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THE BRUTAL SIMPLICITY QUIZ

Posted by on Jul 24, 2018 in Blog | 1 comment

THE BRUTAL SIMPLICITY QUIZ

This week I was reviewing some of the simplest and most useful breakthroughs in business thinking. Then this morning I happened to pick up a beautiful book called Brutal Simplicity of Thought written in 2011 by Maurice Saatchi, the thinking person’s advertising guru.  It’s really a long list of brutally simple breakthroughs, with one page of a few words, and the opposite page a simple illustration. So I thought I would present you with a quiz, based on some of Saatchi’s idea and some of mine.  At the end I suggest how you might get...

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AMAZON & AIRBNB – CONTRASTING ATTITUDES TO CUSTOMERS

Posted by on Jul 10, 2018 in Blog | 6 comments

AMAZON & AIRBNB – CONTRASTING ATTITUDES TO CUSTOMERS

Amazon has always had exceptional aspirations about customers, which marks it out from that of ninety-nine percent of companies, which if they are honest regard customers as a necessary evil – a damn nuisance, always expecting the earth, and not appreciating the niceties of company policies and procedures which sometimes get in the way of decent customer service. “One thing I love about customers,” says Jeff Bezos, the founder and boss of Amazon, “is that they are divinely discontent.  Their expectations are never static – they go...

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TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK, LOOK AT WHAT YOU DO!

Posted by on Jun 26, 2018 in Blog | 10 comments

TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK, LOOK AT WHAT YOU DO!

When I was coming back from Cape Town to Europe in April I browsed, as I always do, in an airport bookshop, and picked up Jordon B Peterson’s tome 12 Rules for Life.  It wasn’t what I expected. The book’s back cover prejudiced me against it: “He is becoming the closest that academia has to a rock star.”  When I saw Prof Peterson on a TV clip talking about gambling terminals in betting shops, he seemed less like a rock star than an embarrassed middle-aged man who had been put there by his publicist, yet had the decency to admit he...

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IN PRAISE OF OUR LIMITATIONS

Posted by on Jun 12, 2018 in Blog | 2 comments

IN PRAISE OF OUR LIMITATIONS

I was struck this week by the juxtaposition of two quotations which are more profound than they appear.  “The difference between genius and stupidity,” said Albert Einstein, “is that genius has its limits.”  “Being of any reasonable sort,” says Jordan B Peterson, “appears to require limitation.”  Despite the intimidating company, I will add a third – “our limitations define our humanity and help to define our greatest strength.” The God Problem I think God as conventionally envisaged suffers from lack of limitation,...

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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARGARET

Posted by on May 29, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARGARET

Memoirs by politicians usually send me to sleep.  Imagine my surprise in finding an exception – and in an unexpected place – Margaret Thatcher’s The Downing Street Years. Oddly, the best, most revealing bit is the Introduction, which stunned me with its non-partisan clarity and audacity.     A Hundred Years of British Decline According to Thatcher, time in Britain may be divided into BT and AT. Before Thatcher, in 1979, Britain was widely derided as ‘the sick man of Europe’.  “Britain”, she wrote, “was a nation that...

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THE 80/20 WAY TO READ A NON-FICTION BOOK

Posted by on May 15, 2018 in Blog | 7 comments

THE 80/20 WAY TO READ A NON-FICTION BOOK

My tutor at Oxford used to set me weekly essays and give a long reading list of books and articles.  My first reaction was “how can I read all this in a week?”  His reply was smooth and fluent: “Read the Conclusion first, then the Introduction, then the End again, then flick through for interesting arguments or examples.  For goodness sake, Richard, don’t read the whole bloody thing, except for enjoyment.” That’s an important caveat.  If you’re reading for pleasure, read away.  But if you main purpose is to learn something,...

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A NEW WAY TO GET RICH

Posted by on May 1, 2018 in Blog | 4 comments

A NEW WAY TO GET RICH

Rarely it is true that there is a reliable new way to get rich.  Perhaps once in a hundred or two hundred years.  But I’m doing it and it seems to be true.  There are excellent intellectual reasons too.  So I’ll tease you with a romp through history – fascinating to me and I hope to you – before getting to the point. Networks have been great benefactors of humanity – but not investors Historian Niall Fergusson has recently reminded us that networks are not new, but to my way of thinking he doesn’t go back far enough.  For if...

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THE TRIUMPH OF THE STRATEGY PARADIGM

Posted by on Apr 17, 2018 in Blog | 3 comments

THE TRIUMPH OF THE STRATEGY PARADIGM

I’ve just finished reading The Lords of Strategy by Walter Kiechel and it is terrific.  It is 333 pages long and I read it in one day – if you overlook staying up until the early morning to finish it. If you are at all interested in business, read it. But I can summarize in one sentence its main message:     The difference between business today and as it was in the 1960s is immense and the difference is the strategy paradigm. Or if you give me one more sentence: The difference was due to one man and one firm, started in...

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BUSINESS = IDEAS IN MOTION

Posted by on Apr 3, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

BUSINESS = IDEAS IN MOTION

“People like to think that businesses are built of numbers (“the bottom line”) or forces (“market forces”) or things (“the product”) or flesh and blood (“our people”).  But this is wrong.  Businesses are made of ideas – ideas expressed as words.” So says James Champy.  He is exaggerating.  Enterprises have all these attributes at once – they are numbers, forces, products and services, people, ideas, and ways of combining inputs to produce something better or cheaper than before; and having something left over for...

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WHERE WILL YOU BE HAPPIEST?

Posted by on Mar 20, 2018 in Blog | 4 comments

WHERE WILL YOU BE HAPPIEST?

One of the greatest things about life today – as compared, let us say, to that in the nineteenth century and all history before that – is that it is relatively easy to move to somewhere far away from where we grew up.  Probably hundreds of millions of people take advantage of that possibility during their lifetime, though a much smaller number move to a different country.  Like life in general, a dramatic move is, most often, a default decision – circumstances, such as a job posting to a different city or country, getting married to a...

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