I’m 55 and now live near Chichester in the UK. I’m an only child. I was brought up in the UK, my Mum was a teacher and my Dad, who I didn’t meet until a little later was a talented creative director in advertising. Mum had very humble beginnings and that always made me appreciate things. I was lucky enough to go to a private school and then to Oxford University where I read Human Sciences and got an M.A. Human Sciences covers psychology, semiotics, genetics, and anthropology. It was all about understanding people and that’s been a lifelong obsession. More than that it gave me the lifelong ability to see any problem from multiple perspectives. I believe firmly if you do that, you can see more solutions than by just looking at the problem one way.
Personally I love surfing and Djing playing trance music. I’ve surfed all over the world, it’s just a totally magic feeling, it makes me feel part of something much bigger and at the same time tiny and insignificant! People tell me I’m kind, original, mischievous and creative. I suspect they are being nice!
When I was 29 I moved to New Zealand and worked in Australia and Asia. While I was there I set up my own businesses which I’ll describe a bit below. In 2016 I returned from New Zealand to the UK to be closer to my folks as they got older.
I’ve always been into understanding people – it’s very hard to predict how they behave. At first I was in Market Research. I found it a bit frustrating because you don’t really do anything other than provide data. You don’t really, unless you are lucky, create any change in the world. I’ve always been arty and into science. I was very lucky in that I went to work for Europe’s first innovation agency – I loved this as it required creativity (creating new concepts) and science (would these ideas work?) The agency was called Added Value and was based in the UK but soon become global. I was a young Director there.
When I moved to New Zealand in 1998 I worked in advertising as what’s called a “planner”. Essentially, you have to understand the market, understand the brand and work out how to communicate it. I was head of strategy/planning for an ad agency, the position was pan-Asian. I became a bit frustrated with it over time, because, often, an organisation’s purpose fights the brand. How often have you seen an ad, only to be frustrated with how an organisation behaves? If you’ve ever used a large telcos, you’ll know what I mean! I realised that an organisation’s purpose needed to be distilled properly in order for ads to be real.
So while I was frustrated with the job, it gave me an interest about purpose. At that time talking about an organisation’s purpose really didn’t have any currency. And certainly not from an ad agency “just make the ads and shut up” was the kind of long-handed moniker this line of thinking was given. So I set up an innovation agency which I sold. After that I went into property and financial trading, waiting to see if uuness would have currency.
This background gave me the skills to apply psychology, (how would people respond to a new idea?) semiotics,(what’s the best presentation of the idea?) behaviouralist (how will people really behave?) and futurism/scenario planning (where is the market going?). Using these disciplines in real life was the start of my passion about purpose.