The Edinburgh Experience

My two weeks in Scotland were fantastic for a number of reasons. First off, Phil Adams and his family were lovely to me. We had so much fun I am still waiting for my application to join their family permanently to be approved.

Phil has four daughters.

And a wife.

Add me and we’re talking serious estrogen overload.

But somehow the dynamics worked gracefully.

The work week is a hectic proposition at their house. And I witnessed “back to school” in the last few days I was there. Phil’s commute is right at an hour door to door from his landed gentry estate surrounded by horse paddocks without a neighbor in sight. There’s a drive to the train station, a train ride into Edinburgh, and then a walk up a nice hill past the taunting sausage roll shop before you find yourself at Blonde.

Here’s the trip home in the car.

Phil already wrote a thoughtful post about the way we worked together. This was an evolution from the other places I’ve worked so far where I’ve mostly been given tasks or asked to attend meetings and share in group discussions. We actually worked together. We sat and did the stuff you would normally do by yourself, together. And it worked really well.

I learned loads from Phil. He’s a really good planner. Not least because he approaches life with openness and a willingness to learn that is inspiring. He’s a humble guy, but get him talking and you’ll hear about a donkey that got hit by a car and did a cartwheel while he was traveling across Asia doing the Mongol Rally. And it’s not just cool pub stories. Phil is full of useful ways to approach work. I gathered a few choice tips and tricks as well as some longer stories about the work he’s done that I learned a lot from.

To give you an idea, here’s one thing I learned. Phil has a workshop technique that he calls “The Totally Tough Tone of Voice Challenge.” I’m pretty sure you have to announce it in a “Let’s get ready to rumble!” voice.

The technique is for those meetings when you’re debating the brand personality words. The idea is that you cannot suggest a word where the opposite is not a viable choice for some brand as well. For example, we always hear marketing folks say their brand is authentic. In this exercise, this word would be eliminated because no brand would be purposefully inauthentic. I thought this would be a helpful tool.

I’ve been to 5 places already. It’s really hard for me to believe. I have another 5 people I’ll be working with in the coming months. And I’m still looking for volunteers in India, Australia and Argentina for sometime early next year. For now, I’ve got my head in my laptop. First item on the to do list is launch the planner survey, so expect to see that in the coming days.

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