Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It’s Time to Flourish

Despite long professing the benefits of understanding happiness, the father of the positive psychology movement now believes it’s overrated, the NYT reports. According to Dr Martin Seligman’s new book Flourish, happiness is just one of the components of true well-being. After watching hundreds of joyless bridge tournament participants persevere with few signs of joy (even when winning), Seligman realised that fulfilment in life is perhaps only one part happiness – and possibly up to four parts something else.

Accomplishment seemed to be what they craved. The ancient Greeks believed accomplishment contributes to eudaimonia, which translates roughly to ‘well-being’ or ‘flourishing’ and it is this concept that Flourish is based on. But flourishing is more than just accomplishment – it’s a combination of feeling good, operating in the zone (think flow) and having meaningful relationships as well. Seligman has identified five crucial elements of well-being, which he describes using the acronym Perma:

P – Positive emotion
E – Engagement
R – Relationships
M – Meaning
A – Accomplishment

Based on this, Seligman suggests we need to be careful not to confuse the good vibes of the moment with flourishing. While positive psychology has inspired global efforts to survey the state of people’s happiness, Seligman argues that we need to be probing deeper.

This feels right to me. I often talk about inspiring people in their work by giving them responsibility, learning, recognition and joy – all of which contribute to, and emanate from, accomplishment. Give people these things and they really do flourish. I still like the word happiness, but agree we need to fold all of this into the mix. Seligman’s acronym works too. Let’s reach out for PERMA-nent happiness.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

USA and the Future of Rugby

Earlier this month I spoke with Gregor Paul, the New Zealand Herald on Sunday’s voice of rugby, editor of Rugby World and author of such books on grit, guts and genius as Hard Men Fight Back (accounts of how 17 sportsmen beat extreme adversity to live their dream), The Reign of King Henry and Black Obsession (about the national team, the All Blacks).

Gregor was probing into the future of rugby, with a Southern Hemisphere bent. I had a simple message: to grow and prosper, rugby needs to focus on the USA. Commercially, I believe this is where rugby’s future is. All of the IRB’s major sponsors have business in the US. And the popularity of the game is spreading. US Rugby has picked up a lot of go-forward over the past five years. A recent survey found the USA was the fastest growing rugby nation in the world and likely to have more than 100,000 registered players by the end of 2011. The prospect of Sevens rugby making an Olympic debut in Rio in 2016 will also help the game. The US is the world’s third largest country, where there is massive love for and involvement in sport, and where there is the most significant commercial scale for media, sponsorship and merchandise.

USA Rugby would also benefit directly. The game is developing professionally and sensibly here, but is restrained in terms of its pace of growth by economic realities and consistent top level international engagement. What we need is access to a superior competition and until we can start playing in either Super Rugby (via a West Coast franchise), the Magners League (East Coast) or the Six Nations (partially funded by the IRB), it will be difficult for us to progress at the pace the game needs.

People are talking about a sixth South African Super Rugby team. But a US Super Rugby franchise would be a win-win for everyone. Gregor made the point well that the Melbourne Rebels have shown you can build a team well from a mix of local and imported talent. Why not build an LA franchise on the same platform? Let Southern Hemisphere players come play and expand their horizons while staying eligible for their national teams. We wouldn’t just grow the competition, we’d grow the game.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fit For Work

I’ve blogged before about not getting a lot of free time – and liking it that way. For me, work-life integration is about finding compelling work and devoting everything I have to performing at peak. So it’s interesting to read that the American College of Sports Medicine’s top 20 predicted worldwide fitness trends for 2011 includes, for the first time, workplace fitness incentive programmes.

These programmes are backed up by a sound business case – think enhanced camaraderie and morale, reduced absenteeism, improved productivity and decreased health care costs. There’s something evolutionary “at work” here too. This trend is further evidence of silos breaking down between work and private life.

Even more fundamentally, the trend is hooking into a fundamental secret to our psychological states. People are happiest living in the moment – such as when they are playing sport or exercising – not worrying about before or daydreaming about what comes after what comes next. Being in the now is instinctive and intuitive. It’s the place where sport happens, the place where life excites, the place where emotion rules.

Google has taken hold of this concept. Of the top ten reasons for joining its team (note the terminology: it’s “life at Google”, not “getting a job at Google”), number four is: “Work and play are not mutually exclusive. It is possible to code and pass the puck at the same time.”

I love it. I recently spoke at Oxylane, a leading French company who deeply grasp the concept of happiness through sport, and have the joy of making people’s lives better by supporting their physical health. They manufacture more sporting goods than anyone else in Europe and have an inspired vision: nobody should miss out on the pleasure and benefits of sport. It seems the world is catching on.

PS for the full list of global fitness trends go here. And if you’re looking for something family friendly, call by Together Counts.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Is Stat-You?

It took more than two years for Michelangelo to carve his famed David, but now you can have a mini-masterpiece of your own in a matter of moments. A group called blablabLAB has created a small kiosk in the heart of Barcelona’s La Rambla pedestrian mall where, if you will just stand still briefly, a machine will complete a 3D scan of your whole body before producing a statuette replica of your chosen pose. Cleverly, the whole thing isn’t just fun – in the instant that you pose for your scan, and afterwards when your statue is complete, it makes you part of La Rambla by transforming you into one of the many human statues that line the mall. Participation. A magic moment. A lasting memory. A keepsake you can’t help but love. Brilliant.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Scent From Heaven

I’m an avid believer in the power of the senses. Each sense has the power to transform how we are feeling – the touch of a loved one brings comfort, the taste of fine wine brings joy and the sound of a favorite song can make you feel 16 again. But the sense of smell might just be the most powerful of them all, with the ability to trigger personal memories – sometimes without us even knowing why.

New York magazine recently featured the perfume world’s Willy Wonka, Christopher Brosius’ quest to create the invisible scent. A perfume only certain people can smell, something that smells so good, you can’t smell it at all. The scent is designed as a psychological trick, inspiring emotion between people without their conscious recognition. So what’s in the scent that smells like nothing? A combination of jasmine, sandalwood and amber – a blend dubbed Where We Are There Is No Here.

Brosius’ whole career has been built on creating breathtaking fragrances. Diane Akerman’s A Natural History of the Senses inspired him with the statement:

“Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines, hidden under the weedy mass of many years and experiences. Hit a tripwire of smell, and memories explode all at once.”

Triggering these memories became his focus, and he went about creating all kinds of emotion-provoking scents. Soaked Earth. Gathering Apples. Wet Mitten. Clean Baby Butt. Irresistible! This guy has a nose for genius.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What a Hotel Sounds Like

Back in February I wrote about Starbucks creating magic with the release of two very special CDs. Realizing love is less about the product and more about magic, Morgans Group Hotel has teamed up with RCRD LBL to offer guests unique playlists that reflect the personality of the property they are staying at. Guests can download the 20-track compilations for free using their emailed reservation confirmation or via scannable QR codes on their hotel keycards. And if the exclusive playlists don’t spark enough magic, the specially designed keycards have plenty more! Loads of Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Happiness in a Survey

I have written often about the importance of happiness for your own life and for the good of society. Friends of the Earth did a brilliant World Happiness Index a few years ago (just last week I was in one of their happiest places on the planet, Costa Rica). Britain has introduced happiness as a national economic indicator. And the New York Times has just reported that the 76,000 residents of Somerville Massachusetts are being asked to rate their level of happiness on a 1-to-10 scale in an annual civic survey. The blue collar but gentrifying city wants to make decisions about transportation, space planning, policing, education, affordable housing, and how the happiness of citizens factors into these decisions. I say bravo, especially to the man who, in answer to the question “How satisfied are you with your life in general?” rated himself only a 6, explaining, “I would like to be three inches taller and speak Quechua fluently.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Presidents’ Speech

In my early days as CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi there were occasions on when I used a teleprompter; big formal occasion, new material, not a lot of time. I had a terrific operator, Rosie Williams from London. It’s years now since I have used one, but the occasions came back to me when I read this week that the inventor of the Teleprompter Hubert Schlafy has died at the age of 91 in Stamford Connecticut.

An innovative electrical engineer, Schlafy joined 20th Century Fox in New York City in 1947. According to the Associated Press’s obit, “Actor Fred Barton Jr. wanted a way to remember his lines and approached his friend Schlafly, said Laurie Brown, author of the book The Teleprompter Manual. Schafly conjured an idea and took it to Irving Berlin Kahn, nephew of composer Irving Berlin and vice president of radio and television at 20th Century Fox. The result – a monitor facing the person appearing on screen and rolling a script at reading speed – was named the TelePrompTer, which made its debut in 1950 on the soap opera The First Hundred Years.”

Schlafy and the team he was part of rescued decades' worth of soap opera actors, newscasters and politicians from the embarrassment of stumbling over their words on live television. The teleprompter "revolutionized television and improved the quality of on-air performers”, said Jim Dufek, a professor of mass media at Southeast Missouri State University. "It also made the politicians look smarter because they were looking right into the camera."

Herbert Hoover became the first politician to use a teleprompter in 1952, when the former president gave the keynote speech at the Republican National Convention in Chicago. Every President since has used the teleprompter – the current President so much that at the recent White House Correspondents’ Dinner he spoofed himself with a slick mock-movie trailer introducing a new film “The President’s Speech” which shows what would happen if Congress had defunded the president's teleprompter.

Monday, May 16, 2011

"Ee aye adio,We've won the cup."

35 years since we won a trophy. Until Saturday that is. When we lifted the FA Cup.
Danis and I were at Wembley with the club......an unbelievable day. Robert Senior joined us (a Blue) as did Rich Robinson from EMI (a surrogate Blue) and Au, our Creative Director from Guangzhou, China, who made a 24 hour pilgrimage with a back pack, a dream and, a ticket!) For his first trip to Wembley.

What a week.......qualified for Europe and a major trophy. Life is good.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Rugby Top 200

From the “you’ve got to be joking” department, UK rugby writer for The Sunday Times Stephen Jones has named me #26 on a list of the 200 most influential people in the history of rugby football. Stephen compiled the list over several weeks in late 2010 and it has just been sent to me. I fell off my chair. He has put together an absorbing list of players, coaches, captains, administrators, journalists, commentators and all-round inspirational players.

A few years back, NZRU CEO David Moffett (#142 on the list) and I negotiated the All Blacks’ sponsorship deal with Adidas. I had previously led Steinlager’s sponsorship of the All Blacks, but there I was in 1997 negotiating with the late Robert Louis-Dreyfus the biggest sponsorship deal in New Zealand sporting history.

Some were expecting we would land Nike and plunge the All Blacks into some sort of global sporting carnival. No way. Adidas loved the values and legacy of the All Blacks, came onboard with total love and respect, and remain principal sponsor to this day. Stephen Jones calls it “one of the most successful marketing partnerships anywhere in sport”, and he’s correct. The All Blacks are the #1 ranked team in the world, they have the best historical win record of any team in sport, they are the team everyone wants to beat.

There are 22 New Zealanders on Stephen’s list – Jonah Lomu is his choice for the most influential rugby person of all time for the most electrifying performance in the history of the game, the World Cup semi-final between the All Blacks and England in 1995 in South Africa when he scored four tries. Colin Meads is 7 and my great mate Sean Fitzpatrick is 10, George Nepia 58, Vic Cavanagh 129, Don Clarke 170 and Farah Palmer 196. USA Rugby’s Nigel Melville is 111.

I’ve been through Stephen’s selection of players and picked my World XV based as much on character as on skill and achievements.

Fullback: Serge Blanco
Wingers: Jonah Lomu, David Campese
Centres: Mike Gibson, Dan Carter
Fly Half: Hugo Porta
Halfback: Gareth Edwards
No 8: Wayne Shelford
Flankers: Richie McCaw, Lawrence Dallaglio
Locks: Bill Beaumont (c), Colin Meads
Props: Wilson Whinerary, Olo Brown
Hooker: Sean Fitzpatrick
Coach: Graham Henry

Send me your own World XV selections. No South Africans or Irishmen in the side? Let the battle commence!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Together Counts

This week SaatchiNY has launched a movement with two magic ingredients: fun and family. ‘Together Counts’ is a new initiative for the Healthy Weight Foundation that aims to inspire us all to live active, healthy lives, together. In an always-on world where it’s all too easy to do your own thing – whatever age you are – this is inspired stuff, powered by Lovemarks and social gaming theory. The campaign challenges families to pledge to get together once a week for at least one meal and one activity, with the basic goal of balancing the number of calories you consume with the number you expend. To make it easier to keep your pledge, and to up the ante a little, the whole thing is backed by a great website with tips, stories, and a map where you can see how well you’re doing compared to other families in your state, and how your state matches up against others. There’s also a cool mobile app to log and track your progress. Virtual prizes reward the faithful and add an extra feel-good factor. I like that this feels so achievable. A Do One Thing approach. And surely the healthiest thing about this is what it’ll do for families that make the commitment and see it through. Nice one. Take the pledge.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Winning From The Edge

Last week I was back home in New Zealand, speaking to Deloitte alumni in Auckland and Wellington. Deloitte NZ CEO Murray Jack and his team had a great energy, and a vital question to ask: How can New Zealand win from the edge? It’s a time-honored theme for a country half a world away from most places, and more relevant than ever in an era of massive power shifts.

I started with a story that I feel sheds a good deal of light on the answer. A few days earlier I’d met a few young New Zealand entrepreneurs with some great ideas, ready to take on the world (stand up Stolen Rum (The Rum Runners) and 90 Seconds). Their concepts were exciting and they were up for anything. The only problem was where they were setting their sights: Melbourne. Sydney. London. Having been in Beijing earlier in the week, talking to students just as hungry to engage with the world as these aspiring young New Zealanders, the absurdity of it struck me powerfully. Here we are with China, the world’s most populous nation, with a rapidly growing economy not far from our doorstep, waiting with open arms, and still we’re obsessed with the mature markets of Australia and the UK! These are not markets to ignore, but there are other markets to prioritize for targeting your big idea. New Zealand will always be on the edge – which is a good thing – but the world is coming closer. We just need to open our eyes to the biggest opportunity, then act. To win from the edge we need to get enraged with the well-worn path to the status quo and adopt new thinking about how to succeed in the world. We need to start making things happen with China.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My Word

Last week I wrote about synaesthesia, a confusion of the senses that leads people to see and describe the world in strange and interesting ways, ascribing texture to color, scents to sounds and so on. A number of great poets and novelists have had this condition, drawing attention to both the beauty and the limits of language for expressing ourselves. Language carries culture, identity, ideology, dreams, emotions, entire worlds. And some languages have a knack for capturing concepts that elude all others, as if there is one, and one word only in all of existence that can define a particular idea, sensation or experience. Here’s an interesting article that pulls together a great selection from the global vocabulary. Words like this make the world a richer place, perhaps worth dropping into your next water cooler conversation:

Yagan (indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego) – The wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start.

Scottish – The act of hesitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name.

Brazilian Portuguese – The act of tenderly running one’s fingers through someone’s hair.

Indonesian – A joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh.

Arabic – Both morbid and beautiful at once, this incantatory word means “You bury me,” a declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person because of how difficult it would be to live without them.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Dan Plan

In his book Outliers Malcolm Gladwell shares a theory that if you practice something for 10,000 hours you become excellent at it. It’s something I’ve posted on before – the theory puts a number on the concept of grit, the amount of sheer perseverance needed to be truly successful at anything. And now someone has decided to put the theory to the test.

Dan McLoughlin is on a quest to transform himself from someone who had barely lifted a club, into a golf pro in 10,000 hours. He calls it The Dan Plan. It will take him six hours a day, six days a week, for six years. A little over one year in and he’s spent 1,400+ hours on the course, with a laser-like focus on building his short-game, working away from the hole, putt by putt, chip by chip. Forget about the hard yards. Dan is doing them all.

The point has been made that people have achieved excellence in other fields in 10,000 hours. But according to psychology professor Dr. Anders Ericsson, one of the experts consulted while Dan was formulating his plan, few start this late in life, from a zero-base, and document their efforts in such a deliberate way.

Dan humbly says that more than anything his experiment is about testing human potential, and opening up people’s eyes to what they can achieve if they give themselves over to a dream with relentless determination. Even if he doesn’t go all the way, he will have become the best golfer he can possibly be. In that sense he can’t fail…but I say nothing is impossible! Go for it Dan!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Is Your Boss a Pig?

KRConnect readers know I love Italy and have many personal connections: the late and dear Paolo Ettorre; my Italian daughter-in-law Clarissa and her two children with my son Ben Stella and Chloe; my great friend and former star rugby winger John Kirwan and his wife Fiorella; my friend Renzo Rosso of Diesel; the best watch designer in the world (Giuliano Mazzuoli); L’Espresso, the leading newsweekly in Italy for which I have written a quarterly essay for the past seven years; my friends at Illy…and the constantly inventive family at Saatchi & Saatchi Rome and Milan led by Fabrizio Caprara and Giuseppe Caiazza. In Italy there's an age old tradition where at the beginning of the year, you buy a piglet, fatten it up during the year and then slaughter it for the family... and the Italians use every last inch of that pig – from head to trotters... here is a story from Fabrizio about a recent visit. KR

Is your boss a pig? This is a question that everyone should ask about their boss! We treat Kevin like a pig; rather, like a pork. And we don't get fired for it either! It is a known fact that every little piece of the pork is used and nothing goes wasted. While my colleague Giuseppe Caiazza and myself were arranging one of Kevin’s visits to Italy we said "we have to consider Kevin like pork and exploit him to the max." Not a minute of his precious time has to be wasted. So we fill up his agenda to the top with meetings, speeches, interviews and photo sessions. We ask him to write letters to clients and prospects. And, since a picture is better than a thousand words, we asked Andrea Afeltra to draw Kevin as he would have appeared in a butcher shop. And this is the result. It's not our fault: Kevin always encourages us to be daring and values disobedience, so we have done nothing but obey him!

Monday, May 2, 2011

DOT Down In Palestine

Last year I was in Israel celebrating the 25th anniversary of BBR Saatchi & Saatchi at the Peres Centre for Peace. The team are working on cracking The Impossible Brief – bringing peace to Israel and Palestine after more than 60 years of conflict. While creative minds are working to achieve something monumental, a New Zealand surgeon has been recognized for his contribution in this difficult situation. Dr Alan Kerr volunteers to save the lives of children in Palestine, leading more than 25 surgery visits to Palestinian hospitals over the past 11 years. Dr. Kerr is credited with saving the lives of 600 children within the region with life-threatening cardiac disorders.

As a volunteer of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, Dr. Kerr has also been instrumental in building the only paediatric cardiac surgery program to serve Palestinian children locally. Last week he received Palestine’s highest award, the Medal of Honour, from Palestinian National Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas. I join Palestine in applauding Dr. Kerr for his life-saving efforts. It’s great to see the efforts of one of the world’s unsung heroes being recognized – Dr. Kerr is a wonderful example of how we can all make the world a better place by simply Doing One Thing.