Must Reads 281

📝 Accepting Your Wrong

Good Morning Must Readers! #281 was written in the heatwave in the highly unusual September heatwave in London. This week’s newsletter includes a deep dive into Prime hydration drink and 5 essential themes:

  1. Why People Matter Most In Business

  2. Return To Office Mandate Muck Ups

  3. Spotify’s Podcast Problems

  4. Pay With Amazon Prime Perks Continue

  5. Ways To Combat Phone Addiction

X - Elon’s biggest regret to date?

++ Trivia ++

How much money did Elon Musk borrow from SpaceX around the time he brought (and then ruined) Twitter/X?

(A) $500m

(B) $750m

(C) $1B

(D) 2B

Get help - I coach, consult and advise - 

Work Focus

» People Matter Most 👏 - I interviewed C-suite leader and leadership coach Joe Scarboro with my 5 questions series. Read to understand why leaders need more self-awareness, need to apply systems thinking and why people matter most in your business.

» RTO Mandates 👔- Right now no one is really happy with return to the office mandates but there are some winners and losers. There is a lot written about mandates & big tech clamping down on structured hybrid but not many have called out so clearly it’s nostalgic managers and those with proximity bias. At the start of 2024, I predict many RTO mandates will be challenged again, especially with the seasonal job market upswing. Mandates will be here to stay but will employees, I doubt those most passionate will.

» I spoke to Marketing Beat twice last week and offered my take on the unfortunate demise of UK high street fixture Wilko and why BIG brands won with smart investments while others slashed budgets.

» Prime Hydration Growth
🚀 or 🧨

Prime has been on a tear, it is insanely popular with kids and young adults, and it is fronted by YouTubers (boxers, rappers - basically whatever they want to be right now) KSI & Logan Paul who reportedly own 20% of Prime hydration each. So let’s understand how & why its done so well.

Breaking Down Prime’s Smart Marketing

  • Smart Drink Sponsorship: Prime has officially sponsored the largest football (soccer) clubs in Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

  • Elite Connections: Sponsored elite athletes like Man City player Erling Haaland, UFC champions Israel Adesanya & Alex Volkanowski, alongside endorsement by boxing’s main male fighter Terence Crawford

  • Deep Followership: Alisha is one of the most followed female athletes in the world, and plays for the Swiss women’s football team and Aston Villa. Alisha has made the headlines (breaking up with her ex who plays who Villa men’s team) a number of times and I suspect that was one of the main reasons they signed Alisha

  • 🤔Influencer x Ownership: Logan Paul and KSI only 20% of the company each but pitch themselves as the owners and founders (not entirely true). The interesting layer here is to their audience that doesn’t matter. The actual founding team and majority owners are Congo Brands who have made this work before and offer the capital and logistics and allow major influencer marketing to front the campaign. This is their third collaboration and the most successful for the product and logistics firm

  • ⚡️Status: Prime has really hit the market hard and has become the major status symbol with limited stock driving the price up and then flooding the major supermarkets with huge quantities of SKUs.

  • 🚩Banned: Based on the ingredients (albeit it is reportedly caffeine-free) the drink was recalled in Canada - like the manufactured Red Bull rumours of a ban it has helped the PR machine and sales

  • 🚩Prime vs. Authority: Schools have warned parents about allowing their kids to drink Prime and bringing it into school - what kids want more is a status symbol that is said to be banned or against the rules

So whatever you say about the set-up or KSI and Logan Paul (both cancelled for some pretty questionable actions and comments), Prime is going to be around for a long time and be a status symbol for a generation.

👆I am constantly impressed by Daniel Ek and his way of articulating what others don’t. Daniel’s team are on the offence and often pushes out smart commentary from podcasts he has appeared on and this example is no different.
FYI: Don’t be surprised for other CEOs and founders to come out and say how they are constantly surprised and challenged by their teams in the move to change narratives away from RTO and mass layoffs

Tech Focus

» Pod Problems 🎙️- Long time must readers know how much I love podcasts. I have written frequently about the failing business model for most players and pod ad platforms. Most platforms have struggled with monetising podcasts - from ad deals to generating paid subscriptions and struggle to help podcasters with discoverability (and selling ad slots for them) and recommending pods that are worth the long-term investment for the listener. Spotify took a huge bet ($1b) on podcasts, building the advertising platform for it and took huge swings on top-tier talent - it hasn’t worked, however, what is interesting is how many with huge audiences didn’t make any sort of impact (Harry & Megan, Kim K etc etc.). Like newsletters, Podcasts are really hard to grow (I have had two pods and despite ranking highly they didn’t get the numbers you would expect).

» Why The West Struggles With Trust For A Super App

» Shopify 🖤 Amazon Prime? - This week saw Shopify and Amazon collaborate with pay with Prime and perks go onto Shopify stores. Many have made this a win for customers it is however it is a win for the Amazon payment team and Shopify diversifying its narrative away from them vs. us in online shopping.

» Babylon Health Demise 💔- Once the darling of tech and investment, Babylon was sold as one of the break-out telehealth brands. Now it is being broken up and sold for parts just ten years after it started. It’s a warning sign for any big startup that cannot prove their business model quickly enough and although on a mission it just didn’t work out.

» A Ten-Year Look @ WhatsApp & Its Power ⏯️

Life Focus

» Intelligence Peaks? - Not a new article but an enlightening article on when you hit your peak, why many don’t until their 40s (life experiences) and why it will be challenged in the near future.

» PA Tell Alls 🗣️- It never surprises me when PAs come out and get to tell their stories (it’s never really a surprise being close to friends who are EAs and PAs and then seeing dramas being silenced, however, this particular story is pretty wild. FWIW many are suggesting AI is going to become defacto EAs or PAs as they are effective and scaleable personal assistants but knowing how hard and varied many roles are, this won’t be an area that gets disrupted or replaced quickly.

Thanks for reading again this week & have a great week!

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