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Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Jobs Machine

by Kevin Roberts

The iPad has hit shelves this month, and looks to be leaving them just as fast. A Steve Jobs' quote I relate to is "real artists ship". It goes to the heart of making things happen. We're seeing some encouraging signs in the global economy, (including bellwethers like Swiss watch sales) but an overall recovery will be slow and bumpy. At Davos in late January, Obama's chief economist, Larry Summers, said: "We are in a statistical recovery but a human recession." The social shock waves caused by downturns roll out devastation. Take down-under - at end of 2009, New Zealand unemployment was the highest in a decade. A major 2009 spike in violent crime was fueled by family violence, up 18.6%.

I see creativity and innovation as the two powerful engines that will deliver a sustainable recovery. We need a recovery that delivers real jobs within a frame of sustainable living, and we have to breed attitude that delivers this. Reasonable people see a lot of doom and gloom, but, luckily, our fate is not in the hands of reasonable people. George Bernard Shaw said this:


"Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people."


Unreasonable people have a fantastic record of innovating and cooperating to help get the world out of seemingly intractable places. We have faced huge challenges and prevailed over and over again. I am enough of a radical optimist to believe we will continue to do so.

One example: in the 1970's and 80's, bookshelves brimmed with bestsellers predicting that the world would run out of food by 1990. Given the limitations of our knowledge and imagination at the time, it was a reasonable proposition. Well, that's not how it played out. The Green Revolution allowed us to double food production, thereby eradicating famine in many parts of the world. There are still stubborn pockets where failed states can't feed their people, but agriscientists and innovators have brought about huge advances.

There is no short-cut to prosperity. We are in reset mode. Every business owner and leader needs to steer their organization in ways that add value to the world, not just to shareholders. Every field of enterprise needs to harvest courage and unleash the unreasonable power of creativity. We need bigger ideas, delivered. Here's to the crazy ones, and more jobs.


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Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to www.saatchikevin.com. To see this blog at its original source, please go to www.krconnect.blogspot.com.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Happiness - Ten Key Things to Know

by Kevin Roberts

Happiness - Ten Key Things to KnowHaving looked at history and done theory on happiness in recent blogs, here's a Top 10 from Dr Mike Pratt to pin to your wall:
  1. Progress towards meaningful goals using 'signature strengths' contributes significantly to happiness.

  2. Happy people take time to do things that give them pleasure.

  3. Quality time with friends and family is top of the happiness list.

  4. Doing altruistic things for others creates enduring happiness.

  5. Expressing gratitude enhances your own well-being and that of the recipient.

  6. People quickly adapt to material advances.

  7. Beyond satisfaction of needs, more money does not make people significantly happier.

  8. Positive experiences tend to provide more enduring happiness than tangible purchases (social benefits).

  9. We get little enduring pleasure from short cuts.

  10. Regular exercise increases happiness.

A conversation and buzz around happiness is innately optimistic, healthy, and I think the more inquiry the better. Here's a recent take from the New York Times "Talk Deeply, Be Happy?" by Roni Caryn Rabin about the work of University of Arizona psychologist Matthias Mehl which starts with the question: "Would you be happier if you spent more time discussing the state of the world and the meaning of life - and less time talking about the weather?"


If you missed Happiness Part One, you can find it here, or Parts Two and Three here.


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Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to www.saatchikevin.com. To see this blog at its original source, please go to www.krconnect.blogspot.com.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Happiness Parts Two and Three

by Kevin Roberts

Happiness Parts Two and ThreeHaving previously looked with Dr. Mike Pratt at the first step of choice in happiness, the second step has to do with activities. There are two types. First, activities that provide gratification. This comes through progress towards meaningful personal, work-related and also altruistic goals.

The second kind of activities are ones that simply bring pleasure. This is about creating time for and being engaged in things that you really enjoy doing, and a variety of them too. Steer clear of the toxic polar points of these two types of activities, workaholism and hedonism. A single-minded pursuit of work can bust up social relationships, A single-minded pursuit of pleasure can be addictive.

The third happy step, along with choice and activities, is about authenticity and personal purpose. This is where signature strengths (a concept developed by Martin Seligman) are developed and applied to gratifications. When we use unique signature strengths and virtues towards a higher purpose beyond our own needs or desires, the 'meaningful life' comes into play. Knowing your signature strengths can enhance performance, make life more fulfilling, help you tackle difficult situations more easily and provide a basis for developing your personal purpose.


If you missed Happiness Part One, you can find it here.


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Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to www.saatchikevin.com. To see this blog at its original source, please go to www.krconnect.blogspot.com.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Happiness Theory Part 1 - Choice

by Kevin Roberts

Happiness Theory Part 1 – ChoiceIn building steps to happiness to achieve Peak Performance, Dr. Mike Pratt starts with choice: choice as self-discipline and as self-determination.

The self-discipline part is about rejecting immediate pleasure, relaxation and satisfaction for a higher goal. This lets you implement your decisions, be resilient in the face of failure and setbacks, and act with perseverance to reach your goals. It's like weight training your mind. There are aches, pains, sweat and one hell of a pay off.

The self-determination part matters in all domains: work, family and social. It's about autonomy, engaging meaningfully with others and performing "just right" challenges, the ones that stretch us without making us do the splits. Control people, and they do only what is required. Inflate people's incentives, and they are prone to forego autonomy and to distort and destroy what matters most.

Here's a 10-point quiz to assess how self-determined you are. Mark yourself from -10 to +10, add your score, and take it from there. Next up on the quest for happiness, we go from choice to action.
  1. My days are typically filled with fresh new ideas, sights and experiences.

  2. I can try out different activities to learn and grow.

  3. My life often gives me the opportunity to be curious, inquisitive and amazed.

  4. My days are filled with meaningful activities that I love doing.

  5. Most days I feel very productive.

  6. I am able to take time to be proactive and choiceful about my goals.

  7. My life provides me with the opportunity to take time with and care for other people.

  8. I really like the people I engage in activities with.

  9. I regularly review my activities and eliminate those that don't make me happy.

  10. I am aware of my skills and abilities and my activities regularly give me the opportunity to enhance them.

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Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to www.saatchikevin.com. To see this blog at its original source, please go to www.krconnect.blogspot.com.

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Sunday, April 04, 2010

Who Needs Information?

by Kevin Roberts

Who Needs Information?Roger Waters asked rhetorically "Who needs information?" in 1985 on his album Radio K.A.O.S. The answer is, sadly, one fifth of the workforce, who keep their Blackberries on at all times, night, day, weekend and wedding anniversary. I'm all for sight, sound and motion, and the enhancement of the screen to become a force for good in the world, but not at the expense of the world itself.

Enhancement doesn't mean dominating your time, it doesn't mean taking all of your focus. It should be about providing extra joy, happier attention, useful solutions - none of these are time dependent.

Some studies suggest that UK workers are doing an extra 10 days work a year just checking their handhelds. The quality of that work is likely to be substandard - staying informed doesn't necessarily mean making good decisions, or making any decisions at all. And if you don't have to make a decision, what are you checking for?

What's ironic is that buyers of these smartphones are not even happy with the phones they have in their hands. Apparently "57% of smartphone users are disappointed with handset and application performance." Which goes to show that it takes more than technology to make the screen come alive - it's about how consumers feel about what they are interacting with. You can hardly blame a manufacturer for wanting to make a good phone with good features though. The responsibility lies with ourselves.

So turn your screens off every now and then, read the bus timetable at the station rather than asking your app for it, talk to the person next to you without wondering when the next work email is coming, and what will be in it, and enjoy every minute of your life that you can (and men, I'm looking at you, you're even worse at switching off).

The result? When you turn on your screen, you'll be fresher, more decisive, more certain of whether an app or a feature will work for you, more delighted with the innovation in front of you. The information will jump out, and it will probably be the information you're looking for.


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Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to www.saatchikevin.com. To see this blog at its original source, please go to www.krconnect.blogspot.com.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Good News Travels Faster

Good News Travels Faster
Image Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


by Kevin Roberts

Debate on the upside and downside of the Internet continues to rage, and won't be settled any time soon. I'm an upsider, and take the view that powering forward imperfectly beats staying still or rolling back perfectly. The liberating and involving nature of the Internet cuts creativity loose on such a fantastic scale, that I think we'll have the capability to fix the flaws as we go.

Recent research at the University of Pennsylvania through the New York Times is encouraging. It turns out good news travels faster than bad and that the positive emotion of awe travels fastest. Large scale awe-inspiring stories that make us see the world in a different way catch fire.

Make what you will of this, but 'emotional communion' of this kind suggests that people move towards positive change, and will get in behind it when it counts. A booster for the case that 'the glass half full' holds plenty of water.


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Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to www.saatchikevin.com. To see this blog at its original source, please go to www.krconnect.blogspot.com.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

5 Simple Steps to Happiness

by Kevin Roberts

5 Simple Steps to HappinessNew York magazine had a recent feature 50 Steps to Simple Happiness. There's lots of interesting advice - quite a mixed bag - but some of the nuggets include:
  1. Collect visual memories of moments when you were incredibly happy.

  2. Start an old-fashioned (hand-written) correspondence with a friend.

  3. Surround yourself with things that smell like green apple or cucumber (or visit a Jo Malone store!)

  4. Carry yourself more erect. You can improve your outlook and confidence simply by improving your posture.

  5. Forget the brown rice sushi. The Japanese are some of the most long-lived people on the planet, and they only eat white rice.

We each develop our own strategies for preventing and relieving stress and promoting joy and contentment in our lives. The key for me, as I've previously noted, is the idea of work/life integration. This is different to work/life balance that is so often talked about - the notion that happiness depends on making a series of trade-offs: home versus office, work versus family. To me, this approach of sacrifice and subtraction is all wrong. My philosophy is to bring each aspect of my daily life together into a satisfying whole. If we're happy in our personal life, work sits lighter on our shoulders; if work is stimulating and enjoyable, that will happily infect our life outside the office.

One way to achieve work/life integration is to be diligent about your happiness. Think about what brings happiness to your life, and make time for it. Plan for it and prioritize. I love playing tennis, and I sometimes arrange tennis matches with friends six months or more before we hit the court. Big sporting events bring me untold joy, and I make sure to organize my time so that I get to enjoy them (watching USA Rugby team's first World Cup match in Wellington September 23 2011 with my New Zealander rugby mates, Spiro Zavos from Sydney and Bill Middleton from New York, has been in the diary since minutes after the draw!).

Treat time to breathe and to enjoy life as vital and urgent priorities. Don't relegate or postpone. Your life - and work - will suffer if you do.


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Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to www.saatchikevin.com. To see this blog at its original source, please go to www.krconnect.blogspot.com.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Soccket - A Fun Social Innovation

The Soccket - A Fun Social Innovation
by Kevin Roberts

Tackling climate change is too important to leave to politicians! It's a job for the inventors, the innovators, the radical optimists. Because of them, the clean energy revolution is already underway, in big ways and small. I stumbled across this amazing idea, and I wanted to share it with you.

Meet the Soccket, a "fun, portable energy-harvesting energy source in the form of a soccer ball". That's right - it is a football that captures the energy of each kick, throw or header to be reused later as a tiny power generator. For each 15 minutes of play, it generates enough energy to power an LED light for three hours.

The Soccket has been trialed successfully in Durban, South Africa - home to this year's Soccer World Cup, as well as to millions of young people who love nothing more than to kick a ball around, often in communities with not enough safe, reliable sources of energy. The inventors see it as a community builder and public health tool as well as being, well, a soccer ball. They plan to develop a high-end version for sale in the US and Europe. An inspired and inspiring idea!


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Image source: ecofriend
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Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to www.saatchikevin.com. To see this blog at its original source, please go to www.krconnect.blogspot.com.

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

An Airline Innovation - "Cuddle Class"

An Airline Innovation - Cuddle Class
by Kevin Roberts

Innovation comes from the edge. For most European travellers the edge of the world is New Zealand. That means a 24 hour flight, and there are plenty who don't want to part with a huge amount of cash for business class - where you can get a real sleep. So congratulations to Air New Zealand for putting on their thinking hats and solving some of the negatives of long haul travel. Skycouches on their new Boeing planes mean that three seats form one bed, with an extra panel raised from the footrest area to give space for two to sleep in what they're calling "cuddle class".

Economy/coach class can be a tough ride, so the opportunity to lie flat with your partner and sleep off the miles will be too good to pass up. There's little mystery on a flight like this, and sensuality takes a back seat unless you're prepared to pay more, so adding a little bit of intimacy to the mix seems like a great solution to me. You arrive at your destination, not prodded by strangers' elbows and plenty of sleep interruptions, but after a sleep, a meal, and lesser chance of DVT. It costs a little more, so let's see how it goes. While Air New Zealand are ahead of the game in solving a long distance issue - there must be plenty of ways other airlines can innovate for shorter flights.

I won't bother challenging the major US airlines, who need a whole culture change before they can come close to getting this far (JetBlue and Virgin America being honourable exceptions), but I'm sure other carriers can continue to innovate, push the boundaries for economy as well as business and first class. Everyone is on the same plane together! Perhaps they can look at the other innovation from my national carrier - Spaceseats. Two abreast and designed to shape in to allow couples to dine together. You choose - the back of a seat, or at best a small TV screen, or the smile of your loved one facing you. And for those who are not couples, who knows? You might even make a new friend.

Image source: Vielflieger-blog

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Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to www.saatchikevin.com. To see this blog at its original source, please go to www.krconnect.blogspot.com.

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

You Were Born to Save the Planet

You Were Born to Save the Planet
Adam Werbach, the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi S, recently spoke at the 5th Annual Teens Turning Green Summit in California to an audience of keen, sustainability-minded young people. His message - on the opportunities this generation has to create positive change and the power of DOTs - clearly resonated, and is now spreading like wildfire on the web. It's a welcome shot of inspiration for anyone, whether you're teen or senior, whether you consider yourself Green or Blue. Below is a shortened version of Adam's speech, you can read the full version here. - Kevin Roberts


by Adam Werbach

The Earth needs you right now. Our ecological systems are in decline, one-third of fish species stand at the verge of collapse, the glaciers of the Himalayas, which provide drinking water to over a billion people, are rapidly melting, the chemicals we're putting in us, on us and around us are forming complex endocrine disrupting compounds that are in every one of our bodies. Tonight hundreds of thousands of Haitians are sleeping below flimsy plastic shelters wondering where they'll find their next meal, wondering when their kids will start going to school again.

All of this bad news should make me crawl up into a ball. But instead I'm oddly optimistic, like a kid looking for coins in a payphone. The world may be screwed up, but it's changing faster than ever. Your challenge is to make the type of change we want at the speed we need. And you have it in your neural programming to make it so. Recent brain studies show that your brain moves faster when you're younger, so you're bringing more processing power to the challenge. All of that texting and facebooking is going to pay off in spades. The world is changing and your generation was born to save the planet.

Any movement starts with yourself. I ask you to pick a DOT - DOT stands for Do One Thing. One thing that's good for you, good for the planet, that you do regularly. Maybe it's yoga or riding your bike or saving energy. But it's one thing you do to put your body where your mouth is. We need a billion DOTs. One billion people all making their own commitments. Take a moment now and choose your own DOT. Share it with a friend. Keep it going. Pick another. And it all adds up. If every high schooler turned the thermostat in their house down by one degree Celsius, it would be like reducing 100,000 tanker trucks of gasoline, or taking over a million cars off the road.

Right now there are about 6.7 billion people on the planet. And there's an emerging bulge of teenagers at the bottom of the demographic pyramid that exists because fertility rates are dropping globally. By 2011 there will be 7 billion people and 1 billion teenagers on the planet. Can you imagine 1 billion teenagers? Can you imagine them talking all at once? Now imagine them all walking in the same direction in a line that's as long as 1,000,000 Empire State Buildings. Can you see it? The line would stretch around the earth fifteen times. Can you see it? Now imagine one billion DOTs. All coming together. I'll bet on that.


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Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to www.saatchikevin.com. To see this blog at its original source, please go to www.krconnect.blogspot.com.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Making Kids Eager to Learn More

Making Kids Eager to Learn More
Jenny Cornell, the Development Director of my old school, Lancaster Royal Grammar School, wrote this piece on the school's exciting new InspirUS programme... and I wanted to share it. - KR



You may well remember when you started secondary (high) school - fresh from the security and familiarity of your primary school - nervous, naive, anxious but determined to make it.

Did you have any idea what opportunities awaited you or how your life would turn out?

Perhaps you can now look back and appreciate what a great start you had - how it prepared you for what was coming next (though you might not have recognised it at the time).

Andrew Jarman, the Head of Lancaster Royal Grammar School, has introduced a really worthwhile initiative to help reach out to more kids like us. There are lots of bright youngsters around Lancaster today who come from ordinary family backgrounds where life may be tough. Sound familiar? These children would really benefit from the unique opportunities at LRGS which could lay a foundation for a life they never dreamed of!

The InspirUS project is a new and innovative programme to help unlock the talent in these youngsters. Over fifty primary schools in the Lancaster area will be included where bright boys and girls from any background will be invited to attend challenging masterclasses at LRGS.

The aim is to inspire these youngsters, to stretch and stimulate them to give them the skills and confidence they need to make positive changes in their lives. We hope that, through the programme, more children will be made aware of the opportunities available to them and that they become better informed about their prospects.

Thanks to the generosity of some old boys of the school, enough funding has been raised to launch the initiative. Specialist teacher, Kathryn Page, has been recruited to begin the work, visiting primary schools to work with the primary heads and teachers, talking through the benefits of the programme and helping to identify the children best suited for inclusion. The first tranche of youngsters was welcomed to the InspirUS classroom in January.

The children spend the afternoon exploring topics beyond their normal studies. Last week it was "Water Water Everywhere". After finding out about David Hockney, the youngsters produced their own artwork on watery themes, in the artist's style, listening to Louis Armstrong singing 'What a Wonderful World', and then did some quick-fire sums, with percentages and fractions, all based on how much water we use in the home and learned the meaning of a wonderful new word - ubiquitous.

This week the theme was "Is there anybody out there?!". To the soundtrack of David Bowie's Space Oddity, the children had fun imagining how they would communicate with alien species - by code. They cracked number codes, learned about Braille, discovered the strange language of Pig Latin and found out how to use binary code to reveal hidden messages. A cheer went up when it was revealed to them that the next session will be "May the Force be With You", complete with a visit from Darth Vadar...

The lessons are lively, pacey and great fun and with four sessions completed, the children are all eager for more... and more schools and parents are asking for their children to be included. Let's hope their experiences will, at least, ease their transition from primary school to secondary school and, even better, unlock their potential to make life changing choices.

- Jenny Cornell (text and images)


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Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to www.saatchikevin.com. To see this blog at its original source, please go to www.krconnect.blogspot.com.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thinking Fearlessly

by Kevin Roberts

Think FearlesslySometimes in life - boardroom, living room or classroom - we get so scared of failure that we make it impossible for ourselves to succeed. In an economy in reset mode, the unreasonable power of creativity is what will set smart people and companies apart. But the thing about creativity is that it breeds failure as well as success.

That's the paradox. In a jittery economy, people suppress creativity to minimize the risk of failure, and companies often encourage that kind of insular thinking. But it's exactly the wrong approach - if allowed to set in, fear of failure will set an organization on auto-pilot, nose down.

Jonah Lehrer wrote on his blog in December about how psychologists are learning more about how the creative brain functions. He used the example of a simple but powerful experiment among college students. Two groups were told to list as many modes of transport as they could. The only difference was that one group was told the idea for the research came from exchange students in Greece, and the second group was told it came from classmates from down the hall.

Fascinating results. The 'down the hall' group came in with a predictable set of responses like car, bus and train. The 'Greece' group let their imagination run wild, generating far more answers, naming horses, ancient warships, spaceships and, yes, Segways.

The only difference was that one group was given the smallest permission to think fearlessly, and they jumped at it. Lehrer uses this research to argue in favor of the mind-opening possibilities of travel, and he's right. More importantly, it reveals the way the creative mind flourishes in the right conditions, and closes down in the wrong ones.

Fast Company magazine backed this up when they reported the findings of Harvard Business School research into the work habits of 238 creative professionals. The findings revealed that "creativity is positively associated with joy and love and negatively associated with anger, fear, and anxiety." The researchers argue that a fearful or negative workplace environment is an anathema to creativity and that "when people are doing work that they love and they're allowed to deeply engage in it - and when the work itself is valued and recognized - then creativity will flourish."

The lesson is obvious. We need to overwhelm tough times with our boundless and brazen creativity - not the other way around.


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Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to www.saatchikevin.com. To see this blog at its original source, please go to www.krconnect.blogspot.com.

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fantastically, Brilliantly, Insanely Amazing


by Kevin Roberts

One thing about the January 27th launch of the Apple iPad clashing with President Obama's first State of the Union address was that they both focused on Jobs.

And check out the awesome enthusiasm Steve Jobs and his team have for their new baby in this video!





A lot of hype and hyped-up criticism have accompanied the launch of the iPad. Nothing new there. Apple attracted lots of criticism with the launch of the iPod in 2001 (total sales: 220 million) and the iPhone in 2007 (total sales: 34 million). They centered on a perceived lack of functionality. So it's not surprising to hear gripes that iPad doesn't support HDMI or Flash graphics, or have a built-in camera.

The critics have missed the point. The iPad is not a netbook or scaled-down laptop. In fact, it is only a distant relative to the traditional PC or Mac. Instead, its lineage is the DVD player, the VCR, the television set, the radio, the newspaper, the telephone, the telegraph. It is not a workhorse loaded up with functions and hardware. It is a platform for story-telling, interactive, personal and immediate.

The story of human technology is the relentless advance in the direction of greater utility, connectivity, immediacy, affordability and flexibility. The iPad represents a quantum leap in that direction.

We want to communicate with each other, cheaply and easily. We want information where and when we need it. We want to be entertained and to entertain ourselves. We want to get closer to the people and the things we love. The iPad promises to do that. Technology that fails to serve that purpose is just a gadget, suitable for little more than collecting dust.

There's an interesting blog post in the NY Times predicting that the iPad will become an irresistible toy for children because kids will love the tactile nature of the device (they love to jab at things!), 'painting' software allows for mess-free splatter, it's an ideal distraction for car trips, and the screen offers endless story opportunities. I couldn't agree more, but the author could go even further: They are pretty compelling reasons for adults to get their hands on an iPad, too.

Related Articles:

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Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to www.saatchikevin.com. To see this blog at its original source, please go to www.krconnect.blogspot.com.

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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Secretly Famous

Secretly FamousClockwise: Jumble Room, The Randy Pike, Augill Castle, Little Town Farm as seen on 'Secretly Famous'

by Kevin Roberts

A key element of a Lovemark is secret ingredients (in the Mystery bucket). Think the recipe for Coca-Cola. The Harley Davidson sound. How you get the Caramello into the center. Some secrets however are for sharing, not locking up. In sojourns to the Lake District of England where I have a home in Grasmere (the most beautiful village in the whole wide world) I was introduced to Nathan Westgate and his team of 'secret agents' who search out the most unique places to stay, eat and visit.

Nathan has created a website Secretly Famous that shares recommendations of quirky and unusual places that have the real charm and character of the Lake District, one of the world's must-do tourism trails (read your Wordsworth). You'll find farms, barns, bars, beds and bakeries. His 'secretly found' places are all independently owned, are run by people who have amazing passion for what they do, and champion the best local produce.

My favorite place in Grasmere to recover my senses is The Jumble Room run by Andy and Chrissy Hill - "a small bohemian-style restaurant". You'll find this is now "Secretly Famous" along with The Randy Pike in Ambleside, Augill Castle near Kirky Stephen, and Little Town Farm near Preston, among many others.

Nathan, who is a brand consultant in Preston, has started with the Lake District and Lancashire, will venture to Cheshire and Yorkshire in 2010, and then the world.


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Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to www.saatchikevin.com. To see this blog at its original source, please go to www.krconnect.blogspot.com.

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Follow Your Nose

by Kevin Roberts

Follow Your NoseA few years back I sat next to Jean Paul Gaultier on a flight from Paris to Athens. Coincidentally we were en route to the same hotel... he invited me to a party he was holding that night and I found my favourite male fragrance... Le Male. Last year Jean Paul created a USB flash drive that perfumes the air with the unmistakable Le Male fragrance as it works. It's great to see the over-looked sense of smell injecting some excitement into a product which is often bland and sold on functionality alone. And while this was only available as a gift-with-purchase of the fragrance, I'm sure it's just a matter of time before other makers of technology products move past the tablestakes faster/bigger/cheaper functional benefits and 'wake up and smell the coffee' when it comes to the power of scent.

It's not news that smell is strongly linked to memory, but a recent piece of research has confirmed that it's particularly useful for enhancing recall of all sorts of brand associations. And of course it's a key Lovemarks ingredient. The olfactory sense has been making small inroads in the technology arena, with scent-strips being added to Sony cellphones in Japan and Asus' fragrant laptops (also see my previous post on Smell of Books adding just that to emotionalize e-books), but so far nothing wildly original has made it to the mainstream marketplace. Why don't Internet hotspots emit a fragrance to show where the signal is strongest - a whiff of wi-fi?

The arts, on the other hand, have thrown themselves into exploring the untapped opportunities of the nose. A 'scent opera' premiered at the Guggenheim last year, where music was accompanied by sequences of perfume 'chords' rather than singing. And I love designer Hyun Choi's 'Flavor of Time' clock concept which assigns a scent to each hour for a unique new way to tell the time - providing a new contender in the old analogue-vs-digital debate!


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Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to www.saatchikevin.com. To see this blog at its original source, please go to www.krconnect.blogspot.com.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Playing at Strategy

Playing at StrategyTop Left: January 2010 edition of Harvard Business Review, Top right: Michael G. Jacobides

by Kevin Roberts

"The play's the thing" may be from Hamlet but the subject is from Michael Jacobides, an associate professor of strategic and international management at the London Business School who appears in the new issue of Harvard Business Review with an article Strategy Tools for a Shifting Landscape.

His starting point is the breathtaking speed at which customers and competitors transform - and the turbulence this creates. Traditional strategy frameworks aren't working, he says - they simplify rather than taking account of complexity and changing boundaries; they produce "still pictures of the future." Jacobides puts forward the playscript - a narrative in which "words are more powerful and flexible than value curves." Playscripts "consider how a company could succeed by reinventing its role as reality changes." His method involves characters and their roles, storylines and connections, links and rules, plots and subplots. More fun than the usual approach to strategy planning!

Jacobides' HBR article applies the playscript method to the challenges of the pharmaceutical industry; looks at how Ikea future proofed itself, how IBM reinvented itself, how Marvel Entertainment turned itself around - and this is the part I especially like - how Saatchi & Saatchi changed the very basis of its competition via Lovemarks.

The article cites the company's revival after its near collapse in the mid 1990s. Noting that "companies can change strategies by changing their roles," Jacobides writes that "Saatchi & Saatchi didn't just change its value proposition. It transformed itself into a strategic link between clients and their customers." By "writing a new playscript" Lovemarks shifted Saatchi & Saatchi from being suppliers to strategic partners; created an industry wide concept; cemented connections to clients; and increased the number of pitchless wins.

For me, it really was a case of "to be or not to be."


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Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to www.saatchikevin.com. To see this blog at its original source, please go to www.krconnect.blogspot.com.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Can Optimism Change the Subway?

by Kevin Roberts

Can Optimism Change the Subway?A public art project that links New York's subway system with the idea of "optimism" is bound to attract some cynicism, if not outright ridicule. That's because public transit everywhere in the world is one of the more popular targets for complaint, vitriol and even fist-shaking rage.

However, radical optimists seek out optimism in the hardest places - and where better than the subways of New York?

A campaign instigated by Manhattan designer Reed Seifer to distribute 14 million Metrocards emblazoned with the word "Optimism" to New York commuters kicked off in November last year under the MTA's Arts in Transit program. He's been an optimism promoter since the early 80s after an experience as a young boy with his father and a homeless man. He wrote a thesis on optimism and then started selling buttons. Now he's reached exponential scale. The naysayers were quickly vocal - "I am optimistic that the MTA is mismanaged and the fares will continue to go up while service goes down", and the sarcastic sucker-punch: "I feel better already."

It'll be interesting to see what effect the campaign has. Is simply putting a positive word out there into the atmosphere enough to cause social change? I'm a great believer in the power of language to change the entire conversation. This is how Lovemarks came about - I wanted to change the whole paradigm of brand management which had run out of juice. Love is the most provocative act of all, and people can get remarkably jumpy at the prospect of getting close to Love. One of the ways we started to propagate the idea of Lovemarks in Saatchi & Saatchi was to simply use the word a lot - in emails and conversations. Do it naturally, don't overdo it - but just do it!

Whether Optimism is as compelling as Love is yet to be seen. I've called myself a Radical Optimist - not an everyday garden variety, but a committed evangelist. Reed Seifer is therefore a Radical Optimist, taking the notion beyond the "glass is half full" cliche.

Radical Optimism is not about seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses; it's about taking notice of the roses that are out there - and getting out there to plant some more. Negativity and pessimism is easy. As the MTA campaign reminds us, traveling through life with some optimism in our back pocket is a great idea for us and for those around us.

Oh and here's the thing - the New York transit system is a world-beater, and it deserves better than the relentless negativity that seems to be directed its way. Did you know that New York is one of the most sustainable cities on the planet - per capita greenhouse emissions are around a third of the rest of the USA - and that's largely thanks to the subway system, and the five million people who use it every day.

Image source: http://www.mta.info/mta/aft/about/optimism.html



Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to www.saatchikevin.com. To see this blog at its original source, please go to www.krconnect.blogspot.com.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cut Your Jargon Emissions

by Kevin Roberts

Cut Your Jargon EmissionsIt's getting to that time of the year when people are makng New Year's Resolutions. For anyone working in business, here's an idea: let's try and make 2010 the year of plain English. A good way to start would be to read George Orwell's 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language. Orwell understood how language could be used a weapon against the powerless, and how jargon and cliches are used to hide meaning, not clarify it. He offers six timeless rules for effective communication:
  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

I am not 100% on number 6, and here's another one for people in business:
  1. Try and express your thoughts in one breath.

MBA-speak started by infecting the workplace but has tragically made its way into sport (losing teams now "lack accountability") and even the home (KPI's in the kitchen!).
  • Why do we have to touch base to get our ducks in a row when we could just meet?
  • Why must we synergize our learnings going forward, when comparing notes would do fine?
  • Why wouldn't a busy person save time by saying "I'm busy" instead of due to cascading workflow, I am lacking in requisite bandwidth?
  • Why reach out when you can just make a call?
  • Why can't we leave a meeting with things to do, rather than take-home actionables?

Communication is about accountability. If we express ourselves clearly, we have no choice but to stand by what we say. By resorting to cliches and jargon, people are blurring meaning to avoid scrutiny. It's also laziness.

People are hungry for clarity and authenticity. In every part of life, let's commit to using language to amplify meaning, not bury it.



Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to www.saatchikevin.com. To see this blog at its original source, please go to www.krconnect.blogspot.com.

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Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Selfless Gene

The Selfless GeneContrasting expectations of species-level evolution, the classic phyletic gradualism model (left), and the punctuated equilibrium model (right).


by Kevin Roberts

Biology fascinates me. I love the work of Stephen Jay Gould who theorized how change in evolution happens at the edges, the margin, the fringe. He calls this 'punctuated equilibrium', and it explains how evolution doesn't take place on a predictable, linear path but with unpredictable and dramatic bursts coming from the outer reaches of the species. The same can be said of the world of ideas and innovation.

Another biologist, Richard Dawkins, a brilliant communicator, created a lot of confusion when he called his 1976 book on evolution, 'The Selfish Gene'. The book details the brutal efficiency of evolution, but the phrase itself has entered common usage to mean that human beings are genetically programmed for selfishness. It means nothing of the sort - and isn't it great when research comes along that proves the exact opposite.

The NY Times reported last month that research into young babies demonstrates that we are born with an in-built instinct to help others. Before parents have even begun to teach the rules of social behavior, researchers saw kids as young as 12 or 18 months in small, selfless acts of kindness. This innate generosity and willingness to share and cooperate is unique to humans; even our closest ancestors have no interest in helping out a fellow chimpanzee unless there is something in it for them.

Researchers are quick to point out that there is ample evidence that selfishness plays a part in our make-up too. As one of the researchers puts it, "That's why we have moral dilemmas, because we are both selfish and altruistic at the same time."

These findings confirm what radical optimists already believe, and it's nice to have some science to put in the back pocket.


Image source: http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2007/08/index.html



Kevin RobertsKevin Roberts is the CEO worldwide of The Lovemarks Company, Saatchi & Saatchi. For more information on Kevin, please go to www.saatchikevin.com. To see this blog at its original source, please go to www.krconnect.blogspot.com.

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