How to Win in the Age of Now – Masterclass

February 10, 2014

Presentation Summary

Kevin Roberts presents a Masterclass as part of the London Creative and Digital Fusion Project, discussing what it takes to move a business to the next level and become a creative leader in a VUCA world. Within his speech Kevin discusses the ‘5 Es’ of what it takes to win in the age of now: elevate, energise, emotionalise, execute and enthuse.

Digital Girl

Vince Lombardi: “Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit.”

Growing as a SME means winning; and winning is a habit. I have a few ideas to get you scoring like Man City.

The contest to win, in any field, is set in a high-pace VUCA world: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous.

Growth in a VUCA world can’t be managed, marketed, strategized or engineered. To outstrip VUCA It must be created.

The stuff that grips and awes I call ‘superVUCA’:

Vibrant – Life is loaded with hope, fun and possibility. Connected cars, fitness-trackers, smart homes, mobile-learning…With a creative idea, Nothing is Impossible.

Unreal – New ideas trump old wealth, scale and knowledge.
Yahoo for Brit teen Nick D’Aloisio! $30m paid for Summly.

Crazy – The crazies win through. Are you edgy – or crazy!!?
Promoter Vince McMahon has the crazy gene – World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is to launch its own Internet-delivered network which bypasses the cable companies.

Astounding – Where the impossible, become the expected.

In 1995, most people had no idea what the Internet was.

Next up, the Internet of Things….

Business is a blood sport; you have to be ‘all in’.

We live in the always-on, impulse-led, instant Age of Now, a time of velocity, technology, connectivity, transparency.


  • The speed of communications rose by a factor of 10 million in the 20th century. Data transmission has soared by a factor of 10 billion.
  • Amazon just patented a way of shipping products before an order is placed – “anticipatory shipping”.
  • In Rome, police use Twitter to find illegally parked cars, and – being Italy – there’s no shortage!

Forget managing your way to glory in this blur. Go straight to the 21st century power source – people, and surf backwards:

Customers, consumers and shoppers are loaded with options and drunk on power. They see you, rate you and share you at warp speed.

To win, work back from how your audience feels in an imperfect moment, and it radically alters what you make, how you package it, sell it, brand it, distribute it.

Most insights are not insightful.

Information – Knowledge – Insight – Foresight

Information – Knowledge – REVELATION – Foresight

Lenovo (“For Those Who Do”), created the first global campaign for a Chinese brand.

The brief was for a single global idea adaptable in 32 markets.

The insight: Millennials see computers as a tool not a badge.

Here is something surprising.

Innovation Switch: Price → Priceless

The customer question is not: “What do you cost?” It’s: “How will you improve my life?”

  •  Xero reframed accounting to make it fun! (cloud-based accounting software for small businesses launched in New Zealand in 2001, now valued at $5 billion).
  • A flat or a full iPhone sucks… Enter Mophie space pack, an iPhone Case that protects and has a built-in battery pack and adds up to 32GB more storage.
  • No doorman in your New York apartment? Collect your Amazon packages 24/7 at 7-Eleven’s Amazon Lockers.

Does your creative solution feel priceless?

Communication Switch: Informing→ Inspiring

Marketing is dead, and screenagers don’t think about marketing channels – just inspirational and sharable moments that flow across their family of screens.

Your creative idea should connect seamlessly across, where and when it matters to the audience, building a core equity and driving buying momentum end to end.

There is an information tsunami. Ask yourself:

  •  Am I always-on or always-compelling?
  • Am I storytelling or story sharing?
  • Am I pumping markets or creating movements?

Conversion Switch: Return on Investment → Return on Involvement

People power makes winning about relationships not transactions, and the slow burn of B2B is powered by relationships.

B2B = P2P. Nothing beats face to face, a “live” connection. Faster! Get beyond LinkedIn. Listen to customers, be super-interactive, inspire and build.

Big Data? It gets you ahead of your customer, to where the puck is going, and shows that you have creds and chops; Big Emotion turns ‘whatever ‘or ‘maybe’ to ‘yes’.

Reason leads to conclusions; emotion leads to action.

To help you win in the Age of Now, I’ll share my 5Es.

#1 Elevate

Winners inspire others to deliver. They continuously challenge themselves and coach others to achieve a Dream.

To inspire people today you must:

  • Team / Family
  • Work / Life Integration
  • Responsibility
  • Learning
  • Recognition
  • Joy

#2 Energize

We live in the Age of the Idea.

Ideas are the currency of the future.

Through the unreasonable power of creativity, Creative Leaders make magic happen.

Steps to Creative Leadership:

Creative Leaders start with language

Revolution begins with language.

At Saatchi & Saatchi:

  • CEO = Chief Excitement Officer
  • CMO = Chief Magic Officer
  • CIO = Chief Ideas Officer

We hire wizards, pirates, renegades and outlanders.

Find the right language, and the world comes to you.

Creative Leaders have lots of small ideas, continuously.

Creative Leaders reframe constantly

Steve Jobs, presence into absence.

Captain Kirk: 

  • Spock says to Kirk: ‘Captain we are checkmated.’
  • Kirk says to Spock: ‘Not Chess Mr. Spock – poker. Do you know the game?’

Creative Leaders surprise with the obvious.

‘Space Pen’ – To develop a pen that could write in space, NASA spent millions on advanced technology. The Russians used a pencil.

Creative Leaders ask 3 questions of any idea:

  • Will people want to see it again?
  • Will people want to share it?
  • Will people want to recreate it?

#3 Emotionalise

Today everything is a brand. Emotionality is how you become bigger than a brand, a Lovemark.

Brands are owned by brand managers, accountants and stockholders. Lovemarks are owned by the people who love them.

Brands are built on Respect. Lovemarks are created out of Respect and Love.

  • Low Respect. Low Love. Commodities
  • High Love. Low Respect. Fads
  • High Respect. Low Love. Brand land. Tablestakes. In B2C, respect is a chip to lose. In B2B, respect has to be won. Respect is table stakes in a parity reality.
  • High Love. High Respect. Lovemarks. In a market of equals, love is how you tip the scales.

Lovemarks can exist in any category, even something as mundane as insurance.

Brands build Loyalty for a Reason. Lovemarks inspire Loyalty Beyond Reason.

Great brands were irreplaceable. Lovemarks are irresistible.

The three secrets of Lovemarks take you across the line.

MYSTERY – It’s what we don’t know that has most value.

Do your ideas, content, screens, story pull people in?

SENSUALITY is Sight, Sound, Scent, Touch and Taste, the enthrallers of emotions.

People operate on all five senses. Are you stimulating all of these? Is your customer experience – back office to front screen – sensual at every touch point, or is it transactional?

INTIMACY is empathy, commitment and passion.

In B2B, where things are equal in the market, the perfect touch tips the scales.

#4 Execute

In the Now, execution is the killer app:

A D E:                From                To

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

Shift from ‘Getting things done’ to ‘making things happen.’

  •  100 day plans
  • Fail Fast, Learn Fast, Fix Fast.
  • Get your retaliation in first.
  • Drive the important not the urgent.
  • Reduce a promise to OWE.

#5 Enthuse!

Winston Churchill said: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Enthusiasm is from the Greek “enthousiasmos” (literally, having the god within you.).

Consider yourself immortal. Where to from here?

  1. Get pissed off with normality, and change it.
  2. Revel in adversity
  3. Cause earthquakes.
  4. Don’t farm, hunt
  5. Be an irresistible force nature.

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