Get Shouty

The difference between talent and tenure




One of the key things you learn as you practice strategy is to size up the problem you’re addressing.

As you tackle business problems and marketing challenges and service design opportunities and consulting projects you start to understand the unique components that you need to address to get it done.

You start to build frameworks to organise the chaos. Matrices so that you can map out a messaging house. You build process to describe the journey you’ll take clients on. You work out what sells and how clients buy.

You craft your process into a practice. You make charts. Lots of charts that you can remix and reuse and refresh.

They say the only difference between a junior and a senior strategist is the amount of charts they have access to…

(Vegetarian warning….)

All tenure gives you is the experience to know what kind of beast you’re dealing with…and  what you need to carve it up.

Charts are knives- they should cut through, they should help you break things down, and carve out the cuts in the carcass.

The more knives you have, the more tasks you can get done quickly.

You wouldn’t use the same knife to chop an onion that you would to fillet a fish.

So your charts need to be fit for purpose, many and various.

And above all- sharp.





Nothing like a ninja…
February 28, 2020, 3:56 pm
Filed under: 10 Questions for Strategists, Experience, Great Stuff, passion



I’ve been lucky enough to have a new audience for my nonsense in the Strategists Anonymous series of workshops put on by You’re Good, Get Better.

Standing up with the largest cup of coffee I can find the first question of the day is fired at me….

Q: So, what’s a strategist?

Being a strategist, I start contrary wise…

This is what I think we aren’t:

  • We’re not ninjas
  • We’re not wizards
  • And we’re definitely not rockstars

So what are we?

  • Curious
  • Driven to hear the signal in the noise
  • Keen to mix the elements we find and the ones that don’t exist yet into a cohesive score

Q: And what’s the process? How do you do that?

I love this story of Ray and Charles Eames:

Sell your expertise and you have a limited repertoire. Sell your ignorance and you have an unlimited repertoire. Sell ignorance and your desire to learn about a subject. The journey of not knowing to knowing is the work.

It’s from the documentary The Artist and the Painter, and it really is “an extraordinary and enjoyable history of how two people influenced so much of our thinking and surroundings today”. I couldn’t recommend it more highly..anyhoo

As strategists we’re incredibly fortunate to sell people our journey of not knowing to knowing. We get to take people on the ride with us. We get to keep what we learn and get better. And get paid for it. It’s a crazy good deal.

But it probably won’t shower you in glory.

I have 10 of these questions mapped out as a result of the crews who participated in the workshops. Thanks for the curiosity y’all- hope sharing these helps.

P.S. You’re unlikely to ever need more cowbell

A plan for planning
August 9, 2019, 12:01 pm
Filed under: Experience, passion, triangulation
Found a gorgeous planning and strategy scrap book yesterday that is full of perspective tools and truthyness.
Like this:
You can see and download it from here : The Strategy and Planning Scrap Book
Made me think of some other  resources I have in the cupboard…
Online Courses


Growth Program

measurement and magic beans
March 10, 2015, 2:17 pm
Filed under: Great Stuff, passion | Tags: ,

Magic Bean

Interesting to compare FastCo’s 25 Predictions of what marketing will look like in 2020 to the recent work by the The Economist Intelligence Unit.

Both spoke with marketing visionaries around the world and posed essentially the  same question: “The world of marketers today has changed drastically from what it was ten years ago. What will it be like in 2020? And what do marketers need to forge a winning career path over the next five years?”

There is a bunch of great stuff in each report but I’m just looking at ‘what counts’ vs ‘what can be counted’.

FactCo’s short and sweet thought:

Metrics are all over the place. We had page views (which was essentially like tracking escalator use at a department store—i.e., how many times people had to do a thing that’s basically inconvenient), Facebook Likes (which are now of no lasting utility), video views (now an indicator primarily of paid investment), and click-through rates (which still fail to discern quality of traffic). None of them are good. Even engagement rates and dwell times are slippery. We are still yet to settle on a metric that is fit for purpose; one that is easily repeatable, undeniably valuable, demonstrably linked to ultimate effectiveness. I can’t help but feel that when we do, when we’re able to say, “Yes it achieved 19, and our benchmark is 12,” and we know for sure that means it worked, then we will be in a transformed place. Surely. Surely it’s going to happen soon.

Alex Hesz, director of digital, adam&eveDDB FastCo’s 25 Predictions of what marketing will look like in 2020


The more indepth EIU:

1. It’s all about engagement

Seth Godin believes that marketers who are serious about engaging the customer recognise that the most valuable moments are when the customer is actually in touch with you: using your product, on the phone with you, reading your content. If you are able to address your customers’ needs during those moments—rather than put them on hold while telling them how important their call is—you’re going to get engagement.

2. Get your own house in order.

An asset is an investment that generates value in the form of return on investment (ROI). Engaged customers fit the definition of an asset, but marketers often complain that their CFOs resist the idea of engagement as an asset worth investing in.

In fact, these marketers are wrong: the problem is one of data, logic and presentation. Many marketers don’t fully understand what drives engagement—and therefore they can’t present it in a compelling way to the CFO. “If you can quantify engagement, any CFO in the world will pay attention,” says Jim Stengel. And not just pay attention, but jump in and ask, “How can I help?” Too many marketers don’t understand what makes their company preferred over others.

3. Harden the soft.

Of all the factors that drive engagement, the most important may be a culture of customer centricity. Culture is often mistakenly considered to be a soft concept. It is a big concept, but it is not a soft one: it can be broken down into a very specific set of values and activities that are mirrored in incentives, salaries and promotions. Customer engagement needs to play a central role in the organisation’s culture. Otherwise the business will not be sustainable.

4. Passion trumps everything

John Hagel argues that passion is the single element most critical to success in marketing. Passion enables executives to put themselves in the customer’s shoes and advocate for the customer inside the organisation. It is not always a comfortable role. It requires confidence and courage. But in the end, passion determines whether or not a marketer is successful.

“If you have a passionate commitment to make an impact on the customer by being more and more helpful to them, you will either develop the skills yourself or you will find ways to connect to the skills wherever they reside,” says Hagel. “It may be in other functions within the organisation. It may be in third parties. If you have the passion, you will find a way.”


This same team (The Economist Intelligence Unit) has written a cracking report about the urgent need to restructure marketing to better support business. There’s thirty pages of goodness- but I’m really just focussing on two of their identified trends that need urgent change and support:

A broader view of customer experience: positive customer experience across all touchpoints is increasingly seen as a company’s most valuable asset. And, more than any other function, marketing is responsible for managing it across the customer life cycle and across channels, from initial awareness through loyalty and advocacy.
The customer experience is increasingly seen as a key to competitive advantage in every industry. Slightly more than one-third of marketers polled say they are responsible for managing the customer experience today. However, over the next three to five years, 75% of marketers say they will be responsible for the end-to-end experience over the customer’s lifetime
Metrics for revenue and engagement: Effectiveness trumps efficiency, especially in a time of rapid change. Metrics will become broader and more comprehensive, focusing on top-line revenue and overall engagement more than  efficiency and brand awareness.

It feels like the mapping marketing landscape of the next 25 years or even the next 5 can be nothing more than trying to see a mythical realm. Even Sir Isaac Newton attributed his success to standing upon the shoulders of giants. I’d like to think that if we can help marketers move from counting beans to planting magic ones that the future may just be fantastical indeed.

how do you value culture?
January 9, 2014, 6:42 pm
Filed under: Digital Strategy, Experience, Get Friendly, Great Stuff, passion, Zeitgeist


It’s Festival time in Sydney. While I’m super excited about taking my inner child by the hand and having a bit of a frolic on Sacrilege, the true sized inflatable bouncy castle Stonehenge in Hyde Park’s Festival Village, I was interested to read this in The Australian

FESTIVAL organizers measure success in terms of ticket sales and economic impact, but a new cultural metric may be tweets and pictures on social media. Last year, an enormous yellow duck was a hit of the Sydney Festival, where 1.7 million people could not have missed seeing it at Darling Harbour. Some 14,000 images were posted on Instagram using festival hashtags.

Mmmm. ‘Cultural Metric’. Good notion. Loads of tension in it:

  • What is culture?
  • How might culture be measured?
  • How do we value it?

The NSW Government is investing more than $5 million to ensure the success of the 2014 Festival,

“Last year the Sydney Festival attracted more than 500,000 people with more than 120,000 tickets sold to paid events, including more than 33,000 people who attended events in Western Sydney. In 2012, it injected almost $57 million into our economy

From that perspective an arts investment looks like a pretty good return to the taxpayers hereabouts. I wonder how they’d value those tweets.

Early last year MoMA curator of Architecture and Design Paola Antonelli led a discussion about Culture and Metrics, (which I’ve entirely re cut below):

  • why bother?
    • the reality is that cultures come and go over time. If we don’t know what’s valuable about a particular culture, we run the risk of losing it forever.
    • not all art is concerned with culture, and not all culture is arts-based
    • it’s the best way to create a future that human beings want to inhabit.
    • MoMA has been one of the most important cathedrals of the imagination in my life since childhood, and envisioning it as a driver of R&D across society at large is extremely exciting.
  • measurement
    • Kate Levin, the Commissioner of The Department of Cultural Affairs for New York City: measuring culture, is mostly about objectives and outcomes. She used The Gates as an example of a valuable, measurable project funded by the Department for Cultural Affairs. Four million visitors to this 16-day installation created $254 million in revenue for NYC.
    • Measuring culture will require us to think of new ways to measure and share the story of a project’s insights and impact.
  • culture and value
    • “For me, The Gates was never about whether the saffron curtains and plastic frames were art. Some people argued that it was a hideous monstrosity while others loved it. Instead, I just felt lucky to be part of the flow of conversation and people as we passed together through The Gates on a beautiful blue and gold day. I felt lucky to be a New Yorker. And that’s the point of culture. It gives us a sense of place while at the same time evoking a deeply personal experience of the universal. “

As Rita observed, and who was at the MoMA talk, it brings to life one of Andy Warhol’s statements:

  • “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art.”

Creating a deeply personal experience of an enterprise, creating a real and vibrant culture, feels like a bit of an art, and has the same kind of challenge:

But, how do you measure that?

Answer: With great difficulty.

Then again…. people are the only metric that really counts.

It’s hard. Really hard. Most companies can’t do it. The ones that can, make a fortune. Life is unfair.

Let’s go to work
May 17, 2012, 7:13 pm
Filed under: Experience, passion

I was really intrigued this piece when I saw it over at swissmiss, which was created by W+K.

Its running as a pre-roll on YouTube, it’s over 2 minutes- and it’s been played (in addition to its ad spend) 1.775 million times since its launch in February.

It’s message: 

Its 8 am… MILLIONS of EMPLOYEES.. show up each day..for their names on a register…. The world we see around us..countries..and ..continents..have been built.. on the back of these signatures.. The future too will be written by these signatures.. Signatures of the EMPLOYEES… You.. are an EMPLOYEE.. Your BOSS is an EMPLOYEE… …….. … TRUTH is every EMPLOYEE is a HERO… Enough said… Let’s go do…what we all do our best.. Let’s go to work.. A TRIBUTE TO THE MAKERS OF OUR WORLD.

It’s a big call. A very big call. Who are these HCL guys? Who are they to say they speak on behalf of the millions of employees who turn up to work each day? Who are they to champion the overworked and unsung?

A bit of digging….

Employees First Customers Second (EFCS) is a journey of experiments which HCL started in 2005. It is a simple  philosophy that, at its heart, states that in the service industry, true value is not created by top management. Since employees are the closest interface with the customer, they are the new ‘value zone’ for companies: the place where value is truly generated for customers. And it is therefore the duty of the rest of the organization to foster and engender this value zone by creating the requisite enabling infrastructure.

Vineet Nayar (the head of HCL Technologies), wrote in Forbes that he does not do it to make his employees happy

The idea came from observing our company closely. We create value in one very specific place: the interface between our HCL employees and our customers. We call this the “value zone.” Every employee who works in the value zone is capable of creating more or less value. The whole intent of Employees First is to do everything we can to enable those employees to create the most possible value.

HCL decided:

  • to put its employees first and made every effort to provide them with a work environment and culture that they can take pride in.
  • employee development focused on giving people the tools and enabling the infrastructure they needed to succeed

Is it about employee engagement?

EFCS is not about making employees happy or comfortable. I don’t even really care if employees are happy. I don’t think that employee “satisfaction” is something a company should strive for. Satisfaction is a passive state, isn’t it? Satisfaction doesn’t produce change or improvement or innovation or much of anything.

As for employee “engagement,” that isn’t much better than satisfaction. I would hope that everybody, no matter what their job is, would be alert and paying some attention to what they do, would be engaged.

We have found that the Employees First approach produce s far more passion than any motivational or recognition program. Why? Because it proves that management understands the importance of the work being done by the employees in the value zone. It demonstrates that we are actively helping them in ways that make it easier for them to do their jobs. It shows that we trust them to do what needs to be done in the way they believe it should be done. And it shows that we respect them for the value they bring to the company.

We give them understanding, help, trust and respect–which is much better than potato salad and cold cuts.

The key enablers that made EFCS work –

  • Smart Service Desk (SSD) was introduced to make the enabling functions accountable to employees and resolve any issues that they may have within a stipulated time.
  • Directions, an annual interactive event, where the senior management along with the CEO meet employees to discuss company strategy, new processes and policies and what they think is the right agenda for HCL to adopt in the coming year.
  • U&I, an online discussion forum where every HCLite gets an opportunity to raise issues, share thoughts and ideas, as well as debate directly with the CEO.
  • Spot 360 Feedback was launched to make the management accountable to employees and to increase organizational accountability. A system where anyone could rate managers on various aspects.
  • Employee Passion Indicative Count (EPIC) assits employees in identifying their passion drivers – factors that drive an employee to excel at work.

Results?In the past three years,

  • HCL grew at a CAGR of 24 per cent
  • Market cap increased by 186 per cent
  • Number of $10 Mn, $20 Mn & $50 Mn customers doubled, and the number of $100 Mn customers tripled
  • Revenue per Employee is amongst the highest in the Indian IT segment today.
The EFCS mantra  – (Read it-it has some lovely storytelling)

The book explores the steps of HCLT’s transformation as the company recognized the need for change, created a culture of trust through transparency, turned the organizational pyramid on its head, and shifted the responsibility of change from the office of the CEO to the employees using small catalysts, or “blue ocean droplets,” that produced big results.

The journey had four steps:

  • Confront the Truth
  • Build Trust
  • Support the Value Zone
  • Change at the role of the CEO

I think it’s interesting to note how this journey has facilitated their next step:

Employees Driven, Management Embraced [EFCS 2.0]

Employees are increasingly taking the lead in driving innovation. We call this phase EFCS 2.0 where we’re witnessing a change in ownership – Employees are taking charge and creating innovative programs in and around HCL, which are producing big impact. Here are some of the notable programs.

  • Meme: A platform created by employees to go from official to social at work; it now boards over 59,000 members.
  • MAD JAM: “Make a Difference” a bottom-up initiative designed by front line employees, for front line employees, that recognizes and celebrates the most innovative ideas at HCL.
  • MAD LTD: “Make a Difference, Lead the Difference”, a platform focused on nurturing young leaders to showcase and implement ideas for social impact. For more details, please visit
  • Power of One: A social responsibility initiative where HCLites spend a day with the community and donate a Rupee a day, which adds up to an avalanche of positive social activism.
  • arKMedes: A platform focused on making knowledge the currency across the organization by bringing together communities driven by passionate employees.

I think work is changing: as a ritual, as an enabler of identity, as a method of survival, as a framework for community- the horizon of change is vast. In Australia 40% of our workforce are employed on various insecure arrangements, casual, contract or through labour hire companies and in this climate we might do well to think about were value is generated, how it is created and where it can be amplified. Who makes your world? Have you told them they’re anything special lately?


what if we could…..
October 24, 2011, 4:03 pm
Filed under: Digital Strategy, Experience, passion

s written a piece on Creatives, strategists and music about the territory between strategy and creative and his journey away from being the kind of strategist that says ‘no’ and why an idea won’t work towards “looking at every single possibility to make it resonate.” I love that he draws on his experiences with some of own creative and crafty passtimes to find his ‘yes’.

I like to remind myself that one of  the roles of the Creative Strategist is to promote collaboration and innovation, to lead the improv disciplines of “what if’ and “yes and” (and make sure the creativity killing Nupski monster doesn’t get fed too much)

What if’s….

Sydney’s pretty full of ‘what if’s” right now. This year, Art & About Sydney put out a call, asking people across Australia to send their responses, in ten words or less, to that one simple question – what if? – two words that put the power of imagining back on the agenda, and inspire us all to think beyond the here and now.…(see the entire list here).

Yes, ands

When it comes to creative and development, improv is critical….

Here’s another way of looking at it: Improvisation is all about viewing your failures (“I don’t like it” or “it doesn’t work they way it should”) as positives that lead you in newer and better directions. The messy, circular paths we have to take in order to reach our goals oftentimes show us things we normally wouldn’t have seen before. And that makes us a lot better at doing our jobs.

Build improvisation into your thinking. Saying “Yes” makes everyone into the good guy and gives you a better chance of delivering what you hoped to. It’s also more fun

Today and the spaces in between
April 18, 2011, 4:40 pm
Filed under: Experience, passion

I am such a huge superfan of  Jonathan Harris. I saw Phylotaxis in 2006 when I was researching unique interfaces and ever since I’ve been entranced by how he tells stories: his own, like The Whale Hunt  ; or all our stories, like We Feel Fine or I Want You To Want Me , which I was lucky enough to see at New York’s MoMA in 2008.

This project,  Today begun when turned 30, encompasses a simple ritual of taking one photo a day and posting it to his website before going to sleep, along with a short story.

This is a short film about Jonathan’s project, made a few weeks after he stopped it, by his friend, Scott Thrift which I found to be a glorious contemplation on the passage of time and the nature of memory and flexing your remember muscles:

  • your greatest creation is your life story
  • story as a technique to organize your past
  • I’ve grown as a result of this project, but I’m not sure what I’ve grown into
  • we need time to create our stories and time to make sense of our experiences
  • we need privacy and space to grow

The whole piece and Harris’ thoughts reminded me of a marvelous concept: the Japanese notion “Ma”

Ma (間) is a concept of absence and in-between.  Apart from space, ma is applied to the discussion of time as well, revealing that in Japan there was ‘not even a distinction between space and time like in modern Western thought’. The word ‘ma’ essentially refers to ‘an “intervalbetween two (or more) spatial or temporal things and events. Thus it is not only used in compounds to suggest measurement but carries meanings such as gap, opening, space between, time between

This spatio-temporal principle of ma underlies all traditional Japanese art forms. However, Like other Japanese aesthetic principles, ma goes beyond just being a ‘way of seeing’, but is a ‘way of life’ as well, for, as Japanese architect Arata Isozaki puts it, it is a ‘fluid term able to encompass many aspects of life in Japan. [Ma] describes both time and space through a notion of interval. (source)

The Taoist philosopher Lao Tse wrote extensively on the concept of Ma including his poem The Uses of Not :

Thirty spokes meet in the hub,
but the empty space between them
is the essence of the wheel.
Pots are formed from clay,
but the empty space between it
is the essence of the pot.
Walls with windows and doors form the house,
but the empty space within it
is the essence of the house

I’m a big believer in making the time and space to look at the clouds drift by…and now I know I’m just drinking in the ‘ma’ and letting myself grow.

happy sails to you
September 22, 2010, 1:15 pm
Filed under: Great Stuff, passion

Click Here to View The Video Titled: The Unseen Sea
Click the image to watch The Unseen Sea by Simon Christen– it’s intensely beautiful.

This collection of time lapses taken around the San Francisco Bay Area was  roughly shot over the period of one year. It got me thinking about ebb and flow. About our own unseen seas. (thanks Stig)

I’m fascinated by people choosing to live their lives with passion, truth and rigour. Setting sail on uncharted waters but with an internal lodestone and a clear eye on the imagined destination. Charting by the stars.  People who take the time to know themselves and have the courage to be themselves.

Mark shared a link to this wonderful story of the journey that TK recently went through to reduce the gap between his desired and current realities the process of making a principled and conscious life decision:

If you squint at the picture, you’ll see the rough process that he followed:

  • Starting by answering “What are my values?”
  • Based on my values, then “What do I want my life to be about?”
  • Thinking hard about what the first two columns meant and elaborating on the things that had the likelihood of being buzz-wordy, undefined, or just plain untrue.

Image 001 Copy

  • You can’t see this part in the picture, but I then thought through where I am now in my life and reconciled the differences between what I want and where I am today.
  • Finally, I formulated a plan that would allow me to make the changes I need to make to my life to get to what I want in and out of my life.

Happy sailing my friend.

What matters is saying yes
June 23, 2010, 10:33 am
Filed under: Great Stuff, passion

This e-mail is making the rounds. I’d reblog it from someone, but that would seem pointless. What I really like are the bits about the Flaming Lips and “saying yes”:

The thing is, I really like saying yes. I like new things, projects, plans, getting people together and doing something, trying something, even when it’s corny or stupid. I am not good at saying no. And I do not get along with people who say no. When you die, and it really could be this afternoon, under the same bus wheels I’ll stick my head if need be, you will not be happy about having said no. You will be kicking your ass about all the no’s you’ve said. No to that opportunity, or no to that trip to Nova Scotia or no to that night out, or no to that project or no to that person who wants to be naked with you but you worry about what your friends will say.

No is for wimps. No is for pussies. No is to live small and embittered, cherishing the opportunities you missed because they might have sent the wrong message.

What matters is that you do good work. What matters is that you produce things that are true and will stand. What matters is that the Flaming Lips’s new album is ravishing and I’ve listened to it a thousand times already, sometimes for days on end, and it enriches me and makes me want to save people. What matters is that it will stand forever, long after any narrow-hearted curmudgeons have forgotten their appearance on goddamn 90210. What matters is not the perception, nor the fashion, not who’s up and who’s down, but what someone has done and if they meant it. What matters is that you want to see and make and do, on as grand a scale as you want, regardless of what the tiny voices of tiny people say.

Do not be critics, you people, I beg you. I was a critic and I wish I could take it all back because it came from a smelly and ignorant place in me, and spoke with a voice that was all rage and envy. Do not dismiss a book until you have written one, and do not dismiss a movie until you have made one, and do not dismiss a person until you have met them. It is a fuckload of work to be open-minded and generous and understanding and forgiving and accepting, but Christ, that is what matters. What matters is saying yes.

Visible and invisible arts
March 3, 2010, 12:27 pm
Filed under: Experience, passion

I am having a look at motion right now.

How people move, in relation to all other things.

In a lot of martial arts there is a notion called “ukemi”

A common take is that ukemi, (which Aikido calls “the art of falling”), is thought of as the passive, difficult, or the less desirable aspect of practice. The “fun” part is throwing people. The boring part is getting thrown.

The action of uke is called “taking ukemi (受け身).” Literally translated as “receiving body”, it is the art of knowing how to respond correctly to an attack and often incorporates skills to allow one to do so safely. These skills can include moves similar to tumbling and are often used as a valid exercise in itself. In aikido and judo training for instance, many classes begin with ukemi training as conditioning.

But there is a different way to approach ukemi that is not only more interesting, but much more effective. It means shifting your mindset from passive to active around the practice:

(At its simplest) Instead of being pulled around and thrown to the ground, you realize a tremendous advantage if you actively following an aggressor’s (nage) lead, moving under your own power and direction. At some point, nage may do something to take your balance beyond recovery. Once you notice that your balance is going, you actively disengage your interaction with nage and lower yourself to the ground! Notice who’s doing what in this description. Uke should always feel in control, even when being thrown.

The meaning I learned describes a practice that brings awareness and facilitates control in relationship to physical things in your environment. Most people who know me would say that my relationship with stairs would belie any knowledge of ukemi- but that’s where the practice bit comes in- you need to be mindful in order to get the benefits.

I’m thinking a way to describe it is perhaps ‘the art of response’. One of key benefits is that it prevents fear in the moment- most people are terrified of being hurt in a physical confrontation and that overwhelms them.  Quite a bit of the practice for a female is evasion- not only how to get out of a physical situation but how to get some degree of control over it: how to manage it, to prevent it happening or defuse escalation. It’s an invisible art.

I like the tension between visible art (flashy, shouty, look at me stuff that happens in the moment)- and invisible art (tone, consistency, awareness/thoughtfulness that happens over time). I like that the everyday practice of ukemi changes experience and enjoyment of a moment- it also should positively impact the moment of all those around the practitioner.

I think we all focus quite a bit on form and attack- on the aggressive ‘nage’ expressions of advertising. And of course we need to have these skills, but when we combine these with the invisible arts of ‘uke’ we can create something a bit different. What can be achieved when these two skills are applied in concert is a duet where people can feel the harmony and wander off thinking that they are singing their own tune.

equal measure
November 23, 2009, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Experience, passion


In the West Wing episode “Constituency of One” the VP says to  Will:

“I admire speech writers. They have to have the tendency to doubt and the capacity to believe in equal measure….”

and I can’t help but think that these are one of the base pairs in the DNA strands of planners.

I often have people ask if I need to 100% believe in the product I’m working on- or  if  cynicism feeds good work.

Yes and no.

You need to doubt that the problem put in front of you is the one that need solving, you need to doubt that you have enough insight into a group of people of which you are not part and whose behaviour and reactions you’ll need to understand. You need to doubt the ‘known knowns’.

You also need to believe- that what you’re doing can help keep businesses sustainable, can create great culture and good working environments inside of organizations and that the siren call of the manifestations of our entrepreneurial spirits will write the kind of future we’ll want our kids to live in. You need to believe in answers.

As for the balance between the two? All things in moderation- including moderation. Passion will out. Know what feeds yours.

user pays
November 17, 2009, 7:27 am
Filed under: Get Activist, passion

I was out with some friends the other night and we were having a chat about licensing – and I was being pretty vigorous about supporting copyright holders in their efforts to make sure they got paid.

My thought is basically this:

When it’s your IP that someone else is making money off, you’ll understand

from why i am not afraid to take your money, by amanda fucking palmer:


artists need to make money to eat and to continue to make art.

artists used to rely on middlemen to collect their money on their behalf, thereby rendering themselves innocent of cash-handling in the public eye.

artists will now be coming straight to you (yes YOU, you who want their music, their films, their books) for their paychecks.

please welcome them. please help them. please do not make them feel badly about asking you directly for money.

dead serious: this is the way shit is going to work from now on and it will work best if we all embrace it and don’t fight it.

bicycle venty mc vent vent
September 24, 2009, 3:03 am
Filed under: passion

Missing!!! AUSTRALIA, originally uploaded by ihateyoubikethief.

I love a rant- especially one that starts a global movement.

Check out the global phenomenon of cheesed of bike (ex)owners :

Join us in our campaign against these criminal fools and send us your stories in any form – video, pictures, or just your own words – at We’ll post your story. And if you get really inspired, create your very own poster against these two-wheelin’ villains and send it our way.

Or…get your t-shirt at Threadess

shouty, sweet and serious
August 12, 2009, 2:26 am
Filed under: Get Friendly, passion


A trip down memory lane. Recycled posts from the last three years:

The shouty:

  • Would you like a small dash of Get Stuffed with your Shut the Hell Up?
  • Institutionalised Rudeness by Sociopaths (IRS from now on) is far from OK. In fact IRS is so far from OK it is huddling in a yurt in Outer Siberia. With no booze. And no friends.And it’s not invited to any tzushy end of year drinks parties either. It’s banned. Passe.

    In addition the “Punch In The Face” motivation technique is also banned. Previously thought to inspire the creative class to consistently meet the 20 hours overtime barrier, it has been recognised as an illegal tool of IRS and is now a Taser-able offence.

    If you have been subject to IRS, or any suspect ‘motivation’ techniques, you can apply for your branded taser (which can also do double duty as an attractive cocktail shaker).

    Bring it on.

The sweet:

  • The Power of Noticing
    • Sometimes doing research for my job I come across a piece of truth and beauty. One example is  this article “Kindness Counts”.
    • Mostly I think that we just need to be kind to each other.
      And notice each other.
      And value the power we have inside of ourselves to make a difference- especially those who are blessed with the gift of being able to notice what’s going on in the world around us.

The serious:

  • ROI= Risk of Ignoring
    • So what are you missing out on? What’s the ROI?
    • As with anything that’s going on in social media, it’s all about the Risk of Ignoring:
      • As a reader of blogs: Can you afford not to be informed about the latest thinking in your discipline? Can you afford not to learn from some of the brightest minds and most passionate advocates in the industry?
      • And as a writer: Can you afford not to keep a notebook of your online reading? Can you afford not to contextualise and have an opinion on what’s going on in advertising?
      • And ultimately, as an ad-exec: Can you afford not to have experiences that would help you understand people’s behaviour in the social media space
  • Value and tulip bulbs
  • What’s your Return On Ego?
    • The context here was making sure that you compartmentalize business decisions in the online space between those that are founded on KPI’s and those that make the Brand team feel good.

You can see all the bloggers involved here: Recycle A Blog Post Day #rabpday . Nice one Mark.

What are you going to re-share?

foundations of taxonomy
July 2, 2009, 2:10 am
Filed under: Experience, Great Stuff, passion


Sputnik Observatory is a New York not-for-profit educational organization dedicated to the study of contemporary culture. They fulfill this mission by documenting, archiving, and disseminating ideas that are shaping modern thought by interviewing leading thinkers in the arts, sciences and technology from around the world.

Their philosophy

  • ideas are not selfish.
  • ideas are not viruses.
  • ideas survive because they fit in with the rest of life

The site contains jaw dropping videos of the most amazing thinkers, or ‘extraordinary minds shaping modern thought’  like the transcript below from Wade Davis who is the National Geographic Society’s Explorer-in-Residence,and  honorary member of the hundred-year old Explorers Club. He’s an ethnographer, writer, photographer and filmmaker, observing worldwide indigenous cultures and the traditional uses and beliefs associated with psychoactive plants, celebrated in his best-selling book “The Serpent and the Rainbow” about the zombies of Haiti.

In the Amazon, I’ve been with hunters who could smell animal urine at forty paces and tell you what species left it behind. You look at the Polynesian seafarers who could, just by reading the ocean like a series of rivers which is how they saw the currents, by looking at the rhythm of the waves, they could sense the presence of a distant atoll far beyond the horizon. You talk about how, even the taxonomy of the Amazonian shaman, when they begin to characterize and systematize creation, particularly with some of their sacred plants. For example, one of the most important Amazonian plants is something called Ayahuasca, which is a Liana and, to the botanical eye, there’s one main species that’s used. But that species is actually, by at least one tribe that I know, the Sienna Sequoia(?), they recognize 17 different types of it. Now, to our scientific taxonomic eye, they’re all referable based on morphological traits to the same species. Indistinguishable. They consistently distinguish them and from great distances in the forest. And you ask them what is the foundation of their taxonomy? And they’ll say to you, “Well, you take each one on the night of the full moon and it sings to you in a different key.” Well, obviously, that’s not an idea that is going to get you through Harvard with a PhD, but it’s a hell of a lot more interesting than counting stamens. But, more importantly, you start thinking of what does that intuition really says to you? How do they find these plants in the forest, for example? And they say to you, “Well, the plants talk to us.” And we, of course, with our Descartian rational mind say, “Well, that’s nonsense.” And it’s only nonsense because it doesn’t fit into our paradigm. But when you begin to consider the possibility that different societies belief systems can make almost for different individuals, but also make for different levels of perception.

art gives us hope and the power to change
May 21, 2009, 7:11 am
Filed under: Great Stuff, passion

I’m chewing on this short film  was directed by Azazel Jacobs at Taxi for  MOMA’s Multimedia channel and by  a post over at Eyecube called Public Relations: Not just Trust & Measurement, but Art as well

The film shows that art might not be immediately accessable, that you might need a guide, but once you’ve been shown the path your world view might change. Forever.

Rick Liebling‘s piece expands on this beautifully:

It would be fair to define..(our goals)… as building an emotional connection between consumers and a brand. Certainly not the only definition, maybe not even the most accurate, but not off base either.

Art, in all its forms and by the broadest of definitions, stirs the passions and elicits emotions like nothing else – with the possible exception of love, and that’s the subject of much of the best art.

Consumers don’t want a itemized list of hyperbole and industry jargon, they want a story that captures their imagination.

What was the most memorable image of 2008? It was a piece of art:obama-hope

emotional embargo
May 14, 2009, 2:24 pm
Filed under: passion


Autumn never seems easy.

It has a very distinct flavours: it’s burning leaves; and blue sky sunny days and crisp evenings; the rediscovery of red wine and raincoats; going through the rituals of putting away the carnival of summer while preparing to be tucked up for the long sleepy time of the winter months.

It’s wistful. Melancholy. Sometimes overly bright and shrill, sometimes grey and blustery. A giggle, a memory, cloud going over the sun. And on this crisp evening bitter sweetness is the order of the day.

I had a very sick friend. Very. She was diagnosed on Australia Day with cancer of the everything.

And in 12 hours I go to her funeral service.

I’ve been acting as her digital comms officer, the instigator of a blog to record her journey. She delivered beautiful, venerable, knock-your-socks-off posts from a clever, creative, fragile, graceful woman at the height of her magic.

She fought and feinted and made funny- but about three weeks ago the ability to write had gone. I asked her vast circle to share and now my role is as a collector of quotes and anecdotes, and the blog  a repository of precious ‘i remembers’ and ‘my favourite moments’, mad stories, and beautiful photographs from a seemingly endless stream of admirers and converts from all corners of the world. It is important to all who knew her to document all of the different perspectives of her life for her two precious children and to create a place to visit and remember. We have collectively created a living memorial to witness and celebrate our gorgeous, generous friend.

I cannot say that it has been easy. I hold all the three o’clock in the morning stories typed through tears, the constant requests for updates and information…everyone’s grief and advice and need to know. Emails sent to me from all over needed to be poured into wordpress- and as much as I tried to treat it all as Lorem Ipsum the emotion seeped through my weakening defenses.

I haven’t been able write about it to now- and I haven’t been able to able to blog with any degree of seriousness for a while. I’ve been under emotional embargo, have been trying to hold back my own tide with a dam made out of wet card board and duct tape. Well that’s over, there’s no protecting myself from the next step. I’m preparing myself to be hugged by strangers whose secrets I know and hold those whose story I share.

Today I am sad. But I have been blessed a thousand times by the love of an amazing friend, by the strength of a circle of chosen family and the good fortune of recognising that this thing we do, this blogging thing, can be just what the doctor ordered, even when doctors can do nothing at all.

57 words
May 14, 2009, 8:49 am
Filed under: passion

I am comforted by Richard Dawkins’ theory of memes. Those are mental units: thoughts, ideas, gestures, notions, songs, beliefs, rhymes, ideals, teachings, sayings, phrases, clichés, that move from mind to mind as genes move from body to body. After a lifetime of writing, teaching, broadcasting and happily torturing people with my jokes, I will leave behind more memes than many. They will all eventually die as well, but so it goes.

I drank for many years in a tavern that had a photograph of Brendan Behan on the wall, and under it this quotation, which I memorized:

I respect kindness in human beings first of all, and kindness to animals. I don’t respect the law; I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer.

For 57 words, that does a pretty good job of summing it up. “Kindness” covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.

jump off
March 20, 2009, 2:48 am
Filed under: passion


I love the following story:

One of Frank Gehry’s first buildings, was a shopping mall, The Santa Monica Place. It was rigidly geometric and pale pink. He played it safe for investors and went LA-style. He hated it.

Meanwhile, as a direct creative outlet, Gehry went full out Gehry on building his own home. Envision sloping roofs, curvaceous windows, jutting peaks. Think: wacky and wildly organic.

The night of the grand opening of the Santa Monica Place, the president of the real estate company that had hired Frank was at Gehry’s home for a dinner party:

Real estate Exec: What the hell is this?, he said to Frank, looking around Gehry’s house, awestruck.
Frank: Well, I was experimenting, playing with it.
Exec: Well you must like it if it’s your house. You like it, right?
Frank: Yeah. I’m happy with how it turned out.
Exec: So then…the building you just did for us…you can’t possibly like that.
Frank: You’re right, I don’t.
Exec: Then why’d you do it?
Frank: Because I need to make a living.
Exec: Well stop it. Don’t do that kind of work anymore.
Frank: You’re right.

They shook hands that night and decided to quit everything they were working on (they were employing forty people at the time.)

“It was like jumping off a cliff,” Gehry says. “It was an amazing feeling. I was so happy from then on.”

I love the insight that being risk adverse can hide your light and shorten your horizon. Sometimes the value of compromising your vision is too high a cost. While you might have to pay the piper to follow your dreams- the dance you subsequently do may just reward you beyond your expectations.