I worked in radio and in ad agencies as a writer, before moving into direct marketing. That got me fixated with the written word and with the need to build relationships in order to make a sale. Then a chance assignment prompted me to diversify into strategy.
I got to work on knotty problems like how to get a country like New Zealand noticed internationally, how to build a market position as a mobile provider from little more than a beach-head, how to reconcile history and relevance and why fighting small can be a powerful way to compete. Such challenges had me finding distinctive value in competitive environments.
The more of that kind of work I did, the more I realised that “brand” is a powerful lens through which to look at how a business competes, how a culture works and why people will pay above the market rate.
Today, there’s scarcely a sector I haven’t done work in: education; insurance; gaming; banking; minerals; logistics; NGOs; fitness; property; media; aviation; tourism; telecommunications; infrastructure … The fascinating aspect of these experiences is not just understanding the dynamics of how different parts of the economy work, but also being able to compare and contrast those dynamics to “disrupt” long-held assumptions. I find, for example, that when you apply proven principles in one sector to a completely unrelated sector, amazing things can happen.
Along the way I’ve also spoken at the National Speakers Association “University” in the States on how to brand yourself as a speaker, and edited the branding site allaboutbranding.com.
People often ask me why, as a writer at heart, I’m so interested in strategy. The answer’s simple. For me, strategy is as much a creative process as a logical one. It’s literally about thinking your way out of trouble.
I have four guiding principles.
- Solve a problem in your head.
- Drive the answer from your heart.
- Put your commitments on paper.
- And never be afraid to ask the inconvenient questions.
Upheavals is my blog
Upheavals is a blog for restless minds. It’s packed with observations, perspectives, questions, ideas, new thoughts and new models. Upheavals is all about thinking your way out of trouble. It focuses on the changes and developments in business and brands that catch my eye (and perhaps should catch yours) – things I read, things I observe, stuff I theorise about, attitudes that frustrate me, and conversations I have in passing about market changes and their implications.
I focus on five key subject areas: compelling brands; competitive value; purposeful cultures; market leadership; responsible ideas.
These are some of my more popular posts. If you’re a brand owner, responsible for retaining the value and competitiveness of your brands in our rapidly shifting and increasingly social world, please take a look:
Time to rethink the business model of some NGO brands?
How to win
Cult branding: Developing a scarcity strategy
Brand affinity: 10 ways to build a truly favoured brand
The power of being purposeful
Speaking combines my addiction to problem solving with my love of language – breaking myths, pitching new ideas and thinking, finding ways forward; sharing impressions, opinions and stories.
I’m equally at home facilitating a small group of senior leaders in a workshop setting as I am keynoting at conferences or presenting broader ideas for discussion and debate.
Sessions are energetic, content rich and challenging, but also fun and positive; a good mix of stories, theory and specific focus. Find out more about the things I talk about.
In terms of my consulting work, I divide my time between ‘suit’ days (addressing business issues) and ‘jeans’ days (working on creative answers). I work directly with senior management teams. I also do work for some truly wonderful design firms and ad agencies.
I happily transit between these two ‘worlds’ and my working style is equally flexible. I’ll create and lead a team or a programme if that’s the best way to get the job done, or I’m happy to work as part of your team. I pride myself on delivering consulting work that is logically surprising and at the same time surprisingly logical. Four ways I can help.
Can I help you?
To find out more about having me speak or consult, please contact me.