Posts Tagged ‘boris johnson’
There is an increasing dissatisfaction amongst the British public with traditional politics and politicians who are perceived as untrustworthy and lacking conviction. Gone are the days of revered and reviled politicians with a cult-like following. In a muddied playing field where the only political colours seem to be varying shades of brown, strong personalities are succeeding in favour of particular social mores.
In this new political era, where the differences between figureheads seem minimal at best, could we be approaching an era where personality means more than values?
Boris Johnson, who has remained a constant feature in the public eye under a plethora of different guises, has come under fire on more than one occasion for misdemeanour, yet has emerged relatively unscathed when it comes to public opinion.
The public are endeared by his bumbling Have I Got News For You comedic persona and he has an uncanny ability to rouse the crowd. Scandal after scandal, Johnson has emerged triumphant, securing his place as Mayor of London for a second consecutive term, with many a bookie taking bets that he may vie for party leadership in the future, despite denying the suggestion on numerous occasions.
However, following the Eddie Mair interview this weekend, it will be interesting to see if Johnson has been beaten at his own game. Tired and unprepared for the onslaught upon his integrity, Johnson was unable to keep up with, counter-spin, or wriggle out of, Eddie Mair’s questioning. Not since the Paxman vs. Howard interview in 1997 have we seen such squirming.
We will have to watch to see if memes develop around this to damage Johnson’s career, or whether the event will simply go further to expanding his public profile. In an interview earlier yesterday, he appeared to take the critique with good grace, stating that Mair was “perfectly within his rights to have a bash at me”. Only time will tell if the Cult of Boris will live to tell another tale.
What with the recent slew of allegations around Savillegate (and the numerous other stars who’ve faced a barrage of less than savoury attention ), something has been preying on my mind- is a spotless reputation an attainable goal anymore? Eric Schmidt once said that “Now that information is ubiquitous, the obligation changes. It’s no longer okay to not know.” Is it possible to be a hero in the Now Economy?
It’s a pertinent question not just for celebs, but for CEOs. It’s extremely unlikely that anyone is going to be able to run a high-profile career any longer without coming in for some flack. One would hope there aren’t too many CEOs involved in lascivious activities with the young or infirm (though I could probably tell you a few stories), but everyone has a skeleton or two to worry about.
It struck me, however, that the secret of attaining hero status in the Now Economy has to do with accepting this fact, and incorporating the less positive aspects of your persona into your legend. Steve Jobs, arguably the ultimate modern business hero, was allegedly something of a difficult character to be around, and stories about his less than civil treatment of employees and collaborators are rife. However, rather than working to suppress this, those in charge of Jobs’s reputation managed to incorporate his flaws into a highly individual ‘flawed genius’ reputation, which has gone on to propel him further into the realms of myth than he might otherwise have found himself.
There are others: Michael O’Leary, whose insensitivity and an outlook some might call backward have ended up propelling him into the prepared statement hall of fame, arguably even Branson, business celeb among business celebs, wisely took qualities which some would consider arrogant and turned them to his advantage. The ultimate political star of the Now Economy, Boris Johnson, has taken clumsiness and a gift for the gaffe and turned them into art forms.
Consider, then, when building your personal brand for the first time, that streamlining and suppressing no longer work, no matter how savvy you may be. Many negative traits can be forgiven and even idealised by the public if properly balanced with your work and your motivating passions- though possibly not if you’ve been sneaking into hospitals after hours. Then you might still be best place to keep schtum and pray.
Cycling through London the other day on a Boris Bike (surely one of the great modern branding failures – Barclays pumped millions into the scheme only to lose the name to the charismatic mayor) and sweating like a constipated sumo wrestler, full of the joys of winter and rushing to get back for a meeting, I jumped a red light in a bid to outrace a black cab. I was on my way to see a film, for work. It was urgent. You know how it is; sometimes your life just seems more important than anyone else’s.
Not that the ridiculously youthful copper who spotted me agreed, mind – it became clear as he approached that he thought his own life was the most important thing in the universe. He was smiling. Clearly I’d made his day.
I immediately launched into the sort of silent, internal tirade one expects from people of a certain age and beyond who are in the wrong and have been caught out by authority figures who looks like they should still be in the boy scouts, or are possibly not long off the teat.
I seethed and grumbled as he gleefully stiffed me for £30. “Where do these fines go?” I asked myself as I paid up with gritted teeth.
And then I saddled up and went on my way to the film. In the warm again, I settled down and got comfortable. And had my pathetic brush with the law thrown into sharp perspective. The film was about how Zimbabwe’s infrastructure collapse has turned the jewel of Africa into a nightmare for thousands of children of primary school age.
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I went to supper at the small but deliciously formed Texture restaurant in Portman Street last night with our clients, the government of South Australia, hosted by the Agent General, Bill Muirhead, to celebrate the First Family of Australian wine production.
I sat next to Robert Hill Smith, who runs the Yalumba winery. Yalumba is Australia’s oldest family owned winery – it was set up in 1849 by Robert’s great great-grandfather, a Dorset brewer called Samuel Smith who emigrated to Australia, made some money from gold and set up the winery which he named after the indigenous Australian word for “all the land around”.
Also there was someone who knows a fair bit about all the land around – or around politics at the least; Lynton Crosby. He masterminded several Australian election victories for John Howard, the failed 2005 election campaign for the Conservatives and Boris Johnson’s successful mayoral campaign. So when he started to talk about the recent election, I could not help but listen intently. Read the rest of this entry »