“maybe you are right and THEY are wrong”

[Today's guest post is from Vinny Warren. You can buy the same print here etc.]

Re. The Genesis of “Remember Who You Are”:

When I (unwittingly) coined the “Remember Who You Are” phrase for Hugh [backstory here] it was in reference to the print of his I had just purchased, that we proudly display in my ad agency’s lobby. It reads: THE MARKET FOR SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN IS INFINITE. Which pretty much sums up EVERYTHING you need to know about marketing.

At the time I said that it reminded me of the Roman Catholic icons my mother displayed in my childhood home to remind us of who we were: Irish Roman Catholics. I write this on vacation, from my hometown of Galway, Ireland. And I am reminded afresh of why this practice originated.

You see Ireland, unlike Hugh’s homeland of Scotland, was never fully subjugated by the English. We had the great advantage of being separated from England by the sea. We also had the great advantage of being bloody minded in the extreme. The Irish are a passionate and unreasonable race. We are Celts and we will fight you to the bitter end. We will never give up.

At one point in the 18th century, our now-friends the English outlawed both our religion and our language and customs upon pain of death. Or worse, transportation to Australia! The English assumed, not unreasonably, that surely this would do the trick. That we would eventually give up our identity and assimilate. They were wrong. Ireland, despite our proximity to the UK, became the first “colony” of the then great British Empire to defeat it.

We ultimately did this by inventing urban guerilla warfare, aka terrorism. We made Ireland ungovernable by using unconventional techniques that favored our comparatively limited resources. The English expected us to fight them on their terms but we fought them on our terms. The Jewish Israeli independence fighters studied and used these exact same techniques against the British in the then Palestine in 1948.

Unreasonableness won us our independence. Our very identity was at stake. Being Celtic and Roman Catholic was literally illegal. Our reaction was: well f**k that s**t! And in the long run, and it was a centuries-long long run, we won out. Because we never lost sight of who we were, and the value that had to us. Some things just aren’t right. And no amount of bullshit and arrogance and/or money and power can make them right. They’re just wrong. Period.

What was the impulse that initially got you excited you about what you do? Stick with that impulse. Maybe you are right and THEY are wrong. The Sex Pistols were right. The Beatles were right. James Joyce was right. Bill Bernbach was right.

Life conspires to throw you off your true course. So we all need reminders of who we really are. Of what really animates and inspires us on a day to day basis.

My late mother’s statues of the Virgin Mary and pictures of the saints weren’t solely the product of religious devotion. They were also a gesture of defiance. Our culture had come precariously close to losing our identity. But we were damned if we were going to succumb to something that was just plain wrong.

Never forgetting who we are is the key to everything. For all we know, YOU may well end up being the center of the universe. Think about that. Assume that is the case. Why not? It could be true.

[Vinny Warren is a founder and creative director of The Escape Pod. A Chicago-based ad agency that knows who it is. You can follow Vinny on Twitter. @vinnywarren is his wildly creative handle. ]

[The "Remember Who You Are" archive is here.]

[Download the high-res "Remember Who You Are" poster here.]


  1. I dig this. I feel invincible right now. Let’s go burn something down!

  2. The world, with all its divided interests and inconveniences, will constantly conspire to take things away from you.

    When you find yourself saying, “No. Not THIS thing,” that thing is part of who you are.

  3. Like the center of the universe thingy :o)

  4. Dave Doolin says:

    Pleased to meet you, Mr Warren.

    We might be kin… on either side of my family.

  5. Good stuff. Replace “something to believe in” with a “a sense of security” and it’s equally true and even more to the point. Happiness is accepting that we are riding on the crest of a wave.

    ~Just a small town girl…livin’ in a lonely world…

  6. The funny thing is your mom used Roman Catholic icons when the Celtic tradition is quite Pagan!

  7. “Or worse, transportation to Australia!”

    Given the amount of Irish born, or people of Irish descent, living in Australia, I’d suggest that this also contributed to the bloody mindedness often atrributed to Australians :)

    (i.e. “I wasn’t going to do it till you told me I couldn’t”)

    • vinny warren says:

      i agree martin. australia is a volatile mix. irish rebels and english thieves. a good time is guaranteed. ;-)

  8. I loved it

  9. Self-praise is no recommendation

  10. Care killed the cat


  1. [...] April 3, 2010 · Leave a Comment The legendary Hugh Mcleod kindly asked me to write a guest post on his blog. To say i was flattered would be the understatement of the year. I was. You can read it here. [...]

  2. [...] No matter the circumstances or the excuse or the situation. Vinny Warren wrote a guest post on Gapingvoid: Some things just aren’t right. And no amount of bullshit and arrogance and/or money and power [...]

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Hugh MacLeod is a genius.  Genius.

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His work acknowledges the absurdity of workaday life, while also encouraging employees to respond with passion, creativity, and non-conformity...   MacLeod’s work is undeniably an improvement over the office schlock of yore. At its best, it’s more honest, and more cognizant of the entrepreneurial psyche, while still retaining some idealism.

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