Years ago in New York they had a joke about a blonde astronaut.

The blonde and a chimpanzee are fired into space.

They’re each given an envelope and told to open them when they get into orbit.

Inside each is a set of instructions.

The monkey reads his first.

It says:

1) Set retro-boosters,

2) Engage gravity-lock mechanism,

3) Calculate blowback potential deviation,

4) Adjust auto-navigation co-ordinates,

5) Recalibrate heat flow instrumentation,

6) Activate thermo-coupling device,

7) Input heat-loss neutralising differential.

Then the blonde reads her instructions.

It says:

“Don’t forget to feed the monkey.”

My approach to life has always been that of the blonde astronaut.

If I surround myself with people I can trust.

People who can do their job better than I can do their job.

Then there’s very little left for me to do except get out of the way.

This is true in my professional and personal life.

For instance: my wife looks after every aspect of our lives.

She remembers all the family’s birthdays and anniversaries.

She buys the presents and sends the cards.

She does all our food shopping, all I ever have to do is open the fridge.

She handles all the household maintenance: cleaning, washing, windows, garden.

She does all this as well as holding down a job as an art director.

She looks after everything.

So the only thing I have to do is look after her.

I feel exactly the same way about the people I work with.

If I surround myself with people who can do their job better than I can do their job, then I don’t have to worry about watching every little thing they do.

All that’s left is for me to get out of the way.

So I make sure I’ve got an art director who can create images, layout a page, pick type, take photographs, better than me.

Then I get out of the way.

I make sure I’ve got an account man who can handle clients, take briefs, sell work, understand relationships, put together a presentation, better than me.

Then I get out of the way.

I make sure I’ve got a planner who can collect data, interpret trends, spot market opportunities, build a logical argument, better than me.

Then I get out of the way.

Why would you do it differently?

Why would you have a dog and bark yourself?

Why would you constantly check up on how other people are doing their job?

There can only be one reason.

You don’t trust them.

And why does it make sense to work with people you don’t trust?

I’m an advocate of the Tony Adams school of management.

Tony Adams was captain of Arsenal, and ran the best defence they ever had.

He said “I wouldn’t try to take the ball off an attacking player because, if I tried and missed, I was committed and he’d be past me.

No, it was my job to just shut him down from about thirty yards out, and let him know he wasn’t getting past me, so he’d have to shoot. And I knew I had a goalie (David Seaman) behind me who could handle anything from thirty yards.”

Tony Adams trusted his goalie.

He didn’t have to try to do the goalie’s job for him, by taking the ball off the opponent.

Just force the opponent to shoot and trust the goalie to do his job.

So everyone, including Adams, could concentrate on doing their own job better.

How well did the Tony Adams’ school of management work for Arsenal?

Under him they won the League (equivalent of the Premiership) four times, the FA Cup three times, the League Cup twice, the Community Shield three times, and the European Cup-Winners’ Cup.


Not bad for thinking like a blonde.