June 2024 newsletter – legs 11

14 minutes estimated reading time

June 2024 newsletter introduction

Welcome to my June 2024 newsletter, it’s been a bit of a mad month with the European Union elections foreshadowing a rightward lurch in policy direction. The snap call for a French general assembly election and the bizarre spectacles happening in the campaign efforts of the UK general election. And before you say it, the UK general election is not a TikTok election. In the northern hemisphere midsummer (21 June 2024) – the longest day of daylight taps into something primal bringing us back to nature with campfires to meet the dusk, seasonal food and the beauty of summer on display.


This newsletter which marks my 11th issue. The number 11 is a mixed bag associated in medieval theology with the ’11 heads of error’. However there are more positive associations for those who believe in numerology. In Chinese its sonic similarity to the phrase ‘definitely fine’ gives it a positive association. For me it’s forever associated with the old bingo call of ‘legs 11’.

New reader?

If this is the first newsletter, welcome! You can find my regular writings here and more about me here

Strategic outcomes

Things I’ve written.

  • Collapsing the funnel is a term that I have heard thrown around a lot on blogs, LinkedIn posts and podcasts, but what does it really mean?
  • A slower take on Apple’s iPad Pro launch
  • A few things I learned judging the 2024 UK Young Lions and Adforum PHNX advertising awards, together with a few inspiring entries.
  • The reasons why some people believe that #theinternetisdying.
  • IT director powers up and more stuff – a collection of interesting news and analysis around the web, including how AI is upending IT sales.

Books that I have read.

red queen
  • Nixonland by Rick Perlstein. Perlstein is an American historian with a progressive eye on history. His book name was passed around earlier on in the spring given perceived parallels between Biden and a likely second Trump administration, together with increased activism. It is one of a series of books that Perlstein wrote documenting post-second world war. Reaganland documents the Carter administration and America’s pivot to Reaganism. Before The Storm which looks at the rise of the modern American libertarian conservative moment and the decline in cross-party consensus – viewed through the lens of Barry Goldwater’s campaign to become the republican party candidate against Richard Nixon. I started reading Nixonland before the US college protests started, which gave the book added resonance.
  • Cinema Speculation by Quentin Tarantino. The first thing that jumps off the page when reading Cinema Speculation is the deep abiding love that Tarantino has for film. Film permeated every part of his life. His Mum took him along to films at the cinema that he probably shouldn’t have been allowed to see. In this respect he was a cinema media consumer in a time when mainstream television had already eaten Hollywood the first time around. The second thing that comes through is the way his deep knowledge allows him to build connections and linkages in non-obvious ways. Something that we lose the ability to do as we mediate knowledge seeking through Google and Perplexity instead of going through library newspaper clippings and reading magazines. I then realised that was a similar red thread in Perlstein’s Nixonland. Tarantino writes how he speaks and I was able to devour the book in two sittings despite suffering from a summer cold at the time. If you like to hear someone writing passionately about the New Hollywood movement of the early 1970s, then read Cinema Speculation.
  • It was third time lucky for me with Red Queen by Juan Gómez-Jurado. I was recommended the book by my friend Ian Wood and tried to read it a few times, but only really got into it at the third attempt. Once I got into it, I enjoyed it. There are the surface comparisons with Stig Larsson’s Millennium trilogy (The girl with the dragon tattoo and sequels). Without giving plot spoilers I found this comparison lacking. Instead I think of it as a modern-day version of the Sherlock Holmes novels of Arthur Conan-Doyle, but that view may change as I work my way through the series.

Things I have been inspired by.

Bad Times Disco.

Bad Times Disco put together eclectic parties bringing out music like Japan’s 1980s ‘city pop’ sound and art to secret venues.

Vintage Disco Sound Novelty Transistor Radio, AM Reception Only, Made In Hong Kong, Circa 1970s
Joe Haupt – Vintage Disco Sound Novelty Transistor Radio, AM Reception Only, Made In Hong Kong, Circa 1970s

For their closing event until autumn in Hong Kong they had developed an equitable pricing policy that allows an equally eclectic crowd.

Come join us for our season closing party on June 21st, in a spacious and very central location, filled with BTD regulars, our loving staff, and a great lineup of vinyl-centric DJs. More than a party, BTD is truly a community and we want to see all the regulars for this one. 

* Multi-functional space layout * 

* Special set design, group exhibit of multidisciplinary art, and more special touches * 

* Sober friendly party * 

Presales: 270HKD

Phase 1: 330HKD 

Phase 2: 380HKD 

Last min: 420HKD

Solidarity ticket: 500HKD. If you are a landowner, homeowner, or have generational wealth, please consider purchasing a solidarity ticket to our party and making it possible for lower-income folks to attend the party. 

*Limited Low Income Ticket*: 150HKD – This is *only* if you are a service worker in Hong Kong, working class, or unemployed without a safety net in Hong Kong. We will trust you to choose this option for yourself if you need it. 

Season Closing: Bad Times Disco 21/06

Design Discoveries: Towards a DESIGN MUSEUM JAPAN.

Japan House London has an exhibition of industrial design that reflects on the paradox of Japan having great design, but not a museum of design. Japan has a culture of good design; it’s a living thing and expected. By comparison, the celebration of good design could ironically indicate a norm of mediocre to bad product design. The exhibition runs until September.

Digital mortality.

David Webb is a long time activist investor in Hong Kong. I know of him by reputation since before I first went to Hong Kong and China in the mid-2000s. He has a long-running website that is invaluable for all things Hong Kong business-related – and is likely even more valuable given the recent regulatory and legal changes in the city. In a time when Hong Kong’s retail investors are disadvantaged by the large families and opaque Chinese government, Webb-Site is one of a few assets that retail investors can use for research. The site shows its late 1990s web design roots and makes extensive use of RSS to power its content.

David has been receiving treatment for cancer since 2020 and is now thinking about how his website might live on as a crowd-sourced online database. At the moment he is looking to bring on board volunteer editors. Part of the reason for this is that the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission didn’t embrace XML data output, that sites like David’s could ingest and process. More details here on how you can get involved.

Kantar’s blueprint for brand growth.

Kantar’s blueprint for brand growth uses a decades worth of its client’s data to refine their approach for success. It broadly meets what you would expect from the marketing science corpus built up by the likes of Ehrensberg-Bass and the IPA. They boiled down this blueprint for brand growth into three points

  • Predispose more people – which boils down to a mix of salience and fame.
  • Be more present – which equates to marketing penetration to capitalise on the increased number of people predisposed to the brand.
  • Find new spaces – this is about innovating in communications and new ways of achieving market penetration.

This last point is particularly interesting. Much of Kantar’s clients would be mature well-known brands so breaking out into new spaces represents a blue ocean approach, designed to move beyond the fractional gains against entrenched competitors.

Michael Page 2024 talent insights

Michael Page have launched their annual talents insights report. It has content on a diverse set of areas including working locations (remote, hybrid and on-site), artificial intelligence and perceived job security. TL;DR – hybrid seems here to stay, AI usage is in the minority at the moment and the majority of workers feel secure in their current roles.

Quiet pride.

Probably not the right section in this newsletter, it would fit better in a section of ‘things I have been disappointed by’. Campaign Asia and Campaign US ran the following article: Brands plan for a quiet Pride Month. The iPA ran a similarly themed article. I guess ‘pride washing’ of brands will be less of a problem this year, but the lack of visibility is a concern.

The Container Store Celebrates Gay Pride
Scott Beale

The articles imply a wider rollback from brand purpose, indicating a hollowness to the buy-in from large corporates.

The hesitation around Pride may also be related to executives’ increasing reluctance to speak out on social issues more broadly. Wolff pointed to Edelman’s Trust Barometer, which found that 87% of executives think taking a public stance on a social issue is riskier than staying silent. “Essentially, nine out of every 10 executives believe that the return on investment for their careers is not worth the support during this turbulent time,” said (Kate) Wolff. “This is clearly problematic for both the community and the progress we have made in recent years.”

Brands plan for a quiet Pride Month – Campaign Asia.

It offers a different angle on the broader issue that people like Nick Ashbury with his new book The Road to Hell have been driving at with regards the state of brand purpose.

Things I have watched. 

I am a bit of a Federico Fellini fan and finally got to watch Roma. Roma is semi-autobiographical in nature. It is a series of vignettes all based around the city of Rome which go from the 1930s to the 1970s and cover various parts of city life with some of the aspects such as Roman frescos turning to dust on first viewing in a millennium to a religious fashion show having an especially fantastical aspect to it. The deconstructed nature of the film is also interesting from a storytelling point-of-view.

Delicatessen was part of a wave of dystopian movies that were produced during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Films like Richard Stanley’s Hardware and Dust Devil. Given that its French there is a distinct mid-century modernism sensibility to many aspects of it such as the vehicles use. In terms of the plot it is similar to a futuristic Sweeney Todd meets Brazil. The directing and writing team  Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro went on to make more popular films including City of Children.

THX 1138 was George Lucas’ first professional film based on his student film. It feels modern and fresh despite being shot in the early 1970s. It captures the impersonal socially isolating aspects of modern technology. The film proper opens with Robert Duvall speaking with a system about how he is feeling echoing the nascent current use of AI for therapy. While Lucas became famous from his directing of the film, a good deal of credit is due to Walter Murch’s futurist soundscape and Lala Schiffin’s tonal soundtrack which isn’t that far away from the likes of Jóhann Jóhannsson. It’s no coincidence that later on Lucas named his audio company THX.

Murch although less well-known is a multi-Oscar award-winning film editor and sound mixer who pioneered the use of Apple’s Final Cut software in Hollywood.

I got a good deal of my license fee’s worth of the BBC going through the 1960s Royal Shakespeare Company performances of William Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Edward IV and Richard III which together make up the telling through an English protestant lens of the War of The Roses. Peter Hall’s direction is spot on. I only wish that I had seen this while I was studying English literature in secondary school.

Useful tools.

Basic Excel formulas guide.

Nicolas Boucher usually works with finance teams looking at adapting AI, but he put together a PDF with 21 Excel commands and examples. Some of them can be handy in digging your way through quantitative data. You can get your copy of the PDF here.


The everything store Amazon, a fair few times hasn’t had what I wanted. There are also sound moral arguments to want to buy elsewhere, or you might want to buy cheaper. That’s where Bookfinder comes in. It is fast, has a front end that looked basic back when when Netscape Navigator was your tool for coasting on the information superhighway and surfing the worldwide web.

LittleSnitch 6.

If you’re a long time Mac user who can remember back when Adobe creative suite came in a box, then you might know Little Snitch. It was popular for people running bootleg copies of PhotoShop and InDesign by stopping the software from ‘phoning home’ to Adobe.

In reality Little Snitch is so much more, it’s my go-to software firewall. It allows Mac users to retain a fine control on what goes in and out of your computer stopping dodgy connections in their tracks.

Additional MagSafe 3 cables.

I have a surplus of USB-C chargers now, but the move towards the MagSafe 3 charging connection on newer Macs is a great back to the future move. They are magnetically connected, allowing the connection to be broken before your laptop is dragged to the floor like the original MagSafe connectors that Apple had in two versions from 2006 to 2017.

They got rid of it, and long time users like me moaned about it as USB-C, felt like a backwards move for mobile workers. Apple brought it back with MagSafe 3, which now works with USB-C chargers.

Third-party MagSafe 3 cables are now available so you no longer need to pay the Apple tax of premium priced cables. My favourite is the BeckenBower USB C to Mag-Safe 3 Cable, which has worked out really well for me so far.


I work from home and usually have Bloomberg or Yahoo! Finance on in the background at a very low volume ambient noise if I am not listening to podcasts. I had the classic living room problem of hunting down remote controls to turn devices on and off. I was inspired to build on existing behaviours of looking around the TV first for the remote control and bought an organiser to hold them and a supply of spare AAA, AA batteries and the lightning cord for my Apple TV remote. The one I eventually settled on was Blue Gingko Multipurpose Caddy Organiser. It’s well made from plastic and thoughtfully designed which is why I was prepared a bit more to get something made in Korea, rather than made in China.

Caddy for remote controls

If you are using it for artwork or as a go pack for a workshop you can stack several on top of each other.

The sales pitch.

I am now taking bookings for strategic engagements or discussions on permanent roles. Contact me here.

More on what I have done here.


The End.

Ok this is the end of my June 2024 newsletter, I hope to see you all back here again in a month. Be excellent to each other and onward into the dog days of summer!

Don’t forget to like, comment, share and subscribe!

Let me know if you have any recommendations to be featured in forthcoming issues.