When Terry Leahey was 23 he joined Tesco as a junior marketing executive.
By age 36 he was on the board.
Largely because of what he’d done, Tesco became the largest retailer in the UK.
At age 39 he was made CEO.
At age 44 he was voted the UK’s Businessman Of The Year.
The year after that, he was named European Businessman Of The Year.
The year after that, Tesco recorded £2 billion annual profit.
By the time he retired, aged 54, Tesco was the third largest retailer in the entire world.
One pound in every eight spent in the UK was spent in Tesco.
This is the advice Sir Terry Leahey recently chose to pass along:
“Be more tolerant of the difficult people.
They’re the creative ones.
They’re not happy with the status quo”
So one of the most successful businessmen we’ve ever had recommends we learn to value troublemakers.
Of course he does.
People who are satisfied will never change things.
All change comes from dissatisfaction with the way things are.
Every artistic movement, every scientific discovery, every business innovation starts with a desire to change.
Helmut Krone was one of the greatest art directors ever.
He did two of the most important campaigns in the entire history of advertising.
Volkswagen and Avis.
Helmut Krone said “My entire life has been a fight against logos. A logo says ‘I’m an ad, turn the page.”
I recently read something that I never knew.
The Avis campaign has no logo.
Not on any of the ads.
All these years I’ve admired it and I never noticed.
Helmut Krone said “I said to the copywriter, put the name Avis in every headline, that way we don’t need a logo.”
And I just checked and it’s true.
The name is in every headline and there isn’t a logo.
That’s a man who isn’t satisfied with the way things are.
Everyone else accepted that an ad must always consist of 4 elements.
Picture. Headline. Copy. Logo.
Every other advertising person accepted it unquestioningly.
Until Helmut Krone questioned it.
And Helmut Krone did the advertising that helped turn Avis into a $12 billion company.
Think about Helmut Krone and Terry Leahey the next time you do something unquestioningly.
The next time you must have five alternative campaigns to show the client.
Instead of just one brilliant campaign.
The next time you double-guess the client and change the ad before he sees it.
The next time your goal is not to make waves.
Not to upset anyone.
Not to be unreasonable.
Not to go against the accepted way that everyone does things.

Because according to Sir Terry Leahey, you’re not creative.

  • Simon Guest

    Hi Dave,

    The best piece of advice my old man ever gave me was ‘always ask why’. It’s something I’ve carried with me throughout my professional and personal life. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, it’s ingrained and probably stems from my grans influence – she was the only female shop steward in a manufacturing plant of 3000 men in East Manchester. Having and expressing an opinion has often got me into trouble but I’d rather be labelled as a trouble maker than a yes man.


  • Ideal Word Brand CSR

    Your best ever blog, Dave. The one blog that represents all.

  • Dave Trott

    Simon, great advice from your dad: always get upstream and question the question.
    That’s the real value.


    Hi Dave,
    Someone once told me there’s no such thing as a stupid question, just people who don’t want to look stupid by asking. So I asked this multinational giant: “Who is number one in your country in this business”, and they said “We are”. Then I asked another stupid question: “Have you ever told anyone this?” They are such modest people, they looked at each other and said “Well, no”. Job done.

    • Dave Trott

      I always think of that as ‘intelligent naivety’ – by not knowing you can ask questions that get people out of their mental rut.
      That’s what you did.

  • hamishpringle

    Dear Dave,

    No doubt GBS wrote these with you in mind.


    “Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.”

    George Bernard Shaw, Irish literary Critic, Playwright and Essayist. 1925 Nobel Prize for Literature, 1856-1950)

    “People are always blaming circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.”
    Mrs. Warren’s Profession: Act II

    More GBS quotes http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/George_Bernard_Shaw


    Dave, I love getting people out of their mental rut. I worked with a writer once who was so upset about something, I took him to the top of Ostankina Tower in Moscow. While he was groaning on. I didn’t listen to a thing he said because all I could think about was the terrible squeaking noise as the revolving restaurant kept turning. However, it did the trick. He shook himself out of it, and we got our feet back on solid ground thank God. Ostankina Tower was on fire a few weeks later, but so was he (metaphorically speaking).

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