Tuesday, January 30, 2018

From WeWork to WeGrow

Founding partner and Chief Brand Officer of WeWork, wife of Adam and mother of five young children Rebekah Neumann, couldn’t find a school for first graders she felt would nurture her daughter’s growth, spirit and mind.

She said “These children are all natural entrepreneurs, natural humanitarians and then we squash it all out of them in the education system”.

So instead of compromising, she did what all true entrepreneurs do when faced with a big problem; turned it into an opportunity, figured out a business plan and founded a start-up.


A micro-school pilot in New York City for children aged 5 – 8.

A school designed to create a culture of kindness, conscious entrepreneurship and a connection to nature.  The opposite of the current school system which was created during the Industrial Revolution so that people would know how to follow process, and take orders on the assembly line.

WeGrow’s curriculum includes mindfulness, meditation, yoga, farming, farm-to-table cooking and students learn reading, math and science through working on the farm, coming in to WeWork and running their own farm stand.

Once the pilot programme is completed, the first official WeGrow will open in WeWork’s Chelsea, NYC offices.  The idea is that WeWork’s community of Creatives and Entrepreneurs will help WeGrow students cultivate their passions.

I wish I was 5 again.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Serving Generation We

One of my favourite companies is WeWork.  Founded seven years ago by Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey the Company has 172 locations in 18 countries with 150,000 members and 3,000 employees.  Currently valued at around US$20 billion, it’s the third most valuable, privately held start-up in the US.

WeWork is redesigning the way Creativity and Innovation gets done – by reorganising workspaces around workers, automating everything, powering efficiency via data and figuring out how today’s jobs in today’s world best get done, how today’s people work, where they are most productive, what they need to feel good.  Powering the People.  Brilliant.

Adam says we are “Building a community of creators” (Consumr, HackHands, Whole Whale, Reddit, Turf, Coupon Follow and Fitocracy are all WeWork members), “WeWork is a place creators work to make a life, not just a living”.

“The 90’s and early 2000’s were the ‘I’ decade – everything was about me – and look where that got us.  In a terrible recession.  The next decade is the ‘We’ decade, where collaboration is the future of innovation.”

“The We generation; a collaborative group that cares about the world, wants to do cool things, and loves working.”

Connect.  Collaborate.  Create.



Monday, January 22, 2018

Leonard Cohen at Home

I spent a wonderful three days with Ludia, a brilliant video game outfit, in one of my favourite cities, Montreal last week.

I was able to see the mural of one of my all time heroes, Montreal’s own Leonard Cohen, on a 20 floor apartment building on Crescent Street – 8,500 square feet.  Leonard’s heart, soul, humility and charisma captured for all of us to share.  Painted by El Mac and Gene Pendon, the mural is based on a 2008 photo taken by Leonard’s daughter Lorca (it was actually taken on Crescent Street).  Field Commander Cohen in his second coming, fedora and peaked lapel suit jacket to the fore.

Leonard looks down on the Sir Winston Churchill pub, the Copacabana Club and a bunch of pubs, bars and restaurants – all reminiscent of Famous Blue Raincoat’s opening “It’s four in the morning, the end of December, I’m writing you now to see if you’re better, New York is cold, but I like where I’m living, there’s music on Clinton Street all through the evening”.

And then the barman in Maison Boulud told me there was another mural of Leonard – on Napoleon Street, near Cohen’s home in Plateau Mont-Royal – nine stories high painted by Kevin Ledo.  Here it is.

Amazingly the two murals were developed, and finished without either party being aware of the other project.

So, now we have two – “I love to speak to Leonard, He’s a sportsman and a shepherd”.


Thursday, January 18, 2018

What Makes Must Watch TV

I was talking to some of FremantleMedia’s drama leaders and doing some reading / thinking about what makes compelling television nowadays – and there was lots of discussion around genre, format, location, style, story etc, but in the end it all came down (for me) to a great character.  Someone I couldn’t take my eyes off, someone I was intrigued by, mesmerised by – someone like Luther.

And business is like that too.  I love businesses with leaders who lead, who stimulate, challenge, who are flawed, human and generous.

Characters have Personality – as I figured out 50 years ago when the Headmaster expelled me from Lancaster Royal Grammar School – I explained it to Barbara, my best friend, that it was a personality problem.  I had one and he didn’t!!!

A TV character’s personality is based on:

·        Motivation:
They need / want / are hungry for something and spend their story trying to get that something.  We come to understand exactly what motivates them to be driven that way and understand that compulsion.

·        Vulnerability:
     They are human, worried, fearful of something.  And we feel for them.

·        Conflict:
     They must make hard choices.  We know what that’s like.

·        Connectivity:
     To us, to me, to the other characters.  Life is not an island.

·        Complexity:
     Layered, good, bad, and/and, multi-dimensional and multi-layered.

·        Strength:
     Big characters / leaders are impressively good at something – anything – that matters and sets them apart.

·        Weakness:
     And they must be flawed.  Just like all of us.

·        Emotion:
     They must feel and be seen to feel.

In fact, the more I thought about this, the more I thought a great TV character is developed the same way we develop a Brand to become a Lovemark.  By adding Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy to Respect and Trust.

A compelling character has a memorable name, a history with some mystery in it, some secrets, a look, a voice, a touch, and makes us want to know them, to feel for them and to join them.

Characters and Lovemarks are developed in the same way.  Who knew?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Must Watch TV in 2018

Here’s what I’ll be bingeing on this year.

Old Favourites / New Series:
-         Madame Secretary
-         Chicago PD
-         Blindspot
-         The Blacklist

New Series:
-         The Deuce:
o    Times Square in the 70’s
o    James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal
o    Raw and gritty.
-         Seal Team:
o    A breath of escapism, patriotism, family and teamwork in an increasingly cynical world.
-         Britannia:
o    The new Game of Thrones.  Mighty Rome takes on Britain – led by our own Boudicea-like hellraiser Kerra.  Lots of strong stuff.
-         Patrick Melrose:
o    Played by Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch), whom I find mesmerising on screen.
-         McMafia:
o    Not easy to get into.  Complex and slow-moving – but I think it’s got legs.
-         The Little Drummer Girl:
o    A great John Le Carré book I read years ago – developed by the team who put The Night Manager on air in 2017 – after Luther, my favourite 2017 series.
-         The Ballad of Buster Scruggs:
o    Netflix has announced this from the great Coen Brothers.  James Franco (Deuce) again.  Shades of Fargo.
-         Deutschland 86:
o    The sequel to the great Deutschand 83 series.  Shooting in CapeTown just finished.  I met with the writer in Berlin in December.  This’ll be great.
And my personal favourite:
-         Hard Sun:
o    Written by Luther mastermind and Wellington, New Zealand resident Neil Cross and produced by FremantleMedia.  Starring (bizarrely) Agyness Deyn and (not so bizarrely) Jim Sturgess.  The world is doomed five years from now they discover – whoops.  Unmissable.

And finally we await new series of:
-         Luther
-         Line of Duty
-         Suburra
-         Berlin Station
-         Billions
-         The Bureau.

Happy Viewing.


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Two Thumbs Up

Mark Zuckerberg’s New Year Facebook post outlined his personal commitment to ‘fix’ how Facebook handles hate abuse and fake news.  “My personal challenge for 2018 is to focus on fixing these important issues.  We won’t prevent all mistakes or abuse, but we currently make too many errors enforcing our policies and provoking misuse of our tools.”

No concrete plans yet.  But the Founder’s personal commitment.  His track record on personal commitment is high.  I believe him.

A great New Year’s lesson for leaders everywhere – to quote General Schwarzkopf “When given command, take charge and do what’s right”.

Well done Mark Z. for leading the way.

Two thumbs up.

Friday, January 5, 2018

A New Year – a new set of lists

As you know I love a list – and in the time honoured tradition I’ve made my resolutions for the New Year.  They are self-explanatory I think – any questions / comments, fire away.

1)  Stay fit and healthy.  (Have been on the 16.8 regime for seven months.  I love it.  It’s not a diet, it’s a life change.  A great way of living – energising, focused, effective, and metabolically sound.  No pain.  Oh, and I lost 5kg.)

2)  Fail Fast, Learn Fast, Fix Fast.  After almost 40 years in corporate life, my last 18 months as an independent entrepreneur, investor and consultant have completely re-energised me.  Lots of mistakes, new learnings, new challenges and personal growth.  I wish I’d have made the change a decade ago – but no regrets.  I’ll make the most of the next decade by following Tom Peters’ FF, LF, FF mantra.

3)  Make Happy Choices.  Don’t let life control you.  You are responsible for your own destiny, for your own happiness.  Be proactive.  Decisive.  Assess.  Decide.  Execute.  Choose.  And Follow Your Heart.  If you’re happy, you’ll inevitably make those around you happy.

4)  Build a lifetime partnership.  Trudy and I married in July.  A beautiful day.  Now I commit to work at making every day beautiful.

5)  Fight impatience, anger and the blues.  Enough said.

6)  Make time for Family, Friends and Me.  We had six grandchildren (plus the Bump), five children (and their partners) and two cousins for Christmas and New Year at our home in Carefree, Arizona.  Priceless memories created.

7)  Live Life Slow.  Don’t do less, but do everything more intensely and deeply.  No multi-tasking.  No regrets.  No guilt.  No navel-gazing.  No worrying.  Live life, Love life.  Live purposefully and mindfully in the moment.  Make every hour count.

Happy New Year.