Donald Trump’s popularity: Is it so shocking?

storiesbyphil POSTER politicsMaureen Dowd is a great writer and a biting satirist for the New York Times, and today her article about the popularity of Donald Trump was particularly good:  However, this time, I think she failed to dig deep enough, and maybe it’s because the extra navel-gazing it would require on the part of many people would make ’em squirm.

From all indications, the “fed up” attitude that folks in America have is not just directed at a grid-locked political system, but towards the rampant political over-correctness that permeates our culture today.  It’s a touchy subject, and possibly an older vs younger generational issue, but I think it’s a notable factor.  Trump personifies this attitude, and it’s appealing to people from the far right all the way to just left of center on the political spectrum.storiesbyphil copywriter donald trump

I would hazard a guess and say that most of the educated and open-minded people in the fat middle of that political bell curve don’t want to go back to the days of female bottom-pinching and gay jokes.  I do suspect many of the rest, though, would like the freedom to not walk on egg shells when they’re trying to just be themselves and not hurting anyone (as they see it).

How else can we explain the swath of comments Trump has made that would have storiesbyphil copywriter sell the sizzleended the career of any regular politician?  He’s venting what a lot of people are feeling.  He embodies their frustrations at many levels and gets away with avoiding most serious conversations about policy substance because he is a master salesman selling the sizzle, not the steak.  All the good, bad and ugly of Trump is wrapped up in his no-nonsense celebrity personality, a packaging that defies attempts to demonize him for any one particular ingredient.

Let’s face it, Trump is popular for a reason, even if some Americans are loath to admit it. storiesbyphil copywriter face palm
But here’s the rub.  If I were to equate the Republican presidential race to a movie plot, I’d equate it to a film where the sidekick character is so funny/ quirky/ crazy that they completely overshadow the main character. Nobody expects the court jester in a movie to defeat the villain and save the day, though.  That’s the hero’s job, the guy who has the real solutions, the person who should be elected President.

storiesbyphil copywriter court jester

Problem is, life is not a movie and politics are a popularity contest.  If everybody loves the clown, the clown wins and the people get what they deserve.

Stranger things have happened.  After all, George W. Bush was elected twice, right? And Tony Abbott was elected in Australia.  Shit, anything can happen if you ask me.


Quick Food Review: A real life Kitchen Nightmare!!

WRETCHED FOOD ALERT: Paris Seafood Cafe – La Perouse, Sydney.

“I feel like they’ve just reached into my wallet and stolen my money!”

storiesbyphil POSTER foodComing out of the bathroom at this place, I overheard the cooks angrily telling off a customer who had the temerity to complain about their food.

“Well if you don’t like the food, we’ll give you your money back. Why do you have to say this in front of our customers? There’s nothing wrong with your food. You’re an idiot. Go away! We don’t want your business.”

It was like a scene from Gordon Ramsey’s TV show ‘Kitchen Nightmares’! I went back to our table, apprehensive.

“I got a bad feeling about this place,” I told my girlfriend. She pointed at our water glasses. They were filthy. Oh, great.

So, in this outdated, uninspiring fish & chip shop we waited, and waited, fearing the worst…

…and our fears weren’t disappointed.

When the food came out, I was aghast! It was piled (and I do mean PILED) 6 inches high off the plate! You might think, “Great serving size!”

Wrong, it was awful.

20150829_144256The grilled barramundi tasted off. One side was so rock hard it looked like the seafood delivery truck had backed over it a couple of times. Underneath that piece of roadkill, was a gigantic heap of boring salad drizzled with some tasteless dressing. Buried still beneath THAT, were some french fries cooked in oil that must have been squeezed from Moses’ olives 2000 years ago! My stomach turned.

My poor girlfriend fared no better. If the overcooked garlic prawns on her plate had not already been dead, they would have drowned in the swimming pool of oil and limp spinach they sat in. We quickly left after a few bites, a horrible taste in both our mouths.

“I’d rather eat the cardboard box a Big Mac comes in than eat another bite of that sh#t.”

That was DEFINITELY the first and LAST time we go to the PARIS SEAFOOD CAFE.

Oh my, and that name!

Don’t get me started…


And in case you don’t believe me, have a look on TripAdvisor…

Quick Food Review: Kepos Street Kitchen

We found this little gem of a restaurant, Kepos Street Kitchen, through TripAdvisor while passing through Redfern (Sydney, Australia). People and tables are packed in pretty tight, but it was worth the claustrophobia. It’s light, clean and friendly.
There are lots of people on TripAdvisor who ordered the salad with the lamb cigars. The name alone is intriguing, but we went against the grain and ordered something else. Thankfully, we weren’t disappointed
kepos kitchen storiesbyphil 21. WOOD-FIRED SMOKED SALMON SALAD. Maybe the best salad I’ve ever had! With green olives, kipflers, a soft boiled egg and dukkah, it is not only HEALTHY but DELICIOUS.
2. SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN SANDWICH. I’m from the South in the US, so I was skeptical they could pulls this off, but I tip my hat. It was a fusion of America and the Middle East, with a tangy coleslaw and chermoula marinade, and it was DELICIOUS, too. A bit greasy compared to my girlfriend’s healthy salad, but worth an extra trip to the gym.
The place gets very busy, even during the week (we went on a Thur), so get there early, or late. Parking on the residential streets behind the restaurant is free and relatively gettable, i.e. you don’t need to catch a bus there. You also don’t need to steal your grandmother’s silverware to pay for a meal. By Sydney standards, it was reasonable, considering the quality. Two meals (no drinks) for $36.

The Fantastic Snore: Why comic book movies leave me feeling empty inside.

Tonight, the guy sitting behind us in the cinema caught some Zs while we were watching The Fantastic Four. At the end, his friend nudged him awake and the napper asked, “What happened?”

Well, gee, I thought, where do I start? There were boring characters, a boring plot and a lame climax…oh, wait, he never made it that far? What a tragic loss.

Not wanting to be a total buzz-kill, though, I said to my girlfriend, “at least they killed the bad guy.”

storiesbyphil copywriter film reviewAs we lapped into silence, struggling to digest the giant popcorn salt-bomb that was now gestating in our guts, I wondered, “Was I thinking right? Do most comic book movies let the antagonist live?” I know I’m over 40 and in need of ginkgo, but I really had a sense that that was the case. Once home, I parked the car, took some ginkgo, chased it with a shot of vodka and asked Google.

Turns out of course, I’m right and wrong. The bad guys in The Hulk, Captain America, Thor and some others get to walk away, but just as often, they do not. So why did I think most of them do (besides being senile)? I poured another vodka and pondered this.

I think it’s because the antagonists are so often poorly developed. They are so forgettable that I have forgotten whether they lived or died in this movie or that. My memory, and level of ‘give-a-shit’, tends to degrade when I’m watching a movie like Man of Steel, where two seemingly immortal beings bang each storiesbyphil copywriter screenwriter film reviewother over the head with skyscrapers. I’m thinking, “Neither of them can die, so what’s the point?” Even a famous actor like Ben Kingsley couldn’t save the Mandarin from being a joke (even if it was on purpose). Then I see Loki escape, and the Winter Soldier and Nebula and blahblahblah..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Look, I wasn’t too happy when Luke Skywalker didn’t outright kill Darth Vader at the end of Star Wars (ep4), either. I was outraged, actually. Evil personified had been allowed to live! How could this be?! It did leave me mad, but it also left me hanging for the next chapter. But why was that really? Because Darth was a well developed, three dimensional character with a clearly defined outlook on the world and a compelling goal.

That’s what you should do with your antagonist. Something you shouldn’t do? Don’t wait until the middle of the film to introduce your antagonist like Fantastic Four did! It sucks the drama and stakes out of the entire story.

This is the first in a trilogy you say? Don’t care. I paid to see THIS movie.

MY GRADE: 4/10

Director: Josh Trank Writers: Simon Kingberg, Jeremy Slater, Josh Trank, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Sydney Film Festival – film #9: The Lost Aviator – hero or murderer?

Did he kill his lover?

That’s what the filmmaker sets out to discover about his great uncle, Captain Bill Lancaster, the infamous heroic failure of British aviation. His family is not too pleased about it, they’d rather dead dogs be left dead, but all the more reason to dig up his memory and make a show out of it.

The director has done a great job of painting a portrait of the era and circumstances surrounding his uncle’s life. Imagine trying to fly from London to Australia, hop-scotching across the globe, only to balls it up within spitting distance of his goal.

To make matters worse, the socialite he took along for the ride, the one paying his expenses and the one he taught to fly, was destined to eclipse him as a famous flyer.

For some, that might have been enough to drive them to murder, but enter, stage right, a mysterious stranger and a twisted love triangle! The hot nights in Miami were going to get very hot indeed.

This documentary is heroic, epic, farcical, tragic and ultimately, very entertaining, even more so because the filmmaker’s family didn’t want him to make it and he bravely put them on camera saying so. Suddenly I have this image in my head of the Soup Nazi yelling at the filmmaker, “No Christmas presents for you!”

One note – I assume the famous WWII British plane, the Lancaster bomber, was named after this guy, but it was never stated in the film. Curious.

GRADE: 7.5/10

(Australia) Dir./ Writer: Andrew Lancaster

How to Use Content Marketing as a Sales Tool in Your Business

7 simple ways advisers can engage new clients with content through online and social.

Advisers now more than ever need to reach out and communicate with their clients and potential clients through channels such as social media, blogs, e-letters, newsletters, videos, podcasts and via their websites.

Content = getting to know you

Why? Well firstly because the consumer landscape has changed. Marketing research shows that customers are turned off by direct attempts to sell to them. What they appreciate more is reading or engaging through content that gives them information they are looking for before they make a buying decision. If that content is delivered to them from you, then they get to know and trust you and your company, and are more likely to do business with you.

Or to put it another way; “Marketing is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content marketing is showing the world you are one”. Robert Rose, The Content Marketing Institute.

Sharing is caring

Delivering empowering, educational and compelling content through your comms will place you as an expert – as someone who’s across what’s current and who cares about sharing knowledge with their customer base.

But given most advisers are not trained writers and don’t have a huge amount of time to create content – here are seven tips to help you deliver content that will perform as a sales tool.

  1. Tell great stories: Your clients are busy so grab their attention quickly. Give them headlines that make them sit up and take notice. Got a success story from a client? Don’t be afraid to ask for personal endorsements. That helps build your brand. Using real life case studies are great ways of showing what you can achieve for a client.
  2. Cover hot topics: Write about subjects that are current and that you know people are talking about. It may be SMSF’s or BitCoin. Try searching Google Trends or news sites for ideas. Remember, you don’t just have to write about what you sell. Go wider with your topics. General finance or money stories are of interest to most people.
  3. Add value: Show your clients you are a great resource for information. People like and appreciate free content that is informative and useful. It builds trust and they might share it, which is free advertising! If you’re stuck for ideas, try using to gather links to stories around certain keywords.
  4. Find your voice: Stay true to yourself when you create content. People want to read/ see/ hear what you have to say. It helps create a more human, emotional connection. Don’t be afraid to give personal opinions.
  5. Know your customers: The best content matches what your clients are looking for. Would they appreciate you sharing the occasional cat video from Youtube? Pictures from your company’s charity fun run? Or just common sense advice? Whatever it is, use language and content they will connect with and understand. And remember it’s okay to use humor now and then. Whitepapers tend not to go viral!
  6. Keep it short: Don’t overwhelm your clients with too much information at one time. Attention spans and spare time are getting shorter so keep it simple. Choose one topic, one message. It will have more impact and it means you don’t use up all your subject matter at once.
  7. Use third party content: You don’t have to write everything yourself. Has someone else written a brief article, analysis or blog related to your area of expertise? Showing a willingness to point to other experts demonstrates your own greater understanding and awareness of the field you are in.

If you need more help in figuring out what ‘content marketing’ is all about, there is a great free e-book with short and simple examples at this website-

And if it still feels too overwhelming that’s ok, you can always hire a content marketing agency to take care of it all for you.

(Originally written for and published by BT Financial, Australia, in November 2014)

Sydney Film Festival – film#8: Victoria- worst night on the town EVER?!

Admittedly, the list of German films I have seen in the last 20 years is short…

  • Das Boot
  • Downfall
  • Ron Lola Run.

Based solely on that list you’d think I would be more of a fan, those are all amazing films. Well, after watching Victoria, the time has come to start digesting more German cinema I think.

This was a fantastic movie on many levels. For the first half of the film the tension was almost unbearable for one reason, and then suddenly everything changed, and the tension was again unbearable but for completely different reasons. It is engaging and gripping stuff, shot supposedly in one long two hour non-stop shot, which makes it feel like you are watching things unfold in real time. It’s an emotional roller coaster, from loneliness to love to violent crime and finally to…well, I won’t give it away. Suffice it to say, the director manages to avoid expectations and hands out lots of energetic surprises. This was definitely time well spent.

GRADE 8.5/10

(Germany) Dir: Sebastian Schipper; Writer: Sebastian Schipper, Olivia Neergaard-Holm, Elke Schulz

Sydney Film Festival – film#7: Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

Scientology is a tabloid curiosity for many people because of the celebrities they actively recruit into their pseudo-church, and I’m no different.

Like those many people, I wonder HTF uber-successful people like Tom Cruise can be suckered into a bunch of self-help rahrah codswallop.

This documentary reminds us that Dinaetics (the bible of Scientology) was like the Da Vinci Code of it’s day; it was everywhere. People came in droves looking for a self-help savior in the post-WWII conservative years in America.

Hubbard’s message must have resonated with a lot of people, but it was a fad, and like most fads, it started to die out, until he sprinkled it with a bit of marketing genius and turned it into a religion. The sinister part though, is the Nazi-like fear tactics Scientology uses to silence their critics from within and from without.

‘Going Clear’ lays it all out, with the help of celebrities who have left the church and footage from Scientology meetings that most of us have never seen. It’s frightening, fascinating and ultimately, head-shakingly sad. I wonder though, have not other religions of the world used similar tactics of fear to control their believers in the past?

GRADE: 9/10

(USA) Dir: Alex Gibney; Writer: Alex Gibney, Lawrence Wright (book)

Sydney Film Festival – film#6: Black Souls – a real Mafia film?

As an American raised on a Hollywood model of storytelling, I’m often frustrated by the languid pace of many European films. Not that I want the abhorrent ADHD pacing of a Michael Bay film, but I believe that every scene needs to have some element of conflict, a purpose, an arc and should come in late and leave early in the action.

With Black Souls, my patience was tested from the very first scene. This continued until what seemed like the middle of the film when we finally got what amounted to an inciting incident. The problem was it happened to a character that seemed to be of minor importance. It was hard to tell in general who the focus of the story was on.

However, I think that was part of the point. The film is a statement on violence and its destructiveness, a de-glamorizing of the Hollywood mafia movie. It tears apart families and communities and leaves no winners behind. Despite its problems, once I understood what was at stake and who I should care about emotionally, it was worth watching, even it it dragged at times. The ending is particularly shocking and unexpected.

GRADE: 7/10

(Italy) Dir: Francesco Munzi. Writer/s: Francesco Munzi, Maurizio Braucci, Fabrizio Ruggirello (novel by Gioacchino Criaco)