Stupid Aid – will go on.

Stupid Aid will go ahead for 2008.

The challenge is how can it be bigger and better.

Some key lessons I aim to build upon in 2008:

  • Work where you have a strong local partner; where we had an enthusiastic and committed local partner we enjoyed a great turn out and were able to connect with more people. Like my advice I give to corporate clients when devising stragety – identify where are the lines of least resistance.
  • Secondly, a target of 14 events in 1 week was magnificent achievement – but also stupid. Next year, my initial thoughts are for just 5 locations across the UK but doing more things at each location. Initial ideas include:

A business talk event – build upon the successful format of this year’s talk

Using the smart car in high profile public places where we can offer 1:1 consultancy where members of the public can have a ‘confession’ of any stupid act. (Thanks to Heather Yaxley for that idea.)

A media event of high profile people going back to school to learn ‘how not to be a stupid adult’

A possible joint event with the different professional bodies (such as the Chartered Institutes of Marketing and Public Relations) featuring local senior figures sharing the lessons they learnt from their most stupid things.

 I am also working on a book to be launched for next Stupid Aid week.

  • Make the ‘Stupid Adult’ story angle work harder
  • re-use the ‘Golden Lemons’ idea 

I believe the first week in September is a good one.

Any suggestions/ideas/feedback/tell me where to run and jump – all welcome.


Never do a 14 date tour of the UK in one week….

Well, just to announce the tour was successfully completed – and it really did providean opportunity for many people to be magnificent and help a really good cause.

The tour – three events on each day – was inspired by my tour earlier this year of Australia where I similarly did three or four events a day. They were, however, usually in one city!

So a big ‘thank you’ to some great people out there – I will do a dedicated list shortly.

We’re off!

Sunday – and I will be travelling up to Newcastle to pick my daughter up. Chartlotte has just compleed a degree in Classics (I’m very proud of her 2:1) and is planning a career in PR.

I thought it would be a good idea to offer the experience of working with me on this tour, a chance to see her Dad in action, pick up some vaulable PR experience, but also, perhaps most fundamental, to use ths chance for the two of us to do something together.

 As a parent when do you get the chance to be with and work with your children.

The tour will I’m sure have its moments; we are both veery much alike, which can lead to moments of friction, but am determined to make this a real win-win-win opportunity and experience; I win through realizing my idea of Stupid Aid and all the learning I have gained as a result. The world wins in some way through Stupid Aid – people get a chance to learn new things, see things differently and also we’re helping Barnardo’s in profile and fund-raising; and Charlotte will win, with whatever ways she sees fit.

We will seek to keep you posted throughout the tour – so please watch this space.

In the spirit of Stupid Aid’s campaign  about coming together with young people to help Baranrado’s I will be travelling with his eldest daughter Charlotte over 1,000 miles in a two-seater car speaking at 14 events in one week. .

It got me thinking about are most of us – myself included – Stupid Adults?

Do we need to stop being stupid adults to help our young people?. With topical concerns on gun crime, anti-social behaviour, and so-called ‘yob culture’ I think the majority of adults need to recognise they have a responsibility and a part to play to in addressing these major social issues by thinking and acting differently.  By now you are probbaly familiar with ‘Stupid Aid’ that it seeks to redefine ‘stupidity’ not as of low intelligence but caused by inflexible thinking. The campaign seeks to address what is believed to be growing stupidity in the world, and in particular getting adults to recognise their own stupidity and change the way they deal with young people.   My suggested guidance on the subject of being a ‘stupid adult’ (and I have been guily as anyone in being stupid) includes: 

  • Young people are more likely to need a ‘good listening to’ rather than a ‘good talking to’. 
  • Recognise young people are ‘growing up’. Inevitably, there are many things that adults know which youngsters have to find out. They are not ready-made adults, and mistakes, problems and frustrations are all part of the pains of growing-up.
  • Admire the young person’s qualities, and put in perspective any perceived shortcomings.
  • Do things together, whether it is reading to them as small children to joint activities as they grow older.
  • Think of what you can do to help young people in general, particularly those less fortunate than your own children.
  • Be kind and give good guidance. Every outstanding success story has featured an adult giving a positive steer on how the young talented person can go forward. Learn to recognise your own wisdom from being a adult and share it with young people around you.

 What do you think?



Some more stupid stuff spotted

Today’s dose of Ross Clark’s ‘How to label a goat – the silly rules and regulations that are strangling Britain’ features an example of 3 star stupidity Norwich City Council’s decision to cut down 20 horse chestnuts because passers-by might be injured if children throw sticks to bring down conkers.



Another delight of two star stupidity is recorded by Ross Clark  is the story of the Essex war veterans in Walton-on-the-Naze who were banned from firing gun salutes marking the start and finish of the two minute silence on Remembrance Sunday. It was stopped because of fears that debris might blow back inland – even though it had been done for 60 years without a single injury being recorded.


Some more stupid thinking to think about

Our latest exampple of stupid thinking from Ross Clark and also Rachel Bowen.

Another example from Ross Clark’s ‘How to label a goat – the silly rules and regulations that are strangling Britain’. 

South West Trains was ordered to remove 28 trains from service because the lettering on its electronic messages were only 32mm high rather than the approved 35 mm.

The trains were removed after a complaint that partially sighted passengers might have trouble reading them.

Although the trains had been built before the new regulations, and also passengers were also informed over the tannoy was not taken into account, resulting in the trains being withdrawn from service.

It consequently led to a shortage of rolling stock with many services reduced from eight to four carriages, and generating significant overcrowding and more people standing.

While efforts to improve the world for those less abled are to be passionately defended, then process for achieving this surely must be tempered with flexibility. Was it really in the interests of disabled passengers to have overcrowded trains?

A good example of 3 star stupidity.

  Some 2 star stupidity witnessed by Rachel Bowen:

“A number of years ago, while still living in the U.K., I was unemployed. I received a letter from the unemployment office saying that I had been awarded nine pounds something a week, ‘but perhaps you will not be able to manage on this, contact our office to apply for Supplementary Benefit, don’t wait in the queue, go directly to desk xxx.”
I got to the office, there was no desk xxx, so I asked someone at another desk where it was. I got a stream of abuse from a harridan, who was abusing everyone, including one poor (literally) woman who was late for her appointment because there was no public transport from where she lived to get to the appointment on time.
 I finally got to see ‘someone’ who was actualy very polite – BUT- “you can’t receive Supplementary Benefit because your husband is working” But what if it was my husband who was unemployed? and I was working? “Oh he could receive supplementary benefit.”
I aslo complained to this person about the treatment of the poor woman who had been told to come back another day. I pointed out that all the people in the office had jobs BECAUSE other eople were less fortunate, and it was unfair to treat them as if they were to blame.

I didn’t leave the matter there. I made an appointment to see my M.P. (Dafydd Ellis Thomas, now Lord Ellis Thomas). I related the whole story to him and he was appalled. The law was changed, and I like to think that it was because I had reacted the way I had. At least that I had had some part in it.
O.K. I am articulate, well-educated and bloody minded, but what about those people who are not capable of reacting like I do?
By the way, I got thrown out of the University of Swansea as a result of some very stupid thinking – the reaction to Kingsley Amis et al and the Black papers,(More means worse). I was devastated at the time, but it has proved to be the best thing that could have happened.

What do you think of these examples – have you anjy more to add? Share what you have witnessed.

A lemon

The other night with my family I was in a restaurant – part of a national chain – and made the innocuous request for a lemon in my fizzy water.

 The really nice and helpful manager was unable to meet my request – ‘sorry sir, we don’t do lemons in our restaurants’. Surprised by this I asked why and was told: “If staff had to cut a lemon, they would need to use a knife and we would need to carry out a risk assessment for this.”

It’s amazing when I started on this Stupid Aid campaign how I have since become a magnet for examples of compound stupidity. I suppose it is what I teach on my creativity courses about sagacity, when you start looking for somthing you start noticing it more.

It has given me the idea of launching a series of ‘Golden Lemon Awards’ during Stupid Aid week – september 3-7th when I am doing my UK wide tour.

 Anyone out there asked for a lemon recently? Is there anyone who you think deserves one of our special lemons?