Simon Leslie

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Another 28 days has passed us by

Another 28 days has passed us by. What have you achieved in your first 59 days. How many resolutions have you broken already? I’m not happy with my own February performance, probably because my body doesn’t know what time zone it’s in. I crossed the Atlantic four times, I have not seen airports this busy ever, even pre the pandemedia can’t wait for travel to return.

I got to pop over to Los Angeles and was lucky enough to see the Rams win the home Super Bowl with a Navy Seal and a half time show they will talk about for many moons.

I have reversed my diabetes in less than 60 days!!! The health show is starting to move forward. Guess going to the gym every morning is working, who knew!

I had a romantic Valentines dinner with Tim Storey while Piers Morgan watched on. I bumped into Cameron Diaz at the Beverly Hills Hotel and joked with Michael Mcintyre. Another month of hanging out with people better than me, and learning wise lessons from each of them and throughout 2022 I will find ways to thank every person that helped me through the last two years turnaround.

I did a two day masterclass with Dan Clark learning how to craft better stories, how to improve my message to you all. I watched Steven Bartlett do his thing at the London palladium – life is about the memories we create. I did a few more podcasts, saw TIESTO and 50 pence close up and our brand new ReachTV studio opened for business in Miami with major chefs and celebrities gracing it’s stage. So proud we made this happen against the odds. Oh and we agreed two more deals! Growing again makes me so happy.

It wasn’t all sunshine and unicorns, we had more battles than we had days and I was reminded Karma is funny thing. Sometimes what others think as bad news is just news and noise. Yesterday American lost my luggage and Hertz put me on the do not rent list! Who is writing the script to my life and can they get off the psychedelics.

We have to remember every good month is filled with challenges, this months we had too many. Sending peace and love to all those in Ukraine and let’s hope the world does the right thing. #business #travel #health #airports #writing #writinglife #people #brand #reachtv 


As we bounce back into 2022

As we bounce back into 2022 I remain grateful to all those that supported me through the last two years. Every time I had a difficult conversation or negotiation I would ask myself what would Christopher Voss do. Got a chance to say thank you in person today. PTG – is something to explore – post traumatic growth – definitely want to suffer from that! Looking forward to many interesting projects together – watch this space. Ink – we are travel media ReachTV thanks to Ken Rutkowski for making magic happen. #negotiation #sales #magic #media #travel #thankyou #projects #grateful #neversplitthedifference



2021 – 365 battles fought, some days just getting out of bed was a battle. Recorded a few good wins and suffered some losses (Rest in Paradise). On 23rd of December in the US more people flew than in 2019. The trend continues 14m flew this past week, and even with this variant the celebrations and world will continue – this too will also pass.

Wait til you read about the last two years. I can’t even believe so much of this happened. I want to thank everyone who helped me through. Those who constantly checked in and kept me sane. I appreciate and am very grateful to you all.

Despite another year of pandemedia we managed to do lots of deals, made a couple of acquisitions and actually made a small profit. I cannot wait for what we will have to overcome in 2022.

Whatever it is, we will do it while smiling, being optimistic, cheerful, full of faith and positivity. Thank you to all Inkers, ReachTVers, the Stagwell Group and my colleagues and family for putting up with me.

We spend our life sacrificing our health to build our wealth and then spend our wealth to get our health back – that’s my mission for 2022.

Three books in January will surprise you – this is a very early cover of one.

#thankyou #healthVwealth #sales #salesbooks Ink – we are travel media ReachTV Beam Jabbrrbox Urbaniser Together Group Connect Management Ltd Stagwell


It’s humbling for a boy who didn’t go to university

It’s humbling for a boy who didn’t go to university to be asked to talk about SALES to those choosing to study the subject. There is not enough real sales training in the education system or on business courses. Nothing in life happens until someone sells something. Thank you to Professor Csaba Csetenyi for the invitation and hospitality. To the twenty-one students I hope I left you better than I found you. I also hope the Ink – we are travel media story inspired you

Please do keep in touch and tell me how your sales career pans out. And I hope you remain successfull vs success empty.

 Daniella Dominika Horvath  #salesislife #lifeinsales


How valuable is the traveller to your business?

I thought it would be useful to highlight the value of this wonderful audience, that Ink have had the pleasure of inspiring over the last twenty-six years. Working in association with the brains at Gap in the Matrix we have identified why this breed consumer is more valuable to your brand, today more than ever. As the world gears up to reopen, the magic of travel is going to rebound in way the world has never seen before. I have been lucky to witness some of this in Miami, where hotels, restaurants and attractions are FULL.

The Covid aftermath

This concept will be driven by the psychological condition of scarcity. How the condition works is simple. When faced with the loss of something, it becomes the dominant object in our mind and it dramatically alters our mental health.

Lose your job and income : You become very aware of what you cannot do and you see what others can do, can be, can go and can enjoy.

A relationship break up: You become very aware of everyone else around you being happy, in love and needed.

In both circumstances it causes you to both lose belief in yourself, in life and the sense of loss experienced is much like grief and trauma.

Covid has left social interaction scarce and our ability to literally move and feel free, especially in Europe and Asia, has been diminished so deeply versus what normally is, a can do, to a YOU MUST NOT do.

This double edged sword of restrictive social interaction and movement rules has created an even deeper-routed feeling of scarcity. Normally scarcity allows us to find a new job or a new relationships, with Covid scarcity we haven’t been able to see friends or well, go most places, it’s deeper, more controlled.

As we move forward the sense of freedom, hope and seeing other people is going to be extra special! Travel is about life, freedom, can do, can be. After a year and a bit of restrictions, the revenge travelling is about to begin. The booking patterns have changed and demand is going through the roof. That is why you have to act now. 

The Traveller power play

The value of a traveller is going to be super strong for the next12-24 months once lock down lifts, perhaps even longer.

This is because it represents control of one’s life, what we can do and we will all be much more open to new experiences, new products, and new things throughout our journey’s from work, to holiday and all the steps in between.

We will want to stamp our feet around in a literal uncontrollable outburst of emotion like a psychological toddler fit, driven by can do and fun!

Our bucket lists and being grateful for the old freedoms we have back under our control will manifest us doing and consuming more.

It’s a purpose driven advertising dreamland. Travel has always been purpose driven but it has also traditionally it’s been the same marketing that the traveller would be exposed to sitting on their butt at home. It has never made sense and now is the time for positive change and take full advantage of this significant gap. It’s now time to get your message in front of them, they are both creatures of habit and also open to new adventures. It’s your time to inspire them to come to your destination, venue or attraction, after all the usual hangouts maybe closed.

The power play here is one of advertising based on being purpose driven, the travellers purpose and the emotions that they crave.

At Ink we know what travellers want. When they want it.

But most importantly we know when they are open to new experiences, at the right time, in what medium, the most impactful campaign strategy and where they will be in the world when that zone of temptation is more open.

The continuity of movement

It’s safe to say that once we all feel safe, we will all desperately want to return to a semblance of our personal normal. Even if it’s a new normal

But to get to that normal we will run rampant with a burst of fun, doing, getting up to a little bit of mischief, you know… living a little, being human!

Holiday bookings are already up, there have been some people with a happy trigger finger booking international travel, but the floodgates will truly open as each individual global market allows its citizens to visit other countries.

The key to advertising to any market is one of continuity. Omnichannel

Every brand wants to understand it’s customer but it misses the context of how we think as consumers, how persuasion and influence works in the brain and above all else the experience needed to convince and convert customers consistently; Continuity!

Facebook click thru rate is 1.61% Google display click thru rate is 1.91% Programmatic (stalker ads) click thru rate is 0.35%

Put another way 98.81% of adverts in our digital economy do not get interacted with. They are ignored as they are repeatedly irrelevant to the viewer and become mere background noise, thats if they get past the ad blocker. That’s spend which is being wasted on $265 billions dollars and 4.832 trillion ads!

What we know is the difference between the digital economy and real life. We have digital experts, we have a team focused on getting you better results than the above average.

One has to be relevant to the mindset of the person we are speaking to and that is the continuity we hold.

We can address any consumer with continuity from seat to check in, lounge to flight, hotel to home because we know where they are going, when, who they are and what they want.

We go with the traveller step by step to support, influence and persuade them BUT only by knowing what they want. It’s the knowing part that allows us to destroy the irrelevance of 98.81% of adverts and instead make it an experience that adapts as the person moves through their journey, literally.

The mindset of movement

You would speak to someone differently knowing they were in work mode vs life mode wouldn’t you?

One of the biggest points of failures of advertising is one of context.

Who wants to be sent adverts about cocktails when they are sitting in the office on a Monday morning?

Marketing is expensive and you wouldn’t do it in person, so why do we do it digitally?

Who wants to have the fear of god cyber insurance pitched to them whilst chilling on a Saturday afternoon with a beer?

You simply wouldn’t give a hoot.

Life and work is all about mindset and the human brain conveniently separates and compartmentalises the emotions associated with both.

We humans make more than 35,000 decisions a day and the best message is easily rejected if it’s received at the wrong moment. It’s practical, We ate lunch at noon, we aren’t hungry at 2pm so don’t pitch us food!

The joy Ink holds is the power of knowing where someone is, why and under which context of life or work.

It allows us to address the reasons why someone is in motion and what is going on for them from laptop to lounge to flight to laptop again.

When travelling for life, knowing what people are most open to really changes the game for them and you.

Knowing who that person is, why they are travelling, their current emotional state and their preferences for products, services and experiences really, truly, deeply makes it a moment in time opportunity to speak to them based on their needs in that moment.

They say travel expands the mind and it’s true. When we are in motion and travelling our mindset is much more open to ‘new’, things, ideas, to be persuaded but the context has to be right.

We know the context of life and work, and we can help you know it too.

The focused attention and conclusion

If you got to here, you have amazing attention span. Did you know how long it takes the average person to check their phones once the 9pm movie starts?

43 seconds! We won’t even wait 5 seconds for content to load, we have never been more impatient. We want deliveries today, we want everything now! It’s a hectic, addicted world we live in and grabbing any consumers attention is hard in the day to day world.

This is massively disruptive when we travel. Unlike the distractions of phones, life, people, the sensory deprivation is much more contained when we travel.

What we are left with is a person, relatively at peace as they have less devices, less things fighting for their attention and what is left is a much stronger bond to the content you serve because it has their attention.

This is where we know that purpose driven content wins the battle to turn attention into focused attention.

Consider how you would react if when you settled at an airport excited about your journey, or on a plane and in the mood to relax. You are served with content that inspires, with articles that touch your need for your type of news and adverts that enforce that positive personal outcome.

Personalisation of travel comes with focus, yours, mine, it’s personal. We know how to leverage the most unique contained focus around.

Stop wasting your money on ineffective campaigns, talk to us on how we can transform your brand in the mind of the ultimate consumer. They have zero fear of spending, are impulsive, spontaneous and ready to buy something and pay for it whenever. Its revenge spending at its best. One phone call and you can go from influencer brand to mass market, or from 723 in your category to the top 50.

Wherever you are in business, now is the time to leverage our network to help your brand grow.


The Benjamin Button Business Model

I think I am going to start a new category of business, it’s called the Benjamin Button Business model. You start with a market leading $150 million media business and over fourteen months, it turns into an exciting start up.

I am so ready to start again, to find the opportunity in every problem. To not be hamstrung by my old model, not to be upset by employees who seem oblivious to our commercial reality and I refuse to be disappointed by the lack of support to the travel industry from the leaders of the free world. I am not going to moan about the current business or the market conditions, or how great I was in the past, I am going to focus on the new Ink, the new enterprise, my new and loyal employees, to see everything with new eyes that are opportunistic, optimistic and ready to grow again. I am going to create new relationships, while finding fresh and exciting ways to look after old clients, that will make both of us money. I am going to give more opportunity to more employees to be the best versions of themselves, it’s always been “not how good they are” but “how good they can be”. I am going to change people’s lives for the better, I am going to make my clients more money, I am going to uncover more talent and give them a platform to shine. I’m going to help thousands of companies to grow fast.

Over the next few weeks we will unveil a new set of media, I will transform my offices from what they were to hubs of motivation, hubs of creativity and everyone in our business will have a start-up mindset. I am so proud to support many up and coming businesses to help them with our knowledges, experience and ability to find a way, even when it seems impossible.

I also want to use this platform to apologise to everybody who is disappointed in us, to everyone we said goodbye to over the past year and a bit. To all those people, I wish you nothing but the best things in life, and hope you will all come back and see the NEW INK. Please stay curious, please remember the lessons we learned through lockdown and please, please be kinder than necessary.

This week I was blessed to receive calls and motivation from some of the nicest humans and I am so grateful to you for all your support during this period and I genuinely cannot wait to repay you for your guidance, listening and inspiration. And helping me to see so clearly and be more excited than I have ever been.

Watch this space. In the words of Benjamin Button, Life can only be understood looking backward. It must be lived forward.


The man in the arena

I’ve been a bit quiet for six weeks, mainly because I have been lucky enough to spend it in a US state where the world seemed normal, where I heard the words, sorry our hotel is over sold and we have no tables tonight at multiple restaurants. Yes people were wearing masks, yes testing was happening regularly, yet the market continued regardless.

What really has it been like to run a travel business so far in 2021? Its been mad to watch. My clients, the airlines, have issued more debt than their market cap and their share prices just continue to rise. My staff are leaving in search of better opportunities and only time will tell if they jumped too early or were wise. The break up – it’s not you, it’s me – letter has become a daily occurrence. These were not just employees but part of my extended family, these colleagues have been with me for multiple years and it’s sad to see them go at a time, when if I believe all the narrative, things are on the way back. We have had false positive covid tests (spell check needs updating as it doesn’t think covid is a word – Microsoft take note) that have unsettled out our employees and cost us multiple weeks of work. The negative reviews have started again, seriously kicking us while wounded is just a beautiful addition to the turbulence. Listen genius’, of course we don’t know what we are doing, of course things are tight, we haven’t had any revenues for nearly a year. These holier than thou tripe reviews make me laugh. Who do you think you are hurting? We can’t be any more hurt as a corporation. And while we are being attacked from all angles, including from people who call themselves friends while helping themselves to some of our longstanding employees, yes, it’s real fun being an employer (you should get in the arena and try it sometime) we fight on. You can turn your back on us if you want, in the words of Roosevelt, it’s not the critic that counts.

We can all be victims. But I prefer to strive to be a hero. Let me tell you that despite all the challenges, we are hiring future success stories to grow our US television network and digital platforms. We are looking at multiple acquisitions, takeovers and seeing messaging from every travel trade press about the pent up demand. It is ridiculously high and if you take Miami as an example its already here. The medical community are predicting April/May time as a period of bounce back, grandparents are feeling confident again to take flights now they have been jabbed by AstraZeneca.

Forward bookings and search on our new platforms are off the Richter scale and airport numbers in the US are back over a million daily visitors. We have launched new platforms for all our clients in Asia and many in Europe. The market is turning and if the stock markets, crypto and everything else is getting too rich for you, it’s time to look at the rebound that is about to happen.

Why would you want to target travellers?

Because they spend regardless, where else would you pay $32 for a burger with no meat in it, pay ten times the price for fish that is uncooked, and hire a boat, car, buy clothes that at home you would never entertain. This is the traveller mindset, no regard for what things cost, but what value they add to ones Instagramable life. Memories that they will look back on, while they pay off the debt mountain they accumulate while enjoying sunning, skiing or just hanging out with friends and family. This has been and always will be a desirable audience, with much more disposable income than the average stay at home human. And after the last 52 weeks two weeks escape from reality is just the ticket.

We are seeing advertisers who left us to TRY other media coming back, last night even an old advertiser returned with his tail between his legs asking if we could dance again. What are you waiting for? If you need data, if you need social proof, if you need me to come round and take you on journey, let me know. The world is about to start moving again and we have the audience your brand needs. Don’t wait ‘til it’s too late and we don’t have room for you, get in now before all the beach chairs are taken, just like they were at Miami Beach House last weekend.

If you wanna bet on something, bet on travellers, it’s been good to me and very soon it’s going to be good for your business too.


Filling gaps

Yesterday was an interesting day and I felt inspired. It’s getting close to the end of the year and most of us are thinking about the rebound in 2021. Yet we still have a good number of working days of 2020 left. I used the immortal words of I got some “gaps to fill”. Gaps in time, gaps in performance, gaps in the commitment I made to myself to be a better version of me. And I realised I was coasting to the finish line of this year and not sprinting through the tape. I always finish strongly.

When I write these posts, I thought it was just me jotting down all the things going on in my head. I really wasn’t aware how helpful they have been to people I don’t even know. I wasn’t aware how far they were reaching and who they were helping. Thank you to those who shared the messages and the feedback.

This week has been great, it started with me taking my elderly parents to the theatre, my mum asked if me if it was safe over a dozen times, even 15 minutes before I picked her up she said she was worried. I said music, fresh air, and time with your son is better for your soul than sitting in the house, getting further saddened by the negative news networks. We had the most amazing day, we even went out for dinner and they both told me that it was one of the best days this year. Lesson number one – Do not live in fear.

Lesson number two, a major advertiser decided to pull a Xmas campaign, my team didn’t blink an eye and by the time of writing they had filled the empty tv minutes and pages. I love the people I work with, they don’t always love me, but together we will continue to dominate the travel media space. Thank you to the opportunistic entrepreneurial advertisers out there who gave us lesson number two – Don’t be dramatic amongst the drama.

Lesson number three, how can we use the time between now and Dec 31 to add the maximum value to ourselves, our teams, our partners, our customers and our future us. We have to stop making excuses and lying to ourselves. Stop filling gaps, stop believing the crappy stories and raise the bar, use every minute left of this year to either finish 2020 strong and start 2021 even stronger. That’s what I have decided to do. I will finish my new book “There is an F in Future”, I will write “my letter to the future” much earlier – a letter we write every year to our future self, even this year’s letter despite the pandemic still delivered 60% of a very high bar. I will smile and inspire as many people as I can. Lesson number three – Leave everyone you meet better than you find them.

Thank you to those you stopped me filling gaps, making excuses and lying to myself. 2020 has been one of the best years of my life irrespective of the commercial challenges I faced. I have learned, grown, adapted, pivoted, won, lost and played a great game at the speed of life. As I am regularly reminded, you are going to suffer if you don’t like or want things just the way they are. I do not want to suffer.


Time for faith not fear

Over the last six weeks, I set out to prove there was an alternative view to the one that was being peddled by the world media. That it was possible to resuscitate a business that was handicapped by the pandemic, lockdowns, restrictions, red tape and inconsistent messaging by our leaders. I wanted to make a difference to my teams and give them a cause to believe in and a leader they can trust.

If I had believed the news channels, what I was about to do was dangerous, stupid and even some close to me questioned my sanity. You are going to high risk areas. Well in the past six weeks I have learned a lot. Airports are full of great marketing fodder – those that all brands want to reach, fearless consumers, spenders not searchers and those like me who just have got on with life. We made a decision to continue life as normal in spite of what’s going on in the world. That doesn’t mean the virus doesn’t exist, yet I chose to live with it rather than cower in fear of it. It was a huge sacrifice and I thank my wonderful family for supporting me through this time. Without their incredible love and encouragement none of this would have been possible. 

What a trip it’s been, six weeks of making magic happen. Interviews, podcasts, adventures, a massive shift in performance, pivoting the business, making easy and difficult decisions mostly around ego, shame and guilt. It was a lesson in living life to the max and giving the people around me a belief that anything was possible.

Despite the pandemic, I played one of the greatest golf courses in the world, wandered with film stars, poets and opera singers along the beach in Malibu. I shot guns, rode horses and hung out with 39 super cool dudes at a cowboy ranch in Arizona. I made new friends and rekindled old relationships that helped get me in a great place ready to finish 2020 strong. 

The airports were busy, I took 11 full flights, travellers were spending like always – they always spend more when on a trip. I had ten covid tests and remain healthy. 

I helped talented people create TV shows and brought more great writers into our magazines. Nurturing talent has always been something I enjoy and through this journey I realised that I want to do much more of this. I want to help as much up and coming talent to get huge exposure through our amazing mediums and grow within our business.

I celebrated my friend Tim Storey’s sixtieth birthday, dressed up for Halloween and partied till the wee hours. Drank 17 year old Balvenie and smoked Montecristo’s on the beach in Santa Monica as the sun set. I did press ups all over America and at the last count went well over 3000 push ups over 6 weeks. I feel superb and I sure hope I left a few people energised by my newfound good energy. Staying home versus seeing the world and meeting new people is a choice and one I am glad I took. 

I studied and learned from the best and started a new routine to get my life back in order. I even painted my nails pink for charity. I gave a homeless man a gift bag and helped my mate Alex Stephany get his message out to a US audience.

And if that’s not enough had my broken nose fixed after 40 years of not being able to breathe through it over zoom from an energy and emotions healer in Mexico.

I reframed lots of people within our businesses and the belief is at highest it’s been this year. I am leaving the USA better than I arrived and am excited to get back in 2021 to create more magic moments 

Here’s the final truth, it’s easy to accept that Ink has been severely ravaged and damaged by the pandemic. We took a direct hit, yet it’s the resilience to keep fighting, and with the amazing team around me we continue to defeat the odds and finish the last two months of the year without losing millions of any currency.

I certainly will not be looking back on 2020 with any regrets, with no fearsome living, I enjoyed every month and still have one more to go. It’s been a wonderful year to get lots of feedback and I am grateful to all who dispensed it.

Happy thanksgiving USA and let’s make every day left of 2020 count


Playing like champions

Amongst the celebrations of Liverpools win of the premier league, I think a really interesting observation has been missed. Frank Lampard’s home-grown young team beat the might of Pep’s Manchester rich and famous superstars so Liverpool could be champs.

And as I sit here on a Sunday night reflecting on the past week, thinking how to inspire my team this week, wherever that work will happen from, I want them to know that my desire to grow our own, to work with our homegrown talent to continually make them better, will never wane. I will continue to invest in their talents to be best team on the planet. Its been a tough few weeks, where we have to had to let people go, and personally I have not dealt well with any of this. Yes I understand that I have to take a long term view of keeping the business alive, yet we are fundamentally a people business and without those people we are not as strong a force as we once were.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a few conferences this past week, and the messages I took from them were both fascinating and though provoking. We have to make sure we ask the right questions, we have to have the right view point, because nothing looks very good from where we are sitting right now. Yet with the right intentions, the right questioning, the right support to those who are left and still believe – we can rise and grow again.

A few questions I kept hearing and asking myself, and I thought could be useful to you thinking about the next few months:

How can we ensure the emotional well-being of our teams?

I personally prefer this term to mental health. They are not mental and most are healthy – how can I help my people to be stronger and able to deal with the challenges they face – especially the new challenges. How can I allow them to ask the right questions, to challenge the status quo and be equipped to deal with difficult circumstances? How can I make sure they are not just following the crowds and really stand up for something for all the right reasons.

What are we fighting for or more importantly who are we fighting for?

How can we make this team so determined and have a cause to believe and leaders they trust? How can they have the spirit to overcome fear, noise and doubt. How can I convert the doubters to believers?

Do I believe the future is going to be better than the past? 

Yes I do, I believe we will come out of this differently that the way we went in, and we will see the bright blue skies versus dark storms of doom and gloom others want to see and focus on right now. The negative noise of the media, both social and news has done so much to instil fear, doubt and hate in all of us. I want to believe in a better brighter future, one where we can explore again and live a joy filled life. I want to help those that want to rise, I don’t care where they are from, what they have achieved, I want to help those who have the desire and hunger to live a fulfilled life.

This is important. Winners and losers have the same goals – the only difference is, winners continue to do the right things even when things are not always going in their favour and I took a few things from the Liverpool manager’s interviews over the weekend. Its relevant for business as it is for football. Many teams set out to win, with dreams and hopes – yet there is normally only one winner.

  1. The team write the history – not the leader
  2. You have to constantly improve – as those around you will continue to improve.
  3. It’s about commitment, desire and the businesses has to have a big heart and soul
  4. We will never stop getting better. Doesn’t mean we will win everything.
  5. We use our story (history) not be held back by it
  6. If you want the qualities Liverpool had for success, they were character, determination, attitude, more determination, huge amounts of practice, always prepared and confidence – yet never forget humility and I would add a huge dose of gratitude.

2020 will leave every one of us better – none us know just how yet? My book There is NO F in Sales has been helpful to some during this period, and every penny of profit is going to (a superb charity to get houseless people off the streets).