Fake it till you make it


Feeling down?  Feeling sad?  Want to be happier.  Well – here is the secret.  Smile!  People who smile are happy.  How easy was that.  Now you are happy.  No?

Not happy yet.  Well, keep smiling, it may take longer but it will work.  There is hard science behind it, but the photos sum it up neatly.  Hold a pencil in your lips without allowing it to touch your teeth.  You need to purse your lips and it makes your face muscles move into a frown.  This makes you feel sad.

Hold the pencil in your teeth without touching your lips, and you are forced into a smile.  The face muscles move into the happy smiling position, and endorphins are released into your system to make you feel happy all over.

If you want to be a happier person, smile intentionally for five minutes every morning.  OK you will feel like a fake, and you will feel awkward, but think of it like morning exercise, facial yoga.  You will feel happier.

Now there are dangers here. Being happier makes you more confident.  You will be open to wearing brighter clothes.  So do it.  Other people will be more open to approaching you and they will be nice to you and that will make you even happier.

Happy confident people also carry themselves differently.  Sit up straight, don’t slouch, walk with a bounce in your step.  Your body then becomes fooled into thinking you are healthy, and you don’t get sick.  No really!  Happy people get sick less than unhappy people, and they live longer healthier lives.

What else do happy people do?  They spend money on experiences rather than things.  They spend money on other people, or they give to charity.  If they have no money, they do things for other people or for the community in general.  Next time you see litter in the street, bend down, pick it up and put it in a bin.  You will be amazed at how great you feel about yourself for the rest of the day.

So if you are feeling sad and lonely, just be happy.  Fake happiness, and you will be happy.

Studies show that 50% of our happiness is genetic.  You can’t change that.  You may have been born a miserable git to a family of miserable gits.  10% of your happiness is down to circumstance.  If you have just lost your job, you are not going to be feeling really happy right now.  But 40%, a whopping 40% of your happiness is down to you.  Your attitude to you.  Your decision to be happy or to be sad and miserable.  BE HAPPY

Finally, money, beyond having the basics you need to live, does NOTHING to make you happy.  Winning the lotto will not make you happy.  Only you can do that.  So SMILE (Hold it, hold it, hold it……..

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile…………………………………….Charlie Chaplin et al

A message of concern!


This is the message of Vrillon, a representative of the Ashtar Galactic
Command, to you. For many years you have seen us as lights in the
skies. We speak to you now in peace and wisdom as we have done to your brothers
and sisters all over this, your planet Earth.

We come to warn you of the destiny of your race and your world so that you may
communicate to your fellow beings the course you must take to avoid the
disaster which threatens your world, and the beings on our worlds around you.
This is in order that you may share in the great awakening, as the planet
passes into the New Age of Aquarius. The New Age can be a time of great peace
and evolution for your race, but only if your rulers are made aware of the evil
forces that can overshadow their judgments.

Be still now and read, for your chance may not come again.

All your weapons of evil must be removed. The time for conflict is now past and
the race of which you are a part may proceed to the higher stages of its
evolution if you show yourselves worthy to do this. You have but a short time
to learn to live together in peace and goodwill.

Small groups all over the planet are learning this, and exist to pass on the
light of the dawning New Age to you all. You are free to accept or reject their
teachings, but only those who learn to live in peace will pass to the higher
realms of spiritual evolution.

Hear now the voice of Vrillon, a representative of the Ashtar Galactic Command,
speaking to you. Be aware also that there are many false prophets and guides
operating in your world. They will suck your energy from you – the energy you
call money and will put it to evil ends and give you worthless dross in return.

Your inner divine self will protect you from this. You must learn to be
sensitive to the voice within that can tell you what is truth, and what is
confusion, chaos and untruth. Learn to listen to the voice of truth which is
within you and you will lead yourselves onto the path of evolution.

This is our message to our dear friends. We have watched you growing for many
years as you too have watched our lights in your skies. You know now that we
are here, and that there are more beings on and around your Earth than your
scientists admit.

We are deeply concerned about you and your path towards the light and will do
all we can to help you. Have no fear, seek only to know yourselves, and live in
harmony with the ways of your planet Earth. We of the Ashtar Galactic Command
thank you for your attention. We are now leaving the plane of your existence.
May you be blessed by the supreme love and truth of the cosmos.



Photo:  Richard E Grand in “How to get ahead in Advertising”


As anyone who reads my blog soon learns, I end each post with a poem.  The purpose of the poem is to trap emotion.  Poetry is emotion encapsulated in word.  This blog is a record of my emotional state at any given point in time.

However, I learned something very new about the POEM this week.  It is an analysis frame for tracking public relations communications in a firm.

The acronym stands for Paid, Owned and Earned Media.

Paid Media are the messages that we pay for, mostly falling under the terms “Advertising” and “Promotions”.  Advertising is sometimes referred to as “Above the Line” ATL communications, with Promotions being “Below the Line” BTL.

There is a bit of debate surrounding the origin of the terms ATL and BTL.  My preference is for the following explanation.  Under the agency system an ad agency presented a bill to the client every month.  The bill was in two parts above and below a line.  The top part, ATL, billed the advertising creative and media placement for the month.  In this section the ad agency would detail the full retail cost of the media placement if purchased on its own.  Because ad agencies place large volumes in media, they receive huge discounts against the retail cost.  They pass some of these discounts on to the client, depending on client size.  For large clients they are able to display how much the client saved that month by being with the ad agency ( as opposed to making their own ads and buying retail price media space).  So the bill to the Marketing Manager was traditionally presented as a saving.  The ATL costs came from the Marketing budget.

Promotional activities are discounted from the cost of sales.  So product vouchers, BOGOFs, 50% extra, half price offer etc all come from the sales budget rather than the advertising budget.  So the Marketing Manager did not have to spend this money.  As a result the BTL was of less concern.

With paid media you own the message but not the medium.  You might advertise your alcohol product in the middle of a programme about alcoholism, or your beautiful auto ad might follow a road safety ad.  The issue of message control, reach and message cost is central to media debates.  As a rule the more expensive the medium is, the more control we have, and the less reach we have.  We gain the greatest reach at the lowest cost in the media where we relinquish the most control.

Owned Media are those where we control both the medium and the message.  A corporate website, an annual report, product brochures etc.  In general it is not the kind of channel that sets the world ablaze, but we do retain ownership and control of both the medium and the message.

Earned Media is the bear trap.  This is the place where we can gain column inches for free, but the story is not under our control.  It may not be telling the message we want to get out there.  At the high control end we have trade magazines, which beg for copy to generate interest in the publication.  These publishers are unlikely to publish a savage dissection of a good advertising client.  At the other end of the scale is social media, where audiences will routinely hijack your message for their entertainment.  If this damages your company, brand or product they don’t care.  In the past the earned media environment was dominated by PR companies who seeded the media with positive news stories, and who attempted some form of damage control when a negative story hit the presses.  Nowdays it is increasingly in the digital space where sharing a squash club with a national newspaper editor carries no weight.  In this space everyone is still learning.

The Advertising Poem

A man wakes up after sleeping under an advertised blanket,

on an advertised mattress, pulls off advertised pajamas,

bathes in an advertised shower, shaves with an advertised razor,

brushes his teeth with advertised toothpaste, washes with advertised soap,

puts on advertised clothes, drinks a cup of advertised coffee,

drives to work in an advertised car, and then, refuses to advertise,

believing it doesn’t pay.

Later when business is poor, he advertises it for sale.

Why is it?


Time and Tide wait for no man

Donal Time

The most important thing I learned about running my own business is this.  Time is what you sell.

Your time may be worth more or less than another person’s time.  You may introduce effort multipliers, sub-contract work to others & take on employees.  But time is an absolute.  Time is fixed.  Once lost it can never be recovered.

I am not the only person on the planet to come to this realisation.  All of the great people below arrived at the same conclusion from different starting points and in different contexts.  Whether you are Henry Ford driving an assembly line, or Golda Meir establishing national independence, time is an unforgiving juggernaut and you must master time or it will master you.

I am a stickler for punctuality, because punctuality is respect and lateness is rudeness.  My time is my commodity.  If you waste my time you devalue my commodity and by association you devalue me.

Arrogant people rudely waste the time of those they see as being beneath them.  Doctors and Dentists have “waiting rooms”, which are institutionalised time wasting spaces.  The message is clear, the doctor, or dentist, is more important than his or her patient.  The patient wastes time, the consultant does not.

Senior managers in business are often under time pressure.  They make junior managers and staff wait for them.  They arrive late to meetings and for appointments.  This may satisfy their craving for self-importance, but it is highly wasteful.  The time lost by a late senior manager cascades and snowballs from minutes of his time to hours of business time when you take into account all the time wasted by junior staff waiting for him/her.

If you want to increase productivity in your business begin with time.  Make time a religious mission.  Do not accept lateness.  Start meetings on time, wait for no person.  End meetings on time.  If an issue is unresolved it needs another time slot.  Treat everybody’s time with respect, regardless of how junior they are.  If you treat their time with respect, they will begin to value it more.  They will use it more wisely.

If you have a client who consistently wastes time, then build time into your costings.  Make them pay for their waste.  Don’t allow them to waste your time for free.

Finally, when you have freed up time, what do you spend it on?  My brother Rory once told me (tongue in cheek) “I can’t be bothered spending quality time with my kids.  I pawn them off with quantity!”  That’s a valuable way to waste time.  🙂 


It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste;  Henry Ford

Lost time is never found again;  Benjamin Franklin

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?  John Wooden

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you; Carl Sandburg

Waste your money and you’re only out of money, but waste your time and you’ve lost a part of your life;  Michael LeBoeuf

Time is what we want most, but what we use worst;  William Penn

Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it; M. Scott Peck

I must govern the clock, not be governed by it; Golda Meir


Sonnet VII: How soon hath Time, the Subtle Thief of Youth; by John Milton

How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,

Stol’n on his wing my three-and-twentieth year!

My hasting days fly on with full career,

But my late spring no bud or blossom shew’th.

Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth

That I to manhood am arriv’d so near;

And inward ripeness doth much less appear,

That some more timely-happy spirits endu’th.

Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,

It shall be still in strictest measure ev’n

To that same lot, however mean or high,

Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heav’n:

All is, if I have grace to use it so

As ever in my great Task-Master’s eye.



À la recherche du temps perdu is a novel by Marcel Proust, often translated as ‘Remembrance of Things Past’, or more literally ‘Searching for lost time’.  It is famous for the exploration of the theme of involuntary memory.  When the author dips a Madeleine in tea and eats it, he is transported psychologically to the time of his childhood, when he shared the same food with his aunt.  In the process his mind unlocks memories that were long forgotten.

The memory of the taste of Madeleine dipped in tea is a trigger to the memories stored when he was familiar with the taste.
Proust was contemporaneous with Freud, but there is no evidence that one read the other.  Each, in his own way, was exploring the power of the unconscious and pre-conscious mind.  Each was examining triggers to unlock suppressed or hidden memories.

My own work in Market Research has made frequent forays into the realms of pre-conscious thought.  I have worked with a clinical psychologist who is a proponent of the work of Jacques Lacan.  Lacan is a revisionist Freudian who explored language as a seat of meaning.  In the modern, consumerist, paradigm language as a seat of meaning has extended to brands, logos and products.  Product consumption constellations are a blueprint for understanding self-identity.

The point of this post, if any of my blog posts have a point, is to comment on self-identity and remembrance in the context of Remembrance Day, which is tomorrow.  The WW1 armistice  on the 11th hour, 11th day, 11th month gives us the anniversary upon which we remember those who fell in battle.

For us here in Ireland the wearing of the poppy is a foreign and rejected symbol.  It celebrated those who fell defending Great Britain.  After the Easter Rising in 1916 those Irish fighting in France found themselves on the wrong side.  They wore the Khaki of the British Imperialist oppressor rather than the Green of the Irish Volunteers.  Sadly, they were ‘unremembered’ by Ireland for 100 years.  Now, at last, we begin to recognise their right to remembrance.

An important step on this journey was the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Ireland.  She laid a poppy wreath in the war memorial garden in Islandbridge.  For many Irish people it was the first time that they were aware that we even had a monument dedicated to the Irish soldiers who fell in WW1.

However, I do not think the poppy will ever gain widespread acceptance in Ireland.  Already in England there is increasing rejection of the symbol.  For many it is increasingly seen as a celebration of military violence rather than a memoir of heroic sacrifice.

Conscientious objectors who choose not to wear the symbol are vilified by the bully boy tactics of proponents of the poppy.  This further reinforces the aggressive nature of the symbol.  Tune into British TV at this time of year and you quickly draw the conclusion that someone in the wings is pinning the things on everyone, regardless of their sympathies.

Two of my father’s grand-uncles wore Khaki in Gallipoli.  My grandfather wore the Green in the War of Independence.  If I choose to remember them it will be with the far older symbol of a sprig of Rosemary.  Like Proust’s tea-dipped Madeleine, the Greeks believed that the Rosemary herb improved memory.  So it became a symbol of remembrance.  Ophelia calls it such in Hamlet.  Poppies as symbols of remembrance are far more recent, and are accredited to the John McCrae poem.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Moving on

Chateau Magnol - gift box
Left John Player yesterday. Moving on to MCCP.
Had a really nice send-off. The GM Andy Meagher gave a very complimentary speech and the staff presented me with a lovely case of pretty good wine. Sampled one last night, and it is very pleasant. Chateau Magnol 2007 from B&G.
The last big thing we did was to launch JPS Black in the Irish Market. I will be keeping an eye on that one, because I think it has the potential to do great things, albeit in the limited context of one of the most tightly regulated markets in the world.
It will be a relief to get back to bright markets, where I am permitted to communicate with customers. My specialisation is understanding how consumers use products and services to express their own self identity. Having that understanding gives you little, if any advantage, in a dark market.
In recent months I came to realise that my role was becoming more and more focused on sales metrics rather than consumer insight. The time was right to move on. Understanding sales dynamics is well and good, but I don’t want to work long term in sales support.
This morning there was a hard frost. The grass should have stopped growing and the leaves are falling from the trees. It is time to sharpen the secateurs and begin pruning the apple trees. Changing job is the career equivalent to winter pruning for the fruit trees. There is an opportunity to reshape the tree, taking out dead or inefficient branches and making room for the high yield shoots.
So, in the coming weeks I will be examining my own career tree to see what branches need some work, and which ones can be pruned back. I wonder what the new me will look like. I also hope we get some apples next year.

A Song On the End of the World; by Czeslaw Milosz
translated by Anthony Milosz
On the day the world ends
A bee circles a clover,
A fisherman mends a glimmering net.
Happy porpoises jump in the sea,
By the rainspout young sparrows are playing
And the snake is gold-skinned as it should always be.

On the day the world ends
Women walk through the fields under their umbrellas,
A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn,
Vegetable peddlers shout in the street
And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island,
The voice of a violin lasts in the air
And leads into a starry night.

And those who expected lightning and thunder
Are disappointed.
And those who expected signs and archangels’ trumps
Do not believe it is happening now.
As long as the sun and the moon are above,
As long as the bumblebee visits a rose,
As long as rosy infants are born
No one believes it is happening now.

Only a white-haired old man, who would be a prophet
Yet is not a prophet, for he’s much too busy,
Repeats while he binds his tomatoes:
No other end of the world will there be,
No other end of the world will there be.