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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