Start Me Up

Saturday, 21 January 2012 - Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Entrepreneurship Saudi Arabia

Presentation Summary

Kevin Roberts gives keynote speech at the 6th Annual Global Competitiveness Forum “The Entrepreneurship Imperative” held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, sharing three ways to win in the region.

The world today is a VUCA world:

Volatile: Eruptions of disaster, debt, and discord, punctuated by bursts of delight.

Uncertain: Can Europe pull itself together? Can America get itself together? How will the Arab, Asian and African worlds evolve as they power up?

Complex: How can 7 billion people all have shelter, secure food, stay healthy, get along, feel great, be happy, pay for it all.

Ambiguous: People don’t want to be super rich; they want to be richer than their neighbors.

Without strong and diversified economies, there is no human development. Getting ahead of VUCA demands we create entire new fields of economic activity.

Competition is the generator, and it takes an entrepreneur to turn it on. An entrepreneur is a dreamer-warrior able to create superVUCA.

A world: Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy, Astounding.

Creating a superVUCA society is about desire to win, an intense want by individuals to back their dream, run a risk, smash barriers and leap a chasm.

As ESPN Coach of the Century, Vince Lombardi said: “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.”

Who is satisfied by going backwards or standing still?

Growth is a human characteristic, and moving forward boils down to winning. The alternative to winning is chaotic, depressing and socially fracturing. Losing is lousy.

Middle Eastern entrepreneurship is innate, bubbling and full of potential. Saudi Arabia is loaded with enterprising people. I’m excited about your ability to create new industries and sectors to employ your young people (eg automotive, telecoms, finance, construction, mining, plastics, tourism).

Here are the 3 keys for this country, this region, and the world to win in a competitive global reality:

1. To win, be purpose-inspired


  • WELCH-create shareholder value
  • DRUCKER-create and grow a customer
  • KR-make the world a better place for everyone.

MLK did not say “I have a mission statement.”

Entrepreneurs have a dream of improving the world in some way. They are Inspirational Players who create jobs, choices, opportunities and wellbeing.

Inspirational Dreams are Purpose-inspired. They let people be part of something bigger than themselves.

The customer question has changed from “how cheap are you?” to “how will you improve my life?”.

This question is priceless, urgent and emotional.

Emotion is how people live, decide and share – and this has intensified beyond price. People have fled VUCA into an Age of Now, a sanctuary from yesterday’s regrets and tomorrow’s fears.

Around the world people are instantly-connected, immediately-responsive and looking for instant joy. In a world of “screenagers”, winning is about creating movements, not pumping markets.

Saatchi & Saatchi has always led through inspiration fired by emotion – to accelerate clients with big dreams like Procter & Gamble and Toyota, and to champion urgent global social causes.

Reason leads to conclusions; emotion leads to action.

2. To win, unleash Creative Leadership

The Age of Now is an accelerated timeframe, met by the unreasonable power of creativity.

Creativity is the winning app. It is unleashed primarily by individual flashes of brilliance and inspirational leadership, not through group think tanks.

New industries come from entrepreneurs, the crazy ones who take an idea to the world.  From Henry Ford to Steve Jobs, Mr Procter & Mr Gamble to Richard Branson.

Here are five things you need to practice to be a creative leader, and a leader of creativity:

  • Creative Leaders generate lots of small ideas, continuously. Big ideas are scarce, strung out over time, and investment hungry.The big idea is usually stumbled on, found one degree away from where you are standing right now, or your audience makes it.
  • Creative Leaders reframe relentlessly. Steve Jobs reframed presence into absence, ditching the floppy, the optical drive, even the keyboard.
  • Creative Leaders surprise with the obvious.To develop a pen that could write in space, NASA spent millions on advanced technology. The Russians used a pencil.
  • Creative Leaders give their people four things: responsibility, learning, recognition, joy.
  • Creative Leaders ask three questions of any idea:
    • Will people want to see it again?
    • Will people want to share it?
    • Will people want to improve it?

3. Win by Becoming a Lovemark

You all understand love, for family, for country. Saudi Arabians love their country because their country loves them.

  • Brands live in people’s heads. You want to be part of their hearts.
  • Brands are owned by companies, marketers, and stockholders. Lovemarks are owned by the people who love them.
  • Brands are built on Respect. Lovemarks are created out of Respect and Love.
  • Brands build Loyalty for a Reason. Lovemarks inspire Loyalty Beyond Reason.
  • Brands deliver performance, respect and trust. Lovemarks infuse mystery, sensuality and intimacy, the stuff that matters.
  • Brands aim to be Irreplaceable. Lovemarks are Irresistible.

Wind Up

Here are 3 E words to help start you up and take off:

  • Enthusiasm – Be an irresistible force of nature, a Creative Leader driven to inspire through emotion.
  • Empathy – Understand your people, your audience. Listen.
  • Execute – It’s not enough to get things done.

Make things happen.

Be single-minded– but right! De Bono – no point in being brilliant at the wrong thing.

Some tools: Drive the important not the urgent. 100 day plans. Verb + noun. Small to Big: “Sell 1000 units” to “Achieve World Peace.” Fail fast, learn fast, fix fast. Goizueta: Meet, Beat, Repeat.

The time is Now.

How to Win in the Age of Now


Spanning creativity, leadership and execution, Kevin Roberts’ presentation to the Entrepreneurs’ Organization Wellington Chapter is an inspirational primer in: Wanting to Win, Ways to Win Now and Ways to Keep Winning – the secrets of Peak Performance so that winning becomes a habit.

Up, Up and Away – Rotary Newmarket


Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi, talks to the Newmarket Rotary Club about Winning in the Age of Now, and how to turn a brand into an irresistible Lovemark for the next generation.

Set Fire To The Rain


In this presentation to Spotlight On Lancaster at Lancaster University, Kevin Roberts talks about enabling, energizing and activating creative partnerships and achieving Vibrant, Crazy, Unreal and Astounding impact.

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Magic Time


In this presentation to EmoDay in Amsterdam, Kevin Roberts shares five key ideas on emotional innovations and creating Lovemarks.

Just Can’t Get Enough


Presenting to the Institute of Development Professionals in Education in Oxfordshire, Kevin Roberts presents three ideas on creating Loyalty Beyond Reason and creating frameworks for development discussions.

Rhythm of Love


Speaking at the National Speakers Association of Australia Convention, Melbourne, Kevin Roberts shares 5 big ideas to put you on the path to creating Lovemarks.