About David Chalke
David is one of Australia’s leading Social Analysts. A science graduate: his early career was in Europe with trans-national organisations such as Nestle, Cadbury Schweppes & Wilkinson Sword. On coming to Australia, David held the positions of Director of Strategy Planning with McCann-Erickson and Y&R Mattingly, until founding the independent consultancy, The Strategy Planning Group, in 1990.
Today, David focuses on measuring the effects of cultural change on Australians’ attitudes and behaviours and advising on the impact of these on the formulation of effective public policy and business strategy.
David’s “Real World” view of the mood of Australians has made him a popular speaker at national & international conferences; he is a regularly quoted social commentator, and an occasional writer and broadcaster.
Lesson 1: Look Upwards, sideways and downwards 3m 45s.
Lesson 2: Keep Walking 5m 56s.
Lesson 3: Keep Listening 7m 42s.
Lesson 4: Keep it plain 11m 07s.
Lesson 5: Your world is not everyone’s 21m 30s.
Lesson 6: R E S P E C T 24m 54s
Lesson 7: Don’t deceive 29m 05s.
Lesson 8: Build a shed 37m 39s.
Lesson 9: Remember your core purpose 39m 14s.
Lesson 10: Become your own disruptor 46m 09s.
Chalke – 10Lessons50 Years
Duff Watkins: [00:00:00]
Hello, and welcome to the podcast 10 lessons. It took me 50 years to learn
where we dispense wisdom, not just information or mere fact to an international
audience of rising leaders. My name is Duff Watkins, and I’m your host. This
podcast is sponsored by the professional development forum, which helps young
professionals of any age accelerate their career and the modern workforce.
Today, you’ll hear honest, practical advice that you can’t find any book
because it took us 50 years to learn this stuff.
Today’s guest is David Chalke, who is Australia’s foremost
social analyst and Futurist now that sounds kind of wanky, and it is. Let me
tell you what, well, actually, if you go online, you’ll find David is described
as the cultural soothsayer, a business fortune teller, a futurologist. So, so
David, what are you like a witch doctor or something? David, welcome to the
David Chalke: [00:00:59]
Well, I think the best description I’ve ever had made was that a youth
conference that I was addressing and this young fellow with too many, body
piercings, and too much arts introduced me as an old guy who knows a lot of
Duff Watkins: [00:01:16]
I couldn’t, I can attest that. It’s true.
David Chalke: [00:01:18]
Yeah. And I was told afterwards that that was a compliment. You can judge for
yourselves over the next step. Few minutes.
Duff Watkins: [00:01:27]
Well, seriously, what you, what you are as a social forecaster, and you’ve been
for decades, you have been studying the, the analysing the data, determining
where a society is shifting and in terms of attitudes and behaviours.
Now, this is important to business because business wants to
know where’s the consumer heading, where are they going to spend? Governments
want to know. And I know you’ve altered many papers for governments. They want
to know same thing. Where’s the population where a society heading in terms of
attitudes and behaviours, so they can determine public policy for the future.
So that’s the, that’s the serious aspect of the work that
you do now? I know you’re from the UK originally studied as a scientist. You
worked in Europe, you worked for many big name. Companies came to Australia,
were director of strategy for a couple of big-name advertising PR companies
back in the day.
But for the last several decades, few decades that I know
of, you’ve been doing this social research. Now, let me ask you the first
question. Do you recall what your first business lesson was?
David Chalke: [00:02:34]
The very first business lesson was sitting in a meeting with all the
heavyweights to this large multinational I’d been allowed in there for the
first time was the bright young kid and the, the old guy really old, he must’ve
been at least 40 leaned across and said to me, look, don’t say anything.
Just listen. Because it’s better to sit there and look
stupid than open your mouth and prove it. And that was the first business
lesson I ever learnt. Don’t open your mouth unless you’ve got something serious
Duff Watkins: [00:03:05]
God, I wish I wish he told me that years ago. It’s never too late. All right.
Okay. Let me ask you this one. What have you unlearned lately? And I
mean, something you absolutely positively knew to be true, but now realize,
Hmm, probably not the case.
David Chalke: [00:03:24]
Well, certainly I always used to think that I was the smartest person in the
room, but I’d been disabused of that for many years.
Duff Watkins: [00:03:32]
Well today I am cause there’s nobody here except well, exactly right. But
that’s a rarity. That’s all right. Let’s start with the 10 lessons. Took your
50 years of learning. Number one, lesson, look upward, sideways and
David Chalke: [00:03:47]
Okay. Well to achieve anything in any organization. You have to work with other
You have to have not merely their cooperation, but ideally,
they’re active support. And that means you have to manage them, and it means
you have to talk to them in ways that they understand that their interested in
make a, make a good fist of what you’re doing. It’s called Omni directional
management, that the ability to manage up.
Sideways and as well as downwards now, most people think of
management as being, looking after the troops underneath you. It’s not, it’s
about managing your peers and especially it’s about managing upwards as the
last week of the experience that Australia post has shown us a CEO who failed
to manage upwards successfully.
Duff Watkins: [00:04:34]
Well, just to explain that to listeners Well, you want to explain it to
listeners? It’s kind of funny. Really?
David Chalke: [00:04:41]
It is great fun. A new CEO was bought into Australia post, which is government
owned, but run like a private enterprise. The only shell. Yeah, it’s the post office.
And the only shareholder is the government.
They brought in a new CEO that from private enterprise, and
she started running it like a private enterprise business. And of course, that
meant rewarding executives, well giving them gifts. And on one occasion, she
ditched out Cartier watches to her senior reports who have done a particularly
This particularly flames the prime minister of the country
when he was presented with this information in parliament. And he then does
call for her to be sacked, which in fact she was and that was a failure on her
part to manage upwards, to manage the expectations of her bosses.
Duff Watkins: [00:05:27]
Because she was rewarding employees in a conspicuous way, employees who had
say, or they had earned Australia post millions of dollars in new revenue.
David Chalke: [00:05:39]
Absolutely, but in government you do not give Cartier watches that sort of
ostentation is not acceptable. And so, she suffered the consequences.
Duff Watkins: [00:05:49]
All right lesson, number two, keep walking. Okay, David, what are we
doing? Aerobics now keep walking. How do you mean?
David Chalke: [00:05:55]
Absolutely well, and or is it perhaps an advertisement for Johnny Walker
whiskey? No, it’s neither of those. It’s called MBWA management by walking
about or walking the floor. You will learn more. You will keep in touch with
others. You will pick up the early vibes. You will pick up signs of discontent.
You will pick up signs of early success. You will connect with your, with the
people in the organizations, the ones that you have to manage sideways, managed
downwards, manage up.
If you’re there talking to them, it’s no, the sending memos,
you have to be there to be seen to touch the flesh and make a human connection.
And they similarly we’ll make a connection back to you and feed you with useful
information. It’s visible management. Talk a lot, listen, more importantly, but
whatever you do, don’t be a gossip.
Duff Watkins: [00:06:46]
Well, okay. So, so management by walking around is that’s one. I remember from
the eighties, but the importance of it is to be visible. My understanding,
yeah. Is to be visible and to actually have contact one thing, people on the
floor or any in any business. And using that metaphorically, a laptop manager,
a guy, a person who’s locked in their office, sending out a continuous stream
of emails, they’re aloof and detached and distanced.
And the worst way. And so, you’re suggesting don’t do that.
David Chalke: [00:07:19]
I mean, and there’s two, there’s two sides. First of all, if you, all you do is
connect by sending memos. Eh, you’re not really going to get that active
support that you need from people, but also you lose the opportunity to come on
to the next lesson, which is number three, which is to get feedback from them.
Duff Watkins: [00:07:36]
Yeah. Lesson number three. Keep listening. Okay. Now I got to ask you,
this seems, this seems pretty bleeding obvious. So why. Is it so hard? And why
do we have to keep hearing this?
David Chalke: [00:07:50]
Well, after the most important thing in Drucker’s wrote this, that you have to
hear what is not being said. Now that sounds a bit philosophical, but in
essence, people will see how things going. Yeah. Good. Thanks. And the look on
their face will tell you. No, it’s not good. Thanks. That will tell you
something wrong and you say what’s wrong. Is it, is it? Is it personal? Is it
the work? Is it the way the office is happening?
And it’s only by hearing what isn’t said. That you pick up
those vibes, you pick up those signals, those early signs of problem,
discontent, success, whatever it is that enable you to better manage your
business and your operation.
Duff Watkins: [00:08:29]
So you’re quoting the management guru, Peter Drucker, of course, hear what’s
not being said that resonates in my previous career as a psychotherapist, you
must hear the underlying affect that feeling, not just the words and then
certainly don’t take them literally, but hear what the emotional component of
the communication, correct?
David Chalke: [00:08:50]
Correct. And it is that feeling? It is emotion. It’s that nonlinear non
rational stuff, which is often the most important in any communication. Is
finding out what people are genuinely feeling, not necessarily what they’re
mounting and sometimes are a lot tell you because they’re being polite or they
won’t tell you because you’re the boss and they’re afraid, or they won’t tell
you because they haven’t got the words to express it themselves. So, your
skillset is to hear what is not being said.
Duff Watkins: [00:09:18]
That that is, that is so true. A client of mine, he always described as having
your antenna wavering, trying to pick up. But I am the in the performance
management coaching that I do, one of my selling points to clients is I tell
the people that I work with, they will tell me things they won’t tell you,
because you’re the boss or you’re the company, for example, a guy might say to
me, well, you know that David Chalke is a jackass. And I say, yeah, I know, I
know, but you know, he’s the boss. So, we got to work with that, you know? And,
but they won’t tell you that to their, to your face because of the way it is.
So, yeah, so the more, okay. So, I understand. So being more receptive to the
unspoken aspects of the communication
David Chalke: [00:10:00]
And you will only get that by management, by walking about you won’t get it
Duff Watkins: [00:10:04]
Yeah. You’re reminding me, I asked, I have asked many CEOs who are managing
directors of Asia Pacific. I would say, do you need to go to Korea? Do you need
to go to Hong Kong? Do you need to go to China? Do you need to go? Do you need
to go to Malaysia? All these countries that you keep going to and. Can’t you do
it remotely. And I would, I was asking this back in the 1990s and 2000 every
time the answer was, yes, you simply must be there in order to make things
happen otherwise you’ll miss so much.
David Chalke: [00:10:35]
That that is completely true. And the, we forget. Because we’ve been through a
whole process of scientific management, trying to make management scientific
management is not about science. It is about human interaction. And if you
forget that to your peril.
Duff Watkins: [00:10:55]
Mm. All right, lesson number four, keep it plain.
David Chalke: [00:10:59]
Please, please, please use plain English. Avoid jargon. And I know jargon has a
role in shortening communications and making things simple within a particular
craft area. So, marketing has its own jargon. Accounting has its own jargon,
but please, when you’re kidding, any caving will try to communicate with
others, avoid jargon that they don’t use.
One, one of the real pitfalls with jargon is people tend to
use it to make themselves look clever and they will, they will fall back on,
Hey, we’re going to do a deep dive this. No, you’re going to explore it. What’s
your core competency? Well, what do you do that? Hey, it’s in the ballpark.
Well, approximately would do just as well. So, avoid pretentious prolixity, if
Duff Watkins: [00:11:49]
Okay. Well, let’s not stop there. Let’s reach out. You know, how about contact
people? How about corporate speak, which is bullshit by any name and
definition? Okay. So, my question is, so what, what is the allure of using this
sort of why do people choose these terms which obfuscate rather than explain?
David Chalke: [00:12:09]
Well, sometimes it is indeed to do that. It is to obfuscate as Orwell wrote,
the, one of the major problems with communication is basic insincerity. And if
you’re trying to, and if you’re trying to confuse your listeners. This one is
he described it as being like a cuttle fish, spurting ink.
You throw out these words in a great cloud. That makes it
look as if you know what you’re talking about but is in fact designed to
confuse onto obfuscate. The second reason for doing it as a course, to make
yourself look important to make yourself look well. I know all these long words
and if you don’t, well, it just shows how much smarter I am than you.
That’s another one. The other one is to show that you’re
part of the club. You know, if, if everybody else is deep diving, well, you
jolly went off to deep dive to go exploring don’t go and play Scott of the
Antarctic with us kid. You need to be, get your flippers on and deep dive. So,
it is a form of identification and this applies not only in business, it
applies in every way of life, we all form opinions of people based on their use
of language and their capacity to express themselves. And you find it now
amongst the politically correct, but you can immediately be identified as not
one of us. If you use the wrong, the wrong sort of phrase if you use the wrong
pronoun, even these days.
Duff Watkins: [00:13:36]
And, and that goes back to something you said earlier, and I’ve heard you say
many times and, and your presentations, the ones that I’ve attended, this, this
is a very, very human need to belong. To a group, to a tribe, to, to, to
something more than more than me alone. So, so yeah, I’ll dress a certain way.
I’ll talk a certain way because that’s a very deep, basic human need.
David Chalke: [00:14:04]
Absolutely. We are after all tribal people we’re tribal creatures. We are herd
creatures, but the herd is not that big. Some interesting work has been done
over the years. What is the size of our
tribe? What is the size of our grouping and a fellow called Dunbar in the UK
has done a lot of work at this exploring Neolithic and medieval groupings?
And he worked out that. The best size, the optimum size for
a troop is about a hundred, hundred and 10 because we haven’t the capacity to
recognize and name more than that. I don’t know. There’s a nice bit of
interesting academia until Facebook appeared and somebody used the data from
Facebook to work out what’s the average number of friends, people who’ve got on
Facebook. It’s a hundred. 110, that is the size of our tribal units. You can’t
work. And one of the features, and we’ll come on to talk about this later is
the echo chamber effect of social media. But one thing that social media has
done, it’s just that that allowed us to aggregate into little groups, just like
ourselves to create our own little echo chambers where we are reinforced in our
own worldview where you get, you get thumbs up, where you get likes, where you
get shared. Well, I must have said something, right. And that really is going
back to that basic Dunbar truth. We like small groups. And in fact, you can see
it in the military has known this for years, the Romans knew it.
Why you have a Centurion, how many people as he got in his
group, A century 100, that’s the operating unit today. It’s a company in the,
in the, in the armed forces. So have your ability to look beyond that becomes
yeah, I can sort of identify, but really when you come back to that core group
and that’s where things like the power of word of mouth become so important.
That is one of it is the most underrated, but to the most powerful of all
communication media is to hear from somebody within Dunbar group than it is.
So, yeah. And we’ve lost that ability. Certainly, you could say that in the
20th century we developed mass marketing, mass communication, mass media, and
the whole concept of mass that we are now seeing courtesy of social media, that
that was an aberration. In fact, for all human history. We have been fragmented
into little Dunbar groups, and it’s only the, the latter part of the 20th
century that we thought we could do everything by mass. And we’re now learning
that we can’t.
Duff Watkins: [00:16:40]
You use the phrase and one of your presentations, I’ve never forgotten it. All
this mass movement, mass marketing, all it has done is drive us to this, the
phrase to self-curate, a lot of self-curating going on. Would you explain that
David Chalke: [00:16:57]
Well, self-curating. It just it means that your collecting, as indeed the
manager of the museum does, they create and curate an exhibition. We now
self-curate the media that we want to, we want to watch that we want to see
that we want to listen to it. We, the sites, we go back to time and time again,
the Facebook groups that we are members often so on, and therefore we collect
around us and curate our own little view of the world.
A little window on the world is constructed according to the
way we see it. Not according to the way that necessarily it is. And every time
we people talk about politics, you discover this coming through that people
have a view of the world. That isn’t necessarily the same as everybody else’s.
Duff Watkins: [00:17:42]
This sounds like confirmation bias, a well-known psychological phenomenon,
where basically I recruit things, beliefs, people that confirm pretty much what
I want to think and thinking right now.
David Chalke: [00:17:55]
That’s right. Well, I keep saying to people, nobody listens to a radio station
that they shout out.
True. Sure. Yeah. And in fact, we’ve seen this recently
displayed where the head of production of radio of the ABC is now has now
recognized that long lost that their little group is talking to a narrow
section of inner Metro elites and that they have to expand their interest the
interest of their viewers and starts talking about things that the, what
Hillary Clinton called the deplorables are interested in, not just what they’re
Duff Watkins: [00:18:32]
Yeah. And the ABC is the national radio program network here in Australia and
the deplorables comment, which was a, an awful comment for her to make, but
basically, it’s been taken to mean those poor pitiable people who comprise the
bulk of society, who didn’t go to Ivy league universities who don’t have work
in banking and finance and get big bonuses and receive Cartier watches.
These are the people, actually, these are your neighbours.
Cause I understand. I mean, you live outside of Melbourne in the country now. I
think your neighbours are cows. And you told me a few things about, Oh no,
what’s the joke. You said one time about the internet. The surprising thing
about the internet we use, we think we’re going to use it for all these
fantastic things. And we do it’s great research tool, but what are most people
interested in the internet watching videos of kittens playing drums. And I
think you were exaggerating. I hope you were exaggerating.
David Chalke: [00:19:31]
Well, I think there is a love of unspoken use for other activities that most
people don’t a bit too into life, but certainly the amusing little meetup is a
very powerful tool, but one of the reasons I cite Hillary Clinton and the
deplorables it’s one of the fundamentals of communication is that people
process words and pictures and images, according to their own set of values,
their own beliefs, their own built mechanisms? And Hillary was talking to her
fans, her supporters, who certainly saw the people who would vote for Trump as
deplorable because they drove pickup trucks, had gun racks, saluted the flag.
Drank Jack Daniels or God knows what else there was. These were not people like
us, and language is used by many people to define us and them and the other.
And of course, the trouble with the deplorables was she’d forgotten that all
that big band of red down the middle of the United States, they saw themselves
as being defined as the way she described them and they said, well, that’s not
for us. She’s not for us. She regards us as deplorable. We’ll show them, we’ll
send them a Donald. And they did.
Duff Watkins: [00:20:48]
Yes. And those people she described; I grew up there. I, you know, I mean,
there’s people I grew up in the South, I’m a southerner and, and, and they
heard that message loud and clear. They are very much so. And so, they took it
to heart because they didn’t like being called names by Mrs. Clinton. Okay,
which takes us to lesson number five. Your world is not everyone’s.
David Chalke: [00:21:14]
Correct. And one of the, as we’ve spoken about forming, it’s a little tribal
groups and even larger groups the difficulty for many managers and many
communicators is that collectively, they are smarter than average. They’ve got
one or two degrees; they’ve got a postgraduate qualification. They live in a
trendy in a Metro lofts. They have Cartier washers given to them by their boss
freely, but they live in a world and surrounded by other people who share that
world with them. That is very different from the bulk of the people in the
Now, if you’re marketing to people who buy. Mass
commodities, whether it be butter or sugar or tea or soft drinks or fast food,
you have to phrase your communication in ways that they will understand.
Because as I mentioned before, an audience takes out of the message, what they already
believe. They are conditioned. They filter it, they process it according to
their existing worldview. And the Hillary Clinton thing. Perfect example of
somebody sending the message, which got miscommunicated, because that’s what
they were expecting to hear. And my God, they got it too. So, you first thing
you to, if you’re going to communicate, you have to understand what your
audience is mindset is, and then craft your message in such a way that they
take out of it, what you intend, what you, what you want them to do, not what
you think you’re doing. I mean, one of the greatest failures of communication
is to believe that I have sent the message you’ve communicated.
That’s right. You’ve sent a message, but it ain’t been
received terribly well. I mean, there’s the old joke about a miscommunication.
Where the soldiers in the front line send a message back to the boss, send
reinforcements. We are going to advance, and it gets passed down the line from
messenger to messenger, to messenger until it eventually gets back to the
general and it comes out to send three and four pence we’re going to a dance.
Duff Watkins: [00:23:20]
Yeah, this is a Deep point in the sense that I was reading it. And I’m thinking
your world is not everyone’s. We have guests on this podcast, senior business,
people with international experience who were raised in developing countries.
My, my wife is Brazilian, and she’s lives in the very cosmopolitan, very modern
city of Sao Paulo, but she was raised in Brazil during a military dictatorship
and on that’s a very, she has very different views about the nature of the
government and military, cause he has a different experience, and it makes me
think of what the late great negotiator Herb Cohen said, a line that I’ve never
forgotten. Every person is a foreign country. And if you, and if you realize
that it makes a difference.
David Chalke: [00:24:05]
Yeah. And this goes back to what we were spoken about before, spend more time
listening and telling, because it’s only by hearing what isn’t being said, that
you understand their perspective, their worldview, and then you can craft your
message in such a way that they will understand it in a way that you wish them
Duff Watkins: [00:24:25]
All right. This takes us to point number six. This is my favourite. R
E S P E C T. Let me tell you what it means to me. Respect.
David Chalke: [00:24:35]
Yeah. Well, and the lovely thing about that story, it was originally written by
Otis Redding. Yes. And then sung by Aretha Franklin.
Duff Watkins: [00:24:43]
I thought you’d never mentioned so 1967, Aretha Franklin belting out R E S P S
E C T respect.
David Chalke: [00:24:54]
And he said, damn it, woman she’d gone stolen my song because she, it was one
of those great cases where the, where the copy was greater than the original.
And Otis’s version is all right, but it ain’t got nothing in comparison to Aretha.
Duff Watkins: [00:25:08]
and everybody has done that song since then, but that’s R E S P E P E C T.
David Chalke: [00:25:15]
She yeah. And that wasn’t in the Otis Redding version. Aretha invented that she
put it in. She, she created that. Anyway. The thing about R E S P E C T is only
work for people and organizations that you respect. And in the 50 years I’ve
been in the workplace, I have made that mistake on the past, but working for
people who I didn’t respect and consequently, one of two things happen.
You are the find, you, you dislike yourself because you’ve
sold your soul to the devil and you don’t enjoy the experience, or they pick it
up very quickly. And they ended up suggesting that you might like to part
company and go and work somewhere else. So, for yourself and for the sake of
the other organization, never worked for people you don’t respect. There’s
nothing to be gained.
Duff Watkins: [00:26:02]
It basically is a time bomb. That’s ticking. I mean, anytime you’re in a job
and really at any time, that’s what I tell people in time, you’re in a job. You
don’t like you don’t fit this. This is not working. It’s just. Ticking. And
it’s going to go off sooner or later.
David Chalke: [00:26:16]
Yeah. And far better that you are sufficiently honest and maybe this coming
onto the suddenly we’ll talk about later on let’s officially honesty ourselves
is that, Hey, hang on. This is not the right place to be. I’m compromising
myself there. I will move on. I will find something better. Something that I
can believe in because no one wants to spend eight, nine, 10 hours a day plus
commuting plus all the rest of it. Doing something you don’t believe in.
Duff Watkins: [00:26:41]
Okay. So, what, so what do you do though? If you don’t, if you feel you don’t
have a choice, you’re stuck in this company. Maybe it’s a big company. Maybe
you’re a drone in the hive. Maybe you’re working for a company that makes
carbonated sugar water. Maybe you’re working for a company to make cigarettes I
don’t know, you know, whatever. And, and it’s a clash of values. What do you do
then? But, you know, cause you’re just. Person that needs an income. You got a
family, you’ve got responsibilities, you have obligations. It becomes a bit
David Chalke: [00:27:12]
It is. It is difficult. And that, those are the reasons I found myself in the
past, in that situation, because the job I needed, the job and the job was
reasonably paid and I thought, well, I’ll just bite the bullet for a while. I
suppose the advice that I would give is. Probably the one that I fell it your
grin and bear it for as long as you can. Meanwhile, you’re on the phone to your
friendly head saying, get me out of here. You look for an alternative. It is
soul destroying to work in that sort of environment. You get nothing for it. You end up turning up
late. You can’t be bothered. Being Trey keeps building up and it’s no good to
either you or, or the employer. So, you, you might as well. Move on. Find a way
to extricate yourself and move on.
Duff Watkins: [00:27:57]
All you get is the dollars. Really the, the psychic cost is greater than people
people don’t seem to account for that, but it’s it erodes you from the inside.
David Chalke: [00:28:07]
It does. And it’s reflecting too, when you go home, because you’re not happy
there. Your relationships with your wife, your partner, whoever, your friends,
they all suffer. You suffer, it’s not worth doing it. Really isn’t going to
find something else to do retrain.
Duff Watkins: [00:28:24]
Yeah. The first thing is take care of yourself. Get the hell out of there.
David Chalke: [00:28:27]
Yeah, one would say don’t go there in the first place for God’s sake. If you
can see it coming. Yes.
Duff Watkins: [00:28:34]
Lesson number seven, this must be a mistake. This must be a misprint. Lesson
number seven is don’t deceive.
David Chalke: [00:28:41]
Come on, Dave. You realize you want to undermine the entire industries of
marketing and advertising. I mean, isn’t business built on deception?
Not at all. I mean, one of the, one of the firms I used to
work for McCann Erickson its motto was truth well-told. It sounds a little bit
pretentious, but ultimately That’s what great communication and great
advertising is about, because if you don’t tell the truth about your product
and the advertising, the punters will very soon work it out and they will take
their revenge on you.
As Ogilvy said, the best way to kill a bad product is great
advertising. And it’s true because it offers a promise that isn’t met and that
says you lied to me brand, company, whoever you are, you told me a deliberate
lie. Therefore, I will trash you and your reputation. And in this day and age,
it’s very easy to get your revenge on that organization through social media.
Duff Watkins: [00:29:31]
Oh my God. I love to do that too. By the way.
David Chalke: [00:29:35]
The only thing I would say to people is they haven’t said be careful when
you’re writing a trash review about a restaurant or a shop, because this is now
considered to be publishing. You can be sued for defamation.
Duff Watkins: [00:29:48]
Okay, but do customers do that though? I mean, you know, seriously, I mean,
there is in my observation in marketing and in advertising a great deal of
deception. Am I just making that up or is there some truth to that?
David Chalke: [00:30:03]
In the bad advertising and bad marketing? Yes, there is deception. And as I
say, ultimately, the consumer works it out. All the end user, all of the
recipient of that advertising works it out, that it is a con and it will then
rebound on the organization. There is an element of what was it, Walter Scott
road, what a tangled web we read when first we practice to deceive and the
trouble is telling fibs is eventually, they do bounce back on you. Yeah. I
mean, a little, little white lies that we spent with the retail in everyday
communication, just to be polite and not to offend people.
They’re fine. But fundamental ones about the business, about
what the product is offered. That’s why we have people at the ACCC and, and the
advertising standard speak would have stopped people telling fibs.
Duff Watkins: [00:30:53]
You’re not talking about social lubricants, the social niceties, but you know,
the key you quoted that phrase, what a tangled web we weave when we practice to
deceive to me, the key word in that is practice to deceive. I see a lot of
practicing going on out there or so it appears, and it is so it’s not
happenstance. It’s not ad hoc. It’s systematic. And that’s what I am curious
though, too, if there is a price to be paid for it because I frankly, David,
sometimes I wonder do companies, do they ever really suffer companies or
politicians or institutions?
David Chalke: [00:31:35]
Well, certainly in a in a political sense. So, you certainly do, we’d seen that
in the past in terms of business. Yes, they do. We’ve seen one of the case
studies that I often cite is out of Decore a brand of shampoo. Shampoo was
launched here 10, 15 years ago. And with a brilliant advertising campaign. It
was people, shampoo in their hair, in the shower, singing to themselves to Duke
of Earl. And Duke of Earl became de de de Decore. Brilliant trial went through
the roof, absolutely up repeat purchase, fell straight down because it was a
rubbish product, and it goes back to Ogilvy. People do punch it, the product
died, and there are many, many products that have been put on the market. A
promise was made, and it was never met, and it’s been killed. Sorry, withdrawn.
Eventually due to lack of consumer support, whereas rubbish. Yes. People do
deceive. We’ve had banking, Royal commissions showing a lot of deception by
those organizations. And that’s why there is not only the force of the market
to an underpin truth in in business, but also the, ACCC. And part of the reason
that the banking world problem Royal commission was that it was an oligopoly.
Anyway, there was only the four big ones and they, the imbalance of power
between the bank and the customer is so great that the customer is really.
Stuck. I can’t actually get out of, it’s very difficult for them to move.
So free choice was something that while commissioned
admitted yet, you’ve got to make it easier for people to move that business.
That way you will get the banks to behave reasonably.
Duff Watkins: [00:33:15]
You were mentioning the, a triple C that is in Australia. That’s the Australian
regulator of. Oh, a lot of things. And a Royal commission is about as serious
as it gets in this country, basically and it went on to very expensive and it
was a big deal and basically found the banks were charging fees for no service
is the, the famous phrase that came out of it. And basically, they took a stick
to the banks since then.
David Chalke: [00:33:37]
And the, there is that balance and yes, their propensity is there. For
organizations to say, well, if we can get away with it, let’s do it. And they
were, they were charging bank fees to people who were dead. It was this sort of
nonsense. And that’s where you need in any market economy, you do need
regulation and a regulator. Otherwise, the free market, you then go back to the
madness of the wild West and snake oil salesman. So, you need that balance with
both regulation and free choice and market forces.
But certainly, if you, if going back to what was said, don’t
deceive, don’t deceive your customers because I believe ultimately will come
and bite you on the bum. You’ll get a Royal commission. Don’t deceive your
colleagues. I would pretend to them. You have to work with them. Yes. You have
the polite social lubricant, but nonetheless, you must be at straight and all
this with your colleagues and your family and your friends, because that
ultimately, if you are a Fibber, you will get caught out and that will not play
Duff Watkins: [00:34:39]
Well, I’ll go you one further speaking as a former psychotherapist, don’t
deceive yourself. Start right there and that’ll solve a lot of problems for you
because you’ll have a certain degree of clarity. Which will just make life so
David Chalke: [00:34:55]
Well, you’re absolutely right. I mean, because I don’t deceive myself. I am six
foot four with a fine head of hair. Thank you. Yes, self-deception. I mean, it
is one of the greatest problems that we. Deal with it in building our own
world, building our life. And we’re seeing it at the moment. And it’s a current
series on the television here in Australia with called SAS Australia, where
celebrities are taken and put through the SAS is a training course.
And as the people say, this is not about physical fitness,
it’s about breaking you down until you discover who you really are. And that
is. We fortunately, we don’t need to go through that sort of thing yourself,
but until you are honest with yourself, you can’t be honest with anybody else.
You will never be comfortable in your own skin.
Duff Watkins: [00:35:49]
Mm. All very true. Although I’m surprised, you’re watching that show. I got to
say David, that’s it.
David Chalke: [00:35:57]
Yeah, but don’t forget I’m from Pohmmy land so I understand what they’re
Duff Watkins: [00:36:01]
Yeah. Yeah. I know I need an interpreter for that. Some of those guys.
David Chalke: [00:36:10]
I had that experience once where in my early days, when I was working for
Nestle, no, it was the scientists in the labs. And I was sent up to a fish
cannery in Northern Scotland where the boats would go and bring the herring in.
Skin them and stick them into cans. And I had to do quality control up in the
I had to have a translator with me, an interpreter. When I
went down onto the factory floor, these people who were living in this isolated
fishing village, the railway had only got there about 50 years ago. It was
closer to Oslo than it was to London. And they spoke this weird dialect of
thick Scottish accent and with a lot of Norwegian and Lara. And it’s not yes.
Communication speak plain English.
Duff Watkins: [00:37:01]
Lesson, number eight, build a shed. You want me to build a shed? I’m not
a do it yourself. Kind of guy. You know, now you want me to take apart our
David Chalke: [00:37:08]
Absolutely. Right. It’s only a metaphor for feeding your own nourishing your
own interests outside work.
If all you have is work, you’ve become a very dull person.
You must have something beyond that, whether it be horse racing, soccer, or in
my case, do it yourself and getting the lay down whittling and putting things
together and taking them apart, whatever it is, you must have some other
interests outside work.
And it goes back to that business of your world is not
everybody else’s. You must learn something beyond. The four corners of this
establishment that you’re working. And you must be thinking beyond that, have a
greater interest, whether it be music, classic cars or classical music, because
you must have something beyond that.
As I say, otherwise, you will become a very narrow.
Duff Watkins: [00:37:53]
and narrow people are pretty uninteresting to the rest of us.
David Chalke: [00:37:57]
Well, that’s exactly right. It makes it difficult. I mean, if you had nothing
else, what have you got to chat about around the water cooler? When you get
there and waste the first half, hour of the day, not working, but chatting to
your friends, bonding, bonding, bonding, bonding, interpreting.
Yeah. Hearing. What’s not being said and just walking around
managing. Yeah. That’s right. So, if they’re interested in soccer, you’ve got
to talk about soccer. If there has been car racing, need to know something.
There have some interest beyond there, because as you say, you will be a very
uninteresting person to work with.
Duff Watkins: [00:38:30]
This takes us to lesson number nine. I’ve got some questions for you here about
this lesson, number nine. Remember your core purpose. And before you
elaborate, I want to ask you, why do we presume that there is a core purpose
David Chalke: [00:38:49]
Okay. Or this was written more in terms of the core purpose of the organization
that you’re working for but also in a way you’re running core purpose goes back
to what we were talking about before, about being true to yourself, about
having an understanding of what is your purpose in your life. But as I said,
this written more about the organization and understanding what that business
is about because at the moment the world is so fluid and fragmented.
It’s fragmented people, fragmenting markets, fragmenting
brands, everything’s fragmenting gone as we’ve mentioned before, the age of
mass. The times when great trends swept the world and just like, herds of
wilder beasts fleeing across the Serengeti, those sorts of trends no longer
exist. Because it’s all about fragmentation.
As soon as something looks like a trend immediately, others
barrel in, and the thing is fragmented and broken up. So, in this time of
fragmentation and social media and ideas, everywhere, and lots of different
audiences, there’s some programmatic buying and all the rest of it. It’s very
easy to become distracted and to lose the essence of what that business is
And particularly in times of change, if you lose that. Then
you’re going to be on the reef very soon because you’ve lost the colour of your
connections, your market. And I cite the example here of yellow pages, which.
Duff Watkins: [00:40:15]
you know, some people may not know what yellow pages are and, you know, I
haven’t seen any in a long time, but growing up and in the U S and Australia, just
like a telephone book filled with advertisers. And when I was growing up, you
want to find somebody to do some carpentry or upholstery. You go to the yellow
pages and all the practitioners were listed there alphabetically, and it was
great, but it was, they paid to be included. And so, it was the go-to. It was
kind of like the Google of its time.
David Chalke: [00:40:45]
Well originally that is exactly the point. Is that in fact, what. Yellow pages.
The people thought, well, we’re in the business of publishing. We are, we
produce a directory of businesses, whether it be carpenters, plumbers,
seamstresses, psychoanalysts, you name it. It was a great big book, and it was
delivered to every household in the area. And so, you would have your phone
book, white pages, which had telephone numbers in, and then you would have the
yellow pages, which was a business directory.
And it was a very successful business model. And the advertising
theme was let your fingers do the walking.
In other words, finger through the book, before you decided to phone up
and before you decided to visit a store or whatever, and it was immensely
successful. And the problem with it was that the people who ran it what
convinced that they were right. They were in the directory business. In other
words, collecting information, putting it in your book and delivering the book.
What they didn’t understand was in fact, they were in the search business. They
were, as you said before, a proto-Google and there. And the problem was that
they hang onto the book rather than say, Hey, this new internet thing’s really
Can we put them. So can we actually save money by not
printing a book and put this information onto the internet, become a search
engine, which they didn’t do. And I resisted for so long and eventually the
thing has died. They’ve tried to come back and let they, hey that Google has destroyed,
and it’s gone.
Yeah, that’s right. And in fact, in the early days, they
could have gone to Google and say, Hey, you you’ll be the front end of our
directory. And they could have survived that way. But no, it didn’t have, there
was so hung up with the book, but they could never get away from it. They
didn’t discover what their core business was.
Myer is a department store and in Australia there are two.
Basic department stores. There’s an up-market one called David Jones and this
Myer who tried to be a middle-market department store. And unfortunately, the
market for middle-market department stores has gone. It’s been destroyed. It’s
been eaten by either the discounters underneath or online on the side, or even
from the top, by the quality of your department stores and the shop with Myers,
they could never work out what it was.
Is it going to be a discount, a whole, the cheap or are they
a palace to the people, a place of glory and excitement and stimulation? It can
never work out what they work. The consequences now declined and declined and
declined, and doubtless will vanish from the scene.
Duff Watkins: [00:43:12]
And they’re not the only one at Kmart, Target both in the U S and in Australia,
around the world a lot of companies. You remind me companies and brands there.
I remember seeing a grid. They can be positioned. Some are in absolute freefall
and others are ascending, some are declining slowly and, and econometricians. I
think they’re called; they can actually assign a dollar value to the. To the
brand or to the company or to its reputation. The point is it ain’t static. It
ain’t just, just sitting there appreciating like money in the bank. No, not at
all. It it’s sometimes it seems like it’s under attack with, with your yellow
pages example because the world around it is changing. Now. Other times it’s
just, I don’t know, poor management inertia who knows.
David Chalke: [00:44:03]
Yeah, it’s Peters or Drucker, or somebody wrote that the essence of strategy
for a business is adjusting it to its environment is making it fit into its
environment. And when the environment changes, the business has got to change
and that’s where speed of management becomes very, very important.
And at the moment with the world changing as rapidly as it
is. Certainly, in communications and marketing terms, you’ve got to adapt to
that very quickly. Otherwise, you will get left behind and there are myriads of
examples of people who did that here, here in Australia, the Kmart and Target
examples are quite interesting in the Kmart, followed a very simple strategy of
Everything will be two-way dollar. $10, $9, $1 and followed
that through very well. They have creamed the markets they’ve seen off their
competitors. Big W they had seen off Targets who were also in the same stable,
but they’ve taken the market by storm by this very simple approach, but we’ll
keep it simple. We’re not going to try and deceive you at four 99. It’s $5.
Okay. And simple, fixed price strategies work extremely well for them. Plus,
very good merchandise choice as well, of course, which goes with it. But then
you can adjust yourself to the market conditions and steal a March on your
Duff Watkins: [00:45:21]
All right, let’s go to our final lesson number 10, become your own disruptor.
What do you mean by that?
David Chalke: [00:45:29]
Okay. Well, in the face of markets that are volatile, changing disruptors, come
in and destroy the market condition. When we’ve seen this in every sort of
market where somebody new comes in with something, whether it be Amazon or
whoever, and they destroy the market models, the whole thing goes topsy-turvy
well, if you’re in that market already, you can either sit back and wait to be
Well, you can do the disruption yourself. You can adjust to
this and say, Hey, there is a new opportunity that we can take based on our
understanding of how these world is changing. And what that means is that the
old ways of developing products and strategies, where you have an idea, you.
Put the ideas into group discussions.
You’d take them back. You refine them, you then go out and
do some quantitative research, testing them and you conduct a number of models.
You take them back, you refine them at 18, 18 months down the track. You might
get into a test market. If you’re lucky, that’s dead. You can’t do that. If you
come up with an idea, you make it, you stick it in the marketplace you’ll see
how it goes. If it works well, you reinforce it. If it doesn’t you kill it. And
then you move on to the next idea. So, this is the world now is rapid
innovation, rapid trial, rapid reinforcement, or rapid death. There’s no
hanging about and doing myriads of group discussions. Otherwise, you end up in
analysis paralysis, which is something that nearly killed Procter and gamble
about 15 years ago, where they were so locked into a product development system
that took years, they ended up doing nothing and nearly lost, lost their way.
Fortunately, they overcame that now a very successful organization, but be
aware of analysis paralysis. No, stick it in the marketplace, especially in a
world now where you can identify very tightly little groups to talk to through
You don’t have to let everybody know what you’re doing. You
could talk directly to them. And then try this thing out and see how it goes.
And if it goes well, reinforce it. If it doesn’t kill it off, move on to the
Duff Watkins: [00:47:33]
I’ve heard the phrase fail fast and, and you try it. You tinker tweak it, try
it again. If it works great, if not then onto something else or another
David Chalke: [00:47:45]
And the thing is you’re not seen to have failed because if you’re honest with
the audience, like, Hey, look, we’re going to try something new, give it a go.
What do you think this is a beta version? Would you like to try it? They’ll
say, oh yeah, happily I’ll give that a go. I’ll give you some feedback. If you
put it out and say, Hey, this is the greatest thing since sliced bread and it’s
not. It is seemed to be a failure and affects your reputation. So, this fail
fast idea is critical to the new world, but the punters like it too, because
there is no greater word in marketing than new. Yeah, or, free.
Duff Watkins: [00:48:21]
That formerly finishes our 10 lessons. It took you 50 years to learn. Let me
ask you one question before we exit here, David, you’ve been, you’ve been
studying trends, public behaviour, the, the, the, the shifting mood.
Populations in society for decades. Where are we heading? Do you think? I know,
it’s a big question.
David Chalke: [00:48:46]
In a way, I think we’re going back to the future and that we are going back to
the world of the 18th century. Where we essentially mass, there are mass forces
around, you know, we’ll all go and vote for a president in the United States or
whatever there is. But beyond that, we’re going to go back to our little towns,
our little villages, our little tribes, and yes, we’ll hear all the outside
noise, but essentially, it’s going to be my Dunbar group, but it’s the most
So, this notion of fragmentation of tight targeting through
word of mouth through social media, it’s going to take on more and more
importance as we go forward. It doesn’t mean that there’s going to be anarchy,
but we’re all going to take to the streets. But it does mean that dealing with
groups of people will become more of a dependent upon an authentic voice in
And we’ve seen that here in Victoria, here in Australia recently
with the outbreak of COVID. 19 where the messages we’ll put out largely in
English and the English-speaking population tended to follow quite well, the
necessary actions to prevent the spread of the virus. However,
non-English-speaking groups, recent migrant communities didn’t get the message
because it wasn’t communicated to them in a way that they could understand.
And they were a cause of infection and transmission of the
disease for quite a while, until we got round to working out how to communicate
effectively with that group. And that meant talking to the leaders within those
groups and getting the message across that way. And I think we’re going to have
to see more and more of that form of communication in the future.
Duff Watkins: [00:50:29]
Mm Hmm. I should point out David lives outside of Melbourne. Melbourne is an
international cosmopolitan city, and it has had, specifically in Australia, has
had a lot of problems with, COVID-19 not as bad as Europe, of course, but still
it’s been problematic in this country. We will end on that note and we will
You’ve been listening to the international podcast. 10
lessons took me 50 years to learn that a guest has been David chocolate. This
episode has been produced by Robert Hossary and is sponsored by the
professional development forum. PDF provides webinars, social media
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Did I mention that as feed David? You mentioned that is
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Please join us for the next episode of 10 lessons. It took me 50 years to
For more information about our podcast series, please visits https://10lessonslearned.com/ . Thank you for listening.https://professionaldevelopmentforum.org/