Tim Longhurst's Blog

Lessons from on Gary Vee’s #SXSW 2017 Q&A Session

March 11th, 2017 · No Comments

Gary Vaynerchuk‘s session at #SXSW was electrifying. Here are the lessons I learned from my back-row seats in the packed ballroom. For each of us who have a vision, an idea or something to say, there are lessons here for us…
Having an audience with someone who is so on mission and driven is electrifying. If @garyvee harbors doubts about his opinion or approach to life, he didn’t explore that territory today. He focused well and truly on terrain that he felt most at home in – how to get the most out of life and business.
Slogans helped anchor the session. “If you spent more time Doing and not Dwelling you would be much further along!” and “Losing is attractive to entrepreneurs” are Gary’s stock in trade. His ‘rules to live by’ made up a LOT of the Q&A-format one hour keynote… They grabbed my attention and acted as “hooks” for me to lean in and want to hear more
Great storytelling had us leaning forward and laughing. Every slogan-headline was followed by Gary’s trademark strong storytelling – offering anecdotes from his work and life
Finding simple ways to explain a complex world was a hit. Gary seemed to be able to find simple, clever ways to convey his understanding of context and our era… Looking back on his early participation at #SXSW (in 2006 and 2007), Gary mused at what an outsider he was because everyone seemed to be interested in saving the world and “I just wanted to make money”. Casting himself as an outsider who is doing things differently played well!
Strong values that resonated with my own helped me connect with the speaker. Values Gary lived in-session included perseverance, kindness, generosity… He gave 100% for the session
Self confidence and energy commanded attention. Gary appeared to have zero doubt that he should have a microphone on him and everyone should be sitting down and taking notes!
• Being in the company of someone who has a proven track record of success and generosity feels good. It was a total love-in. Many of the the 1000 or so people packed into ballroom were big fans and those that took to the Q&A mic heaped praise on Gary for his past advice, kindness, guidance and success. Being in the company of someone being celebrated? It’s a great way to spend an hour.

Category: Communication and connection

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Lessons Earnt – What I’d tell my start-up self.

March 25th, 2014 · 1 Comment

This month, Virgin Australia’s in-flight magazine, Voyeur featured a letter to my “start up self”. I’ve pasted Sarah Norris’ article below. It’s based on a number of phone calls and email exchanges between Sarah and myself.

Tim Longhurst - Letter to Startup Self - Virgin Voyeur Magazine_March 2014LESSONS EARNT

TIM LONGHURST is a trend analyst and strategic consultant for the company he founded, Key Message, helping organisations such as IBM, IKEA and Microsoft adapt to a changing world. Here, the futurist revisits his past, offering some sage advice to his start-up self.

Dear Tim,

You’ll have absolutely no idea what a futurist is in high school, but it’s about then that you become more socially minded. Yo u help raise money for welfare programs and years later will campaign for issues such as climate change and the Iraq War. The activism of your early twenties will inform a lot of your philosophy and work. Collaborating with others and campaigning with humour on issues you believe in becomes one of your best decisions.

Then you become aware of futurists. An article by author Richard Neville will be mind-stretching, and when educator Jan Lee Martin speaks at your uni, it’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen or heard on campus. You study communications at Charles Sturt University because you think the advertising industry is somewhere you can be a storyteller. But it’s student life that piques your real interest.

You’ll become Student Representative Council president and chair of the student union — all stuff people consider an interference to study. You’ll also run a business selling domain names to large companies. It’s 1998 and people don’t even know what they are, but you do, and it’s a sign you can predict future trends. Although it’s not particularly successful, it teaches you a valuable lesson — even if you see an opportunity, if you can’t communicate it to the market, you won’t get traction. You’ll eventually drop out of uni and at the time beat yourself up about that choice; don’t worry, go with it.

While you’re still at uni, however, you’ll need to complete an internship. Choose to do it with Tony Abbott because it will help you discover you’re not nearly as politically conservative as you thought, but more importantly, that politics isn’t for you. A lot of the people you meet seem to have already made up their minds about just about everything political — something I’m sure is not unique to conservatives — and the lack of creativity, diversity of opinion and open-mindedness will be striking.

You’ll be a little closed-minded, too. When you’re older you realise you should have started speaking at conferences and coaching earlier but you thought you had to wait until you had it all figured out. You didn’t, you don’t, you never will. As soon as you have something that can help others on their journey, share it. Don’t let the idea of charging money for your expertise scare you because you’ll eventually speak at about 40 conferences per year, in front of more than 1000 people at a time.

Finally, don’t be afraid of your rough edges, it’ll give people something to hold onto. The more you include those you admire in your work, the more fun it will become. The day you admit you’re struggling and can’t do it all yourself is the day you unleash the creativity and support of some amazing friends.

A PDF of the article is available here.

Category: Communication and connection

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  1. Tony Honicutt posted the following on November 3, 2014 at 8:09 am.

    When publishing, thou shall use spell checker…

    “Thou Shalt Freely Comment on the Utterances of Other Speakers for the Skae (Sake) of Blessed Connection and Exquisite Controversy.”

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Early thoughts for NEXT Question conference with Richard Branson

May 9th, 2013 · 2 Comments

In just under an hour, I’ll be on stage discussing trends and opportunities with a panel that includes Richard Branson. My hosts at the University of Queensland Business School have sent the themes of the discussion ahead of time, so I’ve been sitting and reflecting on each in turn.

The audience is a mix of business people and high school/university students. Most of the audience live in Queensland.

I’ve decided to quickly blog a opportunities for each topic area, so here goes:


Education isn’t something for kids… It’s something for each of us throughout our lives. But since we’re going to be talking about formal education today; we’ll know we’re rocking formal education when kids are RAVING about what they’re learning and participating actively and with energy in their learning. Frankly, if we’re going to lock people up in an institution for 12 of the best years of their life, we owe it to them that they have an amazing time that allows them to develop their understanding of themselves and the world. The qualities we ought to instill in learners include: curiosity, collaboration and creativity. Curiosity, because it’s the spark that turns us into lifelong learners—essential in a fast changing world; collaboration because knowing how to bring out the best in others and work in team environments is such a big part of realising our own potential; and creativity because that it is an act that puts these amazing supercomputers between our ears to work in ways that inspire ourselves and others. We want to create a generation of creators of amazing content… Not just consumers.


I don’t accept the next 100 years will be the “Asian Century”… Why should one geography get all the fun? No, this will be the “connected century”, where power is distributed around the world and we share the best of ourselves and learn from the best of others. We’re already seeing people collaborating in teams that defy geography and culture… And we’re just getting started. If we are to learn from Asian cultures, the long term thinking that defines many of the choices made in Asia would be a great place to start… The infrastructure investments we in Australia know make sense—but can’t seem to get right (think renewable energy, high speed trains) are good examples of areas that China is able to invest heavily in, at least in part, because of their cultural capacity for foresight. 


The vast majority are only motivated by money to a point. When I ask client and colleagues why they’re putting so much of themselves into projects, the rewards listed include: contribution, legacy, connection, the reward of making a difference.

It used to be that if we cared enough, setting up a not for profit seemed like a good way to go. Today, with the emergence of services such as change.org, the boring back office stuff is taken care of by others and allows us to express our visions for a better world with a few taps. I’m seriously excited by how many people are becoming activists on their mobiles and at their office desks throughout the day… demanding change on important issues and throwing their weight behind important campaigns without having to quit their day jobs. Not for profits will always have a role, but they’re not the only structure that creates change!


Leadership is a behaviour, not a position! We are presented with opportunities to lead every day of our lives, and it’s ok if we don’t seize every opportunity. We know we’re leading when other people follow. Whether it’s an idea for a new product or a suggestion for a system improvement… We’re increasingly realising that power is something we take, not something we are given, and there’s no need to wait for a job title or a better position in the hierarchy to make amazing things happen!

Three qualities I’d look for if I was hiring a CEO: charisma, humility and foresight. Charisma is because as much as the technology around us is changing, our physiology and social needs are going to be here for a while. Charisma will count for a long time yet! I chose humility because CEO’s increasingly need to defer to their networks. The wisdom is in the group, and that means listening to customers, activists, front line staff. Finally, foresight: leadership is as much about pattern recognition, sense making, visioning and storytelling… And that’s a big part of what foresight is about.


The possibilities available to the web are only just starting to be realised… My friend Eddy Harran says we’re at the “Stone Age of the Internet” and I couldn’t agree more. We’re just getting started. We know there are so many challenges we face as humanity, but just at a time where we’re recognising the major challenges, the tool that is informing us (the web) is also the tool we can harness to address them. For every challenge we face in our community—name one— there are literally thousands of people connecting, collaborating, scheming, to address it! Paul Hawken reckons that in our simple acts of collaboration, exercise and generosity we are rising like an immune system to heal the planet. He’s onto something. Our next big leap is to see the major challenges our planet faces as tasks worthy of our best efforts. The next big leap is for us to recognise our capacity to seize this amazing opportunity to create a legacy of contribution that echoes through the ages!!!

Well, that’s what I’m off to share. The panel will be on Sky Business News in the coming days. Will update this post with times and then the link when it’s on the web!

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Slaying the Mediogre

March 18th, 2013 · 1 Comment

There is a bully who insists that unless I really stress and struggle over my writing, it’ll be mediocre… and not worth publishing.

This bully has the capability of whispering within my mindin a voice that is remarkably similar to my regular, witty inner dialogue and thoughts.

I’ve nicknamed this bully the “Mediogre”.

It was my Mediogre that first encouraged me to not hit publish on a blog post about a year ago.

I was tired… Exhausted from weeks on the road, and, ready for a break, I gave in to the Mediogre. I thought, “Yep. I should come back to this post and finesse it when I’m feeling fresh.” I’d made a terrible error. I never would return to that draft blog post… And worse: I’d given the Mediogre a taste of victory.

Emboldened by the win, my Mediogre grew strong and brash. Pretty soon any time I thought to write about anything, the Mediogre cautioned me… My last writing effort had been so mediocre I hadn’t published it. “Why bother?” shrugged my ogre.

Looking back, I can see what a fool I’ve been. I love writing. I should never have let the Mediogre get the better of me. Fancy being browbeaten by a fictional character!

I’m sharing this story with you because I know each of us experiences the stifling voice of a Mediogre in at least some aspects of our lives.

Every blog post I publish is written with the blood of my Mediogre. If you’re reading this post, the Mediogre has tasted defeat. But I know he’ll be back. I’m sure with practice, slaying him will become easier, but I doubt it will ever be effortless.

So… Here’s to slaying our Mediogres. To remembering that the only proven way to get better at anything is to give it a shot. To giving things that are good for us, or others (or both) a go. And to remembering that most people aren’t nearly as judgemental as our Mediogres are… At least partly because they’re busy dealing with their own Mediogres themselves.

Category: Communication and connection

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Is Facebook the new Big Mac? The $100 billion dollar question

May 18th, 2012 · 5 Comments

Facebook’s a great place for us to burn time, but might it also be a great place to make money? This week the company lists at a price that values Facebook as worth more than, for example, restaurant chain McDonalds or global miner, BHP.

While we don’t offer financial advice at this site, here are few pro’s and con’s to consider as people around us decide whether they’re going to buy into the business. These are 5 things that will get you thinking – and at the very least, help you sound smart at social functions.

PRO 1) Facebook is a media empire with free labour.
It’s the writing, photos, videos and check-ins of 900 million users that constitute the ‘crack’ that makes Facebook worth coming back to. An expectation that users will keep giving Facebook content for nothing is a big part of what’s being sold here. Interesting to think of us as millions of freelance writers/photographers who work for free. By comparison, Rupert Murdoch pays his journo’s and photographers, but his business is valued at less than half Facebook’s $104 billion pricetag.

PRO 2) There are lots of opportunities for Facebook to cash in on users.
From the obvious (more ads) to the more outlandish (Facebook becomes a financial institution and starts selling us tailored loans, credit cards and insurance – imagine going delinquent on a loan and losing Facebook access as a punishment!). Tricky bit – somehow they’ve got to squeeze a lot more money out of us without ruining the ‘experience’.

CON 1) Facebook’s listing price is asking investors to bet that the business is going to make a LOT more money in the future than they are today.
The listing price of Facebook values the company at about $100 per user. Right now Facebook is making only a little bit of cash per user – about $5 per year from each one of us. They’re going to need to make a lot more than that to justify such a huge sale price.

CON 2) Facebook users are loyal to each other, not the website! If Facebook wants loyalty, they should buy a dog.
People are loyal to each other – not a communication platform. For many people, Facebook has been their first foray into social networking, but I doubt it’ll be their last. Some might find it hard to imagine abandoning the service, but when your friends move on, you learn to stop showing up pretty quickly. (Citation: AOL, MySpace, Hotmail, Yahoo…). When it comes to staying connected, as better options come along, users switch… It might feel like it’s different for Facebook, but that’s a bet against history.

Difference between Facebook and Google? Google made ten times more than Facebook last year.
Google is valued by the market at about $200bn and last year made about $38bn. By comparison, Facebook made a tenth of that. So to break that down into rough numbers… At today’s prices, if you had a dollar of stock in both Facebook and Google, here’s how your investment performed last year:
Facebook: 3.7¢ revenue. Profit/loss unknown.
Google: 19¢ revenue. 6¢ profit.
So it’s Facebook’s revenue potential that investors are being sold, not the current reality…

Finally, Facebook missed a huge opportunity by choosing not to sell stock to each user of the service. Sure the parcels would have been small for many users, but imagine the loyalty Facebook would have achieved if a significant proportion of their customers were also their shareholders.

So what do you see as the future for Facebook? Are you buying in? Sitting on the sidelines? Let us know your take in the comments!

Category: Communication and connection

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  1. Jen posted the following on May 19, 2012 at 7:11 am.

    Hey Tim,
    Great pros & cons!
    It’s pretty amazing that they’ve made a billion dollar company from billions of “free workers” posting on there. I had never thought of it like this. Thanks for your thoughts Tim.

  2. Coops posted the following on May 19, 2012 at 9:04 am.

    Great Post Tim, I’d tried to ignore all the hype because no one was being concise about it. This is clear and concise brain food.

  3. Paul posted the following on May 21, 2012 at 9:23 am.

    Dead on about selling stock directly to users. I wonder how tricky it would be to buy up a bit, and then on-sell it via targeted Facebook ads.*

    *Potentially impossible. I know nothing about trading stock.

  4. Gavin Heaton posted the following on May 28, 2012 at 8:11 am.

    I’m so not buying in. I’d go even further and close my account if I could stop my family using it 😉

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