered but then as I caught my breath and saw that other great mountain right next to me. I could see right there that there was a new way to the Summit. No one had ever climbed it that way but from Everest I could see my next challenge right there.”

That’s what Peak Performance is all about. Getting to the top and then finding the next challenge. On challenges, Ed told me that a challenge wasn’t a challenge if you actually thought you could achieve it. What was the point fooling yourself with challenges that were in reach. The only fun was to constantly go after something that seemed unattainable. A true 'Nothing is Impossible' spirit.

Ed conquered Everest in 1953 and was immediately knighted. I asked him what the impact of a knighthood was to “a pretty average New Zealander”. He said, “I use to walk around Papakura in my tattered overalls and the seat out of my pants. But that’s gone forever now. I’ll have to buy a new pair of overalls”.

Once over a bottle of wine and an early dinner, I asked Ed about all the debate about whether Mallory had indeed conquered Everest many years before. (There was great excitement when his old Kodak Brownie was finally discovered and everyone was looking for proof. As it turned out, the film was spoiled and there was no proof one way or the other.) Ed, in his typically laid back way, said to me “I’ve never thought it was getting to the top that counted. It’s getting back down that matters”.

A couple of years ago I was very honored to accompany Princess Anne on Air New Zealand Hercules on a special trip to Antarctica for three days to visit Shackleton’s huts and track his great adventure. I talked to Ed about this as, of course, he was also another Antarctica hero. He told me he was determined to make one last visit. He did in January 2007. Mission accomplished.

Ed was the greatest of New Zealanders.

Heaven will be a better place today.