Up, Up and Away – Winning in the Age of Now

September 3, 2012

Presentation Summary

Presenting to the Entrepreneurs Club in Auckland, New Zealand, Kevin Roberts shares his insights, thoughts and approach to “Winning in the Age of Now”.

All Blacks Kieran Reid

“Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is”

– Vince Lombardi

As entrepreneurs, you all want to win, for yourselves, your families and for New Zealand.

Winning is better than losing. The alternatives to winning bring chaos and calamity, as Europe’s Club Med countries are experiencing.

NZ can’t cut or coast its way to glory. It’ll be you ballsy billion-or-bust entrepreneurs who power us up.

I’m going to talk about how to do this, how to win in an ‘always on’ world that’s instantly-connecting, a wow-me-now time when a win is a 100 day dash for glory.

This is the surge, the strike of an entrepreneur, where winning means hard core attitude applied to a sensitive soft core, people, powered up by technology yet shaken up by a VUCA world.

Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous

The job of the entrepreneur is to combat VUCA, to outstrip it, to reframe it as superVUCA:

Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy, Astounding

I’m a radical optimist. In VUCA times, there’s nothing else to be!! The only way is UP.

Here are 5 winning tracks to deliver a SuperVUCA world:

#1. To Win Now, ENTER THE NOW

The context for winning in business has shifted from production to people.

People are digitally indulged and escaping VUCA into the moment where they feel best. 80% of happiness is in the Now.

It’s a time of instant expectation, instant availability instant feedback and instant success or failure.

Winning is about velocity, not strategy. Management is dead, marketing is dead too.

Have an inspired purpose, a dream, feel the pulse of the people – and then go forward in 100 day steps.

A win today is a dream on a deadline. Martin Luther King did not say: “I have a Mission Statement.”

New is dead here. Now is alive. It’s the Age of Now.

The total focus must be on action. Stay in permanent beta mode, constantly adjust, and rip the moment.

The key shifts:









Return on Investment

Return on Involvement

Pumping Markets

Creating Movements

“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.”
-Vince Lombardi

An entrepreneur is the difference between getting things done and making things happen.

In the Now, execution is the killer app, and winning is a habit.

Key moves:

  • Drive the important not the urgent.
  • Meet, Beat, Repeat.
  • Respond right now.
  • Fail Fast, Learn Fast, Fix Fast.

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

Blue Ocean: Eliminate – Reduce – Raise – Create. Eliminate is key.

De Bono said there’s no point at being brilliant at the wrong thing.

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


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.

Having creative solutions, being creative, leading creative ideas, being a creative leader – these are the new benchmarks of peak performing organizations.

Revolution starts with language:

  • CEO as “Chief Excitement Officer”
  • CIO as “Chief Ideas Officer”
  • CMO  as “Chief Magic Officer.”


1. Pour in Emotion

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.

Emotion is how screens come alive in the Screen Age. Everything is digital, nothing is digital.

To win in the Now, a brand idea has to scale end to end.

The mixer of emotion is Sight Sound and Motion, rocket fuel for winning people over.

You are all in the action business. Donald Calne: Reason leads to conclusions, emotion leads to action.

2. 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.

3. Be a Disruptor

Evolution takes centuries. Revolution takes 30 years.

The Now demands constant disruption. It’s about:

  • Reframing constantly.
  • Presence into absence.
  • Surprising with the obvious.

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

4. Flow

In Flow, dream-driven activities work to energize productivity and creativity.

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

5. 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?

#3. To Win Now, Inspire Others to Deliver

“I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour – his greatest fulfilment to all he holds dear – is that moment when he has to work his heart out in a good cause and he’s exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.” – Vince Lombardi

Rap On: Managers, leaders and inspirers

Continuously challenge yourself and coach others to achieve the Dream.

To inspire people today you must have:

  • Team / Family
  • Work / Life Integration
  1. Responsibility
  2. Learning
  3. Recognition
  4. Joy


Today everything is a brand, nothing is a brand. To win, engage the higher 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: It’s what we don’t know that has most value. Danish futurist Rolf Jensen: “The highest-paid person in the first half of this century will be the story-teller.”
  • Sensuality enthralls the emotions, Vision, Sound, Scent, Touch, Taste.
  • Intimacy is empathy, commitment, passion. It’s the small touch, the perfect gesture, you in the audience’s heart, not the audience at your heart.

Ritz-Carlton changed “Please stay with us” to “Let us stay with you.” Priceless.

Brands aim to be Irreplaceable. Lovemarks are Irresistible.

#5. To Win Now, START WITH 3Es

  1. 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.”
  2. Edge: Change happens at the margins, the fringes, the crazy edges. The further you are from orthodoxy and conformity at the center, the more you can make things happen. This is where kiwis rock. Your job: be the world’s edge.
  3. Energy: Entrepreneur means ‘irresistible force of nature’, raw human energy; and you are the magic makers. NZ needs you, so turn it up.

Get pissed off with VUCA, and make the world a better place for everyone.

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