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BUSINESS

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Is it possible to be too good at something?

As I get older I become increasingly experienced. That’s a given. And sometimes, should I apply myself, I become increasingly expert too.

It’s the same for you.

Well; I have a theory that we can become so good at something that we’re not very good at it any more.

This might be because we get bored of it so don’t get into the detail as much. Perhaps we over think or over analyse, stemming from all that accrued cleverness. So we don’t move with the speed, precision and care we once did.

Knowledge can bog you down.

Unlearning

At the moment I am missing some really basic things in my business and probably in my life as well. This is causing problems with momentum and simplicity.

I think it’s because my life is full of years. 50 of them. And these 5o years are each filled with 360-odd days of learning.

In one particular area of my business I have to unlearn things quick. So I am watching and learning from people 20 years younger than me with nowhere near the experience. In many areas, they are achieving much more than I am.

Maybe they’re just better than me. Or maybe I have become so good at knowing about it that I am not that good at doing it .

Maybe I have to explore the idea that, just because I’ve done something for years, it doesn’t mean I’ve got better at it.

Take taxi drivers. They’re on the roads longer than any of us. And when it comes to actually driving – they’re shit.

Time for some serious unlearning, I think.

I am very lucky. To be doing these things:

Saturday 18th August 2018
I have been asked to create and present a half day event on how guys can dress with confidence. That’s at BALTIC39 in Newcastle City.

Thursday 6th  September 2018
I have been invited to be a judge at  The North East Marketing Awards 2018 at The Biscuit Factory in Newcastle. The Biscuit Factory is Europe’s largest commercial art space. We should be proud of that.

Friday 14th  September 2018
I am one of seven people invited to present at the Rise and Shine 100th Anniversary event at The Northern Design Centre, Gateshead. They want to know about my journey with Always Wear Red.

Wednesday 17th  October 2018
I am presenting at The Colour Collective UK event at University of Northumbria, about the role and influence of colour.

There is something that ties all of these things together.

It is, when I was asked, I said yes straight away.

Saying Yes.

This is quite something for me because all of the opportunities frighten me for one reason or another.

But none of them frighten me as much as what would happen if I said no.

I never want to miss an opportunity. Ever.

Richard Branson famously says:

If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.

With some of these things above I don’t know what I am going to do yet. But that’s OK. I will.

Anyhow, here’s Richard himself chatting about saying yes, for 50 seconds.

And should a man worth 5 billion dollars wear a better shirt than this?

Yes.

It was a beautiful sunny day and there were two old men sat in deckchairs. Side-by-side.

The sun was very high and very warm. And there was no breeze at all.

“It’s lovely out,” said the first man.

“It is,” said the second. “I think I’ll get mine out as well.”

Get It Out

I met a young businessman this morning. Vincent. I first met Vincent two years ago when he wanted advice from me. Today, I wanted advice from Vincent.

This morning, I learned how he got his idea out of this head and into bottles. And how he got the bottles out of his house and into Fenwick, John Lewis and Harrods.

I learned how he got funders out of Crowdcube’s world and into his world, and how he got money out of their pockets and into his business.

Then I learned about how he got his clever strategies out of his business plan and into his day-to-day.

And finally, how he got his ambition out into the world via a real, relatable, valuable, interesting and carefully constructed brand-with-a-plan called Noveltea.

As a result, just like the second older chap in the deckchair, I have decided to get mine out as well.

Bollocks

Vincent gave me a real kick in the backside today. Even though he didn’t know.

I am prioritising badly in many areas currently. Meddling. Dabbling. Buggering about. I am doing what I am best at doing instead of what I should be doing.

No one is holding me to account. No one bollocks me. And that’s a bad situation to be in.

But what’s worse is that I think that I’ve engineered this situation on purpose. I’ve created this amazing clothing brand that only I lead and that looks amazing from the outside.  But it’s stalling.

It’s primed to explode. To do really well. But I am not accelerating at anywhere near the pace I should and definitely not in the way I should. So I changed my attitude – today.

I have a longer term plan to get more people, money and growth into my business through crowdfunding in 2019 by the way. This will help. I crave this kind of team structure. I’ll tell you about that journey later.

What about you?

But what about you? Are you going to get yours out as well?

Beneath today’s “Carry On Film” style delivery, there is a really serious point.

I am admitting to you that I am not getting my business out there properly – to be judged, ridiculed, laughed at or maybe even loved, appreciated and purchased from.

But I will. It starts today.

Talking about what you want to do is easy.  Getting it out is much harder.

Christ; I’ve said ‘harder’ now.  I’ll stop. But you get what I mean.

If you really, really want to… Do your thing.

Pablo Picasso said:

“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.”

20 / 30 / 50

I ran my first business at 20. I didn’t understand that turnover was different to profit. And when people paid me to do what I loved I felt like a cheat.

When I set up what went on to be my biggest business (to date) aged 30, I went on instinct. I walked, fell over, got up, fell over and just kept getting up again. Each time I fell over I laughed at how stupid I was. Each time I got up – I was stronger.

My overnight success of getting to a seven figure turnover and winning 70 design and marketing awards around the world with this business took 14 years.

At 50, I struggle sometimes because I am supposed to be clever. I am supposed to know best.

Childish

I am currently revisiting how to articulate concisely what the Always Wear Red brand is for. But my head is so full of experience and information (I understand the physiology and psychology of red better than most, don’t you know) – it’s hard.

I want you to know our product is best because of how we harness the power of red, or the exceptional fibre length of the cashmere, or the density of the silk or the thickness of the leather. But that’s all too much.

I am trying to think like a child again. But unlearning over-thinking is hard. And unlearning over-communicating is harder still.

I am craving childish. And as my birthday card above is my favourite one, I guess I still have it in there somewhere.

If you have advice for me, please comment below.

Thank you.

My new business moved offices last month. And I was quite precise with where I asked the removal guys to leave everything.

I asked them to put all furniture and boxes outside the new office. Not inside.

Once they’d gone, I stood at a point where I could see all the gear to my right. And the empty room to my left.

I  was alone and had no distractions. I looked left. Then right. Over and over and over.

When I felt ready – I started building.

Clarity

Before I make any big decision I try to make room. Room to pause. Room to see clearly. Room to understand all considerations. Room to anticipate how ‘this’ might affect ‘that’. Room so that when I get cracking I have the absolute best chance of success.

I can’t work out the best way to set a room up if I am sat on boxes, surrounded by other boxes, upturned tables and chairs. There’s no clarity. I don’t know where to start because I can’t clearly visualise where I am going.

Making Room

Right now in my new business there’s too much going on. Too much clutter. Too many distractions.

I can see where I want to go and every single time I focus on my goal there is adrenaline. I smile. Ideas explode. My heart beats faster. I feel slightly guilty because I am loving it. I am doing what I was born to do.

But then the distractions, all of my own making, tug at my sleeve and I swing 90 degrees to pay them attention. The smile goes. And the adrenaline. And – worst of all – the momentum.

There’s no room for all of this. Some things have to go.

Pleasure and Pain

Before you commit to a new chapter. You must commit to making room – first.

Two points.

  1. If  you feel you can’t make room to give your goal the best chance, you’re not ready. You have no choice. It is all or nothing.
  2. Making room does not have to take long. Attack the removal of distraction with the same energy as you will attack your new chapter. Move at lightening speed. Preparing properly means you can. The image on the left was our new office at midday on a Wednesday.
    The image on the right was taken at 10am the following day.

If what you want to do is important enough to you – you will make room.

The first thing that happened to me on my 50th birthday yesterday was an unprovoked attack by a small child and a dog.

Savage.

50odd. Day 2.

It’s Friday today (informative) and I am officially in my 50’s. I am 1 day in.

When I was 40, Lisa gave me a birthday card with a large ’40’ on the front. I frowned. I didn’t want be 40.

Oddly, 50 feels a bit better than 40. I haven’t processed why yet. But it feels a bit more sophisticated. I feel that I am allowed to pontificate in a similar way as I have done for the last 10 years, but with a greater degree of gravitas. Let’s see how that goes.

Anyhow, today I am going to namecheck a good (and quite recent) friend, Paul Lancaster.

Generosity. It’s Important.

Paul came into our Newcastle HQ yesterday to be filmed chatting about what it means to be pioneering. To be ‘doing your thing’. Without a map.

Being pioneering is a very cool thing to imagine. But it is an often paralysingly frightening thing to actually do. Those that choose such a path – properly – are very, very brave.

Paul is ploughing his own furrow here in the North East as a business connector. But not just any business connector. He is the best business connector. This is because he ‘gets’ that it requires selflessness, proper listening and an authentic desire to help people to help themselves. And I respect and admire that. I really do.

So I have all the time in the world for Paul and people like Paul. So long as they bring me a presents on my birthday as Paul did today. A cool bottle of Noveltea. An alcoholic tea created by two cool entrepreneurs right here in the North East. I chatted to them both in the early days of their venture. It is great to see their product come to life.

So; be generous. ‘Givers get lucky’ as another very impressive friend of mine once said. More about that later.

The Future of This Blog

By the way, I plan (once I find my feet with 50odd) to either educate, inspire, inform or entertain with my little online diary. I’ll endeavour to get better at writing too. So please bear with me*.

*I even had to check whether it was ‘bare with me’ or ‘bear with me’. Bloody hell.