Up, Up and Away – Winning with Creative Leadership

Wednesday, 1 August 2012 - Moscow, Russia

Creative Leadership Russia

Presentation Summary

Speaking at ArtPlay in Moscow, Russia, Kevin Roberts presents on the importance of creative leadership for winning in the turbulent world we live in today.

It’s fun to be back in Russia, to once more breathe the energy and optimism of Russians.

I’m going to talk about winning, which is about moving forward. Who wants to go backwards or stand still? To be in a broken economy, company, family?  Wanting to win is everything. Craving success matters today, because we live in a VUCA world: 

Volatile. Earthquakes and floods, revolutions and insurrections, commodity and currency swings.

Uncertain. Can Europe pull itself together, or will it fly apart? Can Russia accelerate without oil and gas?

Complex. How can 7 billion people all have shelter, secure food, stay healthy, get along, feel great, be happy, pay for it all, fight off asteroids and  aliens!!?

Ambiguous. There are more obese people in the world than starving. How did that happen?

To win in a VUCA world, you must reframe it to “superVUCA”.

Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy, Astounding. 

Quite the Challenge.

Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit.“ – Vince Lombardi

Winning is a habit. I’m going to talk about how to make it an unbreakable habit.

To win you must grow – and growth in an ‘always-on’, upside-down VUCA world can’t be driven top-down.

Management is dead. Marketing is dead. Strategy is dead too. These processed approaches only add incremental improvements, at the expense of people.

The super-smart Russian consumer is ahead of these models, accelerating into the moment, looking for instant and inspired responses.

Welcome to the Age of Now 

  • Now, people feel good living for the moment, safe from yesterday’s regrets and tomorrow’s fears. 80% of people’s happiness is in the Now.

More than half of Moscow shoppers prefer to make quick shopping trips compared to about one-fourth of shoppers who like to stock up.

  • Now, where technology has put people in power – not the State, not the manufacturers, the retailers, the transporters. The consumer question:

How will you improve my life? Her demand? ‘Make me the hero, not your product!’

  • Now, where people respond instantly to creative pulses, creative ideas that meet instant expectation, give instant feedback, accept instant improvement, and then go ballistic.

Russia’s challenge is to achieve creative velocity, to shift into permanent beta mode, a highly unstable state where nothing is ever finished.

To grow today, you must unleash the unreasonable power of creativity – the source of superVUCA.

Here are the contextual shifts towards winning:









Return on Investment

Return on Involvement

Pumping Markets

Creating Platforms

The currency of the Now is emotion, because emotion rules the intensity of the moment.

Emotion is how a revelation sparks, a customer decides, a fan shares, and an idea scales – because it changes the world of the audience.

Emotion is how screens come alive in the Screen Age. With Russia’s exploding Internet base, the job is to build buying momentum virtual to physical, end to end. This is about:

  • Ideas that make people want to participate, share and
    have fun.
  • Storytelling where it connects and inspires best (and when), with SISOMO as the fastest way to connect your passion with people’s passion.
  • Experience – not experience that people want, but experience people never dreamed possible.

Reason leads to conclusions, emotion leads to action.

To create a winning climate where ideas rule you must yourself become a Creative Leader.

Revolution starts with language:

  • CEO – Chief Excitement Officer
  • CMO – Chief Magic Officer
  • CIO – Chief Ideas officer

Having creative solutions, being creative, inspiring creative ideas, being a creative leader, this is the new order, the fast lane to tomorrow.

Creative leadership is about driving business results from creative commitment – commitment to build creative environments, to unlock and unleash creativity through radical thinking and execution.

Creativity leadership is the key to participation, involvement and scaling exponentially.

Most companies don’t know creativity when you see it. Most ideas get killed at birth!

How do you know?

The Age of Now audience asks 3 questions of anything you create:

  1. Do I want to see it again?
  2. Do I want to share it?
  3. Do I want to improve it?


#1 Creative Leaders have Purpose

Martin Luther King Rap

It all starts with a dream. Dreams are at the heart of all great endeavors.

Winning enterprises are powered by a core purpose, they are Purpose-inspired.

  • Apple: Think Different.
  • Walt Disney: To make people happy.
  • Nike: To experience the emotion of competition, winning, and crushing competitors.

Purpose-inspired switches price to priceless.

To lead with purpose, you must answer three personal questions:

  • When am I at my best?
  • What will I never do?
  • What’s my 5 year dream?

#2 Creative Leaders have Lots of Small Ideas, Continuously

Big ideas are scarce, strung out over time, and investment hungry.

Chances are you will stumble on the big idea, find it one degree from where you currently are, or even have it made for you by your audience.

 #3 Creative Leaders Reframe Constantly

  • Steve Jobs: presence into absence
  • P&G: Tide Dry Cleaners – from packaged-goods marketing to retail franchising

When you’re No.1, next steps are:

  • Re-imagine the business
  • Re-imagine the industry
  • Expand the scope
  • Lead.

#4 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.

#5 Creative Leaders Make it Irresistible 

If you make or offer something to sell, you want to make sure you are loved rather than merely liked – because today everything is a brand.

  • 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 aim to be Irreplaceable. Lovemarks are Irresistible.


  • Low Respect. Low LoveCensorship
  • High Love. Low RespectMySpace
  • High Respect. Low LoveMost stuff
  • High Love High RespectGorky Park

Get people smiling, and you’re in the win zone.

#6 Creative Leaders Reveal Three Secrets 

Mystery is inspirations, dreams, icons, symbols, past / present / future, and stories. All the premiums are in what we don’t know.

Futurist Rolf Jensen: “The highest-paid person in the first half of this century will be the story-teller.”

Some of the best stories are short.

Sensuality enthralls the emotions, Vision, Sound, Scent, Touch, Taste.

Diesel has teamed up with The Sims to add a touch of its legendary style to a virtual gaming space.

Intimacy is empathy, commitment, passion. It’s the small touch, the perfect gesture, the fine detail, you in the audience’s heart, not the audience at your heart.

Ritz-Carlton changed “Please stay with us” to “Let us stay with you.”

#7 Creative Leaders Inspire Others to Deliver

Continuously challenge yourself and coach others to achieve the Dream.

To inspire people today you must have:

  • Team / Family
  • Work / Life Integration
  1. Responsibility
  2. Learning
  3. Recognition
  4. Joy

#8: Creative Leaders Execute

In the Age of Now, getting things done is too slow. You have to make things happen. Steve Jobs: ‘Real artists ship.’

To make things happen:

  • 100 Day Plans: Start with verb, add noun, ignite. From small to Big: “sell 1000 units”’ to “Achieve Middle-East Peace.”
  • Drive the important not the urgent.
  • Meet, Beat, Repeat. Respond right now.
  • Eliminate – Reduce – Raise – Create. Eliminate is key. Russia’ accession to the WTO is an eliminator, an accelerator.

De Bono said that there’s no point at being brilliant at the wrong thing.

From To
Assess 50% 20%
Decide 30% 10%
Execute 20% 70%

The left hand column describes most businesses today: strategically-driven, by the book, MBA-obsessed, ponderous.

The second column is where companies operating in the Age of Now need to be. Fast. Instinctive. Focused on action not assessment, and…. Fail Fast, Learn Fast, Fix Fast.

Three E Words to sum up and take out:

Enthusiasm – Be an irresistible force of nature. Lead with inspiration and joy… Build platforms for sharing the passion.

Edge – Embrace risk; go to the Edge where Creative Leaders inspire warp speed growth. The Edge is biological, geographical, and metaphorical. The Center is passive and predictable; the Edge is unstable, active, risky.

Everyone – Corporates look for balance. Solutions to great problems will come from edgy individuals who fulfill the role of business.

Make the world a better place for everyone.

Creative leaders and crazy ideas change the world, not meetings, resolutions or ‘to do’ lists.

Evolution takes centuries. Revolution takes 30 years. The future happens now, together.

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.

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