My name is David Sadler-Smith and I am a Genericolic

whiskey
I was putting together a bio for myself and reviewing a selection of my work trying to get a sense of what really sets me apart from others. An easy task I thought, so I started wading through the ad material, DM’s, brochures, PR etc. that I had created over the years looking for what stood out. It was during this self-examination (which is never pleasant as I tend to end up asking the question – what difference has my life works actually made to people?) I was taken aback by the amount of Generic content that I had created. Generic content …bloated copy lines, superfluous visuals, elaborate typesetting etc. etc. … all the stuff we use to frame and guild our story.
What really shook me was the Generic stuff seemed to be growing to the point where in some cases it appeared to be the story (non- story might be a more appropriate term)… I had become a Genericolic.

A good test for Genericolicism is to remove your name or logo from a piece of communication material (websites are particularly good places to start) and replace it with a competitors and see if you notice the difference.

It was after a quick scoot around online and reviewing others web content that it became clear to me that Genericolicism was widespread and I was in fact part of an epidemic. Corporate website and marketing material was awash with.

“an extensive range of strategies and solutions to unnamed problems covering every market sector. Putting the customer first and leveraging untold levels of expertise in whatever subject matter might interest you… your problem our solution… in partnership together”

Here’s a real one “We can help you to seamlessly integrate data to inform business decisions and actions in ways that allow your team to respond faster to evolving business priorities. We can advise you how to innovate using data and analytics, how to drive excellence in operations, and how to deliver modern data & analytics platforms.” … that’s IBM

Generic content isn’t a bad thing (thank god… as I seem to earn living creating it) and it is often an essential framing element to any communications. A story needs context and its relevance and usefulness needs to be easily decoded by the audience. What makes something different however, can be quite subtle and is easily choked by the contextual stuff and the so-what.

Whether you are on your way to becoming Genericolic or like me you have the full blown disease here are 4 things you should consider doing.

  1. Admit you are sufferer – only then can you truly separate out the Generic content from the Heroic stuff
  2. Don’t go cold turkey – Generic copy is not bad… it’s just not the story, not even the glue… it’s just a framework. Yes… build your framework but save your creativity for what makes your story different and useful to others.
  3. Apply the test for Genericolicism to every piece of work you do.
  4. Join the mailing list – there is strength in numbers and there’s always relief to be had when you learn about others that are suffering more than you.

As a sufferer it’s not all bad news. There maybe no cure and you may just have to accept that on occasions your prolific skill to spout marketing fluff will be leveraged across multiple communications platforms… oh shit, but like all good addictions you will be able to spot yours and the Generocism of others a mile off and it could be just that which sets you apart when you’re next presenting your ideas or life’s work to a prospective client or employer.

Advertisements

Lost, alone, scared… or just in transit

From the outside, life for me looks very typical… work, children, romance, friends, family etc. But each piece occupies its own space… its own room. Where my life may differ from some is in the scarcity of common connections to these rooms. Not a shared lobby or a corridor in sight… at least that’s how it feels for me at the moment. This is not by design… just how it is. Pulling these different elements of my existence closer together feels increasingly essential… I have a fear that these places can’t all coexist in isolation and at some point they need to be more interconnected in order to make something fuller and more rewarding.

...a door to a disconnected life

…a door to a disconnected life

One outcome of my disjointed life is the large chunks of time that I spend alone… more so than at any other time in my life.  A lot of my alone time is spent travelling between my disconnected rooms or when I’m resting between journeys at my little rented house.

Anyone who spends time alone knows that periods of “self-examination” are mandatory. Reflecting on what life has dished up so far and dreaming & planning the future. In my experience self- examination is rarely just about reminiscing and planning. Time alone can weigh heavy and pose difficult questions which often lead to self criticism which can be a harsh experience.  If you take a peek into my car on one of my journeys you can observe man being alone.  And there’s every chance that you’ll see me musing my future but you are just as likely to witness me delivering  a good talking to myself…  after all I’m way beyond the midway point of my life and I’m not sure that my life should be so fragmented… and why so much time alone.

For me these moments of self-deconstruction are largely fleeting. They often leave me with a sense of what true loneliness maybe feels like… but for most of us they are just moments, if we raise our heads we can see the doors to our interconnected rooms and the bigger picture.

For some, maybe many, the loneliness feels more permanent. Maybe they live in a room that is empty with no doors… not even an exit… no way out; or maybe they’ve arrived at what they thought was their ideal place but have accumulated so much baggage on their journey that they feel totally exhausted and now feel trapped by the weight of the things around them; or maybe they are being held hostage by people that were once travelling companions but have become their jailers; or maybe they’ve been in their room for too long and they’ve become too scared to open an unexplored door; or maybe the door is locked and they’ve lost the key; or maybe they’re looking at the doors waiting for someone to come in and rescue them; or maybe they’ve been abandoned and left frozen staring out of an open door.

Whilst I long for a life with connected rooms where my life flows effortlessly between them, I am grateful for the rooms I have… they provide great variety, challenges and opportunities. My fear remains however, unless I can pull them together they may become further detached and pull me apart in the process.

Ironically as soon as my vision of a fully connected existence enters my head I get thoughts and concerns about how I preserve my alone time which I now consider a friend… albeit a “know-all” with a big mouth… maybe I need another door… a door to a shed maybe.

...my resting place

…my resting place

Procrastination… doing the dinosaur!

After long period of doing nothing I’ve recently got things moving with my blog… but this weekend I can feel an old demon sitting on my keyboard calling at me “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after. “ Mr Procrastination.

Oh dear I can feel the excuses begin to wash over me… maybe tomorrow… I think the ironing needs doing… I need to relax… I should call my mum… I really must dust the skirting boards… I’ll just check my email… a game of angry birds might get me in the mood.

Usually I barely recognise procrastination setting in… that is unless I take a look at the pile of unopened letters on my kitchen worktop. But I was alerted to its presence this week whilst on the Eurostar to Paris. Whilst I was surfing the net on my smart phone I came across an article on the bbc website about procrastination – ironically it had caught my attention because I had promised myself I would use the time on the train to prepare for the meeting in Paris and here I was having convinced myself that the preparation I needed for the meeting was to play with my phone and chill out – well it was 6.00am. The article wasn’t offering much in the way of advice to overcome the affliction; it was a list of reader’s tales of procrastination. This was far more therapeutic … there’s something comforting about knowing that you’re not suffering alone. One story in particular made me chuckle; I’ve recounted it below.

A friend of mine, who I’ll call “Dave” (because that was his name), said he would do anything to avoid A-level revision. At one point he infamously found himself weighing the cat, convinced that he would only be able to settle down to work if he had that data to hand. As a result, some 25 years later, the act of procrastination is referred to by my family as “weighing the cat”.

If you want to read the others on the bbc website follow the link.

Now where’s that cat.

51 shades of Grey

“Just do it”, “Think different”, “Never knowingly undersold”, “ahh Bisto” these are great taglines and have been backed over the years with millions of pounds. But not all taglines are born equally and most are not sired by an aristocratic brand leader or have the marketing budgets to get into our psyche. Some are dull or just a description of what a company or product does and others are lazy or just misleading. The M25 is full of such marketing masterpieces “the good”, “the bad” and “the pig ugly”. Having conceived and given birth to a few ugly buggers of my own, I’m always on the look out for amusing examples. A couple in particular caught my eye at the beginning of this week.

Seymour Transport a big red truck that I was parked behind on the M25…  the tagline… “Logistics Magicians”. Inspired… yes that’s exactly what I want from my distribution company a service that gives me a “Now you see it”, “Now you don’t”… and look “Now you see it at a location nowhere near where you were expecting it”… applause. Not quite tagline gold, though I am familiar with that particular type of delivery service. Luggage at the airport is a good example. Now you see it at Gatwick… then you don’t see it in Majorca… but just when you think it’s gone… hey presto it’s on the carousel in Chicago… more applause.  The empty luggage carousel is one of life’s most depressing situations, it’s a bit like looking for that £20 note you thought you still had after a night out and then comes the realization that you bought the last round of drinks including a few extra for some random Doris types hanging around the bar… a wretched thought… what was I thinking.

The other tagline that caught my eye this week was on the side of a truck. “Delivering the Gold” … how exciting… what was it promoting you might be wondering… well probably not what you might think… “Delivering the Gold” pertains to the new Gold Combi-Bolier from Potterton. Yes a boiler… the Potterton marketing team must have worked long and hard on the conception of that one. I say conception but I think that line was more likely the outcome of a finger fumble in the stationery cupboard.  “Delivering the Gold” sounds like an over promise to me… do they honestly believe people see a boiler as some kind of lifestyle or luxury purchase… picture the scene your girlfriend is just coming through the front door and you excitedly beckon her “Hi baby come into the kitchen I’ve got a surprise for you” just as she comes through the door you turn on the hot water tap… the Potterton Gold fires up and your honey is greeted by hot water filling the sink… a steamy scene straight from 50 shades of grey you’d think… but no… she hasn’t quite made the connection between a combi boiler and gold trinkets… panic; the Potterton marketing flunkies have really let you down and the only finger fumbling you’ll be doing tonight is when you make that call to Seymour, the Logistics Magicians, to request a Houdini like transportation of  your sorry backside out of there.

Potterton boiler

Couldn’t quite fit it all in and getting out of the car wasn’t really an option

David Sadler-Smith

Crossing an ocean

FRINTON-ON-SEA, Essex – 19th August 2012 (click to enlarge)

That’s a great quote and it’s one I try to remind myself of when I have a decision to take or, more frequently for me these days, when things take an unexpected turn.

And if you’re thinking about crossing an ocean, remember that as you get older your past has a habit of turning around and looking back at you…  so be sure to leave nothing important behind.

Connecting a past with a future

A departure from the wit. I recently took this picture from a bridge on the A12 close to where I live – no I wasn’t about to jump. I pass under this bridge everyday and as the road begins to rise you get this horizon.

 click picture to enlarge>>>

The A12 really is an artery for me, I can look in either direction and conjure up the many beginnings and endings from the past 15 years – that’s how long it’s been my neighbour. Looking backwards  it’s become an anchor to great memories and it’s always my starting point for new journeys so will remain an inspiration for my future.