When those you love are killed

It’s been five days since they died. Since they were killed. Both of them. My loving parents who I was very close with. As were my sisters. As were our spouses. They adored and were worshiped by their grandchildren. They are gone forever. There will be no new memories made. They are now in the past.

It’s unbearably painful.

Floods of emotion

At first even breathing was impossible. I learned to do that again. It’s like that with everything now.

They say time heals all wounds. It’s hard to believe that at this moment.

What is it like to learn to cope with such a tragic loss? It is as if all my sadness and fear and tears are kept shut behind a door. The problem is that all of my memories of my parents are also behind that door. I crouch down and peak through the key hole. Sometimes I see sadness. Sometimes I remember. Sometimes I smile.

Smiling seemed impossible a few days ago.

Sometimes the door get’s kicked open.

Sometimes it’s mum. Sometimes it’s dad. Sometimes both together.

They come bursting from behind the door in a flood of emotion.

The thought of dealing with reality right now is unbearable. I’ve become intimately aware that whilst grieving one has to manage things like a funeral and the execution of a will and estate.

It’s exhausting. Literally.

Walking beside us

Wise people have said to me that you never get over the loss of a loved one. In this case two loved ones, lost in a tragic accident. They say that you learn to integrate the loss into your life. That it becomes a part of you. Once I heard it described that as your heart heals you will have them walk beside you.

They will live on through us; in our DNA and in what we know about them “Dad would totally say that”, “Mum would not be happy with that!” In this future they are there, with us. Living on through our memories of them. There are glimpses of this comfort. Then we slip back into sorrow.

Grief is a journey we must take. Whilst seeking to celebrate their lives.


If I could be half of what either my Mother or Father were then I will have achieved a great thing.

Their love knew no bounds. The community and beyond benefited from their warmth and generosity. The outpouring of grief and support has been a chorus of broken hearts. We deeply appreciate everything everyone has done from simple “I’m sorry” to hugs to friends going above and beyond to help with everything from driving, cars, airport runs, food, cooking. I honestly don’t know what we would do without you.

For those kind enough to make a gift we would be honored if you could make it to the charity my father was chairperson of, The Wiltshire Community Foundation – and specifically to the  “John and Judith Woodget Fund“. They would have been “tickled pink” by any donations that helped them help others despite them not being around to explicitly help any more. A fitting tribute to their lives.


I love you mum and dad. I will forever.

Below is a picture of my beloved parents on their 40th Wedding Anniversary in 2013. Mum is wearing her wedding dress.

This image is from my personal collection and is copyright © Matthew Woodget 2013  all rights reserved and reproduction completely prohibited. Family and friends of course can contact me for a copy.


Are you prepared for the destruction of Seattle?

earthquakeLast night I read the New Yorker article entitled “The Quake That Will Devastate Seattle”. I made the mistake of reading this about 15 minutes before I planned to go to bed. Three hours later I had taken our rather anemic to-do list of an emergency plan and pimped it beyond all recognition.

First and foremost and if you take nothing else away from this conversation is WATER, WATER, WATER. Even after a small event nowhere near the scale of a Cascadian Fault Full Margin Rip will see cut off water supplies. My brother-in-law, a firefighter advises that; we go through 2 gallons a day. Have enough for 5 days. That’s 20 gallons for a family of four. And it’s best to be on the safe side. They are a family of 3 and keep 30 gallons just in case. They change it with the seasons, and the fire alarm batteries. You can also get long term storage and simple chemical treatment to enable that. Some emergency planning experts even recommend planning for as much as 7-10 days.

The article is very well written, considering it’s shock value. It’s not the only resource. In Full-Rip 9.0: The Next Big Earthquake in the Pacific Northwest more detail and insights are provided far beyond what an op-ed piece can muster.

As I read through the FEMA emergency list (and their additional emergency supplies list) I browsed through Amazon adding items to a ‘wish list’. Additionally I searched for ‘emergency kit’ and looked at a variety of items from kits and other useful things. I have some wish-list trimming to do…

In regards to kits; there are pre-built options out there that often come in a handy bag. However much of the contents of these is perishable so if you purchase them you will need to plan to replenish some items. Or you can build your own. A friend tipped me off to Costco’s options, these are mind blowing. After some research and recommendations I also discovered USA Emergency Supply which has a comprehensive set of resources.

At the end of the day it’ll all boil down to personal preference.

The FEMA advice is sound; not least of which it goes beyond the consumables, gadgets and commodities being sold under the ‘emergency kit’ banner. The basics are also important; from tooth brushes, garbage bags (and zip ties), to wipes, sun block, plates/utensils and so forth.

Communications plans are also very important. Having an out of town contact that your whole family can contact is useful as communication in the area is often challenging.

The science is sound. The reality is that something really big can and will happen. We just never know when. We are much more likely to have a “big one” vs. a “really big one”. I.E. an 8.2 magnitude vs. 9.0. for the latter we may want to consider more extreme planning; multiple locations in your home of emergency food/water, additional equipment (shovels, knives, portable wood burning stoves) and so forth. For a “big one” we still need to make sure we secure the basics.

Other matters considering is tying down tall furniture and retrofitting your foundation for earthquakes.

The spectrum goes from completely unprepared to survivalist. We are working on figuring out exactly what we need and have accelerated our planning.

Good luck – and please do share your thoughts and advice on emergency planning!

Personal at Scale

I recently posted two blogs on LinkedIn all about the importance of both automation in marketing and the human element.

In  Machine Learning Magic & the Intelligent app Revolution I covered the amazing power of targeting and interaction that can be unleashed by Machine Learning “ML” and provide some commentary on the state of that industry and what companies who want to knock it out of the park will need to do.

In You Can’t Automate Trust (aka “Personal Marketing at Scale”) I dig into the importance of the human factor in the Customer Action equation. There are unique and brilliant aspects of the human mind that are not being commoditized… not just yet, and by all measures not for some considerable time.

Customer Action = (Authenticity + Engagement + Relevance) * Trust

What do you think about the future of marketing? Where does automation and technology win and where do humans add irrevocable value?

5 Recommendations on Marketing Innovation

What happened to June? OK this is June’s posting a bit late Smile

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  1. Creativity Article by PBS – Creativity isn’t all about painting, music or "the arts"! This is a detailed read but worth it. Resources to help you better understand many of the facets of creativity and how to better apply it to your life
  2. Be an entrepreneur without quitting your job – This is a great article on our ability to apply an entrepreneurial mindset within the companies or corporations we work within. Which can be very rewarding!
  3. The C-Suite needs a chief entrepreneur – Love this concept. For companies to continue to innovate and grow they must have a growth mindset. What better way than to have someone at the top who is helping land that culture and mission?
  4. How IoT will help marketing – Nice article on how IoT can help with the aspects of identity and thus help marketers in the brave new world we are entering.
  5. Stop using marketing personas, use stories, use characters – this article breaks down the reasons for the problem with using personas. An affect that can cause problems across your organization as people try fill in the missing story gaps.

5 Recommendations on Marketing Innovation

In this monthly series I share hot leads on cool posts .

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  1. Want to Be A Better Marketer? Act Like A Startup Founder – I can’t recommend this article enough. Being able to pivot, be flexible and try new things is critical. Imagination is the most important form of intelligence for marketers. Those and other traits happen to be akin to the traits of Startup Founders.
  2. How to target influencers on Twitter… and get them to share your content! – The importance of twitter continues to grow. So how can you make the most of it. This article is critical for startups and an invaluable resource for corporate marketers
  3. 10 ways our data overlords could serve us better – Marketing your business increasingly relies on data. I loved this article because of what it means not just for new business models but also for the opportunities for marketers to make the most of the sea of data we are now swimming in.
  4. Fitbit, Smartphones, and an Integrated Work Environment – Innovation is as much about how you approach work as what you do when you work. In this article friend and colleague Jeremy Epstein SMO of Sprinklr shares some ideas on how to literally get away from your desk whilst still staying productive.
  5. The Corporate Storytelling series on LinkedIn by Kevin Susman and myself In 4 parts

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You are irrational

(We all are) I just wrote about the book “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely over on LinkedIn (here is my review). I loved how Ariely led into the book with his own personal story having been badly hurt and disfigured as a young man. I’m a sucker for good storytelling.

I’ve been a fan of the importance of emotions in decisions making for some time and Ariely lays out some pretty clear arguments for why this is more important than ever. Especially for those of us in business, in particular for marketers.

What do Green Eggs and Ham have to do with modern business?

This photo was taken at New Belgium Brewing HQ in Fort Collins Colorado. It’s the journal written by now ex-owner and founder Jeff Lebesch. In his travels across Europe where he gained inspiration for his nascent brewing business and captured those stories within. When you visit New Belgium you are struck by the pervasive use of storytelling and story making employed to communicate the businesses history, growth and modern incarnation.

On Friday I published a LinkedIN article “How to hire a Chief Storyteller” in it I use the example of the message “hidden” inside Dr. Seuss’ children’s classic Green Eggs & Ham.

Stories are the language of human communication. From the camp fire to the modern advertisement the best persuasive communication are stories.

That doesn’t mean we communicate in stories 100% of the time. There is a time and a place for cold hard facts, strategic messaging and even debate.

That being said storytelling is a critical part of our communications tool box and every company needs a Chief Storyteller to be responsible for forging, wielding and maintaining this important tool.

Growth Hacker Marketing

If you are over the age of 27 and want to feel like an underachiever read this book. Ryan Holiday takes you on a journey from being VP of Mrketing at American Apparel,where apparently his days started quite leisurely and involved a steam room, to the bleeding edge of business growth.

The book is more about the mindset of Growth Hacking than anything else. And there is where it shines. Whilst many of it’s explicit examples are squarely targeted at the world of start ups the lessons are universal.

Holiday cracks open marketing with an analytical bent, challenges traditional thinking, mixes in an accelerated view of product development, product market fit and how to do so with a questioning, scientific mindset.

At it’s crux growth hacking is about using all tools at your disposal to grow a business. Marketing traditionally has been about generating future demand. And gets hung up on intangibles like awareness and branding. Growth Hacker Marketing brings the demand generation into the now and the modern technology platform of the web and social help facilitate that in ways that don’t look or feel like traditional marketing. But they still grow the business.

It’s a fun read, packed full of good references and examples. Additionally Ryan goes to the additional mile to share his recommendations for other great reads and next steps to get you on your way.

So you are about to become a mother*

*Father’s too… but, well you didn’t have to deal with the pregnancy. No, shut up, you didn’t.

Read this post as if Jim Gaffigan were reading it. Specifically as if he were reading it like he was reading his book; Dad is Fat. Which my beautiful wife and best friend gave me for Xmas. If you don’t know who Jim Gaffigan is (most people in England for example) he’s an American comedian and is rather funny.

Every time a friend or colleague is in the run up to becoming a parent I share a few quips with them about the journey they are about to embark on. Both to impart my vast and seasoned experience as a parent which I can leverage to make me look important but also, and mainly, to pass on good advice I received pre-fatherhood. All advice which I can report back from the battle field that… yup… it’s all true.

On to the quips.

Pregnancy is fraught with concern and worry. The good news is it doesn’t last forever. The Pregnancy that is. The bad news is that it’s just preparing you for the concern and worry of parenthood. This will only last for for approximately the rest of your life.

Parenthood is one of life’s most unique experiences. It is in fact the original, unique experience. Net to finding a good cave to have the baby in.

Parenthood is one of the hardest things to do. Trumped only by pregnancy and giving birth. It is by far the most amazing, rewarding, delightful, love filled, “I feel like my heart can’t get any bigger” thing any human can do. Your life is about to change FOREVER in the most amazing ways.

Also you won’t get any sleep any more. But luckily pregnancy has been getting you ready for that.

Make the most of your life now. It will be gone come the arrival of your little one. It’ll be amazing and different, of course. It’s just that your old life will be a closed chapter. Get out, go on some dates, see a movie or two in the cinema for the last time in the next five years. Enjoy the end of this chapter so you are ready to throw yourself head long into the next one.

Get ready for the adventure!