Blog.

Essays at the intersection of marketing and life.

Life Is Simply Magnificent
13th January 2019

Life Is Simply Magnificent

We are each of us in search of transcendent experiences. This desire is at the heart of spirituality, the soul of music and the essence of love. The search is part of our human inheritance. Chocolate companies may pretend to get us there; endorphinoligists may promise a 10km run that brings you to your knees will bring you there. … Continue reading “Life Is Simply Magnificent”

India’s Secret
6th January 2019

India’s Secret

Stalin has brought me coffee. My kind of coffee. Because Stalin is my kind of man. He noticed, over the first four mornings, that I was abstaining from India’s bitter beans. ‘I have some Nescafé at home, sir’, he said. And that was that. The next day my caffeine IV route was reestablished. No more … Continue reading “India’s Secret”

Three Dimensions Of Elon
17th November 2018

Three Dimensions Of Elon

It seems I am surrounded with lessons about dimensions. And it seems I am a slow learner. Kahneman’s heuristics are pressing down on me: a smattering of availability bias here, a dollop of recency bias there, a big swathe of selection bias everywhere. Every pathway leads to a personal teaching moment on dimensions. I love a simple observation which helps … Continue reading “Three Dimensions Of Elon”

My Own Private Armistice
11th November 2018

My Own Private Armistice

Lying in bed on the beautiful morning of the 11th of November 2018, I began reading a seven-page contract.  As business documents go, it was succinct, action-oriented and clear. I have seen lengthier papers describing the launch of a new variety of chocolate spread. But this document sought to do something more fundamental. Its words described … Continue reading “My Own Private Armistice”

Flaws, Jaws And Genius
29th October 2018

Flaws, Jaws And Genius

During the course of 124 minutes, with the help of iTunes, I have returned to the scene of the crime. This was, you must remember, no ordinary criminal. He was distilled from nature – a perfect killing machine that stalked the waters of Amity island through the arc of an American summer. In the course of that one … Continue reading “Flaws, Jaws And Genius”

Innovation Is Murmuration
15th October 2018

Innovation Is Murmuration

I am interested in how groups of people can, in the right context and with the right invitation, come to act as one in pursuit of progress.  Such a thing – scattered people coming together to act with unity – is so rudimentary as to be almost invisible in our day-to-day lives. Observe, for example, how a … Continue reading “Innovation Is Murmuration”

RMS Leinster: down in dazzle
10th October 2018

RMS Leinster: down in dazzle

A client of mine is not working today. He is departing on a boat from Dún Laoghaire to proceed a few nautical miles out to sea, past Kish. From there, he will join many other families in laying wreaths, in memory of the 527 souls who perished and some 256 who survived, when the mailboat RMS … Continue reading “RMS Leinster: down in dazzle”

My Memories Of Montserrat
6th October 2018

My Memories Of Montserrat

Her name was as big and meaty as her voice and presence. I happened to be awake early this Saturday morning as the news came in. Montserrat Caballé is dead. ‘Muere Montserrat’ the headline said. And she died in the only place she could – in Barcelona.  When you live in Europe, it is easy … Continue reading “My Memories Of Montserrat”

Walking Above Clouds
2nd October 2018

Walking Above Clouds

I have walked above clouds. The first time you do it, it leaves its mark.  That summer, I’d been walking on an ancient pilgrim route from Le Puy in France towards the Pyrenees. To get there, you have to traverse the Massif Central – a highland region peppered with mountains and plateaus. I have a … Continue reading “Walking Above Clouds”

Jane Austen: dead or alive
30th September 2018

Jane Austen: dead or alive

I sat for an hour beside the grave of Jane Austen. The problem with people from the 19th century is that they are, to a man and woman, dead. Yesterday I encountered her sister Cassy and her mother Cassandra. They too were unalive, although for less time than Jane, having had the good sense to … Continue reading “Jane Austen: dead or alive”

Jane Austen Has Invited Me To Tea
29th September 2018

Jane Austen Has Invited Me To Tea

If you want a sense of how large the Muslim world is, and how committed its believers are to holy ritual, you might begin your research in Jeddah airport. Saudi Arabia’s second city sits on the azure waters of the Red Sea, approximately 60kms from Mecca. The signposts call it Makkah. Every year, the airport … Continue reading “Jane Austen Has Invited Me To Tea”

Why I Write
20th September 2018

Why I Write

The established counsel for prospective authors, dispensed at the drop of a microphone, is twofold: Read. Write. It is counsel which, in its own way, is as much censure as it is inspiration. Read you lazy fuck. Then write. Don’t imagine you can string words together before you qualify to so do. Do your grunt … Continue reading “Why I Write”

The Prodigal Fanboy 
24th August 2018

The Prodigal Fanboy 

It is so easy to be drawn into it – the tumult of adoration during which we suspend our critical faculties. Take the founders of Google, for example. I hardly know anything about them other than they’re Stanford wizards, one is called Sergey and both were bent on changing the world. Their origin story was one of … Continue reading “The Prodigal Fanboy “

The Legend of Poor Rich
13th August 2018

The Legend of Poor Rich

A few days ago, a transit worker at Seattle Airport entered the cockpit of an otherwise empty Alaska Air Bombardier plane and made an ‘unauthorised takeoff’. He flew around the environs of Seattle for over an hour before bringing his escapade, his aircraft and his life to an end on Ketron Island.  As I read social … Continue reading “The Legend of Poor Rich”

How Psychology Can Help Change Behaviour
10th July 2018

How Psychology Can Help Change Behaviour

Almost ten years ago I began a post-grad in psychology – spending two years learning full time. In celebration of this rich experience, I’m sharing some of the essays I wrote at the time which have resonance today. This one – regarding how social psychology can explain, predict, stop, start, modify and prevent behaviour in the real world – … Continue reading “How Psychology Can Help Change Behaviour”

Ryanair and the culture of ‘non-priority’
4th July 2018

Ryanair and the culture of ‘non-priority’

If you ever doubted the ability of one person’s influence to permeate a culture and make drones of living, breathing adults, look no further than Ryanair. This is an enormous, profitable, innovative airline that is pancreatically sick. Sickness breeds apathy, insensitivity and ultimately the erosion of humanity. No matter how lofty its share price nor … Continue reading “Ryanair and the culture of ‘non-priority’”

ASMR: one tingle and you’re tangled
18th June 2018

ASMR: one tingle and you’re tangled

My truncated opera career lasted four seasons. Being a late bloomer, I got cast in character roles because most every story features an old man in its plot. My fellow-singers were 15 years my junior, most at the beginning of their professional singing careers. At the age of 40, I had come along for the ride. I … Continue reading “ASMR: one tingle and you’re tangled”

Where Are The Experts? Why Aren’t They Here?
13th June 2018

Where Are The Experts? Why Aren’t They Here?

Almost ten years ago, I returned to full-time education for two years, completing a post-grad in psychology. In celebration of this enriching experience, I am sharing some of my favourite essays on themes of psychology relevant to today’s culture. The essay below (original title: How do experts use their knowledge differently from novices?) is a favourite because it … Continue reading “Where Are The Experts? Why Aren’t They Here?”

Finding Illyria
12th June 2018

Finding Illyria

I met a taxi driver yesterday by the name of Qemal. I asked him if he was Iranian, or maybe Turkish? He was neither.  Getting a sense of him was perplexing.  He had picked me up in the forgotten little car park between Terminals 1 & 2 at Dublin Airport, the only place where app-ordered … Continue reading “Finding Illyria”

All We Are Saying Is Give Asexuals A Chance
9th June 2018

All We Are Saying Is Give Asexuals A Chance

Almost ten years ago I began a post-grad in psychology – spending two years learning full time. In celebration of this rich experience, I’m publishing some of the essays I wrote at the time which seem to have resonance today. This one – regarding how seriously we should take the phenomenon of asexuality – feels relevant … Continue reading “All We Are Saying Is Give Asexuals A Chance”

The Way You Think Can Save Your Life
6th June 2018

The Way You Think Can Save Your Life

Almost ten years ago, I returned to full-time education for two years, completing a post-grad in psychology. In celebration of this enriching experience, I am sharing some of my favourite essays on themes of psychology relevant to today’s culture. Each represents over 40 hours of reading, thinking and writing (At least, that’s what my gut tells me). … Continue reading “The Way You Think Can Save Your Life”

West Cork To The World
10th February 2018

West Cork To The World

It is a long, meandering tale of tragedy. Across 6.5 hours and 13 episodes, the podcast entitled West Cork rakes the detail of how Sophie Tuscan du Plantier got caught in briars outside her holiday home and was grotesquely murdered. It details how the Frenchwoman’s body was left out on the ditch so long without … Continue reading “West Cork To The World”

Frasier’s Dad is Dead
6th February 2018

Frasier’s Dad is Dead

John Mahoney’s true love was the stage. After his role in ‘A Long Day’s Journey Into Night’ in Galway, he remarked to his friend, playwright Tom Murphy, on how silent and intent his Irish audiences were. ‘That’, said Murphy, pointing to the stage, ‘is because what goes on up there is sacred to us’. Although … Continue reading “Frasier’s Dad is Dead”

Dolores
23rd January 2018

Dolores

I had been travelling a long time before I recognised that no matter how good my hotel room was, it would never be as good as sleeping in my own home. Judging a hotel is, for me, not the examination of luxury but rather the approximation to familiarity. It is for this reason that hotels … Continue reading “Dolores”

Reinventing The Banana
14th January 2018

Reinventing The Banana

My mother was a toddler when Germany invaded Poland in 1939, and still under ten years old when Hitler took to his bunker and failed to re-emerge, in 1945. Childhood memories of WWII are relatively dewy in Ireland, lacking the chaos, drama and trauma experienced by many other young Europeans. ‘The Emergency’ for Irish children … Continue reading “Reinventing The Banana”

Going Bollywood
9th January 2018

Going Bollywood

On explaining my dance plans to a friend a few months back, he encouraged me to camp things up a bit. Go the whole hog. ‘Arrive in a sari’, he said. ‘Show them you mean business’. We laughed at the prospect. But now that I look back on what happened with Kanish, his suggestion seems … Continue reading “Going Bollywood”

What It Means To Be Indian
5th January 2018

What It Means To Be Indian

I take it all back. Indians drive like maniacs. They overtake on a whim with zero view of oncoming traffic, and the margin of error as they skirt each other is ±0. Their keeping it road-safe efforts are compounded by wild dogs and wandering cows. If the act of driving were dance, I reside in … Continue reading “What It Means To Be Indian”

Twelve Hours In India
2nd January 2018

Twelve Hours In India

The first twelve hours in a country are hardly the basis for any decision beyond where to go for dinner. What do I know of India? I have, after all, done precious little since my arrival on the coast of Columbus’ dreams. Landing in the early morning, I took a transfer and proceeded to ask … Continue reading “Twelve Hours In India”

Bitcoin: the little cryptocurrency that could
10th December 2017

Bitcoin: the little cryptocurrency that could

The irony of innovation is that it is often discussed and rarely encountered. Most of what we marketing folk label ‘innovation’ is merely a twist, twirl or twinkle. So it should be. There isn’t anything new in the world. Until, once in a while, there is. In such moments, innovation can face a crippling problem: … Continue reading “Bitcoin: the little cryptocurrency that could”

Putting On My Selina Scotts
20th November 2017

Putting On My Selina Scotts

Life is lived in a tumble of moments upon moments, each vying to gain our attention. In the helter-skelter of living, it is unclear which experiences will emerge important, and why. When revisited, however, life becomes punch-clear. Certain events stand taller, and command more light. Casual facts become crucial evidence as we, Hercules Poirots of … Continue reading “Putting On My Selina Scotts”

Palermo Mio
30th October 2017

Palermo Mio

It is my destiny never to get to the bottom of it. I no longer seek to understand why this city, part of a nation devoted to aesthetics, can live in such a formidable, expansive and all-embracing dump. Dump? I am not talking of the buildings of Palermo, rich in history and charm, stacked high … Continue reading “Palermo Mio”

Why Trump Is Here To Stay
28th October 2017

Why Trump Is Here To Stay

– When a guy makes stupid moves on the draughts board, causing chaos and holding up the game, commanding attention and acting like a fool. That guy is only crazy until you realise he’s playing chess. So you’d better make sure you know the game in progress before you criticise the player. – So the … Continue reading “Why Trump Is Here To Stay”

Go Placidly And Create A Brand World
26th October 2017

Go Placidly And Create A Brand World

When Max Ehrmann wrote his beloved prose poem in 1927, little suggested that Desiderata would live on beyond him. In open verse, the Latin title of which translates as ‘that which is to be desired’ encapsulated his own life’s philosophy. It was his way to pass on the wisdom of his 55 years of life … Continue reading “Go Placidly And Create A Brand World”

Ophelia Bears Down On Harvey
16th October 2017

Ophelia Bears Down On Harvey

Her death, one of the most celebrated in literature, happens off-stage. Ophelia, driven mad by the betrayals and subterfuge of the men who encircle her, lies down in waters surrounded by garlands. There, in the purity of nature and bedecked in flowers, amongst them one known to women as ‘dead men’s fingers’, she allows her … Continue reading “Ophelia Bears Down On Harvey”

My Encounter With George Hook
17th September 2017

My Encounter With George Hook

In the Spring of 2014, I sat in a Dublin café with George Hook talking about how gay men and women come out in the Irish workplace. The conversation came about because of a study myself and my colleague Dr Elizabeth Nixon had undertaken, published under the auspices of Trinity College and GLEN. George buttered … Continue reading “My Encounter With George Hook”

Poo
8th September 2017

Poo

I have long been critical of brands that slyly betray their owners. The splendid ‘poo girl’ story emanating from Bristol and spreading its delicate aromas all over the globe gives me opportunity to moan once more. Let me recount the bare bones of the alarming little story, lest you’ve been reading Jane Austen, or Fordyce’s … Continue reading “Poo”

It Would Make You Think
4th August 2017

It Would Make You Think

In the glare of an August afternoon, I walked among headstones in Mount Jerome. There was a pleasant stillness about the place, and I had time to kill before I would sing. So I browsed the plots, a pastime which brings one readily to a meditative state. I passed a family vault to my right … Continue reading “It Would Make You Think”

War of the World
19th July 2017

War of the World

As teenagers just out of school, I and four friends cycled across France and a bit of Switzerland. We had two tents, one map-reader and no money. It was a great trip. I was never much interested in the route we would take. We left that to Mark, who, true to his orientational instincts, would … Continue reading “War of the World”

London’s Burning
18th June 2017

London’s Burning

As the flames danced behind the cheap cladding of Grenfell Tower, there was a brief moment when the story’s end was not yet told. Fires in cities happen, of course. Even spectacular high-rise fires can occur – like those of Dubai. But their drama seems vastly to outweigh their seriousness. We have become habituated to … Continue reading “London’s Burning”

When The Big Boy Bails
3rd June 2017

When The Big Boy Bails

It is a scenario familiar to most small businesses. You develop a disproportionate relationship with a single client; all goes well and the mutual benefit is evident, and then a new head-honcho rides into town. As is his prerogative, he sees the world differently and changes things around. You thought that your precious business relationship … Continue reading “When The Big Boy Bails”

Darling Michael
1st June 2017

Darling Michael

The remembered life of a young boy in outback Australia     Chapter 1: Man In December 2016, Pete Kauter and I took an afternoon stroll along the beaches of Sydney, to talk the talk that had brought us together. Sixteen years ago, for several months, we had house-shared in Dublin, and during that time … Continue reading “Darling Michael”

Samsung Dreams Of Flight
22nd April 2017

Samsung Dreams Of Flight

Locate the dream, then bring it to life. This was the essence of my Friday evening conversation with a good friend. Both of us plough the marketing waves; he specialising in innovation and learning, me in insight and innovation. The Venn diagram of our common interests was clear. We were discussing, over pizza, how innovation … Continue reading “Samsung Dreams Of Flight”

Toffoli, And The Meaning Of Local
19th April 2017

Toffoli, And The Meaning Of Local

Toffoli is a restaurant on my street. It is perhaps 15 metres from my door. When I stretch over my balcony, I can see Toffoli. It has been a constant presence since first I turned the key on my place. But Toffoli operates like no other restaurant I know. For one thing, I never know … Continue reading “Toffoli, And The Meaning Of Local”

ABBA’s Seven Insights
15th April 2017

ABBA’s Seven Insights

Even as the music critics thrashed them, the most feted rock stars of the 70s recognised the unique talent of ABBA. Yes, the band name was a little corny – but the music sure was not. Pete Townsend of The Who, not a man to clip his cool by dropping BS, would maintain that ‘SOS’ … Continue reading “ABBA’s Seven Insights”

Sweet ShitTown, Alabama
4th April 2017

Sweet ShitTown, Alabama

How a podcast investigating a murder has breathed life into the nature of love, and storytelling.  It is true that TV and the small screen are having something of a moment. Netflix and Amazon are seeing to that. But the media innovation that most warrants your attention concerns not the eyes, but the ears. Audio is bursting … Continue reading “Sweet ShitTown, Alabama”

On Average, People Are Average
27th March 2017

On Average, People Are Average

‘Well, that’s the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.’ With this fictional sign-off, the long-running radio show ‘The Prairie Home Companion’, set in the American mid-west, inspired what psychologists call the ‘Lake Wobegon Effect’. That is, the rather … Continue reading “On Average, People Are Average”

The Next President of France
23rd March 2017

The Next President of France

It is easy to be distracted by the personal story of Emmanuel Macron. And yet, within his tale of difficult love lies his essence. Because Monsieur Macron is a man who quickly knows what he wants, and sets out to get it. As a precocious 15-year-old student who ‘knew everything’, he became the talk of … Continue reading “The Next President of France”

Disasterously Good, Dangerously True
7th March 2017

Disasterously Good, Dangerously True

It is surprising how difficult it is to find truth. I do not mean this in a legalistic or scientific sense. No. I mean in an everyday way: What does the waiter really think? What does my work colleague really care about, deep down? How does that successful neighbour really feel about her choices? Society … Continue reading “Disasterously Good, Dangerously True”

Dammit, I just want a coffee
3rd March 2017

Dammit, I just want a coffee

I have still not got the hang of coffee parlance. Between flat whites and skinny cappuccinos and double shot Americanos, I often experience hesitation at the counter. So what is it I want, exactly? A coffee, actually. And by that, I don’t mean a crappy one that tastes rancid and disorderly. No, I want a … Continue reading “Dammit, I just want a coffee”

And the Oscar goes to…
3rd March 2017

And the Oscar goes to…

We live in Trumpian times. When his wife plagiarised swathes of Michelle Obama’s speech for her own use at the Republican National Convention in July 2016, Donald Trump declared Melania’s scandalous contribution a great success, because ‘all press is good press’. It was perhaps inevitable that the first Oscars in the 45th president’s reign would … Continue reading “And the Oscar goes to…”