A Mixed Reality World: Now what?

I was recently accused of being somewhere I was not. It took me about 60 seconds to prove where I was because my mobile had logged every move I had made and I could show this in a couple of taps and swipes. Sweet, I wasn’t there. Told you so and more importantly, Google said so.

We live in a mixed reality world. We walk a digital map, our social connectivity, digital presence, mobile devices, messaging and communication is entirely fused with our real life, whether you like it or not. My mum and my son are digital first, my last 10 years are available to browse. My friends prefer to type than to talk. Everyday the connection between these worlds of social, data, device and location are tied together a little more as algorithms and code connect things and learn. I see this code as the rainbow that is making this moment full of opportunity.

Now what?

I think they call it creep. It’s a little bit like the story of aging and your belly. One day you sort of wake up and realize your trousers don’t fit, it just crept up on you. So here it is, its creep time.

No amount of spreadsheets or powerpoint, research groups or trend reports will prepare you to understand this reality. Everything is mixed up. Now is the time where what seemed like impossible things can be achieved if you just imagine a little bit more. Because everything is really, really, digitally mixed up.

I get the following important things, context I guess:

  • Computer chips are now awesomely powerful, so much is possible
  • We all know what a good experience should be like, we feel it instinctively and don’t need to spend lots figuring out basic things
  • We get that we need to be agile and reuse stuff, brilliant doesn’t need to be expensive
  • We can and should take advantage of economic arbitrage, incentivize everything and be happy. Happy is good.
  • We know that you can augment, live in a virtual world, harness API’s and that machines can learn and be intelligent.
  • We understand our wants, desires and needs and have read Maslow. We all want to live our best, not be the best.
  • We know the world is in a weird place, living is expensive and there is no real security so you have to put yourself first.

So seriously, now what?

Well I think that the opportunity to realize good ideas has never been better. At work we are building innovative things faster and cheaper than ever before and we know it’s now becoming dare I say it affordable to risk. It’s also a heap of fun.
The world has also just been mixed and offers you a pinball machine like life that is full of opportunity to connect devices, locations, data, the internet, life and your needs and wants in multiple ways. To create hobbies, businesses, art, new marketing, new ways and different and better life.

So I think now it the time to make sure you take creativity, storytelling and ideas a little more seriously and make something happen. Over invest in these skills, learn and build a toolkit and network to help you. It’s like someone telling you 20 years ago that you should invest in property or buy shares in Facebook. Both these worlds, the real and digital, have grown in value and now it’s the time to harness them both and create.

Why? Because so much is possible at speed and low cost. So many things we could do with simply don’t exist, yet but could, really soon. The person to make them gets rewarded in both money and other satisfaction. So what you should do now is to take that idea, try make it for as little time and money as humanly possible and change the world a little using a bit of the real and digital world. Use that world to work together, crowdsource funds, test, design and promote on a performance basis. Reduce risk everywhere and write a story or two.

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I am the CEO of pl-atform. Pl-atform, a creative agency focused on both real and digital world brand creativity. In its first two years of life it has delivered over 30 original projects in 15 countries that have led to over 100m engagements. Clients include global brands, agencies and start ups. www.pl-atform.com

The curiosity shop of recycled ideas

 

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“Did they like my idea?” This is almost always the question I get from one of the team when I return from a pitch. They want to feel like a winner and make those late night thoughts really count. They want to tell their family how they game changed and to look out for shares on Facebook, soon.

Of course, the odds are stacked against them. We have hedged our bets and put forward several, different ideas to give us a fighting chance; including one wild card idea and one safe bet. With all of them ticking as many of the client’s boxes as we possibly can. With photo-realistic images to visualise the idea and copy packed with neuro-programmed language to give it our best shot. Chances are that their idea didn’t make it for one of 100 reasons from stakeholder management, nerves, budget or it was just a bad day.

It doesn’t really help that as a business we have developed our own logic and process to come up with lots and lots of ideas, really quickly and regularly overdose on mad and sideways thoughts. Filling up our heads with impossibles and distractions. Expanding your headspace to think about lots of different things and to connect them to create lots of possibilities is the exact opposite of trendy mindfulness but is the way we roll. It’s also fun and makes your heart beat.

Anyway, I hate to see that look in their eyes when they hear that we won’t be going ahead with the idea. It’s not good when ideas evaporate and go unused. As with all agencies, we try and see if we can adapt them for different challenges and that sometimes works. We have gone a step further, we like to experiment and we love to make stuff together, we have our own art studio for this very reason. Call it team bonding or call it a wonky pursuit of really seeing things through, it’s a trait I like to develop and encourage in the team.

We decided to take the ideas that are rejected or not even put forward and turn them into products (unrelated to the prospect or opportunity they were intended) that we can use our self, sell or give away. We would like to sell them, of course, we hustle like that. We think the personal story of how that product came to be, it’s source of life and DNA is interesting and we think it’s unique and different. This is what has given life to our very own curiosity shop, where all the items are made from the off cuts of a rejected idea we once had. Initially our shop can be found on http://etsy.me/1T42cDu on ETSY. We would love it if you were curious about our first product.

Our first product is a pillow that we have screen printed with a technology feather design (it doesn’t do anything like sync to your iPhone, its just a pillow with a pattern. Old school, you know!). We developed this design to communicate the soft and gentle way that technology can assist us to be better for something different, something intangible and it’s ended up here as a real world pillow. To bring the real and digital together we have called this product ‘REST’. You have to love your API’s to get why we have called it that and and we hope that you do get it.

We hope that you are curious.

 

Pitching in your funeral suit

 

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I have a client suit that I wear for ‘special’.

I keep it in the cupboard freshly pressed and clean.

It’s made to measure and fits real slick

people always say it looks lean.

(Ok, end of the poetry attempt, this is a real story).

This suit makes me feel good, you have to take all the compliments you can.

I flew out to see my client this week to discuss the New Year plans and to pitch my ideas and thoughts. I wanted to make sure I made a good impression. It’s an important client and they always look smart. One is even a fashion blogger in his spare time.

So, I grabbed my special suit and held it tightly all the way to the airport to change into. Knowing that I would soon be rocking my best look. It was about half way to the airport that the lights went out and I realized I had picked up the wrong suit. It was dark and I had made a simple mistake and grabbed the black suit, not the dark blue one. This one, for a different kind of special and a different kind of impression was my bloody funeral suit. Balls.

I was too far from home and too close to the grim reality that I was about to pitch in my funeral suit and pitch I did. In that suit jacket (and jeans). Eek, how lame. I am still to find out how it really went.

So what is the important morale of this story? What big lesson can I share with you to brighten up your day? I have been scratching my head on this a while and have now concluded.

In order to avoid accidentlly pitching in your funeral suit, your pitch suit should be bright or multi-coloured. Think Lenny Henry on Comic Relief or ASDA green. Life throws up so many random moments, I wish I had the Kahona’s to go rainbow. It would make for a better pitch, I think. Fingers crossed and Paul Smith here I come.

 

Making next year count

 

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Goodbye 2015, you were awesome and taught me a few things to hopefully make 2016 count. Over 50,000 miles travelled, projects in 10 countries from Miami to Clapham, Seville, Tooting, Dubai, Brighton and Rome. We combined art, music, technology and the love to create marketing experiences everywhere. You taught me that I should not lose sight of original ideas, nor to expand the business when there is no need but to use experts and plug in properly to the world to make things happen. People and life today are beautiful and together I want to help make amazing things happen in 2016. This should be interesting if you are thinking of adding to do some extra freestyle projects to your new year’s resolution list.

It was an exceptional year for us where we worked with a handful of clients to raise awareness for different projects, all aiming to make people smile and tell their friends a few key things. We used multiple art styles, sculpture, LED, mobile, API’s, motion detectors, sound and celebrities. We made videos, made adverts, created brand ID’s, logo’s, took photos, made websites, apps, and virtual and augmented reality experience, wore fancy dress and handed out leaflets and badges. It wasn’t all by accident but for sure Lady Luck played her hand but it was the core team that helped each other out to keep things alive and kicking to which we added over 100 experts on short-term contracts across the world. They all shared similar characteristics of being charming, being experts, working hard, focused and smiling (a lot), even when things were cancelled, changed, hurricanes came and went and the previous night’s celebrations got the better of things!

I have built my business on the back of two key strategies. The first is that original ideas really matter the most and second that you don’t need to build an empire to deliver them. In fact, the empire can stop the former ever happening. Shift has happened and the world today provides all of the ways and means to be able to put your energy into the idea and build the team when required to deliver your best, minimizing unnecessary administration. During the year an incredible set of people came into my world to help and I am very grateful. We sourced trusted and known people across our network and the world to help us move stuff, build stuff, drive stuff and care for stuff (and much, much more). Everyone delivered and the culture was about getting things done because the project revolved around a great idea and we are nice people that even pay on time, most of the time ☺. This is so different from a few short years ago when accidently the main priority was to look after and care for people first, worry about the idea and purpose second. This current way ensures that the client gets quality, faster, at lower prices and the team actually gets paid more than a traditional job.

I can’t name them all but these guys helped, inspired and gave my core team and project a very helpful hand. They were really special and awesome: Michael Farmula and Morris the dog, Simon the Sculpture guy, ‘Choppy’ Danny, Erin (who arrived like an angel), Multiple Carlos’s (!), Pia, Phil, Michael XO, Jordan (and Bright Bricks), Sophia FRESH, James, Peter, Rajen and Bravin, Mattie, Deborah, Maria, Jim and teams, Jessie J (!), Leona Lewis, Ellie Goulding, Izabella, Jareck, Pawel, Hugo, Szczepan, Sarah, Jazzy, Multiple Maciej’s, Simon, Santa Claus, Andrea and at times our friends and families.

Business feels much more real today than any point in my 20-year journey across multiple successful and failing enterprises. We don’t need to offer people fruity sparkling water, weekly free back massages, lunch tokens and a free bar to get wasted each week to get the best from them. We need amazing ideas, projects and purpose to be the main motivation and of course, you make sure each person is happy and cared for. I like this world, it kind of works and I see it manifesting itself in many ways, from UBER to pop up shops, everyone is deciding to take control, use or develop skill, plug in when they wish and make their primary goal and idea happen, with a smile.

There is a sense of freedom by choosing to get involved, being in control and having complete clarity. I remember talking to a trainee doctor who was driving a Lexus as an UBER Lux driver in Miami telling me that UBER gave him freedom, money and fun (in the free-est of free countries!) and he was next going to become a part time actor. Life is beautiful, right? But you have to plug in and if you do, you increase the chance that everything you want, can really happen.

So, if you are thinking about chasing new opportunity in 2016 as a freelancer, expert or small expert team, to make a difference, work on great projects and be in control … I would highly recommend it. The world is moving rather quickly in your favor and there is large and increasing demand for amazing people and their skill.  People like me are looking on forums, Facebook, Instagram, websites and word of mouth to cut out the nonsense, make our time count and do really amazing things together for our client and the world in which we live.

Happy 2016, make it count together and again thanks to all who helped in 2015.

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Donate your heartbeat

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I’d like to share with you one of my latest projects. It has been keeping me busy and I hope you will take a peek and share!

We have built an app that allows you to donate your heartbeat to raise awareness of heart failure. Once you have donated it, you can combine it with people that you love, like and follow and download a unique memory.

On the app you can also donate and soon combine your heartbeat with people like Ellie Goulding, Leona Lewis and Jessie J (see her donation video here http://bit.ly/1KO9x1S ), who are all supporting the project. We wanted to give people something totally unique in return for a little help to get some key messages across about heart failure shared. It’s all part of a campaign called Keep It Pumping (www.keepitpumping.com) we’re working on with Novartis and some great agencies. It’s a worldwide project and has a number of associated experiential campaigns centred on encouraging people to donate their heartbeat.

We have produced some great content of the artists donating their heartbeats and you can unlock some amazing exclusive and live performances of Leona Lewis singing her song Heartbeat, if you donate. It’s free and takes a few seconds and you can download it here http://apple.co/1MAww3r. We also hope it provides some fun in the office and home as you combine your heartbeats together.

I do hope this is of interest and worthy of sharing with your world. The prevalence of heart failure is not properly understood. Millions live with it – 1 in 5 over 40s will develop it – but most people simply put the signs down to normal ageing.

Happy World Heart Day! ><

A beautiful equation thing, hopefully

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It may well be in the eye of the beholder but I think that there is a special beauty when math and creativity come together.

A thought entered my head a few years ago that has never really left, it helped me to recently work out a way to have gazillion new ideas in minutes. Read on if you would you like to know how.

The thought was ‘What if there was a formula for coming up with a good idea?’ and it has never left my mind.

Surrounded by dragon’s den on TV, $billion start ups, marketing stunts jumping out of every billboard and a general move by all to seek out a good idea, this thought just sat there. Then one day I got a call from someone important at a very important publicity company. I call him Mr. Important. “Ravi, can you help?” We want someone to come to the office and teach our young ones about disruptive and creative projects, how to come up with good ideas and to make them happen? “Yup I can do that”, was my quick response. This was the accelerant I needed; the fuel for the rocket, the Chas for our Dave and my Kylie for your Jason moment I needed, ‘especially for me’. In a warped way this was also the confirmation I had long expected, I am a little bit wonky but who really cares, right?

Within a few weeks I had consolidated 10 years of thoughts and applied them to invent a game. Helped and inspired by my colleagues we made ‘the Cray game’; had it designed, made and delivered hot off a Polish press in three weeks (thanks Maciej and Sophie). The walls of my office are now stacked with little brown boxes waiting for you. The game is made up of some math, a simple wipe able board, a dice, a pen and just my (and your) imagination (running away with me). We tried it with a several other Mr. and Mrs. Important and they said things like this “A kick-ass way to bust out of boring brainstorms. Throw the dice and free your mind!” (Big hug, Nic McCarthy).

The game provides you with a format to quickly structure your thinking around a creative challenge (but can also be applied to planning your holiday or a naughty weekend away). It allows you to easily broaden your thoughts, add loads of inputs and gives you a lateral view of things, just like that. It forces you to think quickly so you don’t need to worry about confidence issues when speaking out your ideas. Most important, by complete accident it really opens up the ability to have a bucket load of ideas very, very quickly. This is where the math comes in.

In the game, you have to map out 10 rows of things that are related to your challenge, with 6 items in each row (One for each side of the dice). You connect the things to create ideas. Simples, right? So how many potential ideas are there on this single side wipe board? Have a guess. 60, 100, 1,000? All wrong. The answer is more like 8.32098711*10^81 according my cousin who really knows her math (and said it could be bigger or smaller depending on order and other things (thanks Chandni)). Yup, it’s that big. It’s like a fazillion, bazillion. Seriously, wowsers. It’s to do with an area of math called Permutation. Having played it with several creative teams now I have seen people literally have creative diarrhoea playing it and some of the ideas have already been implemented and have led to not only more creative souls but original magic at work, for their clients.

We all want to have good ideas and sometimes it’s hard. I think I have come up with one way to help you have loads and I would love to deliver a version of the game to your desk. At this stage I need feedback, doors open and to just play it with creative animals. I have 30 available for free and none for sale (yet! as I have sold the rest). I would love it if you would come and play with me. Drop me a line, like, tenner or brief (s). As a minimum, I promise to make you smile and you can always re-pack it and give to someone for Christmas.

 

2015: Life is beautiful?

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Watching Cabaret on Broadway during a recent trip to New York changed my perspective a little on what is important in life – I just couldn’t stop thinking about the meaning of the lyric ‘Life is beautiful’. It got me thinking about the extent to which I was being distracted by fun and technology, away from what was really important and how that could change in 2015. I want to place a bet on this and put it on record. I think life in 2015 will be further designed and inspired by insane creative technology that will amuse; unfortunately this might completely distract a lot of smart people from the real economic and social challenges faced today. Let’s call it the digital hoodwink. It’s a hood wink because I think we could actually start to do something about the challenges. I want to make sure I stay grounded and balanced across the fun and the real.

The last few years have seen huge advances and investment to connect the world in real time, to fuse people, places, businesses, content and events with digital, virtual and augmented infrastructure. Digital channels and platforms that operate at lightening speed, at little cost and have evolved from text to HD video in zero time. We have seen huge leaps in creativity, computer-processing power and mobile phones together with widespread increasing digital skills to make things happen. These are all coming together to make inspiring, unbelievable ideas real in a matter of days, at low cost. Agile techniques, prototypes, visuals, reuse of open free code and cross border teams make project delivery and execution of things less risky, faster and lead to better products.  Expect to see new forms of personal transport, sexy wearable tech, virtual reality, illusion and art everywhere on digital screens in every corner.

So let’s look forward to a beautiful year?, a year we can tinder away to find love over and over again, get in the creative zone with 100 Instagram’s for breakfast, find a new job every 6 months through Linkedin with more pay, maybe by bitcoin – Yay!, share cat pictures, videos and maybe even holograms. Get smart playing games on our phones, ignore the tube crush – do you care when you have candy to play with? where is the 2048 tile? Why not learn to paint and speak 10 languages using animal sounds and pictures – better still use Google translate and drones to do it for you, there is an app for that! I want my shopping not just delivered but packed away and automatically re-ordered, my data to be analysed so that the world knows exactly how I feel and think, allowing me to be fulfilled when I need it most. This year will also be the year of YouTube – its all about the Y (YouTube) and goodbye to the X (X-Factor), nobody needs a show to make them famous when they can make money and fame from video’s on YouTube. It’s about me after all? isn’t it?

It’s all about the Y, Why, why? I think that even children have stopped asking why at an early age as they have an iPad, Google and Siri to ask this question to, but the Simpsons, VEVO or cartoons or worse are a major distraction to them. Like children, adults seem to have stopped asking why and are constantly distracted and entertained by one of their 20 electronic devices.

I don’t remember ever being told by a teacher or employer the true purpose of things, its too difficult a thing to answer and they are not told it’s their responsibility – why am I here? I get it; it’s a tough one. I have just been told to be good, kind and respectful. As I gain more experience, I start to see a little clearer and am still kind, I hope. Without considering religion or politics, I think the point is to be part of a coordinated effort to progress life for all so that life really is beautiful and better. A world that evolves, progresses, where people are happier, people feel loved, they are helped if they really need it and we are each free and helped to be the best person and team we can be, together. Way too idealistic? I think not. You just want to be happy and the best you can be, right?

Have you thought about how many people didn’t eat tonight, were beaten, died without reason, could have been saved, had no one to speak to or had no support to make their health project come to life?

Do you know how many people (including politicians) played Candy Crush when they could have written a letter to someone in need or wrote a song that inspired a sick child. How many people spent the weekend shopping when they could have gone to a community centre to help a lonely person? How many accountants and advisors that could have thought about a fairer, better tax system to make education free and relevant. You get my point, I hope.

We have started to see how digital infrastructure can really help crowd source, fund and make things happen in no time. We have seen how positive messages can go around the world and we can download apps for good health, monitor blood pressure, yoga, charity walks and runs as well as do ice bucket challenges that raised $100m for ALS. We have even seen hackers take out the film industry. However, this is still tiny in proportion to the money going into fashion, entertainment, transport, luxury, technology etc. It is still tiny in proportion to the 1 billion $ to kick-starter projects for virtual reality things or tweet-able desktop toys. It can’t just be me that thinks that if we looked a little less at some things we could do something a little more powerful with our brains, time and money? I know there are a bunch of super-fly people sitting around disruption invite only supper’s to change the world but what about the rest of us? I want to survive and make real contribution as well. Work hard, play hard and help.

I know exactly how to make a short video for a new cool gadget that could get kick started in 14 days but I don’t know where to start to use creative tech to improve education, make it free, reduce house prices, equalise the gap between rich and poor, help people live longer and healthier, make life simpler to digest and fuel creative community activity. I am certain that the world is ready to embrace the challenge of really making life beautiful and I would love for 2015 to be the year that we were not hood winked. I’d like to do it together with lots of people in the real and digital world and make it a beautiful New Year.  Mail me, let’s do something and don’t get me wrong, I want it to be fun and to smile and maybe dance and I will continue to be commercial and do the day job (really well!), I just want to reallocate some time, money and thinking to some real economic issues.

I’d love to hear from you if you have a world changing project or amazing local community project. Changing the game is fun but it’s also time to make life really beautiful, together? Happy holidays and 2015 ><

The potentially perilous journey of an Internet of things agent

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“Is this your bag Sir?” asked the Polish police officer once my bag had gone through the X-Ray machine at the airport. Double drat, I knew that she would ask. I knew that this Internet of things lark was going to get me into trouble.

“She” was a police officer dressed in military clothes, blonde hair tied back, with black leather gloves and a gun wrapped around a holster. She was straight out of a movie and I think her name was Agnieszka. She opened up my bag and asked me “What is that?” and simultaneously summoned for back up. I agree, it did not look good. It was a white box with a single red button. Inside was a large battery with circuit boards that were all precisely wired together and had an antenna sticking out at one end.

Ok, the above nearly happened…

At breakfast that same day I had decided to ship the white box with the red button instead of bringing it back to London in my hand luggage. I am actually disappointed that I did not even try but something tells me that this was certainly the right decision. I did bring back the smaller version that was less of a prototype (a lovely little burgundy fella in-front of the ketchup).

So what is it you ask? Its working name is SIR, the ‘Smith Invisible Ranger’. It is a prototype and has a little brother that is much smaller. SIR is the latest innovation brokered by pl.atform (atform.pl) for Curb Media. SIR creates a hyper local area within which you can quickly set up an insane amount of interaction between all the people in the range (via their mobile device) and any other connected device (screens, lights, sound, electronics). I can’t wait to help execute the endless opportunities it creates in the Digital Outdoor, Social, Local and Mobile world (something I call DOSOLOMO) I will save that story for another day. It will soon be distributing content, allowing people to change content, collecting and mining data, redeeming coupons and much, much more.

I look forward to fight another day to augment and change the world through electronic innovation. So in case you are reading Agnieszka, I will be back.

The amplification of toilet humour – a poemy song thing

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It used to be a Victorian toilet and it is now a place where Gillian and Leiah had a mother and daughter date (2013). It is a place where Will was waiting for his wild rose, someone else declared their love for Stalin and another thought that James is a cock. Nice.

Welcome to the attendant, the most amazing underground coffee shop in the world. It really used to be a toilet and has been lovingly transformed, serves great coffee, has a graffiti door and free wifi.

I remember watching the uber cool barista when he was hanging up the pens on the plain white door to encourage people to write down their thoughts. I remember thinking to myself that this will be interesting to read and sure enough, it is.

The study of social conversation, emotional engagement and online/offline experience are at the core of my current business interests. I really want to know how to best engage with people and naturally encourage them to share their feelings for a variety of marketing and business purposes. I want marketing to really mean something, to really move people and to be highly effective, encouraging positive word of mouth to travel across facebook and twitter. Technology and innovation offer a huge opportunity for brands. I believe it can be very powerful when combined with something of meaning, something that touches emotion.

 What a gift then it is to be able read and analyze the free thoughts of visitors to a central London coffee shop that used to be a toilet. A toilet is, after all, a place that people have always felt comfortable writing on the walls, in private. I believe that the insight is an understanding of what is really on people’s minds, what needs to be tapped into if you want to engage with the feelings that matter most.

From the picture you will see many words and thoughts. There is a complete lack of hashtags, only two twitter addresses, no web addresses and no phone numbers – just a glimpse of what people are thinking, right there at that point in time.

A quick analysis suggests the top 6 things people think about are:

  1. Love
  2. Humour, feeling happy, smiling
  3. Saying something, having opinion, being seen
  4. Gratitude
  5. Politics
  6. Giving abuse

The team that work at the attendant are the nicest and most genuine that I have met in a very long time, the coffee is brilliant and the toilet humour needs to be shared, amplified. Most important, this is a place where you can be understood.

I would like to take this moment to cross off another item from my very long bucket list. Here are some words directly from the door of the attendant, compiled loosely into a poemy/song thing.

I like Cheese

Here from Berlin

“Wot” – no toilet!

2 cool 4 school

First time I’ve drunk coffee in the loo

Shit Hot! Coffee!

You can’t sit with us

Sarah loved it! Hahaha!

Booby Boob Boob

 Go and pay a visit … http://www.the-attendant.com/

Not just a Bus

“Excuse me, is the England football team staying here by any chance?” This was my question to the flat capped hotel porter at the swish hotel that I had just arrived at. It was on the day of England’s big match this week against Poland, a massive day for English football. “I am not allowed to say, Sir” he replied.

I was spending the day at the country golf club hotel to assist a management team with their company plans. Parked nearby to reception, and trying to hide behind some bushes was a big blue ‘luxury liner’ of a bus. It had the words “ENGLAND” emblazed on the side together with all the official FA and sponsor markings. Bit of give away huh? It was the England team bus.

I had a Clark Kent of a moment. I whipped out my Samsung S3 and snapped a photo. I had an idea. I opened up my laptop, fired up my Facebook like page that I manage for my football quiz app (footballbraingame.com) and posted the picture of Mr Blue Liner, the bus. I was curious, would the world connect and engage with the bus or was it just a bus?

I uploaded the picture and posted “The England bus this morning. ‘like’ it? show some support!” I loaded up £30 to boost my post to fans of the page, friends of fans and people in the UK. I had a feeling that this might pull at some heartstrings, get some likes and it did just that. My previous 5 posts had gone ok, I knew people liked photos and I had 1,000 fans but I was still surprised by what happened next. It confirmed to me three things:

1)    It was not just a bus.

2)    Emotional engagement is everything. As Luther Vandross said – a house is not a home when there is no one to hold you tight. A bus is not just a bus when the England football team travel in it.

3)    I really love performance marketing. I am not sure if the media value is efficient (I suspect it might be) but I really loved being able to control it. Turning it on and off and increasing the spend was a lot of fun.

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Over the next 12 hours the post had an incredible 26,926 people views, 1,069 clicked to see the photo, it had 129 likes and 16 comments. Some of the comments were classic and I have to share them with you. My favourite was “I am from poland but i know they’re gonna loose cuz they have no coordination or good tactics so COME ON ENGLAND #England” and I was amused by “hey Look. a bus full of overpaid pricks.”

The blue liner is now on it’s way to Brazil. If you see it, give it thumbs up, like it to show some support. It’s not just a bus.

The disruption of the start up industry

‘This weekend, I am participating in a Hack-a-thon.’ I felt so Shoreditch sexy as I said this to my colleagues last Friday afternoon.

48 hours later my life has changed. OFG, is the world ready for the Polish fireworks? An outrageously ambitious agency based in Gliwice, Poland set up the Hack-a-thon. I was the international owl that had volunteered to check in and see if I could lend a grey hair or two.

Let me press fast forward. The team started and completed several projects. One in particular made my heart beat, literally. The tutorial for the product (an app) instructs to get two sheets of paper, roll them, tie a band around one end on both and there you have it – paper drumsticks. They had built a product that I had named ‘DRUM air’. A drum pad that you can play on the thin-air in front of your laptop. Wow wee is this cool. It is based on the new Leap Motion product that I have now ordered and you should too.

Not only is the application brilliant, the future of motion control is confirmed. Much more importantly my life has changed. The modern day Hack-a-thon risks unsettling the entire start up industry. Angels, seed funds, business plans, prototypes, tax relief, culture books and meet ups are all potentially past their sell by date. All that matters is a time box, human energy, the idea and best use of available communication channels, platforms and devices.

I managed to get both my children in on the hack, my three year old daughter joined me on a couple of the calls and my seven year old son had designed his own app called ‘Greedy Ladder’ by Sunday night. I think he wants me to build it for him over the next few days. How do I tell him that I am really just an accountant and not a java ninja?. Further, even if we were to do it, over here we need 31 days of user research, 23 days of wire frame sketching, an away day, ten stand-ups and a month of A/B testing?

So, hats off to Blazej – he even has a rock star name -and the team at Jazzy. I hope the airspace store (remember where you heard that first) approve DRUM air soon.

This is exactly how it should be done, how things should be made.