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September 2018

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The Jurassic Period, which we’ve all heard of, lasted 54,100,000 years.

The Triassic Period, which I’d not heard of, occurred just before the Jurassic Period and lasted 52,000,000 years.

The Cretaceous Period (never heard of it either) occurred just after the Jurassic Period and lasted even longer. 79,000,000 years.

I don’t care too much about those periods really. I’m not a palaeontologist (yes, I’ve been at Google and have probably still got some of that wrong).

The Michael Owen Period

The Michael Owen Period is occurring right now.

It’s been happening for about 50 years and will last for around 80 years.

I do care very much about this period.

All 80 years of it. Eighty.

Not 54,000,000 (54 million) or 52,000,000 (52 million) or 79,000.000 (79 million).

80.

If I stay healthy.

The “You Period”?

It’ll last about the same.

Context

I just wanted to point out that when we’re walking around museums and watching Steven Spielberg films with our children – and referring to The Jurassic Period by name – what we are really talking about is this…

A period of time 145,000,000 years ago that lasted for 54,100,000 years.

But we rarely explore the idea of a “You Period“…

Now. 80 years.

God; we’re here for a short amount of time aren’t we?

Let’s be more conscious of our time here.

The “You Period“.

We talk about the Jurassic Period by name and it means nothing to us really.

But we so rarely talk about or even think about the “You Period”.

And that means everything.

Literally.

It is all we have.

80 years. About 1,000 months. 30,000 days. About 720,000 hours (and we’re awake for only about 500,000 of them, sleeping for the equivalent of 220,000 days).

So there are about 11,000 days left before the Michael Owen Period is over.

For good.

Fun.

I am not sure exactly what I’ll do with my 11,000 remaining days.

But these figures focus me. I hope they focus you too.

One thing’s for sure. If I want to do something – I will.

And I intend to have as much fun as possible.

Image: The absolute living legend that is Mr. Bingo.

You know those annoying people that seem to be good at everything.

Don’t you just hate them?

But don’t you want to be a little bit like them, too?

Well – I think that you can.

Everything

These people are not good at everything. I think they just try lots of different things. And, mostly, we remember the ones they were good at.

David Bowie will, in my mind and in the mind of millions of others too, go down in history as a genius.

His music, his characters, his film roles, his quips and wit in interviews, his sense of style.

All great.

His Laughing Gnome was not so great though. And his acting with Bing Crosby at the start of The Little Drummer Boy was a bit weird.

A genius nonetheless.

Ricky Gervais has had hits and misses. James Corden is a hero to some and downright annoying to others.

But the reason I mention these examples is because they have all done good and bad things. Things that people loved and things that people laughed at.

But they kept on going anyway.

Do It For You

Perhaps the key is to do lots of different things for yourself? And to not worry what people might think.

These guys didn’t know they were going to be good at it before they did it.

How are we supposed to know what we’re great at until we try?

They had to give it a go to find out. So I may give one or two new things a go myself, and not worry about being a little ropey at the beginning.

After all – to get to ‘great’, we almost always have to go through ‘OK’ and ‘good’, don’t we?

When I was 30, I talked about retiring at 50.

Or 55.

Or something.

Because other people spoke about it and it felt like a club I should be part of. A badge of honour.

Now I am 50, retiring is the last thing I want to do. What the hell would I do every day?

Probably drink too much, spend too much money and get into trouble.

Productive.

I have to be productive.

I cannot tell you how much of an unfathomable and unattractive concept retirement is now that I am actually 50.

Stick or Twist

All of that said, as I get older, big decisions are starting to feel even bigger. Because I am more aware that I am going to die. Probably between 1 and 30 years from now.

Lots of decisions feel like ‘Stick or Twist’.

And it’s quite unnerving.

45…

When I was 45 I simplified my life by closing my businesses. I had money in the bank. Enough for me to do not very much for a few years if I wanted to. I chose ‘Stick’ for a moment in time.

…47…

I decided to ‘Twist’ two years later. I started a new business in a new world. And invested a chunk of money.

…50

And at 50, it’s going well.

Stick or Twist Again.

As time goes by I am faced with yet more ‘Stick or Twist’ decisions.

I shouldn’t be surprised.

That’s what happens when you run businesses and I’ve ran a few.

Risks, or ‘Twists’, are part of the game.

Risk.

However all of that said, I am finding that ‘Stick’ is a risk too, as well as Twist.

I’ve never known a ‘me’ that does nothing at all. I am always up to something.

I have almost always chosen ‘Twist’. So if I were to ‘Stick’ that’s just too scary for me. I don’t really understand ‘Stick’.

So, and I have very selfishly written this story for me of course, I now feel a little bit better about choosing ‘Twist’ all those years.

I wanted to mention something that I am pretty sure you’ll do today.

And if you don’t do it today, you will definitely do it in the next few days.

You will inspire someone.

Be Inspired. 

I get inspired by all sorts of people, all the time.

Every other day or so I meet people young and old that give me a metaphorical kick up the arse because they do something ranging from commendable to amazing.

This spurs me on to try to be better tomorrow than I am today.

I am on the lookout for such things I think. Which I am sure helps.

Be Inspiring.

But as I mention in the first part of this little read, you are inspiring people too.

I hope that makes you feel great. Because you are doing it, all the time. Especially when you’re being your best self.

So, if you don’t mind, have a wee think about this from time to time. It’ll make you feel warm inside; the fact that you’ve improved someone’s life.

These ‘little inspirations’ can be quite something. Especially when, as happens to us all, you may be able to inspire someone that’s in a temporary lull.

You can make their day.

Big Inspirations.

I’ll leave you with a reference to my friend Suzanne. Her father is pictured at the top of this story at the 50odd website.

Whilst ‘little inspirations’ are commonplace and you can make them happen regularly – big inspirations are out there too. Some grow throughout lifetimes.

Here is how Suzanne’s father inspired her:

…I thought I would share a photo of my inspiration for my grilled cheese restaurant idea along with the glass of wine I had tonight…

This is a photo from 1969 of my Dad at work – he and his brother-in-law ran a really high end restaurant in Cleveland Ohio and the newspaper came to do a photo shoot.

I was the only kid in school that had a Dad that wore a tuxedo to work every day which was kind of cool – he was 43 when I was born which back then was a really huge deal…

He died at the age of 86 and he had a great life…he never got to pursue his dream of going to college and becoming a doctor but he never acted as if he wanted to do anything else than what he did with food and wine and he was amazing at it – I miss him everyday.

Thanks for the story Suzanne. And the photograph.

Thanks to your dad for inspiring you, and to you for inspiring us xxx

I was invited to a White Ball last weekend. At Ramside Hall near Durham.

It was devised by a very cool chap called Sergio Petrucci. They’ve raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for CHUF (The Children’s Heart Unit Fund) over three years.

Amazing.

All In.

I am an ‘all in’ kind of guy. If I am going to do something I like to do it as well as I can.

So when Sergio told Lisa and I that we and every other guest had to wear all white to this 6 hour event, we set about getting outfits together.

For Lisa it was a dress and jacket and she looked great.

For me it was slightly more tricky. But as I’d decide to go all in I ended up with white Doc Martens, white jeans, white jacket, shirt and tie.

And white hair.

You can just about see this in the image accompanying this story at the 50odd website.

Crisis.

I think my mid-life crisis started when I was about 20. And this is probably just another stage I am going through.

I’d never dyed my hair in 50 years. So I thought, why not? I don’t have as much hair as I used to so it saved a few quid on hair dye. And a couple of whiskeys spurred me on to actually do it.

So here I am. Aged 50. With dyed white/yellow(ish) hair.

So when you see me wearing a flat cap or a beanie in the next few weeks… that’s why!

I wonder…

With which are you happiest?

  1. The list of great ideas you’ve had and great things you’ve done so far in life.
  2. The list of great ideas you’ve had for your future… things you still want to do.

My ‘list 1’ makes me grateful. I forget to be as grateful as I should sometimes. Life’s good.

My ‘list 2’ makes me feel hopeful. Excited, positive and ambitious about the future.

My Lists

I am happy with my list 1. I wouldn’t change anything. (Good job really since it’s too late anyway).

I am not happy with my list 2 though.

I think I need to have more ideas; to set more goals for more experiences. Ideas that I can see and imagine quite clearly. And I may even think about when I’d like to do them or achieve them. Deadlines.

The Right Way Round

And I am glad that I am happier with my ‘list 1.’ than I am with my ‘list 2.’

If I was unhappy with what I’d achieved in the past, and had no appetite for developing new ideas for the future – that’d be rubbish.

So this is, I think, is the right way around.

I hope you’re happy with your ‘list 1’ too.

And if you feel like grabbing a few extra sides of A4 for new ideas for your ‘list 2.’ – go for it. It’s never too late.

Good luck.

Image: Pete Zulu’s ideas book.

The last few days have been hard.

Taking stock of business.

And life.

I and the Always Wear Red team are working so hard. And thinking so hard. Because growing a brand from nothing, into something that stands for something, is complex.

As you may know I left the world of design, marketing and branding that I knew for 20 years to start a high-end clothing brand in February 2016. This is a world that I know pretty well now actually, but every day contains some new experience.

Magic and Money

I made money in my previous world.

I was good!

In this new world I am good too. But I am also new. So whilst the Magic is high – the Money is low.

I make Limited Edition batches. I partner with the best makers in Britain and I use the best materials in the world. So margins are tight.

But the Magic can only happen with the AWR Collection if we develop things this way.

So it’s all good really. And entirely necessary.

The Unknown

I am getting used to the dark corners. I can’t see everything in this world clearly. Because I am learning.

And there are sharp, 90 degree turns too that in an instant have me standing face-to-face with things I’ve never seen before.

Stepping into the unknown is unnerving.

New

Are all new things like this? I suppose they are.

I know many of the rules. I have a plan. And a framework.

But no formula. If I had waited for a formula, a formula for success, I’d never have started.

And you know what – if a formula guaranteeing success was handed to me on day one I’d probably be bored by now. Rolling out somebody else’s steps and stages is not for me. The adventure of doing things this way, for the first time, is far more interesting.

So in conclusion I am either brave, mad or a bit of both.

Time will tell.

And please – wish me luck.

When I worked as a brand consultant, the advice that I gave most people most often was:

“It is better to be different than it is to be better.”

This is true for brands. Consumers expect a certain level of quality of course. But beyond the delivery of important benefits – they value individuality and the ability to express themselves as individuals much, much more.

Life

This is also amongst the best advice I have given myself, too. In life.

From time to time we all worry about not being good enough. And we shouldn’t really because, I’ll say it again, I think it’s better to be different than it is to be better.

And the best way we can be different is simply by being our unique selves.

Morrissey isn’t the best singer. Jarvis Cocker? Not really. Madonna’s first mainstream success was with ‘Holiday’ in early 1984 and whilst Madonna is a good singer, few would say she’s a great singer.

Better versus Different

I think it’s better to be different.

It’s more natural, because I see different as simply the most adventurous, authentic and brave version of who you already are.

We know these people already, too.

It’s not people like Lewis Hamilton. For him we might say:

Wow. I wish I was that good.

It’s people like Boy George maybe. A talent, of course. But an outlier too. For him we might say:

Wow. I wish I could dress and look like that.

Well the good news is – you can. If you want.

Today.

People talk about moving outside of their ‘Comfort Zone’ don’t they?

And the implication of this precise label is that, on the outside, it’s ‘uncomfortable’.

Maybe that’s why so many people are waiting to take the step. Instead of actually doing it.

Reframe

In reality, I don’t think this ‘Comfort Zone’ label is accurate.

The world outside your ‘Comfort Zone’ can be exciting, fun, crazy, productive and wow!

As well as a bit worrying and disconcerting from time to time of course.

But my point is, it’s not always uncomfortable.

Habit

A better name for a ‘Comfort Zone’, I think, is ‘Habit Zone’.

A habit, according to the marvellous Steven Covey is always the combination of three things:

  1. What to do
  2. How to do
  3. Want to do

When all three are present, it results in things that you just, well, do.

With new things, one or more of these three are missing. So we need to learn or get what’s missing in order for the new thing to happen.

In order to move from ‘waiting’ to ‘doing’.

Names

Anyhow, in summary, the real reason I think that ‘Habit Zone’ is a better name than ‘Comfort Zone’ is because I feel more comfortable about moving to a new place that is ‘not a habit’ than ‘not comfortable’.

So now we recognise that new things are not necessarily uncomfortable at all – why wait?

A good (quite recent) friend messaged me. About a month ago.

She had an unusual question for me. And it apparently took a lot of courage for her to ask.

So I was flattered.

(By the way, I am going to use a lot of ‘she’ and ‘her’ in this story. I don’t like doing that normally. But as I am not going to name my friend – I will use them on this occasion).

Style

My friend asked me to help her on the subject of styling. Specifically, how she should dress for a new chapter in her life.

I have never put myself out there as a stylist. But I am known (in certain quarters, it seems) as a chap that dresses confidently. And, of course, I have founded a luxury clothing brand called Always Wear Red.

The request still took me by surprise though.

Maybe it shouldn’t have because, entirely unconnected, I delivered a workshop the week before on the very subject of styling. I twisted the narrative of the workshop from:

“Here’s How to Style Yourself.”

to

“Let’s explore the relationship between what you wear and how you feel (as opposed to how you look). And then let’s look at how you approach life when you feel great!”

Again, I was approached to do this.

Virtuous Circle 

(I’m going to digress for a second. Before coming back to my friend’s question. Because there is a connection).

  1. When  we wear truly great clothing, what we want, for ourselves, we feel great. Confident. We are not worrying about being judged.
  2. When we feel confident and amazing, we do confident and amazing. We do braver.
  3. When we do braver we are even more likely to wear what we want for ourselves, to push boundaries further, to wear even more adventurous things and feel even greater.
  4. And so on.

That was my workshop.

Now back to my friend…

My Friend

We chatted.

She was grateful.

She sent me a picture of herself looking BEAUTIFUL and confident and relaxed and funky and sexy.

My friend had done (probably) just one thing that I’d floated as an idea. Everything else came from her. I don’t think she realises how much she owned the decision making. And the look. But she did. And that’s why she looked so brilliant.

All good.

Creep

Anyhow the point of this little tale is to shine a light on ‘creep’.

How, when you are brave and adventurous and you do interesting things, your work ‘creeps’ into areas you’d never imagined or planned for. People ask you to do stuff.

And it feels really good.

My core learning and expertise, which is building a globally significant clothing brand (fingers crossed!) crept into advising a friend on styling. And running a workshop on decision making and styling.

And yes – I know they sound connected. But ‘fashion’ is a big area. Like ‘IT’ is a big area.

Creep is Good

Creep is good. Who knows where it might take you?

It teaches you things about yourself. Work creeps. Ideas creep. And you creep into new and exciting areas because the people around you take you there.

So have a great day.

And if you get the opportunity… creep!