Monday, 30 December 2013


In the middle of the punishingly deep pile of books I got for Christmas is Malcolm Gladwell’s latest offering “David and Goliath – underdogs, misfits and the art of battling giants”. Ever since his first book “Tipping Point” I’ve enjoyed his ironic, inquisitive style and his ability to spot the counter-intuitive. His best insight to date was of the company which spent more time and money than anyone else recruiting the best talent from the MBAs in the USA.

That company (outright victor in the war for talent) was Enron.

This book first of all describes why David, armed with the pre BCE equivalent of a .44 Magnum (his lethal sling) was the guy to bet on when faced by an overweight clown armed with sword and spear. (Even I would take on Mike Tyson if I had a gun and he didn’t.) His point is that size is not everything.  Yet all the accepted wisdom is power comes from scale. Not if you’re Indiana Jones of course…

Ask little Aldi –grocer of the year for the second year running with sales up 31.5% year on year with car parks resembling that of a posh funeral, as they themselves ironically observe, as they count the tills being filled by their middle class conquests. They and Waitrose are close contenders for the best outfit.  Their trick? Price… yes but quality too. They keep on outscoring the others for taste and quality – sixteen gold medals from the Grocer Magazine - but they’re not so good on what David Cameron, allegedly, called “green crap.” They are on the verge of doing a David on the Goliaths –Tesco/Aldi. They also have the best advertising – check it out.

It must be hateful to fight the Vietnamese and Taleban when all you have are costly tanks and stuff with your soldiers away from home when your opponents have improvised explosive devices and motor bikes so they can get home for tea.  The key words are improvisation and home.

One of his other points is the law of diminishing returns. He cites alcohol. Most doctors will tell you a glass or two of claret a day is good for you. Friends of mine have taken this advice to heart and, just to be on the safe side, have doubled the dose - to nil beneficial effect.  But carry on to a bottle or so a day and the effects are detrimental. More of the same is not a recipe for success. Balance is the key.

Back to scale.  The thought that bigger organisations are ipso facto better is what’s troubled me for ages. Our inbuilt instinct for M&As and “buy-and-build” are plain daft as anyone sitting on an ailing out of town superstore will admit. This inbuilt instinct allied to the desire consultants have to apply old business models to new situations. (Well it worked for RBS ….QED.)

That’s something fast-on-his-feet David didn’t do.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013


As another Christmas creaks into sight it strikes me as strange how little it changes. As I watched ‘A Christmas Carol’ on TV with Patrick Stewart as Scrooge (“beam me up Santa”) Victorian Christmas was depicted with all those same familiar urges I felt when I was small and Britain was poor – the smell of tangerines, of hot mincemeat, the sound of laughter and of singing carols like In Dulci Jubilo in which, momentarily, we all rather self-consciously utter Latin.

Those same familiar urges come back every year. Mulled wine urges. Roast potato urges. Calvados and port urges. Cracker urges…
Q. Why does Santa have three gardens?
A.  So he can ho, ho, ho.
Q. What sort of bike does Santa ride?
A. A Holly Davidson.

Nostalgia, as they say, isn’t what it used to be, except when it comes to Christmas.

Because we now live in radically changed times where life is played to new rules.  Things we no longer do or frown upon generally vary from capital punishment to fox hunting to smoking to applauding having stiff upper lips. And not so long ago many of those were normal.

We were taught to be masters and mistresses of fair play. Tribal loyalty outlawed whistleblowing. We didn’t “sneak”, complain or talk about “it” – which makes the emerging horrors of Caldecott School (gateway to Eton), a poignant example of the scale of change not least in the police’s willingness to become historians as well as custodians of the law. (It also raises a question as to the powers of observation of the seemingly intelligent Mr Clegg, a Joint Head Boy there, who was apparently completely unaware of what was going on.)

There is no such thing as “water under the bridge” any more… stones are no longer best left unturned.

Years ago I was talking to a senior academic about the huge sums paid to the college by a benefactor who was subsequently discovered to be a crook and suggesting we ought (perhaps) to return the money to his victims.

He sighed:  “My dear Richard. If we gave money back that rascals had given us over the centuries we wouldn’t exist or we’d be bankrupt. Don’t be silly”.

That was then. I’m not so sure now.

Because in today’s world the rules have changed.

The rules relate to doing whatever you can get away with to win and whatever looks good. The Charles Saatchi alleged media campaign to “whiten” the name of Nigella would be a classic example of playing a new game of media sledging.

But Nigella’s a lot prettier than Charles (I supposed I’m being un-PC saying that) and like Christmas she’s big, fun and seems just a bit naughty. I haven’t heard her sing but I bet she’s tuneful…. Eartha Kitt meets Carly Simon.

Like Christmas, icons like Nigella are timeless.

And regardless of whatever allegations, is a whole lot more inspiring than the British preparatory school system.

Monday, 23 December 2013


My favourite painter is Tintoretto. Others may have finer brushwork. Others may be more inventive, perhaps, but none can match his speed of execution and his ability to take a Bible story and give it life, earthy reality and power. So what did he really make of Christmas and the events leading up to and succeeding it? First the Annunciation, where it all started, with the angel Gabriel, for all the world like a hairy biker astride a Harley Davidson surrounded by uncontrollable cherubs. He’s crashing through and into the wreck of a squat where Mary sits and giving her the shocking news straight: that the divine bun is in the virgin oven.

Second a detail of the Adoration of the Shepherds. In this, the shepherds reaching upwards towards mother and baby and the placid solidity of the animals emitting normal smelly farmyard smells in what was clearly as an abnormal event  – the ability of Tintoretto the storyteller shines out. Unlike so many artists he’s in it for the news angle, for the headline story and it’s this and the immediacy of breaking news that strikes a chord. Tintoretto is king of the hashtag way ahead of his time. Here he is trending Christmas.

And finally in yet another version of the last supper (Tintoretto painted six of them that we know about) where his take on the story varied from “Board Meeting” to “Booze-Up” to, in this one, “Brawl” with Christ as referee  - ”back to your corners boys and come out fighting”.

In 2014 may you all share just a little of that verve for storytelling and seeing new ways of telling an old, old story so as to grab your audience and have them asking for more.

Become that presenter with the appetite to do what ad man Ed McCabe once described as the truth about innovation:

There’s nothing new under the sun but there’s always a better way.

Enjoy a happy Christmas, a wonderful New Year and a better way forward.

Monday, 16 December 2013


There are moments when you are so absorbed in something, be it sport or a film or a book, that you lose all sense of time, space and identity. You are, as it were lost in a dream or – to use that lovely old fashioned word – in a reverie.

Losing oneself happened to me at a new play, “Lizzie Siddal” at the Arcola. My goddaughter Emma West plays the lead so, of course, I’m biased and I was likely to be looking at her acting to see her technique, rather like watching a horse doing dressage. Hallo horse. Hallo footwork. But I got lost in the idea of the play, of the intelligent woman being absorbed by the power of Rossetti, only to be ultimately disillusioned as his passionate fire for her became a smouldering ember. As she observes, art in the end is about smudges on paper, just an illusion. Truth is not beauty… not as Keats meant it. Art like acting isn’t real. Emma West does not die. She goes home to a pizza and a glass of Chianti and an episode of "Game of Thrones” – she’s an actress.

The ability to live a part convincingly and to dream along with that performance may seem a far cry from the world of work yet even there I believe in the need to be able to visualise, to see what a scenario might play out like – not logically but emotionally too.

Our experience shows it’s easier to do something so long as people don’t get involved. Jack Welch of General Electric was desperate to eliminate the human interface in customer service. The problem with people he reckoned was they were erratic, subjective and unreliable.  And that’s precisely why we need to have unreasonable people dealing with unreasonable customers. That’s how magic is created. Not by drones serving clones.

Cognosis (a management consultancy) had what Stefan Stern who writes for the FT ironically noted was unusual for their breed. It was an original idea.

And it was this - that a strategy would within a business have a much greater chance of succeeding if the people in the business expected to make it work were excited by it. If in other words other than merely understanding it they got lost in its possibilities. A strategy that was a vision that was potentially and emotionally seen as a real prospect not just some numbers on a spread sheet.

Time, I think, for businessmen to have the odd reverie. Time to dream. Time to imagine.

It’s good to see that even the Scots get it

Monday, 9 December 2013


Having said which, “Les Halles Cookbook” has a kind of poignance to it doesn’t it? But what I like even more than the recipes, good as they were, was Anthony Bourdain’s no nonsense philosophy of life. Quite simply this is the best management book I’ve read for ages. Because it talks about a real service business with the gas turned full on. His kitchen is hot. Bourdain tells you how to stand the heat.

Here are some of his observations about work just to give you a few amuse bouches of his style:
It’s about perspiration, he says, it’s not in the blood, it’s in the energy and effort and, despite his protestations, the training.

They are some of the best cooks of cuisine bourgeoise in America. I would proudly put them up against any cheese-eating, long-lunch-taking, thirty-two-hours-a-week-working socialist clock-puncher from across the water. Any day. They’d mop the floor with them. This is less a testimonial to my training abilities than it is evidence of the triumph of persistence, hard work, pure hearts and a sense of humour”.  

It’s about pragmatism. It reminds me of the Lord Rutherford quote “We have no money. We shall have to think”.

Poverty and tough times can produce genius.
“It is no accident that in just about every country you might want to visit, the good cooks seem always to hail from the most ass-backward and impoverished backwaters.”

So straitened circumstances can bring out the best. It’s about the ability to transform by using your brain.
“Something magical……that’s what cooking has always been about at its very essence…’s all about transformation, about taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary. That’s magic.”

It’s about learning from your mistakes. This is what great training can do….teaching skaters to “skate to fall” so they learn their limitations and teaching cooks how close they can get hot before burning.
”Screw-ups are good. Screw-ups – and bouncing back from screw-ups – help you conquer fear. And that’s very important because some dishes know when you’re afraid. They sense it, and will….misbehave”.

The art of preparation has always been key. It’s the biggest timesaver there is.

“Mise en place (means) that you know where everything is. You know how much you have. As a result your mind is similarly arranged, rested and ready to cook – a perfect mirror of your work area.”

And the best lesson of all is that life is a balance of time versus perfection.

“It’s what we do every day in restaurants. The age-old question of durability versus quality. The quest for the perfect balance between what’s good and what’s serviceable.

It’s seldom good being brilliant but very late in the workplace. Compromising brilliance is what I call a “value-added trade-off” – it works if we can present brilliantly and sell it well enough.

Read Bourdain and you’ll learn a lot.

It’ll also improve your cooking.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013


No, this is not an attack on UKIP, who will carry on muttering their stuff regardless of me and be very happy, on their own, in a pub with locked doors.

No, it’s a reflection on the dangers I see in isolationism and resistance to change.  It seems entirely possible that we could soon have a resignation and a divorce pretty well all at once with Britain saying goodbye to Europe and Scotland saying goodbye to Britain.

All done and dusted, we’d be proudly on our own.

But why stop there? Let’s ditch everything apart from London and the South East. We’re roughly 40 % of the UK and twice as rich as the rest. A £1.5 trillion gated community of an economy and no need to worry about Labour or Liberals anymore or those strange Northern accents or greyhounds or pies or the Co-op. Burn the cloth cap and build another runway or two at Heathrow and who needs HS2? We’ll spend it on skyscrapers instead.

Increasingly we’ll retreat indoors behind our PCs and read about the Bulgarian invasion of Scotland and laugh drily.  But weren’t we born to huddle together, laugh, drink and tell stories?  Weren’t we born to exchange views and change minds?  Aren’t we hard wired to work together?

I was asked today if I thought travelling broadened the mind. Not exactly, I reflected, it’s bigger than that. It explodes boundaries. Go to China or India and you see unimaginable scale, poverty, wealth, growth and a sheer sense of wonder and discovery in their eyes and through your own. These are places that are devouring a diet of change. They have infinite  horizons just as extraordinary and wide as Columbus saw.
Caitlin Moran lamented her London being stolen by a new rich foreign cadre who’ve taken it over. Yet I rejoice to hear people describe Mile End as trendy and smart. I’m amazed (happily) that Park Royal is cool – a sort of South Ealing without the ponce and that Clapham is the Chelsea of today.

Because there is only one poison more toxic than that of hating abroad and that’s the small ‘c’,  conservative resistance to change and hostility to ambition.

You know, the view that we can’t afford to do whatever it takes to get to the next level when all the evidence of history has consistently shown ambition, investment, drive and change has, nearly always, led to a better life. Isn’t that the lesson of the Olympics?

I realise how much I like being part of Scotland and how refreshing, foibles and all (and we’re good ones to talk) Europe is (from Greece to Sweden) and how good it is being a European citizen…..because here’s where I live.

Maybe we’ve got bored or gone mad but as Tom Peters once put it “you can’t shrink into greatness”.

Here’s hoping lots of people hear that.

Monday, 25 November 2013


In a week where the poor self-righteous Co-op has wobbled in woe as allegations and revelations have poured out I was thinking about brands like theirs.

Everything and everyone tried to become a quasi-brand a while back. “Brand-me” was being promoted by recruitment agencies. Politicians and political parties used brand consultants. Countries were called brands. Yet it all smelt a bit phoney. Most of these entities had profile (or not), reputation (or not) and advertising or some sort of marketing positioning – key word that - “positioning”.

But the acid test of what happens to a product or service is when it hits the rocks does it sink like a stone or does it somehow scramble to safety, battered, wet and still functioning? If it’s the latter then it’s a real and worthwhile brand.

Do you remember John West’s horrors? Well it survived those and thrives today.

Mercedes triumphantly weathered their new A4 dramatically failing the Moose Test and turning over.
And Nestlé, after some scares on infant healthcare, has probably the most assiduously prepared baby food brand in world now.

Brands like Coke are primarily valued for their relationship with their customers. Their value is in brand assets not in in tangible assets like factories.

In crisis – the launch of New Coke in 1985 when the consumers rebelled against this innovation - Coca-Cola responded by listening to their consumer again and changing back to Classic Coke.
Their brand has thrived but others suffer as their owners dither and try to control the uncontrollable flow of news.
BP received astoundingly poor advice in its media handling of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill and is lastingly damaged.
Whilst Carnival’s Costa cruise ships seem to have survived the Costa Concordia debacle the hole below their reputational waterline will probably do for them.

But back to the poor, legs-crossed-in-embarrassment Co-op. A bankrupt bank, a laughing- stock company and in denial too as, they try to manage the news. Staff, I believe, have been advised to turn round newspapers they sell which have nasty headlines. Its very worthiness as a brand and its ethical stance exposes a vast weakness – the brand has had little humility and no sense of humour. I doubt if they’d have found Peter Brookes’ cartoon of a Co-op Funeral Parlour with a notice in the window “No Flowers” in the slightest funny. Nor would the other good line about “Chrystal Methodism” have raised a smile.

How brands behave in a crisis defines them. Because the real truth is that memories out there are short. Recall of Flowers will have withered soon enough but what will remain is an overall impression of the Co-op brand.

It’s a fabulous opportunity for them to say sorry and whilst everyone’s focused on them say what they stand for.

The alternative to being up front and cheerful is oblivion.  

Wednesday, 20 November 2013


I want you to imagine it’s the Olympics (again) in which there are two streams of competitor, A and B.
A are the real high flyers and B are what we’ll call average. It’s been noted that stream A are getting disproportionately more medals, faster times, greater attention from coaches and greater funding attention.
It has been decided this imbalance must be adjusted. So less attention is going to be spent on nourishing the potentially best talent and the less promising are going to be helped more. We’ll put our money on the guy in orange.

The result?  Whilst the number of medals won has gone down dramatically we have a great deal more 5th and 6th placed athletes. Which just goes to show that being fairer improves things for more people.
Rarely has a piece of work irritated me more than the recent report “Rebalancing our Cultural Capital”…. on three counts:
  1. Until I’d read it I would have broadly agreed with the proposition that the rest of the UK got a poor deal when it came to sharing out funds. London it could be argued was getting not just the cake but all the cherries too. But on reading it my mind was changed mainly because the argument was based on a basis of equity not quality, on spreading the butter over bread both fresh and stale and that won’t do.
  2. The argument that London is a population of 8.2 million is a little misleading. Add in tourists and it’s some 24 million. And they need adding in because tourism counts and that’s where the return on investment in the arts is irrefutable. It’s the quality of London that generates the tourist revenue (interestingly the most cited reason for tourists coming to London is going to the theatre).
  3. The rather careless use of data should concern us. Anyone indicating a calamitous trend in share of funds for the rest of England from ACE – from 19.6% in 1980 to 17.8% in 2012/13 – using a vertical axis going from 16.5% to 20% deserves to be rebuked. 
Simon Jenkins in the Standard praises London theatre saying “it rules the world” but adds a caveat a bit limply “The reality is that London is where ministers live and minsters look after their own”. Others have said “there may be a point of sorts here but it’s the same old hammer and the same old nail isn’t it”.


The more gold medals in artistic terms that London wins the better and the more inspiring a role model it is, or should become, and the more rewards are reaped by everyone.

But there’s a fourth reason I fell out with the report which is this. The story is not about how you cut the cake but how big the cake is in the first place. For successive governments to be embarrassed about the elitist nature of culture and the arts and accordingly give it small crumbs to spend – less than Financial Services used to get and about a quarter of what we spend on intelligence and spooks.

No you won’t find it below. Not important enough.  Under other.

To be fair it gets a bit more than the Statistics Authority which may seem unjust given how inspiring government statistics can be.

Ultimately, I think for little Britain to have the greatest city in the world thanks to a large extent to its brilliance in the arts and culture, vindicates the imbalance that exist and because of the celebration that creates it should make the less favoured rest of Britain lift their game too.

Written by Richard Hall and first published on the Business of Culture website

Monday, 18 November 2013


We’ve just entered what I call the “nudist phase” of our lives when current political thinking is that we should show it all. And I’m not sure it’s too practical or what people really want. A little bit of mystery is usually more interesting and may allow greater happiness.

Would people on a flight really like the pilot to be more transparent?

“This is your pilot. We are flying at 30, 0000 feet and my co-pilot has just passed out and we’re running low on fuel. We have a 50:50 chance of landing OK at Heathrow. Thank you for flying Consul Airlines.”

Knowing more when you can do nothing about it may actually work against the desired result (and in this case provoking a hysterical riot).

Quite often sorting out a cock-up and getting everything back to normal in private may be a far better option than confessing to it before you’ve had the chance to fix it calmly.  Yet from NHS to education we have acquired a perverse need to show everything that’s going on behind the scenes which, whether in a play or in any business I’ve ever been in, is not always a good idea or an inspiring spectacle.

Now I was intrigued to see that Doctors will be forced to be transparent and disclose their salaries to patients. I’m not sure why? You go to see a doctor to be told what to do to feel better.

There was a joke about medical transparency.

A doctor goes to see a patient in a hospital bed. As the curtains are closed he says:
I’ve got good news and bad news.
The patient says “Better give me the bad news doctor
I’m sorry you are going to die and there’s nothing we can do
Oh God…but what’s the good news doctor?
You know that blonde nurse? Well I’m giving her one

And we don’t want to know that. It’s irrelevant to our condition and needs as would be a doctor saying:
Sit down. Well I thought you’d like to know that I trousered £150,000 last year. Now what can I do for you?

But there’s something else. I have a grave suspicion of anyone who says “to be perfectly honest” as it implies this is an unusual condition for them. Equally when journalists, politicians or doctors claim to be totally transparent I know there’s a fair chance they are concealing something really important from me.
It’s like this trend to glass fronted kitchens. I don’t want to see the cooks; I want to eat the food. And why is there a belief that a less than wonderful meal that you saw being prepared is somehow going to be improved by your watching?

Don’t confuse honesty with transparency and don’t be deluded into believing transparency is a substitute for quality of delivery.

As Dr Johnson might have said but didn’t - transparency is the last refuge of the mediocre.

Monday, 11 November 2013


I’m an unashamed optimist. Not that being cheerful come what may always makes sense – the First World War was full of optimistic generals. But clicking on the “let’s go for it” switch – click - usually results in a better result than wrenching at the “aagghh! How typical, I feel awful - I expect today’ll be another shocker too” switch.
Is it too much to expect there’ll be more good nature than bad? Is it a surprise that crime, teenage pregnancy, house fires, drug abuse and alcohol consumption have all massively declined in this country over the past decade. Don’t believe me? Go check.
Is it a surprise that we have a bigger manufacturing industry than France, that we make more vehicles in the UK than we did in 1980 and 50% more than we did 4 years ago?

In a developed world increasingly dependent on service industries is Germany with its relatively old fashioned industries and high labour costs concerned about its lagging service sector – only 2/3 of its GDP compared to the UK’s 80%?

Are we all doomed in the UK?
If you listen to the hail-fellow-well-met Mr Farage you’d think so.

I saw a bit of Question Time on Thursday. He was on the panel. It was in Boston, the one town in the UK where immigration is a particularly tricky issue. Well in the part I saw our Nigel was murdered by a reasonable “immigration may be difficult but it’s an integration issue and as much our fault as theirs” audience. They were brilliant, open minded and kind.
But especially encouraging was Benjamin Zephaniah, the Birmingham born Rastafarian poet who is best known through his brilliant poem “Talking Turkeys” which starts, but you’ll remember it…

Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas
Cos' turkeys just wanna hav fun
Turkeys are cool, turkeys are wicked
An every turkey has a Mum.

The panel was talking about the closure of the Portsmouth shipyards. Grave faces all round.  Farage “it’s a crying shame”. There was talk about our strategic vulnerability as an island and the prospective invasion of the Falklands. And Benjamin quietly said:- “I just wonder what would happen if peace broke out worldwide. I mean would we need these warships? Mind you I worry about all those jobs. Can’t we make nice cruise ships there instead?

Click. On goes that switch.

And finally a great quote from the American writer, William Saroyan:

Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

Click. Click. Click

Monday, 4 November 2013


Well, that’s easy to say but harder to do.

It was on Wednesday that I got really angry the Times for its smug insensitivity. They’d run a piece about “glossophobia” – that’s the fear of public speaking. As someone who helps people with this problem I feel sympathy with anyone who suffers from it.

So what made me cross was not the news piece on page 5 (of which more in a second) but the leader – yes they actual wrote a leader about it – which said it was not obvious why people should feel anxious about public speaking. Try talking to the 75% of people who do feel bad about it. Even Steven Spielberg said he thought it would be the next topic on which he’d do a frightening film.

I’ve worked with people who when confronted with the prospect of speaking to a hundred of their peers forget their own name. That’s an extreme version of drying up. Others feel ill. Others simply want the ground to swallow them up.

The Times leader writer doesn’t get that.

Nor did the Editor of the Times either seem to get that his leg was being playfully pulled. The piece on page 5 winningly headlined “Speaking in public ranks worse than death for most” had been derived from a dodgy piece of promotional research by OnePoll who describe themselves as “creative researchers” and to go a step further as the “pulse of the people”.

Creative research like creative accounting may need to be treated a little sceptically.

In their research fear of public speaking came ahead of being buried alive and death as something to be avoided.  Holes in doughnuts and woolly jumpers were regarded as pretty frightening too.  Women were more frightened of public speaking than men.  And dogs were absolutely incapable of doing it at all (I made that up.)

I want to consider this “pulse of the people” idea.

52% of people think cupcakes are a bit rude (squashy like well you know…) and breadsticks are hardly ever bought by men (penis envy). Ed Miliband is regarded as a sex symbol in Manchester (those eyes staring with unrequited passion) and research proves Pepsi makes you fart whilst Coca Cola doesn’t. And 90% of Times readers believe what they read.

This is not a hallucination: this is the pulse of the people.

But cutting through all this I strongly believe that teaching people to speak with confidence and with wit and charm is as important as teaching them to read.

But not as important as Britain’s most serious newspaper stopping behaving like a stand up comedian.

Monday, 28 October 2013


In the heady world of management self-improvement books, or the sort Daniel Pink writes, the theory of trying to “achieve 110% performance, of exceeding customer expectation and not just pleasing but delighting customers” is rife.

Occasionally when you are shopping you encounter recently coached behaviour from retailers that is so exceedingly welcoming you wonder if the shop assistant may not have taken a sudden libidinous fancy to you. It can be very alarming to be the victim of “customer delight”.

The Creative Director of Noggin who coach major companies in customer service, amongst other things, recently had a strange encounter at a workshop. He was advocating the power of building customer relationships when a young man on the workshop said:

I can’t see the point of all this.
I imagine there was the sort of silence when someone says something like “Hitler wasn’t all bad” or “climate change is actually a myth” or “a woman’s place is in the kitchen.
Heresy is hard to take. Had this character been feline he’d have looked like this:

Apparently he went on:
I work for an events company and I recommend locations. If it’s one a customer wants, can afford and the availability is OK he books it and I move on…he has no interest in my personality or anything else. He’s got what he wanted: job done.

Despite persuasive debate he was immovable. His view was that you present the deal, close it and move on. All this going that extra mile was a daft as Mo running an extra lap or driving your team hard when they are 3-0 up and the game’s almost over. He was a creature of online shopping rather than shopping at Selfridges.

I was reminded of actor Simon Callow’s story about reading a bedtime story to his God children. He described pulling out all the stops with dramatic voices. His God daughter tugged at his sleeve and whispered “do it simpler.

Good for her. Nearly always less is more. But not when it comes to manners, human feelings and brand building. The Apple store is about much more than naked transactions as is Nike Town as is the new Lego store in Brighton.

Not everything is a click away from a sale.

I recently heard a Chairman of an advertising agency lamenting the universal use of text or e-mail to communicate with clients. When you are going to be late or more expensive than you’d thought or you’ve mucked up then a face to face meeting or a telephone conversation might do the trick. An e-mail usually does just the reverse.

The issue is not whether you are going the extra mile.
It’s whether you’ve actually completed that mile race in the first place.