Internal recruitment needs to be on brand and empathetic.

As I continue to consult, mentor and devote time to myself and family I am also concurrently talking to companies about potential future roles. I wanted to reflect on my experiences of this process so far and how I have observed companies deal with me.

I have been working for nearly 25 years, held senior roles in good companies and who knows exactly what that next role will be, and yet I continue to be surprised by how little consideration and communication is given to candidates of my level and experience during these times. In this instance I am mainly focusing on in house recruitment vs agencies. I think there has been an ever growing trend towards in housing of hiring processes, especially amongst the tech companies but also traditional businesses as well. I think with that trend comes a burden on that team that I am not sure all of them realise and are probably not held accountable to from one day to the next.

If you decide as a business to have your employees engage with external candidates, especially senior ones, then they need to have the same ethos as any of your out facing teams. Those interactions set the tone, they leave lasting impressions and who knows may damage future relations depending on where that candidate lands. Bad news travels fast right? Well those looking for a role, especially those not currently employed will be particularly conscious of that brand experience, and that’s what it is, your recruitment team are representing your brand. 

In these short months that I have been engaged with in house recruiters and indeed actual managers within businesses I have experienced many different versions of that process. I have spoken to a couple of companies that have been in communication through out, followed up, did what they said they would do and that’s all one asks. On the other hand I have been blanked. Now let’s be realistic, you can’t always expect things to move forwards, perhaps they don’t like the cut of your jib or your background is not what they wanted and so things don’t progress, we are all grown ups, what I do expect though is feedback and a decline. Take Conde Nast, contacted by them after an application, interview with recruiter, followed by interview with HR and then blanked. I personally believe that if you have asked a candidate to talk twice, you owe them politeness and respect to update and decline or move forwards. 

Hiring is not personal, you should never take it personally, finding the right candidate or job is about finding the round peg to fit in the round hole and it’s easy to find a little edge that catches and stops that fit, that’s fine, it’s natural. What is personal is how you go about doing that and I am afraid there are many external facing recruitment people who are either not trained or not scrutinised as to how they engage candidates. I think it’s a shame for two simple reasons. The first is you can absolutely set the tone of your organisation through these contacts, you are sending a message and when these candidates end up in other businesses, perhaps potential clients, they will feel positively about your business or not and secondly its is not difficult, it’s simple manners, it’s simple communication that costs the recruiter nothing but gives that job hunter a feeling of knowing where they stand and what’s next. 

Finding a new role is so exciting and I am loving all the possibilities, but it’s important to be true to yourself and expect a certain level of respect. Be thoughtful everyone. Times are tough without treating people with no consideration.

In defence of Jargon

It annoys me when people say that our industry uses too much Jargon. Do we? Or do we use shorthand? Do we not all use shorthand in life? Anyone for a BLT? No wrong time of day I would rather a G&T or maybe a JD and coke. I make the point, we all use short hand in our discussions and conversations, I would not describe it as jargon.

I listen to advertisers talking about their business all the time, more jargon than you can shake a stick at! RTB – you want me to say Real time bidding every time? CTR? CPA? Life is too short to say that every time. No where we all go wrong is using them at the wrong time. Conferences, advertiser presentations, these mixed audience scenarios we need to all tread more carefully and explain what we mean.

The ability to explain a complex notion to a crowd that has less experience of your topic is where the art comes into its own. The programmatic buying business is technology obsessed and too focused upon it. It is this that we need to cut out, less the jargon. We should have learned from the past that technology is not the subject, it is what it can create for our advertisers. I met with an advertiser recently outside of our group and he seemed positively relieved as I focused on a more simplified approach to the business and a less techie pitch. As he put his algorithm back to basics manual away he seemed positively lifted.

And this is where Trading Desks can add value, the value of cutting through the jargon and the bullshit. As an advertiser with limited resources focused on this complex marketplace, they are pitched by everyone, each with their own shiny optimisation and algo (shorthand for algorithm) and it is daunting. Our job is to help navigate this world and design strategies that link up all of these marketplaces and technologies. We should focus on the outcomes of jargon, not the jargon itself and slowly for many the jargon will turn into normal day to day shorthand.

Well it is EOD so maybe a G&T?

VivaKi and Audience On Demand take first mover advantage on Google’s DDM

The thing that most inspires me in this role is the constant ability to innovate ourselves, as well as work with leaders in the technology space. As of this quarter, VivaKi and the Audience On Demand team in London are paving the way and entering a new era of activating search advertising data in the display ecosystem intelligently. Below find our internal release.


A collaboration between VivaKi and Google sees a global first for the organizations – the launch of a remarketing from search ads campaign. Audience On Demand (AOD), the market-leading addressable media buying practice for VivaKi, leveraged Google’s integrated technology suite to deliver a display remarketing campaign optimised around traffic on search ads on behalf of their client, a leading automotive services provider.


“As the leader and one of the first entrants in the RTB marketplace we work tirelessly to ensure our clients benefit from first-mover opportunities” says Marco Bertozzi, Executive Managing Director for the VivaKi Nerve Center. He continues: “Since launching AOD we have worked closely with Invite [now DoubleClick Bid Manager] as our primary partner and it has been an incredible mutual growth story. We saw back in 2010 the amazing opportunities for AOD and our clients in the Google product development roadmap and display remarketing from search advertising was absolutely top of the list.”


This feature enables the use of search ad clicks as a signal in optimising client’s display campaigns, re-engaging consumers with display ads across billions of ad impressions available on global ad exchanges. The integration between DoubleClick Bid Manager and DoubleClick Search 3 provides the ability to split referring keywords into specific groups based around different levels of interest and exercise bid strategies appropriately, re-igniting the potential of clicks that did not deliver an outcome in the first instance. This maximises the efficiency of search investment and boosts the performance of display campaigns.


Geoff Smith, Head of Activation for AOD comments: “This technology allows us to identify and differentiate consumers with greater intent to purchase, depending on their behavior with search ads. This granular insight allows us to alter our bid strategy accordingly, thereby maximising the efficiency and effectiveness of the overall campaign.”


This will add yet another layer of power to our offering and shows that Audience On Demand has yet again delivered innovation in the exciting marketplace. We had a choice – follow the pack and let

Will Millennials ever know Serendipity?


Apart from loving the word, I wanted to write about Serendipity as I sometimes wonder whether it is going to be a rare thing for coming generations. For those that are not sure the definition of Serendipity is basically about coming across something pleasant by accident. Now I started thinking about this from what I read online and updates etc and it struck me that unless you work hard at it, serendipity is not what it used to be.

I work in a business where we deliver exact ads to exact cookies which is another shot in the eye for Serendipity when compared with TV advertising that still trades on the fact you buy one audience but could pick up many other ‘free’ audiences. Online advertising is just one part of the equation though, it is also about my Twitter feed, Linkedin and so on.

If you think about it the World Wide Web is closing in on us everyday we use it. We have Google showing us Ads related to searches and sites we visit and then content that is determined by our own behaviours and our friends social behaviour. I have 500 people I follow that I have hand picked based on their subject matter expertise whether that is personal or professional or indeed they are just friends. By definition I am presented with content of the same genre, often lots of the same content over and over. Of course you can add random people but most people forget to do that. To help make your readership less varied Twitter then suggest people like you so you keep adding more of the same.

Facebook is of course again a hand picked bunch but for some reason I see the same people adding updates. I keep being told that this is based on my interaction with them, I know for sure that is not the case so there must be some other science at work, either way I want more variety and it is killing my Facebook experience and interest. On top of that I am being shown highly targeted Ads based on interest and friends. It all adds up to a pretty repetitive and unsurprising experience.

Linkedin are usually people from the same genre and updates cross over with Twitter, Ads are targeted and so again I am seeing the same stuff. If I go shopping on Amazon they are predicting my tastes and showing me content that they think I will want whether it is books, films or electricals. This leaves very little revelation in my experience. That extends into most shopping as targeting becomes more sophisticated where very personalised content will be shown just for me across many sites. Of course we are then flocking to sites like Zite that learns fast or asks what content you like until you end up with a painfully myopic view. To be honest the examples go on and on with iTunes and other music systems proposing other songs and albums, but always based on something that you already like.

Right now we are primarily talking about ads and people but when we get into search that becomes more and more tailored we may never see an alternative view. If Google learns that I am a conservative and look at that content, that is what I will see, I will never be given alternative content. Same for any belief or interest. The technology we use is driving our experience to be more and more focused on understanding the user and making sure what they see is relevant. That might be good for Ads but I feel like we need a serendipity button.

We need to mix this up, challenge ourselves and give ourselves an opportunity to see something new and exciting before we target ourself into the most narrcow cast existence with no little surprises around the corner. Let us all press the Serendipity button. Aleks Krotoski has allowed us to do this, the image for the blog above is her Serendipity engine which actually creates it through a physical representation. It takes some getting your head around but it is fascinating – click here for more.

Google Client Advisory Board – frictionless web


Take a look at the opening keynote from Neal here

The best analogy of the two days was from Neal Mohan who likened the web to the old style stack we would have at home in music and TV. We would layer on more and more pieces of tech, with music systems, game consoles, and more recently the likes of Apple TV and Google TV.

We work hard to make it all appear seamless and sometimes it all works but often it involves getting on your knees and digging around behind the TV to swap plugs and find wires, we all know that experience. The web has been like this generally with a constant stream of extra tech layers to integrate and ad serve and ultimately try and track.

Google have been guilty of this within their own ecosystem with Dart Search, DFA, google Analytics and more recently Invite and Terracent. They have been on quite a journey, the first part of that has been improving the individual products. Dart Search had a 50% dissatisfaction rate which is now down to sub 10% and you can see why. The system improvements have been significant.


The next stage has been how they work together and this is the real win and the approach that feels like Google are tightening the noose on the competition. The fully integrated stack is something genuinely powerful and will be a big sales point. The inter connections between exchange trading, search, remarketing Ad creation and analytics are going to revolutionise how we buy in both search and exchanges. We are seeing a world where you still have ten devices on your Tv table and yet only one wire and it all just works.

These two days have shown a frictionless web, a world where one tag, one consumer is all we are working with avoiding the dedup issues and discrepancy issues and allowing us to build comms strategies around a true single view. Google have been challenged by the industry to improve and to some it may have come a little too slowly but I believe they have learned their lessons. The Invite 2.0 releases are an example of where they did not want to repeat a Doubleclick scenario.

The chance to discuss with the Product Managers all the new developments both in the sessions and in the bar make this a pretty unique session. Thanks to Google for the Invite.(excuse the pun)

Google Zeitgeist 2012 – my highlights

OK for those who clicked on the link looking for content here it is!

I genuinely don’t know where to start. Google Zeitgeist is simply the premier event on the Calendar bar none. It is a collection of amazing brains and characters (me excluded of course) and hugely influential businessmen, politicians and this year revolutionists!

We started with Politics and Niall Ferguson who painted very eloquently and fluently a view of the economic crisis we are in. He basically highlighted a few key issues about our current financial issues in the Eurozone. Click Here to watch

1. We have complete financial inter-dependencies but very few political

2. The politicians have chosen procrastination as a strategy

3. None of the major financial leaders have learnt from the crashes of the past

4. The Germans work the least of everyone in the Eurozone and are always on holiday

As an aside he was an amazing speaker and everyone in the crowd was raptured by what he had to say, but the end result of it was that we are in some trouble but at a point where we could move towards recovery but not without some decisive action and he fears that not enough of that is actually occurring.

Greece – George Papandreu – Ex Prime Minister of Greece

See the whole video here

George was both positive about what Greece held and yet concerned about the mis-management of the country. I believe that he was overly positive about the mindset of the population when it comes to work, claiming Greece is the hardest working country in the Eurozone – ummm not so sure. I have Cypriot inlaws and they dont describe a country being run with sweat, blood and tears!

Sir Martin Sorrell had us all reconsidering everything we had just heard by saying that everything in life was cyclical and that we should basically ‘get over it and move on!’ He explained that the world had changed and that growth was no longer from the usual suspects and we had to look to RApple Russia and China with the example that Apple was selling 20% of its products to China.








Enough about politics – lets talk about the fact that 100 thick people working together is better than 100 clever people not working together! The afternoon was an amazing demonstration of clever people talking and inspiring you to think. Matt Ridley explained that to make a mouse we have thousand of people working together from the oil to the plastic to the factory and yet no one knows how to make a mouse, they know only their bit.

Dan Ariely talked about cheating and the complex inter relations between how we act and our moral code. They noted that people who had been asked to remember the ten commandments and then given a cheating experiment, almost no one did! Click here for the whole video however he explains that the world has a few big cheaters, many many little cheaters. He discovered that when people were given the opportunity to cheat for something one step removed from cash ie for a token you then change for a dollar, people were a lot more comfortable lying. He used the analogy of taking a pencil from work – you would take a pencil but would you take 50cents from the petty cash? Fascinating examples based around how we justify actions.

He was such a truly inspiring speaker – definitely watch the video on this one. The final suggestion is that we should confess regularly as it resets our moral compass!

An Inspiring speaker

My favourite presentation of the whole event was Ranulph Fiennes, truly brilliant presentation that showed what a legend the man is, how he has overcome so many problems, health challenges and pushing his body to the extreme. Watch his video here, it is worth 20 minutes of your life. Click here to watch it. He showed incredible courage and tenacity and that age should not slow us down, he was about to head off on another expedition and deliver yet another record ( and beat the Norwegians!). The class line of the presentation was when he described them listening to the radio one minute a day and they heard that Britain had gone to war. When he asked his colleague with who – ‘Charlie replied – Oh I did not catch that – he goes on to say that in the following week when the radio refused to work they argued about who we could have gone to war with..’of course we assumed it was the French!’

This is what I love about Zeitgeist the variety of thoughts and personalities. Steve Redgrave and his achievements or the man who ran 350 miles in one go or 50 marathons across 50 states, these people simply inspire.

That evening we all mingled and discussed the days events. Music from Paloma Faith, Maria Aragon and Ed Sheeran created a spectacular show for us all that evening.

The night ended with a small group in a back room at The Grove. It reminded me of The Breakfast Club as it became a very open and revealing emotional roller coaster of a conversation, I think we all felt that it was a very particular evening and I felt like I got to know a few people that much better than usual. That said it kept us up until 4am which was not ideal although par for the course!

The second day started with a run along the canal, a beautiful and peaceful 30 minutes of sweating, dying and swearing not to drink again! The day contained some seriously interesting tech presentations, my favourite was from Boston technologies and their Big Dog. You want to see something pretty scary then watch this video. One of the lead scientists talked us through the work they are doing on robotic intelligence. Watch here.

The incredible power of robots was a theme that afternoon with the leap forwards in medical robotic surgery being highlighted alongside the above. It does leave you wondering where this all leads, the Google self drive car, robots etc show us a society that is moving towards a world of cyber beings and I believe sooner than anyone thinks. As if we did not need more evidence then Google demonstrated their new Google Glasses where basically a simple device worn like glasses becomes your entire technical needs for photos, email, maps, etc. Larry kindly presented those for us!

Take a look at this video here.

Larry talked about how he sees the world with Eric Schmidt and took questions from the audience. He is a hugely smart guy if not the all round entertainer when it comes to these stage events and so although very interesting I think we were really by now all waiting for the final act. Bill Clinton.

Bill came on and the first thing that struck me was how much older he was in the flesh or perhaps than I remember him, still tall and big but nt quite the force you might imagine. He started slowly, talking about his work and foundation in a very measured and thoughtful way but he started to wind up in the last ten minutes or so. You started to get glimpses of that steal and energy he was famous for and a passion that clearly is still there. It was an incredible stage, to have watched this man on television and then have him just a few feet away was a privilege and one only Google is able to deliver in this special annual event.

The whole event was as ever slick, well organised and inspiring. I thought this year it was more serious but it had depth and made you think hard about the world we live in, that is what made this one of the most interesting I have been to. The event is unsurpassed by anything else around and I am grateful to have been invited.

A week at The VivaKi Nerve Center

A week at The Vivaki Nerve Center


An early meeting with the WW CEO of ZenithOptimedia to discuss how the market is shaping up and what can be expected of 2012. As the conference season starts I am being pulled in a number of directions to make sure everyone who needs the latest info has it!

Later that morning a call with the boss, Curt Hecht, it’s a about planning stage and we discuss what we need to get done for 2012 and how we will work with the agencies. A lot of progress in 2011 for VivaKi and The VivaKi Nerve Center and so it makes for some great conversations for next year. More than ever we will be a very European organisation which is achievement in itself. a series of meetings with the major EMEA markets all to be planned.

A session on contracts, which seems to take up a lot of time at the moment, but we are making real progress with a number of contracts signed that will help power The Pool, Partnerships and AOD.

End the day back at the WW CEO’s office to finalise some notes for the conference and its my turn to start to prepare for the Exchangewire ATS event where I am on a panel with Nigel Gilbert from Orange, Gurman from MediaIQ, Breadon from AOL, Martin from infectious and hosted by Zuzanna at Microsoft. Will be a good day I am sure.

In the evening, I went to the Appnexus / Microsoft drinks and met with the founder of Appnexus, the new head of Microsoft, Andy Hart and a number of others. Bumped into Jakob of GroupM, always a pleasure and we had a little catch up and then I had to leave for dinner with Quantcast and Exchangewire down at BerryBros.

As usual you learn something on these nights and having spoken to a number of people from other groups, its clear to me that VivaKi are the most integrated and aligned group in this space, working hand and glove with the agencies. I hope over time this pays dividends for us all.

Tuesday – ATS Day

Arriving at the event really makes you see how far things have moved on in the last year. Ciaran’s first one was a big event but this really surpassed itself with 400+ guests. Unfortunately as the day went on it became clear that again it lacked publishers and advertisers. The more I think about this though, the more I think, why should they be there?

Morning sessions were OK but lacked direction, more moderation, different questioners and less keynotes would have improved the morning session. Keynotes fund these events but I feel having Mediamath and Rubicon and Appnexus all doing a turn is perhaps excessive.

Microsoft did a great session, slick presentation and I think surprised everyone, he even presented an Apple Ad, which was the talk of the Twittersphere..

The afternoon panel I was on was billed to be controversial, I knew it would not be, for two reasons. The first is we have said this before and the second is that people in the audience don’t want to stand out and make issues. The bigger these events become the more polite they will become. I had a couple of key themes I wanted to get across around the whole Ad Trading Desks.

1. We are not an Ad Network
2. We will cut back on Ad Network spend
3. We will be aiming to centralise all retargeting and we think it’s the right thing to do
4. We work with a number of DSPs just not in the UK and we know what is what

I made all of these statements as well as suggesting Ad Nets use client data across their campaigns and received no resistance so, if it was not controversial, it was not because of me! Feedback has been that it was too about positioning of each others company etc but you go where the questions take you.

All in all though, a good day, got to catch up with some great people from around the business and generally enjoyed it all.


We march on with an exciting morning meeting with a large European company that is soon to become Vivak’s first VNC Partner in EMEA. We have of course high profile relations with Microsoft and Google as well as other US companies, but this is the first at scale. We worked through the opportunities, what we need to do together and how we can help each other, a great start to Wednesday and we look forward to releasing that news soon.

Later that day, I 100% focused on The Pool. We have been delayed on this but we are ready to go again, very exciting, there is other info on The Pool elsewhere on my blog Later this year I am presenting at the IAB conference on Spain the results of the Spanish Lane and some of the work that’s been going on in the US, I am really excited about the results that have come from this work.

We have three great publisher partners and already two major clients so things are looking great in that regard, there will be more to come on that subject shortly.

The day ends meeting a team of senior Google Product managers who are trying to work with us to provide insight to power Audience On Demand. It’s these meetings that the Google partnership is founded on, not media spend and discounts. It was a really interesting session and we learned alot about what is coming up. Invite will be a very powerful proposition.


A quieter day on the meetings and valuable time to catch up. I did meet up with the CEO of Vindico and team who have big ambitions in the UK. We work with them on The Pool and they are a great outfit. Its time we need to get over the control issue around video adserving, we have been through this once with display and its time we moved on when it comes to video. We are used to substandard, early 2000 type tracking and reporting which is not acceptable.


A chance to discuss everything we have been doing and seeing this week. A morning appointment with a client with a brief to talk them through all the things The Vivaki Nerve Center are working on, went brilliantly and we will be doing some great work I hope. They showed the kind of interest in innovation that makes it all worth while.

A run for the train from glamorous Slough with just enough time to read the placard under the stuffed dog at the station and down to Microsoft to present to their regional scale display teams and talk about the importance of agency trading desks. Quite a turn out and some great questions from the group, I hope we can act on some of the discussions and continue to grow our global partnership.

I end the week with some time to keep up momentum with The Pool, discuss with thepaulsilver the final touches of an exciting launch next week and what I am going to do when he is on holiday!

Why Ad networks can’t become agencies but the reverse is not true.

The latest debate in the display space is whether or not ad networks are going to have to become agencies and go direct to clients to sustain their business. It’s a fair assumption, the likes of Specific and others will hire agency people, create better strategies and approach clients. The latest article can be found here on exchangewire.

It’s a believable concept but one that is out of sync with the way the industry is heading. Although there is a lot of hype around ad exchanges and targeting / data opportunities, within an agency, exchange trading remains a line on a schedule, albeit a complicated one. The exchange space asks many questions of agencies but that is around change and adapting, once its all settled down, it will revert to being an important channel like search and crucially will be integrated into all the other channels.

Over the last few years clients have been on a journey where in the main they have consolidated channels, first digital overall and then they have dragged search in where specialists have held on for some time. It’s not only channels but they are integrating their media agencies both within countries and between countries with more and more international pitches. Anyone in a major agency will have lived that in the last few years. So after all of this integration I think it is unlikely they will want to start farming individual channels out again, especially when it may be big news in the exchange world but within agencies, it’s just another new channel. Time and time again through research, better coordination and integration has shown better results for the advertiser so there is no reason to split out exchange trading.

There is also some realistic areas to take into account. Clients spend 80% of their budgets on offline, 60% of their digital budgets on search, the rest is split all over. So its fine for an adnetwork to go direct but they will never fill the roll of an agency. The agency roll is more than buying and is across all media channels, its events, experiential, etc etc, it’s also highly people heavy and Ad networks have been used to high margins, low headcount.

So direct is fine but will struggle in the UK marketplace, however I think with time the agencies could start to deliver an ad network experience and product within the context of their huge global corporations. Of course there is middle ground, some chameleon organisations that act as an agency or a network, but their offer only goes so far to be a real threat.

I dont think we need to start a war between agency groups and ad networks, I am sure we will all find a way, but I know what side I would want to be on.

Google and Publicis/Vivaki renew partnership

Oh yes there will be those who start to pick away and question this partnership, some ask what this partnership is about, but you need to start at the start. Maurice Levy set out a strategy for the Groupe to be the leading digital group in the marketplace. He has achieved that ambition, but how do you get a huge organisation to move in one direction? Well firstly you show them you mean business and invest. Look back at what he has done. Maurice bought up Phonevalley in mobile, Performics in search and SEO, the big one was Razorfish and others, this has created no doubt about his intentions. So what else would a digital organisation of this size do?

Well you should have some close friends that are themselves giants of the digital business. Enter Google partnership in 2008 and Microsoft a little later on, both significant relationships, both the first partnerships of their kind and both giving an insight and opportunity to the clients of Vivaki that noone else could offer. This approach make so much sense and cannot be open to criticism.

Now the thing with friendships, the longer they are the more fruitful they are, the partnership with Google is now into its second term and third year. The senior teams in the VNC and digital teams of the group have been working with product and commercial guys from Google in a more integrated and collaborative way for some time and it’s this that drives the value and the reason, you cant undo a long friendship.

The announcement today of the renewal is significant a) because it has been renewed! We have worked well together and we want that relationship to continue and b) our renewal comes at a time when others are just creating their first deals and they are basing them on very spend related terms rather than strategic and product led. These deals are designed to create opportunity for the clients, not deliver a low cpm. Its an exciting space and the VNC will be working closely with Google on creating some of the most advanced strategies around exchange technology in video and mobile so this can only be a good thing.

Read the announcement here

I look forward to working with Google over the next two years and can proudly say that Vivaki really does have a couple of great BFs.

Google Zeitgeist, inspiration in a day.

There was more passion from the speakers and less from the audience compared to the EMEA version, that was my overriding impression. I expected more whooping but instead found a very reserved audience.

So I missed the first day, by all accounts a roller coaster of a day where the economists depressed everyone and Ted Turner inspired everyone. I arrived in time for dinner and Cirque de Soleil. I was surprised how little enthusiasm there was for the show, people were clapping politely when they should have been going crazy, the Europeans were far more excitable, I thought it was meant to be the other way round! That theme of restraint continued into the next day except for Geoffrey Canada – anyone heard of this guy? No probably not in EMEA, he is a US inspiration, he is a social activist and educator who campaigns for better education for the ethnic minorities with a focus on Harlem.

Geoffrey was one of the best speakers, most entertaining, intelligent and passionate speakers I have seen for some time. I have been to 5 zeitgeist and it was the first time there was a standing ovation, it felt strange for me, a bit like the judges getting up and down for X factor but he deserved it, look him up, there are not many presenters like him.

The crowd did not ask questions, there were limited interactions, in europe they are queuing up, to be fair mainly spanish, Italian opinionated people happy to tackle anything, perhaps the Americans are more respectful and don’t want to challenge everything, the Europeans love it! This was what surprised me the most.

Geoffrey was great. Later in the day Lance Armstrong was on stage, he clearly is an inspiration, I found him a little dull if I am honest, he sparked up when he talked about cycling, part from that it all felt a little emotionless for me, it’s a personal thing but I can’t help but feel when i see famous sportsmen that i want to hear about amazing anecdotes about their sport not their website, albeit a worthy cause. By the way he reconfirmed that he never took performance enhancing drugs, I believe him.

One man who was very impressive was the CEO of Verizon. He runs a company of 120billion dollars and employs 220k people! That is a staggering number of people to be responsible for, he was impressive, very impressive. The shame of the session was he was subjected to banal questions that came from a very subjective perspective. One man stood up and recounted how his wife waded through bills and would it not be easier to simplify the process? To be fair to him, he answered diligently. He was clearly a man who ran a serious business, he joked with Eric Schmidt of Google with a kind of ‘ I know you are big and powerful and Google, but my company is big stuff even against your operation, kind of way.’ That session ended with one man banging on about his contract and how T-mobile did it differently. At last his patience ran out and he tersely replied – we are not T-mobile and shut him down like the annoying man that he was. There is only so much of that shit you need to listen to. I was amazed at how low level, subjective, experience led the questions were, there was not a single weighty question asked of him..strange. By the way 4g is coming in a serious way for Verizon by end of year. was brilliant. Simply brilliant, these musicians are now so talented in so many other ways, business people, innovators, entrepreneurs. He was very funny, but clearly was leading the way in how to change the music industry. This is a guy who would be happy to shut out the music label industry. He was joined on stage by the CMO from coke which made it feel a little more dirty to me, he was talking a very purist story, it felt diluted by her intervention.

I have gone on for a while now. I want to end on a more serious note. The CEO of Canter Fitzgerald, Howard Lutnick was invited to talk about he coped with 9/11 and the impact it had on his business. Let’s hear the facts. Honestly I can’t remember them all it was too shocking but roughly it was something like this..650 of 900 members of his team were killed. Because he had always encouraged family and friends to be employed by existing employees it was something like 17 sets of brothers and sisters were killed, he lost his own brother..9 years after the event he was still struggling to deliver his speech without tears. The story was unbelievable, his clients rallied to them, the LA office gave up profits to pay for the families of the dead, he ran the business at cost and gave the rest to the families of the dead. It brought tears to everyone’s eyes, it was incredible. I am glad I was there just for that. Read more here

There were no questions after that session.

I found the content and speakers far more inspirational and interesting than the UK this year, they appeared to come with more passion than in the UK and I found myself addicted to what was going on, the only thing that let things down was the audience.

Finally I found the relentless and ruthless networking quite distasteful, the thousand mile stare as they try to see your badge and decide if you are important or not. One thing you realise is just say you have a UK or EMEA role and they switch off, oh, that little island , no, you are not worth anything to’s painfully transparent.