Cynicism

I read Caitlin Moran’s ‘How To Build A Girl‘ recently. As a father with a 12 year old daughter, I thought it might help prepare me for the years to come. I think it did that t an extent, though I’m not sure it’s made me feel any less worried!

But it’s a good read, not least because it’s set at the exact time I was in the same stage of life as the central character, Johanna.

However, the passage that has stayed with me is about cynicism. It’s brilliant and I agree with every word. Here it is:

“…when cynicism becomes the default language, playfulness and invention become impossible. Cynicism scours through a culture like bleach, wiping out millions of small, seedling ideas. Cynicism means your automatic answer becomes ‘No’. Cynicism means you presume everything will end in disappointment. And this is, ultimately, why anyone becomes cynical. Because they are scared of disappointment. Because they are scared someone will take advantage of them. Because they are fearful their innocence will be used against them – that when they run around gleefully trying to cram the whole world in their mouth, someone will try to poison them.

“Cynicism is, ultimately, fear. Cynicism makes contact with your skin, and a think black carapace begins to grow – like insect armour. This armour will protect your heart, from disappointment – but it leaves you almost unable to walk. You cannot dance, in this armour. Cynicism keeps you pinned to the spot, in the same posture, forever.”

Fantastic stuff. Show me a cynic who ever created something amazing.

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Pintagram: a new social social

 

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First up, pronunciation: not ‘pin’, but ‘pint’. Pintagram.

As anyone who follows me on Instagram will know, I take a fair few pics of London. I never get tired of it (even if, I’m sure, many of my followers do). It’s a ridiculously obvious thing to say, but London’s an incredible city in a million different ways, and quite a few of them make half-decent snaps.

There’s nothing I like more than a wander around London on a nice morning or evening, taking in and capturing the city. And with the evenings getting longer and the weather improving (hopefully) there’s even more time to indulge.

Another thing I quite like is a decent pint or glass of wine in one of London’s many splendid pubs. So why not, I thought, combine the two?

Welcome to Pintagram, a new social social. A gentle meander around London’s streets, grabbing a few pics along the way on a route defined by a handful of pit-stops at some nice boozers.

I haven’t sorted a date for the first one, or indeed a route, but if you think you’d be up for it then leave a comment below along with some method of getting in touch (email, Twitter handle, etc) and I’ll keep you informed.

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The success equation

Apropos of absolutely nothing, I was thinking while on my bike the other day (I do a lot of thinking on the bike) about an equation for success. On the ride I distilled it down to:

Ability + Opportunity = Success

But I’ve since realised that there’s something else needed. After all, plenty of people with both the ability and opportunity have failed to succeed. I think it’s either perseverance or perhaps commitment. And given the former’s more difficult to spell, I’m going with the latter:

Ability + Opportunity + Commitment = Success

It’s difficult if not impossible for an individual to control all these things. In fact you might argue that the individual can only really control their commitment to something: ability being largely genetic and opportunity environmental.

From a societal perspective, we should be concerned about giving more people with ability the opportunities to succeed. The commitment, of course, is down to them.

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Book review: Culture Shock, by Will McInnes

ImageI’m not one for reviewing books, generally. The last thing I can remember reviewing, in fact, was a piece of direct mail from Rapha, and that was more than five years ago! But there are a number of reasons why I feel compelled to offer up my thoughts on Culture Shock, by Will McInnes, which are:

  • I’ve known Will for a while. Well, I say ‘known’. We’ve met, I think, twice and connect on Twitter and that, but I’ve been an admirer of his company, NixonMcInnes, and intrigued by some of the approaches to business that they’ve been experimenting with there and which obviously form the basis for much of the thinking in the book.
  • In keeping with much that he espouses in Culture Shock, Will approached writing the book in a very open and transparent way, publishing chapters as he drafted them on his site for comments and feedback. That I found very interesting from the start and though I can’t remember adding a great deal of value, Will’s been kind enough to mention me in the acknowledgements section of the final printed version!
  • Finally, I genuinely believe that the way businesses run themselves and reward and motivate their people needs to change over the coming decades and therefore a book with the strapline “A handbook for 21st century business” would seem to be one I should have a look at…

So all of that’s hardly going to lead to the world’s most unbiased review, right?

Right.

I loved the book. Will presents a perspective on building and running businesses which is hugely inspiring (and in the truest sense of the word, by making you determined to change behaviour and take action) but which also doesn’t shy away from the massive challenges inherent in tackling the inertia found in businesses that have been run in the same way for decades. This is no pie-in-the-sky vision of business utopia – one where employees are permanently happy simply through the emotional fulfilment of the workplace – but definitely shows how businesses can be run with an eye on both profits and purpose.

What really makes the difference for me, however, is the practical nature of the book. Yes, there’s plenty of theory but it’s balanced – if not outweighed – by examples of businesses big and small (including Will’s own) who are putting into practice the techniques and methods detailed throughout, along with plenty of specific actions we can all take to move towards the vision. There’s also shitloads of extra reading recommended by Will. I’ve already bought three other books.

Will’s passion truly comes through in Culture Shock’s pages. Half the time it feels like he’s shaking you by the shoulders and shouting at you to take action. Which is a bit scary, because he’s not a small fella.

If I were starting my own business (and who knows, now?) then a copy of Culture Shock would be given to every employee that walked through the door. And every client, customer and partner.

Nice one Will.

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Why all the fuss about Fancy?

I’ve been a user of Fancy for a few months now and really like it. It seems to be gathering some momentum. A lot of people simply see it as another Pinterest, but there’s a bit more to it than that. So I put some slides together and thought I’d share. You can find the presentation on SlideShare here.


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Brainstorsms

Deliberate typo in the title.

I had a brainstorm over SMS today. It was great and I reckon there’s something in it. Here’s why:

No geographical barriers. I contributed my first idea in one country and my last in another. Enough said.

No technological barriers. SMS is about the most democratic of communication technologies. Low cost, doesn’t require access to wifi or any expensive kit, mobile.

Reduced time pressures. More often or not, a brainstorm forces the participants into being creative within the time it takes place, usually an hour. My SMS brainstorm today lasted more than five hours in all. You just need to sow the seed and give some rich creative thoughts the time to grow.

It encourages brevity. Nobody’s going to tap out a 300 word explanation of their idea. And a good idea succinctly communicated is halfway to being sold to a client I reckon.

Uninhibited thinking. You’re less worried about looking silly on SMS because nobody can see you.

Fewer red flags. You either can’t be bothered or don’t want to be the one to commit criticism of another person’s idea to an SMS.

You can all talk at the same time. The clever technologists sort it out.

You’ve got it all recorded. There it all is, on my phone in its nice little speech bubbles. Nothing gets lost.

I wish I could show you a screen grab…

Try it for yourself. Let me know how you get on.

Bordeaux Airport

I’m a bit of a sucker for an airport. I’m not sure why – they can often be a pain in the arse to navigate. But they’re often quite interesting from an architectural perspective, which might be a bit surprising given they serve exactly the same purpose wherever they are. Or maybe that’s why they’re interesting architecturally. And despite the fact that air travel has lost most if not all the sense of glamour that it might have once possessed, I’m still a bit of a romantic about travelling: the journey as much as the destination (which is one of the reasons I’d recommend Alain de Botton’s The Art of Travel).

Anyway, one of the two airports I might consider as my ‘home’ ones is Bordeaux (the other is La Rochelle which is anything but interesting architecturally. Though it has other charms). I like Bordeaux Airport. It’s big enough to be a proper airport – really well connected – but you can walk from one end to the other in about five minutes. I also think it looks great. With its wavy roof and palm trees, it might be better placed on the Cote d’Azur. I also like the way you can see right through it, as the front and back walls are glass, and there’s nothing in between (you can *kind of* see that in the rather fuzzy picture I took at dusk a few weeks back).

I’m no expert in architecture, but I love the way it can improve the most mundane, functional things.

Resuscitating a flat-lining blog

I’ve *kind of* made a new year’s resolution to try and post a bit more frequently here on Another Flamin’ Blog. I’ve got to work out the most efficient way to do so…there are so many other methods to quickly post bits of content and links to interesting stuff online (Twitter being the main one, but I’ve also been Tumbling a bit and having another look at Path. Oh, and there’s Facebook too, obviously…)

Let’s see how it goes, eh? I make no promises.

 

Jobs genius on marketing

Bloody hell! I’ve blogged. Nobody is more surprised than me.

Obviously and understandably there’s been a tsunami of Steve Jobs-related tweeting and blogging over the last couple of days. It’s obviously very sad. It’s sad that cancer cares not for success, or vision, or genius, or money. It’s indiscriminate like that. It’s very sad when anyone is taken from their friends, family and fans before their time. But thankfully for those of us who love using Apple products, Jobs churned through a fair amount of stuff in his 56 years.

I came across this video via the W+K blog last night, and it’s one I can’t remember seeing before. It’s the late 90s and Jobs is giving his views on branding and marketing. In essence, he’s saying that marketing should be based on core values of a company; values which don’t really change over time. A couple of things struck me while watching the video:

1) How many CEOs could be as engaging and genuinely passionate about their company’s values? Indeed, how many have such a clear perspective of what those values are?

2) How many CEOs would be happy to speak for five minutes about the philosophy behind their latest TV ad?

TV ads aren’t cheap things to produce and run. They’re big bets for most companies. It’d be nice if each one were created with the same amount of thought, passion and belief.

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Putting a value on social media outputs

The other day I had cause to Google: “What’s the value of a Facebook fan?”

This because some colleagues were evaluating a recent campaign for a client; a campaign that over a month or so had attracted nearly 4,000 Facebook fans. The client wanted to know how much these fans were worth. My initial reaction was that their worth was difficult to calculate, as it would (should) potentially increase over time as they became more engaged, bigger advocates and, hopefully, valuable lifelong customers. But no. We needed to put a value on them. Hence my search.

One of the first results returned highlighted the problem. This article in Advertising Age from June last year references two different studies that tried to answer the question. The studies – by social media companies Syncapse and Vitrue – both used highly complicated and sophisticated formulas. Syncapse put a value on a Facebook fan of $136. Vitrue’s value was $3.60. Perhaps an average of the two might work?

It’s a bit ironic that we’re armed with any number of buzz monitoring and sentiment tracking tools – applications which can help measure the outcome of not only digital and social media but all marketing activities – that we’re being driven to measure the outputs of social media activity: Facebook fans, tweets, blog posts and check-ins. And not only to count the mere numbers, but to stick a precise value on them too.

But clients we have, and clients we serve, so I’m thinking that we should at least have a stab while we’re also trying to educate them…

So earlier today I tweeted that I was thinking about pulling a cross-industry group together to put a value on social media outcomes and that if anyone was interested in getting involved to drop me a line. I’ve already had a great response – the more the merrier as far as I’m concerned. If you fancy it then drop me an @ reply on Twitter, or leave a comment here. I’ll try and get a meeting organised.

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