Anyone for a Brazilian?

From giant factory farm for Europeans to modern BRIC economy, the story of Brazil’s transformation is captured in an excellent BBC Radio 4 programme centering on the life of Getulio Vargas – moderniser, dictator, and finally democratically elected president. In the final part of the Invention of Brazil, Misha Glenny explores the life of Vargas, the man who changed Brazil.

Vargas came to power in 1930 and proved an expert at keeping himself in power. Initially he styled himself on Mussolini – the story of why he took Brazil into the Second World War on the side of the Allies is central here. As also are the events leading up to his suicide while still in power. With contributions from anthropologist Lilia Schwarz, Professor David Brookshaw, Peter Fry, and author Ana Maria Machado whose father was arrested by Vargas several times.

Getúlio Dornelles Vargas, 19 April 1882 – 24 August 1954) served as President of Brazil, first as dictator, from 1930 to 1945, and in a democratically elected term from 1951 until his suicide in 1954. Vargas led Brazil for 18 years, the most for any President, and second in Brazilian history only to Emperor Pedro II among heads of government. He favored nationalism, industrialization, centralization, social welfare and populism – for the latter, Vargas won the nickname “O Pai dos Pobres” (Portuguese for “The Father of the Poor”). He was both a proponent of workers’ rights and a staunch anti-communist.

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Getúlio Vargas appointed his ministers on November 3, 1930, after being brought to power by political outsiders and the rank and file of the Armed Forces in the Revolution of 1930, a reaction to his loss in elections earlier that year. His ascent marked the end of the Brazilian oligarchic Old Republic and states’ dominated café com leite (“coffee with milk”) politics. He successfully influenced the outcome of the Brazilian presidential election of 1934, and instituted an authoritarian corporatist regime in 1937 known as the Estado Novo (“New State”), prolonging his hold onto power. Vargas went on to appease and eventually dominate his supporters, and pushed his political agenda as he built a propaganda machine around his figure.

With the global rise of democracy in the aftermath of World War II, Vargas agreed to cede power in free elections, thus ending the Vargas Era. His popularity earned him a late presidential term, but mounting pressure and political strife over his methods led him to suicide. He was the first president in the country to draw widespread support from the masses and is regarded as the most influential Brazilian politician of the twentieth century. He was also a lawyer and landowner and occupied the 37th chair of the Brazilian Academy of Letters from 1943 until his death in 1954.

All rights reserved © 2015 Andrew Hutchinson

Theft is Creativity

Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”

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All rights reserved © 2015 Andrew Hutchinson

“Put Up Or Shut Up”

I was recently on the receiving end of a vitriolic rant from a local politician of some significance. No doubt he was frustrated by the growing popularity of my poster for the European Election 2014. Cynical, manipulative, negative, nonconformist – that last one really hurt. Let’s be clear, I am still as passionate about my politics as I have ever been. Every day I am giving political speeches in my stand-up sets, making political statements on twitter and raising money for charities – that is all good politics. I am politically active. I am just not standing for elected office. Two foxes and a chicken arguing over what to have for lunch.

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I wanted to change the world once but then the world changed me. I believe in politics like I believe in my religion. I believe in living it. I take politics very seriously but too many politicians take themselves a little two too seriously. I don’t want my politics tainted by the need to make a living. I believe that when politicians have to make a living out of politics by being re-elected that you build into the system at least the incentive of intellectual dishonesty. If I know that the only way I’m putting food on the table for my family is by winning an election the real incentive becomes for me to say whatever I believe that the public wants to hear, regardless of whether it is the right thing, because I really need to win that election.

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My politics will always be pure. I’ll never stop being a libertarian. I’ll never stop being progressive and I will never make a living from politics. My job is edutainment; to educate and to entertain in equal measure. I may be an entertainer but my passion is political and I’m just as active as I’ve ever been. In fact I’m probably more active than most politicians. I believe that I work tirelessly for the truth, for justice, for people and for the individual. That is the journey of my life. Sometimes it is easier to apologise than to ask for permission. The secret of life is not to arrive, well presented, in a timely manner at the grave but to skid in sideways at 100 mph shouting, “Holy Shit, what a ride.”

What is incredible, even if it does sound like a cliche is that I don’t want tons of money. I am politically active, I love the individual, I do not want tons of money but part of me wants to earn tons of money so that I can give it away. This is the opposite of the political class. I want to give away my money, they want to spend your money. They don’t have their own money, they plunder the rich, steal from the poor and borrow from the banksters creating a rentier economy, funding expenses and lining the pockets of those who join in and sing along to the consensus narrative. Perhaps we should limit our politicians to two terms – one in office and one in gaol. Yes I am a shock jockey but if life was fair on ocasion the horse would get to ride jockey.

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“Put up or shut up? – A plague on all of their houses.

Socialist at twenty; Tory at thirty; Libertarian at forty; Anarchist at fifty, probably and if I am called a terrorist at sixty, I’ll be remembered as a freedom fighter at seventy.

All rights reserved © 2014 Andrew Hutchinson

Leadership in a Paragraph

You don’t usually expect to get engrossed in a discussion on leadership, over a coffee, with a group complete strangers at a motorway service station in the English East Midlands.  Well that’s what happened.  I just had to gatecrash the party.  These were good guys, honest hard working souls but they were for the most part sharing, in an increasigly animated way, the most bizarre theories on leadership.  Leadership is a subject that I’ve studied extensively but for some reason I seemed unable to articulate my thoughts.  Well articulate of a sort I managed, but summarise I did not. I sounded at best like an eccentric professor as I stumbled through theory after theory and had the air about me of one who had lost his way somewhat.  On reflection perhaps their thoeries were if bizarre a least succinct.  Perhaps my brain was fried after ‘sales bootcamp’ – article on that beauty to follow, I promise.

What I realised was that I needed instant access to the place that all of that learning had taken me to.  Just as the aspirant entrepreneur will have access to his elevator pitch should the occasion on which he finds himself in a lift with Lord Sugar ever present itself I was in need of the Tibself Declaration, the summation of my academic endeavours on leadership, a paragraph on which to call.  Well here it is fresh from my pen.  Gentlemen, as promised, these are the qualities which make a leader great:

There is a commonly held perception in western culture that leadership equates to a superior intelligence, logic and wisdom but it occurs when one group member modifies the motivation or competencies of others in the group.  In short you cannot have a leader without followers.  Numerous academics prepared lists of qualities that constituted born leadership but the lists became long and bewildering. De Gaulle was tall but Napoleon was short. It does not make a difference.  Perhaps trait theory isn’t appealing to those born with the sceptical gene. In short trait theory alone cannot account for the complexity of leadership because it is too one-dimensional.  Leadership has to be one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth but we recognise it when we see it.  Different situations call for different skills and styles.  No one leadership style is ideal for every situation and a leader must be able to modify their approach accordingly by telling, selling, participating or empowering.  A great leader will demonstrate consideration and be mindful of subordinates, including a respect for their needs and feelings but they also have to be task orientated, with a focus on goal attainment, after all that’s what they are there for.  Charisma as personal power resides in many great leaders; it can be enhanced by position or expert status.  You are; what you know; what you do; and what you believe but you have to be able to able to motivate and enthuse others.  It is perhaps because the topic has consumed so much energy, time and effort that it appears to be the Holy Grail for corporates and entrepreneurs alike.

All rights reserved © 2014 Andrew Hutchinson

Creative Leadership

Leadership and creativity are subjects which excite me, sad I know and I am looking to get out more. I’ve written on both of topics extensively but so have others. The last year or so have seen a number of attempts to address the subject.  Some of the best offerings are listed below.  Perhaps not the ideal poolside reading, nonetheless they will give the mind a workout and tone up the grey matter.

1. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom and David Kelley

I may be biased, but I think Creative Confidence, penned by my colleagues Tom and David Kelley, is a great primer on how to unlock your innate creativity. It’s the perfect place to start if you’re fearful of taking creative risks or want to understand more about the skills and mindset you need to adopt for creative problem solving.

2. A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger

Journalist and innovation expert, Warren Berger, explores the world of curiosity and explains why simply asking “Why?” can lead to important change. If you’re an aspiring leader—creative or otherwise—it’s time to channel your inner child and start questioning deeply, imaginatively, and persistently in order to uncover novel opportunities.

3. Collective Genius: The Art and Practice of Leading Innovation by Linda A. Hill, Greg Brandeau, Emily Truelove & Kent Lineback

Collective Genius is about building creative cultures and creating a stage for others to perform upon. Authored by Linda Hill of Harvard Business School, former Pixar tech wizard Greg Brandeau, and two other leadership experts, they debunk the myth of the lone creative genius and give valuable tips for releasing the combined creativity of organizations.

4. Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less by Robert I. Sutton & Huggy Rao

Once you’ve asked the right question and found the right idea, there remains what is arguably the most important and most challenging task for creative leaders: taking them to scale. Bob Sutton and Huggy Rao of Stanford University have spent years researching how effective organizations expand their ideas and influence. Many of the impediments they’ve found are cultural, not technical, and the authors outline principles that the best leaders use to scale their successes. If you want your company to have impact, this is a must-have tome for your leadership library.

5. The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition by Don Norman

A reissue of a design classic, Don Norman wrote the original The Design of Everyday Things in 1988 and it had a tremendous impact on my own career as a designer. In the latest version, Norman expands on his thesis about the relationship between products and people and includes new chapters on design thinking and the role of design in business. If you’re leading a product team in the physical or digital worlds, this book contains a treasure trove of important lessons such as when something doesn’t work, it’s usually the product’s fault, not the person using it.

All rights reserved © 2014 Andrew Hutchinson

Hutch on Management

Occasionally I get asked to advise those embarking on a career in management. Well it certainly isn’t my style to be straight laced but I’ve never ceased to be amazed by those who take themselves a little too seriously. You had to be there to witness the look of horror on a certain recruiter’s face when I shared a few gems of wisdom garnered over twenty years in management. I considered the presentation to be such a success that it now forms the basis of one of my stand-up routines.
facepic Andrew
1 Never walk without a document in your hands
People with documents in their hands look like hard-working employees heading for important meetings. People with nothing in the hands look like they’re heading to the canteen. People with a newspaper in their hand look like they’re heading to the toilet. Above all make sure you carry loads of stuff home with you at night, thus generating the false impression that you work longer hours than you do.

2 Use computers to look busy
Any time you use a computer it looks like work to the casual observer. You can send and receive personal email, chat and generally have a blast without doing anything remotely related to work. These aren’t exactly the societal benefits that the proponents of the computer revolution would like to talk about but they’re not bad either. When you get caught by the boss and you will get caught your best defence is to claim that you’re teaching yourself to use new software to save valuable training expenses.

3 Messy desk
Top management can get away with a clean desk. For the rest of us it looks like we’re not working hard enough. Build huge piles of documents around your workspace. To the observer last year’s work looks the same as today’s work; it’s volume that counts. Pile them high and wide. If you know somebody is coming to your desk bury the document you will need half way down in an existing stack and rummage great when he or she arrives.

4 Voice mail
Never answer your phone if you have voicemail. People don’t call you just because they want to give you something for nothing, they call because they want you to do work for them. That’s no way to live. Screen all of your calls to voicemail. If somebody leaves a voice mail message for you and it sounds like impending work, respond during lunch hour when you know that they’re not there, it looks like you’re hard-working and conscientious even though you’re being a devious weasel. Which do you think came first, the telephone or the telephone-answering machine? Exactly. You are being a luddite if you answer the telephone, holding back progress and showing tremendous disrespect to the inventor of the answering machine.

5 Looking impatient and annoyed
Always try to look impatient and annoyed to give your bosses the impression that you are always busy.

6 Leave the office late
Always leave the office late, especially when the boss is still around. You could read magazines and storybooks that you always wanted to read but had no chance as a child – I missed out on Tin Tin. Make sure you walk past the boss’ room on your way out. Send important emails at unearthly hours and during bank holidays.

7 Creative sighing for effect
Sigh loudly when there are people around, giving the impression that you are under extreme pressure.

8 Stacking strategy
It is not enough to pile lots of documents on the table. Put lots of books on the floor etc (thick computer manuals are the best).

9 Building vocabulary
Read up on some computer and technical magazines and pick out all of the jargon and new products. Use the phrases freely when in conversation with bosses. Remember: they don’t have to understand what you say, but you will sound impressive.

10 Have two jackets
If you work in a big open plan office, always leave the spare jacket draped over the back of your seat. This gives the impression that you are still on the premises. The second jacket should be worn whilst wandering around elsewhere. When it is not being worn hang it in the cleaners’ cupboard. Get the cleaners’ permission and strike up a friendship with the cleaners – remember they are the ones who know what is going on.

11 Most important
Make sure your boss isn’t looking over your shoulder while you’re reading this.

Hang on a minute
Or more importantly instead of getting ‘all corporate’ and throwing a fit at the sight of such subversive advice, if you are an aspiring middle manager take pleasure in the fact that you have been warned about the antics of others. Of course if you are a leader in waiting you might want to reflect on the fact that all of the strategies outlined are a response to a management style which values control and draws its strength from a macho culture – a culture which sadly still prevails in too many organisations.

All rights reserved © 2014 Andrew Hutchinson

What If World War One Was A Pub Brawl?

I am not caught up in the centenary commemorations marking the outbreak of the First World War.  This is not out of disrespect. Indeed my own grandfather was mortally wounded at Gallipoli and served with four of his brothers. He was given a full military funeral, with gun carriage and a three volley salute. I would prefer to celebrate the armistice and the end of the Great War, lest we forget.

At 10pm tonight the nation is being encourage to switch off the lights, a callback to the comments of the then Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, who declared, “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.” At exactly the same time I’ll be on stage at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Well my own commemorative tribute will be a diversion from my usual show as I address the issues of the day.

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At a time of increasing global tension, we could do worse than familiarise ourselves with those events which led to butchery and bravery on both sides. What if World War One was a pub brawl:

“Germany, Austria and Italy are standing together in the middle of a pub when Serbia bumps into Austria and spills Austria’s pint.

Austria demands Serbia buy it a whole new suit because of the new beer stains on its trouser leg.

Germany expresses its support for Austria’s point of view.

Britain recommends that everyone calm down a bit.

Serbia points out that it can’t afford a whole suit, but offers to pay for the cleaning of Austria’s trousers.

Russia and Serbia look at Austria.

Austria asks Serbia who it’s looking at.

Russia suggests that Austria should leave its little brother alone.

Austria inquires as to whose army will assist Russia in doing so.

Germany appeals to Britain that France has been looking at it, and that its sufficiently out of order that Britain not intervene.

Britain replies that France can look at who it wants to, that Britain is looking at Germany too, and what is Germany going to do about it?

Germany tells Russia to stop looking at Austria, or Germany will render Russia incapable of such action anymore.

Britain and France ask Germany whether it’s looking at Belgium.

Turkey and Germany go off into a corner and whisper. When they come back, Turkey makes a show of not looking at anyone.

Germany rolls up its sleeves, looks at France, and punches Belgium.

France and Britain punch Germany. Austria punches Russia. Germany punches Britain and France with one hand and Russia with the other.

Russia throws a punch at Germany, but misses and nearly falls over. Japan calls over from the other side of the room that it’s on Britain’s side, but stays there. Italy surprises everyone by punching Austria.

Australia punches Turkey, and gets punched back. There are no hard feelings because Britain made Australia do it.

France gets thrown through a plate glass window, but gets back up and carries on fighting. Russia gets thrown through another one, gets knocked out, suffers brain damage, and wakes up with a complete personality change.

Italy throws a punch at Austria and misses, but Austria falls over anyway. Italy raises both fists in the air and runs round the room chanting.

America waits till Germany is about to fall over from sustained punching from Britain and France, then walks over and smashes it with a barstool, then pretends it won the fight all by itself.

By now all the chairs are broken and the big mirror over the bar is shattered. Britain, France and America agree that Germany threw the first punch, so the whole thing is Germany’s fault . While Germany is still unconscious, they go through its pockets, steal its wallet, and buy drinks for all their friends.

The End…. (or is it?)”

With thanks to, Nico Crisafulli

Source http://www.tentimesone.com/if-world-war-one-was-a-bar-fight/

All rights reserved © 2014 Andrew Hutchinson

Youthful Politics

In a week when Dennis Skinner, the authentic voice of Labour at a time when authenticity is sorely missed among the limp-wristed, intellectual leftie elite, was voted off the NEC how cruel was Tony Baldry? He told the House about the 1983 election and Labour’s anti-Europe commitments of the time. I remember the election of 9th June. I was a Labour footsoldier for Jim Dobbin, the now Labour MP for Middleton and Heywood in his unsuccessful attempt at being elected councillor for Castleton. I also remember my near fatal motorcycle accident three days later and my three months in hospital without a solitary enquiry as to my health from my comrades. I was at the time the youngest ever branch secretary of AUEW-TASS and to his credit the regional organiser did drop me off four cans of Guinness and some porn mags. “To keep you regular”, he said. To what was he referring I wonder.

Well in a parallel universe Tony Baldry tells us how a 13-year-old boy had delivered a leaflet through his letterbox on behalf of Michael Foot. “That boy, now leader of the Labour party,” he said in his large, deep, fat-uncle manner.

“That boy, now leader of the Labour party.”

Little Ed’s pain was visible. And for those who have an appetite for that sort of thing, palpable.

There he was on the front bench, shoulders down, smiling wanly, slightly angling his smooth, young face towards the big bruiser next to him. He had grown up by four or five years since 1983 but was clearly the junior partner as Big Ed joined in the joshing and rollicking that Cameron was dishing out.

“Not my idea of fun,” Cameron laughed about delivering leaflets at the age of 14. “What was your idea of fun?” Big Ed kept jabbing. “Not hanging out with the shadow chancellor,” Cameron said. “I feel sorry for the Leader of the Opposition who has to hang out with him all the time!”

Tories were entering a stage of pre-climactic pleasure, Big Ed was pointing, pouting, heckling, laughing back.

Little Ed sat shyly, too young to join in the game.

Well there you have it, I was a socialist at twenty. For the record, I was a tory at thirty, a libertarian at forty and an anarchist at fifty. Don’t be surprised to hear me classed as a terrorist at sixty but fear not at seventy they’ll call me a freedom fighter. Who knows I may even end up as president of South Africa.

All rights reserved © 2014 Andrew Hutchinson

It’s Time to Go Viral on a Shoestring

I can’t put it better than social media whizz Jason Squires does. There was a time when advertising meant forking out a wedge of cash for a professionally designed, if not a little insipid, poster or ad that might or might not have reached its intended target.

For the big boys that was just fine. For small businesses, that was far from ideal.

Today, more and more businesses are opting away from traditional advertising methods in favour of using social media to mass promote companies, and for good reason.

The Downfall of Traditional Advertising

The advertising world as it was is now but a hulking dinosaur patiently awaiting extinction.

Go back just a decade and advertising through platforms like TV, radio, magazine, newspaper, and billboard advertising was still very much the thing for businesses to do.

Today, magazine and newspaper sales have plummeted with people preferring to get their news and information from the internet and iPhones. TV advertising is slumping as more and more households opt to fast forward commercial breaks on pre-recorded digital television. As for radio advertising, well.

While it might sound like we’re painting a very deliberate picture of doom and gloom, consider just how much attention you pay to those platforms today.

The Emergence of Social Media

Corresponding with the downturn in traditional advertising, the emergence of the internet, and more specifically social media, saw a huge increase in small businesses adopting a D.I.Y. ethic and getting out there and appealing to new customers.

The likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest have all grown into huge internet presences with millions of users. As the social media has grown, so has its use as a marketing tool.

Today, you’d be hard pushed to find a major company without a Facebook page while start-ups generally have a Twitter account before a bank account.

The benefits of using social media to mass promote companies are huge. Firstly, there’s the small fact that you can tailor your campaign so that it lands in front of your perfect customer. Then there’s the fact that it’s inexpensive.

Even companies with a shoestring budget can afford to play marketing in the social media world, mainly because so much of it is free.

Going ‘Viral’…

Perhaps the biggest bonus to using social media to mass promote companies is the opportunity to make an impact. The internet has been built around viral marketing.

Viral marketing brought us ‘Gangnam Style’ and the ‘Harlem Shake’.

Viral marketing brought us a gorilla playing the drums and flashmobs.

And viral marketing brought us cats. So many cats.

In today’s media climate, you don’t need a big budget to wow. Whereas a rock band would once have spent millions filming a promo video, today bands are asking fans to splice together footage to create a video. Why? Because it’s cheaper and it has every chance to make as big an impact as Slash stood in the desert playing guitar.

So, if you’re plotting a marketing campaign on a shoestring budget, social media is without a doubt the best place to start. So get that Social Media Marketing Strategy sorted, roll out training and toast that successful implementation.

Death is a Fascist Bastard

“I feel sorry for you, you zeros, you nobodies. What’s going to live on after you die? Nothing, that’s what!

This house will become a shrine! And punks and skins and Rastas will all gather round and all hold their hands in sorrow for their fallen leader! And all the grown-ups will say, ‘But why are the kids crying?’ And the kids will say, ‘Haven’t you heard? Rick is dead! The People’s Poet is dead!’

And then one particularly sensitive and articulate teenager will say, ‘Why kids, do you understand nothing? How can Rick be dead when we still have his poems?’”

Rik Mayall as Rick in The Young Ones RIP

Oh God, why am I so much more sensitive than everybody else?
Why do I feel things so much more acutely than them, and understand so much more?  I bet I’m the first person who’s ever felt as rotten as this. Could it be that I’m going to grow up to be a great poet and thinker, and all those other wankers in my class are going to have to work in factories or go on the dole?
Yes, I think it could.

All rights reserved © 2014 Andrew Hutchinson