Paul McEnany Mans Up for Movember

We all have a past – some of us choose to hide it, others feel compelled to share it. This episode of Judge Judy was obviously filmed well before Paul McEnany became a suave and sophisticated advertising executive. But some years ago, just after Pauly left his mountain home to study in the big bad city, he found himself embroiled in a legal fiasco. It was friend vs friend.

McEnany-Criminal Now, of course, I am wondering whether Paul will be sporting some new facial hair – because, yes, it is Movember time again. And I am manning-up for Movember – shaving my face and then sculpting it into a furrier, more 70s version of myself – all in the name of charity.

Each year Movember aims to change the face of men’s health – raising awareness of, and funds for research for, depression and prostate cancer. You can help make sure that we never have to grow moustaches again – by supporting a “mo bro” with a donation. Although I can’t promise that Paul will refrain from resurrecting his hillbilly-style appearance.

Oh, and you can join our Movember team right here. Go on. You know you want to!

Why Rockstars are Rockstars

Mack Collier has a great post about rockstars and rockstar ideas. He talks about the way that we identify rockstars in social media – and suggests that we need to look not at the biggest names, largest followings or loudest voices. He recommends:

  1. Spending less time identifying the 'rockstars' and more time focusing on the great ideas
  2. Stop focusing on numbers to determine influence
  3. Listening closely to new ideas from new voices, and magnify both when you hear them

I thought this was interesting – especially in light of the U2 Webcast that occurred live the other day (and of course you can login at any time to watch the replay – excellent!). Here we have a band that have been at the cutting edge, moved into the mainstream and redefined what we call stadium rock. They have used their music to awaken and activate our social conscience through their connection with good causes such as red. And they have carefully aligned the U2 brand with consumer product innovation – firstly with the launch of the iPod and now again with YouTube.

u2webcast It made me think that the reason rockstars ARE rockstars is that they are constantly reinventing their story. They continuously test, refine and extend their creative output that works from the edge of their audience back to the centre. And they align strategically not only with emerging trends – they blend their ideas into them – adding their weight to the story in-action. (I am sure you realise I am not talking about U2 now.)

But how do they do this?

The P-L-A-Y Framework

Using the P-L-A-Y framework it is possible to see how this reinvention takes place, how it works not just for the band but also for the brand, and why consumers are attracted to it. Jye Smith has an excellent presentation on how P-L-A-Y can be applied to a Gen Y market which is well worth checking out.

When you are structuring your communications, by factoring this framework into your storytelling you can dramatically scale the engagement of your audience, and perhaps, more importantly, you can allow them to OWN that story (which is also your story) – or what I call The Auchterlonie Effect.

P — for Power

  • Demanding of attention
  • Testing limits (boundaries around behaviour, responsibility etc)
  • Controlling the controllable
  • Belonging

L — for learning and curiosity

  • Beyond the message, tapping into behaviour
  • Skills development
  • Negotiation

A — for adventure

  • Exploring an ever changing world
  • Actively making the world a better place

Y — the yelp of surprise and delight

  • Recognition and reward
  • Self expression

How U2 P-L-A-Y

P … Clearly rockstars understand our tribal desire to belong. It gives us power, strength in numbers and affiliation. By loudly playing their music, sharing it with others via Twitter, blogs or even shared iPod lists, we announce our allegiance – which also allows other “like minds” to come to us. We are moths drawn to one-another’s flames.

L …There is plenty of back story available with a rock band like U2. From their early punk days to their social conscience (Live Aid, red etc), the band has consistently moved beyond the message – influencing and leading behaviour not just amongst their fan base, but on the global, political stage.

A …Their passion for reinvention is clearly at work. They are adventurous, creative and not afraid to put their music, their image and their reputation on the line.

Y … Bono’s personal interest in sunglasses, the shift in visual style and appeal of the whole band (and as individuals) demonstrates self-expression. But no matter how they change on the surface, it is their music which sparks us to remember, to connect and to empathise. The band constantly plays with our sense of expectation – surprising and delighting us with each song, each new stunt – or even the unexpected cover version (eg Frankie Goes to Hollywood).

And, of course, it is the music that we are able to hum to ourselves, share on our iPods and perform at karaoke (oh yes, I have seen it done) that allows us to really step inside the U2 brand story. The band are larger than life. They need to be to walk on stage in front of a packed Rose Bowl. But in mastering performance of this scale, rockstars live the story and aspirations that many of us harbour deep inside us. Maybe we just need to think about our own stories – on a smaller scale. Think fishbowl rather than Rose Bowl … and maybe one day you’ll step out onto a much larger stage than you could have imagined.

It starts with the first word of your story. What’s yours, rockstar?

The Perfect Gift for a Man

cover According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the current suicide rate for men in Australia is more than three times the rate of women. But research shows that encouraging men (and young men in particular) to share their feelings and their experiences has a huge impact on their health and wellbeing.

It was with this in mind that back in July, fresh from our efforts around the Inspire Foundation’s #Manweek campaign, Mark Pollard and I decided to TRY to make a difference. Sure, there were some great blog posts written by men, for men – but how many people were we reaching? How many men in crisis were reading our blog posts? We needed to find another way.

Putting our heads together, we hit upon the idea of a self-published book. came to the rescue, providing an easy way for us to design, publish and distribute the book. But then – it was a matter of stories.

Putting the call out, we asked for other men to join us – sharing your thoughts on a blog is one thing – but committing them to print is quite another (plus we needed various disclaimers and so on) – so we didn’t know who would respond.

In the end, 30 writers heeded the call. The resulting book is a compilation of stories about reinventing manhood. It follows the life-arc of a man, from its beginnings through the trials and tribulations, challenges and jubilations that we all face.

The spirit of honesty that pervades the book will break your heart and allow it to be forged anew – for far from being a collection of stories of desperate lives, it is a grudging acknowledgement of the double-edged joy that life truly is.

As Scott Drummond writes:

If I’ve learned anything through all this it is that there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules for how to be a man in this crazy and unpredictable emotional tornado we call life. The only thing we can really be assured of is that life will continue to change for us all, regardless of how much we wish it wouldn’t. All I know is that how you grow and evolve as a man to meet the challenges that life will inevitably throw at you is what really counts. I’ve learned that no matter how alone or broken you feel there are men and women who care enough to be there for you, to help you feel less broken and alone.

It is in this spirit of connectedness that we are excited to now make this book, The Perfect Gift for a Man, available. Please buy it for the men in your life – regardless of whether you THINK they need it or not. Encourage them to read it and to share it with their mates, with their uncles, fathers and sons.

You can buy the printed book from or you can purchase the eBook version from The Perfect Gift for a Man website. ALL the profits from the book are being donated to The Inspire Foundation.

You can also find out more about the book and see our social media release here.

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

number5While I have been tied up with the impending launch of The Perfect Gift for a Man (the #ManWeek book I have been putting together with Mark Pollard and large doses of help from Ashley Ringrose), I have still managed to read a bunch of good thinking over the last week. Here are five posts that will change your life – maybe:

  1. The Big Yahu himself, Alan Jones, reminds us to let our users show us the money … that your customers will find the optimal use of your product (even if you think it does something else). Take a look at xtranormal – there’s opportunity there for smart content marketers.
  2. This will probably end up as a post in its own right, but Adrian Ho has a fantastic wrap-up of the recent Planningness conference, and shares videos, examples, presentations and his insights around what NO LONGER works in planning and some of the potential solutions. You really MUST read this one.
  3. If you are involved in social media, then no doubt you are already a regular reader of Chris Brogan’s excellent blog. You will also know that this post on ways to be human from a distance is a perfect explanation of what you need to do to start showcasing the person behind your brand.
  4. I have loved books and CDs – not just for their intrinsic interest but also for the way they broadcast (to a small audience) our sense of identity. Mark Earls suggests that this aspect of social identification may be what’s holding back wider adoption of eBook readers.
  5. They say that the one constant thing in life is change. Think about what has happened in your life, in your industry and across the world in the last 5, 10 or 15 years. Why are we then, so surprised or so resistant to change? Drew McLellan shares an excellent revamped video on the Did You Know theme with some amazing facts and figures.

A Cup of Chaos #23 – Scotty Got an (Aussie) Office Job

We’ve all been there … the boss calls you to a meeting to discuss social media. It’s all about “twitter” and “facebook” … it’s about “conversation”. What should you do? How do you handle it?

Maybe you could take a leaf out of Scotty Iseri’s book and play a little personal social media bingo. Oh, and if you think that’s funny, imagine what it’s like when Scotty comes to an Aussie office job near you. Yes. It’s happening right before your very eyes.

Neck Deep in Publishing

I am sure you know what it is like. There’s work life. There’s home life. There’s projects and opportunities, ideas and challenges – and all the while you are still thinking, “just a few more hours”.

At the moment I am just finalising The Perfect Gift for a Man – so that we can share the wonderful stories with you all. It is literally hours away from completion!

And we have also kicked off The Age of Conversation III – another global, collaborative project, this time with MORE collaborators. At last count we have over 300 authors promising to submit chapters. And with that comes dozens of questions, hundreds of emails and never enough time for any of it.

Oh, and I have some great posts brewing that I can’t wait to get your thoughts on. I just need a few more hours in each and every day.

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

A different seasonOver the last week I have been particularly fascinated by the concept of “a name”. This is not anything new (I have been reading and re-reading On the Name by Derrida for years), but interestingly, a number of posts have surfaced over the last week that made my reading ears prick up. Hope you enjoy these five posts from last week:

  1. Isn’t interesting the way we use the word “traditional” for an approach that we are beginning to find outdated? Katie Harris asks Traditional vs what? – and while her question focuses on market research – apply the same thinking to your own field of expertise. Which words are you promoting and which are you denigrating? And why?
  2. How do you sell without selling? Valeria Maltoni explains what is meant by a “value exchange” – building your name, your reputation and your brand at every touchpoint so that when your customers are ready, they already prefer what you have to offer.
  3. Gordon Whitehead digs into the marketing department (again!) to ask whether it is time to change the role of the Brand Manager to that of a Brand Advocate.
  4. What does your work mean to you? Is it just a word, an output, a check in the box? Maryam shares the story of a man whose work runs much deeper.
  5. Ever wondered what the R stands for in the term “social media revolution”? Julian Cole explains – it stands for Rubbish.

The Servant of Chaos – Four Years On

On October 17, 2005, my first post on the Servant of Chaos blog went live. It was a poem and a position. It was a statement of intent. My aim was to write 999 theses – small entries each day. Obviously this has changed – and it comes down, largely, to those who read and comment here. I am constantly amazed by the smart, generous and passionate voices that I read and humbled and excited to when given the opportunity to meet in the flesh.

Four years on, and my first post seems just as pertinent today. Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing your thoughts.

We begin with a rant. A rumble. A shout. There is more in the mind, more on the fingertips, more spilling from the edges of our quivering lips than can fill the words of a thousand weblogs.
The diaries of the insane, the newly repossessed, the righteous, the deluded, and yes, even I.
The daily diatribe of the left, the right, the religious and informed brooks no argument.
But we will give them one.
You and I.
We will give them one.
There are more to the words of consumers than the corporations expect.
We huddle in groups, in chat rooms.
We explode on the keyboards of a million call centres.
Our imagination is unheard of. Our thoughts cancel out the process.
We are your hearts and your minds.
We are everywhere, all places, all over the shop.
In your blood, at your workplace.
Serving you tea.
Writing you emails.
We don't really want to, for this is who we are.
A new opportunity opens every day.
It opens with the page.
The pen.
Another rant.
In control? Hell no!
We are in slavery to the chaos of our lives.
This is the manifesto of one.

Subscription Drive

The Paper Round- The SundayWhen I first started blogging, it took literally months for visitors to start showing up. I did everything that Darren Rowse and Yaro Starak suggested – I commented, I created writing categories, editorial calendars, I linked and promoted others and I wrote some lists. I would start each day by checking my visitor statistics, hoping that it would show an increase over the previous day. But months in, the traffic numbers could be counted on one hand.

Slowly the traffic began to build. I was amazed. It felt like magic – that someone out there was finding their way to my blog. And then BOOM! My first comment (I’m looking at you Olivier Blanchard). I could hardly breathe with the excitement.

And you know what? I still feel like that today. If you have a blog, you’ll know what I mean (I hope). It’s like a scorching cup of Single Origin’s finest, sharpest black coffee. It jolts you to life.

For all the people who visit, read and comment here – let me say “thank you”. Your thoughts, ideas and discussions have made my life much richer.

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