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April 2017 newsletter

Houmous Shortage Special

Forthcoming events

The current plan is as follows:
24th May – Jamie from Hello (not the magazine) telling really interesting stories about marketing
Then a rest till September, followed by
October – Growth event
November – Any Questions

TV mini series of the Month

“American Playboy: the Hugh Hefner Story” on Amazon Prime

Whilst I’m struggling slightly to explain why I was watching this in the first place, once you get past the nipple count, it’s an all American tale. Hefner started the magazine with 2 members of staff working from his kitchen table and sold 50,000 copies of his first issue. Within a few years he had 100 staff, swank offices in Chicago and was selling 5m copies a month. At the 10 year point he was making $80m a year. He was a complete workaholic, literally living in the office and approving every single word in the magazine. The secret to his success was to pay attention to detail (holding the brand steady), surround himself with competent people and ally the brand to social issues of the day. All done whilst smoking a pipe. So, he was strong on human rights etc, but completely fazed by feminists complaining of objectification. He just couldn’t understand what their problem was. How did he end up as the aging lothario we recognise today? All American hubris.

Playmate of the month – Mr April

Has to be the new boy – Phil Brace.
There’s a full biog of him on the website www.chrisduckett complete with a very tasteful photo (but watch out for the staples).

But we can do the key facts here:
Vital statistics – he won’t say, so we’ve opened a sweepstake. I reckon 42/36/40, but he says he’s on a diet
Likes – flash waistcoats and shag-me shoes
Wants – world peace (or is that a different joke?)
Image – Blue Stratos: For The Man Who Doesn’t Have To Try Too Hard

Conspiracy Theory of the Decade

Hyper Normalisation by Adam Curtiss

I’d heard about this but couldn’t find it for ages. It’s on the BBC iPlayer in the film section. Seriously paranoid, but not necessarily wrong. His basic idea is that the world is far too complex for politicians, so they’ve simplified everything and reality has got lost along the way. This is not a new concept: think Medieval Christianity or Quantum Theory. Would have been more fun with nipples.

TED vulnerability

Whiplash spent some time with a bunch of London Luvvies and came back with this:

It’s not clear whether:
They understood a word she said
They thought she was vulnerable

We’re all partnerships now

I talked about this in the November Newsletter, but nobody really took the point.

There is a proposal out to treat small Co.s as “transparent” and effectively tax the Co profits to income tax in the hands of the shareholders. Or another proposal to tax undistributed reserves to force full distribution. There’s a Francis Clark blog post to explain this more clearly  

This all sounds crazy to me. Capitalism works because spare profits are re-invested. If we ignore the proposals, will they go away?

Work time v wandering time

This is a bit like a variant on the work life balance:

And this is worth a look:

Asleep on the job

A common problem with the BD team. Ady is attempting to cure them by bringing a sleep coach to Hereford: Seminar details to follow.

Complicated dividend changes herald the return of paper tax returns for some
The dividend tax is so complicated that the software can’t cope:
“The dividend tax allowance changes introduced by George Osborne in 2016 are too complicated for HMRC’s systems to calculate the correct amount of personal tax payable for all permutations of income.
The types of client likely to be affected are those with particular combinations of pension, salary or self-employment income and interest or dividend income – so potentially a significant number of taxpayers.
The bad news – HMRC has told the software houses about this issue and advised that those clients who will be affected, or their agents, will have to submit paper tax returns between now and 31 January 2018. No tax return software can calculate the correct tax for these clients.” So much for Making Tax Digital.

Crisis, what Crisis?

The last BD event turned out to be very informative, being led by our Crisis Expert, Richard Whitby. As usual, you’ve got more chance of surviving a crisis if you’re clear what survival looks like, before you rush around doing stuff.

Anyway, Richard walked us through the Tesco horse burger crisis of 2013. That was when Trading Standards officers found horse meat in Tesco cheapo burgers. Tesco actually reacted very effectively by taking the offending burgers off the shelves and then deferring all further comment for 2 weeks whilst they investigated the problem. They then proclaimed:
How sorry they were
It was all the suppliers fault
They were putting in place controls to prevent this happening again

Sainsbury’s had put controls in place about 10 years prior to that, but didn’t make any marketing capital out of it.
So, you can now trust Tesco.

IR35 bites back

These are the regulations for corporate sub-contractors where the directors are supposed to treat themselves as paid employees of their own companies without use of dividends. You know whether IR35 applies to you by using the self assessment “tool” on the Revenue’s website. In order to force the point, the Govt has recently said that anybody employed by the public sector is obliged to operate IR35.

It should, therefore, have been no great surprise when all of the subcontractors working on the Revenue’s IR35 tool quit – because IR35 now applied to them:

How to be a keynote speaker

Per one of Nick Rumney’s contacts:
Although travelling with just one, cabin-friendly piece of hand luggage speeds things up at the airport, it does slow you down when trying to pack the hotel’s luxury bathrobe.

If you’re in a hotel and likely to get back to your room late and the worse for wear, remove the chocolate from the pillow before going out. It saves a lot of explaining in the morning. 

The Quality Hotel is an oxymoron and very, very expensive hotels are great value for money if you’re not paying. 

If a stranger asks you for a light at the airport, check what he wants to set fire to. 

Say nothing when people say you are expensive. Be worried if no-one ever says you’re too expensive.

When someone comes up to you after you’ve come off stage and says “You’re remarkable.” just say “That’s very kind” and walk away. There are two options for what they’ll say next.

It takes practice

Matthew Sayed wrote “Bounce” where he extolled the virtue of “purposeful practice”. I use it as my mantra for getting better at skiing. K2 get to the same answer:


No Bunnies were objectified in the making of this Newsletter.