Category Archives: Daily Musings

Crack Cake

saw this cake in Lantana earlier. looked yummy and definitely more-ish…

guaranteed to make you lose all your teeth. without necessarily the same highs. and lows.

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Heading upstream

A lot of decisions that we make are based on preconceptions. We are creatures of habit and we think we know best. If something has worked for us once then we may well use it again. If it hasn’t, we probably won’t. And messages, marketing or otherwise, are screened using what has gone before (or our experience). What this means is that we have to find different and innovative ways of saying things to break down these barriers that inherently exist.

 To be innovative – we have to go ‘upstream’ if you like.

 ‘Upstream’ is a term (I like) that Dave Trott used in a talk a couple of months back at the APG on ‘The Art of Persuasion’ (It was a great talk and you can view it here). He told the story of a group of young girls in American high schools who enjoyed kissing the mirror of the restroom (It’s an American story alright!) and leaving lipstick marks. Despite protestations about the time it took the janitor to clean the mess – the kissing continued. Eventually the head teacher took the group of girls into the restroom and asked them to ‘look how long it takes to clean the lipstick marks off the mirror’. The janitor then plunged his mop into a nearby toilet bowl and scrubbed the mirror. The girls recoiled in horror. Not because of the time it took – but because of where the water was from….

 There are numerous ways to tell the same story. And different ways create different results.

 Human beings are inherently selfish. So, we need to find ways to tell stories that provide a benefit to that person if we want to convince them to do something. It’s obvious really…

 My next door neighbours had an overgrown garden. It was horrible and the weeds were growing over my fence. When I suggested that they get their landlord to come and cut it – I received no response. When on the other hand, I suggested that they might be annoyed that they couldn’t enjoy summer barbeques in the garden that their rent should cover – I found that a week later – the garden had been cleared…

 Offer a benefit otherwise people won’t bother.

 The concept of a benefit is a pretty open though. A benefit can be a piece of entertainment, some engaging content, the chance to see something etc

 Here is someone making people pay attention to something that they would normally ignore. People pay attention because something traditional is approached in a new way. The star of this show goes upstream to deliver his message. And provides a benefit to those who do in the form of entertaining content. 

Give people something that benefits them in some way and they’ll likely tell their friends. As we all know, engagement is great – but participation and conversation are better.

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Productivity, Fulfillment and Status Anxiety

I read Seth Godin’s post today on all the things that someone can do that are better than TV. In the past I’ve also read Clay Shirky talking about the cognitive surplus – and indeed fully bought into it. It makes sense  to buy into a thought process that encourages productivity.

On reflection though, I’m not sure these mantras  are necessarily as healthy and fulfilling as the authors suggest them to be. For the majority of intelligent people, there is a desire to fulfil potential and somewhere along the line there has been a universal acknowledgement that productivity = fulfilment.

 There is no doubt that satisfaction comes from a sense of achievement. Ticking off a to-do list creates fulfilment in many instances, as does making the most of your passions.

 Is there a danger though that when we don’t feel like performing a variety of tasks based around our passions, that we feel a sense of failure? And are these thought processes actually creating a form of status anxiety amongst people who want to achieve and try their best – but simply can’t ‘produce’ 24/7?

 Watching TV isn’t bad. Switching off isn’t bad. Each of us is different and we need to find the balance between what we feel we should achieve and what our body and brain are telling us.

 Recently I found myself running around frantically. I wanted to see the best films, theatre, art, music before anyone else. I wanted to know everything about anything. And then I realised it wasn’t making me happy. I love going to Arsenal football club and watching the games – but, taking my lead from the likes of Clay Shirky, I began to feel that I should be conducting interviews with fans, writing blog posts, getting involved with supporters groups, creating banners for injured players – rather than just going for a few pints with friends after the game. And when I didn’t, I felt bad.

 So whilst productivity is important – I think it needs to be tempered with some reflection on what truly makes you happy. And if happy is sitting on the sofa watching crap TV – then go for that. Cognitive surplus or not cognitive surplus.

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Hierarchy of Success

I’m thinking of doing an executive MBA. It means I can still carry on working but would work every other weekend to gain what increasingly appears to be an important qualification in the world of business. The communications industry is after all the fusion of commerciality and creativity – and anything that can help that seems worthwhile.

 Part of the application process to all the leading business schools is a course called the GMAT. It’s a test of logic – split into verbal and quantative sections. Put simply, to get into the best schools – you need to be in the top 5-10% of all the people taking it. It’s a real challenge – and really separates the men from the boys. Now, the most intelligent people get the best scores it would seem. People who have high flying careers and have always achieved scholastic excellence get the best scores. That would make sense after all.

 The fact is though, this test is not a test of intelligence – it’s a test of dedication. It’s this point that neatly ties into a recent blog post by Seth Godin. In it, he outlines what he perceives to be the hierarchy of success:

  1. Attitude
  2. Approach
  3. Goals
  4. Strategy
  5. Tactics
  6. Execution

Attitude and approach are what leads to the greatest levels of success. Attitude relates to why we lead our lives and approach looks at the things that we do to make our reasons for living happening. Neither of these are easy to master – if they were then everyone would do them! It’s this reason why the GMAT is such a good test for business schools as it focuses specifically on these areas rather than pure intelligence, which is worthless unless applied practically.

Some more questions that Godin then mentions are:

  • How do you deal with failure?
  • When will you quit?
  • How do you treat competitors?
  • What personality are you looking for in the people you hire?
  • What’s it like to work for you? Why? Is that a deliberate choice?
  • What sort of decisions do you make when no one is looking?

It’s really interesting stuff, and I have found recently that sometimes you don’t know what you want until you take some time to evaluate. In the hecticness of modern life – you presume you are what you are. In reality, you are who you want to be…

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Typographic Sculptures

Complex mobiles made out of text from Ebon Heath

M&S – 1p per item

M&S Shoppers on Oxford Street - 1p bonanza

M&S Shoppers on Oxford Street - 1p bonanza

Massive excitement around M&S stores this morning as 1p bonanza kicks off…


Nostalgia – Mixtapes and Football Programmes

I found this great image on PSFK in a piece talking about how how people tend to assign and associate memories, emotion, meaning and significance to physical objects; and how this is fading with our increased reliance on all things digital…

It really struck a chord. I remember making mixtapes for friends, spending hours hitting pause between each track and cueing up the next CD before painstakingly writing out the track listing. Burning a mix CD on iTunes may be a hell of a lot easier but it’s a hell of a lot less satisfying…

Likewise, some of my prized possessions are my Arsenal programmes from when I started going nearly 20 years ago. I still buy them for nostalgic reasons but in days gone by – these were the only resource for information about tickets etc. Now, everything is online and as such – people buy them far less often. The pleasure of being able to look back in ten. twenty or thirty years and recalling a moment just won’t be available to this generation of fans in the same way…

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100 Days

100 days in power for an amazing man… 

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Obama 2009

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The Cognotive Surplus

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. A new job is always stressful and tends to take something of an emotional toll. That’s why I haven’t written anything on my blog. I’ve been too busy. I have needed to just chill out. I have needed to let my brain completely disengage.

It was after watching this video of Clay Shirky that I realised that I wasn’t too busy…and I didn’t need to completely disengage by doing nothing. The reality was that I couldn’t be bothered. I was being lazy. Shirky talks about ‘cognotive surplus’ and how everybody has time and that this time is far better spent sharing, contributing etc rather than just being a passive consumer of…crap basically!

Its really inspiring stuff. He makes a great point about Wikipedia. I like Wikipedia. I regularly use it. I have however never contributed to it. I have certain interests that I could write about. Admittedly most of my entries would be about youth players from a North London football team who play in red and white…but at least I would be contributing. And if we all contributed, imagine the increase in the level of power we would be beginning to harness.

This is the point. There seems to be a tacit acknowledgement that to relax – we need to do something mind-numbing. We need to dumb down and do nothing. The challenge I am setting myself is to do the opposite and utilise free time to make my brain work in different ways – to experience new things.

Last Friday, I went to a (like mind) coffee morning. This is where likeminded creative people have a natter over some coffee. It’s not scary and not high brow like people I spoke to thought it would be…but is fun, inspiring and relevant. I really enjoyed it because it really fits with the idea of filling the cognotive surplus with STUFF.

On Twitter today, a guy called Iain Tait, whose blog I really like was challenged online to fulfill some unusual tasks – making butter, knitting etc. He set out to achieve these things and did so. It wasn’t self congratulatory but summed up his curiousity in life. Thats my task in hand… To challenge, to think…to not simply accept…

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