Thursday, December 20, 2012

Win More With Less

One thing that has really stood out for me this year is how much people are getting “lost in the unnecessary”. Established companies try to cover as many bases as they can out of fear of getting overtaken by smaller businesses that claim to be more “agile”. More data means thicker and more complex reports that are less inspiring to read. People are sharing more online but not in proportion to the amount of new ideas we should be creating.

Steve Jobs once said that “deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do”. He would ask his top 100 people for 10 things they needed to do and then once the list was made tell them they could only do 3.

A.G. Lafley once told me “the important thing about a change programme is knowing what not to change”. Deciding what to eliminate not only helps you focus on what’s important, it also forces you to create a better product. Jeff Bezos has done it by working to “eliminate all the gatekeepers” that has been a barrier between consumers and suppliers.

Focusing on the important, not the urgent, will ensure that you do things right. And if you fail, you’ll be able to fix it faster too.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sustainable By Design

Sustainability is important, but convincing people to behave in a manner that is more sustainable is a challenge. This is where design comes in. Designers are already skilled at creating products that influence how people think, feel and interact.

An example was illustrated recently in an article in the Guardian. The humble kitchen kettle accounts for 4% of the UK’s household carbon emissions. 95% of its energy consumption comes from boiling water, something that is done an average of 2.4 times for every cup of tea or coffee made. Why so high? People over-fill the kettle, get distracted, don’t hear it finish, and then assume the water’s not hot enough so they turn it on again.

The solutions to a better kettle are simple. Bring back the whistle and people will know it’s finished. Redesign the water indicators so people know how much water they need. Build in a temperature gauge so you know whether it really needs to be turned on again. Three simple design changes. Three simple solutions to solving unsustainable behaviour.

There are almost no limits to where sustainable design can be applied. Take any item within arm’s reach and there’ll be a way to make it not only greener, but simply more beautiful and more efficient.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Mind’s Eye

Positive visualization helps us “see” ourselves in winning situations. It can motivate the actions and feelings we need to get to where we want to be, and psych us up for what’s ahead. Visualizing can help us run further, push harder and perform better. This is especially helpful if you’re feeling tired or deflated.

Athletes often envision themselves winning Gold, having medals put around their neck, holding up trophies, and crossing the finish line. It gives them the extra edge that drives their competitive spirit. But it’s not just the good times that get visualized. Many athletes have learned to develop mental toughness by “seeing” themselves face-to-face with potential challenges. By picturing potential adversities, and envisioning yourself successfully overcoming those obstacles, you can become more confident in your abilities.

Visualization is also not just about imagery; it’s a multi-sensory experience. Consider the senses of sound, smell, touch and taste. Dr. Krista Chandler from the University of Windsor, Canada, surveyed 150 athletes to learn about the effects of imagery on mental toughness, and found that more vivid visualizations help athletes reach their best.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Bums Off Seats

A few years back I posted on the standup desk at work. For the many of us who work sitting for prolonged periods, the health impacts of workplace inactivity are looking none too good. We gotta stand and move more.

It’s estimated that on average people who sit too much live a few years less. Watching an hour of TV can, it seems, take 22 minutes off your innings. And the rub is that being quite active when you’re not sitting for long stretches, research reveals, won’t protect you from significant health hazards.

As legs are for walking not parking, the inactivity research findings seem surprisingly obvious. The whole office work set up is ripe for a reframe, and the upright work movement is just one more reason to mix things up.

Luckily, stirring the blood isn’t hard. Techniques, of varying cost, include doing squats and steps, having walking meetings, adjustable workstations and treadmills desks. For health and happiness, get more vertical. Just by standing we burn 50 more calories per hour than sitting.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Food Thinking

In an effort to understand what drives today's food culture and get a glimpse of the future of food, gravity – a design and innovation company – conducted a study called 'Food Thinking'. The study found that all food decisions are made between two processes: cooking and shopping, which is where food marketers concentrate their efforts.

Other interesting insights include:
  • Food is bling. Cooks become celebrities. Food becomes cult.

  • People create 'food rules' for daily food which impact on shopping trends.

  • Food is modern-day DIY. Our kitchens represent craftsmanship.

  • Food needs simplicity. 1 out of six British women struggle to cook basic dishes.

  • Food transparency. We're seeking more information about our food, but do we really want to know where things come from?
Seems to me the only part their equation is lacking is the "moment of truth" i.e. the "eating" bit. Seems like an occasion to incant the Roberto Goizeta mantra "meet, beat, repeat". Yum.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Face-To-Face

A recent article in Adweek on the way we like to communicate gave both comfort and concern. It seems that while the majority of us prefer to talk to our family and friends face-to-face, we’re happy to resort to emails and social media for co-workers and acquaintances. In the Age of Now where screens dominate and where we can always be in virtual contact, it is important to not take the easy route and simply send a message to people over having a conversation with them face-to-face.

At this level we’re able to engage with people on an emotional and personal level, less is lost through interpretation, and understanding can be met faster and better. Never is the exchange better or more fluid than when I am having a conversation with someone face-to-face. Taking the time to meet with the people in our lives can create an enormous lift in our mood and relationships. It can create the right chemistry to make ideas come alive. So take an extra two minutes to walk over to your co-worker and discuss an idea and ask them about their day.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Icelandic Ingenuity

There’s nothing like a good creative revolution to shake up the national economy and get struggling nations back on their feet. Iceland is the poster child of creative success, using their buoyant creative industries to bring their economy back from the brink of collapse.

A nation with strong entrepreneurial nous, immense design talent and a fondness for building start-ups based on great ideas, Iceland’s creative industry was already contributing more to the economy in 2009 than agriculture. It’s only grown since then.

Now Iceland is absolutely buzzing with creativity. With creative industries themselves growing by the day, people are now asking the question: How can creative thinkers use their talents to help other Icelandic industries experience the same success? The answer: Cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Iceland’s creative minds are pooling their talents and working with struggling industries to help make them more profitable. Take the Icelandic Academy of the Arts innovation project, Designers and Farmers. As the name suggests, the project brings together product and graphic designers, food scientists and farmers to help maximise profit and minimise waste in the farming industry.

And it’s working. Creative solutions to complex problems are emerging on a daily basis – it’s enough to tickle your taste buds. Literally. One solution saw black pudding cake (yes, cake!) added to the menu of the farm and restaurant Fjallakaffi. Why? The farm was known for its meat, but had no use for its offal. By swapping the traditional ingredient fat for root vegetables, the farm succeeded in significantly reducing waste, increasing profits and added a whole new arm to its business. Good thinking.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Beautiful Struggle

The Swiss have their chocolate, the Russians, caviar, but in New Zealand, we have Marmite. Unfortunately, the much-loved spread is pretty hard to get now days as the factory where Marmite is produced was damaged by the Christchurch earthquake. So in what looks like “Marmageddon”, New Zealanders have rationed their Marmite stocks and scraped their jars to the last. But there is a silver lining to this story.

Renowned Kiwi photographer Chris Sisarich, whose work has been exhibited at the MILK Gallery in New York, has collaborated with local celebrities and the Rebuild Christchurch Foundation to capture images of 19 empty Marmite jars for a charity auction. The jars represent the struggle, determination and patriotism of New Zealanders as they rebuild their lives in Christchurch.

“It’s evident that everyone has been scraping at the bottom to get every last bit out – I know I have – and I hope that other Kiwis are taking a moment to reflect on the difficulties of the past two years for Christchurch as they reach the bottom of their jars,” Chris says.

One original photograph of each celebrity’s Marmite jar has been framed with a signed lid and bidding took place at www.abeautifulstruggle.co.nz. With contributors like ex-All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry and supermodel/actress Rachel Hunter, I am sure auction was fierce. All proceeds will go to the Rebuild Christchurch Foundation.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Most Emotional Country

If I asked you what the most emotional country in the world was, what place would immediately come to mind? South Americans are pretty emotional, and so are the Italians, but according to a Gallup survey, people in the Philippines are laughing and crying more than anyone else. On the other end of the spectrum, Singaporeans need some help sharing their feelings. Singapore is ranked the world's most emotionless society. The report says “Singaporeans are unlikely to report feelings of anger, physical pain, or other negative emotions. They’re not laughing a lot, either.” They are followed by Georgia, Lithuania and Russia.

It’s no secret that Singapore is one of the most productive and healthy economies in the world. Its economy has doubled in the past decade, and it’s become the hub for doing business in the booming Asia-Pacific region. But when asked questions about quality of life, well-being, and simple things like “Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?”, only 36% of Singaporeans responded affirmatively to the questions compared to 60% of Filipinos.

The findings of the survey have created some talk amongst Singaporean academics and government officials about how they can improve the emotional state of the country. So, why do the Philippines consistently score highly in satisfaction and happiness surveys? For Filipinos, happiness isn't material, it's about family, health and religion (they have the third highest weekly religious attendance in the world, 68%; Nigeria tops with 89 % followed by Ireland 84%). Filipinos are also generally self-sufficient, resilient people who get on with things.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Reacher’s Rules

It had to happen. Lee Child’s books starring the one-man vigilante army, Jack Reacher, are packed with street wisdom and rules of the road. With the film Jack Reacher coming out on December 21, interest in the character will skyrocket. Delacorte Press have just released a handy guide to the philosophy of “fiction’s toughest tough guy”, Jack Reacher’s Rules. Here’s a starter for 10:

“If in doubt, drink coffee.”
“To be afraid of a survivable thing is irrational.”
“Focus on the job at hand.”
“Keeping your mouth shut is a devastating weapon.”
“Never retreat, just advance in the opposite direction.”
“Optimism is good, blind faith is not.”
“Serene self-confidence works wonders.”
“Know when to get mad, and know when to count to ten before you get mad.”
“Always move on and never look back. Never do the same thing twice.”
“Look, don’t see; listen, don’t hear. The more you engage, the longer you survive.”

And here’s a “reader’s rule” from Amazon’s page that will be tested on December 21: “Never let Tom Cruise play you in a movie. Especially if you are described as being 6 foot 5 inches tall.”

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sounds Like More Screens

Not too long ago, ad breaks meant time to make a cup of tea or hit fast forward on the TiVo. Now it seems audiences are not tuning out, but tuning in while switching screens. They may not be looking at their televisions, but many are using ads as a window of opportunity to send emails, browse the Web, or check feeds on Twitter or Facebook.

A study conducted for Bravo Media by Latitude Research surveyed more than 1,000 people and observed more than 100 people watching TV in a variety of situations. It found that 73% of those surveyed used a second screen while watching a program, increasing their likelihood of refraining from ad skipping. It also found that viewers using both a smartphone and a tablet or laptop were around 20% less likely to skip through ads than those only using a smartphone (40% versus 50%).

This presents a number of opportunities for advertisers and TV networks. Being smart about sound can help capture audiences and offer cues for interacting with consumers instantly through other devices. So, instead of ads now being a break, they give advertisers the opportunity to tune into audiences even more.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Love To Win, Hate To Lose

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of football’s iconic players (shame he is not with us at the Etihad). He’s an idol to millions and a symbol of what happens when talent, commitment and dreams come together. However, besides the football and fame what really drives this sporting superstar is his life philosophy ‘Love to Win, Hate to Lose’. Now Ronaldo is letting others adopt this mantra through a new line of shoes and clothing developed in partnership with Nike.

Each piece in the collection features a logo of a heart slashed by an X, representing Ronaldo’s ‘Love to Win, Hate to Lose’ mentality. It’s a brilliant visualization of an idea that can be worn over the heart like a badge of honor. This idea acknowledges that winning is all about frame of mind. Whether you’re a professional athlete or the average guy, wanting to win is a great attitude to adopt in everyday life. It’s uncompromising, results focused and driven by passion.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Culture Keepers

In youth sport in the US, one of the roles of a ‘Responsible Sports’ environment is the "Culture Keeper"; someone who makes sure that everyone (coaches, players, fans) adheres to team values. These people promote and protect the integrity of their sport and ensure that morale is maintained and undesirable situations averted. Team culture is important because it makes people give their 100% by inspiring them to believe in what they do.
At Saatchi & Saatchi our culture is based on:
  • Our Inspirational Dream: To be revered as the hot house for world changing creative ideas that transform our clients’ businesses, brands and reputations.
  • Our Focus: To fill the world with Lovemarks.
  • Our Spirit: One Team, One Dream – Nothing Is Impossible. 
Great results also come from shared purpose. In his book, Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World's Greatest Companies, former P&G GMO Jim Stengel chronicles a ten-year study of the world’s fifty top businesses and discovers that those with strong positive corporate culture grew rate triple that of competitors in their categories. The All Blacks have also developed a strong culture to become the most successful international sports team, with an 84% win ratio against all opposition. Strong cultures make winners and leaders – it’s the reason why every company should have its own “Culture Keeper”.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Skyfall

In this digital age of iPads, iPhones, TVs, computer screens, etc., it is sometimes good to go back to the future. A couple of nights ago I went to an IMAX theater to watch Skyfall. The screen was amazing. It wasn't like being at the movies, it was like being in the movies. The sound was absolutely incredible. You could smell the Scottish heather at the end of the movie.

We are all Screenagers but that IMAX experience reminded me that mobility and personalization are one thing but you can't beat a big movie on a big screen with big sound.

And Javier Bardem stole the show. What an amazing performance. It looked like he was having loads of fun.

(And incidentally, am I the only one that's noticed how big Daniel Craig's ears are?)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Buildings For The Brain

The retail industry has long understood the relationship between the use of space and the way people shop. The look and feel of a store evokes emotions and provokes perceptions, which then influence if people will buy a product or give it a miss. The effect of color on our moods has also been flogged by interior designers. Red is for passion and stimulates the appetite. Blues are calming but can be cold and depressing.

Now, architects and neuroscientists are working together to explore how space and design in buildings can interact with the performance of our brains. Institutions like the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture are working to bring together what we know about how the brain responds to space to transform environments to suit our needs. People with diseases like Alzheimer’s may soon have homes that help them strengthen their memory. Premature babies may have their visual and auditory systems boosted with softer lighting. It’s just another example of how And/And has the ability to deliver amazing results and change our world for the better.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Shining Stars At The Lakes

Two of my favorite local restaurants in the Lake District have recently been awarded the highest honors awarded in fine dining. Simon Rogan's L'Enclume in Cartmel, which I visit and write about every so often, has been awarded its second Michelin star, the first for any restaurant in the Cumbria region. Some of you will recognize Simon from the Great British Menu 2012 where he took out the competition in desserts and came out in the top three for pretty much every other course. Also not to be missed is the restaurant at the Holbeck Ghyll hotel run by chef David McLaughlin. Helped by Stefan one of my all time favorite sommeliers. Always got a hidden gem from Bordeaux up his sleeve. The restaurant has held on to its shining Michelin star for 13 consecutive years, which is no easy feat if you know how tough it is to maintain excellence in the eyes of fussy judges. David never gets complacent and every meal, every day has to be produced to the highest standard. It's a combination of great ingredients, a fusion of flavors and keeping things simple that makes both these restaurants winners.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Fathers And Sons

I am a father of two fine sons, Ben and Dan. Ben heads up Global Talent for Saatchi & Saatchi, and Dan is halfway through a FIFA Masters Program in Sports Management.

We grow closer and closer as I (and they) grow older.

I heard a song today by Chuck Brodsky called “The Point”.


If you are a father or a son you should listen to it.

KR

Monday, November 26, 2012

Tuning Into Drama

According to Google and IPSOS, 77% of people navigate multiple screens while watching television and many people watch television based on what they read on other screens. Our attention is fragmented. You can have conversations with strangers about the plotline of your favorite show or have your say about what’s happening in the world, while watching it all unfold on television. And you don’t even have to participate in the conversation with words. You can Instagram it or hit the ‘Like’ button.

With all this competition for attention spans TV may not get the same dedication it received in the 60s, but live television is still as popular as ever. The creative and production qualities of television drama are unparalleled: Downton Abbey to the CSI franchise to Homeland to Kevin Costner’s Hatfields & McCoys and Aaron Sorkin’s terrific Newsroom (see Jeff Daniel/Will McAvoy’s take on why America is not the world’s greatest country anymore from the series pilot). Take live television events like the US presidential debates and sporting events like the Premier League and the Olympics and Super Bowl, they attract hundreds of millions of viewers from all over the world. Why? Television is the only medium you can watch the drama unfold as it takes place. The beauty of live television is in its unpredictability. You never know who will win, what will be said, or what excitement will unfold.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Food of the Future

A culinary council assembled by the Sterling-Rice Group of more than 100 famous chefs, restaurateurs and food experts have decided what we’ll be eating next year with a list of top food trends for 2013. Looks like we’re in for popcorn and dumplings will be the new donuts.
  1. Tongue twister: Roll over sweet and salty, 2013 is the year of tart and bitter flavors.

  2. Lean and clean: Chefs tastes are moving more towards food that is better for us, yet still tasty.

  3. Dumplings over donuts: Comfort food will be taking on the flavors of Thailand, Korea and Vietnam.

  4. Veggies lead: Salads will no longer be a flirtation on the side, expect them to be the centre of attention.

  5. Mini meals: Kids will be eating mini versions of adult fare.

  6. Global food market: With the growth of the food artisan market, we can now buy good quality crepes and croissants from our local stores.

  7. Small and single: Single servings of food are on the rise as we savor one item of food at a time.

  8. Tutti fruity: Keep an eye out for fruit being used to enhance flavors in things like soups and meat dishes.

  9. To everyone’s taste: Gluten-free, vegan, pescatarian or meat-lover? No problem. Restaurants are bringing variety to their menus.

  10. Popcorn: Sweet, savory, or even sour, you name it, popcorn is set to make a comeback.
So, think like a child, eat like one. Kids rule!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Something Beautiful

The Festival of Light located in Kuwana City Japan is held at Nabano No Sato, a flower-themed park featuring sprawling gardens and giant greenhouses. Running annually from mid November to mid March is one of Japan’s finest Winter Illuminations, including the famous tunnel of light. The pictures do the rest of the talking.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

It’s A VUCA World Alright!

In my sole but seminal encounter with the Pentagon when they asked me to provide counsel on the semiotics of the war on terror, I was told by them that my framework of radical optimism did not fit their VUCA worldview. “The world, Kevin, is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.” Way to go General! The self-immolation of top brass over the past two weeks has been VUCA-spectacular. Generals Petraeus, Ham, Allen, Sinclair, Admiral Gaouette and Commander Darlak have bought varying degrees of VUCA-disgrace onto themselves and their country. The windows their actions open into the soul and operations of are startling. I mean what leader of any organization, say for example the supreme commander of the US presence in Afghanistan, has time to write 20,000-30,000 pages of emails to a Tampa socialite. General Allen either has spectacular time management skills, an unusual sense of priorities – or we are more vulnerable than the $711 billion US military budget would lead us to believe.

Much has been made of General Petraeus as the ultimate soldier-scholar, and I am thankful to The Daily Beast for bringing the General’s “lessons on leadership” to my attention. The author is, naturally enough, Paula Broadwell. Context is everything, and in normal situations this reads as a very worthy list.

Lessons on leadership from General David Petraeus:
  1. Lead by example from the front of the formation. Take your performance personally—if you are proud to be average, so too will be your troops.

  2. A leader must provide a vision—clear and achievable “big ideas” combined in a strategic concept—and communicate those ideas throughout the entire organization and to all other stakeholders.

  3. A leader needs to give energy; don’t be an oxygen thief.

  4. There is an exception to every rule, standard operating procedure, and policy; it is up to leaders to determine when exceptions should be made and to explain why they made them.

  5. We all will make mistakes. The key is to recognize them and admit them, to learn from them, and to take off the rearview mirrors—drive on and avoid making them again.

  6. Be humble. The people you’ll be leading already have on-the-ground conflict experience. “Listen and learn.”

  7. Be a team player. “Your team’s triumphs and failures will, obviously, be yours.” Take ownership of both.

  8. Don’t rely on rank. If you rely on rank, rather than on the persuasiveness of your logic, the problem could be you and either your thinking or your communication skills. Likewise, sometimes the best ideas come from bottom-up information sharing (i.e., “Need to share” not “Need to know”). Use “directed telescopes” to improve situational awareness.

  9. Leaders should be thoughtful but decisive. Listen to subordinates’ input, evaluate courses of action and second- and third-order effects, but be OK with an “80 percent solution”. “There will be many moments when all eyes turn to you for a decision. Be prepared for them. Don’t shrink from them. Embrace them.” Sometimes the best move is the bold move.

  10. Stay fit to fight. Your body is your ultimate weapons system. Physical fitness for your body is essential for mental fitness.

  11. The only thing better than a little competition is a lot of competition. Set challenges for your subordinates to encourage them to excel.

  12. Everyone on the team is mission critical. Instill in your team members a sense of great self-worth—that each, at any given time, can be the most important on the battlefield.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Luxury In The Fast Lane

Luxury cars are built on reputation, quality and performance. Each vehicle is a combination of craft and engineering that needs to work in harmony with its driver, passengers and environment. For many people who invest in high-end cars, the product is more than something that gets you from A to B. It’s a piece of art, an insignia of achievement.

One of our clients, Lexus knows all about the pursuit of perfection. Part of the Lexus commitment is that they will do it right from the start, strive to be the finest, and treat each customer as they would a guest in their home. Now that’s an approach that any service provider could learn from, so it’s great to see that that both industries are working together to make inroads in the luxury hotel market.

Lamborghini recently launched the Tonino Lamborghini Boutique Hotel Suzhou in China; Bentley has developed a themed suite at the iconic St. Regis Hotel New York; and I wouldn’t be surprised if Aston Martin moves its brand into the territory as well. Lexus and The Ritz-Carlton are both represented by our Team One agency in Los Angeles so some client cross-pollination here would produce interesting results, especially for two companies so in tune with their people.

It’s exciting when two different industries come together to create new experiences for customers. It’s And/And. Now the difficult part is deciding where you’ll go.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Creativity & Careers

Adobe is one brand that has really put creativity in the hands of the consumer (we all know the PDF but think Photoshop, Acrobat, Flash). For many, Adobe is more than just a suite of software. It’s a tool that makes people feel empowered. With Adobe you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to bring ideas to life and you can create anytime, anywhere as long as you have a computer.

In a recent study on the relationship between creativity and education, Adobe interviewed 1,000 Americans ages 25 and up who were college-educated and working full-time. The questions asked were used to gauge what people thought about creativity and how important it was in their academic and professional lives. Here are some interesting findings:
  • People most associate creative thinking with "thinking out of the box" or "ability to come up with innovative ideas".

  • Most people agree that creativity is valuable to society and contributes to economic growth.

  • Not everyone thinks that creativity is a skill that can be learned. A lot of people still consider it an innate talent.

  • In education, science and math score highly as courses that contribute to creative thinking.

  • A majority of people think that managing people within companies requires more creativity than working with external clients.

  • After intelligence and personability, creativity is the third most important trait to career success.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Turning Spain Around (Part 2)

Yesterday I posted some out-of-the-mainstream ideas for turning around Spain. Today I’ve got some advice for what to do when you are young and unemployed. This is not a issue exclusive to Spain, though Greece and Spain both have over half of their 25 year olds and under unemployed; a calamitous effect on both the young people involved, their families, and their country. It’s not their fault; our generation have failed them. So what to do? When I was 16 I was expelled from school, with no job, and no prospects to speak of. So I have some personal identification with the struggles of the young and out of work. Here’s what I would be doing.
  • Be prepared for opportunity when it does come around. Don’t waste this time idling about; become obsessive about mastering skills: the art of negotiation, a new language, cooking, outdoor survival, lateral thinking. The internet is your free friend so use it.

  • Polish your elevator pitch, study and practice verbal communication and body language techniques, have a good looking resumé, offer surprising skills and a 100% can-do attitude. Be a radical optimist.

  • Be physically fit. Train and work out. Keep up appearances. It helps you stay positive and keeps you sharp and presentable.

  • Be inventive, have ideas, learn about ideas and creativity and how to apply them in business.

  • Emigrate. You have to think about this possibility. At some point you need to go where the work is. I moved to Geneva, Casablanca and Nicosia and have been on the go around the world ever since.

  • Stay optimistic, the world moves in cycles. Iceland’s recovery is an object lesson in how countries can come back from the abyss (radical honesty is a good starter in this regard). Reportedly, Greece is sitting on trillions of dollars of oil, gas and gold deposits in, under, and around Greece – and though this may not save them from short term austerity, it is an object lesson is being prepared and staying open to possibility and opportunity.

  • Remember that a lot of entrepreneurs start with an idea and created a business when they were unemployed.

  • Fail fast; Learn fast; Fix fast.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Turning Spain Around (Part 1)

I have been visiting Spain for many years, I was there last month to give presentations and some media interviews and naturally the subject at the forefront was the state of the Spanish economy. With one in four unemployed and its economy teetering on the edge, Spain is at the sharp end of the financial crisis. A lot of people are calling for change to government and financial institutions. But maybe what Spain needs are some game changing ideas to get it back to the powerhouse it was, which they are immensely capable of – see this week’s New York Timesmagazine story on how Spanish company Zara has become the world’s largest fashion retailer and how founder Amancio Ortega Gaona has just displaced Warren Buffett to become the world’s third richest man.

I am not game to comment on the political and economic structural fixes needed in the Spanish economy, but as a certified ‘crazy’ I am game to suggest a few crazy things Spain might do to get its mojo back.

  • Accountability
    Every country has its psychic handbrakes, and if progress is to be achieved, accountability must be part of the mix. Everyone has to be accountable. Bad practices must be eliminated. The two hour lunch. Property speculation. The underground economy. Evading taxes. Being unproductive – the mañana syndrome or the infinite tomorrow. Cease and desist. Now.

  • Embrace spiritualism
    75% of Spain professes to be Catholic but only 15% of Catholics attend church every Sunday. There is a very high correlation between happiness and spiritual engagement. Go to church!

  • Put yourself into the heart of the consumer
    Find new-world markets for new products and new Spanish brands by finding the way into the heart of the consumer worldwide. Zara have done this brilliantly – they have 5,900 stores globally, more than any other brand or company. Promote the aromas and tastes of Spain to the world and create premium export products including Spanish luxury brands designed to seduce consumers based on Spain’s incredible creative and spiritual heritage and currency.

  • Paella as the new sushi; Sherry as the new Vodka
    Have ideas about how traditional Spanish foods and beverages can be remade into a ‘world’ context by making paella the new sushi or rebranding and remixing Sherry to compete with the Vodka market.

  • Make love, not recession
    Spain’s fertility rate is lower than the EU average. Spain is stuck on 47 million people. Aim for 50 million – more Spaniards please!

  • Form the Spanish bloc in world politics
    With the growth of the language worldwide, Spanish is set to overtake English as a language for international trade. Given the near impossibility of getting Spanish regions to work together within the country, my suggestion is to go right over the top and incorporate the Spanish-speaking Americas, including California, into a Spanish bloc. A global Spanish nation. Expand Spain’s field of influence. Be the global mothership. Connect with the 500 million speakers of Spanish and grab the mantle of being Latin.

  • Pray-in
    The Sagrada Família Basilica in Barcelona is one of the most spectacular cathedrals in the world. Religion is profoundly central to Spain’s history. Make cathedrals and museums mandatory visiting by every world traveller. Create a must-attend religious event or festival drawing Catholics from around the world. Create a massive pray-in. Prayer to move economic mountains.

  • Keep saving
    Spanish are traditionally great savers. Keep the savings going no matter the amount.

  • Inspirational figures
    Identify your most inspirational players. Pick 100 people to make a difference. Show the face of Spanish achievement to the world and at home. Think Rafael Nadal, Fernando Alonso, the afore-mentioned Amancio Ortega Gaona, Javier Bardem (the bad guy in the new Bond movie Skyfall), Penelope Cruz, Santiago Calatrava and Ferran Adrià for starters.

  • Thought-leader in creativity
    Through advertising, online and international retail channels make Spain a thought-leader in creativity, taste, technical excellence and new ideas on important subjects as food and energy. Our confidence in Spain has been underlined by the injection of Argentinean creative genius Pablo del Campo into the mix; our reframed agency is called Del Campo Saatchi & Saatchi España.

  • Learn from football
    Spain won the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championship with performances that had commentators calling the team perhaps the best the world has ever seen. Before the 2010 tournament Spain turnaround from “serial flops to serious favourites”. The BBC’s report at the time notes that “Spain's current prowess owes much to the federation's long-term commitment to a nationwide programme for the training of coaches. Not only are there more qualified coaches in Spain than in England, they are all promoting exactly the same style of football - the highly technical, possession-based game that has taken Barcelona to the summit of European football, made Spain's youth teams the envy of the world and allowed the national side to end nearly half a century of failure in Vienna two years ago. From wobblers into winners, the message is clear: the glory has been a long time in the making.” Politicians and economists, take note.

  • Tomorrow, some thoughts for when you’re 22, Spanish and unemployed.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Like A 7-Year Old

Is it just a hat or could it be an elephant swallowed by a boa constrictor? In Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s famous fable The Little Prince, the narrator draws a picture of a boa constrictor and asks adults around him whether they find it frightening. “Why should anyone be frightened by a hat?” they replied.

As adults, we tend to hang our hats on what we have learned and what we have experienced. We explain our world with logic and rational thinking. But what about radical thinking?

A study in 2010 took this theory to the test by asking a group of college students to write a short essay on what they would do if school was cancelled for a day. Another group of students were asked to imagine that they were seven years old when answering the question.

After this exercise, participants were asked to complete a creative thinking test. Most participants performed as expected, apart from the participants who had been asked to write the essay from the perspective of a seven year old. This group exhibited significantly higher levels of originality in thought.

The Little Prince reminds us to look at the world through the eyes of a child once in a while so that we can see of new ways to approaching old ideas. Take a moment to free yourself from the mental constraints of routine and give yourself the opportunity to think like a child again. I just spent some time with granddaughters Stella (5) and Chloe (2). What a wonderful world they see and live in.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Toughing It Out

It’s not always the physical prowess of athletes that makes them world-class. Mental toughness, focus and resiliency are some of the makings of true sports stars.

If you’re looking for examples, look no further than Nick Springer, 27, who was part of the US Paralympics rugby team that took out the bronze medal in London this year. Struck down in 1999 by a case of bacterial meningitis at the age of 14, Springer refused to let go of life, even after being told that he had a 10% chance of survival and even after being read his last rites. Losing his hands and lower legs in a lifesaving operation, he chose to strive to become a top defender for the US in a game that would make able-bodied rugby players tremble at the knees.

Springer doesn’t let his disability hold him back – he’s a winner. In his first year in the national squad he helped them win a gold medal at the 2006 World Wheelchair Rugby Championships. Two years later he was part of the team that won at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing.

"A disability might be permanent but being disabled isn't. If I could trade never getting sick for all the experiences and all the memories, would I do it? There's no way in hell. I've done things in my life I wouldn't trade for the world."
- Interview with Nick Springer, CBS News, July 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

The End Of Command And Control

Ex-military personnel are popular hires for big corporations because of their leadership skills. In 2011, 25% of new employees hired by Amazon.com and T-Mobile were ex-military, making the two companies some of the most military friendly employers in the United States. However, a lot of these vets are finding that they are attracted to companies that have thrown out hierarchical command systems of the past.

Leadership through command-and-control, where every decision needs to involve someone of a higher rank, has been replaced by a new model. Progressively more modern armies now use a mission command process which gives the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of the mission, but leaves it up to subordinates to use their initiative on how they go about it.

This type of decentralized management model has been transferred to the business world and is commonly referred to as ‘workplace empowerment’. This model helps to motivate staff to make their own decisions, form effective teams and take responsibility for their decisions and actions.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sandy Shore

On Sunday night I was due to fly to Buenos Aires to speak at an HSM conference and to give speeches to clients, Kraft and BGH. For the two days prior to that, we had been watching the progress of Hurricane Sandy and it was becoming clear that New York and New Jersey had learned the lessons of Hurricane Irene a year ago.

Communications were clear and a State of Emergency was declared early in New York, New Jersey and with seven other states following suit. This was the biggest hurricane to ever hit the East Coast and predictions of storm surge flooding left little room for improvisation.

My Newark flight was cancelled and I shifted to a later flight from JFK. During the day, however, it became clear to me that emotionally I was in no fit state to leave NY. I felt the flight would anyway be cancelled but more to the point I felt I could not desert the Agency, my colleagues and my friends. No matter what the rational brain said, my heart told me I could only hunker down and stay.

During that Sunday the warnings became more and more strident with airports closings, subways closing, tunnels and bridges closing, and evacuation orders being mandates. My home and the Agency are in Zone B, meaning we missed mandatory evacuation by one or two blocks.

The hurricane hit as predicted.

Flooding in Battery Park with 13 foot wave surges, disasters throughout the states as predicted.

On Monday the whole of downtown New York from 23rd Street downwards lost power. A Con Edison plant exploded through flooding and at 8:30pm on Monday night, along with millions of others in the region, I lost power and water.

As I write this, we're looking at seven to fourteen more days for many households without power. Zone B came back on on Saturday morning. Five days without power, water, heat or communications.

In times of crisis, none of us are at our best. Some of us are better than others but crisis means we are operating without resources, without a sense of control, without experience, and without knowledge. It seems to me that the only thing you can do in times like this is to listen to your heart, live life very slowly, keep very calm, and attempt to contain and minimize risk in your own environment.

New York is a resilient city. Next week will be better.

My heartfelt thanks to all friends and family who looked out for us during this testing period.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cause For Celebration

The media have a saying, “If it bleeds, it leads”, and you just need to turn on your computer/mobile/tablet to know that media is a magnet for bad news. The world is sometimes painted as being so bleak that we forget that there are some real causes for us to celebrate. Here are 10 reasons to be optimistic about our future. The first five are from Bill Clinton and I’ve rounded it out with some of my own.
  1. Technology
    Access to mobile phones is enabling ideas and freedom like never before. Only 4% of households have internet access in Africa, but over half have mobile phones. This means that millions of people have been empowered with a means to communicate, learn, do business and stay in touch.
  2. Health
    More collaboration between governments, the private sector and foundations has seen inroads into better health systems for people in need. An example of this is in the treatment for AIDS, which now costs on average just $200 per patient per year.
  3. Economy
    It’s not all doom and gloom when you put the world economy into perspective. In the quarter decade leading up to the current economic crisis, more people worldwide moved from poverty to the middle class than at any other time in history.
  4. Equality
    Equality of the sexes has improved vastly over the last few years, especially in Africa and the Middle East – but there is still a long way to go. Since 2002, Bahrain’s national elections have been open to women and in Saudi Arabia, women will be able to vote and run for office from 2015.
  5. Justice
    Where there is inequality and injustice there will always be instability and conflict. While we still have our fair share of this, this is by far the exception rather than the rule.
  6. Liberty
    With the rise of protests demanding freedom and equality around the world it wasn’t surprising that the ‘Protester’ became TIME magazine’s Person of the Year in 2011. People are rising up and refuse to be dictated.
  7. Sport
    You can never doubt the power of sport to bring people together and what better example than the recent London Olympic Games. Sport gives us common passions, allow us to share emotions, and inspires us to greater heights. We are faster, stronger and more agile!
  8. 8. Science
    This year we landed on Mars, discovered the Higgs boson, created the world’s first quantum computing network and published the most detailed analysis of the human genome. These are just a few of the many discoveries made in this year, and through they may not mean much to you today, they will change the way you live in the future
  9. Creativity
    There is an entire generation of people who value creativity and innovation. They will make art, products, music, books and brands that will decrease our impact on the environment and improve our quality of life
  10. Social
    We are all connected. How incredible is that?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Job Satisfaction

Coach of the Century Vince Lombardi has provided many great and simple steers on life’s journey.

I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious.

I have always thought this is all anyone needs to know about how to have a fulfilling life. Pin this on your wall and away you go. I accept this might be too simplistic for many folk, so I was please to read this post "8 Signs You've Found Your Life's Work" by Fast Company's Amber Rae, Founder & CEO of The Bold Academy, a “life accelerator” in San Francisco, was apparently inspired by an article by MeiMei Fox about finding "the one" in love. Here’s Amber’s line-up
  1. It doesn't feel like work. 
  2. You are aligned with your core values.  
  3. You are willing to suffer. 
  4. You experience frequent flow. 
  5. You make room for living. 
  6. Commitment is an honor. 
  7. The people who matter notice. 
  8. You fall asleep exhausted, fulfilled, and ready for tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Creative Unconscious

Ideas are generally seen as an epiphany when all becomes clear in a magic light-bulb moment. Not all ideas, however, are created equal. We can be consciously searching for a solution to a problem, but at the same time our brains are subconsciously finding other kinds of knowledge that may be helpful to our resolution.

Researchers generally define the creative process in two phases: divergence and convergence. In the divergent phase, we generate a lot of potential ideas, while in the convergent phase we evaluate these ideas and focus on the most promising.

Over time we get better at divergence as we compile experiences that we can call on, and it is during medium durations of divergence that the largest number of ideas are active, rather than during short brainstorming sessions.

What does this mean in the context of idea creation?

It means that some ideas are best left to their own devices. Occupying our conscious thoughts with other activities means that we are letting an idea find its own connections in our subconscious.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cooking Up Ideas

Ferran Adrià is one of the most creative and innovative people of our era. This is a man who has transformed what we know about food, serves “sushi” as dessert and makes edible jewellery out of olive oil. By constantly questioning what’s possible and asking ‘why not?’ Ferran has made a name for himself as an original thinker; someone who is not afraid of uncharted territory.

The experience and food at Ferran’s restaurant, elBulli in Roses, Catalonia, was so coveted that in 2011 it had 2 million requests for 8,000 places. But at the peak of elBulli’s notoriety, Adrià and his team closed their doors to focus on innovation, not just for food, but for the creative process, collaboration and technology. This is how the elBulli Foundation was born.

In the latest issue of Wired magazine, Ferran talks about his plans for the Foundation and being interdisciplinary in his thinking. A mash up of science, philosophy, art and technology is what leads him to what’s now, what’s next and what’s never been before. From the conception of La Bullipedia – an online, living resource documenting every piece of gastronomic knowledge known to man, to using technology to make food knowledge accessible for all, I have no doubt Ferran’s creations will dazzle us all.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Click Moment

There’s no magic bullet for creating a successful business. Some believe in serendipity and seizing the moment, while others believe that success comes from thoroughly studying the market.

Frans Johansson, the author of a new book called The Click Moment: Seizing Opportunity in an Unpredictable World, believes that the rules are always changing and that success is more random than logical. Johansson believes that we increase our chances of success by placing a number of business bets, rather than backing just one horse. Apple, for instance, always has a number of inventions on the go, many of which never come to market, but just look at the track record of the products that do succeed.

According to Johansson, the randomness of ‘click’ moments is something that we don’t always see because as consumers we don’t witness the process behind the finished product. We may live in a world that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous, but if we continuously produce lots of small ideas we can create the momentum needed to pave the way for the next breakthrough.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Roll Over Rock N’ Roll

Gone are the days when beatniks, punks and rock n’ rollers are what youth aspire to be. Entrepreneurs are the new rebels with a cause.

If you talk to Millennials, you’ll find that they are inspired by the likes of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg rather than celebrities. The high life now comes not with being famous, but in the ability to do and make stuff. Start-up kings and queens around the world are setting revolutions in motion and becoming champions of the idea that “Nothing Is Impossible”.

A recent New York Times article called this phenomenon Generation Sell. Whatever their passion, whatever their idea / product / dream – people are packaging them in the form of small businesses, spreading the word and trying to make a name for themselves. I’ve always said that business is a great way to make the world a better place, and the fact that a whole generation is getting on the bandwagon is just fantastic.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Writing’s On The Wall

Some of the young’uns at Saatchi & Saatchi speculate that I am still to discover the internet because I send them handwritten notes – Montblanc’d, PDF’d and email’d. Cheeky sods. The handwritten word carries so much identity and personality. Here are 10 ideas (from Philip Hensher, author of The Missing Ink, and a few of my own) on how we can encourage a culture of handwriting.
  1. Handwriting should continue to be taught in schools
    London University's Institute of Education reported that less than half of students in the UK were taught handwriting at school.

  2. Enjoy your own handwriting
    You are how you write, so you might as well learn to enjoy it.

  3. Rediscover the joy of writing by hand
    Start with a great pen. My Montblanc is a Lovemark of mine. Irresistible.

  4. Play with letterforms
    You’re not the same person you were 10 years ago, so why should your handwriting look the same as it did then?

  5. Make lists
    It’s a great way to stay focused and get things done. I have a daily, weekly and annual list.

  6. Write to others
    Put down on paper what you want to say to those important to you. Be upbeat. Then mail it.

  7. Write your thanks
    When you receive great service, share your gratitude. Make the effort and write a thank you note.

  8. Get your handwriting analyzed
    You’ll be amazed at how much it says about you. Malcolm McLeod did mine 20 years ago on Hayman island. And helped me know me better.

  9. Create a personalized font
    Talk to a typographer and get a font made that reflects your personality.
  10. Learn calligraphy
    This is where handwriting starts to look and feel a lot like art.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dollars & Design

Everything you see will have a designer behind it. Some concepts are good and have remained unchanged for decades, whist others need to get better. You know good design when you use it.

Winners have an edge in design. Look at the Interbrand Top 100 brands – their products and systems are thoughtfully considered. A ten-year evaluation by the UK Design Council showed that design has a direct link to business performance from turnover and profit, to market share and competitiveness. “Design intensive firms outperformed their peers by 200% through bull and bear markets” and 80% of companies believed that design would give them an upper-hand in the current competitive market.

Design is an integral part of developing more high-value manufacturing. If we underestimate the importance of design we’ll miss an opportunity to add value through innovation – and make the world a more beautiful place.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Woody Guthrie At 100

The immortal Woody Guthrie has been having his 100th birthday.

From Woody and his circle in this colorful article, here are a few cherry-picked gems that I think are signposts to success in the always-on internet era:
  • On control: "Anyone caught singing one of these songs ... will be a good friend of mine, because that's why I wrote 'em."

  • On truth: “The worst thing that can happen is to cut yourself loose from the people…. and the best thing is to sort of vaccinate yourself right into the big streams and blood of the people."

  • On fame: (Guthrie’s life) a "creative explosion that subdivided into thousands of subatomic particles that turned into little Woodys."

  • On attraction: "There's a Woody Guthrie for everyone—for the patriot, the dog lover, the punk fan."

  • On complexity: “Any damn fool can get complicated. It takes genius to attain simplicity.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Get Good Life Support

Life is full of decisions. Every one of us makes hundreds of decisions each day, from make or break business calls, to what to eat for lunch. The trouble is that the further you travel down your career path, the more the decisions you have to make and the more taxing they become.

Research has shown that decision making doesn’t just take up time; it uses up mental energy. Whether you’re deciding which shoes to wear or whether to sign on the dotted line, the energy to make the decision is coming from the same ‘energy source’. And that source can run low and it can run out.

The trick is to focus on what’s most important and make more decisions with your heart. Follow your emotional instinct. Pass the other stuff on to others you trust. Surround yourself with great people who have the ability to make the right decisions first time and you’ll get the clutter out of your head and have more energy to do the things that are really important to you. And to do them right.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Ages Of Happiness

A survey of 2,000 people between the ages of five and 80 found that we are at our happiest at the ages of 9 and 68. 64% of those aged 68 and 80% of nine-year-olds said that having fun was a top priority in their lives.

Fun is not happiness, but it is a very important part of what makes life’s great moments. Children take the time to discover and play. They use their imagination to be creative and can enjoy the Now for what it is. 47% of the children surveyed believed that their grandparents were more fun and relaxed than other members of their family. That’s not surprising as those over the age of sixty also know how to embrace the moment. 34 percent of people in that age group listed activities like skydiving and surfing as things they “must do”.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Numbers And Truth

On October 19-21, Göteborg, Sweden, will play host to the Marcus Wallenberg Symposium on "Numbers and Truth" where participants will discuss the philosophy and mathematics of arithmetic and truth. Numbers are the unseen heroes of our daily lives. Philosophers, scientists, designers and economists use numbers to make our ideas a reality, but the significance of numbers is often taken for granted. "Numbers and Truth" is an effort to take a deeper look at their values and significance.

In China, the number 1 is auspicious and symbolizes energy and unity. 4 in Norse mythology represents stability in the cosmos, and 5 in Hebrew is the number of stones David used to defeat Goliath and stands for strength. In Buddhism, the number 8 is the path to enlightenment. In China, ten symbolizes duality since it is the double of five (five represents totality).

Think about numbers and their significance in your life. I played 5 at soccer, 1 at cricket and 10 at rugby. Pick your number.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Perfect 10

There is something that warms the mind (and the stomach) when you dine on a meal that is not only well-seasoned, but in season. My favorite local Lakeland restaurant L'Enclume has been given a perfect score in The Good Food Guide 2013, only sharing its top rating with Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck. The Guide's editor Elizabeth Carter said: “L’Enclume is mind-blowing. It’s a world-class destination in harmony with its local community, serving food that is hard-wired to the Cumbrian soil.” Spot on. Listed as the second best restaurant in the Top 50, chef Simon Rogan’s L'Enclume also has a Michelin star and was named restaurant of the year by Cumbria Life's 2011 Food & Drink Awards.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Yalla!



Great ideas are the bread and butter of the advertising industry, but what separates a great idea on paper and an excellent campaign can be summarized in one word - yalla.

Yalla is a common slang word used in Israel that means “make it happen”, but for BBR Saatchi & Saatchi Tel Aviv it means more than that. It represents an attitude and an ethos that inspires the agency to do things differently. Even if a client asks for something ordinary, the team applies yalla and shows how this can be turned into something extraordinary – even something revolutionary.

The spirit of yalla has brought about many successes for BBR Saatchi & Saatchi. They won five gold Lions at this year’s prestigious Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for ‘Blood Relations’, a campaign that brought together bereaved Palestinian and Israeli families from the Parents Circle Families Forum to donate blood alongside each other.

For BBR Saatchi & Saatchi, yalla embodies a spirit and mantra that not only permeates their work, but brings the team together to show that truly, Nothing Is Impossible.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Unsmokeable

 Saatchi & Saatchi we believe that the role of business is to make the world a better place. But we don’t just preach it; we practice it. And the results can be game changing.

Saatchi & Saatchi Brussels and the European Commission developed ‘Ex-smokers are Unstoppable’ – a pan-European campaign encouraging people to quit smoking.

Instead of scaring smokers into quitting with warnings of lingering and painful death, putrid lungs and amputations, the campaign offered a simple promise: quitting smoking will lead you to a happier, healthier life. And people listened. Over 225,000 people registered to take part in the programme to help them give up smoking at their own pace.

The campaign has won the prestigious Gold Euro Effie – one of the highest awards for proven effectiveness – making it the first time a campaign by a European institution has been awarded a Euro Effie. It's also the first anti-tobacco campaign to achieve such results, and it's the first Belgian win since 2003.

Now the team is preparing to go even further. The European Commission has joined forces with FC Barcelona, stepping into new territory to bring ‘Ex-smokers are Unstoppable’ to greater heights and make it truly unstoppable.

Saatchi Brussels is on a roll with a recent appointment by the European Parliament to redefine its brand identity to embody the values, mission and achievements of the Parliament as a democratically elected institution at the service of all European citizens. Saatchi Brussels will be responsible for creating a new logotype, a complete visual identity and its adaptation to a variety of supports in the 23 official languages of the European Union.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Bouley And Babbo

I was in New York last week and enjoyed the ultimate dining experience at two of my favorite restaurants in the world.

My eldest son Ben was in town mid-week so we went across the road to Bouley. David Bouley is American born and French trained. He pretty much learned his trade in the kitchens of the greats (Vergé, Bocuse, Robuchon, and one of my favorites, the Swiss Freddy Girardet).

I first came across David in 1985 when he opened the amazing three star Montrachet and quickly after that he opened his own restaurant. I've been going there ever since.

Bouley is a two star Michelin refuge of all things pure, elegant and simple. Probably one of the most romantic restaurants in New York, but also one of the most powerful. George Thomas runs the place skillfully and intimately. Many ingredients are grown on David's farm upstate and shipped down to the restaurant daily. The entrance of the restaurant is full of hundreds of apples and the intensity of the aroma takes you immediately into the fields of nature.

Three days later I was in Mario Batali's flagship restaurant, Babbo (reminiscent of being in the middle of the Italian countryside). The menu is interesting, creative and mouth-watering. Choosing is difficult when you want it all; for example, duck egg with truffles, calf brains pasta, incredible tender grilled octopus…and marvelous Brunellos (carefully chosen by expert sommelier Mark McKenzie, and all supervised by one of the top maitre d's in town, John Mainieri).

Living well is the best revenge, as George Herbert once said. Or as Sally Bowles put it in Cabaret, "Divine decadence darling!"

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Keeping The Dream Alive

“A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.” John Barrymore, American actor

I came across this quote and it made me think about how essential it is to keep dreaming. Hopes and dreams are powerful. They can knock down walls. They can inspire, elevate and bring out the best in people.

People should never stop dreaming because there is always something new on the horizon. Writer C.S. Lewis said: “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” The idea that dreams are only for the young is no longer relevant. Older people are discovering more, and getting more creative in business and life. There is no reason to stop expecting great things.

John Barrymore was a famous stage and screen actor of the 1920's and 30's who lived a notoriously high life during his relatively short lifetime. He kept his dream of always being an actor alive until his last breath when he uttered: "Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him."

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

10 Ways To Work Better

Being productive and learning to do things better are needed at every level in the workplace. With time and competition hot on your heels, you have to zone into the right things and tune out the unnecessary. I liked this list I saw on a blackboard in a photo in a magazine, and have added my commentary to each of the action points.
  1. Do one thing at a time
    Multitasking is over-rated. Do one thing, do it well, then move to the next thing. Focus, commitment, discipline.
  2. Know the problem
    If you want to start with the answer, you have to understand the problem.
  3. Learn to listen
    If you don’t listen you don’t learn.
  4. Learn to ask questions
    Ignorance is voluntary. Change it. Ask. And follow Don Miguel Ruiz's advice. Never assume. Ask.
  5. Distinguish sense from nonsense
    Focus on what really matters and don’t get distracted by the things that don’t.
  6. Accept changes as inevitable
    Be prepared. Be adaptable and pragmatic. Surf the wave of change.
  7. Admit mistakes
    Fail Fast. Learn Fast. Fix Fast.
  8. Say it simple
    If people can’t understand what you’re saying, you’ve got it wrong.
  9. Be calm
    Stay cool, calm and collected under pressure. Don’t take it personally.
  10. Smile
    It goes a long way.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Winners & Losers

Little compares to soaking up the atmosphere, excitement and drama that come hand-in-hand with live sporting events. Attending major events like the Super Bowl, Wimbledon and the Rugby World Cup may be on the wish lists of many, but one lucky man has been to them all.

Bob Latham is a friend of mine from Texas and fellow sports fanatic. He is a successful trial lawyer, dedicates his time to the boards of USA Rugby and the US Olympic Committee – and writes a sports column on the side. When Rolf Jensen said that the heroes of the twenty-first century will be the storytellers, who’d have thought he had in mind a rugby-playing Texas lawyer?

In his sports travels, there’s none of this VIP or corporate box business where Bob’s concerned. He is all about getting down amongst the athletes and fans to experience the true nature of sport.

With a wealth of stories up his sleeve, Bob has published a collection of 50 columns from his travels, Winners and Losers: Rants, Riffs & Reflections on the World of Sports. It’s just a great example of good storytelling. You get to experience the events by Bob’s side rather than observe from afar, and each story provides an exclusive insider’s view to some historic moments.

You will enjoy first hand accounts of events as diverse as Muhammad Ali’s seventieth birthday party to hockey at Wrigley Field and the Super Bowl. Bob also reflects on a variety of issues from the common living room musings of which sports event in history would you most like to have witnessed, to a humorous examination of the NCAA policy on mascots. He even manages to work Fonzie and Nelson Mandela into the same essay.

Name a sport and you’ll find it in the book. A great read. At Amazon.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Ideas Get Quirky

I’ve written about the growing popularity of crowdfunding using platforms like Kickstarter, but before you even get to financing you first need an irresistible idea. Creative leaders produce lots of small ideas continuously, and getting together with like-minded people is one way to spark the creative juices.

Filling a gap in the “ideas market” is Quirky.com, a place where ideas are populated by people through collaboration. Inventors pay just $10 to submit their ideas and the member community – consisting of over 270,000 – then make decisions on which products should be developed, including how they should be developed.

The best ideas are profitable, and with $92 million in funding, support from some of the biggest retailers in America, Quirky.com is a place of business – for all.

229 products have been developed so far and members share the spoils if they have contributed to the product. An example is the award-winning Pivot Power plug adaptor. The website states that the inventor of the product is Jake Zien and 855 other members. The total amount paid out for the Pivot Power is now nearly US$380,000, with nearly 340,000 units sold.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Toyota Tows The Endeavour In L.A.

Los Angeles residents are about to see history being made as the space shuttle Endeavour is towed from LAX to its final resting place at the California Science Centre by non-other than a Toyota Tundra pick-up.

Yes, a Tundra. Identical to the one you might have sitting in your garage. What better way to show off the capabilities of a pick-up truck than by towing a space shuttle that weighs in at over 300,000 pounds!

Toyota is a long time supporter of the California Science Centre, working to raise support and awareness of the space program. Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles came on board for this project, coming up with the concept and helping develop a range of online activities and resources about the Endeavour project.

So keep your eyes on the ground on October 13 – you might just see a space shuttle drive by.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Man Who’s Saving A Nation

The central Pacific nation of Kiribati has become one of the most vulnerable due to the effects of climate change. Entire villages are having to relocate because of higher tides, and the majority of the country’s population of 100,000 people is crammed on to the islets of Tarawa (there are 32 pancake-flat coral atolls over 1,350,000 square miles of ocean).

"It is the surmounting of difficulties that make heroes," said Louis Kossuth, and with this in mind I am proud to announce that the Hillary Institute has named President Anote Tong of Kiribati the 4th annual Global Hillary Laureate.

President Tong is truly inspirational. While fighting the tides of climate change, he made an exceptional gesture to the world in 2008 by declaring 150,000 square miles (the size of California) of Kiribati’s Phoenix Islands marine area a fully protected marine park. This wonder of the ocean has now been designated a UN World Heritage Site.

President Tong has also become an active participant in international diplomatic efforts to raise awareness of climate change, and has most recently been in talks with Fiji to buy up to 6,000 acres of freehold land as a safety net for food production.

Founded in 2007 in honor of Sir Edmund Hillary, the Institute – of which I am a Governor – provides resources, support and inspiration to exceptional leaders in the battle against climate change. It is befitting that President Tong - who faces a series of literally uphill battles - follows in the footsteps of Sir Ed in his pursuit to save a nation in the forefront of climate change.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Championing Young Women


Photographer: Ben Asen

I’m not big on formal ceremony, especially at buttoned-up New York charity shindigs, but last Friday morning was an exception – and it was exceptional. This was the (Em)Power Breakfast at the Pierre Hotel organized by the Young Women’s Leadership Network – a brilliant organization founded by New York dynamo Ann Rubenstein Tisch in 1996. YWLN gives girls and young women a shot at success they would not otherwise have.

The YWLN schools, affiliates and a College Bound Initiative benefit 10,000 students annually. Their programs are highly successful in helping at-risk youth reach their potential and attend college. In America 8% of low income young adults have a college degree. The five YWLN schools across New York City have a 100% college acceptance rate. 80% of graduating seniors are the first of their family to go to college. And at college, they achieve a four year degree at triple the rate of their peers. Talk about turbocharging the future.

I was privileged to be honored at the breakfast – as “The Man We Love” – along with Newsweek editor Tina Brown, Gilt Groupe founder Susan Lyne, and Seventeen editor-in-chief Ann Shoket. The breakfast for 600 raised $1.1m to support programs including enhanced math and science programs, summer learning opportunities, internships, college trips and mentoring events. Kudos to the Estée Lauder Companies and VP Phebe Farrow Port for the energy and momentum they provide to YWLN.

Saatchi & Saatchi New York is a supporter of YWLN through the efforts of SVP Management Director, Gina Christie, who has been awarded a 2012 ADCOLOR Award as a Change Agent for her work with the East Harlem school of YWLN. For me it creates a sort of a NYNZ loop. In Auckland, I have supported for many years the Turn Your Life Around Trust (TYLA) which provides support and choices to the young people at risk of offending. With YWLN I have encouraged the school leadership to look at introducing an entrepreneurial-focused program to their curriculum. This would offer young people the insights and skills to truly break free and be independent to change the world in ways big and small.

This venture is as worthy of support as anything I have ever seen. It genuinely makes a difference, it genuinely creates value, it is genuinely transformative. Get involved.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Meeting Of Minds

The partnership between business, arts and culture goes back centuries. Pope Julius II was both patron and nemesis of Michelangelo and industrialist Andrew Carnegie’s legacy lives on in libraries and schools across the US.

Though the relationship has worked to an extent, there has been a lack of creative cohesion and collaboration between the two categories. However, we may be seeing the evolution of co-working if a recent article published in the Guardian is anything to go by.

There are some new examples of a more collaborative environment popping up where businesses and artists share the same space and in turn contribute to each others’ culture and services. The Birmingham-based theatre company Stan’s Café is an example. The theatre shares a building with a metal works factory and for reduced rent, the theatre company offers the metal manufacturer sponsorship, access to their work and less of an industrial image in the community.

There are also more organic examples, like Schoolhouse Electric, which took up residence in a massive, four-storey red brick warehouse in Portland, Oregon, in 2009. With 103,172 square feet to fill, Schoolhouse Electric opened up the space – rent and utilities free – to a range of independent businesses to create a collaborative work environment. In what is now known as the “Schoolhouse Factory”, the warehouse has now become a ‘work of art’ as the tenants’ creations merge with and influence the space.

Through this belief in collaboration and creation, these businesses are creating a new business model that goes beyond entrepreneurialism. They have created business collaboration in kind.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Jammin’ To A New Tune

If you’re a musician you will already understand the creative results you get from jamming with others, but have you ever jammed at work?

From crowdsourcing an idea to connecting thinkers, leaders, do-ers and disruptors(!) companies are starting to recognize the power behind a collaborative approach to idea generation. IBM runs innovation jams where the company runs large events for staff to pitch in and jam ideas. One such session included 150,000 people from over 104 countries over a three-day period.

Behind every great innovator you will find a great team. Thomas Edison tapped into the jamming process at Menlo Park, New Jersey, which led him to once boast that they could produce “a minor invention every 10 days and a big thing every six months”. Working together in a common space, Edison and his team were an early example of an ideas company.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

To Live Longer, Create

There’s a lot of emphasis on keeping our bodies in top condition through diet and exercise, but what about keeping our brains in shape?

A new study published by the Journal of Ageing and Health has found that creative attributes like being open to new ideas is an indicator of longer life. Using data from 1,349 men between the years of 1990 and 2008, the study found that creativity, rather than intelligence, reduced the chance of death.

Our brains help us think, reason and feel, but they are also the command centres for all of our bodily functions. According to one of the study’s researchers, Nicholas Turiano, keeping the brain healthy may be one of the most important aspects of aging well. The study also found that one of the important factors of creative people is that they can handle stress better than others, which helps decrease the chance of stress-related illness and disease.

PS: I’m writing this from the Augustine Hotel in beautiful Prague… a converted 13th century Augustinian Monastery with monks still in residence brewing their 14% - yes 14% - St. Thomas beer… put Prague, the Augustine and the beer on your bucket list.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Travel To Broaden The Mind

Dining on pasta in the spaghetti-like streets of Rome or hiking into the majestic hills of Machu Picchu could actually make you more creative, according to a new study from the University of Florida.

Drawing on results from students who have studied abroad, those that plan to study abroad and those that have no plans to study overseas, the study concludes that those who had been abroad outperformed the other groups on creative thinking tasks. The study found that those that went abroad generated ideas that were higher in quality and more unique on both general and culture-specific measures of creativity.

Inspiration and creativity comes from within but draws from observations and experiences. So take any opportunity to travel when you can. Experiences, especially foreign ones, help you see things from a different perspective and help spur the creative process.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Baskets Of Knowledge

Storytelling is a huge part of what we do at Saatchi & Saatchi. Stories feed Lovemarks and creates powerful emotional connections that enable us to create intimate relationships with our audiences.

Stories are precious. The Maori in New Zealand understand this and surround their most treasured objects with “interesting talk” to increase the mana (standing) of an item.

Another person who understands the power of a well-told story is David Trubridge, the New Zealand-based artist who looks for wisdom in traditional storytelling to inspire. An eco-designer, David’s works encourage a more sustainable way of living to bring balance back into our chaotic world.

Back in August, Saatchi & Saatchi New York hosted an event celebrating New Zealand as the guest of honor at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair. We brought a little bit of New Zealand to the Big Apple then and are bringing it back now with the installation of David’s “Three Baskets of Knowledge” in the Atrium of our New York offices.

They’re beautiful works, but the real beauty comes from the legend they are based upon. The baskets tell the story of the Maori demigod Tāne, who separated his parents – Rangi, the sky father, and Papa, the earth mother – to make way for life between them. Tāne was then sent to the heavens to receive three baskets from gods containing the knowledge of how to live on earth, a trinity of harmonious living relatable to the Western concept of mind, body and spirit.

Recognizing that knowledge is light, David and his team created a lighting installation based on the three baskets. Each one is made from a different material and pattern that represent the knowledge they contain – natural, rational and spiritual. The light of knowledge shines through these patterns, casting intricate shadows on the floor beneath each one.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Anytime’s A Good Time For A Good Idea

The US’s start-up rate may have declined 12% between 2007 and 2010, and small business failures increased 40%, but companies that have done well – and there have been a good many – all had one thing in common: great ideas.

The 2012 Inc. 5000 Companies, which measures the revenue growth of companies from 2008 to 2011, has many examples of start-ups that have shone during tough times. Some of these success stories include opportunists who have matched clever and creative ideas with the times to help save consumers or businesses time and money. One example is CardCash.com. The owners of this online company have tapped into a growing market where consumers sell unwanted gift cards for a profit in order to pay for other necessities.

And then there were others that were just good ideas no matter what, like Unified Payments, which supplies credit and debit card-based payment processing for merchants across the US. Unified Payments, which took out the number one spot on the Inc. 500, saw massive growth of over 23,000% from 2008 to 2011.

We might be in cash-strapped times, but there’s always a market for a good idea.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sharing, Caring

Millennials – GenY – have completely different spending habits to their predecessors. A new car and a house used to be top of the spending list us baby boomers, but times have changed.

There are several reasons for this, including job insecurity and stagnant wages, but there are also other, less obvious reasons such as a generational shift in values and importantly, the growth of technology.

Online marketplaces now make it easy for people to share the things they own or even hire household appliances and tools from their neighbors. One of the most popular has been AirBNB, which is a portal for people to offer travellers a room for a night or two. And if you have a car, WhipCar makes it possible for people to rent their unused cars to those in the area in need of a vehicle.

GenY has been labelled coddled, selfish and fleeting, but that’s not really fair. With the growth of social media and smartphones, this generation has created a new economy that is based on sharing. This means that unlike generations before, Millennials are not keeping up with the Jones’ – they’re sharing with them.