Winning In The Age Of Now

February 24, 2012

Presentation Summary

Presenting at the 2012 Entrepreneur Organization University held in Queenstown, New Zealand, Kevin Roberts shares with the world’s most influential community of entrepreneurs ideas and frameworks for “Winning in the Age of Now”.


My purpose today is to offer you some frameworks and ideas for maximum velocity in a super-networked world.

I’m going to talk about winning. Winning not through the command and control model of ‘strategize, process and persuade’, but through connecting, loving and inspiring.

This is the language of Peak Performance, the mark of a mega brand, the slam dunk of emotional engagement. Infomercials it is not!! In today’s life stream, this vector sells more stuff to more people at higher margins.

Winning is better than losing, business is a blood sport, and entrepreneurs are its warriors, born to bet the bank not work for it, driven to slaughter impossibility.

Getting into the winning frame has never mattered more to people because its alternatives are chaotic, viral and painful. We live in a VUCA world:

  • Volatile – Christchurch jolts to Greek shakes to Arabian Nukes to currency flips to 99% revolts.
  • Uncertain – Who foresaw the Arab Spring? Who saw Apple at $500 a share, except the celestial Steve Jobs?
  • Complex –  How can 7 billion people all have shelter, secure food, stay healthy, get along, feel great, be happy, pay for it all – and fight off aliens!!?
  • Ambiguous – Banks that can’t fund themselves. Small business owners pump economies, and yet they “get punched in the face daily for a living.” Software CEO.

Entrepreneurs are the super heroes of a VUCA reality, because only entrepreneurs can create a superVUCA world:

  • Vibrant – Half Facebook users access it from mobile devices.
  • Unreal – Self-creation. Kate Upton posts her YouTube dance video, becomes Sports Illustrated Swimwear cover girl in under a year. Super model success needs no runway!!
  • Crazy – ‘Linsanity’, Jeremy Lin. From D-league to NBA miracle point man. Talent is what you tap, not discover.
  • Astounding – Mark Inglis summit assaults!!

Creating superVUCA starts with an urge to surge.

As ESPN Coach of the Century, Vince Lombardi said: “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.”

The context for winning in business has shifted from production to people. People reign, not institutions, and people live at warp speed.

New doesn’t exist anymore. We live in a digital life stream, a forever NOW or never world.

It’s a field of instant expectation, instant availability and instant feedback.

There is no new, just NOW. We are in a screen revolution. We are all “screenagers.”

Liberated by technology, people navigate VUCA by living in the moment. 80% of happiness is in the Now.

People are driven by primary impulses to go to the brightest flash. The universal call is “make my moment”.

It’s the Age of Now.

Attention Participation
Inform Inspire
Interruption Interaction
Return on Investment Return on Involvement
Pumping Markets Creating Movements

Strategic planning is redundant. Nothing is ever finished. We are in permanent beta mode.

Winning comes down to surfing, not managing. The total focus must be on action. Do it now!

As Shimon Peres told me, “It’s not enough to be up to date; you have to be up to tomorrow.”

The 5 winning tracks to a SuperVUCA world:



  • WELCH-create shareholder value
  • DRUCKER-create and grow a customer
  • KR-make the world a better place for everyone.

Martin Luther King did not say “I have a mission statement.” He said ‘I have a dream.’

Great entrepreneurs dream of improving the world in some way, generating good living and wellbeing.

P&G dream of Touching Lives, Improving Life. Revenue doubled in a decade, not bad for a 175-year old company perceived by many as the heaven of process.

Steve Jobs’ dream? Think Different. This has created the world’s most valuable company. Emotionally-centric.

What is your company’s Dream? Is your business chugged by followers or is it powered by inspirers?

People want to be part of something bigger than themselves, home to work to go to shop.

‘Purpose-inspired’ switches price to priceless.

The dream matters because the customer question has changed from “how cheap are you?” to “how will you improve my life?”

The winning answers are “Purpose-inspired, benefit-driven”.


In business, reengineering and restructuring and re-everything have exhausted people and only add incremental growth.

There is a premium on originality. To deliver in the Now, takes the unreasonable power of creativity.

Revolution starts with language, and creativity is the winning app. Think CEO as “Chief Excitement Officer”; CIO “Chief Ideas Officer”; CMO the “Chief Motivation Officer.”

The Five Creative Keys:

  • Creative Leaders Work and Play at the Edge
    Radical change happens far from the center, on the margins of the species, the coasts of countries, out here on the edge of the world.Seek out the creative edges in your organization. Be inspired by them, fire them up. They can be people just as much places; or times of day and night.
  • Creative Leaders generate lots of small ideas, continuously.
    Big ideas are scarce, strung out over time, investment hungry.The big idea is usually stumbled on, found one degree away from where you are standing right now, or your audience makes it for you.
  • Creative Leaders pour in Emotion
    The Now is a sanctuary from yesterday’s regrets and tomorrow’s fears. It’s where we really live. And it’s where we feel good.The currency of the Now is emotion.Emotion is how an entrepreneur creates, a revelation sparks, a customer decides, a fan shares, and an idea scales. To win in the Now, a brand idea has to scale end to end.Emotion is how screens come alive in the Screen Age. Everything is digital, nothing is digital. It’s sisomojo!!Donald Calne: Reason leads to conclusions, emotion leads to action.
  • Creative Leaders are Disruptors
    Evolution takes centuries. Revolution takes 30 years.
    The Now demands constant disruption. It’s about: Reframing constantly: LEGO’s geek idea sourcer “Cuusoo” is open to global beta. The big brick is cycling product development at Internet speed; from years to months. Surprising with the obvious: Apple: retail stores. Philips: a clothes iron for men.To develop a pen that could write in space, NASA spent millions on advanced technology.The Russians used a pencil.
  • Creative Leaders ask three questions of any idea:
    Will people want to see it again?
    Will people want to share it?
    Will people want to improve it?


Today everything is a brand, nothing is a brand. To win, you have to engage the primary human drive.

Brands are owned by companies, marketers, and stockholders. Lovemarks are owned by the people who love them.

  • Brands are built on Respect. Lovemarks are created out of Respect and Love.
  • Brands build Loyalty for a Reason. Lovemarks inspire Loyalty Beyond Reason.
  • Brands deliver performance, respect and trust. Lovemarks infuse Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy, the stuff that matters.
  • Mystery: Danish futurist Rolf Jensen: “The highest-paid person in the first half of this century will be the story-teller.”
  • Sensuality: Android 4.0 is called Ice Cream Sandwich – it’s a pretty tasty treat. Rio de Janeiro is the city of sensuality.
  • Intimacy: NZ as investor paradise: In The WEF Executive Opinion Survey, 2011-2012, NZ was the No.1 country in anti-corruption, anti-bribery, independence of judiciary and investor protection.
  • Brands aim to be Irreplaceable. Lovemarks are Irresistible.


Give your people 3 questions:

  • When am I at my best?
  • What will I never do?
  • Where do I want to be in five years?

Give your people 4 things:

  • Responsibility
  • Learning
  • Recognition
  • Joy

5. To Win Now, MAKE IT A HABIT 

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately so is losing.

Winning fast and forever is about Peak Flow and Cool Tools.

Peak Flow
Winning is habit-forming ‘in the zone’, operating at Peak Flow day in day out, not just in times of crisis and not just at quarter end, for Peak Performance.

Flow comes from Inspirational Players focused on purpose-driving activities. This is radical optimism at work.

Flow puts people in the zone all the time. With more time in flow, organizations can:

  • Get beyond command and control
  • Deal with complexity
  • Build close relationships with partners
  • Have better ideas
  • Keep getting faster

Flow is Toyota-lean, Steve Jobs-lean, DarWIN lean. All systems and activities focus on creating customer value and delivering the Dream.

Flow combines passion and harmony, enabled by wellbeing, happiness through fulfilling true potential (signature strengths, reframing, personal purpose).

Passion is emotional connection with the Dream. It’s crazed want to win that knows no failure.

  • Dan Dennett said the secret of happiness is to find something bigger than yourself and then devote your life to it.
  • Winston Churchill. “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Harmony of individual and shared consciousness enables instantaneous decision making and delivery. It’s about:

  • Intuitive, instinctive, trusting relationships
  • Fluid flexible organization design
  • Rapid transparent communication
  • Open dialogue / regular feedback.

There are lots of Tools to Flow faster. Five:

  • 100 Day Plans; start with verb, add noun, ignite. From small to Big: “sell 1000 units”’ to “Achieve Middle-East Peace.”
  • Drive the important not the urgent. Goizueta: Meet, Beat, Repeat. KR: respond right now.
  • Fail Fast, Learn Fast, Fix Fast. P&G’s Marc Pritchard talks about ‘do-learn’ brand building – doing and learning simultaneously.
  • Blue Ocean: Eliminate – Reduce – Raise – Create. Eliminate is key.
  • De Bono: there’s no point at being brilliant at the wrong thing.

ADE: Assess, Decide, Execute.

From To
Assess 50% 20%
Decide 30% 10%
Execute 20% 70%


  • Enthusiasm:
    From the Greek “enthusiasmos” (literally, having the god within you.) Vince Lombardi: “If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.”Take your business to the next level. Invest in some kiwi edge. This land at the Edge is creative dynamite.
  • Empathy:
    Business flunks empathy. To win, put yourself in the audience’s heart, not the audience at your heart. U2 reinvented the concert with 360 by putting themselves at the center of the stadium.
  • Energy:
    Entrepreneur means ‘irresistible force of nature’, raw human energy. You are the chosen ones, the magic makers. The world needs you, so turn it up.

Let’s make the world a better place for everyone.

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