The Concept of Cool. –

The Urban Dictionary defines “Cool” as a phrase that is very relaxed and never goes out of style.  There’s doctorates and self help books enough to fill a stadium written on and about our quest for “cool” and it is something that has always baffled me.

As grown ups – my husband and I have a wide, varied and supportive social circle.  I would not, however, call either of us “cool”.  Some of our friends are, exceptionally and effortlessly cool cats – but we remain filterless oddities with big hearts and even bigger mouths that can  and do get us into trouble.

I came home from a wonderful and enjoyable dinner with friends last night, after several successful evenings in a row of visiting.  I had to stop and wonder about how all of this came about.  Adolescence and post adolescence was something I squeaked through by the skin of my teeth, and although I craved Love and friendship, I can honestly say that most people only just tolerated me.  Not that I can blame them for that looking back on the big basket of crazy I was in those days.

As an adult, the crazy remains.  The only difference now being… I don’t really mind if that causes people to dislike me.  Sure I still get a bit upset when haters hate on me, or opportunists prey on me, or nasty people are cruel or gossip – but not so much because I take this stuff as personally or seriously as I did once – I find this stuff upsetting now because it is crap.  Whether it is happening to me or someone else.

As an adult, the happiest (and generally “coolest”) people I know embrace their eccentricities and celebrate the different quirks and oddities in those around them.  They can embrace different political, religious or scientific views and are happy being heard, without the need to always be right.

One conversation, with a beautiful and successful friend of mine who is a published author and business woman, was on our opposing political views.  We aired our opinions, failed to agree on everything (most things perhaps), and left without a single ounce of lost respect for one another.

A broad and thoughtful grin from my friend, and the confession that she couldn’t ever lose an argument or be wrong until she was well into her 30’s made us both laugh – and a common ground was again established.

I honestly hope that ageing is bringing a previously lacking grace and perhaps even some humility without counter productive self-deprication.  Also an increased sense of self and purpose, that could have really been a useful tool while struggling through my awkward teens and twenties.

Which brings me back to the concept of “cool”.

My new career means that I must be able to identify trends, fads, brand penetration and loyalty.  I also get to try and unravel the mystery of stages in the lifecycle of a brand, product or service, and easily and elegantly distinguish who thinks the brands, causes and individuals I represent are “cool” and why.  Thanks to the Internet, and a very clever ninja business partner, there’s lots of tools to help me with all of these necessary quantitative and qualitative evils – but it is a mysterious and sought after gift that some people have to be able to pick out “the next big thing”. Some people have it, some do not, but I honestly think there are a few tried and true rules about what people are drawn to – because these are the things that attract me!

What I lack in street credibility, youth, elegance and influence, I try and make up for by identifying and aligning with a few truths that have rarely steered me wrong. (You may or may not agree)

1) Genuine kindness is always cool. Douche-baggery may have a moment in the sun, but is not sustainable. While brands like Abercrombie and Fitch chase their misguided holy grail of exclusivity by catering to the “cool kids” and “mean girls” as a genuine branding exercise caused a rather uplifting backlash – there is a massive movement away from that and toward conscious consumerism and feel good factor lifestyle and buying behaviour.

2) Confidence!  Yes, confidence. NOT arrogance.  Being sure of yourself, comfortable in your own skin, proud of the brands and causes you believe in, and feeling free to make choices that make you feel good, well all of that is seriously contagious.  Eeyore, glass is half empty stuff does not win friends and influence people, but confidently stepping out and doing your thing your way certainly does.

3) Choose Happy.  Be content.  Happiness, enthusiasm, energy, joie de vivre, optimism; These are things that people are undeniably drawn to.  The tragedy of coolness fuelled by snobbery and exclusivity is that we do from time to time fall prey to theses illusions as a source of happiness.  The concept of “keeping up with the Joneses” and filling up empty with expensive and beautiful things is one that does not seem to fade out of our consciousness, especially in the Western world I’d say.  However, being happy and celebrating all that you have, and NOT pining for things you do not is a great and sustainable source of genuine peace and happiness if you’re able to grab hold of it.  And if you’re able to do this, please share with me your secret, as I often bitch and moan about first world problems like a beggar sitting on a beach of gold.

4) Keeping it real.  Whoever you are, wherever you are, being real and genuine is going to be a much safer and consistent bet.  A facade, regardless of how practiced or intricate, will eventually be tested and break.  However; good, honest character and establishing a reputation of integrity is invaluable and maybe even infinite.  Even if people don’t like you, they’ll have a hard time attacking your character if you know who you are and you’re not afraid to be yourself. Being an optimist, I also believe that the truth does eventually come out. Either good or bad.  High flyers and bullshit artists like Bernie Madoff or Eric Watson can ride the wave of success for a while, but immoral and self serving behaviour will eventually end in an almighty fall from grace.  Even rather sad stories of amazing historical figures who die penniless or unappreciated (Tesla, Van Gogh, Mozart to name a few) seem to be eventually vindicated by history as the truth of their genius and contributions to the world did come out.  Other people lead a quiet life and never seek or experience their fifteen minutes of fame, but leave a legacy of a family, some amazing friendships, a little garden plot, or maybe even a remarkable or heroic act that nobody knows about.  Regardless, I think there isn’t much value in fake it until you make it mentality.  A genuine character will stand up to time and scrutiny, and flippant and fake facades do not.

That’s enough ranting for a Tuesday.

Hope wherever you are and whatever you are up to that you enjoyed taking a minute to read this latest rant.

Star Trek, Storm Clouds, Children and Chores

While the rest of the planet seems to be welcoming in a long overdue Spring with record breaking high temperatures, New Zealand has finally been thrown an undeniable taste of winter.

Our heat pumps go on in the evenings, the smell of neighbours’ wood stoves hangs thick in the air as we dash between raindrops herding the kids into the house after school pick up.

I Love winter in New Zealand.  I Love that the slow cooker comes out, the duvets get thicker, the children get more snuggly, and there always seems to be a perfectly rational reason to stay in bed for an extra half hour (or more).

So all the stormy weather coincided with an event my entire family has waited four long years to arrive.  The release of the second instalment in the newest Star Trek movie franchise.  Oh yes.  We are actually that lame, and in no way ashamed of this fact.

So the tickets were booked, and off we trudged to the local movie theatre with our 3D glasses and high hopes for what J.J. Abrams was about to deliver to us.

J. J. Abrams put a smile on the faces of all the Happy Hobbits who attended the movie that day.  Thanks dude.  And, in the very unlikely event you ever get a chance to read my stonkingly cool Blog, you meet all the criteria we have laid out to actually be a Happy Hobbit, so we all have more than a bit of solid respect for you (and your stature).


One of the themes was friendship and loyalty and all that really important jazz.  The Vulcan obsession with logic battled head on with the human need to hold every single life (unless you are an expendable crew member, they remain prescribed canon fodder for the script writers, in the spirit of Roddenberry tradition) as sacred and worth taking herculean risks to save.

The film was great from beginning to end, and unfettered by conventions of historical accuracy based on the original Star Trek as the first instalment established itself as an alternate reality.  I wonder if they’ll manage a nod to the Spock With A Beard episode we all know and Love?

So yeah.

Star Trek was good, even if you don’t like Star Trek much, I challenge you not to enjoy this film.

Back on the planet earth in 2013 I have an ever increasing number of responsibilities.

I’ve been faced with the reality that being at the helm of a start up means a lot of trial and error, and it is always much easier to have opinions about how to do things, than it is to actually do them.  So I am attempting to actually get some things done.  Nothing ground breaking, just the basic nuts and bolts. Things like due diligence, budgets, forecasts, CRM population, manuals, templates, branding… you know the basics.  For the most part, it is fun and interesting and rewarding.  It is also a very steep learning curve, and I am trying not to get derailed or overwhelmed.  So far, pleased to report that I appear to be winning for the most part in these endeavours.

So now that the weekend is well and truly here, and the clock has just ticked over to midnight, making it Saturday morning here in Auckland New Zealand, I can safely say that for the next couple of days the most important thing in the world to me is hanging out with the family.

Happy Mothers Day weekend everyone.

Do yourself a favour and go see Star Trek if you don’t already have plans.

OH!  And last but not least, check out this Honest Movie Trailer for the first New Star Trek Movie.  Awesome and accurate and made us laugh out loud.


And the Rest of That Story…

We docked in Port Vila – Capital city of Vanuatu.

Ready to be turned away – for our attempts to deliver pain killers, surgical equipment, bluey pads, chord clamps and diarrhoea medication.

We were not turned away.  I suspect, in no small part thanks to the kindness of our Captain and Crew.  Someone may have suggested that it would be worthwhile to allow us to do the medical supply drop.

I have nothing to corroborate these suspicions, however…

We arrived, we followed protocol, and we were warmly welcomed.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking from this point.

We arrived:


And after arriving, our customs official called us a van.

We waited for a short time in the rain, to get whisked away to our destination, while all the other passengers battled with bartering and taxi drivers that caught their attention.  Our driver, William, came to the door and took us to the hospital.

And we delivered the donated supplies.




And we made some new friends.



And we got to be a part of the very first day of a few lives… An awesome, and special experience that we’ll all cherish forever!



And life begins, much the same as it does in every other corner of the world… with a bit of weighing, a bit of APGAR: (Devised in 1953 by Virginia Apgar as a simple and repeatable method to assess the health of newborn children, immediately after their birth) and a WHOLE LOT OF LOVE AND CARE!





This wee man won his Apgar… 

In summary.

Not everyone gets a chance to experience this, and it was an honour and a privilege to be welcomed into this, the most intimate moment of most people’s lives.

Thank you Midwives for Vanuatu, for giving us an opportunity to be a part of it.

I hope with all my heart that there are people out there who want to help this cause to thrive, evolve and meet the ever changing needs of this amazing nation of Vanuatu.

Best 35th Birthday adventure ever….