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Thursday, 29 April 2010

Uncle Dray's Electoral Follies, Part 2. Another free webinar

The 18th century was famous for corruption. So how much has changed?

Here is part of what is going on in this Hogarth picture.

Images of bribery abound ... in the foreground a shower of gold flows from the Treasury into the wheelbarrow of 'PUNCH' the candidate for 'GUZZLEDOWN'.

Hogarth is suggesting that the Whigs, the party of power, were using taxpayer's money to fund election treats and other bribes.

Sound vaguely familiar? In those days there was a dreadful scandal about the way most people had no votes. Now we have one where Labour have fiddled the Electoral boundaries so much that they will get far more seats than they deserve.

As far as I can make out the person who will come out best is the one who does the best impression of the Great Bliar. If it is Clegg, he will be able to institute the electoral system which has served Italy so well. Brilliant.

Enough of this carping. This morning I looked at the guff my three candidates in Chelsea and Fulham stuck through my letterbox, and decided that much can be learned from them, including a chief reason why the Lib-Dem party is doing so well.

So I shall shortly stage another of my webinars and see what lessons we can draw from these messages. The last was the most popular I have ever run, so keep an eye open.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Introducing new, miracle “Super Nanny” marketing

Sorry. I only put in that ludicrous heading because nowadays everything on the damn web is miraculous and mind-blowing - so I thought I’d join the hustlers.

Frankly this is not miraculous OR mind-blowing. It’s actually very simple, but it is to do with Super Nanny, and most marketers seem utterly ignorant about what I'm talking about.

By the way, do you know what Super Nanny is? It’s this reality TV show where Jo Frost, a comely buxom wench visits homes with impossible kids and clueless parents who are going crazy, and sorts things out with a bit of commonsense. It’s now being shown in 47 countries.

Well, I was watching her on Sunday (what a fascinating life I lead) and I noticed what she said to this poor woman at the end of her tether with the sort of loathsome brat who embarrasses parents in supermarkets

Don’t tower over the baby, get down to his level and speak as an equal

Explain why you want him to do what you want him to do

Don’t give in to him all the time by giving him rewards he hasn’t earned

Explain exactly what you want him to do

Tell him what the reward will be for good behaviour.

It is perfectly clear to me that Jo Frost knows a damn sight more about how to persuade than at least 8O% of all marketers.

This is especially true of politicians, who routinely talk down to us, promise rewards we haven't earned (and can't afford)and make no attempt to link what we do to what we get, nor even to suggest that we will have to do quite a lot.

The first one who actually tells the truth might be pleasantly surprised. We certainly would be.

I think maybe Nanny Frost should put them over her dimpled knees and give them a good spanking.

Calm down you lot.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Yes, it's true folks. They really ARE a bunch of wankers

You've long suspected it. I've long suspected it. The custodians of righteousness are a bunch of tossers.

According to a report by the Associated Press, “Senior staffers at the Securities and Exchange Commission spent hours surfing pornographic websites on government-issued computers while they were being paid to police the financial system, an agency watchdog says.”

One accountant was even blocked 16,000 times from accessing banned sites, the report said, as the results of a series of probes conducted during the financial crisis began to surface yesterday.

Seventeen of the employees were “at a senior level,” said the AP report, some earning salaries over $220,000 per year. ABC News revealed that several of these tossers are still at it.

I am irresistibly reminded of the lines from Samuel Butler's Hudibras, the hypocritical puritan who "compounds for sins he is inclined to by damning those he has no mind to".

Thursday, 22 April 2010

You just can't beat a stupid government if you want big profits

Here, a miraculous recovery is explained in The Daily Reckoning.

"When it converted into a bank holding company back in 2008, Goldman became eligible to borrow cheap money from the Fed's discount window. Morgan Stanley did the same thing. As a result, Goldman, Morgan Stanley et al. may borrow billions of dollars from the Federal Reserve and use the proceeds to purchase higher-yielding government securities of longer duration.

In other words, Goldman may borrow from the government at 0.75%, then loan the money back to the government at 3% or 4%. All in a day's "trading." Not surprisingly, all the major financial firms have been reporting blockbuster profits. Yesterday, for example, Morgan Stanley wowed the Street by nearly doubling its expected earnings result. Bond trading provided most of the juice, as Morgan's fixed-income revenue more than doubled from the prior year's first quarter.

Prior to Morgan Stanley's results, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and, yes, Goldman Sachs, had all reported record quarterly revenue from fixed-income trading. On the surface, these monster profits would seem like good news. But this silver cloud contains a very dark lining: without the Fed's low-cost financing, fixed-income profits will be much harder to come by."

A world policed by half-wits

As you can imagine, nobody is keener on the protection of birds than I am.

But some friends we can really do without, as I was reminded when I read the following by that great scourge of buffoons, Richard Ingrams, in The Independent

A few years ago, a Liverpool man, Steven Harper, was prosecuted for selling a stuffed owl on the internet auction site eBay. As the proud possessor of a stuffed owl, once a popular ornament in Victorian times, I experienced a moment of panic. Could I too be prosecuted? Or would that happen only if I tried to sell the owl?

Mr Harper, it turned out, was lucky to get away with a conditional discharge, while a spokesman for Merseyside police, keen to uphold the rights of dead stuffed owls, warned that ‘the legislation is in place to protect endangered species whether an animal is alive or dead’.

Or even, it seems, if it never existed in the first place - if another case reported this week is anything to go by. A Northumberland auctioneer, Mr Jim Railton, was not as lucky as Mr Harper. He was prosecuted and fined £1,000 for putting a collection of 100-year-old birds' eggs (many of them broken) up for sale. In addition he must pay a “victim's surcharge” of £15, though who the victim is or was has not been made clear.

Who is behind these farcical prosecutions? I suspect the hand of the militant Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the same organisation that has helped to fill the sky over my house with menacing red kites. It may well be time for the Queen to consider whether such an organisation as the RSPB should continue to be allowed to use the prefix “royal”

What I wonder is to what degree the national crime rate is directly related to the deplorable stupidity of the police, and the fact that prosecuting people for inane reasons is a damn sight easier than catching drug-dealers - and makes the statistics look slightly less disastrous.

On balance, though, it is clear that if you have an educational system in ruins you are going to produce a generation that cannot think.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Thanks, Gareth - and whoever thought this up

The Goldman Sachs Caper

Hi - I have this car that I want my friend over here to sell you.

I’m pretty sure the brakes will fail and when you hit something, the petrol tank will explode, because the car is showing signs of those two exact problems.

My friend’s not going to tell you that, though.

Nor is he going to tell you that I was the one who told him it was fine to sell the car to you.

Now, I didn’t actually sell you the car, but I’m planning to take a life policy out on you, because you’re driving a car I’m pretty sure is going to kill you.

Is what I’m doing wrong?

I mean you’ll be DEAD and I’ll be RICH, but technically, I didn’t do a damn thing wrong, did I?

Note: Some things never change. Back in the '60's Ford sold a car called the Pinto that did pretty much that. Then of course there was the highly profitable war (for them and their friends) organised by Bush and the Bliar. Not forgetting the Union Carbide obscenity in India which people are still dying from. And so it goes.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Where do the intellectual sweepings of the gutter end up?

Are all bank systems designed by cretins, or is it just Lloyds'?

Yesterday they refused me cash, no doubt because their sophisticated multi-million-pound computers, worried about fraud, haven't noticed I visit the US 5 or 6 times a year and have done for the last decade, almost always to the same places.

Clearly when I tried to get money from a machine I have used scores of times over the years using the right card with the right password I must have been a crook impersonating myself.

That was "sorted out" after a call from my office - NOT - because they did it again, the next day. Having a passport didn't help either.

The people I feel sympathy for - besides the customers - are the poor staff, subjected to the mindless vagaries of a management clearly unable to manage anything more complex than occasional self-abuse punctuated by obscene bonuses

I recall talking years ago to the bank manager from my Lloyds branch (when they had managers) who listened patiently to my wails of anguish for a while, then said, "You should see what they do to us".

Their head office should be dynamited and their senior management ritually raped by angry, diseased, massively equipped buffaloes. Good for nothing but extortion modified by incompetence and rapacity.

This man puts me where I belong: at the end of the intellectual line

Someone once said to Churchill that his socialist opponent, Attlee, was a very modest man.

"He has much to be modest about", growled the old man.

That is rather how I feel when contemplating my latest client, Tony Buzan, who literally taught the world a better way to think.

I thought I had an impressive client list... I get brilliant testimonials. People tell me I'm a good speaker. But I'm a pygmy compared to this man.

  • Tony invented and popularised Mind Maps.
  • 250 million people use them, including several Nobel Prize winners.
  • He really is extraordinary. In 1994 Forbes magazine named him one of five top international lecturers with Mikhail Gorbachev, Henry Kissinger and Margaret Thatcher.
Some years ago the President of Mexico called on him when he was trying to transform that dizzyngly complex country with its manifold intractable problems.

And - something entirely different - he even helped the late Michael Jackson to be more creative.

Walt Disney, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, BBC, Intel, Boeing, Friends of the Earth, Proctor and Gamble, to name just a few, have turned to him for help.

I think anybody who wants to succeed should meet him if they get the chance. And if you live in the US, you can next month because he will be on tour there for the first time in over a decade (just check www.thinkbuzan.com/us/services/training/thinkbuzansystem for details)

Forbes magazine says he "shows corporate executives how to hotwire their creative energies".

People who attended his workshops commented: "
Mesmerising", "extraordinary", "the audience was spellbound".

I think you get the idea... (but you can get an even better one if you go here)

I've asked him to come and speak to me and my agency as soon as he's back in the UK (I can't ship them all to the US, which is where I'm stranded).

Stephen C Lundin, who wrote the five-million-copy book FISH! said
"in a few hours he communicated to a business audience the practical portion of what I had spent four years studying."

Nicky Oppenheimer, Chairman of De Beers, who sell the odd diamond, said:
"Mind Maps are indispensable in the business world."

The line about him that I really like is,
"Tony didn't invent the brain. But he did write the operating instructions."

This is why I am doing something I have very rarely done before - make a suggestion of a commercial nature here (although, in my defense, whether or not you attend, I won't make a penny).

But this is my advice to you: if you can, go and see Tony Buzan. It will change the way you think. Spending a day with him is like "putting your brain on steroids". The only side effects are: extra brain power, extra productivity, more creativity.

How can you say no to that?

Just go to www.thinkbuzan.com/us/services/training/thinkbuzansystem. Then tell me what you think.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Asleep on the job? Surely not.

After a bracing few days pontification at Ken McCarthy's System Seminar in Chicago, I'm back in Brooklyn to find I have become a grandfather again - though I'm very worried, as young Rowan Drayton is 2 months premature.

So we won't talk about that, but about something I noticed when on an architectural tour of the Windy City** where one of the many interesting buildings is the HQ of Crane Publications, who publish AdAge.

I began my career over half a century ago on a trade magazine, and am somewhat relieved that I never kept any copies because most trade magazines are rubbish - though AdAge is very good, unlike its U.K. counterpart, Campaign, which is little more than an extended gossip column.

Most advertising industry publications (and I read several) tend to be full of arse-licking interviews of marketing directors, with many a quote about their vision, courage and farsightedness, mostly from either their advertising agency, one of its competitors hoping to snare some business or someone they drink with.

There is little serious analysis, because trade journalists are poorly paid and rarely know or are industrious enough to learn much about the industry in question. The publications really exist to make money from advertising space and conferences which are often even worse than the publications since they don't pay the speakers - who tend to be marketing directors there to boast about their stupefyingly dull "strategies".

There are exceptions, but as a breed marketing directors seem to be either incompetent or exceptionally unfortunate, as the only figures I have seen suggest that in the U.S. and U.K. they last on average less than than 18 months on the job. Just long enough to make fine promises, change everything whether it is good or bad so as to be seen doing something, produce little, no or downright bad results, get found out and sent on their way with a goodly sum.

One reason for this, I have always thought, is that the people who hire them - the chief executives - tend to know nothing about marketing. Another is that rather than seeking fresh talent they tend to hire people who have done the job before, thus perpetuating a never ending spiral of mediocrity.

For some reason this is particularly the case in the financial services industry where people who have virtually destroyed good businesses (in one case
did destroy a fine old firm through a witless exercise in "rebranding" - the halfwits' substitute for thought) have no trouble finding new mugs to hire them. This shows that the hirers themselves are so stupid or lazy that they fail to look at the careers of their new hirings.

All this is prompted by an unintentionally hilarious little piece I saw in Aussie Adnews which read: "Snooze national marketing director Drew Warren-Smith has left the company after more than 10 years". A poignant extra touch was the fact that the city where this sad parting occurred was misspelt as Melbounre. Par for the course in this kind of journalism.

The high point of my visit to Chicago was nothing to do with marketing or architecture. It was an evening listening to the
astonishing 87 year old Von Freeman, still playing great tenor sax and cracking funny jokes in a great little joint called the Apartment on the South Side. He really encouraged me to keep going till I drop. See him on Tuesday nights - and remember Lester Young.

**Incidentally, the "windy" title, our excellent Chicago guide told us, comes not from the weather but from the verbosity of 19th century Chicago politicians. And if you're ever in Chicago, I recommend 312 restaurant, which gave me some of the best Italian food I've had outside Italy - and very reasonably priced if you don't drink the wine, which is absurdly, even laughably, overpriced in Chicago restaurants.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

A little healthy debate - and my election manifesto. Vote early and vote often for Ian's dog Moose!

I normally try not to repeat myself too much, but I just had an interesting exchange on Facebook with David Hodson - well, interesting to David and me, anyhow.

I first wrote that Gordon Brown in an attempt to seem ordinary rather than fucking useless asked a supermarket worker on one of those phony meet the real people events in the futile hope of seeming less like a bloody Dalek whether he' d get a job there. I then wondered if they have any toilets that needed cleaning, since if he did anything more demanding even Tesco would be bankrupt in a fortnight.

David then asked, "But would you employ someone who has done an ok job for a number of years or employ someone with no credentials who seems like a dick??"

I thought his premiss rather suspect, to put it mildly and replied: "If by 'an OK job' you mean a man who while in charge of its finances has managed to produce the greatest level of debt this country has ever enjoyed, saddled us with a horde of useless public "servants" and is a proven liar about just about everything you can name starting with how he let the military down, the analogy bears little scrutiny. Though on the other hand, Cameron does seem a complete tosser, and the origin of our ills is just as much the kleptomanic Bliar."

David responded: "That's exactly what I meant - and by debt do you mean digging the financial institutions out of a whole (sic) with our money to protect our money?"

I then responded, "No, I don't mean that. I mean the squillions pissed away in the 11 years before; the catastrophic shift of resource from 40% public to 53%; the insane public/private partnerships which have fucked our transport system - and cost billions; the further billions squandered on consultants; the still yet more billions lost on computer systems ... and so on. And I wasn't thrilled when he stole half my pension fund which took me 25 years' hard work to fund all this.

That was just the final blow. The fact that so many of the people involved in "sorting" that out were his appointees is another matter. An OK job? The man could not run a public lavatory. As I pointed out on my blog a bloody Labrador would have done better - and would certainly be more trustworthy and likeable."

That's enough politics, folks.

Monday, 5 April 2010

World's best seminar invitation: The Power of Assertive Commmunication - for women

Turning aside from the depressing Annual Report and Accounts of Kiddy-Fiddlers-For-Jesus (Rome) Inc., let us get back to business.

As regular readers may have noticed, one of my chief pleasures in this wonderful digital age is to take note of the sundry invitations I get sent, often to free seminars about networking or not-to-be-missed opportunities to get rich in the next 3 days, garnished with free DVDs worth $10:75 that other gullible sods paid $47,323 for not too many months ago.

A surprising number of these seem to come from Texas, by the way, home of G. W. Bush, the great statesman, practitioner of random capital punishment and the "let's start another war and make my friends rich" approach to managing world affairs.

Why is that? Is misrepresentation a Texan speciality? It's only a couple of weeks since I ran a seminar on a fundraising letter from a rogue who lives in Detroit, but sends his begging letters from an address in Texas

But I digress.

One seminar firm in particular provides me with a regular flow of chortles, as they seem to specialise in selling stuff to dithering executives in dysfunctional, ill-run organisations whose staff are (what a
surprise!) demotivated.

They pump out a seemingly endless flow of advice whereby managers can either stop their staff giving them a hard time or, after they have failed, fire them without having to pay too much compensation.

However, the prize for invitation of the decade has to go to the subject line of one I got today: LAST CHANCE ! Women's Leadership Series: Power of Assertive Communication - 4/8 Audio Conference.

I've been battered, bullied, hit over the head with a tape recorder, screamed at incessantly, subjected to day-long torrents of tears, had to walk to hospital with a bleeding artery and stabbed - twice. All women. How about the Power of Polite Invitation?

I thought it fitting that this arrived on the day that, allegedly, Christ rose from the dead, because one of the attempts at communication I mentioned left me literally within in an inch of my life and I only failed to bleed to death from another because I lived near St. George's Hospital.

If it happened today I would be dead, because that hospital is now an absurdly overpriced hotel. Not an improvement.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Happy Easter - from Moscow

I thought you might like this. It's from my Russian publisher, and it rather took my fancy.

Tomorrow I'm off to New York to see a couple of my children ... and put together my talks for Ken McCarthy's System Seminar in Chicago.

A little bit of jetlag usually shuts me up for a while, so you can look forward to blessed peace.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Be careful what you wish for

An Aussie truckie walks into an outback cafe' with a full-grown
emu behind him. The waitress asks them for their orders.

The truckie says, 'A hamburger, chips and a coke,' and turns to the emu, 'What's yours?' 'I'll have the same,' says the emu.

A short time later the waitress returns with the order 'That will be $9.40 please,' and he reaches into his pocket and pulls out the exact change for payment..

The next day, the man and the emu come again and he says, 'A hamburger, chips and a coke.'

The emu says, 'I'll have the same.'

Again the truckie reaches into his pocket and pays with exact change.

This becomes routine until the two enter again. 'The usual?' asks the waitress.

'No, it's Friday night, so I'll have a steak, baked potato and a salad,' says the man. 'Same,' says the emu.

Shortly the waitress brings the order and says, 'That will be $32.62.'

Once again the man pulls the exact change out of his pocket and places it on the table.

The waitress cannot hold back her curiosity any longer. 'Excuse me, mate, how do you manage to always come up with the exact change in your pocket every time?'

'Well, love' says the truckie, 'a few years ago, I was cleaning out the back shed, and found an old lamp. When I rubbed it, a Genie appeared and offered me two wishes. My first wish was that if I ever had to pay for anything, I would just put my hand in my pocket and the right amount of money would always be there.'

'That's brilliant!' says the waitress. 'Most people would ask for a million dollars or something, but you'll always be as rich as you want for as long as you live!'

'That's right. Whether it's a gallon of milk or a Rolls Royce, the exact money is always there,' says the man. The waitress asks, 'What's with the bloody emu?'

The truckie sighs, pauses, and answers, 'My second wish was for a tall bird with a big arse and long legs, who agrees with everything I say.'

Thanks, Henry Langhorst. Beaut.