Thursday, March 31, 2011

Participation to Build a Nation

While in Africa the world’s eyes are focused on Libya, further down the continent South Sudan is working through the process of formally separating from North Sudan to become the world’s newest nation. After years of civil war there are still strong tensions between the two states, but it was great to discover how the South chose a song in readiness to celebrate its entry to the world.

The South Sudanese national anthem was selected through an X Factor style talent show in a baking hot concert hall, according to the BBC. The audience went crazy at the end of each anthem as different singers shared their heartfelt renditions of the nation’s struggle and triumph. In a spirit of hope entrants abandoned the military-style march of the existing Sudanese national anthem. The brief was for something serious. Everyone was passionate. People had tears in their eyes. The winning lyrics came from a group of no fewer than 49 poets.

Participation to build a nation. What a great foundation for a future.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Go With the Flow

In an “always-on” virtual age one thing it’s hard to get enough of is sleep. Friday March 18 was World Sleep Day, aimed at raising awareness of the importance of sleep as a basic human need as fundamental as breathing, eating well and getting enough exercise.

Great thinkers have had different perspectives on how much sleep you need to function. The story goes that Einstein slept 10 hours a day, 11 if he was working on something big. Edison on the other hand is claimed to have said sleep was a waste of time – four hours was enough for him. In today’s non-stop world, with so much to see, do and experience, it seems many of us have little choice but to hope Edison was right. A recent poll by The National Sleep Foundation found that 43% of Americans between the ages of 13 and 64 say they rarely or never get a good night's sleep on weeknights.

Sleep as a science continues to discover new insights. It’s interesting territory for brands as they make room for sleep, improve lives with rest, help restore us to a healthy, natural rhythm and make tomorrow better. Pampers for example promises better rest for babies and young parents alike. Downy fabric softener – another P&G brand – has connected with the promise of ‘clean sheet day’ freshness for a week, helping to draw insomniacs and workaholics into lullaby land. More than three quarters of Americans say they are more excited about going to bed on sheets with a fresh scent.

In these high-speed on-the-go days, better health and happiness from sleep should be more about individual need and family schedule and less about institutional demand. If a power nap at midday gets you in flow, or the small hours bring out your inner Edison, bring it on.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I Just Called To Say...

They’re the hardest words in the world to say: I Love You. Wall St. Journal columnist Elizabeth Bernstein recently enjoyed some fun banter with the host of the journal’s News Hub over just why that is. She suggests it’s because you’re taking a risk, putting yourself out there with no guarantee that your feelings will be reciprocated. Saying I Love You is dangerous. To help, WSJ produced a short tongue-in-cheek template to help people share their affections – from ‘I like you’ to ‘I really like you’ to ‘I love you’, with a long list of tick boxes about what it is that makes you feel that way. Maybe not romantic, but fun and a welcome prod towards a fully-fledged, heart-felt declaration of amore.

Bernstein offers some more tips in her column. Gimmicks aside she points out that unless we’re willing to take a leap of faith, there aren’t really any substitutes for those three little words. We know it in our hearts and science confirms it – a source of Bernstein’s notes that when we look someone in the eye and tell them how we feel, a bonding chemical is released. In a VUCA (Volatile, Unreal, Crazy, Ambiguous) world we could all use a natural pick-me-up. So why not say it to someone you love today?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Italy

Italy has given a lot to the world. Fashion, food, wine and history, beautiful football, adventurous rugby, irresistible machinery, effortless chic. The Italians have taught the world how to spell in style. A is for Armani. B for Benetton. C for Cavalli. D for Diesel and I for Illy!! The list goes on. Italy’s culture of love has enriched the life of countless other nations. Friends and family connections have brought it closer to my heart over the years.

Like any country, sometimes Italy’s beautiful contribution to the world is overshadowed by an ugly headline, and people shift to the negative. Over a challenging time our Italian agency has put together up with a wonderful short film for energy company Enel to celebrate Italy’s 150th birthday. In true, lyrical Italian style it’s beautifully captured, crossing epic and everyday scenes, bringing the Italy we love back to the fore.

The voiceover says:

It’s true: Italy has always been a special country. And we all like to stress its little faults and foibles when we talk about our country. It’s normal, everybody does it. For once, just once, do something different. Try talking about the Italy that appears to be invisible, but still exists. The Italy that is creative, passionate, enterprising, capable of going a long way. For once, don’t talk about weaknesses. Talk about energy. All of a sudden you will be delighted to find … that you are talking about yourselves.

Happy Birthday Italy.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stellar Sights

Looking for inspiration? Up is a great place to start. Every week National Geographic posts a set of incredible images from space. Last week’s collection was truly stellar, with pictures including a composite picture of the French island of Réunion apparently suspended in the cosmos; the moon suspended next to a fluorescent blue-white glow that turns out to be earth’s atmosphere; a fiery red paint smear in the sky created by a runaway star hitting interstellar gas and dust at millions of miles per hour; a streak in the sky created by the last voyage of the space shuttle Discovery; and the technicolour ‘death spasm’ of a disappearing star. They’re awe inspiring images, a profound paradox compressing the incomprehensible depth of space into 2D. Nice to think that nothing has more star power than the stars themselves.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Checking In With Air New Zealand

Recently I wrote about some great ideas circulating the airline industry. Topping the list was Air New Zealand, which continues its relentless leadership in innovation and customer service. The last time I last covered the company’s virtues in some depth was 2007, so a recap is overdue.

In 2008 Air New Zealand’s paperless check-in kiosks completely eliminated the check-in counter in key centers in New Zealand. No lines, just technology that works and friendly staff ready to help if you need it.

In 2009 the airline introduced ‘The Bare Essentials of Safety’, a cheeky pre-takeoff safety briefing. Body painted baggage handlers, pilots and flight attendants made passengers switch back on to the instructions on what to do in an emergency.

I’ve touched on ‘cuddle class’, a groundbreaking economy seating design Air New Zealand introduced in 2010. What makes this truly innovative is not just the fact that nobody’s done it before, but that so many other airlines are fixated on generating premiums by only improving the first class and business class experiences. Focusing on economy shows that Air New Zealand cares about all of its passengers and adding value to every part of its business.

Other recent innovations include being the world’s first airline to introduce induction ovens on flights, allowing it to serve fresh pizza, burgers, toast and eggs the way you like them; offering mobile connectivity on its new Boeing 777 Dreamliners; and involving passengers in the development of inflight snack options, and entertainment through a new website developed in collaboration with YouTube. Degustation, communication, participation. What a menu.

Air New Zealand’s recent cornerstone investment in Virgin Blue to give it more exposure to the Australian market in challenging times is yet another example of the company’s positive, outward-focused mindset.

Wherever you find it, this kind of consistency is the hallmark of a truly great company. Everybody wins. Take a bow, Air New Zealand.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Love On the Brain? Welcome to Lovemarks Campus

Lovemarks has been rolling for ten years now and continue to expand. We’ve just ramped up the brainier side of Lovemarks with the launch of Lovemarks Campus, an innovative set of academic resources. We have had widespread engagement with Lovemarks in advertising, marketing, business schools throughout the world.

Through Facebook, a Twitter feed and a website, Lovemarks Campus provides research and tools that help educators, students and anyone interested dive deeper into enhancing the consumer experience. Teaching modules, papers, dissertations, presentations, speeches, video, audio and books are all part of the package.

This is where love hits the road, supercharged with smarts, views and fun. Worth a look, indeed a ‘Like’. It’s about mastery of emotional communication.

  • Advertising stories that register powerfully (creating immersive media)
  • Alastair Campbell's Guide to Advertising
  • Effects of rational and emotional advertising on brand love
  • Advertising approaches for utilitarian, hedonic value products
  • Case Story: Lexus 'Reinventing the Magazine'
  • Kate Moss and the Lovemarks concept in a fashion retail context
  • HSM behind-the-scenes special on Saatchi & Saatchi New York
  • Scent marketing increasingly common with brands and retailers
  • The effects of aroma on emotion
  • Consumer behavior: how sneakers have become status symbols
  • What makes fans loyal to a particular sports team
  • British families and what influences their brand attitudes
  • Sensory marketing to improve in-store shopper experience
  • Making sense of the five senses
  • How retailers are attracting shoppers by sparking the five senses
  • Brand Love: Conceptualisation and Measurement
  • Brain activity measures response to ads, commercials
  • ParaguayCarol's Lovemarks’ story of the Green Bay Packers
  • People who love sport understand the concept of Lovemarks
  • Two emotions engage us all: surprise and joy.
  • Podcast: The emotional side of marketing location-based services
  • The Most Desired Brands In America

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rock and Rolling Stone

Rock ‘n Roll was the original mass movement and now it’s into the participation game. Rolling Stone magazine is running a contest that will see the first ever unsigned band feature on its hallowed cover, as voted by you and me. 16 hopefuls will be whittled down to eight through a combination of public votes online and the esteemed judgement of the magazine’s editors. After that it’s completely down to the fans to take the eight down to four, the four to two, and the two to one over three rounds. Sample the talent here.

The voting starts online, but in true rock style the winner will be chosen through a battle of the bands at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, TN. As well as featuring on the front of Rolling Stone, the winner will land a recording contract with Atlantic Records, a label that counts the likes of James Blunt, Phil Collins, The Stone Temple Pilots and Tracy Chapman in its stable.

The fact that the editors of the magazine have hand picked the 16 contenders in the competition means that it’s not the raw, viral platform that shot Justin Bieber to stardom (Bieber is the face of the current issue of Rolling Stone). But it does have the key ingredient of a live connection to readers.

The real challenge will be post-competition, when it’s up to the winner to prove they can earn the enduring Love and Respect that’s normally required to make the cover of the world’s greatest music magazine. Lovemark or fad? The fans will decide.

PS: I spoke to the staff at Rolling Stone a few years ago, one of those invitations that comes along that you just can’t say no to. I have been a fan of the magazine for all of its 44 years. Founder Jann Wenner is still the publisher and his moxie is still to the forefront. A few weeks ago Michael Hastings won the coveted George Polk Award in Journalism for his story "Runaway General", which received the magazine reporting award, resulted in the sacking of US Army General Stanley McChrystal by Barack Obama.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

TED 2011 by Jack Myers

TED 2011: The Rediscovery of Wonder has just finished in Long Beach California. Several people in my orbit have described TED as “world-changing” and “life-inspiring.” TED Curator Chris Anderson came to Saatchi & Saatchi New York last year to speak about the power of these TED talks (they have clocked several hundred million views) and TED founder Richard Saul Wurman helped judge our Innovation in Communication Award a few years back.

Media economist Jack Myers is someone I trust. Jack has been to most TEDs there have been, and he has just posted his top talks from 2011. Some of these are online now at, others will come shortly. If you don’t know, TED is for Technology, Entertainment and Design but its purview is as broad as the imagination. “Ideas worth spreading” is its neatly understated mantra. Here is my edited list of Jack’s favorites, along with his brief commentary.

  • TED Prize winner JR, whose vision is to help us reveal our true selves to those who live around us.
  • Sarah Kay, a 22-year old performing poet, whose Project VOICE is teaching poetry and self-expression at schools across the United States. Winner: Jack Myers Best Overall Ted Talk 2011.
  • Salman Khan, a hedge fund analyst who began posting math tutorials on YouTube in 2004 and now has posted more than 2,000 tutorials that represent a framework for the future of education.
  • Deb Roy, whose studies on how children learn language are informing a major new intelligence resource for advertisers and TV content creators. Most relevant Ted talk for media community.
  • Anthony Atala, whose lab at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine is engineering over 30 tissues and whole organ. Atala “printed” a kidney during his TED Talk.
  • Pepsico CEO Indra Noohi, who was praised for her company’s commitment to the Pepsi Refresh campaign, but who missed the point of TED by ignoring her company’s response to the environmental impact of plastics and the contribution of sugar drinks to obesity.
  • New York Times columnist David Brooks, who points to emotion as offering the deepest sense of what it takes to thrive. “Emotion is contagious. Reason is not the highest of faculties. Sentiments are strong and trustworthy.”
  • Director, designer Julie Taymor; what might have been a triumphant curtain call, turned into brave defense and hopeful optimism. Whatever the fate of Spiderman, Julie will triumph again.
  • Composer, conductor Eric Whitacre’s classical music video composed by cobbling together more than 2000 musical submissions from 58 countries. People will go to any length to connect with each other. Most emotional talk.
  • Polar Photographer Paul Nicklen; anyone who can share such compelling arguments for climate change needs to be seen and heard.
  • Bobby McFerrin, who when asked to name his greatest wonder, he said it all for everyone: “Waking up every morning.”
  • Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio; the wonder and mystery of conscious minds.
  • Bill Gates. A TEDster who knows how to win over a crowd. Bill was everywhere at TED.
  • MIT’s Carlo Ratti, who demonstrates how every atom is becoming a sensor and actuator. Our environment is talking back to us in real time.
  • Dennis Hong, beyond inspirational. Paralyzed downhill skier walks for first time in 19 years.
  • Wrongologist Katheryn Schultz. I have a great idea but I’m probably wrong about it.
  • Educator John Hunter, whose World Piece game forces us to rethink Educational Theory.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

True Blue

Is there anything to beat a fantasy meeting with childhood heroes? Thanks to Luis Vicente I know the answer.

I grew up True Blue supporting Manchester City and, as many of you will know, we haven’t won anything since 1976. But once a Blue, always a Blue. Loyalty Beyond Reason!

Last week, Luis invited me to Manchester to join Chief Executive Garry Cook in the Chairman’s Lounge as his guest. I arrived in Manchester 7:30am Saturday morning after an overnight flight on Continental to be met by Steve in a luxury Jaguar limo. We zoomed to the City partner hotel, The Malmaison, where I had already been checked in and was led to my room. The True Blue Suite. Complete with abstract paintings of Manchester City heroes, Mike Summerbee, Frannie Lee, Neil Young and Colin Bell. From there it was a pickup to the grounds into the VIP area where I had a wonderful lunch and an hour’s chat with Garry, ex-President of Michael Jordan Nike, and one of the more charismatic, colorful, creative characters I’ve ever met. He has a tremendous vision for the Club that takes it way beyond football and way beyond the UK. Who would have thought that growing up watching the boys trudge through the mud at Main Road?

After winning the game, Luis had set up one of the most memorable moments of my life. A one-on-one meeting with 3 of my heroes, Tony Book, Mike Summerbee, and my old-time personal hero, Colin Bell. And they said they were glad to meet me! That shows a great briefing in action. And Mike Summerbee gave me his personal mobile number!

From there we went into the Players Lounge where I met the heroes of today’s young fans. Then the highlight of this extraordinary day ... being led into Coach Roberto Mancini’s office for a 15-minute one-on-one with him. Then back to the True Blue Suite before a tour of the Academy and the training grounds the next day.

Life does not get any better than this!

Thank you Luis.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Seven More...

Last week I shared eight ideas to help stimulate the progress of rugby as New Zealand’s national sport and as a major industry and source of employment and engagement. Here are seven more – XV all up – to give the accounts some go-forward:
  1. Follow the British example and invest in one 80,000 seater home pitch stadium in Auckland, with a huge naming rights sponsor. Play all our big tests there and ensure there are stacks of high price corporate boxes, and special new, low cost family seating.
  2. The First XV. 15 lifelong debentures that pass from father to sibling or back to the NZRU. Access to all areas (equal to NZRU chairman), special access to team/sponsor events, hotels/training, and one annual dressing room visit. Super, super exclusive. $1 million each.
  3. Offer corporations individual player sponsorships. 45 players at different options. Five days work per player per sponsor, split 50:50 player and NZRU. A $2 million annual return.
  4. Change the model of game revenue distribution. We get hammered fiscally on the November Tour. We get the glory. The British get the money. The crowds come to see the All Blacks. The Number One ranked team in the world. The most entertaining team in the world. The team everyone wants to beat. We need a new revenue sharing model.
  5. Appoint the world’s best foreign exchange managers. Significant elements of NZRU’s profit/loss scenarios comprise management of foreign exchange. NZRU need to ensure they have the Goldman Sachs of foreign exchange on their team.
  6. Bring on the Women (again!). If women make 80% of the purchasing decisions, why then is NZ rugby a women-free zone? The Black Ferns are the best in the world, there are some very capable women commentators, and we see in the US how much the game can be enjoyed by young women because of its physicality. Women are so often the enablers of rugby, making space for the kids to go and practice and play. Making space for women makes sense for broadening viewership – broadcast revenue is the largest contributor to the pie. Making the game more involving for women (imagine women referees!) broadens the audience.
  7. Get famous by committing to film. Get inside the AB’s heads, their training; the AB’s in Camp a must-watch programme for NFL, NBA, Premiership etc players. This is the serious business of being the best team in the history of world sports. For other elite sports, coaches and teams to learn from.

Monday, March 14, 2011


The news reports and images coming through of the devastation in Japan are unbelievable and my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone impacted by the earthquake and tsunami that have rocked the country. The scale of the destruction and the continuing aftermath is staggering. I have visited Japan many times – aside from being an economic powerhouse, it’s a place of incredible beauty and culture and home to a kind and generous people. When the Christchurch earthquake struck in my home country of New Zealand, Japan was among the first to send help in numbers. Now we share in their tragedy and stand heart to heart with the people of Japan.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Come Fly With Me

In an attempt to get a competitive edge in a cutthroat industry, many airlines focus on cutting costs, rather than finding ways of consistently delighting their passengers and thereby generating sustainable premiums. It’s a trend that’s irked me for years (witness Exhibit A).

This is surprising as air travel becomes more and more indispensable in the modern world. The world is increasingly developing around airlines and airports rather than vice versa, as the Wall St. Journal recently reported. The ‘aerotropolis’ – the city that grows up around an airport and has more in common with global hubs than its immediate geography – is reshaping commerce and communities much like seaports and trading posts have in previous eras. Aerotropolises are fast springing up in places like Dubai, China, India and Africa, creating electric connections for people, resources and finished goods in a globalizing world. For aspiring airlines, the stakes are sky high.

The good news is that as the global market for air travel continues to heat up we can expect the truly creative, customer-focused airlines to emerge from the pack.’s report on 11 innovative airlines to keep an eye on in 2011 picks out a bunch that are blazing a trail to a better future. While not necessarily the ‘best’ in the industry when it comes to the whole package (though one or two would top that list too), these airlines are showing the kind of can-do instinct that generates true value for both customers and stockholders. Here’s the list, along with a few of the ideas that are setting them apart:
  1. Who else? Air New Zealand has long been leaving the competition in its jet stream. Its most stratospheric innovation of late is ‘cuddle-class’ (as I covered last year), an Economy Class feature that allows passengers to convert three seats into a comfortable bed. This is the tip of the innovation iceberg.
  2. All Nippon Airways is getting creative closer to the nose-cone. The ‘welcome home’ helicopter or limousine transfer to Tokyo for first class and business class passengers making the round trip to North America or Europe gets a big thumbs up.
  3. Lufthansa comes in third with in-flight internet access and an uber-quiet first class cabin with sound-absorbing curtains and carpet. Wunderbar.
  4. Delta has introduced service agents with hand-held computers who are actually equipped to deal with numerous customer problems. A refreshing change from hapless attendants glued to a counter.
  5. Finnair was among the first to employ Mandarin-speaking staff to welcome passengers. Savvy. Traditional Finnish saunas next to the lounge get my vote too.
  6. Southwest (airline code: LUV) is showing passengers some warmth by bucking the industry trend towards charging for extras. Second bag? No problem.
  7. KLM – Royal Dutch Airlines – is showing some True Blue-skies thinking by introducing sustainable fuels and catering. Way to go Dutch.
  8. Virgin America is setting the pace digitally, with an in-flight entertainment system that supports chat, gaming, live satellite TV, digital shopping and a food and beverage service that links to flight attendants’ tablet PCs.
  9. Cathay Pacific is discovering the power of participation by asking customers to submit ideas for an Asian-inspired dessert through Facebook. The winning dessert will feature on ex-North American flights.
  10. Emirates from Dubai is the biggest and one of the best airlines in the world, two things that often don’t go hand-in-hand. State of the art in-flight entertainment. Premium amenities. Providing crew with real-time customer information so they can provide better service. Brilliant. On my own ranking Emirates would swoop in at number two, I have written several times about its incomparable service, experience and the destination itself; and it would be matched by Abu Dhabi-based Etihad – another great experience and proud sponsors of the mighty Manchester City.
  11. Korea’s Asiana rounds out the list with services like PreMom and Happy Mom specifically for expecting mothers and families travelling with tots. A class act.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tell Me a Story

I recently posted on how storytelling wins in the Oscars aftermath of The King's Speech. That ever-stimulating ideas probe Big Think recently zapped out a nice case. Peter Guber tells a story of How Nelson Mandela Leveraged the Power of Storytelling. Here’s the start of Guber’s story: “Nelson Mandela had just been released from Robben Island in South Africa. And suddenly out of nowhere I, as the then CEO of Sony, got a call in the big boardroom: Nelson Mandela’s on the phone. Of course, I laughed and I say, yeah, right, the guy gets out of prison, 29 years, calls a middle-aged white American in California as his first call. No, no, no, it can't be. And I ignored it. And then again and again and again and finally the South African Embassy said, it's really Nelson Mandela on the phone. And he said, "I want to come to the United States and I would like David Rockefeller on the East Coast and you in the West Coast to host an event for me." I said, "Sure." What was I going to say, no? A guy had been in prison for 29 years, no, it didn't sound right, didn't sound generous. So I said, "Yeah, sure." And I was trying to think of why he wanted to do it and he said, "let me tell you a story." Tell me a story. And he sits down and he tells me the story…” Go view it.

Peter Guber, by the way, is a story in his own right, and has been for many years. He has just written a book “Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade and Triumph With the Hidden Power of Story.” Check out this New York Times profile In Film and in Life, the Story Is King.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ideas to Stimulate New Zealand Rugby

Since the professional era began, the New Zealand Rugby Union has been on top of the game. The All Blacks are an inexorable force that dominates world rugby. But the union is facing real financial pressures as a result of the globalization of the game and the subsequent exposure to foreign exchange and international broadcast rights. The NZRU needs to create some new revenue streams if it’s to be a sustainable force in future. I provide the full back story in my latest NZ Rugby World column. I rustled up 15 ideas with a few multinational mates – Aussies, Kiwis, Americans and Brits – to help turn the accounts the same winning color as the jerseys: Black. Here’s the forward pack of eight.

  1. Re-frame rugby at every level as a real family, social option (one of the original Super 12 objectives). Look at what Stade Francais are doing in Paris. Flowery team jerseys, massive social networking. We need to move Super 15 games closer to 20/20 Cricket, NBA matches and pop concerts. The Wellington Sevens is a brilliant example of a festival spirit. Lots of fun around the game, not just because of it. Entice. Reward. Repeat.
  2. Develop a super-amped global All Blacks community. With real intimate, exclusive contact. Behind the scenes stuff. Dressing room/training ground banter. Player proper truthful post-match analysis. Training tips. Personal stuff from players/coaches. Lots of social networking around games/tours. A global, premium social network of rugby people interacting around the AB’s. 250,000 members x $74 = $18.75 million! A great gift for your son/dad/mate.
  3. Build the global brand, especially in emerging markets. The All Blacks are the #1 brand in world rugby and one of the top sports brands in the world. We need to deepen and broaden our fan base geographically in a similar way to what ManU has done in China, Chelsea in Africa, the Lakers and the Yankees globally, opening the door for sales of merchandise, videos and training materials.
  4. Develop an All Blacks training, fitness and leadership programme. On-line. Off-line. For individuals and corporates. Relevant to sports teams in all sports, university teams especially China and businesses everywhere. Combine leadership, great stories, amazing video, hands-on coaching, skills, decision-making etc etc. Aim to be the number one programme globally.
  5. Host an NZRU school sports tournament every year. Different age groups. All Black participation in training and leadership (old players). Sub contract to sports tour specialists.
  6. Play more Sevens at School/Club level. This will increase participation levels, attract new audience demographics, generate new sponsorship opportunities, increase player athleticism, win over mums as violence/ injuries reduce … and increase our Olympic Gold medal count!
  7. Bring on the Women. Include female Board members at every level of the game. Get their voices heard. We need to get all New Zealand women believing once again that rugby is the game for all New Zealanders. We must listen to them and address their concerns. And we must revitalize funding for our World Champion Black Ferns. More Olympic golds. More world championships. And more sponsorship opportunities.
  8. Ensure every seat is sold for every test match. Make it unforgiveable for a stadium manager to have an unsold seat at an All Blacks test match. The GFC is blamed for a drop-off in ticket sales, but it’s equally arguable that poor selling techniques have been used. Test match revenue is core. NZRU must have a ‘no seat left behind’ attitude.
Seven more ideas next week.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Outdoor Inspiration

Here’s another great leadership initiative downunder that Sir Ed put his stamp on. The Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre (OPC) of New Zealand inspires young people by giving them a taste of adventure. In a world where screenagers are seldom separated from their mobile phones and the couch and TV has a stronger pull than gravity, OPC is a blast of fresh air.

The Centre runs courses in white-water kayaking, rock-climbing, mountaineering, sailing, sea-kayaking, and other high energy outdoor pursuits, helping to grow potential by taking young people from all walks of life out of their comfort zones. And by putting individuals in a setting where everyone has to work together for success, OPC builds team players and team leaders.

In a few months, OPC will host the 11th annual Hillary Challenge – a five-day competition to identify the top Secondary School Outdoor Adventure Team in New Zealand. The challenge is held at OPC’s facility in the shadow of Mt. Tongariro in the centre of the North Island, a wild place that’s hard to beat when you’re looking for adventure. It requires teams to operate under physical and mental stress as they take on a series of intensive exercises, including a two-day wilderness expedition and a multisport race on the final day. OPC’s mission is to make this defining experience a must for as many young people as it can.

Great preparation for life. Nothing is impossible is a mantra we live by at Saatchi & Saatchi and a spirit epitomized by Sir Ed. My daughter Bex worked with Graham Seatter, OPC’s CEO, and I’m glad to confirm our charity, The Red Rose Trust, will be sponsoring a bunch of kids to participate at OPC over the next three years. Viva adventure!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Points of Presence

Travelling the world as a college student, Adam Braun got into the habit of asking children he met: “If you could have any one thing, what would you want most?” A small boy begging on the streets of India impacted him deeply with his answer: A pencil. Braun: “I reached into my backpack, handed him my pencil, and watched as a wave of possibility washed over him.”

That powerful emotional moment gave birth to a movement. Driven to action Braun founded Pencils of Promise (PoP), a non-profit dedicated to building schools and creating educational opportunities in the developing world. Two years on, PoP has built more than 20 schools, and won support from luminaries including from Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu and pop icon Justin Bieber.

PoP is a many-to-many phenomenon. Most of its donations are small sums – $15-20 contributed by passionate individuals who connect with PoP’s raison d’être. So far it has raised $1 million by sharing a powerful vision about the difference an education can make not just for an individual, but for a community.

Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, the saying goes. Create an emotional moment that captures the hearts of people who believe in the power of education, and you transform the hopes of a generation.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wake Up and Fight

My son Danis over at Red Rose Music sent me a list of Woody Guthrie’s “New Years Rulin’s”. Everyone who is a Bob Dylan fan knows Woody as a primary early influence. Guthrie was an American singer-songwriter and folk musician. He lived 1912-1967 and lived through the Great Depression. He traveled with migrant workers from his native Oklahoma to California and learned traditional folk and blues songs. He was known as the Dust Bowl Troubadour. His song This Land is Your Land is one of the most famous in the American Songbook, and was sung as recently as last week in union protests in Wisconsin.

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island

From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters

This land was made for you and me.

Sometime along his journey Woody wrote a set of 40 “New Years Rulin’s”, and while we’re well into 2011, they’re worth pinning to the wall as a simple guide to life, no matter what the year or decade. Here are my top 10.
  1. Work more and better
  2. Write a song a day
  3. Read lots good books
  4. Don’t get lonesome
  5. Stay glad
  6. Dream good
  7. Bank all extra money
  8. Love Everybody
  9. Make up your mind
  10. Wake up and Fight

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Storytelling Wins

Three cheers for storytelling. The triumph of The King’s Speech at The Oscars underlined the virtues of story, characters, and performance. Not many films have greatness in all these ingredients. I’d seen Tom Hooper's recent film The Damned United about as the legendary English football manager Brian Clough, so I knew what he was capable of in these departments.

Notwithstanding Colin Firth’s Oscar-worthy acting, I didn’t give too much of a toss about George VI’s triumph over his stammer – the Royals having so much going for them in the first place – but I did cherish the “downunder does good” element of the common man triumphing over improbable odds. Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush, brooks no airs when dealing with Palace protocols. He’s a man who knows what he’s about; stands his ground with humor and grace; and has an unconventional practicality about getting to an outcome. These are the qualities that Antipodeans bring to their work. In New Zealand we have a saying “winning the world from the edge” and that is just what Lionel Logue did.

As a frequent public speaker I can say I have never been filled with the dread that possessed George VI, but I imagine that it must be terrifying especially when you are required by office to be a leader, and in this King’s case, to be an inspirational leader. Learning to speak in public is one of the greatest gifts an education can give you, so hats off to every school teacher who inspires young people to give it their all from the soapbox. A great speech can change people’s lives; it can change the world.

I also reflected on the Oscars that The Social Network was also about communicating with the masses. Different time, different method, and I have to say that Facebook and other modes of social networking have done absolutely nothing to encourage eloquence and inspiration expression. Abbreviated social chit chat does not equate to building better societies. In today’s world the words “I have a dream” might garner a lot of Likes but social networking lacks social impact. You can hear the original King’s Speech by George VI here on YouTube.