Friday, September 18, 2015

Judge, Jury and Executioner - this week and the search for purpose

Come on, be honest. We're all guilty of piling up books we dip into, but probably don't get round to reading properly. I think I've found a solution - using a library, so the return deadline forces you. I've done it this week with Mission by Michael Hayman, which I loaned from the RSA Library, always a delightful pit stop on a trip to London.

It's made me think a great deal about purpose. How businesses need to embrace that zeal of political campaigning in order to achieve a sense of destiny, mission and a very clear reason to exist. The examples he cites include Uber, Netflix and Airbnb, but we shouldn't fall into the trap of narrowing such an approach to disruptive tech businesses, but almost anything. It's going to get very noisy out there.

I was introduced to Michael last year by our mutual friend Martin Vander Weyer of the Spectator. I hope to see more of what he has achieved and test out his ideas for campaigning business.

With this in mind I spent Monday judging the Northern Marketing Awards. There were some really genius creative ideas, but I was as impressed by entries for mean clients with meagre budgets as I was by the consumer campaigns backed up by major advertising spend.

I have a personal policy of never saying no to the BBC. It's a great honour to be asked onto TV or radio to share your views and the experience never feels wasted. I also think about the programme I'm going on and what it is seeking to achieve. I have always preferred radio to TV, but did a two hour stint on That's Manchester's Late Night Live programme this week. I've had a long term interest in new TV channels, having been involved in the launch of a new station two whole decades ago. This felt eerily familiar, the difference now though is that YouTube has changed the rules of distribution.

We held a storming debate at Manchester Central Library last night. The motion before the house was "This is the age of political easy answers" which inevitably came in for some stick. The speakers - Tristram Hunt, Douglas Carswell, Seamus Milne and Vanda Murray - were all brilliant. As was the chair, Francesca Gains, the head of politics at the University of Manchester.

I believe Discuss could be immense. There has never been a greater appetite for ideas and meaning. So far, we produce these monthly debates, but we have dared ourselves to dream and think bigger.

I've also been throwing myself into my core business this week, creating compelling content for businesses and brands. I'm fortunate that the people and organisations I work for have such great stories to tell and whether it's helping businesses get investment or helping people take control of their financial future, the common link is that I can contribute to their success by bringing people together and exploring new ideas.

After the result of the Labour leadership election it's been a strange week. I was deeply disappointed at the victory for Jeremy Corbyn, but it's done now. I've struggled to find much positive to say, but I was impressed by both Corbyn and David Cameron at Prime Minister's Questions. It won't last, but the weekly ritual represents so much that is wrong with public life. There is an opportunity to change it, which opens up politics to start happening in places other than the floor of the house.

Finally, I've been asked by our local priest, Father Michael Gannon, to join the management committee of the new St Christopher Centre which is being built next to our church. Our group met to make some early decisions this week, but Father Michael is crystal clear on what he wants to happen and what the centre needs to be, not a sports hall, not just any other space, but somehwere special for us to do important work - starting with the aim to be able to serve Christmas dinner to over 100 otherwise lonely and isolated parishioners on Christmas Day. Everything else is detail. How's that for a purpose?

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