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What am I doing here?

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

It's a question I ask myself all the time. Many of us do. And some of us, not enough.


For more than two decades, I worked for a big PR company. I was their "Mr. Fix-it," taking on a number of assignments others shied away from: because they were too complicated or too hard, or perhaps because they had an instinct for success through self-preservation. I have always lacked that.


My time at the agency allowed me to enjoy success: I travelled the world. I gained experience, perspective and innumerable titles. So many titles. I was given the opportunity to learn how different cultures communicate, how they relate to each other, and how politics works, within and between countries.


Then, at the start of the pandemic, I found myself unemployed. I was living in America at the time, and (without getting into who did what to who), my reality changed overnight. Lockdowns, furloughs, changes to migration policy... I was not only unemployed, but literally (and legally) unemployable, for most of the next two years.

I won't lie: this new reality hasn't always been my favourite thing. It has, however, given me plenty of time to think. To reflect and observe. And to wonder if there is a better way to communicate: a more productive way to relate to each other based on listening, understanding and engaging.


West of Zero was born of a certain frustration with a world that focuses too much on what we want to say and not enough on making our views relatable. There has been a sea change in the way we relate to each other: more channels exist for exchange of information and opinion than ever before, and technology has transformed the speed and nature of that communication. But more doesn't always mean better; the profusion of opportunity also means its much harder to get your point across. As a result, we tend to focus more of our attention on shouting ever-louder for attention.


While it vies for attention in a crowded space, every organisation in operation must deal with a host of other challenges. Globalisation is on life support as countries redraw their relationships, but supply chains and markets are still global. As the world emerges from a pandemic, workers and consumers have new and changing expectations. Inflation is outpacing growth and earnings, climate change is urgent, and governments struggle to deliver on their promises, leaving a gap that others are often expected to fill. And each passing day seems to redraw the rules again, It's a little overwhelming.


Most organisations aren’t prepared for this pace and complexity. The challenges are real. Whether you’re a traditional industry trying to adapt to new expectations of sustainability and engagement, a service organisation that needs to attract front line workers or a government agency struggling to figure out its new priorities, you’re probably facing questions nobody could have anticipated.

Change brings risk, but it also brings opportunity. Success will belong to those who are prepared to be bold, to think differently and to look to the future with optimism. That doesn't mean you have to jump blindly into an abyss either; the volume of data, research and insight available to us is unprecedented and can inform almost any decision for those who know how to ask the right questions.


West of Zero exists to support organisations facing change. If you need to adapt to your new reality, want to seek new opportunities, or need to rethink how you do things, we are here to help. Let’s talk.

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