Blog.

Essays at the intersection of marketing and life.

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…”

Slayer of Dreams
21st January 2017

Slayer of Dreams

As he stood, hand on a bible, and began to recite that brief oath, my hand went involuntarily to my mouth, in horror and shock. Despite intellectually knowing what was about to happen, the fact of its arrival had the power to wound all over again. So help us god. This man is now the … Continue reading “Slayer of Dreams”

Airlines Can Break Your Heart
17th January 2017

Airlines Can Break Your Heart

Love / Hate at 30,000 feet I am reminded of how emotionally I engage with the world as I sit down to send a message of thanks to a hotel I have just stayed in. In fact, there were a couple of screw ups during my stay but I make a point to praise them, … Continue reading “Airlines Can Break Your Heart”

The Flight Of The Cassowary
14th January 2017

The Flight Of The Cassowary

Australia’s expansive, and famously pesky, biodiversity is, to my amateur eye, evidence that competition delivers results. On this island continent, a great gladiatorial battle has played out over countless millennia, as each species of life attempts to adapt to this hostile environment of limited resources, a place where plenty of candidates will likely rob your … Continue reading “The Flight Of The Cassowary”

Lollipop Ladies of Bangkok
13th January 2017

Lollipop Ladies of Bangkok

The king is dead. The nation mourns, each in her own way. The hospitality manager at my hotel mentions him, and describes the tears that have fallen down her face in thinking of him in the last weeks. There are garlands and bunting of black and white on public buildings. In places, the sun has … Continue reading “Lollipop Ladies of Bangkok”

La La Strategy
9th January 2017

La La Strategy

What if strategy began with notes, not words? Famous people are, as a rule, annoying. At the centre of their personal storytelling is a giant lie: that they got here by chance, that they owe all their success to anybody but themselves, and that every collaborator they have ever worked with is the essence of … Continue reading “La La Strategy”

Troublerone
8th January 2017

Troublerone

I have spent a lot of time in my life thinking about chocolate. I am not alone. Cocoa butter creates bodily effects in us to rival respectable lovers. It is well known that chocolate triggers the release of both serotonin and endorphins. It is sometimes forgotten that women’s physiology is more loaded with the former, … Continue reading “Troublerone”

Sydney Serendipity
7th January 2017

Sydney Serendipity

Chapter 1 Thomas’ father was called Turnip Townshend, in honour of the various agricultural innovations he initiated on his lands in Norfolk. Tommy, perhaps spurred on by the dynamism of Dad, decided to make something of himself too. The late 18th Century was a tumultuous time. And Tommy had ambition. He combined a keen intellect … Continue reading “Sydney Serendipity”

Walking on Waiheke
7th January 2017

Walking on Waiheke

When I think of Waiheke now, a few days after leaving its azure shores for nearby Auckland, it is the sounds I think of most. The layered birdsong that accompanies late dusk, and is the constant backdrop of day. Birds are more plentiful here, and less inclined to fright. There is confidence in their calls, … Continue reading “Walking on Waiheke”

The Kiwi Connection
30th December 2016

The Kiwi Connection

If Australia is the wizened, desert-scarred soul of adventure, New Zealand is its comforting Eden to the south, possessed of a physical beauty so great that night itself might ache for its own dismissal. Millions of years ago, this land became one of Nature’s finest experiments, when it drifted away from the vast Eurasian continental … Continue reading “The Kiwi Connection”

On First Encountering Australia
22nd December 2016

On First Encountering Australia

Terra Australis, the great land to the south, was the object of the seafaring explorers of the 15th century and onwards. Theirs was a clear, if faulty, premise: that the earth, being symmetrical in so many ways, must be so configured that there is equal landmass in the Southern Hemisphere as there is to the … Continue reading “On First Encountering Australia”

Tokyo’s Breakfast Lottery
21st December 2016

Tokyo’s Breakfast Lottery

In her own way, she inhabited her morning diner like the waitress from the Breakfast In America album cover. In her own stooped way, she commanded the place and was the biggest contributor to its atmosphere. Calling orders to the chef. Suggesting to people where to sit. Coaxing an older, deaf gentleman to move to … Continue reading “Tokyo’s Breakfast Lottery”

The Beautiful Stranger
17th December 2016

The Beautiful Stranger

‘I stand before you as a doormat. A female in the music industry.’ The opening words of Madonna’s acceptance speech as Billboard’s Woman of the Year 2016 were her own special brand of feisty. She had, after all, just quipped that the mic-stand in front of her was reassuring, as she liked to have something … Continue reading “The Beautiful Stranger”

O Hear The Angel Voices
13th December 2016

O Hear The Angel Voices

You know it when you hear it. It. The music that breaks your heart. The music that transports you. The music that reminds you of who you deeply are. Music. That amazing, elusive, beautiful creation – the essential expression of what it is to be alive. Every culture needs music, and it is our one … Continue reading “O Hear The Angel Voices”

He’s from Barcelona
3rd December 2016

He’s from Barcelona

The death of actor Andrew Sachs this week will be particularly resonant to anyone who grew up in the pre-cable age, when British comedy ruled the waves. Manuel, one of the four iconic and beloved characters in Fawlty Towers, was the hapless Spanish waiter whose confused English belied a pure heart, considerable wit and a … Continue reading “He’s from Barcelona”