Monday, August 21, 2017

The Gods Make Bored First Those Whom They Wish To Destroy (but destruction is avoidable)

When I was studying Virgil’s Aeneid at school I came across a line I will never forget – “The Gods first make bored those whom they wish to destroy.” French novelist Victor Hugo made a similar statement in his book Les Misérables: “There is something more terrible than a hell of suffering… A hell of boredom.” Without going into too much detail, the ancient Latin proverb and Hugo both play on the fact that boredom is usually perceived as something negative. That’s still the case today. Think of the importance society places on ‘being busy’. Not having anything to do or feeling bored is often associated with laziness or insignificance.

Being busy and making a difference are not the same. A growing body of research suggests boredom could have positive implications for creativity and productivity. According to psychologists Sandi Mann and Rebekah Cadman from the University of Central Lancashire, “being in a state of boredom encourages you to explore creative outlets because your brain is signaling that your current situation is lacking and you need to push forward.” This figures and could be why we often have great ideas when in meandering mode (taking a shower, going for a walk).

And it’s not just our creativity that can benefit from boredom. According to Andreas Elpidorou, an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Louisville, boredom might push us to be more productive. He believes boredom acts as a “regulatory state” that can help motivate us to complete projects. And it puts things we are doing (when not bored) into perspective and makes them seem more significant. Making time to do ‘nothing’ is something some of the world’s successful business leaders already do. Bill Gates is known for scheduling in time just to sit and think for instance.

Take time out, make like a shark and keep moving, and remember Virgil: “Fléctere si néqueo súperos Acheronta movebo - If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell.”

Illustration from Virgil’s Aeneid. The Dreams of Aeneas. 1829.  Anne Louis Girodet de Roussy Trioson. French 1767-1824. hadrian6.tumblr.com


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

In Praise of Air NZ

Air New Zealand is - alongside My Food Bag - New Zealand’s premier company. They fly 16 million people a year. That’s a lot of trust. Most of my miles with Air New Zealand have been across the Pacific, from America and Asia, a few hundred times I guess as I have come back home. I loved flying them through the Lions Tour. No fuss. No drama. No bullshit. Just customer-focused, professional, friendly, light touch, and engaging approach to safety (seen their latest video?) but safety nonetheless.

It says a lot for the New Zealand government’s longsighted expertise in ownership and governance of major commercial enterprises that Air New Zealand has thrived (NZ Govt owns 52%). For the past 15 years Air New Zealand has been led by three outstanding CEOs: Sir Ralph Norris, Rob Fyfe, and Christopher Luxon. Each has set a superb cultural context for customer experience, married with outstanding engineering and financial skills needed to steer an organization as complex and safety-conscious as an airline; together with 10,000 brand ambassadors working every day to bring an unselfconscious Kiwi professionalism to their roles in the air and on the ground.

Air New Zealand regularly wins global and regional awards for customer experience, and regularly attracts favorable media attention. Monocle Escapist just wrote about “Easy Flying” as their correspondent hopped around New Zealand on the regional airline network, advocating Air New Zealand “for those of us who value smart service and a sense of humour.”

I have been especially pleased at how Air New Zealand wove the silver fern symbol into their plane livery next to the treasured koru tail piece. Back in 1999 I advocated for this along with my creative colleague Brian Sweeney, we mocked up some black 747s with a giant silver fern – so I have a personal stake in every Air New Zealand plane I board. Read the story here.

The business of hosting guests – New Zealanders and global visitors – has evolved into our largest industry. Gone are the days of tearoom snacks with decrusted white bread sandwiches filled with hundreds and thousands (remember them, in Greymouth a few decades ago!). Air New Zealand sets the standard for the he amalgam of Kiwi attitude of helpfulness and generosity with their incredible food, wine, music and media offerings. I wrote about this 10 years ago here at KRConnect.

I’ve often pushed for New Zealanders to be world-changing over world class. However I don’t really want a world-changing airline, I want it to be world class, and Air New Zealand does it exactly right. Hats off to all 10,000. That’s lot of love.

Monday, August 14, 2017

KR Podcast with Linda Coles "Tell Us A Story"


















Just posted, a 23 minute podcast with Linda Coles, foremost NZ Linkedin influencer (530k followers). We dive into Lovemarks and how they came to be, PepsiCo stories including one that led me to General Norman Schwarzkopf, the future of retail, Jake Millar's visionary business education video channel Unfiltered, and both being from the North of England, we talk local politics.
http://tellusastory.podbean.com/e/kevin-roberts-ex-global-saatchi-and-saatchi-chairman-talks-lovemarks-and-a-lot-more/ 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Name The First Advertising Agency That Comes Into Your Head.

Exactly. Chutzpah & Chutzpah is a history of Saatchi & Saatchi by Richard Myers, Simon Goode and Nick Darke (Michael O’Mara Books, London, 2017). It is an insiders’ story of the first 20 or so years of the most famous advertising agency in history. Chutzpah & Chutzpah is the sixth independently-written book about the agency. It is compelling and irresistible reading. The book is dedicated to founding brothers Charles and Maurice Saatchi, “whose unique talents and chutzpah inspired us to reject mediocrity, to have no fear of being first, to believe that whatever has gone before counts for nothing, and that the unthinkable can be achieved.”

Myers, Goode & Darke (Saatchi originals across creative, management and design respectively) take us on a 195 page ripped and rip-roaring adventure across the founding of the biggest advertising company the world had known, and its subsequent explosiveness.

The agency was, at its core, very British. Literate. Erudite. Funny. Ironic. Sarcastic. Superior. This was 1970; Monty Python, the start of the 747 era, the women’s liberation movement, heavy metal, Richard Branson founding Virgin, BP discovering oil in the North Sea, the death of Jimi Hendrix, the break-up of The Beatles, Nixon’s presidency, Jesus Christ Superstar. Television was the dominant and vital force. Britain was throbbing, and Charles and Maurice Saatchi had a dream and a dare to blow things sky high.

Chutzpah & Chutzpah catches the cultural semiotics that drove a golden era of advertising (alas, before the onslaught of Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon, creating trillions of dollars of shareholder value against the meagre mega-millions of advertising holding companies. At least advertising had Lunch). A sampling:
  • Nothing Is Impossible
  • We can achieve anything
  • The biggest risk is not taking risks
  • There are no boundaries, no rules that particularly matter
  • We stand for the single-minded pursuit of creative originality and excellence
  • Come to the edge
  • We are naughty and fearless
  • We are walkers of the walk
  • We have pure determination to win
  • Saatchi people will go to any length, and make any sacrifice, to win new business
  • Never put your best people on new business; put your luckiest
Other phrases the authors assign Saatchi & Saatchi in years 1-20:
  • Self-belief bordering on arrogance
  • Fearlessness, ingenuity, and chutzpah
  • Swashbuckling, shrewd, sensational, surreal
  • Unparalleled household fame
  • Unsurpassed creativity
  • Masters of Illusion
The actor playing Lafayette in the musical Hamilton exclaims in one of the show’s most popular lines, “Immigrants, we get the job done.” Charles Saatchi had the reported chutzpah of, on a slow news day in London, insuring his creative department for one million pounds, a vast sum of money in the early 70s. The Saatchi brothers had global ambition to be the world’s best and biggest, and they cleverly laced this positioning with the original globalization theorist, Harvard economist Theodore Levitt. Chutzpah & Substance. Soon enough Saatchi & Saatchi was doing legendary campaigns for the biggest brands in Britain: British Airways, BP, ICI, BT, British Coal & Gas, Cadbury Schweppes. The history of the Conservative Party assignments – and the future of Britain – resulting in three election-winning performances is well covered by Myers, Goode & Darke. Through its acquisitions the agency gained Procter & Gamble’s coveted business, and won the business of Toyota and Lexus in the U.S. which it has held for three decades. Collectively, the Saatchi & Saatchi agencies represented, supported, led, quarreled with, inspired, and cajoled clients and brands with sales running into a multi-billion dollar stratosphere. Advertising does make the world go round, and while the business of selling with great ideas has been contaminated by data science, a brilliant idea still goes all the way. 15% or more.

Having ambitions for global dominance – meant that the Saatchi & Saatchi Nothing Is Impossible culture had to inculcate worldwide. There was a waiting audience. In New Zealand, for example, a country who until 1972 had called Great Britain “home,” there were a bunch of mavericks – King, Cullinane, Thorp, Grieve, Bradley, Wicksteed – who gave rise to an agency that just so got the Saatchi & Saatchi attitude that they became one of the most celebrated global agencies. And in Italy. In Spain. Argentina. Brazil. Australia. China. Russia. The Saatchi & Saatchi attitude found willing participants.

My own Saatchi & Saatchi journey began at its founding. My first employer, fashion designer Mary Quant, was a founding shareholder in the agency in 1970, and taken by the chutzpah of the Brothers, I pledged to hire the agency without pitch wherever I was in the world in the future – in Geneva, Casablanca, Toronto, Auckland, Sydney. I did this. And one day I was phoned up to save it.

Chutzpah & Chutzpah is a chronicle of 200 firsthand accounts from alumni, of bad behavior and bad language by good people working at the apotheosis of business and creativity. There are a number of piss-ups and punch-ups but throughout the essence of Saatchi & Saatchi’s trajectory was one of “growing phenomenally, making money, creating great award-winning work, doing winning media and helping our clients be massively successful.” Visionary advertisers are acknowledged in Chutzpah, including Lord King of British Airways who was infatuated to the core, and Bob Field of Toyota in New Zealand, the franchise’s leading country per capita, who greenlighted an outrageous idea on the spot. (“Bugger.”)

I have unconditional love for Saatchi & Saatchi. When Arthur Sadoun, chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, spoke to Campaign in 2016 about “the reasons why the Saatchi team is going to succeed,” his first reason was “the incredible strength and attractiveness of the brand…we are talking about the most brilliant brand in the world.”

Myers, Goode & Darke recount an early invocation of the Saatchi & Saatchi brand: “The culture has the attitude of a mongrel fighter, a kind of ‘we may be brash outsiders but we’re going to win’ certainty.”

Make things happen.

KR.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Zentivity Calms Stress and Discontent in the Workplace

My cobber in D.C. Leland Schwartz is always onto a good thing. He sent me a just-published book called Zentivity: How to Eliminate Chaos, Stress, and Discontent in Your Workplace by Marianne Clyde which asks: “Why is it that when illness is related to emotional, mental, or relationship factors, are we more likely to hide and deny it, hoping it just goes away? This doesn’t make sense. If we simply addressed the issues up front and learned techniques to help ourselves and our employees overcome them, we would see direct results in enhanced job performance, a more positive outlook, and focused productivity.”

Reports show that 43.8 million Americans suffer from some kind of mental illness. Even more are dealing with difficult emotional difficulties such as divorce, health issues, parenting problems. The impact on the economy is a whopping $225.8 billion a year. The wise employer is one that recognizes the connection between strong mental/emotional health in the workplace and increased productivity, lower costs and stronger bottom line.

Zentivity offers practical, easy-to-implement solutions to help business leaders achieve a level of mental and emotional stability, creating a strong internal locus of control, enabling them to respond wisely and efficiently to stressors and unexpected crises in the workplace.

Based on the practice of 10 Essential Principles, Marianne Clyde, licensed marriage and family therapist, offers leaders a way to strengthen their own sense of well-being and offer support to those they lead. She lays out a step by step guide to develop strong individuals, leading to a stronger team and better productivity.

Learn how to:
  • Get rid of old emotional programs that keep spinning in the back of your consciousness, sabotaging your efforts, and replace them with thoughts and beliefs that work. 
  • Respond instead of react, so there's less to clean up later.
  • Understand how your personal history informs your decisions and opinions, and how to apply that in understanding others.
  • Strengthen your awareness of yourself, others and your surroundings so you can respond in a way that maximizes time and energy.
  • Communicate effectively so you can be heard and respected.
  • Find a way to practice gratitude, respect, non-judgment, forgiveness to maximize your effectiveness.
  • Get grounded through meditation and mindfulness, without losing your edge or taking up too much time.
  • Detach from drama and chaos to keep a clear and balanced perspective.
  • Be the same balanced, healthy person in business and at home.
  • Just breathe.... (and why you should).

Monday, August 7, 2017

Do You Remember?

When was the last time you memorized someone else’s phone number? Drove somewhere without Google Maps turned on? Didn’t use technology to organize your appointments? Technology certainly has made our lives easier – and will continue to do so in the future. In the last few years the way we all recall events and organize our lives has changed drastically. With technology doing so much of our memorizing for us, are we losing or deteriorating our ability to recall information naturally?

In the 1990s Harvard University psychology professor Daniel Schacter discovered that photographs could distort people’s memory and determine which events people remembered and which they forgot. Thinking about social media and the way people today use the different platforms to share photos with their friends this study still carries relevance today.

The device which does most of the ‘reminding’ for us today is the smartphone. There’s even a scientific term for it: “cognitive offloading.” It describes the notion that we save brain space by assigning duties of our brain power onto a device. Two psychologists from the University of Waterloo – Evan Risko and Sam Gilbert – examined existing studies in order to find out what impact cognitive offloading has on our memories and the way we think. Interestingly there are both positive as well as negative consequences.

As pointed out in an article on CBC News, putting information into our phones or computers frees up brain space, which then allows us to think about more complex or more important issues. It makes our brain work more energy-efficient so to speak. But there’s also another side to the argument. Other surveys found that people are getting terrible at remembering things simply because it’s something they’re not attempting to do anymore. In consequence that makes us vulnerable and very dependent on technology. They have a point.

Researchers from the University of California, Santa Cruz and University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign confirm that notion. Their findings suggest that an increased dependency on the internet impacts our problem solving abilities, recall and learning negatively.

That certainly provides food for thought. To me it comes down to balance. Technology can make our lives easier, but if you can’t remember your own phone number without looking it up, you are probably overdoing it.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Happiness Without Borders

I‘ve blogged about happiness and personal wellbeing at length. In recent years happiness has gained ground all around the world. There’s World Happiness Day, the World Happiness ReportThe Happy Planet Index and almost ten years ago France followed Bhutan’s example and included happiness as key metric for their country. It’s great to see that happiness is being perceived as more and more important in an otherwise achievement driven world. The “Happiness without Borders” initiative in the UAE is now bringing happiness into corporate culture. As part of the program ‘chief happiness’ and ‘positivity officers’ from various government agencies are providing free consultations and offer interactive workshops to support organizations to “establish a culture of happiness and positivity.” I love it.

Looking at how important happiness can be for our personal wellbeing as well as our performance it makes sense to introduce ‘happiness’ training into organizations. I’m a firm believer in personal wellbeing as key element in peak performance. When you look at rankings of the best companies to work for you will notice they usually have something in common. They are known for making working there fun. And happy companies significantly outperform their peer group. No surprise here.

Happiness does not only affect our mental wellbeing, but also has been found to have a significant effect on physical health – it seems that for some people “subjective well-being can influence health and longevity.”

Pondering this I took to Google and discovered even more interesting studies on happiness. Experts speaking at ‘Happiness and its Causes’ recently held in Sydney, found that while wellbeing and happiness are words that are often used interchangeably they are not the same. Happiness is an ingredient in wellbeing, but you can have wellbeing without happiness. That certainly provides food for thought. Just think about the adage that money doesn’t buy happiness. What it boils down to is a sense of purpose and meaning. And studies confirm that people who are focused on giving back to communities or on personal growth were more likely to be happy than those who weren’t. It makes sense and also applies in business. Purpose is why people work for you, buy from you, stay with you, share you and proliferate you. It really is about making happy choices – both in personal life and in business and enabling others to do the same.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Future of Learning

We are facing a crisis in education. Education simply hasn’t kept up. Teaching methods, teacher training, the stuff we’re learning and the ways we measure success are outdated. This should change. Education matters.

Last week at a PwC conference in New Zealand, Nick Mowbray*, director and president of Zuru, an incredibly successful toy business founded in New Zealand and now based in China, called for an entrepreneurial infusion into education. Looking at Switzerland and the Nordic countries – similar in size to New Zealand, Mowbray said "They have loads of global brands and global companies, and we have very few. I think it's how we can create these global companies, and it starts earlier, with education." Mowbray said digital, social and entrepreneurial skills were the new requirements for success, but many New Zealand children were getting an education "from the past".

"So it's just the basics of how do I make a product, how do I make a service, what is my channel plan, what is my marketing plan, what is my sales plan? All of these basic skills could be taught in school from a young age."

A recent article in Forbes by Daniel Newman looked at six digital trends in classrooms:
  • the introduction of Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality 
  • the move away from BYO device policies, 
  • the redesign of classrooms with help of SMARTboards and SMARTdesks, 
  • the use of artificial intelligence, 
  • personalized learning, and 
  • the gamification of learning. 
There are schools are already implementing these technologies. Take virtual reality. With the help of different apps teachers are now able to bring the outside world into the classroom. This is where learning becomes immersive, collaborative and fun.

Innovative learning models are the way of the future. Unfiltered, which I chair, is disrupting business education through its video-based programming for getting up-close-and-personal with business leaders.

Already we can see that the use of these modern technologies in education is working. But there’s one very important prerequisite for the success of these programs. Teachers have to embrace it and support it. I like how The Economist phrases it: “Closed-mindedness has no place in the classroom.”

*This is a company boilerplate worth pinning on the wall: Founded in New Zealand in 2004, ZURU has become the fastest growing international toy company in the U.S. market. The company has flourished since its small beginnings in a garage, and the company is now made up of 500 team members building ZURU’s brand across the globe, and employing over 7000 operators. ZURU brands are distributed and marketed in 121 countries. Driven by innovation and marketing, ZURU strives to create a standard of excellence in its product engineering, marketing and distribution practices.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

When Lions Roared

The British & Irish Lions have left New Zealand with a drawn series. Humbug. The All Blacks should have won the final test by 17 points but for blown opportunities. The drawn series was like "kissing your sister"...along the lines of “rugby was the winner on the day.”

As preparation for the tour I read a new book by Tom English and Peter Burns When Lions Roared: The Lions, The All Blacks and the Legendary Tour of 1971, which brings to life one of the greatest stories in rugby history.

“When the enigmatic Welshman Carwyn James was appointed as coach of the side, he faced a gruelling schedule: a twenty-four match slog around New Zealand, which would include a four-Test series against the All Blacks, the best side on the planet.

“No Lions team had ever defeated the All Blacks in a Test series. Since 1904, six Lions sides had travelled to New Zealand and all had returned home with their tails between their legs. But in 1971 a tour party led by John Dawes set out to carve their names into the annals of sporting history with their assault on the great bastion of world rugby.

“Lying in wait for them was team after team of hardened rugby warriors from the length and breadth of New Zealand – grizzled forwards, powerful backs and players capable of footballing magic – and an All Blacks team filled with legends of the game. As the Lions began to light up the rugby fields of New Zealand and the Test series loomed large, it became clear that a clash that would echo through the ages was about to unfold.

When Lions Roared delves to the very heart of that famous summer as Lions, All Blacks and provincial players from New Zealand recount their memories to bring to life one of the most celebrated tours in rugby history – one that changed the game forever and continues to resonate powerfully to this day.”

In addition to the astute commentary from English and Burns, When Lions Roared is largely told from the point of view of the players. From the Lions, the legendary Barry John, Willie John McBride, Gareth Edwards and JPR Williams along with David Duckham, Gerald Davies, Mike Gibson, Gordon Brown, Mervyn Davies, Derek Quinnell, Fergus Slattery, Roy McLoughlin and Ian McLauchlan. From the All Blacks, Colin Meads, Sid Going, Ian Kirkpatrick, Bryan Williams, Bob Burgess, Peter Whiting and Jazz Muller. For any rugby nut of a certain age, these names are burnished in the memory banks of epic contests.

There’s a great 13 minute video of the 1971 tour to accompany the book, including Ian Kirkpatrick’s 60 metre scorching try in the second test, and JPR William’s 40 meter drop goal which sealed the series for the Lions 3-1. They also won all 20 games against New Zealand provincial sides.