Dream Big. Play the Long Game.

In 2019 I choose once again to dream BIG.

I’ve always been a dreamer … as evidenced by these hopeful yet somewhat pathetic musings by my 13 year old self:

A couple of decades later, whilst riding high on the REMO General Store wave (if you’re old enough you may recall the marketplace buzz surrounding our “General Store” and award-winning mail order catalogues), I dared to imagine a scaled rollout for a brand that, although scoring high on global appeal, ultimately fell way short on capitalisation and operational capacity.

REMO People in 1988 & REMO Corner in 1995
REMO global network envisioning, 1992

I had always known how to dream big; but then I also learned how to fail big.

REMO turned 30 this year … and today exists as a tiny online service; selling mostly t shirts, tote bags and note books. The storied brand (REMO was declared to be a global “Lovemark”, inspiring “loyalty beyond reason” by the ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi in 2004) retains a pulse, albeit a very faint one. A feeling of “unfinished business” has inspired my wife Melanie and I to keep it going over the years. Ya never know what lies ahead.

Melanie producing and packing REMO brand offerings in our Bondi garage

Meanwhile, time marches on … and other worthwhile projects have taken centre stage for me professionally e.g. General Thinking and TEDxSydney.

Me on stage in June at ICC Sydney Theatre welcoming 5,300 attendees to TEDxSydney 2018

But then this year there was an interesting development on the REMO front:

For many years I have been working on an idea for a physical hub that would integrate a busy retail food and beverage offering with a programmed staging venue and other functionally related things. Also, back in 2012, I worked for TED on the proposed development of a global network of TED Cafés inspired by the London coffee houses of the 17th and 18th centuries … an initiative that, for one reason or another, didn’t ultimately proceed. Since then there have been another couple of occasions where my hub concept and brands have been baked into proposals relating to one site or another in Sydney, but so far to no avail. The 30 year journey brings us almost up to date:

In late 2018, another site-specific opportunity presented itself (far right above), and whether or not a cultural hub as envisioned becomes real in that particular place, the exercise has sharpened my focus on the conceptualisation, design and business modelling for such a space, and I am now actively seeking the patrons and partners required to make it happen.

The breakthrough that I had this year was the realisation that I could tweak the 30 year old REMO brand by altering the wording of some head segments (e.g. “CLOTHES” becomes “IDEAS”) and reboot it as the perfect branding device for a multifunctional space that addressed the envisioned experiences.

Here is the idea in a nutshell, first in pictures, then in words:

So, why am I excited?

I remember how effectively we were able to cut through in the late 80s / early 90s with the original “General Store” community and storytelling-driven manifestation of REMO, despite the fact that the format was, with the benefit of hindsight, quite obvious and fairly intuitive.

Feature article from HQ Magazine in 1991

I feel the same thing about the potential “Cultural Hub” manifestation of REMO, and reckon that the tasty integration of the elements envisioned (people, ideas, food, connection, work, etc.) will be regarded as both fresh and innovative in the short term, and yet somewhat obvious in the longer term.

In a post consumerist world, thoughtful people throughout the world are focusing less on THINGS, and more on ideas, connection and EXPERIENCES. A trusted place where all of this is delivered as part of an elegantly integrated “tasty mix” has a shot at really cutting through … IMHO.

Doodle created for Cornerstone Property Group as part of Oxford Street development proposal in 2016

I’m finding the REMO Hub development interesting and exciting.

I have a good feeling in my waters about it … in terms of its potential to be HOT and ultimately scalable via licence.

Finally, regardless of outcome (“To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.”) … it’s FUN to be working again on a big and hairy audacious goal that requires the application of everything I’ve done and learned to date.

But, in terms of its timing, I remain somewhat philosophical. Life is a marathon, not a sprint; and I’m happy to play the long game.

And so once again I choose to dream BIG in 2019.