19 September 2017

Worried this is all too easy

I remember once when I was about ten, a few friends and I were hanging out in the park playing football. It was the school holidays, a lovely summer's day - not too hot, not too cold. 

On the opposite end of the field emerged another group of friends who were also knocking a ball about. They were a good few years younger than us. Now, when a group of lads turns up at the park and they have a football it always meant we'd have a match. I say 'match' but I mean 'game'. These pesky kids are no match for us. 

You see, when you're that age it's a given that you're a better player simply because you're older. Bigger, stronger, more experienced. But these kids aren't completely stupid; they know they're in for a thrashing. 

Actually, we had no intention of thrashing them. We were hell-bent on utter domination. We were gonna make at least one of them cry. Probably the ginger. I had a plan to force their best striker to score a hatrick of own goals. We were Manchester United. They were a Cornwall-based Sunday league side. 

I'm not sure how we convinced them to play us. Probably threatened to tell everyone at school they still wet the bed or something. 

So we start the game and it pretty much goes down the way I described above. We command and conquer. 

For about five minutes. 

Turns out that it just wasn't that fun. The lack of a challenge just made it too easy. We knew the result before we even began. Sure, our egos took a quick boost, but that's all. 

And that's what I worry about - not just with daily blogging - but writing as a whole. This is not a boast in any way, but I'm finding it easy. Too easy, almost, and I'm nervous. 

I've always wanted to write. I spent years thinking about what I could write. I've read books on writing. I've listened to countless podcasts and interviews with writers about writing, and for years it's been drummed into my skull how hard writing is. How painful it is. How you have to not only catch, but serenade your muse and treat it like a lover. 

So imagine my surprise when I find words flowing out of me, a near endless supply of things to write about, and no writer's block to speak of. 

As I found out in that football game all those years ago, easy is not a place where you want to be. It breeds complacency, reeks of stagnation and is a lovely, warm hiding place. 

So, I need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. Am I finding this easy because I'm not pushing myself? Because, actually, my writing is flat and boring? Do I need to try harder to make my writing sing from the rooftops? I certainly think so. Must try harder from now on. 

And that begs the question: What else in my life is easy that shouldn't be? What easy paths am I taking out of fear?

What easy paths are you taking?

by Nino Rosella
18 September 2017

Stop seeking motivation

It's fickle. And I can prove it.  

We all know the drill: we hear a rousing speech, watch a spine-tingling video, read a hero’s journey story, and all of a sudden we’re full of beans. We’re going to take on the world, leave our mark. Create a legacy. We’re going to right all the wrongs, build our dreams, and inspire humanity with our art. 

And it’s such an incredible feeling! Until thirty minutes later when someone pulls out in front of us in traffic and we scream at the tops of our voices all the bad things we want to happen to that person. Or we spill coffee down our clean shirt and curse our lives ("I can’t even keep my fucking coffee in my mouth, how am I going to save the world?”) Or we get a little bit hungry. Or a tad tired. 

Instead, we need to develop discipline

I made this joyous discovery after reading Daily Rituals by Mason Currey. I was struck by how the vast majority of the people documented in the book approached their art as professionals. Day-in, day-out they went to work whether they wanted to or not, the same way you or I go to work on a construction site, the office or at home all day with the kids. 

Discipline laughs in the face of motivation. You simply get on with it. No excuses. No ifs or buts. 

Do you think I have the motivation to write this blog every single day after ten hours of manual labour? Hell no. Oftentimes it's the absolute last thing I want to do (usually is the last thing I do as you can probably tell by the quality of some posts). 

What gets me through is discipline. I sit down and write. Day-in, day-out. Whether I have something to say or not. Whether I’m feeling sprightly or hungover. Whether I have the time or not. Whether I’m full of energy or trying my damnedest to stay awake. 

Discipline has allowed me to be the most productive I’ve ever been, to make some progress down the path that I’ve chosen, the path I’ve dreamed and speculated about for so long. 

Discipline is freedom. (h/t Jocko Willink) 

by Nino Rosella
17 September 2017

Memento, homo...

Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem revereteris

(Remember, man, you are dust and will be dust again)

I rarely go in search of motivation, and I'm usually pretty immune to any kind of motivational speech, video, or story. However, there's is always one thing that does motivate me and that's death. 

Sure, that sounds rather morbid at first. But the thought that I could die at any moment with none of my visions or missions coming to fruition, none of my passions truly acted on, not having created the change I seek to make in this world really puts my arse into gear. 

Our time on this planet is so short - we have to make it count. 

by Nino Rosella
16 September 2017

Is this the world we now live in?

Sitting in the cafe window on Euston Road, I watched as the weather took a sudden turn for the worse. The wind picked up and the rain was lashing unprepared commuters at a forty-five degree angle as they made a dash for the train station. 

The lucky ones had a flimsy, bargain-basement umbrella to ward off the worst. Many others had to make do with their coat hoods, or a plastic bag. One girl was holding a thick piece of cardboard in front of her head like a soldier would hold their shield under a barrage of arrows. Apart from the fact it wasn’t a piece of cardboard; it was her sketchbook. 

Is this the world we now live in? 

A world where one’s hair and makeup are more important than the work we produce? More important than our hobbies, passions, and skills? The fruits of our labour? 

I hope not. 

by Nino Rosella
15 September 2017

She weighed my burrito

“I’ll have a pork burrito, please.” 

“No problem, sir” came the reply from the rather miserable-looking server. Already a bit put off by her manner I became slightly alarmed when I saw her lay a tortilla wrap on top of a set of scales and proceed to carefully measure out the contents of my burrito. First came a small helping of black beans, followed by a bit of rice. Each time adding a little bit here and there to bring the weight up. 

Then came the pork. Waaaaay too much pork judging by the way she puffed-out her cheeks and removed some from the burrito. 

“Why are you weighting the burrito?” I asked. “Is it for the optimal taste?” 

“No. The manager doesn’t want us giving customers too much.” 


I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I had only just walked into the place and was essentially being accused of stealing. Of getting too much value for my money. 

I don’t know much about business, but I do know that treating your customers with contempt from the get-go is not the best strategy. Luckily, this strategy hasn’t gone unnoticed and they’re rocking an average rating of 1.6 on Google. 

With everyone watching and able to comment on everything you do it pays to be doing the right thing. 

by Nino Rosella
14 September 2017

"Just to confirm what we spoke about..."

I can’t help but feel a bit sad every time I receive and email that starts like this.

It’s caused by a lack of trust.

I can understand if it’s from someone outside of the company - a third party undertaking a minor one-off job - but someone who you’re partnered in a long-term project with? Someone inside the same company - a colleague? It’s inexcusable and it’s a culture problem.

You had to put it down in writing because you think that I’m going to steal your ideas and get a promotion over you. Or that I’m not going to do the share of the work that was allocated. Or proof that this idea (the one that could potentially make the project fail) was all my idea to begin with.

A top-down approach can’t fix this. We can’t start trusting one another just because someone tells us to (we can hire better, though). Instead, we all have to take the initial step to actually be more trustworthy and trusting. 

There's some environments where it's nigh on impossible: companies that use competition between you and your colleagues as motivation, companies that treat you as a number on a spreadsheet, for instance. If this applies to you then consider finding a new job. 

Fixing this problem is a grassroots movement, and it starts with you. 

by Nino Rosella
13 September 2017


I'm a firm believer that in order to get what you really want you have to be prepared to make sacrifices. 

Sometimes they're big ones like living off Pot Noodles for a year while you build your business. Or seeing your friends once every few months so that you can be there for your young children. 

Other times it's giving up TV at night to write your blog or giving up chocolate to shed a few pounds. 

Some people are inherently aware that they have to make these choices and some are not. The former are usually the most successful. 

The most important thing about making sacrifices is not just being prepared to make them, but actually doing them. 

by Nino Rosella
12 September 2017

How are you doing?

Today my manager did something so slight, yet so remarkable, it imbued me with a sense of hope. 

She asked me how I was doing, then - unlike the hundreds that have come before - stayed around to listen to the answer. She didn’t fidget with her phone, neither did she give the impression she was just hearing what came out of my mouth in response. She actually listened. And cared. 

This is what good leaders (and friends) should do. This is what you should do starting right now.

by Nino Rosella
11 September 2017

Go to your tribe

I wrote yesterday about a fantastic Turkish restaurant called Gökyüzü. Well, I was having a look on their website and I saw that they opened their second restaurant in Chingford, which is 8 miles away in the opposite direction to Central London. 

I was a bit miffed as to why such a popular restaurant would decide not to open a Central London branch. Don’t they realise how successful they could be and how much money they’d make? 

But, in fact, the opposite would be true. You see, Gökyüzü leads a tribe - primarily a group of Turks that like to be reminded of home. These are the people they seek to serve first and foremost. You know what’s in Chingford? A large Turkish community. 

They’ve chosen to shun frivolities such as a prestigious Chelsea or Covent Garden address to show up precisely where their tribe are. This is why they’ll continue to be successful for many years to come. 

Do you know where your tribe is?

by Nino Rosella
10 September 2017

Making promises

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In case you weren’t aware; yesterday I got drunk. A couple of mates and I made the 45-minute pilgrimage on public transport to Green Lanes in Haringey to visit our two favourite places: Gökyüzü restaurant and The Salisbury pub. Both of these establishments are wildly popular - not only with the locals, but with people across the whole of London. 

I believe the key to their success is the fact that they both make really strong implicit promises and then never break them.

If you think about it; there’s a promise at the heart of all marketing. We have explicit promises; “take out a credit card with us and you’ll have six months 0% interest”, and we have implicit promises, which are way more powerful. An implicit promise isn’t stated, it’s rarely simple and you’ll struggle to measure it. 

For instance, the implicit promise of Gökyüzü is that you get an authentic taste of Turkey, in a mildly chaotic setting reminiscent of a Mediterranean family kitchen. The food is hearty, honest and delicious. If they were to start serving a fancy menu, cut down the portion sizes and play lounge music on the stereo they’d quickly find the place empty.

The Salisbury is a proper pub. It doesn’t serve drinks in jam jars, it doesn’t sell the latest hipster craft beer, its sparse food menu is simple and at the weekends they put the footy on. This is important to people like me. People like us do things like this.

Nowhere are any of these promises written down, yet everyone is aware of it, which makes our jobs as marketers that much more complex - and rewarding when we get it right! What promise are you making and are you sure you’re keeping it?

by Nino Rosella