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.