Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Nuggets of Now

I've been diving and delving further into the ‘Age of Now’ lately, today’s warp speed living which affects everything from health and happiness to marketing and real-politick. The Now is the tech-generated, always-on, 24/7/365/forever lifestream, channel-agnostic, hyper-convenient, screen-powered, impulse-driven, location-aware, instant everything, rush (phew!) away from yesterday’s regrets and tomorrow’s fears into the brightest light of the moment.

The Now is where life happens. It’s where we really live. Most importantly, it’s where we feel good in a hard-hitting world that takes no prisoners. On that note here are four recent instant developments that made me blink:
  • Baby strollers are now available with LCD dashboards, cell phone chargers and power-folding features (remove baby first).

  • Fiction is up from 67% of the titles in USA TODAY’S weekly top 150 in 2007 to 78% last year – as people push the ‘escape’ button.

  • “Creative” came out as LinkedIn’s ‘top overused buzzword’ people use to describe themselves last year in Australia, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, the UK and the US. The year before, it didn’t even make the U.S top ten.

  • TV viewers can now make impulse purchases of products they see with their remote controls. The History Channel goes super present.
Life lived to the full in the moment.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Tom Peters has the edge, literally

I’m a big fan of the rock’n roll school of business initiated by Tom Peters. The guy is a human dynamo who has infectious energy and a relentless flow of ideas, revelations, and wisdom. I gigged with Tom in London in 2004 soon after Lovemarks: the Future Beyond Brands was published. Now it can be revealed that Tom and I share an inspiration: the country of New Zealand, edge of the world. His blog reports this week that “Tom and his wife, Susan, have fallen deeply in love with New Zealand. Each year they spend several months there. Right now, they're making their way to the near-literal antipode of Vermont to begin their 2012 respite.” Some pretty interesting people have made New Zealand their home over the decades, from philosopher Karl Popper to painter Frederick Hundertwasser to The Peddlers Roy Phillips (who tours NZ in March with Georgie Fame). Have a great New Zealand summer Tom; remember that change happens first on the edge of the species, so I look forward to what you produce during your sojourn. And if you’re in Queenstown on February 23-24 where I’m speaking to the Entrepreneur’s Summit, the beer’s on me.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

AdAge Accolades

Three Saatchi & Saatchi agencies in our Latin American network have been recognized for outstanding creativity and innovation in AdAge’s Agency A-List this week.

F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, Brazil, is International Agency of the Year runner-up in recognition for work on Nike, Carrefour and Olay. The agency has consistently created inspiring movements that bring people together – whether through their love of sport, or efforts to fight hunger. Their work is always full of emotion and a sense of Now.

Del Campo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, Argentina, listed as one of the 10 most creative agencies in the world. This is the second consecutive year the agency has listed on the A-List; winning International Agency of the Year last January. Their brilliant and entertaining ideas continue to surprise and delight. Watch their campaigns for BGH and Andes Beer. Who wouldn’t want a musical microwave or an intelligent beer cooler?

Conill, Saatchi & Saatchi’s U.S. Hispanic agency, was highlighted as a standout shop for double-digit growth and a reputation for creative use of non-traditional media. Their campaign for T-Mobile’s family plans featured a telephone call that lasted for the entire duration of a telenovela episode. An example of integrated TV and digital advertising that really hit the spot with its audience.

Congratulations to Fabio, Pablo and Cynthia, and all their people on this tremendous result.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Celebrate Happiness

The search for happiness is one thing we all have in common – something that binds us together as a species. We could all do with a bit more happiness in our lives, so perhaps the time is right for World Happy Day which is coming up on February 11th.

That Saturday thousands of people around the world will come together to watch the premier screening of the new documentary, Happy – filmed everywhere from the deserts of Namibia to the villages of Okinawa, this documentary delves into the mysteries of our most treasured emotion. The latest creation from Academy Award nominated director Roko Belic, Happy seeks to answer the big question about happiness: what makes us happy?

To me happiness is about making connections, creating moments, and living in the now. So what better way to celebrate a global day of happiness than by coming together as and enjoying a film about the sensation we are all searching for? Screenings are happening in countries around the world so find one near you, head along and get happy!

The New York screening is being presented by Shirley Moulton’s Academi of Life, Saturday, 7pm February 11, Society for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th Street, NY 10023

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Secrets of Success

The world is full of success stories – tales where the little guy takes a great idea and builds a thriving business, dominates an industry or takes over the world. But emulating such success is no easy task and can be daunting for even the most experienced person.

So how do you become successful? It’s a tricky question and one that Richard St. John was posed by an ambitious student he sat beside on his way to a TED conference. While attending the conference, Richard decided to make use of the talented people that attend TED, tapping into their wealth of experience to help arm students with tips on how to succeed.

Seven years and over 500 interviews later Richard believes he’s finally cracked it, distilling hundreds of success stories from some of the world’s highest achievers down to just eight tips.

1. PassionDo it for love, not money
2. WorkNothing comes easily, but be a ‘workafrolic’ not a workaholic
3. GoodBecome really good at what you do
4. FocusCentre your attention on one thing
5. PushDrive yourself mentally and physically
6. ServeOffer other people something of value
7. IdeasListen, be curious, problem solve and make connections
8. PersistThe number one reason for success

This checklist is about becoming better at what you do. Grow not push (I’m not a hamster on a treadmill); inspire yourself don’t drive yourself; help not serve. Watch Richard speak for yourself here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Being Grateful

We all have many things to be grateful for and often we’re so busy in the chaos of daily life to take time and fully appreciate everything we have. For this reason gratitude is sometimes referred to as the ‘forgotten happiness’.

Studies by the University of California have shown that people who keep regular weekly gratitude journals exercise more, report fewer physical health problems and feel better about their lives as whole compared to those people who recorded hassles or neutral events in their journal.

People who are grateful are less likely to judge their own, and others’ success, by the possessions they own and are more willing to share what they have with others. The key to achieving happiness from gratitude is to be aware of, and grateful for, the blessings in your life. Reminding yourself about what really matters helps you put things in perspective and sweating the small stuff no longer seems as important.

On busy days I’m grateful just to have the time to drink a cup of Illy coffee, listen to good music, and take in the view. Livin’ the slow life.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Good for Growth

Jim Stengel was a client of Saatchi & Saatchi’s when he was for seven years the Global Marketing Officer of Procter & Gamble during the decade in which AG Lafley as CEO doubled the revenue of the company. They were heady times, and “heady” is not a word you often associate with P&G. Jim was the guy who opened the company out, emotionalized it, gave its inner soul an outer skin. He championed the purpose-inspired mantra “Touching Life, Improving Lives.” Since 2008 Jim has been charting a purpose-filled post-career career as a teacher, a high level consultant, and now as an author of a book with an appropriately simple and beautiful title “Grow”. The subtitle is “How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies.” I’m in the Ideas Business; Jim’s in Ideals. No big difference, in fact on the same path.

I have a fundamental belief that the role of business is to make the world a better place. Jim’s expression is “improving the lives of the people a business serves.” He has teamed with data crunchers Millward Brown to produce the “Stengel 50” – a ranking of 50 companies that have exponentially improved their profits by dedicating themselves to improving the lives of customers. Win-Win. His top 50 have generated a traditional ROI of 400% better than S&P. It’s a similar metric to the validation work QiQ did with Lovemarks ie substantial margin accrues to producers who completely empathize with consumers and answer convincingly their killer question: “How will you improve my life?”

Coincidentally, Jim and I were both born in a town called Lancaster, him in Pennsylvania, me in England. We were hip-to-hip on a cadre of P&G campaigns and now we’re simpatico with Ideas and Ideals. We need to regenerate growth, and Grow by Jim Stengel is a great place to start.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Regrets of the Dying/Lessons for the Living

Steve Jobs, Christopher Hitchens, Socrates – three passings in late 2011 of swashbuckling performers. When someone goes “before their time” there is often reflection on the meaning of live, and what a well-lived life, purpose-inspired might look like. I found some deep meaning in a recent post by Bronnie Ware, an Australian singer songwriter who worked for many years in palliative care.

She observed how each patient experienced tremendous emotional growth in the final stages of their life – a mix of denial, fear, anger, remorse, and eventually acceptance. She found that every single patient found their peace before they departed. When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five she found.
  1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. This was the most common regret of all. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

  2. I wish I didn't work so hard. This came from every male patient that she nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. They deeply regretted spending so much of their lives working.

  3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings. Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deseved.

  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content.

She has now written a book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. Her key message: When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. Life is a choice. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

As Bob Dylan said “He not busy being born is busy dying.”

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

One Shot?

A few years ago I was musing on why one of my favorite fiction tough guys – Jack Reacher – hadn’t been made into an ongoing film series. And anyone who is a Lee Child fan will now know that the first movie, One Shot, is coming to a Hollywood screen near you. For hard core fans of Reacher, a noble nomadic loner with no real possessions except a moral code that dispatches anything on the wrong side of right, what could be better? From the WSJ, here’s the story of how Reacher finally leapt off the pages and into sight, sound and motion – including the various false starts and the casting issues that finally led to Tom Cruise getting the role.

As you’d expect there’s been a lot of chatter about the diminutive Cruise (5-foot-8) getting the role of a character so much taller and tougher (6-feet-5 and 250 pounds). Love Tom or not (and I don’t), Jim Grant (aka Lee Child) has changed tack and put his weight behind Cruise: "With another actor you might get 100% of the height but only 90% of Reacher. With Tom, you'll get 100% of Reacher with 90% of the height." Does he mean this or is it just hype?

If the popularity of the latest Mission Impossible is anything to go by, Child might mean it. He says the One Shot film will be extremely faithful to the book, underscoring that’s it’s the storytelling that will ultimately decide whether it’s a one shot movie or the next Jason Bourne film franchise. Let’s hope the screen play has chops. With 50 million copies in the series sold worldwide, it’s time for Hollywood to step up.

Monday, January 16, 2012

America's Most Promising Companies

Forbes recently released its list of America’s Most Promising Companies, and its analysis is compulsory reading for anyone who has ever dreamt of starting their own business. This is more than sales figures and spin – there are some truly inspirational stories about how these companies (some of which are still pre-revenue) got started, what their business plans are, and where they want to be 10 years from now. Possible future household names include Smashburger, Boku, Secondmarket, Servicenow.

One of the coolest outfits on the list is CampusBookRentals.com. It does what it sounds like, renting out text books to college students. Starting capital came from a handful of credit card applications submitted at the same time. Crazy. The result is an astounding business, vibrant and with unreal growth potential in a $10 billion market. In the fall 2011 semester the company saved students $10 milllion by enabling them to rent books they would otherwise have to buy.

Part of the Forbes feature is a video of a mentoring session where CampusBookRentals founder Alan Martin sits down with billionaire business owner Clay Mathile to discuss an opportunity to expand into a new area. Mathile has a killer instinct – his best question to Martin: Weighing up the risk of diversifying is a smart thing to do, but in a competitive world you also have to ask yourself – can I afford not to do this?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Vegan Warriors

I’m a firm believer that great organizations, great brands and great people are purpose-inspired. There’s nothing more refreshing than a lively spirit driven to make a positive difference in the world.

On the individual track, there are plenty of high profile examples, not least Steve Jobs thinking different and Oprah living her best life everyday. At the same time, there are inspirers and instigators around every corner in life, and they come in all combinations and from the most unlikely places.

It turns out this includes vegan bodybuilders, as this NYT article reveals. As counterintuitive as it sounds, there is a niche community of vegan bodybuilders competing these days (and even winning) against meat eaters in the mankini-wearing muscles-flexing wars.

Reasons for bodybuilders to go vegan can range from better health to personal beliefs to steroid rebellion. I love the observation of one victorious vegan body builder here: “I’m no longer an athlete, I’m a warrior now. There’s a big difference. The athletes are just out to get paid. Warriors stand for something.” Fantastic, Purpose-Inspired to the pips and core.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hugh's Song and Dance

Hugh Jackman is feeling the love. Men love him for his cigar chomping, butt-kicking performances as Wolverine. Women love him for his Broadway theatrics. He happens to be a neighbor – living just up the road in the West Village. Many a Saatchi & Saatchi employee has made morning small talk with him in line at Amy’s Bread and other local restaurants.

I bring all this up because Hugh is living proof that even if money can’t buy you love, love sure can make you money. His recent run on Broadway Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway just broke the Shubert Organization’s box office record, bringing in over $14 million in 10 weeks. Said The New York Times, “This impossibly talented, impossibly energetic actor practices safe sex like nobody else. His polished song-and-dance show is like a great, guilt-free, platonic one-night stand. All he asks is that you love him loving you loving him.”

Song and dance is eternal, people have been doing it for millennia, and the power of music is still way beyond anything else out there. What I love about Australia’s favorite son (and yes, his show leaves you loving Aussie as well), is that you feel how much joy he’s experiencing by giving it out.

So congrats on the success Hugh. Legions will be thrilled by this week’s announcement that you’re back on Broadway as Harry Houdini in an Aaron Sorkin-scripted, Stephen Schwartz-scored musical. Wicked!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Better Angels

This is a feel-good story from someone who sees and knows the darker side of human nature. Nicholas D. Kristof is a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the New York Times who covers things like human trafficking, epidemic violence, child prostitution, war and genocide. He’s a beacon-bearer against injustice, often reporting on the ground from places of horror and neglect.

But Kristof has good news. He’s been reading – and agrees with – a new book by Harvard psychology Steven Pinker professor called The Better Angels of Our Nature. In it Pinker chronicles an improvement in moral progress and points to the conclusion that (in Kristof’s words) we seem to be getting...nicer.

Harsh as the world often seems (and sometimes unquestionably is), we’re on an upwards trajectory. Pinker invites us to look over our shoulders, considering today’s problems in the context of past atrocities. His view that things are getting better is backed by the numbers – for example, tribal warfare was much more deadly than war is today, murder rates were 30 times higher in Mediaeval Europe, and rates for a long list of other crimes are down, down, down.

The question then is, how could this happen if human nature isn’t improving? Why would the world be any different if we hadn’t changed? Pinker suggests, and Kristof repeats, that compassion is on the rise and moral growth is happening, maybe thanks to things like education, trade and the exchange of ideas triumphing over bigotry and intolerance. Whatever the cause of the up tick the lesson is clear: stay restless and enraged about everything that’s wrong with the world, but don’t let it get you down. Imagine what looking back could be like 50 years from now?

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year's Rulin's

Woody Guthrie wrote an inspirational set of "New Year's Rulin's" which I wrote about on KR Connect in 2011.

Following Woody's lead and style, here's how I'm approaching 2012.

Get fit.
(Don't get injured.)
Help people.
Do what's right.
Be true.
Learn new stuff.
Write new book.
Dream good.
Live life slow.
Be happy.