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Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Advice from two millionaires

I greatly fear my old boss thinks I’m an idiot – so I’m going to change, starting now

A while ago I went to have dinner in New York with him. He was CEO of the Ogilvy Group when I adorned the worldwide board as all-round buffoon and trouble-maker.

He asked me:

“Do you make any money out of your blog?”

I replied, “No, I just do it for fun.”

He gave me that special look he reserves for idiots. I gathered that (not for the first time) he thought I was making a mistake.

Since his apartment alone is worth about twenty times more than me, he's probably right.

So I thought I would tell you about the www.eadim.com course we ran in Brussels two weeks ago. (If you're not in marketing, stop reading here)

We never promoted this event much outside Europe – not even in the U. K. – though I did ask people who read this blog about it.

Anyhow, to my astonishment, two people flew in from Australia, and one from South Africa to attend, so I guess that was a mistake on my part (again) – not promoting it in more countries, I mean.

It was such an exhausting experience (and we have a fair amount of work to do for clients anyhow) that it's taken us this long to recover and look through the comments

One delegate (who actually runs the direct marketing association in Latvia) said:

“Extremely valuable week. Probably the second most valuable after I learned to read and count”.

The same man commented that if the week had ended on Tuesday (after two days) it would have been worth it.

“Thank you a lot once more for such a nice week. I could not sleep yesterday because of all these ideas were rushing in my mind” – a senior Credit Card Manager from Austria

“It was the most valuable week of my life. I learned a lot and I’m very pleased that I had the opportunity to be in Brussels together with so talented speakers.” – a PR executive with Volkswagen in Romania

“I liked the top quality and experience of the speakers from so many different places and backgrounds and how amazingly consistent they were. No contradictions or ambiguities.” - a senior car insurance marketer from Portugal.

"I was humbled by the level of expertise and entrepreneurship on the course ... and that was just among the students! EADIM is for people who are serious about wanting to get ahead." – an English copywriter

“It was a great opportunity to network with the best in the industry.” - an Australian entrepreneur

There were pages of comments like that. It reassured me that there is a market for people who realise there is more to direct marketing than pumping out a stream of "who else wants to be a squillionaire in three months" e-mails, getting your friends to do the same and sharing the spoils.

I suspect that what people liked was the fact that they saw speakers who are just not on the circuit.

One of the best liked (and the average rating was just over 90%) was Rowan Gormley who has started three businesses with Richard Branson. His description of his first conversation with that gentleman and how they worked together was just hilarious.

For me the most interesting contribution came from someone who was not actually there. The week before on the spur of the moment I went and did a 58 minute video interview with Peter Hargreaves, chief executive of an investment firm worth about £780 million.

He and his partner started it in his spare bedroom with a borrowed typewriter. The day I interviewed him his results were 42% up - as the rest of the world of finance was collapsing.

What a fascinating and very funny man. He's written a book which I've read in draft, but which is not yet out. What he had to say about big companies, banks, meetings and how to handle people was worth the week on its own.

And guess what? He still writes a lot of his own copy - which is one reason why I've never been able to get enough work out of his firm.

If you want to know when we plan the next event, tell me and I'll keep you informed. Who knows - you could even get a good deal.

Numbers are limited to 40 maximum because people liked getting to know the speakers personally. We hosted a dinner for a different group of delegates each night so they could do so.

The downside, of course, was having to listen to my dire jokes.

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