I thought my capacity for surprise was pretty exhausted until I received two letters last week, one from the Governor General of New Zealand Sir Jerry Mateparae and the other from the Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key. They were writing to inform me of my appointment as a “Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in recognition of services to business and the community.” Blow me over!

The award was announced in the Queen’s Birthday Honours over the long weekend in New Zealand. Fundamentally I’m stoked. I was kicked out of school when I was 17 and didn’t benefit from the university education I was hoping for…so to actually get out from that unscathed and make it, was rewarding enough. I’ve always been aware of how lucky I was to have been helped and mentored along the way. I’ve tried to live my life the same way, helping kids and young leaders in their struggle to be the best they can be – in business (which is all I know) – so it’s brilliant to be recognized by the country which has been my home since 1989 for doing exactly that.

I never ever dreamed this would occur but at Saatchi & Saatchi we believe “Nothing Is Impossible”. I guess the honor proves that. I’m driven by all things New Zealand. I love its ‘can do’ attitude. I love its competitive spirit. Its focus on creativity and ideas. “Winning the World from the Edge” is my take on New Zealand, and I’ve tried to help everyone I can contribute to this Dream. I’m proud to have helped TYLA, the Turn Your Life Around Trust – help turn hundreds of kids lives around. Just as a few good men (and women!) helped me turn my life around. And I’m even prouder that my youngest daughter Bex is carrying on this work to help young New Zealanders achieve greatness.

This is a time to acknowledge my family, friends and colleagues for their love and support on the journey. A shout out to fellow Companions of the Order, Steve Hansen and Sam Hunt. The All Black coach and the bard from Battle Hill will be fine companions. And to acknowledge two friends who were recipients of the CNZM, visionary business builder Lloyd Morrison and All Black captain and rugby maestro Jock Hobbs.

Thanks New Zealand. My home is here. I’ll never leave. My work is everywhere, but my heart is here.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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