Winning In A High Velocity World – YPO

Sunday, 10 May 2015

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Presentation Summary

Kevin Roberts was the special guest speaker at the YPO-WPO Growing Your Business Program 2015 held at the London Business School. YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization) is a not-for-profit, global network of chief executives connected around the shared mission of becoming Better Leaders Through Education and Idea Exchange™.

Winning is the hallmark of leadership, and is represented by accelerated growth in sales volumes, share, margins and reputational capital. We live in the Age of Now where decision-making and delivery has to be instantaneous and continuous. Conventional business methods are inadequate for creating advantage in today’s accelerated reality. This presentation traverses the frameworks and actions needed for operating, growing and winning at high velocity. Drawing from leadership roles as Chairman, CEO and Head Coach at the top of world business, Kevin shares the performance and leadership keys for winning in an intense and competitive world.


Growing a business is about winning, and winning has got tougher because we live in a VUCA world which is: Volatile. Uncertain. Complex. Ambiguous.

Business has to take people beyond VUCA to a more inspired place, because people have the power to choose, to switch, to protest, to ignore, to engage. SUPERVUCA! Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy and Astounding.

To deliver SUPERVUCA in a high-speed world you have to be on the front foot 24/7. Entrepreneurs have to know their ABCs:

  • Ambition.
  • Belief.
  • Courage.

We live in the real-time Age of Now—a metaverse of instant connections, expectations, anticipations, gratifications.

In a Moment World, management, Doing Things Right is tablestakes. It is leadership, Doing the Right Things, that defines the winners.

Ideas are the currency of today. Ideas have unreasonable power.

The cultures with the most ideas are the best placed to win. Ideas differentiate, accelerate and elevate.

In a VUCA world of impasses and increments, ideas get you to warp speed. Creativity is the God, technology the servant.


The audience question today is not price-driven. A value price is another tablestake. It is priceless value that counts.  The question on everyone’s lips: “How will you improve my life?”

We live in the Age of Now, where an idea, a like, a touch, a win can scale you at warp speed.

Here’s how to think about connecting with people. Move from NEW to NOW.









Return on Investment

Return on Involvement

Pumping Markets

Creating Movements

“Priceless” is being able to do what you want to do, when you want to do it.

The key to growing and winning in a high-speed Age of Now, where creativity is the driving force, is Creative Leadership,

Creative leaders inspire a creative culture, creative people, creative ideas – igniting growth.

Here are 6 Keys to being a Creative Leader and building a winning business in the Age of Now:

#1 Creative Leaders Are Purpose-Driven

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

He didn’t talk about rules or tactics. He talked about a moral imperative, about the Promised Land. He had a dream.

Dreams are about reaching for the stars, not counting them.

Dreams are at the heart of all great endeavours— from putting a man on the moon to being a category king.

Creative Leaders inspire everyone they touch to be the best they can be in pursuit of the company’s dream.

Revolution begins with language. Change the language, change the conversation.

Language drives purpose, language defines the dream, which creates belief, belonging and direction.

  • CEO – Chief Excitement Officer
  • CMO – Chief Magic Officer

Creative Leaders invent their own language, a system of meaning, a vocabulary that lock-steps hearts and minds – a code that inspires people to be the best they can be.

Apple: Think Different; Stay hungry. Stay foolish; Why join the Navy when you can be a pirate?

All Blacks:

  • No opposition is more intimidating than the Legacy
  • Be a great All Black
  • Bleed for the jersey
  • Champions do extra
  • Go for the gap
  • Train to win (Practice under pressure)
  • Keep a Blue head
  • Sweep the sheds
  • No dickheads
  • Write your legacy

#2 Creative Leaders Create Leaders

For ideas to flow, inspire people towards the dream with four factors in equal measure all the time.

  • Responsibility
  • Learning
  • Recognition
  • Joy

#3 Creative Leaders Create a Winning Culture

One thing I learned working at P&G is that a company that plays like a team and feels like a family operates at peak more often than other organizations. Winning teams have a unifying, challenging, demanding, loving culture.

P&G: play like a team and feel like a family, caring and demanding.

All Blacks: ‘Learning environment’ develops the individual in a tailored, self-managed program of self-improvement.

Bayern Munich: buying players and focus on youth development.  Defender Jerome Boateng: “Bayern the club is really a big family… everybody knows everybody – for example, the greenskeeper will eat with the president, so that makes everyone comfortable and everyone respects each other.”

#4 Creative Leaders Stay in Beta

Creative Leaders have lots of small ideas, continuously.

The ‘sharing economy’ surprises with the obvious (e.g. renting someone else’s home – Airbnb).

Creative Leaders reframe constantly:

  • Steve Jobs – Presence into Absence
  • Uber – from “this taxi sucks” to “this ride rocks”
  • Netflix – linear TV to Internet TV

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?

#5 Creative Leaders Let Emotion Rip

Technology, information and hardware enable, but emotion converts, making people change direction.

Big Emotion, not Big Data, springs the commodification trap.

Reason leads to conclusions; emotion leads to action.

Emotion generates premium returns and Loyalty Beyond Reason.

And the currency of emotion is growing. People like technology but people mostly really like people – being understood, touched, and involved.

Brands are commodified – fried. To go from zero to one hundred, you have to be bigger than a brand, you need to be a Lovemark.

  • Brands owned by companies / Lovemarks owned by the people.
  • Brands built on Respect. Lovemarks created out of Respect and Love.
  • Brands aim to be Irreplaceable. Lovemarks are Irresistible.

Lovemarks create Loyalty Beyond Reason.

Brands deliver performance, reputation and trust. Lovemarks add three secrets: mystery, sensuality and intimacy.

Mystery – People are intrigued and engaged by what they don’t know, by mystery and wonder, not by the everyday.


Sensuality – The brand should excite all five senses. Sight, Sound, Scent, Touch and Taste—the enthrallers of emotions.

Sight is core. We are in a visually literate era, an emoji era, and the eye judges quicker than all the other senses.

Is your customer experience a sensual journey, screen to store? Restoration Hardware has been opening huge “design galleries? Same-store sales grew 20% in 2014.

Intimacy – Empathy, commitment and passion.

Most organizations do intimacy badly or wrong, or badly wrong—

The Ritz-Carlton: From “Please stay with us” to “Let us stay with you.”

“Big Data” gets personal, but doesn’t get intimacy. Big Data can read the lines but not between them.

#6 Creative Leaders Make Things Happen

Creative leadership is about EXECUTION, not contemplation.

Execution is the killer app, the difference between getting things done and making things happen.

Here’s how most organizations ADE, and what creatively-led organizations do:

A D E:                         From                     To

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

The Age of Now equation for winning is (IQ + EQ +TQ + BQ) CQ.

Run 100 Day Plans: 10 things / 3 words max / start with action verbs/ cross off 5+ things (importance, not urgency).

Tom Peters’ credo “Fail Fast, Learn Fast, Fix Fast” is proven every day.


Enthusiasm Something great to come out of Greece: enthousiamos, literally meaning having the God within you.

Be an inspirational player. Entrepreneur means “irresistible force of nature.”

Winston Churchill: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

And as Vince Lombardi said: “Be fired with enthusiasm or you will be fired with enthusiasm.”

Ears! Be an aggressive listener.

Tom Peters: the single most significant strategic strength that an organization can have is not a good strategic plan, but a commitment to strategic listening on the part of every member of the organization; The “R.O.I.” from listening is higher than that from any other single activity.

Ask what people think… and you’ll turn it around.


Edge This is raw unfiltered creativity. Don’t gravitate to the center—to orthodoxy, conformity and safety.

Head to the edge, where risk and reward are highest, where great change happens.

Elevate Capitalism is imperfect, but it is the only “ism” that makes stuff happen, that executes at speed, and that has the uplift and velocity to defeat the legions of darkness.

After all, what is the role of business…?


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

Swedish DMA Conference – Stockholm


Kevin Roberts closed day one of the Swedish Direct Marketing Association (SWEDMA), an industry and trade association for those that produce or use direct marketing in Sweden. He presents the power of ideas in the Age of Now with four ideas to help Big Data and BIG LOVE come together.

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A public event held at University of Auckland presented by The Creative Thinking Project. Kevin Roberts knows all about the business of creativity. As a senior leader in international ideas company Saatchi & Saatchi, and Honorary Professor of Business and Innovation at the University of Auckland Business School, he has many opportunities to see the relationship between creativity and innovation play out in business and learning contexts. He has called creativity the “only unreasonable power” in business. He argues that while other business metrics (quality, price, value, systems) are easily delineated, creativity has almost unlimited potential to differentiate a product or service. The terms ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’ are often used interchangeably. However, the two terms are not synonymous – so what differentiates them? What roles do creativity and innovation play in the creative process? Do those roles change depending on the discipline, industry or situation?

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&THEN DMA Conference – Boston


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Creative Leadership – Berkeley Uni MBAs


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