The Letter H

by Heath Tully

My thoughts on advertising, business and life.

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My thoughts on Google Home

I took the plunge last week and bought a Google Home.

For those not aware, Google Home is a device that can do a range of things for you, from answering questions to playing music to even interacting with your house if you have that enabled.

All controlled by your voice. And all just by prefacing each request with ‘Hey Google’ (or ‘OK Google’ but I prefer the Hey option).

There are other options out there, such as Alexa and Amazon Echo, but I’ve not tried any of these nor ever felt the desire to. But Google is so ubiquitous in my life that it felt like less of a leap of faith to give it a go.

Here’s our one, taking a subtle position in the family room. You can see it is relatively small, if you compare it to the DVD to the right.

Google Home.JPG

I bought it as a novelty more than anything else, and working in the digital space I was interested in whether there was true utility in having one, or

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Forming a strategy

A lot is written about how to create a strategy.

There are frameworks galore, thousands of how-to books, and people who make a lot of money consulting and running strategy workshops.

But in my experience, it doesn’t need to be complicated.

For me, the first step to create a strategy is to answer these three questions:

1. Who is our customer?

2. What are we helping them to achieve?

3. What can we do to differentiate ourselves in the process?

Not always the easiest questions to answer, but if you start here and take the time to properly answer these three questions, you will be on your way to developing your strategy.

One important inclusion in your answer (particularly to the first question) is who you are not targeting. Detailing this will help give more focus and clarity to the strategy, and can often be the hardest part of the process.

Clayton Christensen from Harvard has an

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Be yourself

On a flight home recently, I watched a movie called While We’re Young with Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts.

The movie itself was nothing amazing, but there was one line in it that has really stuck with me.

“Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”

Really like that line.

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Five books I love

My wife Nat and I have just finished going through our collection of books, accumulated over the last 20 years, in preparation for the arrival of a shiny new bookcase.

We’ve been quite strict in what we have kept, and what we have decided to donate (e.g. My AFL Year in Review from the 2000 season, plus most of my Agatha Christie books), but going through the review process helped me re-discover several fantastic books that I haven’t read or thought about for years.

Here are five that I would definitely recommend, if you are looking for a new book to read. They are in no particular order (click title for more info).

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

This book was the first of what became a trilogy, and soon a movie starring Tom Hardy. Based in 1950s Soviet Russia, it centres on a member of a secret police who is on the trail of a child-killer. Absolutely gripping, and was the author’s debut

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Predatory Thinking

Dave Trott has been a leading Creative Director in the advertising industry for decades, and has an amazing blog that uses fascinating stories to illustrate his points (and one I highly recommend checking out).

He has also written a book all about predatory thinking, and in the below talk he explains with straight talking and plenty of examples what this is all about. My favourite part is his reasoning for why 90% of advertising fails.

If you work in creative, and have any sort of interest in advertising, find 45 minutes and give this a watch.

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When I was starting my career, I remember thinking that the best way to shine was to take on as much responsibility as possible.

That asking someone for help was a sign of weakness.

That failing was the worst outcome imaginable.

In the decade since, I have realised how naive this thinking is.

What I now know (it took a while) is that failing is a part of business, and life in general. Not everything you try will work. That’s inevitable.

And trying to do everything on your own is more likely to lead to failure then if you try and seek help when required.

The CEO of The Lego Group, Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, has the following philosophy on blame:

Blame is not for failure, it is for failing to help or ask for help.

This really resonates with me, and shows that the positive mentality that Lego has for trying new ideas out (as long as you do it in the right way). Failure is not a problem.

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What if?

Recently I watched the X Games Movie, a behind-the-scenes look at the guys competing at the top levels of extreme sports.

One of the people featured was Travis Pastrana, a motocross and rally drive champion.

In between highlights of his work, he gave a great insight into the mindset of the X gamers, through how they use ‘what ifs’.

He talked about how most people think about ‘what ifs’ in negative terms, for example ‘What if something goes wrong?’ or ‘What if I fail?’.

Whereas the X gamers tend to think of ‘what ifs’ as positives, for example ‘What if I succeed? 'or 'What if I nail this new trick?’.

That mindset makes a lot of sense for this crew, given the risk involved in what they do. Thinking about the positives would help to overcome the potential fear attached.

But there is no reason we all can’t use what ifs like that.

Too often we think about the negatives, and what could

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5 years from now

I recently found my crystal ball, which showed me 5 years into the future. Here are some of the things I saw happening in 2019.

  • Keys will be replaced by phones, to start cars and unlock front doors
  • Tom Hiddleston will be the new James Bond
  • Brazil will be on par as a trade partner with India and Japan
  • Electric car charging stations will be everywhere
  • Cable TV will be on its deathbed
  • So will tigers, who will be basically extinct (sob)
  • Cryptocurrency payments (e.g. Bitcoin) will be commonly accepted
  • Insects will become a light snack option
  • Nintendo will be acquired by Sony
  • There will be cat cafes everywhere
  • Zimbabwe will be on its way back from the brink
  • Gay marriage will be legalised in Australia
  • Cameras will include voice activation features
  • Going gluten free will be a common way of life
  • Saab will win accolades as an electric car company
  • Tom Scully will be a Brownlow medallist

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The two things every business needs

I have worked in a variety of businesses, big and small, as well as starting one up myself and watching others do the same.

Through all this I believe there are two factors that contribute more to chances of success in business than anything else.

Passion and Mission.

Sure, having a good idea is important, and capital to get started is vital, but without passion and a clear mission, none of this matters.


I regularly think of business ideas, or product ideas, and think they would be successes if I did them. But I am not passionate about them, so they don’t happen. In fact, the business I did start up (as the official UK seller of Dunlop Volleys shoes) only eventuated because I was passionate enough about the product to deal with the numerous obstacles that I faced.

Passion is more synonymous with start-up environments, but it applies equally in bigger organisations. A lack

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5 things Melbourne does better than London

In my previous post I listed the 5 things I thought London did better than Melbourne. A couple of people thought I was a bit harsh on Melbourne pubs, but overall seemed to agree.

Now let’s see what people think about the 5 things Melbourne does better than London. Here they are in no particular order.

 1. Golf courses

Morack Golf Course.JPG
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Helped by having more open space, golf is a much easier sport to access and play in Melbourne than London. There are dozens of public courses, all very reasonably priced, whereas golf feels elitist in London and you have to travel to the far outer suburbs even just to access a course. Having a quick round on a Saturday morning with a couple of mates is something I have definitely missed over the last few years.

 2. The beach

St Kilda beach.jpg
Image Source

Being on the coast does mean there is a beach in Melbourne. And a great beach it is too - there is even a theme park

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