Forever Young

It’s fantastic to be back in South America. And great to be here in a young energetic university. Thanks to Pablo for asking and to Gabriel for making it happen. When it comes to education, I’m a fan. I’m CEO in Residence at the Judge Business School at Cambridge. I have profound respect for their traditions and history. But I come from a country with new in its name: New Zealand. They both inspire me.

In turbulent times that’s our challenge: respect the past and be inspired by the future. To keep the optimism and energy of youth, and couple it with focus and determination. I grew up poor so I see every day as an opportunity. It’s a great place to start – no matter what the bulls and the bears are doing.

The Chinese have a curse “May you live in interesting times”. Well, these are interesting times. For me, this is not a curse but a blessing.

When you leave here, look for 4 things:

  • Responsibility
  • Learning
  • Recognition
  • Joy

What are the big questions as you step out as a player onto the field of business? Here’s my top eight.


QUESTION 1: How can I stand out from the crowd?

You can stand out with emotion.  The people who can make authentic, emotional connections with colleagues, partners, clients, stakeholders, consumers, they are the ones who will be noticed. People are 80% emotion and 20% reason. Reason leads to conclusions. Emotion leads to action.  Neuroscience backs this up. NYU psychologist John Bargh says we evaluate everything as good or bad within a quarter of a second.  Make sure your ideas are entertaining, real, engaging, stimulating and lead to action.

Your job will be: To take action through Emotion. This comes from the “I”s and the “E”s.

  • I’s –  Imagination, Insight, Intuition, Inspiration and Ignition.
  • E’s – Emotion, Empathy, Energy, Exploration, Edge, Entertainment and Enchantment.

Entertainment creates emotional connections: In Britain more people voted for Pop Idol on television than voted in the general election. 32 million vs 27 million.

QUESTION 2: How do I weigh up all the conflicting advice?

You don’t. Welcome to the World of Paradox. The art of balancing two complex opposites at the same time, so they enhance each other. This is the essential skill in a fast-changing environment.

Take our client Toyota. The have succeeded beyond expectation through three economic crises – 1970s stagflation, the ’87 market collapse and the 1990s Asian collapse. How? By brilliant, disciplined and sustained use of paradox.

  • Move slowly and take big steps (Kaizen)
  • Grow steadily and be paranoid (exposure, cost, innovation)
  • Be frugal and spurge on key areas (turn the lights off and up the marketing)
  • Simplicity in internal communications and complexity in social networks
  • Rational value and emotional value

Your job: To avoid moderation. To fail fast and learn fast. To live your best life everyday.

QUESTION 3: Who’s in charge out there?

It’s sure not managers or bureaucrats, stakeholders or shareholders. It’s Consumers. Steer your course by one simple principle: The Consumer is Boss.

  • Consumers decide what they want, why, when and where they want it.
  • Understanding consumers is the fast track to smart and successful business.
  • If you’re close to consumers, you’ll learn faster.

If you want to understand how a lion hunts, don’t go to the zoo…go to the jungle. Don’t ask questions: observe, learn and live the consumer’s life. Your job will be: to give consumers what they never dreamed possible.

QUESTION 4: Where are we headed?

Information Economy, Knowledge Economy, Interruption Marketing, Permission Marketing, the Experience Economy, the Attention Economy.

Your job: To create Lovemarks.


QUESTION 5: What difference can Lovemarks make?

Brands have created huge value for companies. Coca-Cola’s brand is valued at $66 billion. IBM and Microsoft’s at almost $60 billion.  Toyota at $34 billion.

Imagine how much more value a Lovemark could bring when:

  • Brands are built on Respect. Lovemarks are created out of Love and Respect.
  • Brands are owned by managers and shareholders. Lovemarks are owned by the people who love them.
  • Brands create Loyalty for a reason. Lovemarks create Loyalty Beyond Reason.

The Love / Respect Axis shows the possibilities. We’ve positioned everything on here – from products to politicians.

  • Low Respect. Low Love. Commodities without differentiation. US Airlines are here and I suspect your own Aerolineas Argentinas. And Wall Street.
  • High Love. Low Respect. Fads, infatuations and fizzers.
  • High Respect. Low Love. “e-r” words: faster, bigger… cheaper.  Most brands.
  • High Love and High Respect. Lovemarks – authentic, true, sustainable – and loved. Examples in Argentina, steak and the Tango

Lovemarks create premiums with:

Mystery – Mixes dreams, icons and stories to create the attractions of the unknown. Stories matter. No one will listen to you if you can’t tell a good story.

“The highest-paid person in the first half of this century will be the story-teller.” – Rolf Jensen

Sensuality – Excite all five senses. Sight, scent, touch, taste and sound are the portals to the emotions. No problem in one of the most sensual countries in the world.

Intimacy – Empathy, commitment and passion. It’s the small touch, the perfect gesture that takes loyalty beyond reason. Empathy is a key skill in tougher times.

Your job: To transform Irreplaceable brands into Irresistible Lovemarks.

QUESTION 6: How can I do all this in Argentina?

You can do it because you come from the Edge – and that’s where great ideas come from. This is an Edge culture. Passionate, young, smart and ingenious.

  • Juana Molina. Young electro folk singer/ composer taking her songs to the world. She said: “one day I will sing the song with no lyrics and everyone can imagine for themselves if it’s about love, disappointment, banalities or Plato.” An expert on the Mystery of Lovemarks.
  • Marcus James has made his brand the number one Argentine wine in the US.
  • Run Don’t Walk – amazing street/ graffiti artists footing it with Banksy and the rest.

We live in the Age of the idea. Ideas are today’s currency. A great idea moves people to Act!

The fast track to great ideas is to Surprise with the obvious.

Turn around the more obvious idea of US marketing to Hispanic markets in South America – use your language and cultural advantages to make emotional connections with this consumer base.

Take an obvious fact and ask “Why…?”

Example – Why isn’t Argentine beef as famous and globally franchised as sushi?

The best ideas Think Global and Act Local.

QUESTION 7: What’s the role of business?

To make the world a better place for everyone.

Now more than ever there is an obligation for business to:

  • Connect the global flow of goods, ideas and investment.
  • Create jobs, choices, opportunities and self-esteem.
  • Unleash innovation. The purpose of innovation and ideas is to improve lives.

Join the shift from GREEN to BLUE:

  • Green is about the environment. Blue fuses environment, economy, society and culture.
  • Green is about fear. Blue is about radical optimism.
  • Green is about obligations. Blue is about opportunity.
  • Green is about the planet. Blue is about the people who live on it.

Your job will be: to ask “What can I do?”


QUESTION 8: How can I be the best I can be?


  • Focus (100 day plans)
  • Reinvention (Point not Lead)
  • Execution (Drive the important not the urgent)
  • Distribution (Great artists ship)
  • Accountability (RASCI)


  • Dream Big. Decide on your 5 year dream. Ask when you’re at your best. Decide what you’ll never do.
  • Join a company that gets it. Remember, it’s not the big who beat the small. It’s the fast who beat everyone.
  • Be passionately curious. The average 4-year-old asks 437 questions a day. How many do you ask – where you really want to know the answer?
  • Look and listen. Observing real people in the real world is the fast track to closer connections, inspiration and love. Start with your own family.