Thursday, December 20, 2012

Win More With Less

One thing that has really stood out for me this year is how much people are getting “lost in the unnecessary”. Established companies try to cover as many bases as they can out of fear of getting overtaken by smaller businesses that claim to be more “agile”. More data means thicker and more complex reports that are less inspiring to read. People are sharing more online but not in proportion to the amount of new ideas we should be creating.

Steve Jobs once said that “deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do”. He would ask his top 100 people for 10 things they needed to do and then once the list was made tell them they could only do 3.

A.G. Lafley once told me “the important thing about a change programme is knowing what not to change”. Deciding what to eliminate not only helps you focus on what’s important, it also forces you to create a better product. Jeff Bezos has done it by working to “eliminate all the gatekeepers” that has been a barrier between consumers and suppliers.

Focusing on the important, not the urgent, will ensure that you do things right. And if you fail, you’ll be able to fix it faster too.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sustainable By Design

Sustainability is important, but convincing people to behave in a manner that is more sustainable is a challenge. This is where design comes in. Designers are already skilled at creating products that influence how people think, feel and interact.

An example was illustrated recently in an article in the Guardian. The humble kitchen kettle accounts for 4% of the UK’s household carbon emissions. 95% of its energy consumption comes from boiling water, something that is done an average of 2.4 times for every cup of tea or coffee made. Why so high? People over-fill the kettle, get distracted, don’t hear it finish, and then assume the water’s not hot enough so they turn it on again.

The solutions to a better kettle are simple. Bring back the whistle and people will know it’s finished. Redesign the water indicators so people know how much water they need. Build in a temperature gauge so you know whether it really needs to be turned on again. Three simple design changes. Three simple solutions to solving unsustainable behaviour.

There are almost no limits to where sustainable design can be applied. Take any item within arm’s reach and there’ll be a way to make it not only greener, but simply more beautiful and more efficient.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Mind’s Eye

Positive visualization helps us “see” ourselves in winning situations. It can motivate the actions and feelings we need to get to where we want to be, and psych us up for what’s ahead. Visualizing can help us run further, push harder and perform better. This is especially helpful if you’re feeling tired or deflated.

Athletes often envision themselves winning Gold, having medals put around their neck, holding up trophies, and crossing the finish line. It gives them the extra edge that drives their competitive spirit. But it’s not just the good times that get visualized. Many athletes have learned to develop mental toughness by “seeing” themselves face-to-face with potential challenges. By picturing potential adversities, and envisioning yourself successfully overcoming those obstacles, you can become more confident in your abilities.

Visualization is also not just about imagery; it’s a multi-sensory experience. Consider the senses of sound, smell, touch and taste. Dr. Krista Chandler from the University of Windsor, Canada, surveyed 150 athletes to learn about the effects of imagery on mental toughness, and found that more vivid visualizations help athletes reach their best.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Bums Off Seats

A few years back I posted on the standup desk at work. For the many of us who work sitting for prolonged periods, the health impacts of workplace inactivity are looking none too good. We gotta stand and move more.

It’s estimated that on average people who sit too much live a few years less. Watching an hour of TV can, it seems, take 22 minutes off your innings. And the rub is that being quite active when you’re not sitting for long stretches, research reveals, won’t protect you from significant health hazards.

As legs are for walking not parking, the inactivity research findings seem surprisingly obvious. The whole office work set up is ripe for a reframe, and the upright work movement is just one more reason to mix things up.

Luckily, stirring the blood isn’t hard. Techniques, of varying cost, include doing squats and steps, having walking meetings, adjustable workstations and treadmills desks. For health and happiness, get more vertical. Just by standing we burn 50 more calories per hour than sitting.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Food Thinking

In an effort to understand what drives today's food culture and get a glimpse of the future of food, gravity – a design and innovation company – conducted a study called 'Food Thinking'. The study found that all food decisions are made between two processes: cooking and shopping, which is where food marketers concentrate their efforts.

Other interesting insights include:
  • Food is bling. Cooks become celebrities. Food becomes cult.

  • People create 'food rules' for daily food which impact on shopping trends.

  • Food is modern-day DIY. Our kitchens represent craftsmanship.

  • Food needs simplicity. 1 out of six British women struggle to cook basic dishes.

  • Food transparency. We're seeking more information about our food, but do we really want to know where things come from?
Seems to me the only part their equation is lacking is the "moment of truth" i.e. the "eating" bit. Seems like an occasion to incant the Roberto Goizeta mantra "meet, beat, repeat". Yum.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


A recent article in Adweek on the way we like to communicate gave both comfort and concern. It seems that while the majority of us prefer to talk to our family and friends face-to-face, we’re happy to resort to emails and social media for co-workers and acquaintances. In the Age of Now where screens dominate and where we can always be in virtual contact, it is important to not take the easy route and simply send a message to people over having a conversation with them face-to-face.

At this level we’re able to engage with people on an emotional and personal level, less is lost through interpretation, and understanding can be met faster and better. Never is the exchange better or more fluid than when I am having a conversation with someone face-to-face. Taking the time to meet with the people in our lives can create an enormous lift in our mood and relationships. It can create the right chemistry to make ideas come alive. So take an extra two minutes to walk over to your co-worker and discuss an idea and ask them about their day.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Icelandic Ingenuity

There’s nothing like a good creative revolution to shake up the national economy and get struggling nations back on their feet. Iceland is the poster child of creative success, using their buoyant creative industries to bring their economy back from the brink of collapse.

A nation with strong entrepreneurial nous, immense design talent and a fondness for building start-ups based on great ideas, Iceland’s creative industry was already contributing more to the economy in 2009 than agriculture. It’s only grown since then.

Now Iceland is absolutely buzzing with creativity. With creative industries themselves growing by the day, people are now asking the question: How can creative thinkers use their talents to help other Icelandic industries experience the same success? The answer: Cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Iceland’s creative minds are pooling their talents and working with struggling industries to help make them more profitable. Take the Icelandic Academy of the Arts innovation project, Designers and Farmers. As the name suggests, the project brings together product and graphic designers, food scientists and farmers to help maximise profit and minimise waste in the farming industry.

And it’s working. Creative solutions to complex problems are emerging on a daily basis – it’s enough to tickle your taste buds. Literally. One solution saw black pudding cake (yes, cake!) added to the menu of the farm and restaurant Fjallakaffi. Why? The farm was known for its meat, but had no use for its offal. By swapping the traditional ingredient fat for root vegetables, the farm succeeded in significantly reducing waste, increasing profits and added a whole new arm to its business. Good thinking.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Beautiful Struggle

The Swiss have their chocolate, the Russians, caviar, but in New Zealand, we have Marmite. Unfortunately, the much-loved spread is pretty hard to get now days as the factory where Marmite is produced was damaged by the Christchurch earthquake. So in what looks like “Marmageddon”, New Zealanders have rationed their Marmite stocks and scraped their jars to the last. But there is a silver lining to this story.

Renowned Kiwi photographer Chris Sisarich, whose work has been exhibited at the MILK Gallery in New York, has collaborated with local celebrities and the Rebuild Christchurch Foundation to capture images of 19 empty Marmite jars for a charity auction. The jars represent the struggle, determination and patriotism of New Zealanders as they rebuild their lives in Christchurch.

“It’s evident that everyone has been scraping at the bottom to get every last bit out – I know I have – and I hope that other Kiwis are taking a moment to reflect on the difficulties of the past two years for Christchurch as they reach the bottom of their jars,” Chris says.

One original photograph of each celebrity’s Marmite jar has been framed with a signed lid and bidding took place at With contributors like ex-All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry and supermodel/actress Rachel Hunter, I am sure auction was fierce. All proceeds will go to the Rebuild Christchurch Foundation.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Most Emotional Country

If I asked you what the most emotional country in the world was, what place would immediately come to mind? South Americans are pretty emotional, and so are the Italians, but according to a Gallup survey, people in the Philippines are laughing and crying more than anyone else. On the other end of the spectrum, Singaporeans need some help sharing their feelings. Singapore is ranked the world's most emotionless society. The report says “Singaporeans are unlikely to report feelings of anger, physical pain, or other negative emotions. They’re not laughing a lot, either.” They are followed by Georgia, Lithuania and Russia.

It’s no secret that Singapore is one of the most productive and healthy economies in the world. Its economy has doubled in the past decade, and it’s become the hub for doing business in the booming Asia-Pacific region. But when asked questions about quality of life, well-being, and simple things like “Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?”, only 36% of Singaporeans responded affirmatively to the questions compared to 60% of Filipinos.

The findings of the survey have created some talk amongst Singaporean academics and government officials about how they can improve the emotional state of the country. So, why do the Philippines consistently score highly in satisfaction and happiness surveys? For Filipinos, happiness isn't material, it's about family, health and religion (they have the third highest weekly religious attendance in the world, 68%; Nigeria tops with 89 % followed by Ireland 84%). Filipinos are also generally self-sufficient, resilient people who get on with things.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Reacher’s Rules

It had to happen. Lee Child’s books starring the one-man vigilante army, Jack Reacher, are packed with street wisdom and rules of the road. With the film Jack Reacher coming out on December 21, interest in the character will skyrocket. Delacorte Press have just released a handy guide to the philosophy of “fiction’s toughest tough guy”, Jack Reacher’s Rules. Here’s a starter for 10:

“If in doubt, drink coffee.”
“To be afraid of a survivable thing is irrational.”
“Focus on the job at hand.”
“Keeping your mouth shut is a devastating weapon.”
“Never retreat, just advance in the opposite direction.”
“Optimism is good, blind faith is not.”
“Serene self-confidence works wonders.”
“Know when to get mad, and know when to count to ten before you get mad.”
“Always move on and never look back. Never do the same thing twice.”
“Look, don’t see; listen, don’t hear. The more you engage, the longer you survive.”

And here’s a “reader’s rule” from Amazon’s page that will be tested on December 21: “Never let Tom Cruise play you in a movie. Especially if you are described as being 6 foot 5 inches tall.”

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sounds Like More Screens

Not too long ago, ad breaks meant time to make a cup of tea or hit fast forward on the TiVo. Now it seems audiences are not tuning out, but tuning in while switching screens. They may not be looking at their televisions, but many are using ads as a window of opportunity to send emails, browse the Web, or check feeds on Twitter or Facebook.

A study conducted for Bravo Media by Latitude Research surveyed more than 1,000 people and observed more than 100 people watching TV in a variety of situations. It found that 73% of those surveyed used a second screen while watching a program, increasing their likelihood of refraining from ad skipping. It also found that viewers using both a smartphone and a tablet or laptop were around 20% less likely to skip through ads than those only using a smartphone (40% versus 50%).

This presents a number of opportunities for advertisers and TV networks. Being smart about sound can help capture audiences and offer cues for interacting with consumers instantly through other devices. So, instead of ads now being a break, they give advertisers the opportunity to tune into audiences even more.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Love To Win, Hate To Lose

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of football’s iconic players (shame he is not with us at the Etihad). He’s an idol to millions and a symbol of what happens when talent, commitment and dreams come together. However, besides the football and fame what really drives this sporting superstar is his life philosophy ‘Love to Win, Hate to Lose’. Now Ronaldo is letting others adopt this mantra through a new line of shoes and clothing developed in partnership with Nike.

Each piece in the collection features a logo of a heart slashed by an X, representing Ronaldo’s ‘Love to Win, Hate to Lose’ mentality. It’s a brilliant visualization of an idea that can be worn over the heart like a badge of honor. This idea acknowledges that winning is all about frame of mind. Whether you’re a professional athlete or the average guy, wanting to win is a great attitude to adopt in everyday life. It’s uncompromising, results focused and driven by passion.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Culture Keepers

In youth sport in the US, one of the roles of a ‘Responsible Sports’ environment is the "Culture Keeper"; someone who makes sure that everyone (coaches, players, fans) adheres to team values. These people promote and protect the integrity of their sport and ensure that morale is maintained and undesirable situations averted. Team culture is important because it makes people give their 100% by inspiring them to believe in what they do.
At Saatchi & Saatchi our culture is based on:
  • Our Inspirational Dream: To be revered as the hot house for world changing creative ideas that transform our clients’ businesses, brands and reputations.
  • Our Focus: To fill the world with Lovemarks.
  • Our Spirit: One Team, One Dream – Nothing Is Impossible. 
Great results also come from shared purpose. In his book, Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World's Greatest Companies, former P&G GMO Jim Stengel chronicles a ten-year study of the world’s fifty top businesses and discovers that those with strong positive corporate culture grew rate triple that of competitors in their categories. The All Blacks have also developed a strong culture to become the most successful international sports team, with an 84% win ratio against all opposition. Strong cultures make winners and leaders – it’s the reason why every company should have its own “Culture Keeper”.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


In this digital age of iPads, iPhones, TVs, computer screens, etc., it is sometimes good to go back to the future. A couple of nights ago I went to an IMAX theater to watch Skyfall. The screen was amazing. It wasn't like being at the movies, it was like being in the movies. The sound was absolutely incredible. You could smell the Scottish heather at the end of the movie.

We are all Screenagers but that IMAX experience reminded me that mobility and personalization are one thing but you can't beat a big movie on a big screen with big sound.

And Javier Bardem stole the show. What an amazing performance. It looked like he was having loads of fun.

(And incidentally, am I the only one that's noticed how big Daniel Craig's ears are?)