Sunday, December 30, 2018

Goodbye 2018 – Our Best Year Yet

Yes – I know about Trump, Putin, Brexit, Man City slipping to third place, the All Blacks losing to Ireland (again!) and all the hoo-hah around feminism, sexism, transgenderism, ageism, privacy, Twitter abuse etc, etc, etc – but despite all that, 2018 was the best year ever recorded.

I know I am a Radical Optimist and see hope and dreams everywhere, but Philip Collins in The Times sums it up factually.

We end 2018 healthier, safer, freer, better educated and cleaner than ever before.

We have never been better off – extreme poverty is at its lowest ever level.

1.2 billion people have gained the power of electricity in the 18 years of the new century.  The villages of India are lighting up.

Education is the driving force behind our increasing global prosperity.  The world literary rate is an unprecedented 85%.  The number of girls enrolled in primary school reached 90% this year.

Human beings have never been so healthy (and IQ’s are increasing 3 IQ points per decade) as diets become more and more effective.

Global life expectancy is at an all-time high and child mortality has never been lower – largely because of the staggering increases in the number of one-year-olds immunized.

The battle against vicious diseases is being won.  Bye-bye malaria and polio – cholera should be beaten in the next decade.  Aids deaths have halved in the last 10 years, leprosy deaths have fallen 97% since 1985.  We can expect cures for heart disease and cirrhosis in the next decade.

And (amazingly!) we are cleaner.  The hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica shrank to its lowest in 20 years; population in the developed world has increased by 50% since 1970 but water use has not increased.  In 2018 more than 90% of the world’s population had access to safe water.

Crime rates are falling and deaths from terrorism have fallen by 20% since their 2014 peak.

Mr Collins says “Prosperity, education, health, cleanliness and security are the components of a life lived at liberty”.

This is the formula for freedom.  And it’s working.

Let Freedom Ring.

Happy New Year.


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Springsteen on Broadway

Mr Born to Run – up close and personal.

My Hero.  My Age.  My Height.

If I could sing, I’d want to sing like him.

If I could tell stories, I’d want to tell stories like him.

Sunday was his final Bruce on Broadway show.

The album has just been released on iTunes.  The full 2hr, 33min performance movie was released on Netflix after the final show.

Drink it in.

Because Kids like us, Baby we were born to run.


Monday, December 17, 2018

Hear Me This Day

Raheem Sterling was subjected to racist abuse from a Chelsea fan at Stamford Bridge last weekend.  Sterling spoke out about racism on an Instagram post after the incident.  And called out the media criticising their treatment of young, black footballers.

I support the stance of Raheem Sterling and Nike.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

For Robin

Sam Hunt is one of my favourite New Zealand poets/performers (close friend Brian Sweeney used to be his Manager back in the day).

‘Coming to it’ features 120 of Sam’s poems, covering 56 years of work – and Colin Hogg’s book ‘Sam Hunt, Off the Road’ is a great new look at hanging with Hunt.

‘Coming to it’, … the poems were chosen by the poet, are undated and are not in chronological order – so no evidence of development, just sheer enjoyment of the poems as they come.

No Poem

I went outside
thinking there could be a poem
buried in the long grass
or down the banks to the river.

I scrambled down
swinging totara trunk to totara trunk
and landed on my arse
in thick Kaipara mud.

There was no poem to be had.


Thursday, December 6, 2018

What’s Going On?

I was asked a few questions last week by a group of leaders from Lancaster Royal Grammar School.

What am I listening to?
-      John Prine – The Tree of Forgiveness.  His first original album since 2005 – am going to see him with my Country sidekick Robin in Phoenix later this month.
-      Bob Dylan’s latest bootleg of one of my favourite Dylan albums – More Blood, More Tracks – his 14th published bootleg.  A genius.  (How did ‘Up to Me’ not make the original Blood on the Tracks album?)

What am I reading?
-      Roger McGough’s biography ‘Said And Done’ – author of one of Britain’s top hundred favourite poems (Let Me Die A Youngman’s Death) – leader of the Liverpool poets, author of 1967’s The Mersey Sounds (I’ve still got my first edition paperback), member of The Scaffold and the working-class man’s Poet Laureate.
-      The greatest Espionage story of the Cold War “The Spy and the Traitor” by Ben Macintyre.  A true story about a KGB double agent.

What am I watching?
-      The Romanoffs on Amazon Prime.  Mad Men’s Producer Matthew Weiner’s seven unconnected stories about people who are descendants of the Russian Royal Family.  Am two episodes in – great production values, delicate pacing and low key, intriguing storytelling.
-      Series Two of Goliath (also Amazon Prime) with John Prine’s buddy Billy Bob Thornton killing it as washed up LA lawyer Billy McBride.
-      The Little Drummer Girl (iTunes) – the BBC mini-series of John Le Carre’s great book.  Complex, not easy to follow – but worth it.

Where have I been recently?
-      Back to the Middle East (Tunis, Kuwait, Oman, Dubai, Cairo and Beirut) and to one of my Lovemarks, Porto.  Off to Surfers Paradise this week with a couple of grandkids (Tilly Plum and Winnie), then LA and Christmas in the desert in Arizona.

What am I studying?
-      Hayden Wilson, a young teacher, leader and friend from Melbourne sent me a folder of all Jeff Bezo’s annual letters since his first in 1997.  Fascinating.  There goes my next Sunday.

Living Life Slow.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

In Praise of the iGeneration

I just spent a great morning with a dozen or so Y2K kids in Muscat, Oman – talking to them about their hopes, dreams – and fears.

A great bunch – diverse, multi-cultural, brave, smart and very caring.

GenZ – the iGeneration look a likely lot to me.

I recently visited Lancaster Royal Grammar School’s Sixth Form Economics students and was impressed with their talents and temperaments – and their hyper-connectivity.

The first batch of kids born in 2000 are now entering tertiary education in large numbers and their elder siblings are just entering the work-force.

And we better be ready to adapt and adjust to them.

Here’s what productivity expert Laura Stack believes we can expect of the iGeneration.

1.        They display a penchant for stability. Having seen what happened with their parents, they want to ensure they won’t suffer from corporate indifference. They prefer their jobs to be stable touchstones they can rely on – still, they want it to be on their terms.

2.        They’re stubbornly independent. Despite wanting stability, members of the iGeneration, like their millennial predecessors, are practical. They look after personal interests first, and they’ll want a greater say in all aspects of their jobs. They aren’t afraid of hard work, but they will expect to be appreciated for it and will want to know they won’t be tossed aside when the road gets rocky.
KR note:  Responsibility, Learning, Recognition and Joy.
3.        They understand technology intuitively. Generation Z cut their teeth on cellphones (often literally) and are the first generation that grew from toddlerhood with electronics in their hands. They’re superbly connected. This focus on their smartphones might look like aimless anomie to older workers, but they thoroughly understand social media and computers in ways Baby Boomers never will. They quickly adopt new apps, tricks and tech as they arrive. They’re well aware of the advantageous position that affords them. They prefer a knowledge-sharing work culture, and they’ll instinctively see that de-siloing information and technology is vital to productivity and long-term success.

4.        They crave mobility. That’s doesn’t mean job hopping, but rather the ability to use an array of mobile technology—laptops, tablets, smartphones—for work and play. They may be the “New Kids on the Cube Farm,” but staying in one cubicle all day won’t do. They can get as much done at Starbucks as most others can in the office. It also frees them up to travel, for both work and fun.

5.        They want a decent work/life balance. As with millennials, time outside work is important to Generation Z. Ironically, though, their greater connectivity may blur the line between work and home life even more than millennials have seen.
KR note:  In other words, Work/Life Integration.


Sunday, November 18, 2018

Latest Lovemarks

I wrote Lovemarks, The Future Beyond Brands – in 2005 and The Lovemarks Effect a year later in 2006.  Both books have endured well, and are still being used by Practitioners, Universities and Management schools in many countries.

Lovemarks was one of Advertising Age’s 10 ideas of the decade and has been published – by Powerhouse Books New York – in 18 languages.

I was asked to give a couple of speeches recently on Lovemarks (in Mexico and the Middle East) as we seek even more emotional connectivity to brands, countries, restaurants, and experiences.  During a Q&A session I was asked for a rundown on my current Lovemarks.

Here’s what I said:
·      Tommy Bahama.  Captures Island escapism like no other.  My wardrobe is full of their long-sleeved t’s, swimming trunks, casual pants – and I’ve eaten recently in two of their restaurants (Waikiki and Scottsdale) where they serve great Island food with a Jimmy Buffet vibe – live music every night.
·      Restoration Hardware.  Have just opened a great new concept store in Manhattan – who said Retail was dead?  Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy at its finest.
·      Cannondale.  Robin put me on his one on Vancouver Island.  Wow, what a ride.  Trudy surprised me with an elite all-road model at Christmas.  Shaved my best time by 5%!  A true Black Beauty.
·      Binkley’s Restaurant.  Kevin and Amy’s follow up to Binkley’s Cave Creek.  A complete disruptive restaurant experience.  In Phoenix.  You start out on the terrace next to Amy’s garden for five little tasters, then into the bar area for innovative plays on bar food, before ending up in the dining room / open kitchen.  There’s one menu, seasonally driven, changing every night, locally sourced, 20 or so courses all served to all guests at the same time, brilliant wine pairings, and you’re free at any time to dive into the kitchen with Kevin and his chefs and prepare something yourself.
·      Barca Velha.  I came late to this beautiful wine (perhaps because it was Sir Alex Ferguson’s favourite and I’m automatically biased against anything Manchester United).  But now I’m a fan.  I’ve worked with the Guedes family in Porto for a couple of years now and have explored their Douro vineyards and been seduced by the wines of their Quinta da Leda – check out Decanter magazine’s Steven Spurrier’s Barca Velha vertical tasting of 16 vintages since 1964.  I’m drinking the 2008.  Absolutely fantastic.
·      Klondike ice-cream bars.  A square of vanilla ice-cream coated with a thin layer of chocolate.  My (not so) secret pleasure.  Introduced in 1922 in Mansfield, Ohio – now owned by Unilever – still totally retro, non-hip, non-premium.  “What would you do for a Klondike Bar?”
·      Booths Supermarkets in Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire.  Still family owned, still providing the best food and wine experiences – and still surviving in the wild world of UK food retail – because they put the customer at the heart of everything they do.

All seven of these ‘brands’ create loyalty beyond reason.  And all seven are Irresistible!


Thursday, November 8, 2018

Forever Young

Three recent experiences that made me feel young again.

1)   October 20th.  I celebrated my birthday with a divinely decadent lunch with Trudy at a favourite restaurant, Alain Llorca in St Paul de Vence.  Chef Alain at the helm, wife Virginie lighting up front of house, a table on the terrasse overlooking the village – courgette flowers, sea bass, lobster washed down with a chilled Les Pucelles Puligny-Montrachet – after an hour wandering around Antibes market.  Felt half my age.

2)   Spent two weeks in my old stomping ground – the Middle East – touring and speaking to YPO (Young President’s Organisation) in Tunis, Cairo, Beirut, Kuwait, Doha, Dubai and Muscat.  Highlights included a three hour session with 12 teenagers (YPO members’ children) in Oman, a meeting with an old friend  I hadn’t seen for 35 years, a lunch in one of Cairo’s oldest restaurants – Al Saeed – with a Middle East advertising legend, Tarek Nour, an insightful, private dinner with six eminent Doha leaders as the Khasshoggi scandal broke and renewing old friendships in Beirut with Maya Es-Said.
Reminded me of my Middle East days with Gillette, Procter & Gamble and Pepsico (1972 – 1987).  I felt 30 again.

3)   And then – forever young indeed – I remembered 1964 – as a teenager completely besotted with Joan Baez – an early (and lifelong) heroine.  We had front row seats last Saturday at Phoenix’s 2600 intimate theatre in the round (opened in 1963) – Phoenix Celebrity Theatre – for an evening with Joan Baez.  We sang Amazing Grace together – all of us.  Don’t think twice, it’s alright, There but for fortune, It’s all over now Baby Blue – and she closed her encore with Forever Young – after firing us all up with a poem she’s still writing – urging us to Stand Up and Fight.
77 years young and still urging us Onwards.

‘May you always be courageous,
Stand upright and be strong,
And may you stay
Forever Young’.
    Bob Dylan