Feck Perfunction by James Victore: Book Review.

I keep my business/inspirational book reading light.  Few make the grade, but, for me, these do:

  • Hey Whipple Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan
  • Perfect Pitch and Truth Lies and Advertising by Jon Steel
  • Predatory Thinking by Dave Trott 
  • The Empty Raincoat by Charles Handy
  • Eating The Big Fish by Adam Morgan
  • Nudge by Thaler & Sunstein
  • The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

It doesn’t add up to much after a lifetime of reading, does it?

Not a long list by any stretch of the imagination and what binds them together is creativity in all its forms.  From straightforward “how to write” in Luke Sullivan’s beaut, through the art of pitching and planning by Jon Steel to behavioural economics in Thaler & Sunstein’s acknowledged game-changer.

But yesterday in two short hours I devoured Feck Perfuncction by James Victore.  Another to add to that short list.

So, on that basis, the impact of this book can’t be underestimated in my personal universe.

To kick off with a criticism.  It’s not an inspiring title, in fact it’s rubbish.

It reeks of cleverness and bad punnery, and he does have a penchant for a few slightly cringy chapter heads, but fear not.  This is an instant classic.

So, I nearly judged the book by the cover.  Thankfully it was recommended to me by a remarkable lady that I have been working with lately, Rebecca Shannon of Complement Coaching  – the website’s under construction just now – so I persevered.

He’s an American designer by trade and a teacher (motivator) by nature.

What he manages in 70 one-page essays is to capture the nature of what it takes to rise from the ordinary in your own personal life and allow creativity to drive your own personal voice, actions, purpose and habits.

It gives you strategies for starting out tentatively to achieve dreams and aspirations and for overcoming fears.

It acknowledges that well known fact that creativity is inherent and driven out of children in order to conform and ‘succeed’ and it celebrates weirdness (yes, in a Dominic Cummings way) being unconventional and avoiding making your own judgement calls of your work.

It encourages risk-taking and non-conforming.

And as it wore on, page after page after page made me smile and nod appreciatively.

I found myself photographing pages and sending them to my entrepreneur daughter.  I bribed my son (with vodka) to read it.

This. THIS… would have been my ‘career’ route map had I found it 30-odd years ago.

Instead it’s a bit of a rear-view mirror on my views on life in the creative industries, in fact in any industry where ‘creativity’ can be applied to success.

It’s lovely, it’s imperfect in places but, you know what?

Feck Perfunction.

World 2.0. After the lockdown. Can I help?

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It can surely be no exaggeration to say that the business world needs to hit reboot.

I’m not really sure when, or how that might start to happen (although starting now, to get ahead of the pack, might not be such a bad idea) because we will be entering a new reality.

I’m calling it World 2.0 for simplicity’s sake.

World 2.0.  The new reality?

We’ve had three Industrial Revolutions so far – in turn they were the consequences of the steam engine,  science and mass production, and the rise of digital technology.  They were all born of opportunity and technological advance.

None of them were caused by nature and all of them created booms.

But we’ve also had the opposite.

That has been the domain of World Wars and crashes; one of them financial (2008/9) and one of them (1929) founded on greed and wild speculation.

When we return to our desks, post-virus, post-furlough and scan our opportunities, most likely with a sense of doom, we’ll need to prioritise.

Big style.

It’s highly likely that workforces, everywhere, will be trimmer.

It’s highly likely that plans will be in disarray.

It’s highly likely that the idiom regarding loneliness at the top will never have been truer.

What’s the last thing you’re likely to be looking for?

Consultancy.

That’s what.

I dislike that word at the best of times but, you know, it’s what I do.

I bring to bear the biggest asset I have in my toolkit.

Experience.

The thing is though, I’ve never weathered an apocalypse, because let’s be honest here, that’s what we’re talking about.

So I don’t actually have any experience to offer you.

Right.  So should you read on?

Please stick with me, because my core skills will be as valid as ever as difficult decisions need to be taken about future investment, planning, positioning and your business’ true value proposition.

It simply won’t cut it if they’re flabby, comfortable – designed for World 1.0.

A trimmed down offer.

I’ve been using the lockdown as wisely as I can – or at least I think I have been.

I’ll be honest with you.  I gave up my latest role (with The Marketing Centre) only weeks before the tsunami struck.  I was looking to operate differently anyway, to go back to my own personal basics – little did I know just how differently that might be.

Since the turn of the year I’ve been exercising, dieting and then – enforced to some extent – resting and building up my energy for World 2.0.

Of course, that’s not all of choice.

My business has been hit hard.

Total and utter cessation of income at this point in time.

And at the time of writing I’m, physically, 17.8%  leaner as a result of my efforts.  I have aspirations to progress further but I can only report on fact. (Something much overlooked by many authorities in recent months.)

See these rocks?

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They weigh exactly 17.8% of my body mass.

I’ve been building a wall of them for months.

It’s a metaphorical wall now; one I can help you smash through as you look to re-establish your messages, your proposition, your value in this new world.

And I’ve decided that my contribution to your leaner outlook should be leaner fees, that’s why I’m knocking 17.8% off my World 2.0 invoices – every little helps.

I can help you with your marketing strategy, your business strategy and in visioning what World 2.0 might look like for you.

You never know; it might actually be a better place.

 

 

 

 

Well, they’ve done it again. John Lewis nailed Christmas.

It’s the toughest gig in advertising, making the Christmas TV ad for John Lewis (and Waitrose combined these days).  The song has to be right (and the performance engaging), the story appealing, emotionally engaging but the right side of schmaltzy, well cast, capable of repeat viewing and building in a product message that doesn’t land a horrible anti-climax.

So this year Dougal Wilson (back behind the lens), of Blink, brings us Adam and Eve’s potential turkey.

But no, it’s a golden goose.

Actually it’s a cuddly young dragon called Edgar and his unlikely best friend little red-headed Ava.

Both being orphans (no parents grace our screens and Edgar lives alone in a little dragon house) the two wander around a medieval village wreaking havoc  (this is historically acceptable) with no-one to admonish their behaviour.  But this being JLP land the residents who are having their dreams wrecked by a fire-breathing monster only look on  mildly disdainfully, a series of heavenward looks simply say, ‘Oh Jeez, Ava and that pesky mite Edgar are at it AGAIN’.

Saint George is not brought in to their rescue and it’s Edgar who takes it upon himself to send himself to Coventry, whilst Ava camps outside like a human Greyfriar’s Bobby.

After a while Ava thinks, ‘Sod this’ and gives up her vigil returning, instead, to normal life. Later, whilst baking in her orphanage, she has a Damascan moment (she hasn’t completely given up on Edgar) when she suddenly realises that Edgar can be put to good use (see, she’s on it, she really IS A GOOD FRIEND) by purchasing a Christmas pudding from Waitrose for Edgar’s Christmas (Waitrose est. 1904, Acton, West London, so historically inaccurate).

Of course Edgar’s gift, which is really a gift for ALL of the residents of the medieval village, finally puts his fire-breathing to good effect by setting alight the brandy that the pudding is doused in.  The communal village dinner will be finished to perfection with 5 grammes per head of alcohol-sated dessert.

It’s all pretty ridiculous, but IT’S CHRISTMAS at JLP and it doesn’t actually matter.

What we have is a loveable fantasy enacted well by young Ava, to REO Speedwagon’s biggest hit, Can’t Fight This Feeling, performed by Bastille.

I cried.  So it worked.

 

Think Hard in the Press. Marketing Society Honorary Fellowship Award.

Well, it came as a surprise when Graeme Atha contacted me a few months ago to tell me, in confidence, that I had been tabled for not just a Fellowship of The Marketing Society, but an Honorary one.  The fact that I shared the honour with my great friend Charlie Robertson who passed away late last year made the event at The Sheraton in November all the more poignant.

Thank you to The Marketing Society for this recognition.  It really is a great honour.Screenshot 2019-01-21 at 09.38.08.png