Why @OneQuestionConf was the best event I went to in 2016

tl;dr – One Question Conference is fantastic and you should really try and get to the second event this coming May

tl;dr – One Question Conference is fantastic and you should really try and get to the second event this coming May (tickets are on sale here). Newsletter subscribers can get a 15 discount of the stated ticket price in the next edition (#218).


In November last year, I tweeted this:

It’s been a good three-nearly-four months so I figured now is a good a time as any to finally write up my notes from the inaugural One Question conference.

One Question, if you’re unfamiliar with the concept, it is, to use its own words:

‘…an event like no other; a focused agenda based on a single topic, with speakers from vastly different backgrounds providing their unique perspectives. There are no slides, no sales pitches; just inspirational stories designed to educate and excite. Designed to challenge the way we think, as people and professionals.’

The ‘one question’ in this first instance was thus:

‘How do we successfully marry technology and humanity?’

The speakers lined up to address this question came from industries such as advertising, music, technology, media, finance, and more.

And everything about it was excellent.

The venue – stunning. The speakers – well curated. The Wi-Fi was reliable (shocking, I know) and it was clear a lot of care and attention had gone into making the event enjoyable, insightful, and, ultimately, successful.

In short: if you missed it, you missed out.

What follows is a rough, three-month-percolated (yet unfiltered) download of the thoughts, quotes, and notes from the day (with occasional additional commentary). On reflection, there aren’t loads of notes and, tbh, that speaks a lot to the quality of lecture from each presenter.

But still. Here are said notes from One Question 2016.


Session One: The Human Perspective

Rory Sutherland on ‘Benign Bullshit’
– aka ‘things that are meaningless’.

‘Economics is psychology dressed up as maths’.

‘Why doesn’t Google Maps show you a journey by scene vs speed?’

This reminded me of being in Exeter a short while before. I can’t remember why. I think a trip somewhere? Maybe a wedding? I can’t recall. Wait, yes, it was a wedding. Anyway, the day after I met my good friend Scott Gould for a coffee and he said, amongst other things, to take a different route home afterwards. ‘Yes it’s 30mins longer but the scenery is beautiful – and you’ll pass Stone Henge!’ – sold.

Session Two: The Future Perspective
Trevor Hardy on ‘The Long View’.

Delayed gratification. Long news. Slow news. Speed is not always good, says Trevor. I tend to agree.

Session Three: The Creative Perspective
Vikki Chowney speaking to tech is nothing without human influence/narrative. Story-telling. Empathy. Land Rover doing a thing on Instagram (I disagree). Cadbury and QR codes. Have you all seen the QR code on the back of a bar of Cadbury chocolate? You definitely have. Scan it next time. See what happens.

Sidenote: some friends and I used to plant easter eggs behind QR codes (silly photos, comments etc) and stick them around London. I might start that again. Ha.

Session Four: The Start Up Perspective
‘You can’t talk to any start-up for more than 30 seconds without them spasmodically yelling ‘DISRUPTION!” – Richard Newton (brilliant). Also, go look up Nancy Tilbury of XO, super interesting.

Session Five: The Editorial Perspective
‘Reclaiming what we’ve lost in a world of constant connection’ – Michael Harris, The End of Absence

‘The lamp of human attention can only shine on one thing at a time’ – I like this.

‘We’re not multi-tasking, we’re lame spasm attention shifters’

‘Checking your Twitter is like picking nits out of your hair’

Session Six: The Media Perspective

Gut instinct or data insight?

Bias in algorithm. You know algorithms have bias, right?

Not many notes on this one. Not sure why.

(oh, I think I had a work call – bugger)

Session Seven: The VR Perspective

Sol Rogers is ace. Go look up VRTogether.org/Rewind (RWD). Retirement VR is being used to help people save more. Google ‘Clouds over Sidra’ – also, VR as medical treatment. And ‘Bravemind: PTSD’ – or VR snowball fights for burn victims.

This sessions is probably the best answer to the question so far.

Questions from the audience:

  • Will technology like this create a bigger societal divide? Maybe. But democratize it and make it as accessible as possible.
  • What about the dangers of dopamine? Will there be VR addiction centres? ‘Yes, probably. But that’s because dopamine is addictive’

Session Eight: The Music Perspective

This session was amazing. Freda Bolza (there’s a Spotify link you need to get, James) took us on a journey of technology + humanity from starting with Bach, then to the invention of the vocoder, then Moroder (legend), and then to T-PAIN. What an AMAZING session!!!

Got a link to that talk/playlist right here.

General Notes:

  • Great Venue
  • Well Cast – good speakers / mix of people
  • Good length of sessions
  • Water, food, and wi-fi – all reliable.
  • Damn this event is fantastic.


So yeah. One Question. It’s pretty damn good.

You should go.

You should come to #NotatSXSWLDN

Let me tell you why…


Set to be the best ‘Not at’ event EVER, #NotatSXSWLDN is to be held Friday March 15th and you are invited.

  • Not making out to Austin this year?
  • Finding the whole thing just too darn over-hyped and over-priced?
  • Looking for some FREE inspiration on a Friday night?

Then JOIN US for NOT AT SXSW – LONDON EDITION where we can get together, drink, and generally have an awesome time.

On top of that we’re bringing you an awesome venue (I’m not kidding), an amazing set of speakers (who are bringing along their very own ‘shot of south by’) and of course, a stunningly beautiful group of attendees (that’s YOU).

So please, come hang out at the coolest new members club in town and enjoy a night of brilliance created especially for you.

You’re coming, right? Good.

Because tickets are available now.


We’re also currently taking sponsorship so, if you’d like to know more, please take a look at our background documentation and get in touch ASAP.


#NotatMWC 2013

We’re baaaaack!

This coming February sees the cream of the world’s mobile industry all descend on Barcelona’s (thing?) for Mobile World Congress. But the thing is, attending the world’s biggest mobile conference is not cheap so many mobile geeks don’t get the chance to go.NotatMWC

But don’t panic, we’ve got you covered –

The original #NotatMWC event is BACK!

  • Are you having trouble making it to MWC?
  • Have you decided to say ‘BALLS!’ to Barcelona?
  • Do you have a slight obsession with all things cellular?


February 28th is the date you need to book in your diary and we’ve booked the upstairs at All Bar One on New Oxford Street for just over 70-odd people. If we over do it and loads of you turn up, no matter! We can just flood the ENTIRE PUB with mobile folk and have a jolly good time.

See you there?


PS. Tell your friends —-> “Feb 28th. NotatMWC. Be there

PPS. Sponsorship options are also available.

In The Theme Park

The pitch?

“One evening five dramatically different and challenging speakers, together with their equally unruly audience, go to work on the soft edges of a common theme.”

Each of the five speakers were given the same brief of which one part was this –

This, was their theme, if you will. Using that, in part at least, as an inspiration point – each speaker had to give a ten minute talk about how said theme had inspired them.

Discussions from all sorts of weird and wonderful minds filled the air, from Captain Scroggs‘ tales of flipping the music industry on its head through the fetishisation of product in the digital age (see real world example, Tom the Lion); to Jeremy Hutchison’s dissection of the centimetre-thick glass that stands between us and the goods we so desperately want… His description of last year’s London looters as ‘the over-performing consumer’ was a definite highlight.

My section, at the mid-way point, took a more futurology-based approach. With homemade slides to boot (thank you, Paper). They’re embedded below, however I would recommend that you click through to the slideshare page where the accompanying slide notes are also available.

Overall, In The Theme Park was a wonderful evening. Good food, both for the brain and for the stomach, good company and a thoroughly entertaining way to spend an Wednesday evening in London town.

FreeState, the agency behind it, did a superb job in speaker selection (if I do say so myself) as well as audience curation. Which, funnily enough, is probably the one thing that most event organisers overlook.

Follow @InTheThemePark on Twitter to find out when the next event is on.

No doubt I’ll see you there.

UPDATE: In The Theme Park have published their own blog post documenting the evening and, to be perfectly honest, having my talk referred to as ‘a digitalised version of Edward de Bono’s thinking hats‘, is quite possibly one of the best compliments I’ve ever received. 



Like Minds: the five word of mouth moments of 2011

Last October I was fortunate enough to be asked to speak at the fantastic Exeter-based conference, Like Minds.

Like Minds 2011 Day 3

— pic via the extremely talented Harry Duns

My topic? The five word of mouth moments of 2011.

Easy, right?

You don’t need me to tell you the first five that spring to mind, so let’s look what happens when you probe a little deeper –

[your comments and feedback, as ever, are welcome]

Oh, and the best thing? I just managed to lay my hands on a ticket to the rather exciting TEDxObserver 2012.

Speakers include one Miss Camila Vellejo.




1000heads: Postcard from Cannes (Part 2)

Cannes Lions is well and truly over and, with the Young Lions celebrating their latest win (along with many, many others), it’s time to look back over some of the more leading and creative thoughts that fell out of such an important conference.

Back in part one I promised some thoughts on the Diageo session I attended as well as some overall thoughts and links post-event.

First, Andy Fennell, CMO, Diageo –


Key points and quotes –

  • Andy talks about his ‘FACE’ values. They are; Flair, Agility, Consumer insight and Execution
  • When discussing new creative, ask ‘What is ‘the centre of gravity’ of an idea?’
  • “We need to change our ideas inherently to build participation from the start” – a thought 1000heads has advocated for years
  • “For rich content to arrive in Africa, phones need to get cheaper or Silicon Valley needs to work out where Africa is on a map.” – contentious!

Speaking of Africa, Andy gave an example of how Guinness arrived in the football-loving continent with their very own football-themed quiz show –

The whole idea, initiated by Guinness (one of Diageo’s sub-brands), started and ended with the drink in question and resulted in a significant jump in sales.

I personally hadn’t seen a brand invent its own TV show before, not least of all one that actually delivered on both an entertainment value (average episode views are upwards of 4m) as well as on a brand awareness and sales front too. Very impressive.

Overall, the Diageo session was interesting as it was a brand talking about their creative as opposed to an agency. Hearing the insights and ways of working behind such a huge, worldwide company inspired plenty of food for thought and served as a reminder at just how impactful television can be when harnessed correctly.

Thanks for reading.


Additional links of interest:

My unofficial Cannes recap – via The Brand Builder
Nokia @ Cannes – via Nseries

Hyper Connected

I’m at the Social Media Influence conference today, taking in talks on a variety of topics such as ‘The Future of Online Listening’, ‘Social Analytics and Customer Insight’ and ‘How to Talk Your Way Out of a Crisis’.

But more on that tomorrow.

What inspires me now is a figure that was just given on stage that:

“By the end of 2010, the average American will own six connected devices. People in the UK will, on average, own 4.5.”

Unfortunately this stat wasn’t attributed to any source so I can’t validate it [I’ll look for the slides tomorrow], however – I thought I’d throw the question out onto Twitter

From my own collection, I count seven. But fifteen minutes (and 30-odd responses later), I’ve managed to pull together an average of 8.7 devices per person.
Which – aside from a few random cases – is quite telling and raises a few points and questions:

  1. My followers tend to be a bit more tech-savvy/heavy (and would therefore own more devices). Fair enough.
  2. If pushed, would the average person know that their internet radio or their TV is ‘connected’?
  3. In this constantly changing, yet ever more connected world we live in – what challenges will this present to the marketeers of tomorrow?

My point is – the internet of things promises a lot. It turns out that your average Joe’s data is going to be contributing a lot to this also – where are the opportunities?

Have a think on that and, while you’re at it, how many connected devices do you own?