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ReloLondon part2 – how to network

Two months till we all arrive back in London. I’ve been away for 12 years. We’ll spend Christmas with family. But then what: need a job.

I’m excellent at networking but haven’t yet secured a job. I want to relocate back to the UK and find an awesome role. Not any old role. So, I’m talking to anyone who’ll listen. Looking for the ‘right people’ who can introduce me to more of the ‘right people’.

It takes a while to work out who the ‘right people’ are. And I’ve worked it out. Let me share.

The ‘right people’ in life – well, in my life – are the ones are break the mould. They stand out and they stand for something. And they tell bloody good stories.

I met Ant Middleton the other night here in London. He’s an ex-special forces, now TV show, hero in the UK. Ant Middleton says he doesn’t brief his tv production teams about the scary details of the upcoming shoot. He tells them the risks aren’t as high. And leads them along the way.

AntMiddleton_JW
TV Heros. Ant Middleton & JW – a selfie

Ant Middleton says,

Don’t be a sheep. Be yourself. The best version of yourself. Be a shepherd.

Ant Middleton finds a positive in every negative. And he’s a complex character. The evening was another amazing event by the Marketing Society.

The next day I met Richard Shotton. I worked with him 15 years ago, but now I’m just one of his fans… Yeah, #fanboy. He’s recently published a book called The Choice Factory. If you haven’t read it – and you work in business of any sort – you should. It’s all about short cuts for getting people to think differently. The format of each chapter is what you want from a business book. Engaging! ChoiceFactory.png

Title/subject – Illustration (anecdote) – Explanation (research) – Implementation (how to apply this).

I had an epiphany on Rich’s behalf. I’ve suggested that he now builds upon one particular section of the last book… and start to manipulate thinking among groups that society wants to manipulate. EG rehabilitation of young offenders. I told him:

Imagine if you did a ‘reality show’ with Ant Middleton as the trainer of young offenders and you’re doing the ‘live-on-air’ program adaptation to help remould the young offenders.

If it happens, I’d be delighted. But I think they are both building their own fame independently for the meantime. Fair cop.

And that’s the problem with job seeking, I keep finding roles for other people who are quite happy with their existing roles. But it helps me with my own stories, my own positioning. My own job seeking. And it helps me find more of the ‘right people’.

Are you one of the ‘right people’?

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ReloLondon part1 – how to house hunt

Two months till we all arrive back in London. I’ve been away for 12 years. We’ll spend Christmas with family. But then what: need a home.

William, 8 years old, has a new school starting in Surrey in January. We need to find a place to live near there. Rent first, buy later.

Montage
Exploring Surrey, including the school, the houses & the pubs with my parents

Went house hunting this weekend with my parents. Had a pub lunch. Bumped into a family that we know from Dubai in the pub. Small world. They have just relocated to the area too. Great news – what shortcuts can they offer? Things they wish they’d known or are glad the already knew that we might not. Handy.

Fell in love with the area. That’s handy, too.

Transparency is a murky word (Radio Interview)

 

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Picture credit: Murky Fish by Joybot, Hong Kong Wetland Park

 

When you know you’ve got only a seven minute slot on the radio as the advertising industry insider one weekday evening, 610pm, do you plan what you’re going to say. Of course you do. And better, if you’ve got a chance you can prep the presenters as to what you think they will find interesting to talk about.

Here’s how it went recently. Forgive me if it’s a bit glib. But it’s not for an industry audience, it’s for the mass audience of Dubai commuters driving home.

We talk about disruption, personally identifiable information, relevant advertising, dynamic creative optimisation, industry collaboration, Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), bang for your buck, consumers are key let’s not forget that… and finally “transparency is a very murky word”.

Recorded in Feb 2017 on the Tim Elliott and Alex Hirschi Drive Live Show on DubaiEye1038.com

 

 

#OnTheCouchWith… Augmented Humanity

onthecouchwith_episodeone-001-jpeg-001-jpeg-001[This is taken from the research project, TheFuture:Exposed (aka #onthecouchwith) which was kicked off by interviewing thought leaders in Dubai. This research will continue, on stage, at Dubai Lynx, the festival of creativity, on Sunday 5th March, 2pm, with two inspiring thought leaders, PK Gulati and Philippe Blanchard. Hope to see you in the audience!]

EPISODE ONE

https://youtu.be/_bn4GmIQ9co

In today’s world we’re all having to learn how to cope with the pace of change and how to respond. The pace of change is something that – as consumers – we adopt without blinking but as businesses, we get stuck with the legacy of yesteryear.

This is why adaptation is key and one of the fastest ways to grow is to understand the psychology of people and trends across this distinct and exciting region.

The region is exciting but without a sense of purpose it’s easy to drift rather than drive. The only way to drive in the right direction is to find a meaning to what you do. And then to fight for a way forward, fight until you win; fight like a gladiator. Continue reading “#OnTheCouchWith… Augmented Humanity”

An anthropological study, #ONTHECOUCHWITH …

onthecouchwith_02An anthropological study of change agents in the Dubai business community.

Stepping down from the dais after being on “the breakfast panel” at the Siegle+Gale “future of branding” event a couple of months ago, I started chatting with one of the audience who had asked a specific question about the future of video branding. You could tell this Frenchman was a creative, he looked the part and his passion was evident from the outset.

This was my introduction to Gilles G Vidal, the creative director and co-founder of WOW Agency, the video content strategy team. I told him about my upcoming initiative to film business leaders with my smart phone in Dubai asking them a few questions about the future. He looked serious all of a sudden and asked simply, “Why don’t we do it properly?” And he proceeded to tell me about his upcoming work to “interview people in unusual situations, to find something more deep, based upon their own personal vision, experience, less corporate and business…but more on a human way.” And so it came to be.

With thanks to amazing art sales houses, La Galerie Nationale and Ikonhouse, Alserkal Avenue (Dubai), the first “On The Couch With” series has now been filmed; the business leaders all took a deep breath and looked into the deep recess of their minds for answers. Many were uncomfortable at the outset – lying down on a luxurious sofa in one of the art galleries – but many didn’t want to leave when their time was up, as if their session had hardly begun.

My original plan has transformed, from something of a survey trying to capture the zeitgeist; we now have captured the zeitgeist through a creatively deep, anthropological study. That sounds grand for just twenty five interviews, but it’s the start of something much bigger.

The first part of this anthropological study – to be released over coming weeks in partnership with The Arabian Marketer – examines what makes people tick and what they can see that others might have missed.

Well, to save you the suspense – and in an attempt to whet your appetite – I’ll let you know what we’ve found. Every single one of the interviewees has a burning passion, a sense of purpose and is charming. It’s the middle attribute that makes the real difference. There are plenty of passionate and charming people. But without a clear sense of purpose those passionate people are lost – or just salesmen with a target to meet.

The similarity across the interviewees may be because our anthropological study is flawed: the sample is biased. We have invited people we’ve met already, who we think are interesting and who we thought – from the outside – are driving change right now within their businesses. There’s nothing random about this sample. These people are cherry picked.

Everyone was amused by the notion of work-life balance, echoing a sentiment along the lines of ‘if you don’t like your job, if you’re watching the clock, you’re in the wrong job’. Apart from two interviewees who were fiercely pro a division – or balance if you prefer – of work and non-work. And they promote this division actively across their business teams – and use this as a recruitment and staff retention tool.

All the interviewees were prepared for the dark times ahead as business gets tough. They were not teflon-coated in their approach, but humble insofar as they will freely admit that trial and error has been an important part of their growth to date.

But apart from this there was nothing in common with the interviewees as we discussed themes including self-motivation, the tough business climate, foundations for optimism, attracting talent in this region, what is around the corner – yes they can all see round corners, apparently – and their advice for “the future generation”. They were all very individual, to be frank. And that’s what makes this an interesting study.

Please follow twitter.com/onthecouch_with for upcoming soundbites and video episodes.

This article was first published in The Arabian Marketer, January 2017.

james-welch-column

Article by James Welch, Chief Timpanist, ORCHESTRA MIDDLE EAST

The creative concept is an original idea by Gilles G Vidal, WOW Agency, Dubai

With thanks to La Galerie Nationale and Ikonhouse, Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, Dubai, UAE.

Great Balls Of Fire … On The Radio

It was late in the afternoon and I could feel that it was going to be a long night ahead at the computer… and then I started to flick through my Linkedin and Facebook feeds. Damn.

I became engrossed with a theme across several posts instead of writing that big presentation. It was all those posts about the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 spontaneously combusting again.

galaxynote7
Photo thanks to @aaronhsl, driving past the big hoarding on Sheikh Zayed Road, (SZR), Dubai. “Gotta be coming down from SZR soon right? It’s not smoking yet at least.”

Then my phone rang. I felt I should ignore a number I didn’t know because there was so much work to be done. But I answered, and a super-familiar voice said, “Hi James, it’s Vasti.” I knew straightaway why she sounds like a friend: she’s on that radio show. “Would you be available to come on the show again tomorrow morning and talk about…” Yes, the Samsung brand debacle.

So I did. Have a listen, it’s just ten minutes.

Continue reading “Great Balls Of Fire … On The Radio”

GULF NEWS: Can networking change the face of an industry?

On a roof top in Tehran, above the offices of a digital start-up accelerator, one of the global marketing industry gurus – and a start-up mentor – was telling me about a global organisation where finance and technology experts gather to talk about what’s coming next, Next Money.

GULFNEWS NETWORKING
A version of this article appeared in Gulf News on Wed 20 July 2016, while I was on holiday in France. Where were you?!

This Australian entrepreneur, based in Singapore, at the time was a mentor to Tehran-based teatalk.io, the digital start-up where global, non-English speakers congregate to practice speaking English. He was evangelising Next Money as the networking event for the community that was – and is – changing the face of finance by giving centre stage to the tech companies who sometimes hide in the wings; the tech companies that we only hear about when they go mainstream. Continue reading “GULF NEWS: Can networking change the face of an industry?”

DubaiEye103.8 FM: The “Happy Birthday, Mike!” approach to advertising

HBD-Mike2Happy Birthday, Mike. That’s how we opened the conversation on the Industry Insider segment on Drive Live on Sunday 29 May on DubaiEye103.8 FM.

Many have been ranting of late about the demise of mass marketing and how it’s a good thing. You know, where you think broadcasting your message on mass media will promote awareness to a wide audience. Of course, it’s a waste of money since when you try to talk to everyone, you’re likely to be relevant to no-one.

Well, I stumbled upon the apparently-well-known “Happy Birthday, Mike!” approach. Am sure you’ve heard about it in one guise or another:

This man walks up to you in the shopping mall. He looks like a good bloke, dressed a bit like the way your best friends dress when they are trying to impress. He comes up to you, like he knows you from way-back and you rack your brains trying to think how you know this guy. Imagine if he’s going to come up to you and say “Hey, James (or, rather, insert your name here!), it’s been ages, remember when…” and suddenly you do remember. Only this man doesn’t say that. He has all the same mannerisms but he says to you “Happy Birthday, Mike!”. Well (for the sake of this story) it’s not your birthday. And you’re not called Mike.

How do you feel about this man now? Well, I’d feel confused or perhaps suspicious he’s trying to flog me some product or service. Or maybe even steal my wallet.

And that’s the problem today. Brands are now spraying and praying Continue reading “DubaiEye103.8 FM: The “Happy Birthday, Mike!” approach to advertising”

The era of mass marketing is now truly over

June8-2016.001With the second quarter nearly over, it must be time to start to make predictions for 2017. Why?

Because everyone is still “uncertain” about 2016 and “bullish” about 2017 in the “run up to 2020”.

Rather than debate the oil price, regional turmoil and subsequent market fluctuations, one thing is for sure — 2016 isn’t as buoyant a market as many had hoped.

And budgets are being cut. Sure, it’s not 2008 all over again. But let me repeat budgets are being cut. And when that happens every dollar spent needs to be scrutinised even more than before.

Which is why by the end of 2016, there will be no more mass marketing.

Wooing niche audiences is everything. Do you remember Chris Anderson’s 2006 book, The Long Tail. In this oft-quoted tome, he spoke of Amazon’s ability to sell obscure books to obscure people while the high-street retailers only have space to sell the mainstream units. And this is now being adopted across all industries.

I was at the Step Conference in Dubai the other day. Startups and venture capitalists, mainly. And when you look at all the startups, each one of them solves a very singular problem for a niche audience.

A niche audience that will be big soon. Or so their business plan will assure you.

There’s no other reason to set up a business. It has to solve a problem. We set up Blue Logic to help businesses harness their data and add content that collects eyeballs. Monitor what the audience is doing and give them more of what they want. And monetise. Simple, right?

I met at the Step conference a startup called My-Sign.com, a new Continue reading “The era of mass marketing is now truly over”

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