Cultural sensitivity

Photograph by David Mellis

I have had a great many conversations about the word culture in the various roles I have held over the years. Consequently I also tend to read a lot on the subject, particularly when it comes to business culture. Perhaps the standout quote from all I have heard and all I have read belongs to economist and author Corinne Maier, whose book Bonjour Paresse (Hello Laziness) is a best-seller in her native France. “Business culture is the crystallization of all the stupidity of a group of people at any given... Read The Rest →

Power to the People

If you are my age (47, since you ask) you will remember when television in the UK was limited and linear. We had only two channels in my house in rural Shetland until the late 70s and if you wanted to watch something you had to be there. We didn’t even have a credible remote control or a video recorder – never mind the ability to pause, rewind, store, or download a programme of your choice at any time of day or on any continent. Like almost everything else, today... Read The Rest →

What am I doing Drinking in LA?

The Standard, Hollywood

It is a pleasant December evening in Los Angles and I am on a post-prandial stroll through the city streets. I have spent the day shooting swimwear in the Joshua Tree national park and while the rest of the crew have dispersed to their various evening appointments, I dined alone in the restaurant at the Sunset Towers hotel. Now it’s just before 10pm and, to walk off the meal and the two martinis, I am exploring the area near my hotel – the somewhat less expensive Standard hotel. As I... Read The Rest →

Haute Culture

The art of literature

Inside an ornate, hand-crafted birdcage and nestling on a bed of blue silk, rests a beautifully-bound book wrapped in luscious blue ribbon. It calls to me just as powerfully as any bird might. I am in Assouline in London, where I have come to marvel at the assembled collection of mouthwateringly beautiful books. This particular caged volume is a limited-edition (there are only 50) of Flaubert’s novel Felicity – The Tale of the Simple Heart and it is the first of a series to be produced by Haute Culture Books.... Read The Rest →


  A tubby Japanese man, dressed in the trappings of youth but clearly old enough to know better, raises his hand in a Nazi salute. He is standing against the backdrop of the last vestiges of the Berlin wall as his friends take his picture on their mobile phones. It’s a shocking gesture, especially here on the site of the former headquarters of the Gestapo and now a memorial called Topography of Terror. The site combines the two defining characteristics of Berlin in the minds of most of us. Cassidy... Read The Rest →

This time, it’s personality


  It may be because I fear I lack one myself, but I have always been hugely skeptical of personality tests. I know that most are fiendishly clever pieces of work and that a great deal of scientific-style thought has gone into creating them. I know, too, that there are many skilled people capable of interpreting the data to assess the personality traits of those taking these tests. But I can’t help but fear that incorrectly handled, they may be nothing more than the modern-day equivalent of a horoscope. Personality... Read The Rest →

Get Engaged


The more motivated and engaged you are, the better you tend to perform, right? So it seems to me that a little investment in employee engagement would be money well spent. And yet it still surprises me that so many people in business – often in senior positions – still question that sort of investment and fail spectacularly to see any link between an engaged workforce and better productivity. All too often the idea is seen as some sort of hare-brained idea from HR that shows how disconnected they are... Read The Rest →

8.55am on 14th and 9th

Help button

In New York on a humid Monday morning, waiting for the Apple store to open at 9am, I am approached by a well-kempt bearded man who proclaims to like my shoes. “I’ve always wanted blue suede shoes,” he says. “I want to get married to my fiancee in a pair.” I tell him they are from Aldo and when he looks blank, tell him there is a branch on fifth avenue. But he has finished with the shoes. “Can you do something for me?” he asks. Here comes the pitch.... Read The Rest →

Remembering Piper Alpha

Piper Alpha 6th July 1988

  On a regular sweep of my extensive Life collection – mostly stored in the loft – I find seven yellow, variable-priced, London Underground tickets from the early 1980s. Next to them is a book of colourful matches from a now defunct restaurant in Austin Texas in 1994, the stub of an Aeroflot boarding pass and a group of diaries from the late 70s that reveal too many of my days involved riding late, showering, going to town and watching Dallas. Then there is a copy of the Shetland Times... Read The Rest →

Fun and games

Game On

When it comes to serious business, there is a tendency to be wary of anything that might seem fun. Indeed even in most creative agencies, where fun is apparently part of the DNA, such frippery is quickly tossed aside when trouble comes to call. But there is a lot to be learned from fun and, in particular, from games. And what we may learn can have a dramatic effect on our business. Indeed, I am increasingly convinced that a more ‘playful’ approach to work can have serious consequences – boosting... Read The Rest →

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