Start with the Answer and Work Back

For a decade I worked hand in hand with Bob Seelert – as Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi and as a Publicis Board Member.  A top marketer, a top strategist, a top golfer and a top man.


He celebrates his 80th birthday this month surrounded by the love of his life, Sarah and a posse of upstanding kids and grandkids.


He remains a mentor/commentator for me and reminded me of a speech he made at Cambridge University a dozen years ago – a time when the world was in the throes of a financial crisis and a recession.


His speech was based on the 94 stories he told in his great book “Start with the Answer and Work Back” which was published in May 2009.


Bob’s advice, 11 years on, is still relevant today (KRC July 21 2022).  To quote Bob “Tough times require the absolute best in performance by great leaders.  On an ongoing basis, the three big requirements of a leader are to set direction, to establish standards and to unleash the energy of the organisation”.


Here are his 10 things to do:

  1. Get the truth out on the table.
  2. Establish standards for the new reality.
  3. Think long term; while acting short term.
  4. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
  5. Get all hands on deck.
  6. Get out with your customers.
  7. Stay true to what made you great in the first place.
  8. Reframe the value of your product for the new environment.
  9. Add/Reduce, Create/Eliminate.
  10. Set tight priorities.


Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.



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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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