Alastair Campbell held little back in his assessment of ‘Winners and how they succeed’ during a talk hosted by Regent’s University London [18 March 2015] to promote his new book of the same title.
Reflecting on his past career as director of communications for Tony Blair, Mr Campbell covered the qualities of leaders and celebrities in the worlds of politics, business and sport.
An audience of students, graduates, academics and other guests took the opportunity to ask the writer questions about his experiences in politics, and talk about the ‘winners’ he interviewed.
His comments included:
On strategy and ‘teamship’
“Most of the trouble comes from people who are on your team, but they’re actually not”
“The best use of your public communications is to implement your strategy”
“It’s important for strategy to be written down, because it forces you to go through a process of agreement”
“Summarise your strategy in one word. In New Labour it was ‘modernisation.’ For Steve jobs at Apple it was ‘simplification’”
“There’s a holy trinity of strategy, leadership and ‘teamship.’ Everyone has to have a sense of what you’re trying to do”
“Some people have said to me that the individuals in my book don’t seem very happy. I tell them it’s not a book about happiness, it’s a book about winning”
“Fear of failure is a massive positive as it drives people. Floyd Mayweather [undefeated world champion boxer] was the only person who said to me he never allows the idea of losing into his head”
“Authenticity is important to winning. There’s a paradox in politics – the public want someone who’s real, but television means you have to package messages into sound bites”
On politics and business
“Richard Branson was embarrassed that he couldn’t remember who came up with the name Virgin for his company. He wanted to call his first business Slipped Disk Records”
“Ed Miliband has wanted to distance himself from Brown and Blair, so I think we’ve had a dishonest debate about the ‘crash.’ The big banks have said they’ll do bonuses differently, but nothing much seems to have changed”
“Being obsessive isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Jim O’Neill [former chief economist of Goldman Sachs] told me he’d never met a billionaire who started out by saying that’s what they were going to be”