When The Going Gets Tough – Winning In The Age Of Now

May 3, 2012

Presentation Summary

At the BEST Leadership Academy Distinguished Speaker Series in Auckland, New Zealand, Kevin Roberts shares insights, ideas and experiences from his career and lays down the leadership track for sustained winning.

Best Leadership Kevin Roberts group photo

I’m going to talk about winning, where leadership is the defining difference.

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately so is losing.

Winning matters because it’s a VUCA world, and who wants to go backwards or standstill?

Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous.

But we have reframed this to SUPERVUCA.

Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy, Astounding.

I believe in three things:

  1. Nothing is Impossible
  2. Inspirational Players change the world.
  3. The role of business is to make the world a better place for everyone.

With that framework here are five thoughts on Winning in our SuperVUCA world.

#1 Win With Purpose

Getting ahead starts with three personal purpose questions, which create critical winning mass:

  1. When am I at my best?
  2. What will I never do?
  3. What’s my 5 year dream?

Dreams are at the heart of all great endeavors.

Apple: “Think Different’.

Saatchi & Saatchi:  To be revered as the hot house for world changing creative ideas that transform our clients’ businesses, brands and reputations.

Today people want to be part of something bigger than themselves – from work to play, screen to store, home to travel, from consuming to sustaining.

The primary question people have in the marketplace, in any place, is not “How cheap are you?” but “How will you improve my life?” Show me you are priceless, by turning my day around.

: The role of a leader of any organization is to get people to believe…and inspire them to be the best they can be in pursuit of that dream.

#2 Win At Speed

My first job was with fashion legend Mary Quant. Mary hired me when I said I’d go anywhere, do anything, for half the price of anyone else, and double her sales.

The pace was incredible. Quant was growing at 500% a year with a product life-cycle of about nine months.

That’s nine months to conceive, produce, launch, sell – and then discontinue a complete line. In marketing terms that’s like having the life-cycle of a mayfly.

What was Quant speed is today warp speed.

In this Age of screenagers, of people power, of instant sharing and scaling, of teens in T-shirts creating billion dollar companies, all bets are off.

Management is dead. Strategy is dead, ballistic defeats strategic. New is old, it’s the Age of Now.

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

The total focus must be on action, creating a movement at warp speed.

Have an inspired purpose, the dream – and then go to it!

  • 100 day plans
  • Drive the important not the urgent.
  • Fail Fast, Learn Fast, Fix Fast.
A D E: From To
Assess 50% 20%
Decide 30% 10%
Execute 20% 70%

 Winning is not about getting things done. 
It’s about making things happen.

#3 Win Through Emotion

Human beings are emotionally-powered. Without emotion, no one achieved anything worthwhile.

The currency of this Age of Now is emotion, because emotion rules the intensity of the moment.

People navigate VUCA by living in the moment, away from yesterday’s regrets and tomorrow’s fears.

Now is when we feel good. 80% of happiness is in the Now, where anticipation is immediate, and superVUCA delivers riveting response.

Winners put themselves in the audience’s heart, not the audience at their heart. Ritz-Carlton changed “Please stay with us” to “Let us stay with you.”

Emotion cuts through the information tsunami. It powers insight, decision, scale and growth. I once told the Tongan tourism industry, to be Tongamazing!!!

Outtake: Brain scientist Donald Calne sums up best: Reason leads to conclusions; emotion leads to action.

When everything is a brand, winning is about being bigger than a brand.

  • 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. Beyond Attribute, Benefit, Range, Price.
  • Brands deliver performance, respect and trust. Lovemarks infuse the three secrets of emotional power, Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy.
  • Brands aim to be Irreplaceable. Lovemarks are Irresistible.

Every relationship floats somewhere on this Love / Respect axis, which gauges its power.


Love Respect Axis Lovemarks
  • Low Respect. Low Love. Commodities.
  • High Love. Low Respect. Fads.
  • High Respect. Low Love. Brands.
  • High Love and High Respect. Lovemarks.

Outtake: The job of every leader is to create a Lovemark.

#4 Winning Is Driven By Ideas

In business, reengineering and restructuring and re-everything have exhausted people and at best only add incremental growth…at the expense of people.

To win, you must grow.

To grow, you must unleash the reasonable power of creativity.

The Age of Now audience asks three questions:

  1. Do I want to see it again?
  2. Do I want to share it?
  3. Do I want to improve it?

To create a climate where ideas rule you must yourself become a Creative Leader…

Four things to do:

  1. Change the language. Change CEO to “Chief Excitement Officer”.
  2. Reframe constantly. Steve Jobs reframed presence into absence.
  3. Go for lots of small ideas, continuously.
  4. Surprise with the obvious. To develop a pen that could write in space, NASA spent millions on advanced technology. The Russians used a pencil.

Creativity is the winning app.

#5 Winners Inspire Others To Deliver

Inspirational Leaders continuously challenge themselves and coach others to achieve the Dream.

Inspiration goes ever longer distances.

To inspire people today you must have:

  • Team / Family
  • Work / Life Integration

Demand and give:

  1. Responsibility
  2. Learning
  3. Recognition
  4. Joy

The future is inspiration-up, not Institution-down.

I believe transformative change comes from individual actions. Corporates look for balance; solutions to the world’s problems will come from crazy individuals.

And that’s what I meant earlier when I said the role of business is to make the world a better place.

This is the basis of Saatchi & Saatchi True Blue movement.

  • Green is about the environment. True Blue fuses in economic social and cultural.
  • Green is about fear. True Blue is about optimism. Martin Luther King did not say “I have a nightmare.”
  • Green is about obligations. True Blue is about opportunity.
  • Green asks “What’s to be done?” True Blue asks: “What can I do?”

“Nothing is impossible”

Filter Speeches

Subscribe to our newsletter

To stay updated with the latest workshops & speeches

Subscribe Now