My son Danis posted this inspirational video on Red Rose Music last week. Put together by Walter C. May from the band The Daylights with some help from his friends, it’s a heart-felt long-distance message from Walter to his girlfriend.
Set on a black background, the video features hands forming different shapes and faces as they act out a fantastic song written by Walter called “I hope this gets to you”. Now it’s been released onto the web in the hope it’ll do just that.
Maybe Walter’s girlfriend follows Red Rose? Maybe she’s on KR Connect?
Passion and Purpose are a great combination and I can report that a recent rugby fundraiser was a resounding success thanks to a good dose of both. For the 250 NZ & NY hearts who came to the event at 375 Hudson Street, New York, thanks for your generosity of sharing and friendship. The event was initiated by Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and supported by New Zealand Trade & Enterprise and Saatchi & Saatchi, and was part of New Zealand’s 2011 Rugby World Cup international build-up which is happening around the world.
The rugby movement is growing in America. This year 200,000 young people have played rugby for the first time for a season. With the help of the $23,000 raised by the event, two rugby players from New York City public schools, where rugby has been introduced, will be coming to New Zealand to study, play rugby, and get immersed in the great New Zealand culture. The sum will also be used to fund coach/player exchanges between the US and New Zealand.
AUT Chancellor and former New Zealand Governor-General Sir Paul Reeves led the powhiri, (a formal welcoming ceremony), gave an intense Maori oration which had New York jaws dropping because of its fluency and purpose, and then welcomed everyone with a joke about when he last lived in Chelsea. He is a singularly impressive New Zealander.
Between NZ wine, beer and food there were auctions, speeches and a panel I led with New Zealand greats Michael Jones, Frano Botica, and Tawera Nikau, USA Rugby development champion Mark Griffin and sports marketer supremo Andrew Gould from NYC & Company. Rugby players have a natural, exuberant humor and a gift for storytelling, and the panel and the audience rocked together with laughter.
I was then surprised when Sir Paul on behalf of AUT made me the amazing honor of awarding me a mere, which is a flat stone weapon used by Maori warriors. Made from pounamu, New Zealand jade, the mere is a symbol of chieftainship. Topping this off, Maori present further honored me with a Haka, the iconic battle dance practiced by the All Blacks, capable (as those who face it have frequently discovered) of winning a rugby game before kick off.
Thanks very much to all involved.
PS here is a great video of the event filmed by Lynette Chiang, an original Lovemarks believer who came from Bike Friday and Saatchi & Saatchi back when. The video is 4+ minutes and worth every second. The Haka had been performed on Good Morning America by Tawera, Michael and Frano with guest Denzel Washington who was on the show talking about this latest film. http://www.galfromdownunder.com/about/
Video from galfromdownunder.com
Sometimes the best way to cap off an intense week is to go on television and talk about it! So it was with Fox Business last Friday when I was the guest on the Closing Bell with anchor Liz Claman. The studio is in the heart of Rupert Murdoch/Roger Aisles territory in the News Corporation building on 6th and 47th Sts, and the program – as with all of Fox – is as fast-paced and focused on the moment as the markets are themselves. And in the middle of this we managed to stop time with an emotional charge that came from a simple television ad about the lifetime of love between a son and his father. Liz had asked what my favorite ad of all time is. Malcolm Gladwell asked me recently what my best “tearjerker” ad of all time is. To both these questions I gave no hesitation in naming the 1997 Telecom New Zealand “Father & Son” from Saatchi & Saatchi (New Zealand) featuring the music of Cat Stevens – not because it is a tearjerker but because it inspires a genuine emotion response. I play it all over the world because it is a universal story with universal music. Watch the interview and savor the moment. Liz cries.
A few weeks back, I posted a very cool video on the book Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson which consisted entirely of a disembodied hand drawing on a whiteboard. Aside from the visuals, the message about how truly creative ideas come about really hit home.
My son Ben just sent me another video, and once again, it’s a whiteboard illustration. This time with some game-changing ideas about education.
The audio is of a lecture given by Sir Ken Robinson, a celebrated British creativity guru who I’ve written about here before. In fact, he was a client of our new Fallon, London CEO, Gail Gallie’s consultancy, GallieGodfrey.
His mission: to stop schools from robbing kids of their innate creativity.
Sir Ken is most mind-blowing when he poses questions that have been staring us in the face for years. Why do schools batch children together by age group? Why teach them all the same thing? Why drill into them the idea that there is only one correct answer to any question?
It’s almost as if schools are designed to stunt creativity.
Children are enormously good at what Edward de Bono called lateral thinking, and what Robinson calls divergent thinking: the ability to devise many answers to a single question. According to Sir Ken, 98% of kindergarten students score at genius levels in divergent thinking. But that number drops dramatically as they get older.
How do we stop this? Instead of putting them in conformist environments that frustrate their creativity, Sir Ken tells us, we should be fostering independent thinking and experimentation in our schools.
To confront the problems of the present and the future (the energy crisis, unemployment, war, poverty, just to name a few) we’ll need armies of creative geniuses in all sectors, from engineering to advertising, climate science to industrial design.
The InspirUS program at Lancaster Royal Grammar School, which my old mate Stan Hilling and I support, is in this space. The program provides an environment where gifted students can exercise their creative impulses, and escape the conformity of a traditional classroom.
Not quite the revolution that Sir Ken is calling for, but it’s one of many important steps towards unlocking the creativity of today’s young people, and preparing the mindset needed to make the world a better place for everyone.
A New Zealand innovation making moves – and which I wrote about last year – is Wools of New Zealand’s sustainable line known as Laneve. Wools of New Zealand is a subsidiary of Wool Partners International, a joint venture headed by my old mates Theresa Gattung and Iain Abercrombie.
Here’s a blog post from my eldest daughter Nikki, who just returned from an amazing trip to Africa.
My journey to Kenya was an astonishing experience! I arrived and was transported to the domestic airport by a driver who did not know where it was. I spent an hour traveling between terminals, asked a random guy from the street to direct us. Eventually returned to the terminal we tried first to find a pilot looking for us after writing my name on a scrap of paper. It was time to board, with luggage.
A forty minute flight on a tiny plane and myself and seven others were deposited in the middle of nowhere and obviously there was no one to meet us. The arrival of the plane prompted a few lone Masai to appear from nowhere offering us beads and bracelets, carrying their stock around their necks. The pilot stayed with us in case of lion attack, of course!
Eventually two vehicles arrived and our journey to our first camp began. We immediately saw zebra, giraffe and ostrich and the excitement began to bubble. Our first camp consisted of tents, shared or individual with a tiny bed and solar lamp. A basin of river water (browner than brown) warmed by the sun was provided to freshen up and each tent had its own toilet tent, a hole dug in the ground with a makeshift seat on which to balance and a stick to shovel soil on top afterwards. We had bucket showers of (yes, you guessed it), sun warmed river water and sat round a camp fire in the evening. The camp had staff and grooms for horses. They cooked, set the table made afternoon tea, cleaned your boots, polished your chaps, put hot water bottles in your bed a night dug out your loo, washed your clothes (no thanks) and brought you coffee at 6.00am. All very ex pat.
We broke camp every 2 to 3 days and the vehicles would go ahead and set up the new camp.
We had tiny but fit Somali ponies, I trusted my little man “LoDieger” (catchy name) and we rode for 50kms a day, jumping and galloping over obstacles in the blistering heat. We encountered herds of wildebeest and herded groups of galloping zebra, we rode quietly through herds of gently grazing giraffe and in leopard gorge played hide and seek with a large family of hyena.
On day 2 we rode at dusk to lion rock. We had encountered bush buck, wildebeest and giraffe on the way. We were all chatting happily when our guide hushed us “sshhh we are being stalked by a lion right now” he pointed and there she was, the lioness, crouched low at the base of lion rock, only a few metres away, her cubs hidden above, dusk being the time that predators hunt. The atmosphere was electric, you could have heard a pin drop. Our guide asked us to group together as close to each other as we could, so no one could be picked out. We all had to stay perfectly still as movement stimulates the chase.
Our leader approached the lioness carrying a bull whip as his weapon (!!??) and a stand off commenced. She seemed so huge, her eyes so cold, her presence so calculating. I felt very small and insignificant just one mouthful when face to face with this ferocious hunter! Time ticked on she circled behind us and our leader kept advancing towards her, gaining ground, our back up rider became agitated as the lion passed behind our group. At this moment I looked down and somehow on the ground in the middle of this vast wilderness was a single tattered shoe! Aagghhh!!! After what seemed like an eternity the lioness retreated and took cover. It took me some time to find my voice after that. What an experience!!!
Game drives were also offered where we would go out at night with “Netty” our Masai spotter to kills we had found earlier and watch the lions feeding in the vehicle spotlight. Driving across the vast plains at night where all the herd animals huddled for safety watching aardwolves, zorillas, springhares and mongoose scurry along in our lights, some of these animal species I have seen only in pictures.
We traveled to the heart of the great migration and were in the presence of over half a million animals we watched both zebra and wildebeest make a river crossing where hundreds swarm across and many do not make it, becoming overwhelmed and unable to climb up the bank, falling in their droves back into the water where the crocodiles roll and snap and the lions pick them off and suffocate them as they emerge, the water awash with floating corpses.
We were inches away from cheetah kill where three brothers took down an impala, opened it up and devoured the innards like they were sucking spaghetti. Powerful stuff.
The horses were terrified by elephants and we were chased by huge trumpeting flapping beasts every time we approached, galloping after our back up rider for the escape route as our lead rider stood between us and them.
At night the lions roared and the hippos sounded so close I was convinced I would open the tent and come eye to big pink eye with one of these lumbering giants. The horses were tethered at night on a long line and guarded from the lions by local Masai warriors with spears and bows and arrows (!!). If I emerged from tent at night the comforting glow of my oil lamp would reveal conversations, all was protected, safe and at peace.
It was astonishing, terrifying, incredible, electrifying, breathtaking and I loved every single second of it. I am buoyed up with happiness, floating as if I’ve got balloons inside.
"Coaches who can outline plays on a black board are a dime a dozen. The ones who win get inside their player and motivate."
"Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence."
"The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you're willing to pay the price."
"Football is like life - it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority."
"The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back. That's real glory. That's the essence of it."
Earlier this month I spoke at the Leaders in Performance conference at Chelsea Football Club in London. James Worrall and team at Leaders in Football, who run the event, brought together coaches, managers, performance directors and other sport professionals for a one day conference. There were concurrent conferences for leaders in football, and leaders in sponsorship. In all, 1000 delegates from 40 countries representing 28 different sports.
Sport has grown to be a very big business, with PriceWaterhouseCoopers estimating annual global revenues for professional sport from gate takings, sponsorships and media rights to rise 3.8% a year from US$114 billion in 2009 to US$133 billion in 2013. It’s no wonder there are conferences about how to run a better sports organization (especially as a bunch of them are up to their eyes in debt).
A decade or so ago I co-authored Peak Performance: Business Lessons from the World’s Leading Sports Organizations. Five of the lessons we took from sport to business are:
If you’ve got four minutes and want to have your mind blown, take a look at this entertaining (and educational) video from Steven Johnson, author of the book Where Good Ideas Come From, which was just released today. If the book is as good as the video, I’m sure you’ll be seeing more about it on this blog in the very near future. (And what is it about watching someone draw on a whiteboard that’s so hypnotic?!)
Johnson brings a fresh perspective to examining how breakthrough ideas are formed. Instead of focusing on the psychology of innovation, he asks why certain environments seem to produce more original and exciting ideas than others.
His conclusion: many of the best ideas come from the “collision of smaller hunches.” Environments that enable people to bring their inchoate ideas into contact with other people’s are where the magic happens.
This reminded me of something our Chief Creative Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi NY, Con Williamson, recently said about his creative management style. He described it as a “Big Italian Dinner.” Get a bunch of smart, creative people into a space where they can feel comfortable being loud and opinionated, and wait for breakthrough connections to form.
It works. If you look at history, the big bursts of creative thinking often happened in a comfortable public space. Johnson points to the coffee houses in the age of the enlightenment, or the Parisian salons of modernism. In both examples, these places offered creatives a venue where they could get out of their private space, discuss their ideas and collaborate.
As a CEO of an ideas company, it’s nice to be reminded that a big part of my job is to create the type of workplace environment where ideas can “mingle and swap” as Johnson puts it.
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