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Tuesday, 30 August 2011

News from the department of “Who Would have Guessed It?"

I’ve almost giving up reading most of the papers.

That’s because so much is devoted to things you don’t need to know or know all too depressingly well.

This morning, for example, there was a feature on which female “stars” fancy a bit of lesbian hoo-ha - and every day lately there's something pointing out that if we stick around trying to sort out Libya we’re going to piss away billions and achieve nothing.

Most of the space gives us non-news - for instance a “shocking new report" that “at least 30,000 British men are digging themselves an early grave” because of obesity, alcohol and drugs.

The piece was headed “British men die ’far too early’”. Maybe we should ask their wives; but any fool with eyes to see would know what's wrong by wandering down almost any British High Street late in any evening.

We paid for this utterly useless report, by the way - it was commissioned by the European Community. But the best part of the piece came from Alan White, the country’s "first Professor of Men’s Health", who says "men are not taking care of themselves".

For this you need a professor? There is some sort of plot afoot to set up the most ludicrous object of study, given to the poser most able to point out things that are blindingly obvious to even the completest moron.

A close competitor to Mr/Professor White, however, must surely be “positive weather solutions forecaster Jonathan Powell”.

It is the coldest summer since 1998 - unless you live in the area between London, Bristol and Manchester, three places where I spend much of my time. In that case it’s the coldest since 1993.

This priceless information, announced today, came as a complete surprise to those who haven’t ventured outdoors since April. “Summer has been somewhat pitiful,” revealed Mr. Powell.

Not much bloody use is he? If that’s a positive weather solution, what’s negative? Icebergs floating down the high street?

And since we're on the subject of not much bloody use, let us turn to Mr. Cameron.

“That man speaks out of both sides of his mouth at once. Both sides lies” said Truman of Nixon.

He should have seen Cameron.

Having promised to get rid of those money-gobbling Quangos he’s done nothing of the sort. There’s a new one - the Workplace Retirement Income Commission (WRIC) - to review how well people are saving for retirement. As we all know the answer is "very poorly". And even if they had, the last government stole half of it.

Guess what the WRIC has concluded? "A permanent, independent pensions commission should be established to take the politics out of pensions". Well, well. One Quango begets another. They breed like bunnies.

I also see the time-serving buggers who run them have been busy lining their pockets, nigh-on doubling their pay. Is there no end to this shit?

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Hurricane? Another dreadful few hours I'd almost forgotten

In 1992 I went to stay in Coral Gables for a couple of months - pretending to write a book, or maybe I really was.

Talk about the wrong place at the wrong time. We were bang slap in the path of Hurricane Andrew - at the actual epicentre - just two days after my birthday.

Never been so frightened in my life. We were listening to the radio when the power failed at maybe two in the morning.

Then it came. It sounded like a huge express train coming towards us. We piled the furniture up against the solid wood doors, through which water still leaked. The devastation next day - huge trees uprooted and flung onto roofs (or in our case the swimming pool). Extraordinary.

However, life got back to usual in no time. People were charging amazing sums for bags of ice - and of course the poorest areas suffered worst because of shoddy building.

Not to be recommended.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Which is more ridiculous? The sunglass maker or the vagina evangelist? And how has the human race survived?

If you had to decide who comes out with more undiluted shit, politicians, marketers or journalists, you'd have a tricky time, believe me.

On the plane back to London, at a loss for what to read, I turned to the list of stuff to buy. Next to a picture of some sunglasses I read that their manufacturer "Stockholm-based Vasuma is a fashion-driven, music-inspired lifestyle brand for intellectual youth."

My God, what kind of talent does it take to cram so much pure, undiluted drivel into so few words? What was the writer smoking, snorting, injecting or drinking to come up with such a wondrously succinct assembly of clichés?

Then on the bus (quicker than the train) from Heathrow to Bristol I came across a feature in the Evening Standard by Lucy Hoggard which put the sunglass copywriter in the shade, as it were.

It was about vaginas. It seems a group of feminist artists in Shoreditch (where else?) is busy creating a giant tribute to pussy in the form of a "beautifully skilled artwork" - a quilt bedecked with hand-sewn vaginas.

Lucy, bless her, says this is "a clear reference to the Seventies feminist practice of holding vagina parties during which women were encouraged to acquaint themselves with their vulvas using hand mirrors." Hadn't they noticed them before?

It seems women are reclaiming their vaginas. Which evil bastard stole them, I wondered. And words nigh on failed me when I read all about "the new frankness about vaginas" - but I really shut the fuck up when I read that the vagina is "a neglected area of the body."

Well, you could have fooled me. For roughly 62 years of the time available to me so far I have spent the greater part of my days and nights thinking and doing very little other than focusing on that very item, embroidered or not.

Had I spent even a tenth of that time chasing money, God, how absurdly rich I would be now. But not as happy.

And by the way, how the hell has the human race continued to multiply with all this vagina neglecting that's been going on?

Another failure on my part: I didn't make myself clear, Lorraine

Two days ago I talked about Rowan Gormley's unique Naked Wines club as a rare example of genuine social marketing.

Lorraine Rogerson, who I see lives on the Turks and Caicos Islands, lucky beast, wrote on facebook saying, "I like Naked Wines, but I didn't realise they were a direct marketing success, just nice wines. Is that the point??"

My reply: "Not quite, Lorraine. A great many successes today rely on direct marketing, as all internet sales and messages are direct. In fact I can't think of many firms that don't use direct marketing - usually very badly.

What makes Rowan's business special is the idea behind it - of getting the customers to support wine-makers too small to afford big marketing by buying their stuff. It is genuinely a social approach. You can even become a Wine Angel."

I have interviewed Rowan for an hour as part of my Commonsense Marketing course. Fittingly the first time we ever met, a few years ago, we spent a fair amount of time drinking wine.

He really is one of the very few people who has a bona fide social ingredient in their business. Not just in sales, either. I believe that when he set up Naked Wines every one of his colleagues at his previous firm joined him.

By coincidence yesterday I saw James Brown who founded Loaded magazine make a hilarious speech here in Sweden in which he said one thing I profoundly agree with - that success is all about finding the right people.

He also said that "Luck is when ambition meets opportunity."

My partner Al who tries desperately hard to educate me about things like Adwords has a saying I love: "Failure cannot live with persistence."

Many years ago I asked Ken Roman, my boss at Ogilvy & Mather, what he thought made David Ogilvy so remarkable.

“I am pretty determined,“ he replied. “If something doesn’t work I keep trying for another year, then another, then another. I don’t give up easily. But David never gives up”.

And I recall that in a survey of chief executives not too long ago persistence was the most important reason most gave for success. Of course it helps if you know what you’re doing. Few marketers really do.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

I stand before you astounded .... by a wild goose chase

Since as I remarked not long ago nobody learns history now you are excused for not knowing anything about the gent on the left.

He is Clive of India, who won battles which transformed the position of the British in India from being mercantile visitors to being able to rule the entire subcontinent.

I am not sure this was a good thing, but maybe it wasn't all bad

That is by the by, but recent research suggests that some of his success was due to judicious bribery as much as military brilliance. However, one thing is beyond doubt: he came away obscenely wealthy.

When he was dragged before the House of Commons (a bunch of hypocrites then as now) to explain how he came by it all, he was outraged.

He could have done a lot better, he said. "I stand before you astounded by my own moderation."

Well, when I look at my own record, I am frequently astounded by my own incompetence.

Take, for example, the words above this little farrago of nonsense "Leave now if easily shocked or politically correct." At the end there is supposed to be a link to where you can download my helpful ideas - but I've just discovered that for God knows how long it has done nothing of the sort. It's been sending people on a wild goose chase, to my email address

I have no idea how long that has been the case, but
we've fixed it now.

And goodnight from somewhere in Sweden.

It is raining.

I could have stayed at home, really.

A miracle! I'm back from the dead ... Plus what's missing from most social media?

"Back from the dead?" I hear you cry

Am I Lazarus? Or did you think I was referring to a ghastly two day birthday hangover, you cynic?

Not at all. Let me explain.

I am in Sweden to speak at the Dialogkonferens.

But the way I got invited was a little odd.

My friend Michael Leander Nielsen asked me a few months if I'd ever spoken at this shindig - the biggest in Scandinavia.

When I said "no" he spoke to the organiser, who replied - with unwarranted optimism - "I thought he was dead".

So here I am. Not quite dead yet, but billed as The Grand Old Man of Direct Marketing. That's about the only thing I can understand in the programme, so God knows what I'm going to be talking about.

And what is missing from most social media? Two letters, in my view: b and l.

Don't you think the essence of anything social is that it should be sociable? Shouldn't it be friendly, human, helpful, likeable?

Well, just look at most of the stuff you get.

What's it like?

Isn't much of it pretty dull, cold, often boastful and corporate - quite clearly just after your money?

Shouldn't a good social message come over like a friend trying to help you?

Well I have a friend who has built a business in an incredibly short time by creating something genuinely social.

Before that he was in partnership with Richard Branson three times, helping build three successful Virgin businesses.

In 2009 and 2008 he came to EADIM to tell delegates how it was.

His name is Rowan Gormley.

This year he'll be joining us again to reveal the secrets behind the extraordinary growth of his new venture, Naked Wines.

He's done so in an astonishingly short period of time - during the dreaded recession.

There's no reason why you can't succeed in the same way ... as long as you know what you're doing.

But for that to happen, you have to meet people like Rowan. And you're unlikely to meet as many in one place as you will here.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

What should you invest in now? How about something worth more than gold?

I don’t envy you if you want to invest.

America is broke and getting broker. Europe is in chaos with the weak getting weaker and the strong getting fed-up with supporting them.

Britain is no better, embroiled in wars we can’t afford with a government which promised cuts but keeps spending.

Russia? Would YOU trust Putin? Look what’s happened to people who did.

Do you know what’s really happening in China? No. Nor do I.

No point in keeping it in the bank. The interest rates are a joke, and it shrinks in value every day.
And so on.

I read yesterday an extraordinary statistic: that since Nixon de-linked them in 1971 gold has gone up 50 times representing a 98% loss to the dollar holder.

In the mid ‘70’s a friend persuaded me to buy gold coins. They mysteriously disappeared from my bedroom - I hesitate to say what I suspect - but I wish I’d kept them.

But what if you can’t afford gold? Well, one commodity never goes down in value, no matter what the economy does. I am still making serious money on stock I acquired in 1957 - I have made a point of buying more pretty much every day since.

What’s more, it costs remarkably little to acquire when you compare it with alternatives.

It gives you an unassailable competitive advantage that nobody can take away.

I have set aside a limited stock for you. And the good news is, it costs less than the price of a family vacation.

The return is so good that people who invest in it keep coming back for more*.

You can probably guess what I am suggesting, as I mention it regularly.
You may have thought it makes sense, but not yet decided whether you can spare the time or the money.

Let me ask you: how can you not afford to, when you compare it with alternatives?

When your competitors don't know what they're doing, but you do, believe me, that makes all the difference.

You won't have to worry about "the" economy - if you just concentrate on your economy.

*Two people who invested in it last year are coming back again. One is flying from Australia again because, he said about last year, “By lunchtime on the first day I had got more than my money’s worth.”

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Not sorted out your summer holidays yet? How about a trip to the Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan?

I get regular messages from my friend Greg Waggett, an ex-army chap who makes his living in dangerous places.

(He also used to correspond regularly with David Ogilvy, but that’s another story)

Here’s his latest, only of interest to those with minds that go beyond the dreary bric-a-brac of marketing.

"An old friend of mine who covered the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan as cameraman hung up his boots and runs a small hotel in Kabul. He married an Afghan woman and has a family. Fully integrated. For more, see http://www.gandamacklodge.co.uk/peter.htm.

Anyway, I met up with Peter last year and he offered to introduce me to someone he said I ought to see. It sounded promising. Enter Muslem Hayat. We sat down at a table in Gandamak Lodge and he had quite a tale to tell – though he is a modest man.

Muslem was with Ahmad Shah Massoud as a mujahideen fighter during the Soviet occupation and became his security chief – but was sadly not present when Massoud was murdered two days before 9/11. As you can imagine, they experienced some dangerous times together. Muslem was also trained by, or worked with, MI6.

Massoud was a remarkable man. Arguably one of the greatest guerrilla commanders of the 20th century he was also a man of great vision with plans for Afghanistan after the conflict was over. Respected and revered to this day, he was, and remains, the only single unifying element amongst all the tribes and factions. That is why his death was such a serious loss.

When things settled down, Muslem became Defence Attaché at the Afghan embassy in London 2002-6 alongside Massoud’s brother, Ahmad Wali, the ambassador.

His family (five children) lives in UK and whilst he spends most of his time in Kabul, he travels there from time to time via Dubai where he has friends. He gets by but is not well off – which doesn’t make him grasping.

Muslem invited us to go with him to the Panjshir Valley and meet ‘some friends’ of his. After a three hour drive north of Kabul, we arrived at a large villa deep in the Panjshir to be surrounded by members of the Massoud family. This took my breath away.

We were made welcome and there was plenty of animated discussion and a good lunch. It was fascinating and poignant. We soon discovered that Ahmad Wali, a charming and charismatic man, is very wrapped up in his older brother’s legacy and the best way forward for Afghanistan. We left after warm farewells feeling very lucky and immensely priviledged. I am an unashamed Massoud groupie!

I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

Shortly after our return, Muslem called me and invited us round to Gandamak on Monday evening to meet Sandy Gall, former ITV reporter who spent a lot of time with Massoud during the Russian occupation, and Rupert Chetwynd, former Guards-Para, 21 SAS, humanitarian worker and author. Both are somewhat on the elderly side, but that doesn’t matter. So am I.

So that was quite a bash, too."

29 May 2010

Ahmad Shah Massoud, nemesis of the Soviets in Afghanistan, with Muslem Hayat, circa 1985. He was murdered by an al Qaeda suicide bomber 2 days before 9/11, an incalculable loss to the country.
Approaching the Panjshir Valley. Canadian defence attaché, Matthew Overton, Muslem, who was Massoud’s security chief, and a friend.

Muslem pointing up to the mountains where his camp was during the Soviet occupation. Massoud’s shrine is just behind them. Iranian designed and built, it is ghastly which is why I didn’t take a pic.

Looking over the Panjshir and just before the descent.

Following the river Panjshir

Detritus of war 1

Detritus of war 2.

Traditional dwellings on the banks of the river.

In the garden of the Massoud family’s home.

Ahmad Wali Massoud, the younger brother of the commander, talking about things.

Massoud’s bodyguard making his way down to lunch.

Passionate about his brother’s legacy, Ahmad Wali eulogises him at lunch.

A photographer’s book full of superb pics of the mujahideen taken over 12 months. Muslem found a couple of himself taken just after he became Massoud’s security chief.

Massoud’s retreat in the grounds of the family home.

Still some snow on the heights.

Massoud’s nephew, who lives in Sweden, on my left.

With Muslem before our descent into the valley.

Ahmad Wali Massoud in earnest conversation with several of us. It was difficult to get a word in so I took this photo whilst the Canadian DA got in!

Ahmad Shah Massoud, ‘commander’, ‘lion of panjshir’, 1953 – 2001.

More about Massoud on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmad_Shah_Massoud


Monday, 15 August 2011

Mr. Cameron's moral collapse and other current farces

Yesterday David Cameron spoke out about stopping the "slow motion moral collapse" that is happening here.

Which collapse was he referring to?

Was it poverty-stricken little him getting a mortgage which cost taxpayers £21,000 a year? Didn't his £2 million home have enough room for his phony moralising? Was it the tax fiddle the Miliband brothers pulled off when their father died? Who knows?

To put this collapse into context my friend Ian Waring
took extracts from the speeches made by a few other hypocrites in the House of Commons with notes on their actual behaviour and put them on Facebook.

Gerald Kaufman (£43,564 expenses including 4 grapefruit bowls at £540). I condemn the naked greed of these criminals and their taking advantage of their pampered and privileged opportunities ..

David Wilshire (£160,532 expenses including £100k on a flat 15 miles from main home) My honourable friend has hit the nail on the head. This is not about ideology, it's sheer naked greed

John Healey (£84,562 expenses including £6,194 for renovating his kitchen) We should understand a little less and condemn a little more, Mr Speaker; only tough action against these feral youths will ...

Speaker (£146,780 expenses) Order! Order! Members must set an example to young people!"

If they steal, why shouldn't everyone?

This morning I see that when Cameron sought advice from Bill Bratton who did a good job in LA, top policeman Sir Hugh Orde said: "I am not sure I want to learn about gangs from an area of America that has 400 of them".

Hugh, baby, join the real world. It's not too late. Remove your head from wherever you've stuck it and look around.

Watch a few rap videos,.

Look at how these kids dress. Listen to them.

Is the "I just shat in my pants" jeans style a British look or did it start in U.S. jails?
Is Muthahfucker the Queen's English? Wonder where social activities like drive-by shootings come from? I can help there because 25 years ago a young man in my wife's family died in one in Connecticut.

In Jamie Oliver's restaurant yesterday there was a "sitter" to take us to our table. The waitress said "Enjoy". And so on.

What starts there - good or bad, from obesity to blogging - usually ends up here.


Sunday, 14 August 2011

What do internet suckers and the British rioters have in common? Mental disability

You can learn a lot about human nature if you study crooks and their marks.

For example I did a webinar a while ago analysing the brilliant copy of a U.S. TV "Bishop" who extracts money from gullible poor folk.

I have been writing copy for real charities since 1975 and I am proudest of a letter for Save the Children that ran for 8 years or more. But this self-anointed Bishop had me beat hands down.

Looking at similar stuff I see on the internet it seems almost laughable too good to be true to fool anyone, but it obviously does.

Here's a message I got today:

You Better Call Your Lawyer…

because with the next 3 days you are going to need to setup a trust fund for all the money you will be getting…

Yesterday, the mystery man went and unveiled his TRUE Push Button Money system, never before revealed to the world.

This "system" is so simple yet so powerful because not only does it earn you $1,325 per day on autopilot, but it is so easy that a someone with no clue can use. All you do is.

1 – Push a Button
2 – Tell the software how you would like to get paid
3 – Collect checks in the mail (or direct deposit)

There are people who yesterday were on welfare and today are pushing the button and already making over $1,325 per day just by pushing the button.

Why do sharks like this do well?

There are three reasons.

1. Ignorant folk think this medium - the internet - has mysterious magic.

2. The money to be made by ripping them off inspires great ingenuity - that's a great subject line.

3. The margins are so colossal people can afford to send out a lot of messages.

Unfortunately the only lawyers who should be called never are. They are the public prosecutors, and policing this stuff is impossible.

What do the poor people who respond to this have in common with the British rioters? They're on welfare or unemployment payments in many cases.

In Britain many have never worked. On my way to work I go past beggars every day who are less than half my age and perfectly able-bodied. They are out of the habit of working or never acquired it in the first place.

This is not true of all, but of quite a high percentage. Take the "disabled". In February the Department for Work and Pensions revealed that of 292,300 people tested since October 2008, only 89,600 were unable to work full-time. Lots do work anyhow; one "disabled" man was working as a traffic warden.

The rioters will, if articulate or sober, tell you foreigners have stolen their jobs, or there are no jobs - or whatever.

The truth is these people believe there must be an easier way to get what you need - whether a miracle on the internet or a shop to loot - than the only way I know.

And the mental disability I referred to in my headline is an inability to realise that the only place where money comes before work is in the dictionary.

And you know what? This applies in business. Over five decades I have seen, like trains pulling out of a station, new miracles arrive in the world of marketing.

The U.S.P. ... hard sell ... soft sell ... mood sell ... sales promotion ... database marketing ... curriculum marketing ... dialogue marketing ... loyalty marketing .... CRM ... word of mouth ... websites ... e-mail marketing ... SEO ... Adwords ... social marketing ...

(By the way, is any good marketing unsocial?)

At one time or another people have been told such marketing remedies will relieve you of the effort of thinking, deciding what may be right for your situation and testing. The other day I put up a free clip from someone I respect talking about this.

I am reminded of a great Liverpudlian 19th century quack, "Dr" Samuel Solomon, whose Balm of Gilead promised to cure everything. One bottle cost as much as a week's wages for a labourer. It was made of half a pint of brandy, cardamom, lemon peel, cantharides (Spanish Fly) and Sicilian Oregano.

He did so well that whole shiploads of his stuff used to sail off to foreign parts. There are still two streets in Liverpool, Balm Street and Gilead Street a short drive away from Sefton Park where I was born.

I will, with difficulty, restrain myself from saying more, save that at an event in London later this year you can make sense of all that marketing jargon I mentioned.

At the same time you can discover what kind of stuff really works a few small miracles for you, no matter what nasty things are happening to the economy.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Call this a riot? A mere squabble compared to what our glorious ancestors got up to

Since history is no longer taught in our schools few will be aware of the Gordon Riots back in the 18th century which lasted for a week.

In the summer of 1780 a mob of up to 60,000 people destroyed prisons, churches, chapels, the house of the Lord Chief Justice - and had a good go at the Bank of England. They seized all the bridges across the Thames, and at one point 36 huge fires were seen to be blazing. If there had been a decent breeze half the city would been set alight.

This was when the entire population of London was under a million, and it puts this week's antics into perspective. Today's young people have, in this as so many other respects, fallen far short of their predecessors.

The Riots damaged Britain's reputation in Europe, where many people thought our form of government was unstable. It was thought they were caused by the poor economic situation, with falling wages, rising prices and higher unemployment. Falling wages? Nowadays people expect them to rise inexorably by some miraculous process - but I wrote about that last week.

One thing did come to mind though. Our national character has changed little. As I looked at the picture of the deprived youth in the brand new trainers carrying his can of beer I recalled one of the great moments in the Gordon Riots. This was when the mob broke into a gin distillery onHolborn, drank as much as they could and set fire to it, killing a few of their number in the process.

If you were to read Dickens' Barnaby Rudge - but then our educational system does not encourage the reading of books - it gives a wonderful description of the Riots. From that I conclude that what most causes this sort of thing - then as now - is the desire of a lot of young, bored, unemployed, ignorant, mindless people to go out, get drunk and have fun smashing things up.

When eventually they called in the army back in 1780, over 200 people were killed. There was no police force in those days - and even after the Riots it took 49 years to create one. But the authorities were utterly clueless at the time.

What else is new?

Saturday, 6 August 2011

The great panic: how about a little perspective? Take a step back in time

Are you worried about what's happening. About governments printing money, for instance?

Then come with me on a visit to the '70's.

In 1972 the amount of money in circulation in Britain went up by 28%. And just to make sure there was enough to go round, the government printed another extra 29% in 1973.

In 1974 we were only allowed to work three days a week as there wasn't enough fuel to go round.

Not long after, the government was busy printing petrol ration books, whilst the IRA, bless them, were busy sending out letter and parcel bombs to people they didn't like.

The head of the civil service was so distraught by what was going on (many feared armed insurrection or a right wing takeover) that he had a nervous breakdown after taking all his clothes off and lying on the floor talking gibberish.

He ended up as chairman of one of the big five British banks (why am I not surprised?)

These facts, and many more of a like nature, are from a very funny book by Francis Wheen called Strange Days Indeed - The Golden Age of Paranoia.

Isn't it surprising that we survived all that? And we will survive all this.

An interesting piece in the Money and Markets Letter quotes what they consider the best analysis of what's happening, by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff. This suggests economic growth will be less than before the 2007 crisis, unemployment will be around 5 percent higher and house prices will stay 20% to 50% below their peak.

I'm sorry, but this doesn't sound like the end of the world, or "Armageddon" as the same publication is calling what's happening. Things were infinitely worse in the Great Depression.

Two things come to mind, though. One of the most interesting things I have read recently was from a wise man who said, as far as I can recall: "Anyone who believes indefinite growth is possible in a world with finite resources is either mad - or an economist."

I have long thought this. Why do we always expect things to get better and better? Why should they? What did we do to deserve it? What is terrible about growth being "less"? I don't know about you, but I've had a few years when my "economic growth" has hovered around minus 50%. I just did without.

The other thing that comes to mind is - going back to the '70's which were my worst years - I got by by developing my skills.

I did things I'd never done before. I learned how to write different things for different people. I wrote speeches and presentations. I ghost-wrote parts of books. I developed my direct mail skills, which were not that hot to start with. I made a film to sell property in Spain. I sold investments on the phone. I worked as a temporary creative director. In 1974 I was marketing director for a swimming pool firm. I sold franchises. I hid from the tax people.

I hated a lot of it. I did what I had to do.

If you want to do well develop your skills. Do what you have to do. And keep calm.

By the way, the picture at the top is my passport cover. I am near Valencia, staying with Jose Maria Gayet Fort of Doyouspain.com, a very successful business.

I hope to ask him how he did it.

Actually, if you come to EADIM you can ask him yourself. He will be one of the delegates


Friday, 5 August 2011

Do you have to win no matter who suffers? Plus Bird's Last Hurrah

This is fair warning. In November I’m coming to Australia. Leave before it’s too late.

It is exactly 40 years since I first visited, in a desperate state after my business had gone down the pan. I spent six weeks trying and failing to sell swimming pool franchises and fake Chagall paintings. It wasn’t even summer.

I’ve been there many times since, and if I had to live anywhere else it would definitely be there.

I went back in 1986, with an additional trip to New Zealand. I made friends I have kept ever since

But here’s another warning. Never try to do one day seminars in 8 cities in three weeks all over Australasia. I damn near had a nervous breakdown.

Anyhow, I still have the notes for those seminars. They started with a story about Vince Lombardi, maybe the greatest U.S. football coach. An English reporter asked him the object of the game. ”The object of the game is to win,” he replied.

Well, I’ve been having an exchange on Facebook with Paul Reddick, also a bit of a coach it seems, about the growing inequality in income in the U.S. 90 years ago the richest 1% of Americans got roughly 18% of all income. Today, the top 1% get 24%, nearly doubling the gap since 1980. There is the same trend here, too.

Many of the people who benefit from this should not in my view. They get paid more despite bad performances. Every day you read about it. Ian Coucher who was running Network Rail here is a good example. He was a failure – but got a fat goodbye worth £1 million. This is all because of the “you scratch my back” atmosphere at the top.

Paul feels if you can get the money you deserve it. As he put it "$ controls everything....and if you want some money you can go get it...it's freedom nobody is trapped" and " they GET the income they earn it"

I then quoted Bernie Madoff.

He got the money. Did he deserve it? How did he earn it? Did the obnoxious Fred Goodwin who so delighted in firing people when he should have fired himself? Not to mention all the others whose greed did so much to create our present misery.

These people are – as others have pointed out – sociopaths. They care little or nothing for anything save themselves. They set a bad example.

This is exactly spirit of winning at all costs which leads sportsmen to rely on drugs. Win, but win fair.

Having got that off my chest, what about my Last Hurrah?

The Last Hurrah was an excellent book and film about a politician at the end of his career.

I am nearing the end of mine. I shall be 75 in a couple of weeks. I have a few more things scheduled – a speech at the big Scandinavian conference in Oslo on April 24th, the EADIM event in October and Australia, but not a lot.

But there is one that is very special, this fall (or autumn) at the Medill School of Journalism of North Western University in Illinois.

Thus is where one of my heroes, James Webb Young, lectured over 50 years ago. I have a copy of the lectures. This is the area where Claude Hopkins blazed trails. It is where Leo Burnett, one of my former employers set up shop.

I am really rather excited about it.

You can attend free, if you’re interested.


Wednesday, 3 August 2011

How I saved nigh on £2,500 on THE most important commodity in business - with an opportunity for one person reading this

I've told this story before, but I was reminded because of a favour an old client asked of me.

The most important commodity in your business once you're more than a one man band is people. You can't do it on your own.

Good people are as rare as hen's teeth. I have just found a couple and I'm far happier than if I got a new client. With the right people I can always get clients; the reverse is true to some degree, but not nearly so.

Five years ago I wanted a new PA. My P.A. is my right hand. The recruitment people wanted to charge me something not far short of £2,500.

Even now that they are - in some cases - slashing their usurious rates they are too damn dear for my taste. And none of them know as much about your business as you do.

I ran an ad that cost me £19, took me 20 minutes to write, and got over 80 replies in 24 hours, with a good ten excellent candidates.

Are you wondering what the opportunity is that I mentioned?

No, it is not to come and be sworn at by me (do I detect a sigh of relief?)

It is to work in Bristol for Hargreaves Lansdown, managing their Adwords campaigns. Last year their website had 28,000,000 visits. It is a very important part of the business.

If you are a web whiz or marketer (or you know somebody who is) and have managed PPC campaigns before, please send your CV to Amy Watson (awatson@hl.co.uk).

If you are also a little entrepreneurial, HL usually values that. I can tell you that from working with them since 2005 (but alas no longer ... they don't need me any more.

The full address is on the HL site.

If you want a serious chance of being considered, write about any results you have got for yourself or other clients. HL are, to say the least of it, keen on results.

Do your research. And include testimonials. Good luck – and let me know how you get on.