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Friday, 29 January 2010

A voice from the past: Mother Teresa, David Ogilvy - and me

I am the most disorganised, forgetful, dozy person you could ever fear to meet - as a shocked glance at my desk would reveal.

But I always take comfort from a sign Bill Phillips, one of my old bosses, had in his office: "A neat stall is the sign of a dead horse."

Anyhow, among the debris in our converted brothel of a basement office (yes; it really was once a house of pleasure) are some video tapes in formats unused since the Stone Age, most of which I've never looked at.

(Are you getting a little curious?)

Yesterday I started watching one I had not seen in over 20 years and never watched in full. I didn't even know I had it, but it brought back one of the most deeply satisfying experiences of my professional life.

It was 1989. I had just arrived in the Ogilvy office in Bombay, and the receptionist said, "Oh, all the directors are watching a video of Mr. Ogilvy. In I walked and sat down in the dark.

David was talking at a training programme for senior executives, and I had barely settled down when he started talking about me - and about an account we worked on together where we doubled the billings within a year.

I can't repeat what he said - too embarrassing - but talk about perfect timing. I walked in, sat down with people I barely knew - and got an immediate testimonial from the boss. It was like all my Christmases had come at once.

Before you get bored by this crowing, I should tell you that he said a great deal more.

If you want to know what it was like to work for the best advertising man - and certainly the most inspiring - on the planet, well this shows you. He was pretty old at the time, but my God, what a presence.

And one of the best things was that he was extremely funny, with a wonderful line about Mother Teresa.

I'm going to go through the entire recording - and quite a few others I found lying around in the basement where I lurk and put some bits up for you.

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