Monday, 26 April 2010


When people ask me how to improve their chances of getting on I, in common with most sensible people, list things like skill sets, communication skills, performance, enthusiasm, follow-through, strategic acumen and so on.
Yet as I yawned my way (it was rather long) through Thursday’s leadership debate between as it were Celtic – Gordon Brown - and Chelsea – David Cameron- there was Brighton and Hove Albion – Nick Clegg - popping up, parading ball skills alongside the two seasoned giants who both seemed as though they couldn’t really be arsed to play.
Just by being there with better than average brightness and body language Nick Clegg became their equal.
They tried ignoring him, metaphorically pushing him into the corner or talking over his head but he kept on interrupting and “setting them straight”.
He was like the toy called Weebles that wobble but they don’t fall down…he wouldn’t go away, was better looking and better company than they were. Mr. Grumpy and Mr. Dour seethed inwardly as he stood alongside them very much as one of them.
So here’s my advice in life:-
  • Spend your time close to the most important people
  • Learn how to speak with them and disagree with them
  • Be seen by others as a player not just a spectator
It isn’t how powerful you are it’s how powerful you seem to be by the company you keep that marks you out as a coming person.

Standing next to the powerful is like name dropping but much, much more effective…because people perceive that you are in the big league.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

If you can’t present well you’re toast.

Well I would say that wouldn’t I?

I wrote a book called ‘Brilliant Presentation’ which has sold well enough to be now in its 2nd revised edition. And I’m a keen student of presenting and speaking in public myself and also watching others do it.

So you can imagine watching Nick Clegg last week was a real feast for me….like watching someone in a race lagging behind  and suddenly being infused with super-juice and catching up with and overtaking the leaders (or would be leaders).

I want to focus on just one aspect of the show - his presentational performance.

High on conversation and low on sound bite
Genuine audience focus – mentioning those who’d asked questions by name (watch that catch on with the others in the next round with the others)
Looking at the audience as though he knew and like them (David Cameron looked as though they were a nuisance)
Very relaxed – shades of Ronald Reagan
Probably trustworthy – unusual in politics (with Vince Cable this makes two)
A bit light on substance but very high on the sense of occasion – he alone behaved as though it mattered and that he actually wanted to be there
He had a point of view about where he stood as a person as opposed to being obsessed with content (I know that my least impressive performances have all been when I was too focused on my content rather than the mood and needs of the audience.)

It’s like preparation and over preparation.

Daryll Scott of My Noggin said with great insight “you can be ready for everything or ready for anything”. No question in the moving ballgame of current life that the second puts more emphasis on how you come across and less on what you say.

We’ll see what the other two do this week but I advise Nick to twinkle and tease them. They have everything to lose and he’s a very good presenter.

Call me –  if you want advice on how to improve your communication and get extraordinary results. Overnight.

What we need is Fusion Marketing from a Master

As I watched media man Dhruv Baker receive the news of his victory in an emotional way last week on Master Chef  – that was the Dhruv part of him weeping, Baker would simply have said “jolly good” and turning to the others would have said “hard cheese” - I had a thought.

He was clearly a very good chef indeed. They were all amazing but it was Dhruv who had the palate and skill of flavour combination that felt adventurous, daring, modern and somehow right. John Torode, the Australian sounding judge and no mean chef himself, seemed hugely enthusiastic about his fusion skills.

And it occurred to me in this global economy what we need is not integrated marketing, which sounds like Meccano, but “Fusion Marketing” borrowing bits and pieces from different cultures but never forgetting either that at its centre marketing is about selling things and changing minds.

We need for instance a bit of the Asian bazaar culture with lots of sampling and haggling on price. Marketing as tasting trial and marketing as  a game.

We need a touch of American big displays, big tastes, a bit of Wholefood’s extravagance and enthusiasm and pitching…”you’re going to love this you; really are”. Marketing as merchandising and pitching.

We need a bit of laid back chat about the brand in question, some stories, some rumours. Something on-line to kick around. Marketing as a conversation.

We need some robust processes. Ways of getting product to market quicker, fresher and cheaper. Marketing from companies like VW, BMW, August Storck, Muller. Marketing, in other words, as engineering.

And we need marketing as passion in life, like the finalists in Masterchef had for food. Like Ben and Jerry, like Pret a Manger, like Green and Blacks, like Morgan, like the late Anita Roddick had. Marketing as a passionate commitment to excellence.

Mix this lot up, stew slowly and add a bit of online, advertising, guerrilla marketing, merchandising, design and you have a fusion of ideas and attitudes that may be amazing – after all anything’s better than “integrated”… (integrated food anyone?)

Now read and review my book “Brilliant Marketing” on Amazon please. It’s doing really well but I have to keep promoting it. (That’s called marketing too.)

Monday, 5 April 2010


My story of last week was the response of senior Tories to the “Chancellor Show” when Messrs. Darling, Osborne and Cable debated the economy. They phone in infuriated allegedly that Vince was getting too much audience applause.
That’s like Mars complaining that Cadburys (now Kraft) is too popular or that Binns Minor got more marks in Maths than our grandson – a nasty example of Marxism.
The truth is none of the debaters was bad, that the debate, apart from one “wait till I get you outside” scowl from George Osborne, was courteous and well argued.
But on the night Vince got the applause because he was funnier, more interesting and thought better on his feet.
Had there been a job to get then Vince Cable would have got it.
So what did these senior Tories think they were playing at and why, in passing, are they so convinced that being unpleasant is a vote winner?
They have appointed M & C Saatchi “to work alongside incumbent” Euro RSCG assuring the latter this does not impinge on their relationship one whit – a bit like me saying to wife that I have asked the lovely Martina De Groot to share the marital bed because “we need all the flesh we can get at present and in no way does this impact on our marriage”.
And the Saatchi agency is there to stick it on the Labour Party. As we all know negative, attacking advertising always works (“Heinz Baked Beans could cause stomach upsets” claim Crosse and Blackwell; “Because it gives you acne” – a Clarins ad. attacking L’Oreal; “Would you trust a car Sarkozy loves?” – a Ford ad. attacking Renault).
But if the public seems not to like you very much maybe bullying is your only recourse.
It’s not fair is it?
Richard's Website

Friday, 2 April 2010


I went to a conference at the University of Brighton last week. It was inspiring and optimistic stuff on how a symbiotic relationship could be built between the creative industries which abound in Brighton and the University.

A story of brains and commercial can-do working in brilliant accord.
A Professor of The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen confided he didn’t know what all the fuss was about. In Scotland the relationship between commerce and academia is constant and utterly normal.
But down south we tend to be more squeamish.
We need to be more open minded and use the best that’s available to come up with smarter and more creative solutions. We need to trawl the Universities for ideas but, more importantly, the sort of people who have contagiously creative ways of thinking.
We need to prize and encourage creativity not exam results.
And we need to work harder.

Tabitha Ogilvie, who is just thirteen going on thirty, wants to be Prime Minister on the platform of turning Britain from a nation of lazy bastards into a nation of hard workers. The Greeks I know are fainting at this very idea of work (let alone “hard work”) but she is deadly serious.
And she’s right.
The work ethic in Asia operates at levels few of us could imagine. They believe the more you work the more you earn, the more you can pay to learn more, the more effectively you can work to earn more and so on.
They believe in the future. They are working to improve their lives.

We are trying to get away with defending the lives to which many believe they are simply entitled.
But it’s game-over for lead-swingers and small “c” conservatives. The rules of the game have changed.

Harder and smarter.
That’s how it’s going to be in the future.