Saturday, December 31, 2016

Best Leadership Books Of 2016

Here's a nice way to close out the year. 64 Shots features in Leadership Now's best books on leadership for 2016. Here's the full line-up. Make 2017 a big one for leaders at all levels.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
To thrive in the new economy—the current information economy—you need to master these two core abilities: 1. The ability to quickly master hard things; and 2. The ability to produce at an elite level, in terms of both quality and speed.

Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent by Sydney Finkelstein
Although Superbosses may differ in leadership styles, they share a playbook that leads to extraordinary success founded on making other people successful.

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
Adam Grant demonstrates how originality, can and should be taught and nurtured. Anyone can innovate if given the opportunity and the support.

The Three-Box Solution: A Strategy for Leading Innovation by Vijay Govindarajan
Ultimately our future is not in linear—incremental—improvements. It is in nonlinear—nonconforming, breakthrough—change.

Learning Leadership: The Five Fundamentals of Becoming an Exemplary Leader
by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner
Learning Leadership is a comprehensive guide to unleashing the inner-leader in us all and to building a solid foundation for a lifetime of leadership growth and mastery.

64 Shots: Leadership in a Crazy World by Kevin Roberts
The punchy insights into winning - hitting readers lightly jab after jab - are an array of one-liners, sound bites, tweets, charts, quotes and historical reference points.

The Outward Mindset: Seeing Beyond Ourselves by The Arbinger Institute
The Outward Mindset enables individuals and organizations to make the one change that most dramatically improves performance, sparks collaboration, and accelerates innovation—a shift to an outward mindset.

Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade by Robert Cialdini
What separates effective communicators from truly successful persuaders? Optimal persuasion is achieved only through optimal pre-suasion. In other words, to change “minds” a pre-suader must also change “states of mind.”

Hopping over the Rabbit Hole: How Entrepreneurs Turn Failure into Success by Anthony Scaramucci
So much of successful entrepreneurship is learning to lead yourself. More than anything it means always pressing forward and a good dose of creativity especially when things don’t look good.

Managing in the Gray: Five Timeless Questions for Resolving Your Toughest Problems at Work by Joseph L. Badaracco Jr.
Five questions we should be asking to resolve the inevitable gray areas we will all face from time to time. Gray areas demand our best judgment. The five questions provide a way to get there.

Simply Brilliant: How Great Organizations Do Ordinary Things in Extraordinary Ways
by William C. Taylor
In a time of wrenching disruptions and exhilarating advances, of unrelenting turmoil and unlimited promise, the future is open to everybody. The thrill of breakthrough creativity and breakaway performance can reimagine what’s possible in their fields.

The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues
by Patrick M. Lencioni
Whether you’re a leader trying to create a culture around teamwork, a staffing professional looking to hire real team players, or a team player wanting to improve yourself, this book will prove to be as useful as it is compelling.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas Y'All.

We are in our Carefree, Arizona home for a Cowboy Christmas. Last night was a sing-song around the fire with two elves, grandkids Kendall and Cameron who livened up the evening with two Christmas chestnuts. We wanted to share their love and festive holiday spirit with you.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Retail Physics

Online shopping is on a roll. Today around eight-in-ten Americans are online shoppers. 79% have made an online purchase of any kind, 51% have bought on a cellphone and 15% have purchased by following a link from social media sites. These are among the findings of an interesting survey from Pew on how new technologies are impacting a broad range of Americans’ commercial behaviors. Back in the first Pew online shopping survey of 2000, only 22% of Americans had made a purchase online.

The story within the story, is that human fundamentals remain just that. What stands out is that US shoppers still prefer physical stores. All things being equal , almost two thirds of US consumers prefer to visit physical stores. 20% report never shopping online, 15% say an e-commerce purchase happens weekly, 28% report buying online a few times each month, and 37% less often.

Looking beyond this, technology is a game changer, price is a pretty big deal, and your phone is pretty smart. When considering a purchase, around two thirds Americans  typically compare the in-store price with the online price  and pick the cheapest. About one fifth say they would buy from stores without checking prices online. About one seventh would typically buy online without checking prices at physical stores first. Notable is that half of U.S. adults under 50 routinely check online reviews before buying new items, even though many are concerned whether these reviews are trustworthy.

In the physical shopping environment, the mobile is a magic multitasker. Pew: 59% of US consumers use it in a physical store to call or text to talk over a purchase, 45% research reviews or other product info. Another 45% search online for cheaper, and 12% use their mobile to buy in-store. The future of shopping is coming around the corner. It’s a fun fest of format variations where convenience, cost and customization meet touch, and care and warmth. The trick for retailers is to find the sweet spots.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Restore A Church

Many years ago – 1999 – I spoke to the clergy of the Christchurch Diocese in St Peter’s Anglican Church, Parish of Upper Riccarton-Yaldhurst, the oldest stone church in Christchurch, New Zealand. I was invited to talk about the relevance of spirituality in contemporary life, whether religions – churches – can be viewed through a brand matrix – and how to reverse declining congregations.

St Peter’s church was consecrated on Easter Sunday, 1858. Its graveyard is the resting place of Nurse Maude, John Ballantyne, William Moorhouse, Sir Henry Wigram and many other notable Cantabrians.

St Peter’s plays a significant role in the community, and is connected with around a dozen community groups. The 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes severely damaged the church, and worship has not been possible since.

Good news! Fundraising and restoration of this beautiful and beloved site is underway, and it is now consented to be repaired, strengthened, and some helpful additions provided. Support of course is needed and there are some cool ways to help, from buying artwork to the ‘Living Stones’ campaign to rebuild this special place: there will be some new blocks and stones which you can purchase in your own name or that of a loved one. Furthermore, via a map, you can find your block or stone in the restored church at any time. Following a donation, you will be automatically sent a tile to upload and share on Facebook encouraging others in your network to support the project.

The church provides support and care to some of the most vulnerable community members via Petersgate, a counselling service run out of St Peter’s in conjunction with the Parish. Statistics consistently show that since the 2010/2011 earthquakes the need for services like this has been on the rise in the region. St Peter’s Anglican Church plays a significant role in the community. Join this worthy and wonderful movement here.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

I Read The News Today – Oh Boy

Christmas looming… my favorite gift for giving – ‘The Beatles Lyrics’ by Hunter Davies. The stories behind the songs of the greatest band ever. The soundtrack of baby boomers lives everywhere. Brilliantly put together and commentated by a man who was there, a Beatles (and Football!) obsessive, a humorist, and a friend. Carlisle’s own Hunter Davies. Buy it for Dad now (and read it yourself too).

Amazon Go: Just Walk Out

‘No lines, no checkout. (No, seriously.)’ I like where Amazon is headed at it punches further into bricks-and-mortar retail with its Grab-and-Go grocery experience, Amazon Go. It’s a store with no checkout required. An app on your smart phone along with technology (computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning) take care of that. You scan the app to enter the store, take what you need, and just leave. Technology automatically tracks everything in or out of your virtual cart. Pick something up, it’s in. Put something back, it’s out. When you leave the store, technology adds up your virtual cart and your Amazon account is charged. A receipt will be sent to the app. See how Amazon Go works. Questions such as handling shoplifting and monitoring age for alcohol purchases are still to be answered. The concept is currently in beta in Seattle with Amazon employees, and will open to the public in 2017.

Technology continues to disrupt retail and, every now and then, it makes things easy, timely and fun. This ‘Just Walk Out Shopping’ feels like tech working as it really should. How many times have you aborted a grocery dash because it’s rush hour in the supermarket and lines are out the door? No more if Amazon continues in this direction. With an account, a smartphone and a free app you are in, out, rung up and cooking with gas.

It’s another smart move from Amazon supremo Jeff Bezos as he serves up options and carves out the future. One of his leadership lessons is: "determine what your customers need, and work backwards." Take the pain points out of shopping and a retailer wins an instant fan base. Way to go.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Protecting One Of England’s Most Dramatic Natural Landscapes

William Wordsworth (1770-1850) was one of the most influential Romantic poets. He was born in Cumbria and in 1799 he settled at Dove Cottage in Grasmere where he wrote his most famous poem ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ in 1804.

Grasmere has been my UK home for over a decade, inspired by Wordsworth’s lines in his poem 'The Recluse': “On Nature’s invitation do I come,/By Reason sanctioned. Can the choice mislead,/That made the calmest, fairest spot on earth,/With all its unappropriated good,/My own.”

Just as efforts are getting underway to promote literary tourism in the Lake District, the National Grid are planning to fill the clouds with 150 foot electrical pylons, fencing in a 3.5km stretch in the Whicham Valley, just 10 metres from the Lake District Park's legal boundary. The line of pylons will also run right across the top of the Duddon Estuary interrupting stunning views into and out of the high fells of the Lake District, scarring a cherished landscape steeped in history.

Landscape charity Friends of the Lake District and campaign group Power Without Pylons have teamed up to fight the pylon plan. “We do not consider ourselves as NIMBYs, but rather LAYBYs. This stands for ‘Looking After Your Back Yard’. We are trying to protect our wonderful landscape for all the future generations of visitors.”

Graham Barron, secretary of Power Without Pylons, said: “Protecting this important area is not just a local issue but a national issue. Over 40 million people visit Cumbria each year to enjoy these special landscapes: they don't want them scarred by lumps of metal and unsightly overhead wires. There are feasible alternatives to pylons which we have campaigned for from the outset. If enough people state their objections to giant pylons in writing we believe the wall of opposition will force National Grid to reconsider.”

Christopher Wordsworth, descendant of the poet said, “William Wordsworth was enthralled by the unique beauty of the Duddon, which inspired his famous series of sonnets. As much as the works of my ancestor are an important part of our literary heritage, his ‘long-loved Duddon’ is an important part of our natural heritage. We owe it to his memory to preserve its beauty for future generations to enjoy.”

Friends of the Lake District are urging local people to take part in a consultation which ends on the 6th of January. Take inspiration from the protesters of the South Dakota pipeline. The people of Cumbria have accepted nuclear power plants in the region that form a key element of the UK’s national electricity grid. We will not accept, however, the industrialization of our revered landscape that is enjoyed by millions of Britons and international travelers.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Reform Club 11 January

I’ve had the honor of addressing many and varied audiences in some of the world’s most stunning buildings including The Royal Albert Hall, the British Museum and the O2 Arena in London, Radio City Music Hall and The Waldorf in New York, The Ritz in Paris, the Hall of Sciences in Vienna, the Palais des Festival in Cannes, and the Casa da Música in Porto.

My first speaking engagement of 2017 will see me address the cream of the UK’s business and marketing community as a guest of Beattie – The Creative Communications Group - at London’s famous Reform Club, founded in 1836 as a forum for the radical ideas that the first Reform Bill represented.

Designed by renowned English architect Sir Charles Barry, best known for his role in the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster, the club’s palatial Italian interior, based on the Palazzo Farnese in Rome, can still be enjoyed to this day in all its glory.

As well as having many noteworthy members throughout the years including William Makepeace Thackeray, Arnold Bennett, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and H.G. Wells, Sir Winston Churchill was said to have conducted many incognito cabinet meetings in the club’s secret chambers.

The club has appeared throughout popular culture and literature including Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days and in films such as Miss Potter, Quantum of Solace and Sherlock Holmes. Madonna famously filmed the fencing scene in her music video for Die Another Day in the stunning reception hall and staircases. 

So what better way to start the year than in the company of today’s brilliant and creative minds in a setting that’s steeped in creative history…

A few places remain for my talk at the event at 2pm on Wednesday 11th January 2017 in the stunning library at The Reform Club on Pall Mall.

If you are interested in attending email Elspeth at:

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Shopping The Future

Worldwide retail sales hit $24 trillion last year, not exactly small beer. The massive retail business is switching on technology and is changing so fast that analysis is always chasing reality. That doesn’t it mean it shouldn’t try, and IDC have some useful signposts for retailers in its top 10 predictions for worldwide retail 2017.

Watchwords are transformation, disruption, integration, expectation and security. Here are five IDC predictions that lift the experiential side where the game will be won:

1. By 2019, digital transformation investments will triple, drawing funds away from store capital and profoundly changing the retail industry

2. Intelligent assistants will become a must-have app in 2017 and support shoppers' "jobs to be done" in context-aware omnichannel conversations by 2018

3. Retail mobile enablement will triple mobile investments in 2017 and double spending on wireless infrastructure through 2019

4. By 2019, 20% of major retailers will use augmented reality to enrich the product selection experience and convert shoppers to buyers three times faster

5. By 2019, artificial intelligence will change how 25% of merchants, marketers, planners and operators work, improving productivity by 30% and key performance indicators by 10–20%

How technology and emotionality come together with a human touch is the key. Is it convenient and compelling, intimate and inspiring? Retailers need to be irresistible, not robotic, across all four consumer touch points: See it; Search it; Shop it; Share it.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Jonah Lomu Legacy

The global Rugby community came together last Thursday in the Winter Marquee on Finsbury Square in the heart of the City of London. The Legacy Trust set up in NZ to provide for Jonah’s two young sons, had the foresight and courage to put on an event in London, believing that Jonah’s impact on the game transcended one country and was universal. And they were right.

1000 guests attended the black tie occasion honouring Jonah who tragically passed away a year ago.

Ex-England lock Martin Bayfield MC’d, and was joined by Zinzan Brooke, Justin Marshall, Ali Williams, Anton Oliver, Jonny Wilkinson, Martin Johnson, Schalk Burger, Neil Back, Michael Lynagh and many other Rugby Legends.

I hosted a table for four Lancaster Royal Grammar School students, three teachers and Old Lancashian father and son Brian (ex-England Coach) and Tony (ex-England video analyst) Ashton. What a night.

Eddie Jones and Dylan Hartley took time off before their game vs Australia and spoke warmly about Jonah; a man who transcended Rugby, as Pelé did soccer, Michael Jordan did basketball, Wayne Gretsky did hockey, Mohammed Ali did boxing, and Tiger Woods did golf.

The evening raised over £250,000 for Jonah’s sons.

Bravo England. Bravo Rugby.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Accentuating Love

12 years on from writing Lovemarks: the Future Beyond Brands, Accenture Interactive – a branch of the global consulting company – has produced The Love Index, following an 18 month study involving 27,000 participants in the US, UK and Brazil.

Their conclusion: Love is a science; and there is a formula – Fun, Relevant, Engaging, Social, Helpful. Spelling FRESH. Cute!

Key findings were:
  • Each industry has its own Love profile. Relevance, for example, is the highest dimension for the auto industry.
  • Disrupters that lead with Helpful, Relevant and Engaging become loved. They cite Tesla and Amazon as examples.
  • Digital companies are most prone to be loved, emphasizing the role of technology in enabling brands to be Helpful and Social. Google and Amazon are cited.
Netflix topped the study’s most loved brand.

Several things about this initiative stand out for me.
  • It’s good to see further validation of the idea I floated into the world in 1999 by way of speeches and in 2004 by way of the Lovemarks book.
  • More significantly is the provenance of the Love Index. Accenture “is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. With more than 373,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives.”
  • According to Ad Age, the top 3, and 8 of the top-10 ad agencies are consultancies like Deloitte, Accenture, KPMG and PwC. McKinsey is slowly building an agency arm.
  • Ad industry pundit Avi Dan noted in Forbes that in the last 18 months Accenture acquired 40 marketing firms while within a single week IBM acquired three online ad agencies.
  • It’s an oft-quoted projection from Gartner that the biggest users of corporate IT will be CMOs. Every one of the trillions of daily consumer transactions in the world adds to the galaxy of data. Highly sophisticated algorithms and data-mining techniques spew out streams of patterns and insights – if only there was time to keep up with the flow.
  • Data is a dangerous path to ride. Look at the Clinton and Trump campaigns. Clinton’s campaign was significantly driven by an algorithm called Ada, informing her messaging, ad placement, where she went and where she didn’t. Big fail. Trump traded heavily on negative emotion (loss, fear) and gut feeling. It was ugly, but effective.
For my workover of the Emotion/Data equation, see the Red Paper I published in 2015 Loyalty Beyond Reason. Love remains a winning idea, more than ever in this VUCA world. As the bumper sticker says, “Love Trumps Hate.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Finders, Minders, Binders And Grinders

In the 1990’s I became very close to Australia’s finest athletes as Castlemaine Perkins in Queensland, one of the breweries we bought from Alan Bond, sponsored the country’s top teams – the Wallabies, the Kangaroos, and the Cricket team. I was lucky enough to spend a good deal of time with their Captains/Leaders Nick Farr-Jones, Mal Meninga and Allan Border.

I had dinner in Sydney last night with Nick and his wife Angie. Nick’s had a great post rugby career in banking in Paris and Sydney. He started life as a lawyer and was asking a Senior Partner during his rookie days what kind of lawyer he should be? He was told there are four kinds of people… Finders, Minders, Binders, and Grinders. Figure out which you are and surround yourself with the others. Brilliant advice. Which are you?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Death Of A Ladies Man

One of my heroes passed away today.

82 years young.

Songwriter. Poet. Dreamer. Artist.

Leonard Cohen.

I first saw him live in the 60’s in London.
I last saw him live in New York City a couple of years ago.
Last month he said he ‘was ready to die’.
“Like a bird on the wire,
Like a drunk in a midnight choir.
I have tried, in my way, to be Free”.

Thank you Leonard. Hallelujah.

Leonard and my son Ben

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

2.50am. Trumpland. USA.

Time to take the advice from Monty Python’s Eric Idle

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble, give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best...

And...always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the light side of life...

Rise Up Ye Radical Optimists

Reasons to be Cheerful (Thanks to Ian Drury)

The American people have spoken and we all need to give it a go.

Given the personality of the man, his lack of ideology, his abject lack of experience, his policy bypass, and his narcissism  this isn’t going to be easy (for me anyway).

But we’ve got to get on the program somehow.

So this morning I’m trying to adjust to the latest example of our increasingly VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world and take a SUPERVUCA (Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy, Astounding) positive view.

So far:
  • Reagan turned into a great President.
  • Hillary was a zero sum, status quo, defensive option.
  • The system needs to change; the people want change; Trump is a change agent. He gets things done.
  • America’s Founding Fathers blessed us with the gift of a Constitution full of checks and balances. Presidential power is far from absolute.
  • Out of crisis usually comes improvement.

That’s all so far!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Lee Child - Night School

A red letter day. The new Jack Reacher book is on my desk. Night SchoolLee Child’s 21st Reacher adventure takes us back to 1996 where it all started… am off on a 20 hour flight to Auckland today – in Mr Reacher’s company.

Publisher’s Pitch: From Langley to Hamburg, Jalalabad to Kiev, Night School moves like a bullet through a treacherous landscape of double crosses, faked identities, and new and terrible enemies, as Reacher maneuvers inside the game and outside the law.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Diego The Maestro

  • Masciaga not Maradona.
  • The best restaurant leader in the World.
  • At the best restaurant in the World. The Waterside Inn at Bray.
  • Subject of Chris Parker’s book ‘The Diego Masciaga Way’ – lessons from the Master of Customer Service.
  • Required reading for anyone who services Customers!!!
  • Winner of the Maestro Delle Arti Award in June 2016 – the highest honor awarded to Italians for excellence in artistic categories.
Some Diego sound bites.
  • Service is about making people feel happy and good.
  • Service begins with a genuine smile.
  • Service excellence demands absolute commitment and stamina.
  • Service is a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a wonderful experience for someone else.
  • All in evidence at my birthday dinner at The Waterside last week.
Grazie Diego

Inspired In Dubai

I first visited the Middle East in 1972 with the Gillette Company pioneering New Product entries into Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi, Kuwait and the UAE. Subsequently I worked in the region for Procter & Gamble and then from 1982 - 1987 I was the Middle East Regional Vice President for Pepsico.

I loved the region, the people and the culture.

Many of our teams shared a common education at one of the American Universities in the region. I’ve been lucky enough to speak at the American University of Beirut (a Lovemark for many of us) – founded in 1866 and founded for “all conditions and classes of men without regard to colour, nationality, race or religion. A man white, black or yellow, Christian, Jew, Mohammedian or heathen may enter and enjoy all the advantages of this institution, and go on believing in one God, in many Gods or in no God”.

Five years ago I spoke at the American University in Dubai, which opened its doors in October 1995. Whilst still very young, AUD is vibrant, lively and brave with 95 nationalities in the student body. And last week these nationalities were in force where I jumped into a ‘bear-pit session’ with Raj Kapoor and Dina Faour’s marketing and communications people – with talented, young, high-potential females making up 60% plus of the packed lecture theatre. A lively, confident and optimistic bunch – brilliantly organized by Adjunct Instructor Sedef Sapanli Akkor – and they’ve even asked me to go back next year!

Dina Faour
With the talented MCOM 201 Students at American University of Dubai

(L to R) KR, Raj Kapoor, Sedef Sapanli Akkor and Dina Faour

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Get A Shingles Vaccine

A great couple of weeks (speaking to a conference in Dubai, teaching at the American University there and a birthday celebration at my favourite restaurant in the world – The Waterside Inn in Bray) came to a painful end as I was diagnosed with a major onslaught of Shingles. 

Constant pain, heightened by shots/stabs of extreme pain – like being jabbed with shards of glass, preceded a painful rash breakout across my lower back, and then a second breakout round my thigh/groin. Ugly. One in four people suffer from Shingles, it’s a nerve virus caused by the remnants of the chickenpox virus we had as kids suddenly re-activating itself. The rash lasts 2-4 weeks, the pain can last much longer. There’s a vaccine now which can prevent a serious Shingles outbreak. I’m having one. Too late for this attack but should help prevent a follow up. I recommend you check this out…at your age it’s a real threat. 


Friday, October 21, 2016

Export To The World

The Institute of Directors annual conference is the premier business event in the UK, held last month at the Royal Albert Hall. This was the third event I’ve spoken at, and with the Brexit vote behind us – and the consequences in front of us – I was keenly interested to feel the mood of the hall. It was very encouraging to witness widespread determination and optimism – many speakers echoing the Churchillian line that “an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

While the politicians and bureaucrats have meetings, review data, scrutinize reports, design exit plans, have more meetings, call in consultants and have more meetings, business has a sole response: get on with it and make things happen. And this means only one thing: export. As I said to the conference, the UK’s principal economic imperative is to “become the world’s premier exporter of ideas, experiences, services and products.”

The UK is the world’s 22nd largest country by population and its fifth biggest economy (demonstrating our relative wealth), though its tenth biggest exporter – beaten (within the EU) by Germany, the Netherlands, France and Italy. So we have work to do. Britain is an island nation, and island nations have trading in their DNA. There are positive signs. Exports comprise about 28% of our economy, or £500b. For the past four years British exports to non-EU countries have exceeded exports to the EU; we are successfully focusing on ‘rest of world’ in addition to the Eurozone.

We need to be seized by this opportunity, this two year window of time following the triggering of Article 50 which signals our exit from the EU. And while there has been a lot of focus on ‘innovation’ – the incremental process of improvement, tinkering, perfecting, bringing to market – I am more focused on creating – the origination of world-changing ideas, and the commercialization of these ideas. We Brits have a compelling record for creativity and invention – from Newton’s laws of gravity and Shakespeare’s storytelling, to television (Baird), computing (Turing) and the web (Berners-Lee).

These are examples of ideas that we have essentially given to the world (and you can throw in the remarkable idea of Westminster parliamentary democracy to our contributions to making the world a better place). However we have been less successful at monetizing these ideas. Google, Facebook, Uber and Airbnb are American ideas which have been segued into trillion dollar value drivers. It’s important to have lots of ideas in order to stumble across a really big one, so we need to get really smart about having big idea creation.

My Food Success

My Food Bag team Cecilia Robinson, James Robinson, Kevin Roberts, Nadia Lim, Theresa Gattung and Carlos Bagrie.
Happy and healthy Kiwi families have been at the core of My Food Bag’s purpose since its founding in 2013. The home food delivery service that was dreamed up by Cecilia and James Robinson, Nadia Lim and Theresa Gattung has become a household name in New Zealand, serving 50,000 active customers and delivering a more than million meals a month. It’s been estimated that My Food Bag is now New Zealand’s third largest food retailer. About 18 months ago I was invited to become Chair of the company, mentoring this largely women-owned and led company to its next phase of growth and beyond.

Today My Food Bag announced that it has secured investment from New Zealand private equity firm Waterman Capital to support the company’s further growth and ambition to IPO within the next three years. We were actually flooded by customers wanting to invest directly in the company, and the IPO will give them an opportunity to become shareholders.

This is a tremendous New Zealand success story based on the premise of “simple, healthy, delicious.” My Food Bag was established to resolve the dilemma, “what are we having for dinner tonight?” In an environment where people are increasingly time-poor and health conscious, My Food Bag sees further opportunities to grow while making a positive change in the lives of New Zealanders. In June we launched Bargain Box which focuses on affordability and caters for larger families of up to six people.

Waterman’s investment sees full ownership of My Food Bag remain 100% in Kiwi hands. For the team, it’s business as usual – Nadia continues as the brand’s ambassador and food expert. Cecilia and James Robinson continue in their roles as co-CEO’s to lead the company through this next phase of growth. Theresa remains on the board and I continue as Chair. We’re joined by Waterman’s Chris Marshall, Lance Jenkins and Phil Maud.

Business should be purposeful, and it should also be fun. For me, My Food Bag has been both. Cheers to everyone in our 120-person team, our new investors, and our customers in every part of New Zealand.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Bard Of Hibbing, Minnesota

The Nobel Prize committee surprised the world on October 13, selecting an American author for the first time since Toni Morrison was chosen for the honor in 1993. Contrary to the even money from Ladbrokes—who had Philip Roth, Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon, or Cormac McCarthy in the heavy contention—the world’s top prize for literature went to none other than Mr. Bob Dylan, the bard of Hibbing, Minnesota.

Sweden got it right: Dylan belongs on our literary Rushmore. Highway 61, Blonde on Blonde, Blood on the Tracks, Time Out of Mind, are each rivers as rich, deep, troubling, and timeless as Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, Faulkner, and Morrison.

“His example has taught writers of all sorts — not merely poets and novelists—about strategies of both pinpoint clarity and anyone’s-guess free association, of telegraphic brevity and ambiguous, kaleidoscopic moods,” wrote Jon Pareles in an appreciation in The New York Times. “Mr. Dylan’s good stuff, in all its abundance, is the equal — and envy — of countless writers who work strictly on the page. As much as any literary figure to emerge in the 20th century, he has written words that resonate everywhere: quoted by revolutionaries and presidents, hurled by protesters, studied by scholars and taken to heart in countless private moments. . .  The Nobel doesn’t have to certify Mr. Dylan; half a century of literature has already done that.”

It’s long been remarked upon that there’s a Dylan lyric for every occasion. Well, the man Bono once called “our own Willy Shakespeare in a polka-dot shirt” will be taking home a Nobel Prize. Ring them bells.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Old Timers

2 of my favorite storytellers have new albums out. Leonard Cohen's "You want it darker" is teasing out on Apple music. Title track is available now…

And John Prine's "For Better or Worse" is the definitive album for aging relationships. Leonard and John have plenty of miles on them (like me) and are still living life, loving life.


Image Attribute/Source: /

Thursday, October 6, 2016

I Know This To Be True

A new book out in New Zealand which must find its way into your life. I know this to be true features New Zealanders who are living interesting lives, talking about the things they know to be true, the things they believe in, the things they have been taught, and the things they have learned. “Truth beauty wisdom and other stuff that matters.”

Created by publisher Geoff Blackwell, television producer Ric Salizzo and musician Mike Chunn, this book and television project is in support of the Play It Strange Trust, dedicated to cultivating the songwriting talent of young New Zealanders.

Among the 60 contributors are Dave Dobbyn, Dick Frizzell, Trelise Cooper, Rhys Darby, John Campbell, Judy Bailey, Gin Wigmore, Brendon McCullum, John Kirwan, Neil Finn, Danielle Cormack, Tiki Taane, Steve Hansen, Al Brown, Valerie Adams, Oscar Kightley, Sophie Pascoe, Beauden Barrett, Lucy Lawless, Colin Meads, Zoë Bell, Alan Gibbs, Jools & Lynda Topp, Pita Sharples, Peter Gordon, Silvia Cartwright, Sean Fitzpatrick, Rena Owen and Mahé Drysdale. And moi.

Shimon Peres RIP

A great leader passed last week. Shimon Peres served as president of Israel, prime minister, two times as minister of defense and three times as foreign minister. A Nobel Peace Prize winner for his role in the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. He was both warrior and dreamer. I was privileged to meet him in Jerusalem in 2010 when Saatchi & Saatchi Israel created the ‘Impossible Brief.’ He offered me 12 leadership lessons, which I included in my book 64 Shots: Leadership in a Crazy World. Pin them to your wall.
  • Leaders must not be afraid of being alone.
  • They must have the courage to be afraid.
  • A leader must decide. He says “yes” or “no.”
  • A leader must pioneer, not rule.
  • A leader is not on the top of his people but ahead of them, in front.
  • Leadership is extremely hard work.
  • When you have chosen a destiny…never give up.
  • Leadership is based on a moral call.
  • What is right today is different tomorrow.
  • It’s not enough to be up to date; you have to be up to tomorrow.
  • To lead is to listen, to pay attention to every detail, to decide.
  • Everything that once was controversial ultimately becomes popular.
Image Credit: Yossi Zamir

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Church Of Reverend Bruce

Got my copy of Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography. Am getting drenched in words, experiences, emotions.

Writing in The Washington Post about a recent Boss concert, scholar Michael Strain says “the truth is that life is grand and life is important. Every day, we are all faced with choosing between angels and demons. For a Catholic like me, the stakes are as high as they come – the product of those countless, daily choices influences where I’ll spend eternity. It is important to be reminded of the majesty, romance and enormity of daily life. One of Springsteen’s great gifts is expressing the epic drama of the mundane in popular art. His concerts are shaped by this gift.

“The reason I keep going back is simple: redemption, the unapologetic embrace of the need for it and the possibility of it. Springsteen’s music looks reality squarely in the face, recognizes that life is cruel and unfair, that this world is fallen, that we are all sinners and that we are all broken, sometimes significantly so. But we are alive. We can get up off the mat. We can defy the world. We can hope. We are not alone. Faith is powerful. Things might be better tomorrow. There’s always another chance, waiting just a bit further down the road.”

Much is being written about this Springsteen opus, many inspired tributes by hard-nosed critics kneeling in both respect and reverence to the One. Novelist Richard Ford wrote a beautiful closing line in his New York Times Review of Books review: “Seamus Heaney wrote once in a poem that the end of art is peace. But I think he’d have been willing to share the stage with Springsteen, and to admit that sometimes the end of art is also one hell of a legitimately great and soaring noise, a sound you just don’t want to end.”

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Sunday, October 2, 2016

20 Shots

It doesn’t get better than being on stage at the Royal Albert Hall. Thanks to my friends at the UK Institute of Directors, I was the keynote speaker at their annual conference. The set from Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour was still rigged as a bevy of business and political leaders ruminated – confidently and optimistically – about post-Brexit Britain. A great day. My brief: 20 Shots in 20 Minutes.

1. We live in a VUCA World
  • Volatile, Uncertain, Complex & Ambiguous
2. Turn the world SUPER VUCA
  • Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy & Astounding
3. It all starts with Purpose

4. Revolution starts with Language

5. Create the Dream

6. Burnish your ABCs
  • Ambition, Belief & Courage
7. Become an Ideas Hothouse


9. Build the Four Pillars
  • Responsibility / Recognition / Learning / Joy
10. Lead with Soft Power

11. Reward Collaborate, Connect & Create

12. Advance True Diversity

13. Fail Fast, Learn Fast, Fix Fast

14. Believe in the Four Agreements (Ruiz)
  • Be Impeccable with your Word
  • Don’t Take Anything Personally
  • Don’t Make Assumptions
  • Always Do Your Best
15. Bleed for the Jersey

16. Live your life in 3D
  • Discipline. Desire. Determination
17. Find your Edge

18. Become a Lovemark

19. Add Mystery, Sensuality & Intimacy

20. Win with Emotion

More to come, particularly on my Purpose for New Britain.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Must See Euro Crime Shows To Binge Over

Gomorrah – series 2 now out – brilliantly real life grimy documentary – like Naples underworld story. Better than the book and the movie. And Marseille – corrupt, political, dangerous and a gloriously over the top Gerard Depardieu.

P.s. and don’t miss series 2 of Narcos. Amazing performance by Wagner Moura as Escobar.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

BIBAS In Blackpool

Blackpool was the place to be last Friday night. The Famous Blackpool Illuminations lit up the Promenade (just as they have every September since 1879), the World Fireworks Championships were in full swing, and it was the 10th year of Lancashire’s BIBAs (Be Inspired Business Awards) bash in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom.

The Golden Mile was heaving with families and kids enjoying the most colorful night out imaginable, following a day in the sun with donkeys and sticks of Blackpool rock. In the Blackpool Tower, opened in 1894 and inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, all was black tie/ball gown glamour as guests gathered to celebrate Lancashire's best businesses. I was honored to be asked to present the Award of Lancastrian of the Year to Mike Peters MBE – a self-made Kirkham man who has done so much for Lancashire industry over the past 40 years.

It was great to be celebrating international successes of local Lancashire businesses in this crazy world.

Babs Murphy, Chief Executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said: “The innovation, excellence and passion behind every winner goes to show the quality we have in our business community in Lancashire."

“The BIBAs provides a spotlight for every one of the individuals and firms which not only picked up trophies but also made it to the finals."

“Having seen the judges in action, I know that no-one gets one unless they are the very top of their class, so taking home a BIBA trophy is a huge endorsement to your business."

“I am sure I join everyone in the Lancashire business community when I congratulate every BIBAs winner for their achievements.”

Monday, September 19, 2016

Groundhog Day

Last Sunday I wrote about a day to remember as my two favorite sports teams, the All Blacks and Manchester City turned in crunching performances to beat major rivals.

Saturday saw the All Blacks kick off, and kick on against their greatest rivals, the Springboks, in Christchurch. One of the greatest rivalries in sport saw the All Blacks run in 6 tries and thrash the Boks 41.13, thus completing their 15th consecutive win in 15 test matches. Devastatingly simple – and devastating. The challenge for the All Blacks is to continue to improve standards, to innovate, and in the absence of a disruptive challenger, to continue disrupting themselves – one of the biggest challenges a team, or business, will ever face.

Later that afternoon I trekked down to the Etihad to watch Manchester City hammer Bournemouth 4 nil in a blistering display of speed, agility, teamwork, cohesion, individual brilliance, hardwork and flair. Lessons for all of us.

A good day.

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Emotional Architecture

When you drive La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles, less than a mile away from Sunset is the hulking and once-marvelous Beverly Center. It’s having a $500M makeover courtesy of owners Taubman Centers. Cathaleen Chen of The Real Deal spoke to Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas, the architect spearheading the transformation, about his single ambition – to make you feel something when you walk in.

What are the most difficult tasks in design?
The real client is the human being. [The goal is to] always give people emotion. You don’t finish after the structure is built, you finish when you [evoke] emotion. When you design a building, you need strategy but more importantly, you need emotion.

Do you see a distinction between art and architecture?
Art is part of our life. Art belongs to everybody.

What do you think of modern design today?
I think it’s a positive thing that we want more and more design today. It’s a great moment in New York now. Both the clients and the developers now, they want more and more architecture, they want more emotion.

What don’t you like about architecture today?
Strategy alone, it is not enough. Only having strategy is too dry. It’s really commercial. We need to give our experience to others. We are better together.

Do you mean that a structure must serve its utilitarian purpose but also retain its style?
Style is nothing. There is no style. There are only emotions. And this is the best you can give to others. It’s possible to create a stylish building, but it’s harder to create a beautiful one.

So what is beauty in a structure?
What is beauty? Beauty is when your heart and your brain are together, they tell you, “today, I am happy.”

Who and what are your favorite artists? Favorite architects?
My favorite artists are Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol. As for architecture, one relationship that is very important was when I was a young student of Jørn Utzon’s. He was a very ethical person.

Massimiliano Fuksas and a rendering of the renovated Beverly Center, slated for completion in 2018 (Credit: Alchetron, Massimiliano Fuksas)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Day To Remember And Savor

The All Blacks ran riot in the second half of the Hamilton Test against Argentina – scoring three tries in ten minutes to win 57-22 – after Argentina pushed them for 50 minutes to 24-22. Beauden Barrett then ripped them apart as Coach Steve Hansen replaced five players with hungry, ambitious, fresh blood from the bench.

And at Old Trafford, in the most expensive game of Football ever played (in terms of player cost), Manchester City maintained their 100% record under Master Coach Pep Guardiola, winning a pulsating contest 2-1 against Manchester United – playing a glorious brand of attacking, futuristic Football.

Happy Days.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Twenty Years And Thousands Of Lives

My friend Ann Tisch is an American hero. Ann is President and Founder of the Young Women’s Leadership Network (TWYLS) which supports life-changing programs that empower low-income youth to break the cycle of poverty through education.

Twenty years ago, 56 seventh-grade girls from East Harlem touched off an extraordinary change in the landscape of public education in the USA. As Ann writes in The Huffington Post, “when they walked through the doors of the newly established Young Women’s Leadership School, their parents rejoiced. Their daughters would attend the first single-sex public school to open in the U.S. in more than thirty years – and they would be the first in their families to go to college. Two decades ago, creating a single-sex public school was considered radical. But, I knew starting a college prep public school for girls growing up in poverty was the right thing to do in an effort to correct the inequity in education. We not only made headlines, we made history.”

Buoyed by the precedent, there are now more than one hundred all-girls and all-boys’ public schools around the nation. Five TYWLS have been established in New York City and the TYWLS model has been replicated in 13 other affiliate schools around the country, serving more than 8,000 girls nationwide. Many of the students face daunting challenges: some come to school hungry, some are living from shelter to shelter, in foster care, or dealing with domestic abuse, drugs or neighborhood violence. “Growing up in the projects there’s a stigma that you’re not going to make it,” says a TYWLS parent, explaining that “the girls say the voices in their heads tell them you can’t, you’re not worthy, don’t even bother.”

As Ann writes, “it was the girls’ compelling stories, and the fact that our inner-city young women did not have access to an all-girls’ environment, that moved me to action twenty years ago.”

A foundation of TWYLS’s success is their CollegeBound Initiative (CBI) where the majority of students will be the first in their families to go to college. A recent Pew Research Center study found that the jobless rate is three times higher for those without a college degree; and that the earning gap between college degree holders and high school degree holders continues to widen. CBI counselors provide intensive assistance with college selection, essays, interviews, tours, SAT test prep, financial aid, and scholarship resources.

Critically, counselors start working with the girls, as early as sixth grade, to create a college going culture. So successful has the CBI program been that it has been replicated and expanded and is now in 35 co-ed New York City public schools serving more than 18,000 students growing up in low-income communities. Since CBI started, counselors have generated more than $300 million in financial aid.

The work is as relevant today as it was then. Today, thousands of young women have completed programs and transitioned into higher education. An independent evaluation shows TWYLS students enroll in college at double the rate of their peers and earn college degrees at four times the rate. Ann writes: “We are proud that our graduates are living productive and successful adult lives. This is how we make the American Dream become a reality.”

Saatchi & Saatchi was a supporter of TWYLS for a number of years, and I was honored to be their “Man We Love” honoree in 2012. On October 5 in New York, TYWLS and supporters gather at the Waldorf Astoria to celebrate 20 years of life-sustaining operation and to honor founders Ann & Andrew Tisch. I salute you for your imagination, determination and unwavering focus to transform lives.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Special People. Special Learning.

My business education took off when I was 25 years old and was fortunate enough to convince Procter & Gamble to give me a run in their Geneva E&SO (Export and Special Operations) unit.  Christian von Stieglitz rescued my application from its way to the bin, (given my lack of any education qualifications whatsoever) and argued ‘he looks interesting.’

I joined Samih Sherif’s elite Delta Force unit – or as Trudy described them when she met them last night ‘P&G’s motorcycle gang’.

Samir Hawwa and Mohan Madireddi (two of my P&G bosses) organized a reunion over the weekend in the beautiful September sunshine of Lake Geneva. 50 of us from the 70’s / 80’s purple years gathered to tell stories of daring do in the desert, in Africa, in China and even in Tahiti!!  Brits, Lebanese, Dutch, Indians, Swedes, Swiss, Iranians, you name it, there we were.  My bosses, my assistants, my peers – including old friend John O’Keeffe who joined on January 1, 1975, the same day as me, and who shared every success – and failure, with me for seven years.

Special People. Special Learning. Special Times.

Thank you Samir and Mohan for bringing us all back together again – for another Walk on the Wild Side.

The Beautiful Game

Well, today’s the day.  For the first time in almost 50 years, I have no-one to answer to.  No boss, Chairman, Board, Shareholder or Employee – just my conscience, soul and heart.

Time to play The Beautiful Game with my old/new company Red Rose Consulting – which I established as far back as 1995.  And which will now be my primary focus.  Its aim is to provide Marketing, Creative and Leadership advice to people I like, in businesses I love, in places that inspire me.  It will work with global brands, luxury companies, start-ups, passion plays, and will be based on four of my books; Lovemarks, Sisomo, Peak Performance and 64 Shots.

And it will play The Beautiful Game.

Last weekend I watched The Beautiful Game played out in Wellington by the All Blacks who scored four tries vs nil against the Wallabies, and at The Etihad where Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City baffled and bewildered West Ham with that new brand of beautiful passing.

Business benefits from the same approach.  Speed, agility, flexibility, collaboration driven by One Purpose and One shared Dream.

Bring on The Beautiful Game.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

When Times Are Tough

A friend, Nick Miaritis, reminded me of Theodore Roosevelt’s wise words.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Time To Say Goodbye (With Thanks To Signor Bocelli)

Almost 20 years ago, I was invited to join Saatchi & Saatchi as Worldwide Chief Executive, with a view to resurrecting this famous company and saving it from a premature end. With Bob Seelert, Bill Cochrane, Bob Isherwood and Milano Reyna, we created a Purpose and Plan which our 7,000 people rallied around and executed.

Two short years later we met Maurice Lévy and the Publicis Groupe and we merged the two companies, keeping the brands separate. Viva La Difference. Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicis thrived and great work, great ideas, great campaigns and great Lovemarks were created.

Last year I announced that May 1 2017 would be the day I would retire from the Groupe (20 years in this industry as a Network CEO is somewhat unusual) – and Saatchi & Saatchi was now in Robert Senior’s capable hands.

This plan was jolted by a controversial piece of communication by me a few weeks ago and I decided to bring my retirement forward by eight months, to today.

I leave proud of the progress Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicis Groupe made over this period and grateful for the many friends I’ve made along the way, colleagues, partners and clients.

I wish the Groupe, its people, and its clients all the best as ‘The Power of One’ initiative gathers pace.

And for me, A New Beginning.

The next chapter is about Independence and Freedom.

Making Happy Choices.

Working with people I like, in businesses I love, in places close to home.

Red Rose Consulting will provide advice and counsel on marketing, creative thinking and Leadership, underpinned by four of my books – Lovemarks, Peak Performance, Sisomo and 64 Shots.

And I will also be taking equity positions in a small number of small growth companies where I have a Board role.

Exciting times ahead.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Beauty And The Business

I love the English Lake District (I have a sanctuary in Grasmere) and it’s National Parks Week in Britain. An interesting piece in the Guardian, looks at the intersection between beauty and business in the national parks. One of the case studies is giftware company Herdy which is one of my Lovemarks, a beloved brand that reaches out into the world.

I’ve been working with Herdy founders Spencer and Diane Hannah for two years now. Herdy is helping the Lake District – England's largest national park and a place of breathless beauty  with its bid to become the UK’s first national park to be awarded World Heritage status from UNESCO. Herdy is an official partner. The campaign is using the Herdy brand in leaflets and across social media. Look out Grand Canyon, Great Wall and Barrier Reef; here come the Herdwick Sheep!!

The marriage between business and beauty, which isn’t always an easy one, is unbeatable when you get it right. Being based in a national park, as The Guardian piece notes, brings entrepreneurs challenges such as broadband, recruitment and logistics. And on the park side of things, a balance has to be struck between commerce and conservation. Herdy, inspired by the Lake District’s lovable Herdwick sheep, has found the sweet spot. Its products are sold across the country and to Europe, Japan and the US. The company returns 2-10% of its profits to projects that support upland fell farmers and the rural community. Herdy is about how the brand interacts with its neighbors. Other examples in the article of turning the national parks to commercial advantage include solar powered cheese and a region that is not just in a beer’s branding but in the product itself.

Roll on beautiful business.

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