Monday, August 31, 2009

Happy Birthday Lan Chile

I wrote last week about my broken ankle. Immediately following the presentation in Sao Paulo I did a couple of T.V. interviews and then hopped on what I thought would be a nightmare journey back to New Zealand. A two hour drive to Sao Paulo airport, a four hour flight on Lan Chile to Santiago, a two hour layover and then a twelve hour epic to Auckland on Lan Chile.

I had never flown Lan Chile before and wasn’t looking forward to it. What a revelation! In the past I’ve ranted on about American carriers and have only given thumbs up to Emirates and Air New Zealand. Lan Chile can join that group.

They are part of the One World Alliance along with Qantas, British Airways, and Cathay Pacific (to name a few) and boy do they set the standard. The planes are new and have full flat beds in business class. What a relief. The lounges are clean, the people are friendly and, wonder of wonders, they have an amazing punctuality record. We left Sao Paulo on time and arrived fifteen minutes early. We connected in Santiago as planned and arrived at 3:30am, thirty minutes ahead of schedule. Another flat bed, nine hours sleep, and terrific service from Lan Chile’s crew who are old school. Looking very smart in blue skirts and either red or blue tops with red or blue shoes. They treat you personally and conversationally. The food is fresh, healthy and hot.

This year Lan Chile are celebrating eighty years of flying and in my opinion they are going to be around for another eighty. If you are traveling in South America, give them a go.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Still Black and Blue

Sport has been one of the driving passions of my life. I still play tennis and love rugby, soccer, cricket and great achievements. Usain Bolt is my latest hero . . . I have three particular teams that I've followed since I was five or six years old. The All Blacks, Manchester City, and Lancashire County Cricket Club.

This weekend was a great weekend for the Blacks and the Blues. The All Blacks went to Sydney to play a wounded Australia and triumphed in a tough, competitive, hard game of international rugby. Dan Carter ran the game superbly and Graham Henry outcoached his counter part, Robbie Deans. Despite having two tries disallowed, the All Blacks ran out narrow winners and I was able to go to bed a happy man.

A few hours later, I watched Manchester City triumph versus Wolves. Manager Mark Hughes is under amazing pressure having spent 100 million of Abu Dhabi money to strengthen the side and we have started the season with 2 wins out of 2 plus an amazing victory mid week against European champions Barcelona, in Barcelona.

City are playing beautiful attacking football just as the All Blacks play beautiful open rugby. It's one of the best feelings around when your team puts in a performance, does the business, does it with the right attitude and the right values, and wins. Given the All Blacks haven't won a World Cup since 1987 and Manchester City haven't won any trophy since 1976, it's a particularly beautiful feeling this morning.

Wherever you are, I hope your team wins this weekend (unless they're playing mine). And I hope your kids are fans . . . and players.

And to make it a trifecta, Lancashire's Everyman Hero Freddie Flintoff led England's cricketers to an on Ashes triumph . . . What a week!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Save the World, Pee in the Shower!

A great ad is one that can be understood across borders without the need for subtitles or translation. That’s the case with the TVC above created by F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi for the Brazilian environmental group SOS Mata Atlântica. The message here couldn’t be any more clear.

SOS Mata Atlântica says that if a household avoids just one flush a day, it can save up to 4,380 litres (1,157 gallons) of water annually. It’s the little ways we can make a difference each day. Adam Werbach, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi S, focuses on the impact of our collective “nano-practices” – the hundreds and thousands of tiny things you do each day that together make up your lifestyle. In his 'Birth of Blue' speech last year, he explained the idea: “How you tie your shoes, the type of shoes you wear, your choice of socks, how you fold your socks, and whether you wear your shoes indoors. Instead of trying to change the big things about someone's identity…we start by finding daily or recurring practices that can express his or her values.” We all could cut down on our water consumption every day. It might be peeing in the shower, taking a shorter shower, or waiting a day to do a load of laundry. One thing can add up.

The other reason this TVC has had such a big response is the way it communicates with us. Sure, the environment is an important and serious topic, but preaching doom and gloom is no way to save the world. Instead of scare tactics and depressing statistics, this ad goes for humor, and there’s no better spokesperson for tomorrow than kids. They can diffuse any situation. The campaign includes posters, a television film and a website which features a frog imploring us to pee in the shower, all to generate awareness about water wastage.

Saving the planet turns out to be easier than expected. Listen to the children and xixi no banho!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

On the Mend

This time last year I ruined my vacation by breaking my elbow falling off my bike in France. This year I broke my ankle. I was throwing Stella up into the air (and catching her!) when I rolled my ankle on a steep concrete incline. As I rolled I was intent on keeping hold of Stella rather than hitting the deck at speed so rolled again and again. The pain was intense . . . but Stella was safe.

I was determined to “walk it off” and for four weeks did my best to do that. Unfortunately, the pain intensified so that I couldn’t even sleep at night. Reluctantly I asked to see a doctor. Saatchi’s nurse, Lynn Cordes, got me straight into see Dr. Michael Ianello who had treated me before. What a top man. Six x-rays and an MRI scan later I sat resplendent with a fractured ankle, a torn ligament and a sprain. I also had ringing ears from not having been to see him for four weeks. It could have been worse if I told him that I tried to play tennis and worked out in the gym everyday to heal it.

Anyway, I flew off to Brazil two days ago with my foot in a camwalker, armed with Voltaren and strict instructions for the physio. The camwalker was blue, which didn’t fit my man in black persona, so they found me a black one. I’m thinking of putting a red stripe up the back so it would look like it’s Prada! Marie Heloisa, my HSM personal assistant in Brazil, managed to spirit up a terrific physio who followed the instructions religiously for two sessions and I went into my speech in Sao Paulo in front of 800 top executives resplendent in said camwalker. The theme of my speech for 1-1/2 hours was Winning Ugly and I guess I personified it hobbling around on the big stage of the Teatro Alfa. Let the healing begin.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

With Grit, Nothing is Impossible

Over the years, I’ve used the phrase “grit, guts, and genius” – the “3G factor” – to describe qualities needed to succeed in the face of adversity. The term comes from a terrific (but out-of-print) book by John Hillkirk and Gary Jacobson called Grit, Guts, and Genius: True Tales of Megasuccess (1990). The book tells the stories of magnates, sports coaches, and spelling bee champions.

With 2009 being all about Winning Ugly, I’ve been keeping a keen eye on literature about human motivation and performance, both Zen and muscle-inspired. Jonah Lehrer is one smart guy to look out for, and his recent Boston Globe article, 'The Truth about Grit', turned my head.

Grit comes from working long days in the trenches and knowing more about that trench than anyone else. It’s the 10,000 hours principle that Malcolm Gladwell highlighted in his book Outliers – that to become an expert in anything you need to have spent at least 10,000 hours doing it. Hockey immortal Wayne Gretzky said: “I wasn’t naturally gifted in terms of size and speed; everything I did in hockey I worked for”.

The value of sweat and toil is not a revelation, but some new studies have unveiled the neuroscience of grit and its role in achieving goals. These psychologists have measured grit and compared its role in success compared with intelligence and innate talent. Guess what? Grit plays a huge role. “Nobody is talented enough to not have to work hard, and that’s what grit allows you to do”, said Angela Duckworth, the psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania who led the study. I know this first hand. I didn’t finish high school and left only equipped with a capacity to think big, talk fast, and work hard.

Personality traits, as I’ve mentioned with salespeople, can play a much larger role in personal achievement than mere intelligence alone. In fact, people who are told their whole life how smart they are may well be at a disadvantage. Better to praise your kids for working hard than being smart.

In the Grit studies, psychologists explore if grit can be taught or if it’s part of your DNA. There are some fascinating case studies, including the likelihood of cadets dropping out after the first summer of training (known as “Beast Barracks”). This may have profound implications for the way we educate students, recruit employees, identify leaders, and select teams. From science to sport to business to the military, success may well be about working harder than everyone else. Follow this and genius is close at hand.

Interested in knowing how you stack up on the “Grit Scale”? You can test yourself with the University of Pennsylvania’s 17-point survey at

Monday, August 24, 2009

Rewards for People and Planet

If guilt is the gift that keeps on giving, here’s an easy way to break its grip. We’re all aware of the things that we can be doing to improve society, the community, the environment – but frequently we don’t get around to activating this desire, usually because it involves sacrifice or getting around some inconvenience.

Recycling is one thing that’s easiest enough to do, yet we don’t recycle as much or as often as we could. Eighty percent of all garbage is recyclable, yet the average residential recycling rate is less than 20 percent. Recycling saves cities millions of dollars in landfill and disposal fees, saves trees from the paper mill, and even millions of gallons of oil from use.

Some point this as a result of problems in the infrastructure of cities or simply that it’s not convenient enough to do. Some of our cities are better placed with bins and programs, while other cities leave it entirely up to your own persistence.

Maybe we need more incentive to do so? That's the approach from the people at RecycleBank. They have introduced the element of rewards into how and when you recycle for both curbside pickup and electronic waste recycling.

RecycleBank’s slogan is “Rewards for people and planet”. So what do people get? Similar to an airline rewards system, you earn points that are redeemable for goods or discounts from retailers. Some pretty big names have signed on – Target, Kraft, Sears, Evian, and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Headquartered in New York City – about three blocks from the Saatchi & Saatchi office – and co-founded in 2005 by Ron Gonen, RecycleBank now serves over 20 million people in America. Last week, Mayor Daley in Chicago instigated the RecycleBank program in 10,000 households. This summer they launch in Europe. They’re also expanding the program to include additional Blue actions, e.g. using solar and wind power, efficient use of water, riding public transportation, or buying products that are manufactured from recycled content.

I think the idea is a very good one, as do some of the savviest venture capitalists in America - Kleiner Perkins are among the investors. For what it’s worth, the United Nations and World Economic Forum agree. Incentives can be a smart strategy for any product or service, especially when those coincide with rewards for the planet. Now that’s Blue Thinking.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

5 Things That Will Keep Me On the Phone

As CEO, I get pitched frequently. Executive travel, communication, office space, exclusive hotels, office equipment, professional services, art…you name it. Sometimes I’ll take a call or a meeting because the pitch coincides with something I’m currently seeking, and sometimes the outcome has been truly worthwhile.

One of the initiatives I responded to was from Eric Beckman, EVP of Marketing and Strategy at Executive Conversation, a sales training consultancy. I’m fundamentally obsessed with sales because without it you simply don’t have a business. In the first Lovemarks book, I wrote about my experience of selling P&G products and Pepsi-Cola across the Middle East.

I’ve hired salespeople throughout my career, and even though the business I’m in now has a different sales dynamic than the beer or laundry industry, I still look for people who have a sales personality (and let’s face it, most people don’t). So I asked Eric what his top five techniques were for persuading executives to make a chunk of time available to a salesperson.

1. Remember, why I’m buying is more important than what you’re selling. Without an understanding of how whatever you’re selling fits into, and improves, my operations, don’t bother calling.

2. Show me how you’ll change my business! Provoke my business curiosity by painting a before and after picture of the results I should expect after investing.

3. Prove you’re not exaggerating. Show some evidence your assumptions are reasonable. How else can I make a preliminary judgment about potential impact?

4. Demonstrate reasonable ROI in our first conversation. We evaluate project ROIs internally, our way, but before asking me to commit resources, provide me with credible evidence that it makes financial sense.

5. Prepare beforehand. This one stands on its own. Arrive ready to guide the discussion in an intelligent direction – or we have nothing to discuss.

Show me, right away, how you can help me. 'Help' doesn’t mean “provide best-of-breed solutions”. It means “reduce costs” or “increase profits”. Keep that in mind and you’ve got my attention.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

While the Gatekeepers Slept

As a general rule, hot creativity does not thrive in boardrooms but in basements and bedrooms in towns you’ve never heard of. Talent has a way of finding its own way to the top, but it’s never easy. The current squeeze on corporate sponsorship and traditional credit has left organizations and artists without the funding they once enjoyed.

For some ideas to really take flight, funding is the number one obstacle. Good luck pitching your movie to a Hollywood studio executive or getting a top record label to hear your band’s demo. One way forward is to appeal to “the crowd” for funding. It’s not exactly a new idea, but while the gatekeepers are busy smoking their cigars elsewhere, there’s a variation on this to turn your idea into reality.

Enter Kickstarter, a new way to fund ideas and endeavors by way of the crowd. Users submit a pitch for their project, which range from first-time films or albums, to iPhone apps and experimental art projects. Would-be creators use video to pitch their projects; some of which are inspiring, others more superficial and less thought-out.

Together these projects form a kind of marketplace for ideas. There’s no guarantee that your project will get funded, and the money is only released if you raise the full amount you want. This is not an investment we make, it’s a donation with no strings attached.

Crowdsourcing has its ups and downs as a method for collaboration, but I think Kickstarter has found a good approach. Project creators use video to pitch the idea and emotionally connect. Kickstarter also encourages them to offer exclusive updates and other tidbits in exchange for sponsorship, be it an early release of an album, t-shirts, or anything creative.

I was skeptical that people would give money to complete strangers for artistic projects, but looking over the projects, it works surprisingly well. A donation from an Australian helped fund the upcoming album by Allison Weiss, a musician in the US. In fact, in a single day she raised over $2,000 thanks to her savvy pitch and some active online networking. Why did someone give money to a project on the other side of the world? Authenticity, passion, community, and collaboration.

*Note that Kickstarter is open internationally for donations but currently only open to projects in the United States (or with an address there).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Parents - Please!

For today here’s a great post from Nigel Melville, ex-England Captain and British Lion, current CEO of USA Rugby. Nigel’s points are spot-on, and echo my thoughts on Growing Up. Enjoy. -KR

A few weekend’s ago, I had the pleasure of watching the potential High School All-Americans and the USA U20s, I spent time with the scrum halves, talked with the coaches and was pretty impressed with the environment that had been created at Glendale for these high performance players. These were excellent young athletes, keen to learn, working hard and obviously have a passion for rugby.

Just minutes after visiting the age grade camp, I called in at the Denver Tennis Club to watch my 9-year-old son Tom play his first round match in the Denver Open Under 10’s competition – what a contrast!

Tennis is the ‘other’ sport in our household, my wife Sue plays and Tom is part of a high performance program in Colorado that is developing some pretty good players.

I enjoy watching the kids play, but Saturday was an exception, it reminded me of everything that is bad about kids sport – or as a friend of mine used to call them – the OAF’s, or ‘over ambitious families.’

The bigger the potential prize, the worse the parents become. In the USA its all about scholarships, god knows how much parents spend over a period of 10+ years trying to get little Jonny or Grace a sports scholarship - maybe they should just save their money and spare us all the pleasure of their company!

Tom was drawn against a kid we had never heard of from Mexico -- he was touring. Yes, touring, America with his family playing tournaments this summer. Anyway, the kid arrives with a full entourage of parents, relations and racquets. He starts pretty well, but loses the first set 6-1. He hits the ball hard, but Tom moves pretty well and gets everything back, stays patient and wins points and games.

When the kid starts to lose, the family start to coach the kid, then a ‘family member’ comes up to me and tells me that my kid’s cheating, I tell them to get a line judge and this guy arrives, watches the game and calls two balls out that the Mexican family think are in – all hell breaks loose and the kid is taken off the court by his parents….Tom, age 9, stands there not knowing what on earth is going on….

I watched another game where some guy from Texas was blaming the altitude for his kids poor serve – give me a break!

When I was a kid, my mum and dad used to come and watch me play whatever I was doing. After every game I used to ask them how I’d got on. Not once did they have an opinion on my play, which infuriated me. Instead, they just asked, ‘did you enjoy yourself?’
What that taught me was that sport wasn’t about pleasing them, it was about enjoying myself.

Now I have kids of my own, I take the wise council of my parents, I want them to play sport because they enjoy it. I want them to find their own way in life, make their own choices, because at the end of the day, if they want to be the best at anything they have to make a number of tough choices and dedicate themselves to achieving those goals.

In short, they have to love what they are doing! I have been around successful people all my life, one thing they all exhibit is a passion for what they do.

When the media write about the sacrifices people make in the search of excellence, they don’t know what they are talking about. These are not sacrifices, these are choices that are made to achieve the individuals goals.

At the end of the day, excellence is driven by the individuals passion for what they are doing – not their parents. Parents should be there to support the emotional rollercoaster of the sporting/life experience – not be a part of it!

Parents should encourage their kids to try a wide range of activities and support them, not just the sports that have potential pay checks!

Of course, you want them to play rugby, and they might when they’ve given it a try, but if they are playing it for you, they will give it up at their first opportunity!

They will find their way in sport and in life with your support and love, they will be successful in their own way.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Puppy Love

Surfing the Web can be both inspiring and interrupting. Often we can click away on a trail of links that lead nowhere, but on occasion you land on a page that banishes emails, spreadsheets, and meeting planners to the furthest reaches of your mind and strikes right at your heart. You can’t help but fall in love when you visit The Daily Puppy. Front and center is the day’s cutest pup, eyes staring back at you, cuteness factor off the scale. You just can’t help but feel good. The website is a fantastic resource too, offering advice on grooming, health, and training. Just don’t show this website to your kids, or you could find yourself with an immediate request for a new addition to the family.

As a Lovemark, it’s hard to beat a puppy. In fact, dogs are literally good for you – levels of stress drop by 17% for hospital patients visited by volunteers with dogs. So we love dogs, and dogs love us. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that at least for the dog, it’s not necessarily the case. Psychologist Brian Hare of Harvard University has studied the human-animal bond and reports that “dogs are astonishingly skilled at reading humans' patterns of social behavior, especially behaviors related to food and care. They figure out our moods and what makes us happy, what moves us. Then they act accordingly, and we tell ourselves that they're crazy about us. It appears that dogs have evolved specialized skills for reading human social and communicative behavior". When it comes to interpersonal relationships, we obviously still have a lot to learn from the animal kingdom.

Some probably won’t believe the human-dog bond is a manipulation on the dog’s part, but does it matter if it's true? In our hyper-measured world, people are searching for emotion that feels real, and on these terms then surely a dose of Maximus (above) is worth a few clicks a day?

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Arms of Babes

I got a note recently from my old friend Kel Geddes. Kel’s wife is Anne Geddes, the world-renowned photographer, and they’re big hits on, inspiring and re-inspiring our fascination with the beauty and mystery of the first years of life. A reader called Jeannie on says this about Anne’s work: “Nothing in the world is more beautiful than a baby, and Anne Geddes photographs them wonderfully.”

As a father and now a grandfather, I couldn’t agree more. There’s nothing that tugs the heartstrings quite like looking into a child’s wide, curious eyes. Anne and Kel’s love of babies has also turned into a thriving global business encompassing books, baby and maternity clothing, toys, and dolls.

Although they’re based in Auckland, Anne and Kel have stores around the world, including landmark stores in Disneyland, California, and the Wynn, Las Vegas. Best of all, the Geddes Philanthropic Trust is active in raising awareness for the protection and health of children. They’re a great example of “Edge” thinking, winning the world from its extremities!

Kel’s note was all about a New Zealand and Australian Lovemark they’re introducing to the world – the singlet. For those of you who don’t know what a singlet is, it’s an undergarment a little like a sleeveless T-shirt. As Anne says – in Australia and New Zealand it’s the first thing you buy for your baby when you find out you’re pregnant. Choosing the smallest one available is the first indication you’ll have a real live human on your hands, and that life will be forever different. Of course, Anne’s pure singlets are organic, quality designs, with the added benefit of upping the cuteness factor on every baby: as if they needed anymore!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lovemarks, Scientifically Proven

I've never been much of a research guy. For me inspiration and big ideas are driven more by emotion than page 24 of a research paper. But while I give academics a hard time, their research offers important steps to confirm, validate, disprove, or discover new and better ways of seeing and doing.

So I am very pleased to announce that the Lovemarks proposition has been further validated by a researcher at the leading business school University of Mannheim, Germany. Johannes Mühl, a graduate of Business Administration, contended that Lovemarks is a powerful model - but also not rigorously formulated from a scientific viewpoint. No surprise given that I was booted from school at age 16, and had a 30-year career in the cut and thrust of person-to-person selling everything from shampoo to beer (products separated by about 2 inches).

In his research Mühl studied the relationships created by Lovemarks, examined various hypotheses, and concluded that both core tenets of Lovemarks – brand respect and brand love – are empirically confirmed. He shows how brand love is created, and substantiated, by what he terms “brand passion”, “brand intimacy” and “brand commitment”.

For his work Johannes Mühl was awarded the Saatchi & Saatchi Lovemarks Award for “extraordinary scientific studies”. His work adds to the body of research that has affirmed the Lovemarks thesis along with a bunch of metrics that measure the “path to love”. In 2002 I challenged the world research industry at their annual conference to address ways of effectively measuring human emotion. Peter Cooper and John Pawle from QiQ International in London responded to the challenge and developed a model for measuring emotion that led to a full study validating the Love/Respect Model. Today we utilize AMR Research in London to undertake of Saatchi & Saatchi’s Lovemarks research and measurement, and they have built up a significant database across many brands and industry – nearly 300 research studies in 42 countries, 2000 brands over 60 product categories.

My instinct has always been that a brand that is “loved” rather than merely “liked” will attract higher sales, margin, and preference, which is what every marketer in the wants. Johannes Mühl from the University of Mannheim has just added his considerable intellectual weight to my belief, and for this he has our appreciation.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Fun After Dinner Game

Monocle published their annual most lovable cities index last month; a survey of the top 25 cities for quality of life. Before reading this, a few of us sat down with pens and paper at the ready and developed our own top 25 list. Monocle based their list on things like education, infrastructure, crime rate, sunshine, tolerance, environment, and a key reverse chain store test. The more chain stores, the less points.

Our point system was simple. If it was on Monocle’s list, you scored a point, and you scored a point if the city appeared on anyone else’s list.

The Monocle list has a bias towards Japan and Scandinavia, neither of which I find particularly attractive from a living scenario. They are also overly impressed with Swiss/German efficiency vs. Latin romance.

Monocle’s list is 1) Zurich, 2) Copenhagen, 3) Tokyo, 4) Munich, 5) Helsinki, 6) Stockholm, 7) Vienna, 8) Paris, 9) Melbourne, 10) Berlin, 11) Honolulu, 12) Madrid, 13) Sydney, 14) Vancouver, 15) Barcelona, 16) Fukuoka, 17) Oslo, 18) Singapore, 19) Montreal, 20) Auckland, 21) Amsterdam, 22) Kyoto, 23) Hamburg, 24) Geneva, 25) Lisbon.

Two notable omissions: Not a single Italian city made the list. This really reflects the lack of attention paid by Italian municipalities on the needs of their residents. Public transport remains a travesty and urban traffic is a nightmare. There ia also no mainland U.S. city, which I think is harsh when you think of San Francisco, the reborn New York, Boston, and emerging cities such as Boulder, etc.

The article is worth a read and the game is worth playing. For reference, my top ten was Auckland, Sydney, Dubai, Geneva, Amsterdam, San Francisco, Boulder, Barcelona, Rome, and Paris.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Red Passion

I got a message the other day from Toby Clark with a grassroots story that is all about Red.

By Red, I mean the heartfelt in-the-blood passion of those who support Wrexham Football Club in North Wales.

Toby, who is a former Welsh Fashion Designer of the Year, and who has a deep affection for New Zealand, has started an online campaign to save his late father’s great love and hobby. Toby’s Dad was treasurer, director, chairman and finally life president of W.A.F.C. A few years ago Wrexham’s ground, the Racecourse, the oldest international football ground still in use, was under serious pressure from land “developers” who were threatening to kick the team off the ground. The club survived narrowly, and The Guardian’s David Conn wrote a great article about how the designs of crafty businessman who are sometimes seen as saviours are not quite so innocent.

Now the same supporters are lobbying the Wrexham Borough council to secure their ground by having it designated as protected and reserved for leisure activities. The owners of the club have created a new parent company named Wrexham Village Ltd and this entity is now both the property developer and the new 100% owner of the football club. Given the history, you can understand Toby’s urgency.

A local community needs its common spaces, its history, and shared experience to thrive. Sometimes (particularly in the volatile world that football now find itself in) these spaces are not immediately profitable in monetary terms. But North Wales needs an international ground and Wrexham’s identity is tied to the historical Racecourse that only four years ago, passionate supporters gave their all to save. If ever there was a time for developers to think of what they are removing, not what they are receiving, it’s now.

There are 10 Councillors in Wrexham who will make the final decision over protecting the ground in the Local Development Plan as an area protected for sport. Let’s give Toby and the Racecourse a bump of support by joining me, Rhys Ifans and over 4,000 supporters from Wrexham to Wellington, New Zealand by signing up here. They’re aiming for 10,500 names by the end of August. Let’s get behind a community and its heritage, and protect a real local Lovemark.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Growing Up

Taking Stella to the park the other day I noticed how few kids were out there playing games. Every small kid seemed to be accompanied by their parents and all the adults were on edge checking one another out to make sure there were no pedophiles lurking. In the UK, you can’t even take pictures of kids if other kids are in the picture for fear they will be used perversely. What a tragic set of circumstances.

When I grew up I was outside every day from 8:00am until dark. Playing every ball game imaginable, climbing trees, running around, disrupting girls games of skipping and hopscotch, playing hide ‘n seek, cowboys and Indians, war, tag, jack above, etc., etc. Now all the kids seem to do is be supervised by parents, take no risks, or stay indoors watching dvd’s and video games. This isn’t the way to prepare kids for real life. Kids need to play with other kids. They need to be free without constant adult supervision. They need to express themselves, argue, disagree, compromise, laugh, and let their imaginations run wild. They need to experience adventure and freedom.

The media, government agencies and schools are all to blame. Mamby pambys one and all. They take everything to extremes. They are certainly taking all the fun out of growing up outdoors.

I wish the traditional games could all come back and kids could look after one another. And communities could look after the kids. The Cubs, the Scouts, the Brownies, the Lads Clubs were all great places where we learned about teamwork, about individuality, about decision-making, and about making mistakes. Life is imperfect and so is growing up. It all feels so blanded down to me now. I feel sorry for this generation of kids. We need to bring back exploring, tree climbing, orchard raiding, mischief, independence and the freedom to fall.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fast Friday

Earlier this week I was filming a commercial for the HSM World Business Forum to be held October 6-7 at Radio City Music Hall in New York. I’ll be speaking at the event along with President Bill Clinton, Jack Welch, Jeffrey Sachs, Paul Krugman, and George Lucas. We kept the camera rolling and I recorded my of-the-moment thinking about the challenges of the current economy, Winning Ugly, the heightened relevance of Lovemarks, and the big coming together of retail and sustainability. About 4 minutes. Have a big Saturday night.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

United Breaks Guitars

Long time readers of this blog will know that my love for most airlines in the US has never taken off. In fact, I’m constantly amazed by the continued indifference many of them have towards the consumer, not to mention the consumer’s resigned acceptance of the service they’re offered.

Not everybody is content to lie down and be trampled on by the commodification kings of the sky. Dave Carroll is an Internet hit after he wrote and uploaded a video to a song called "United Breaks Guitars" guessed it, United Airlines breaking his prized Taylor guitar. Initially complaining, Dave was met with indifference from three flight attendants. A week or so later, he made a complaint which turned into weeks and months to call centers before his claim was inevitably refused. You know the story. So Dave has had his revenge, and another YouTube star was born.

As soon as United heard a public relations storm was brewing, they got in touch with Dave to put it right. Good on Dave Carroll for saying that United “has generously, but late, offered some compensation but would rather see the money go to a charity of their choice”. I’m not sure if Dave needs the money now – he’s gearing up for the second of his three promised songs on the subject, and has more PR for his band than he could have dreamed of.

This is another example of the increasing power of social media. Consumers have the ability to talk back and change things. The effect of Twitter on Sacha Baron Cohen’s film Bruno is another example. It debuted at US$14.4 million at US and Canadian box offices, but fell to US$8.8 million the next day. The consumer is boss and in immediate control.

For their part, United Airlines have said “Dave’s video is excellent, and we plan to use it internally as a unique learning and training opportunity”.

A message to the US airline industry: It’s not about doing things right some of the time, it’s doing things right all of the time, even when you think it doesn’t matter. YouTube, Twitter, and co. say it does matter. Customer relations can be a joyful experience, from both sides. Check out this guy to see how it’s really done!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wipe My Bum

New Zealand’s most successful rugby league coach, Graham Lowe, was on his sofa one day watching a game when “Wipe my bum” came emanating from one of his twin sons. Graham realized how far he had come from coaching Manly-Warringah and the Kiwis to fatherhood now at a very late stage in life. Graham’s written a fantastic book called Me and My Little Blokes, which is all about how fatherhood changes life for the better. I’ve sent this to all my top people because it’s just a heartwarming, beautiful book. It also has 12 dynamic principles we can all learn from, no matter what walk of life we’re in.

1. Planning for a successful year
2. What is a winning team?
3. Let the dog see the rabbit
4. There is no such word as 'can’t'
5. Practice till the lights go off
6. Look for the man in the dinner suit
7. Never die wondering
8. Kick for the seagulls
9. Run for fresh air
10. Keep shifting the attack
11. Put up with the pain
12. Discover the power of your team early

The book is an ideal gift for fathers (and sons!) everywhere, as well as a reminder to all of us that happiness comes when you live life holistically; when you bring family, friends, and business together in one whole. I’m not talking about work/life balance, which is all about compromise, I’m talking about living life to the max everyday. Graham’s book is a major help.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How to Flip the Switch

Disruption is a beautiful thing in business. Walk down the camcorder aisle in any camera store and you'll see video cameras that are smaller, smarter, and higher in quality than ever before. These are marvels of technology compared with a few years ago, but today one pocket-sized device has pulled the rug out from under them: the Flip.

A Flip video camera is the price of an iPod and has no features beyond record, playback, and delete. It's lightweight and the size of a cell phone, so it's ultra portable. You can strap it to your bike helmet or hold it while snowboarding down a mountain. There are no tapes to mess with, no settings to slow you down, just a big red button to hit record – and that’s all you really want to do. Playback the clips instantly (no rewinding!) or plug it into your computer to upload to YouTube and share it across the globe.

Just when it seemed the world didn't need another video camera, consumers are buying the Flip in bulk. Pure Digital Technologies, developers of the Flip, have sold more than 2 million since going on sale in 2007. Ro’s friend, Jane Vesty, introduced the Flip to her and Rebecca. Now everyone in the family has one and we all rave about the Flip.

We've come a long way since the 1960s when the Super 8mm film camera turned family moments into home movies. Of course, to do so you had to use the appropriate film speed, focus the lens, meter for light, develop the film, and then buy a projector to view it. Now, all of that has been reduced to the size of a deck of cards.

The Flip camera has disrupted the industry by giving us a video camera anyone can use. Simple, fast, and mobile is how sisomo works best. It's not just consumers that have taken to the Flip. Cisco Systems bought Pure Digital Technologies in May for about $590m in stock plus retention equity. Cisco CEO John Chambers is one of the smartest people in business I know. He believes that video, and more specifically high-definition video, will drive the Internet in the future. They call it “visual networking.” I call it sisomo.

The iPhone 3GS may give the Flip a run for its money among some savvier consumers, but not for everyone. The Flip will continue its revolution of joy and along the way win more love.

Monday, August 3, 2009

True Blue Pakistan & the Challenges of Perception

I am continuously inspired by the diversity of a worldwide network. New York is HQ, and London is where it all started, and while the performance of these two centers is essential for our vitality, how the other 148 offices in our network perform is as important. This year top achievements have come from New York and London – and Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Malaysia, Denmark, Latvia, Slovakia, Ghana, Johannesburg. What unites all of us is a common language. We have Nothing is Impossible; One Team One Dream; World Changing Ideas; Lovemarks; and Loyalty Beyond Reason. And now True Blue is taking hold through the efforts of Saatchi & Saatchi S and Adam Werbach’s book Strategy for Sustainability: A Business Manifesto.

Sustainability faces a challenge of perception. As a strategy, it is viewed by some as a luxury and by others as a diversion. In a similar way, Pakistan is a country that understands the uphill challenge of perception. For anyone reading or watching the news, Pakistan comes across as a country griped by crisis and turned upside down by conflict. But like most stories, there’s more to it than what’s on the evening news.

Above is a video made by IAL Saatchi & Saatchi Pakistan that will turn your head around from the opening captions alone. See the ways they prioritize sustainability and their local examples of Do One Thing – from reusing AC water to fashioning notebooks from used printing. They understand that True Blue is more than concern for the environment. It’s about the social, economic, and cultural, as well as natural world.

The leaders of tomorrow will surprise you. And sustainable thinking will be championed by people and places you might not expect. As Adam Werbach says, some of the best leaders in sustainability had no prior experience in it and weren’t necessarily champions of ecology. Saatchi Pakistan shows the rest of the network how they sustain the soul, the business, the community – and their country.

Survival isn’t a right. Those who view change as an opportunity to innovate will lead us towards tomorrow.