Monday, 13 October 2014


In a turbulent week of Clacton and Heywood & Middleton by elections we have the continuing paradox of good news and bad news. The UK is the fastest growing economy of the G20 yet all around we hear of top line decline in companies and that the going is tough.

On Saturday I reflected on Tim Bell ex Saatchi and Saatchi and the most extraordinary stand-up presenter I ever saw in advertising. Tim (now Lord) was good enough to endorse one of my books. In his own recently published book “Right or Wrong” he reflects on the renaissance days of advertising in the 1970s when creativity was king:

We had long lunches, late nights, irrelevant expenses. Sometimes I got by on the wing and a prayer…for example we used to make up research results all the time”.

Yes, 72% of people did back then - today it’s down to 41% according to Pinocchio Polling Inc.
Tim was a showman and a driving force. A mix of charm, insight, persuasiveness and recklessness.

But he had real, old fashioned style.

But that kind of style is out of vogue. The world now needs more balanced and empathetic leaders. In a world of increasing pace we need anchors of thoughtfulness. Interesting to see there’s an increasing move towards slow reading, slow cooking and slow travel. We all need to let our brains work at a more considered, wandering about, reflective pace. The joy of reading is in letting the story enfold and transport you.

Slow cooked shoulder of the lamb is a brilliantly yummy antithesis of fast food. Walking is the new joy and nowhere better than Venice where each alleyway leads to new discoveries.

Last week the new CEO of the M&S Bank was profiled in the Times. Sue Fox has a lifetime of banking behind her at HSBC. Why am I pleased about her appointment? We have Ana Botin as worldwide boss of Santander, Daniel Nouy head of the Euro Banking Watchdog, Jane-Anne Gadhia CEO of Virgin Money. But only around 10% of the top jobs in banking are taken by women (although 50% of all employees are female).

So I’m pleased to see some rebalancing but more pleased by what Sue said about leadership:

It’s about authenticity, living your values and being a visible role model. It’s about creating an environment where people can be the best that they can be.”

We need people who are outside the bubble, who understand today’s world and who are prepared to argue what they believe rather than avoiding confrontation. Most of all we need leaders who are team players and who understand the old fashioned macho leader is a dead concept. Sue Fox claims she knows what it’s like being in a call centre and I believe her.

I do understand the day-to-day issues and what they’re facing. I’ve lived it. I’ve been there.

As Nancy Durrant wrote last week in her interview with Stage Director, Phyllida Lloyd…”go girl!

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