If you’re a business, big or small, wanting to get a message to your market – know where they are focusing. 

Know what they are reading and where they are reading it, so you know where to tell your story.

This might help (percentages include multi-tasking):

In 2012, a UK adult spent 11% of their day staring at their phone. In 2018 it will be 31%.

In 2012, a UK adult spent 2.2% of their day staring at a tablet. In 2018 it will be 9.3%.

In 2012, a UK adult spent 40.9% of their day staring at, or being around a TV. In 2018 it will be 30%.

In 2012, a UK adult spent 18.4% of their day listening to, or being around radio. In 2018 it will be 13.3%.

In 2012, a UK adult spent 4.5% of their day reading printed content. In 2018 it will be 2.7%.


Gary Vaynerchuk is imploring businesses to message more online using the mighty Google and Facebook.

And whilst this powerful duopoly might make some feel funny about boosting their dominance further, it seems we have little choice at the moment.

The upside, and Vaynerchuk talks about this too, is that messaging on these platforms is only going to get more expensive. So you get a lot for your money right now.


The above figures are a trend.


Or be left behind.

The photograph with this story is a burger and fries.

It’s a great burger.

Loads of flavour, not too expensive, loaded with two cheeses and from The Merchants Tavern in Newcastle.

It’s independent and good.

The Black Horse Pub in East Boldon is amazing.

REALLY amazing.

The food!

It is independent and good.


Small businesses make up 95% of all businesses in England.

The government gives billions (I cannot remember how much, my friend Tony knows) to big businesses and single figure millions to support small ones.

The government, for a whole host of reasons of course, is stupid.

But worse than stupid is callous, aloof, arrogant, elitist and, in far too many ways, just couldn’t give a fuck about small people and small things.

The government thinks that big, rich people and corporations are big and rich because they deserve to be.

And that small and poor people are small and poor for the same reason.

When I last checked, we pay them to listen to us and look after us.

But because they do neither of these things, I’d like to suggest that you do what they should be doing.

Think small.

Buying things.

When you’re buying things, please try to appreciate how valuable it is to buy from small, hard working businesses.

There’re big hard working businesses too of course.

But please think on.

Any decent smaller businesses will love you more because you have taken the time to seek them out, learn to love them, then buy from them.

It’s a good thing to do.


And one last thing.

If you have on the tip of your tongue with regard to this subject:

But why are they so expensive?

First of all, when you look closely for the answer, you will probably find beautiful stories and great value in the answers.

And they probably aren’t as expensive as you imagined.

Honestly, and you will LOVE the answers you find.

And anyway, there is a much more valuable question than this.

About the big corporations.

It is:

But why are they so cheap?

Please ask.

And believe me, you will NOT love the answers you get.

Merry Christmas. 

Make a small business’s Christmas.

The feeling you get by doing so will make yours too.

I am smiling as I compile this list.

Anna Koska has illustrated over 100 books and worked with chefs, writers and publishers from around the globe.

David Hieatt is the founder of The Do Lectures, Howies and Hiut Jeans. David is a personal hero of line.

Luke Sital-Singh is an internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter from the UK.

Jack Adair Bevan is an award-winning food and drink writer, and co-author of The Ethicurean Cookbook.

Shana Dressler is the President of Turquoise, a creative leadership consultancy which designs bespoke programs and innovation training for Fortune 500 companies and social impact organizations.

Dan Kieran is a British travel writer, humorist, literary editor and entrepreneur. He is best known for his travel books and for his role as deputy editor of The Idler between 2000 and 2010. He is also a CEO and co-founder of the publishing company Unbound.


I am Michael Owen and I find myself in the company of all of these people at the excellent online home of Carlo Navato’s podcasts.

It is beyond me how I find myself in the company of these brilliant people. Carlo included.

But for as long as the journey lasts – I’ll keep smiling.

I am finding that, as a general rule, when you’re nice in business – nice things happen to your business.

I am also finding that, as a general rule, when you’re nice in life – nice things happen to your life.

If you layer on top of this an expectation and acceptance of the fact that you are going to fail occasionally, be rejected occasionally and meet an average of about two arseholes each week  – you’re pretty much invincible.

Give it a try.

I bet nice things happen to you too.

Quote this week about Always Wear Red

“Amazing Mike.

We always knew it would happen.

A Beautiful Collection.”

Former Vice President of Design, Kate Spade, New York.

I’ve been in luxury clothing design/fashion for almost 3 years. 

And I am 50 years old.

Nigel Cabourn has been in fashion for 51 years and he is (about) 69 now.

I watched Nigel for years. I love his single mindedness.

His focus.

And his expertise.

I first saw him in the flesh as he was served a noisy meal in a little cafe on Gosforth High Street in 2017.

The meal was noisy because it was one of those sizzling Chinese things.

I didn’t approach him. I’d have stuttered. I’m like that with my heroes.

And anyhow, he was eating.


I saw Nigel talk in London, too.

Again, I didn’t speak to him one-on-one but I did ask him a question.

So that counts as ‘talking to him’ in my book.


In 2018 I had an idea for a photoshoot of people I considered to be pioneers in the North East of England.

Nigel is one of them, so I asked and he agreed.

The Always Wear Red team spent a couple of hours in his Jesmond studio.




Playing table tennis.

Design Network North

And just last week I went to a talk where Nigel was chatting to business people in the North East.

He shook me by the hand and we chatted away for 5 minutes or so before we went in.


Meet your heroes.

Nigel is someone I’d admired for years.

And now I learn from him.

Not because he mentors me. Simply by being around him.




Meet your heroes.

I have developed a way of thinking that is really helping me with Always Wear Red.

And I am not sure where it has come from.

But I hope it sticks around.


Always Wear Red is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

It’s complex, competitive and fluid.

I’m very goal driven and I have always been quite good at looking at a goal and:

  1. Being really focused on the goal so I get there no matter what. OR:
  2. Pretending to be really focused on the goal so I get there no matter what.

Most times, there is no difference between the two in practical terms.

‘1’ is easy when confidence is high.

I default to ‘2’ when I have to. When confidence is not high.

But this week I was really ‘on it’ because I wasn’t confident and I defaulted to ‘2’ automatically. Without thinking. I don’t know what that’s called.

Here’s what happened…

AWR was ‘rejected’ from something.

But when I explained this to someone an hour or so later I replaced the word ‘rejected’ with ‘redirected’ – automatically.

I didn’t know whether to be proud of myself or just put myself down as a bit deluded.

Anyhow, the reason I am mentioning this to you is because, and this may be useful to you, replacing the word ‘rejected’ with ‘redirected’ felt entirely natural, instantaneous and it also put me in ‘strategy mode’ straight away.

I didn’t mope at all.

I just got on with it.

Try it…

Next time you’re redirected.

I am going to suggest you do something today that I know you have the capacity to, with ease. 

It’ll take you between 1 and 15 minutes and it will make at least two people feel good.


Praise someone. Properly.

I wrote this on LinkedIn yesterday:

Taylor has a deep and authentic understanding and appreciation of the theories behind – and the practical application of – world-leading brand thinking.

This is quite rare for someone in the early stages of their career.

The benefit you will have by working with Taylor and his team specifically, is that he is brave. He thinks clearly and cuts to the chase. This freshness, anchored by Taylor’s knowledge of the timelessly clever Al Reis and Jack Trout (the authors and architects of POSITIONING as a branding approach) makes for a unique offer.

In summary, working with Taylor for your Business Communications will take you backwards.

And that is exactly as it should be.

He will reverse you away from wasteful, inane, me-too, blend-in marketing approaches that have been eroding your profitability for years.

He will take you back to brand. Through strategy. Through tactics. Through creative communications. To profitability.

Stick with him. He’s good.

Business Communications at its best.

Taylor Gathercole.

Taylor Gathercole is as good a business communicator as I have ever known.

What’s most remarkable however is that he is 19 years old.

He had a wobble recently. Because he forgot how good he was and because his youthful energy meant he wanted to change the world today.

He can change the world. We all can. But it’ll take him a bit longer.


Anyhow. If you get a moment today, maybe you could say something nice too?

Make them a coffee before you say it. Look them in the eye. Mean it.

Two people will benefit.

This is a direct cut-and-paste of a LinkedIn post that I put out there yesterday:

*Thank you*

This time 4 years ago, in 2014, I finally walked away from 4 profitable business I’d grown over 14 years.

I was 46 and unhappy. Unfulfilled. Doing what people thought I should instead of what I was born to do.

I wanted a clothing brand. But I didn’t know how. So I decided to find out. I wasn’t sure why. So I sought my purpose. Ideas were fuzzy. But I kept on moving.

On a grey Valentines Day 2015 I stood in a bar. A guy skipped past with a red umbrella. I stared. The guy with me stared. Everybody stared. And the notion of Always Wear Red was born.

On that very day I created a Twitter and Facebook presence. I told the world that I would launch this thing called Always Wear Red exactly 1 year later on Valentine’s Day 2016. All I had to do now was source Britain’s best makers, the world’s best materials, design an amazing collection and build a brand with a purpose.

So that’s what I did.

On Valentine’s Day 2016, AWR launched. It’s purpose? To Create Confidence in the wearer. To change you. To help you, in some small way, to do what I’d done maybe. To change your life. To have the confidence to do what you were born to do.

AWR is 2 years and 9 months old. With a 69 piece collection. And I wanted to take a moment to tell my little story and say thank you.

It was 10pm when I wrote it. Tired from a day of packing beautiful things that beautiful people had been kind enough to invest in from the Always Wear Red collection.

And as well as being tired I was thankful.

I didn’t have the characters available in the LinkedIn post to list the people I wanted to thank. Which is a good job really because I’d have surely forgotten someone.

There are hundreds. Really. And I am thankful to all.

Some ideas I have about my business are embarrassing. 

No, really.

Quite stupid when I say them out loud.

I amaze myself how, on a Tuesday, I can have an idea that I really believe will be transformational. That will take us global.

Then, when I think about it on a Wednesday, my cheeks flush.

I blush.

Because yesterday’s idea is so daft.

I have loads of daft ideas. About a dozen a week.



So – I have decided.

Something has to change.

I can’t go on like this.

From tomorrow – this recurring situation will be gone for good.

I will STOP being embarrassed.

Stupid ideas?

Oh yes, I’ll keep having those.

They’re important.

When I was a child I once wandered into a police station, up to the counter, and peered over.

I was about 14.

I was tall enough that my eyes were above the counter top. But my nose wasn’t.

A policewoman looked down at me and raised an eyebrow. Her hands were in her pockets.

I’d been waiting outside for an hour or so.

I’d never been in a police station. And this was before ‘The Bill’ so I didn’t really know what to expect.

I’d only seen ‘The Sweeney’.


I said.

Can I report something that hasn’t happened yet?

I asked.

I mean; I’m pretty sure that something bad is going to happen but it hasn’t happened yet.

The policewoman asked me to explain.

My stepdad beats my mum up a lot.

I said.

I think that one night he’ll kill her. I hear them most nights. The crying and the bumping about downstairs. Choking sometimes. I stand on the landing. Listening.

This went on for a bit and it felt good to say the words.

But the world wasn’t ready for this conversation.

It wasn’t that the policewoman seemed too busy. She just didn’t know what to do with me. Without speaking to my mum. And I didn’t want that. It might make things worse.

So whilst the policewoman was mildly sympathetic she, albeit politely I seem to remember, offered nothing.


There are loads of causes I care about.

In 2006 I set up an alliance inside one of my little businesses with Childline.

Every time a client renewed their website hosting, we’d donate £8, or two phone calls, to Childline.

It was easy, fast, was a personal thing for me, and paid for a few hundreds of phone calls.

All good.

As my current business Always Wear Red develops I will link it to something I care about. Once we start to make money.

I am not sure what yet.

But what I do know is that I’ll do it quietly.

I’ll whisper.

Just enough bluster so people understand and can get involved if they want.

But it won’t headline our brand communications.

I don’t really like brands that (for example) paint their stores in colourful stripes for one week a year. It feels too commercial to me. Gay people are marginalised and misunderstood by stupid people every week. Not just this one week.

So yes.

When I do it again.

I’ll whisper.