Winning the World – Georgetown University, Washington

February 24, 2014

Presentation Summary

Kevin Roberts delivers a presentation to Georgetown University, discussing how to win the world and succeed in the Age of the Idea. Kevin describes 5 key ideas for winning.

Winning in the world

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

We live in a VUCA world:

Volatile – markets, politics, plate tectonics.

Uncertain – jobs, careers, futures.

Complex – income inequality; economic shift to the East.

Ambiguous – more obese people than starving.

The textbook approaches of strategizing, managing and planning ways to win are too slow in a VUCA vortex.

Data and analytics are giving us all x-ray vision, but success is about ripping the moment, riding a wave, building a movement.

Your job is to create a “superVUCA” world.

Vibrant – Wearable tech, connected cars, smart-homes, mobile-learning, instant shopping, crowd funding….

Unreal – New ideas trump old wealth, scale, knowledge and information, all that stuff is on Google tap.

Power has left the supply side, the audience rules, and this is the Age of the Idea. Ideas are the currency of the future.

Crazy – In the Age of the Idea, the crazies win through. Are you edgy – or crazy!!? Résumés designed as a Wild West wanted poster and a candy wrapper got people hired.

Astounding – Where the impossible becomes the expected.

To win… 5 Ideas:

#1 Be Purpose-driven

The secret of your success comes down to 3 questions only you can answer.

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

There are people who say “follow your dreams” is misguided advice.

I disagree. Sure, people will fail, but without dreams there will never be progress, in life or in society. Dreams aren’t just aspirational, they are foundational.

Martin Luther King did not say “I have a mission statement”.

Great countries, companies, teams, brands, people – they are purpose-inspired, spirits in fusion that expand the horizon and create the future together. The luxury and retail businesses? They run on dreams.

Retail is an excitement machine! Whether you go into business, government, entertainment, sport or space travel, answer the one audience question that counts. Not “How good are you?” not “What do you cost?” … but: “How will you improve my life?”

Make a difference, and you become priceless.

Once you’re on the dream track, you need fuel:

  • Responsibility
  • Learning
  • Recognition
  • Joy

In equal measure everyday, they add up to peak performance.

#2 Be a Creative Leader

In the Age of the Idea, there is a premium on originality.

Creativity has unreasonable power, and Creative Leadership is how you accelerate.

Creative Leaders have lots of small ideas, continuously

Creative Leaders reframe constantly

Steve Jobs, presence into absence.

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 (even though they only got four Olympic rings to show).

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?

Creative Leaders generate real insight

Most insights are not insightful.

Information – Knowledge – Insight – Foresight Information – Knowledge – REVELATION – Foresight

#3 Think with your Heart

Reason leads to conclusions.

Emotion leads to action. Brands are dead.

The challenge is to be bigger than a brand, a Lovemark.

A Lovemark is what you must create, what you want to share, where you want to work, who you want to be.

  • 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.
  • Great brands were irreplaceable. Lovemarks are irresistible.
  • 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 people care about.

#4 Inspire Everyone You Touch

Leadership is the defining difference. Leadership is about continuously challenging yourself and coaching others to achieve a Dream.

The #1 job of a leader is to create new leaders.

Inspire others to deliver is about: – Playing like a team and feeling like a family (P&G). –

Those 4 factors again:

  • Responsibility, Learning, Recognition, Joy
  • To create a unifying, challenging, demanding, loving culture.
  • One team; one dream.
  • Work / Life integration – What must you do to lead?

Keep it simple

Colin Powell: ‘Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.’ Listen

The four most important words in any organization are …

“What do you think?” (Dave Wheeler, posted at

Walk through fire Shimon Peres:

  1. ‘Leadership is based on a moral call.’
  2. ‘A leader must pioneer, not rule.’
  3. ‘It’s not enough to be up to date; you have to be up tomorrow.’
  4. ‘Leaders must have the courage to be afraid, to be alone.’
  5. ‘When you have a chosen a destiny… never give up.’
  6. ‘Everything that once was controversial ultimately becomes popular.

Maintain a Blue Head Red Head.

H.O.T – Heated, overwhelmed. Tense in pressure situations.
Off task, panicked, ineffective.

Blue Head – On task under pressure, maintain clarity and accuracy, optimal state, at your best.

Control your attention, therefore thoughts, you can manage emotion and enhance performance.

#5 Fail Fast, Learn Fast, Fix Fast

Relentless execution is the killer app.

In the Moment World, this is an understatement. Shift from ‘Getting things done’ to ‘Making things happen’.

In the Now, execution is the killer app:

A D E:                From                To

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

Revolution begins with language.

My job title is Worldwide Chief Excitement Officer.

We hire wizards, pirates, renegades and outlaws.

Here are three big E words to go:


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.).

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


Don’t gravitate to the centre – to orthodoxy, conformity and safety. Head to the edge, where risk and reward are highest, where great change happens.


To create shareholder value
To create and grow a customer
To make the world a better place for everyone

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