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.

Saying goodbye to old clients

Written and scheduled August 17th 2010

This is an irksome post.

My blogging ‘strategy’ has nearly always been work on the work blog [link removed], mobile on the mobile blog and everything else in my happy place. But this post is fairly work-related. A post that I wasn’t allowed to put up (on the work blog) at the time.

Scheduled two years to the date that I wrote it – whereupon I will be so entrenched in the company that the post won’t ruffle too many feathers OR I would’ve upped and left in the pursuit of bigger and better things – this post means a lot to me.

It’s great to win clients, but sometimes I think it’s good to lose one every once in a while too.
You learn a lot more, and you grow.


Farewell to [client]

We’ve been working with [client] for a little over two years now and, for now at least, it’s time to say goodbye. We’ve had a fantastic time over the past 26 months or so, helping them build their community through word of mouth. Be that through nurturing their nascent advocates or by reaching out to (and attempting to convert) their staunchest detractors; overall we’ve delivered some great work.

So much so in fact, that when it came to pitch for the new social media account (working with their newly created internal social media team), one competitor called our office and asked what the hell was going on – “Why are they asking us to pitch at all? You guys do such a good job already.” (this actually happened – and it was pretty humbling to hear that from a well-respected peer)

Alas, as the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end and, as [client] embark upon its chosen route of solely focusing on social media, we’d like to take this opportunity to wish them, and their new social media PR agency, the very best of luck.

Thanks guys, we had a blast.

August 17th, 2010

A date in October

Moleskine entry: October 19th, 2009 (maybe)

You have a lot of work to do.

Not least the epic workload of the pages that have gone before.  A job, not small, but not important either – at least, it would seem right now.

I want to be able to do my job my NEW job to the best of my ability but currently, I don’t feel I can. There is… the learning process. The transaction process that which, over time, defines how your tenure will be judged… information… there is much. Relationship building, plenty.

You have a lot of work to do.

The Marketing Academy

I’ve just woken up in Cookham, just outside of Maidenhead.


Not Dubai, where I was last week, or in fact London – where I actually live. Nope. Today I am in Cookham.

Why? Allow me to explain.

A couple of months ago my old boss dropped me an email containing two words and one link.

“Dude, thoughts?”


I clicked…

The Marketing Academy, launched earlier this year by The Marketing Hall of Legends (UK), has apparently been created to “develop leadership capability in talented marketers through the medium of mentoring, coaching and experiential learning” and, by the looks of things, Scroggsy was asking me if I knew anyone he could nominate.

It was a busy day, things were piling up. I didn’t get much chance to look at it but I didn’t want to leave him hanging, so later that afternoon I sent back my reply –

“Can’t think of anyone, sorry.”

“Errrr you?” came the response.

Me? I looked again.

“Dude, I’d LOVE to do that!”

and again

“Actually, that’d be really freakin’ cool… Yes please!”

and again

“OK, so I’ve now read the entire website. Twice. Yes x1million.”

Three email responses in the space of ten minutes. Scroggs confirmed, I was going in.
Not. Bad. At. All.

So, being nominated in the first instance, we’ll call that phase zero.

A few days later, confirmation arrived. This time with details about the lengthy application process. With each phase being used to whittle down the numbers to the final 28 placements. They went something like this (I’ll try and keep it brief):

Phase one, we need – :

  • A full CV detailing and highlighting not only roles and responsibilities but also achievements and loyalties.
  • An endorsement letter from your employer
  • One two minute ‘showcase me’; a submission of your own choosing which should take no more than two minutes to read, watch or listen to.

Phase two:

  • One 30min telephone interview

Phase three, psychometric testing & panel;

  • Abstract reasoning
  • Numerical reasoning
  • Verbal reasoning
  • Decision analysis test
  • 15FQ+
  • Panel interview (questions based on above results)

I made it through and finished the final part of it just a few weeks ago. I then found out the day before I went away on holiday that I had won a place onto the scholarship!!!

‘Over the chuffin’ moon’ doesn’t really do it justice. I’m ecstatic. <GRIN>

I’m one day in and we’ve still only just scratched the surface of what we’re here to do. The potential to learn, change and improve is massive and I am relishing the challenge before me. I’m sure there’ll be so much more to talk about once I’m up and running but for now…

Bring. It. On.

Before I sign off, some thank yous:

I’ll link you all shortly, I’m late for class!