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You can always do more. 

I want Always Wear Red to be on Wolf & Badger’s excellent online portal. And in their London flagship store.  And in their New York store.

There is a process to try to achieve this. It is:

  1. Go to their website.
  2. Fill a form in.
  3. Wait 2 weeks.

So I did this:

  1. Researched their world.
  2. Went to their website.
  3. Filled in a form.
  4. Sent an additional, bespoke document exploring and explaining in a lighthearted way, why our brands are a good match based on values and purpose and quality.
  5. Travelled from Newcastle to London so I could go to the opening of their new store. (The actual opening was 1 week before their blanket email invitation to general email subscribers suggested. The Internet told me this).
  6. I tracked down, through a good friend (Steve) Wolf & Badger’s founders Henry and George. They were there.
  7. I spoke to George briefly and introduced myself. He was tired. The flagship store opening is a big thing for George. I shook his hand and left him alone.
  8. I spoke to Henry and introduced Always Wear Red. Henry complimented and felt the 100% cashmere, double-thick Red Camo AWR scarf I was wearing. He was tired too. So I left him alone.
  9. I told social media all about my adventure in London with Wolf and Badger.
  10. I emailed the decision makers at Wolf and Badger to congratulate them on their store opening. And to tell them I was there. And that I’d met Henry and George.
  11. When I got back to AWR HQ I pulled a Red Camo Scarf from stock, had it hand labelled, beautifully packaged and sent to Henry.
  12. A few days later I emailed to ask how the AWR application was going and to see if Henry got our scarf. He did and he loves it, I am told. They’ll let me know in a few days if we are in or out.

Nothing.

The interesting thing is, I’ve achieved nothing at all here. Apart from a whole load of invested time, a trip to London (train, hotel…) and a gifted £290 scarf.

But I feel great!

Clearly I want to work with the wonderful Wolf and Badger. But that’s their decision. All I can do now is wait for a bit. I’ll keep in touch weekly.

Enough.

Have I done enough to get in?

Gosh I don’t know.

I’ve been preparing for moments like this for 5 years, though.

So let’s see.

I’ll keep you posted.

When Groupon started I used it quite a bit.

A common sense concept at its core I think.

A neat way to get to a big audience quickly so you can tempt them with a killer offer and – when you have their attention – wow them!

Except, that’s not my experience.

The Groupon Effect.

Discounting is only relevant to certain types of business. That’s a given.

But if you are a business where discounting is an acceptable part of your business strategy, beware of doing things backwards.

Basically, in my Groupon days I was mostly treated like crap.

Eeew. You’re a Groupon customer…

I experienced (or at least imagined I experienced) smaller portions, longer wait times, poorer service, grumpier faces, less personal interfacing (he’s just a Groupon customer…),  bits missing and unadventurous thinking.

Why? Because most businesses are stupid.

They’re doing things backwards.

Think Long Term.

If you’re discounting, this is by definition a long term strategy.

Because you are sacrificing profit and if you do that you must recoup it somewhere along the line.

So if you’re getting me to your hotel and I am, on that occasion, a Groupon guy… make me feel like a king!

Give me bigger portions, shorter wait times, better service, happier faces, more personal interfacing, add-ons and adventurous thinking.

Because the only reason you want me there as a discounter, is to turn me into a loyal fan.

Think short term if you like. Give me a smaller steak and fewer chips to save you a bit of money.

But I won’t come back.

100% off.

Just this month a really great magazine gave me the opportunity to be featured in their wonderful publication for free.

But when I asked to proof the copy and take a look at the context in which the content was positioned they said, nah, we only do that for paying customers.

I don’t know why this magazine wants to teach me what it is like to be a non-paying customer.

I wanted them to teach me what it’s like to be an important, valued paying customer.

So I could be so blown away that I decide to become one.

I always prefer long-term relationships to short-term ones, so I am there for the taking.

At Always Wear Red we never discount and we never will. But we do occasionally gift pieces.

So yes, that’s as deep as you can go.

100% off.

Clearly if I want to minimise the short term loss, I place one of the world’s finest cashmere scarves in a carrier bag. Because that saves me money and time on the packaging, the high-end point of sale materials and the time it takes to assemble and hand label and attach and trim ribbon…

But of course I don’t do that.

I do the opposite.

Because, just like every paying customer I have to make you feel like a queen or king. You have to feel like you’re our only customer. You are one of the most important people in my business.

A customer isn’t just someone that pays you for something, it’s anyone that interacts with your brand.

Pride.

Anyhow, all that was about is how to treat people in business.

Even when they’re getting it for free – wow them!

Be amazing!

That’s the whole point.

And anyway, you don’t want to do anything at all unless you do it superbly well, do you?

Your personal pride wouldn’t allow it.

‘Thought not.

I was chatting to a friend this week.

They are pretty amazing, actually.

One of the best cv’s you could ever wish to see. They’ve held lofty positions in numerous significant International organisations.

My friend is in a transition period. And it is so similar to a phase I went through 4 or 5 years ago.

They have had enough of the churn of their day-to-day. And they have had enough of the greedy and the short term thinkers. They are pissed off with those that don’t think about what they can give, only about what they can get.

And they feel a little lost because they are surrounded by people whose values that don’t align with theirs.

I have felt all of this.

The Do Lectures.

Anyhow, they asked my advice.

Where are all the good guys?

They asked.

Not in those exact words. But this is what they meant.

A rare breed. Those that are talented, exceptional, famous, significant, powerful. Yet they choose to use their position to make other people’s lives better.

Now, sometimes I don’t know what advice to give.

But on this occasion, I knew exactly what to advice.

Go to The Do Lectures.

I then took the time to explain what The Do Lectures is. You can read about them behind the link.

Go To The Do Lectures

My friend continued to bemoan where their life was parked.

So I repeated it:

Go to The Do Lectures.

We chatted about how often The Do Lectures happened. Where it was. What it cost.

And they kept going on about their fedup-ness.

Now, I love my friend. But I eventually felt myself getting a bit angry.

I think my friend was starting to moan just for the sake of moaning.

So I leaned forward, said their name, and then said:

Go to The fucking Do Lectures.

They smiled. And said OK.

The Answer.

Sometimes the answer to things that are doing your head in are quite simple. My friend has since read a lot about this event and feels a part of it already.

They feel better. Which was my intention.

And what’s more  (and do remember that people used to pay me money to create slogans for their brands) I’ll be speaking to David Hieatt and Carlo Navato about my great new idea for their *campaign slogan for 2019.

Go To The Fucking Do Lectures.

I’ve still got it.

*They don’t need a campaign slogan.
Last year 1,500 people applied for 80 tickets.

Richard Williams, better known by his stage name Prince Ea, is an American spoken word artist, poet, and filmmaker. He considers himself to be in the influencer arena too.

After graduating from the University of Missouri with a degree in anthropology, he initially pursued a career as a hip hop artist.

I hadn’t heard of him a week ago.

So thank you Wikipedia for the cut-and-paste.

Influencers

I’ve discussed influencers with businesses and individuals quite a bit over the last few years. As you can imagine. It’s because I founded Always Wear Red.

I’ve always had a treble-barrelled question in my head for influencers. It’s:

Who are you influencing, what are you influencing them to do and how do you know you’re having an effect?

The most popular verbal response to this question is:

Eauh?

I think that’s how you spell it.

It’s the noise that stupid people sometimes make.

Head slightly tilted one way or the other.

Open Mouthed

These open-mouthed gazes that I so often get when I ask this question don’t upset me.

They annoy me.

Because these people take money off other people and almost all of them don’t know who they are talking to, have no idea of the possible change they are trying to make and never bother to track it anyway.

I understand Brand Association. One brand buddying or aligning with another business brand or personal brand with similar values. So that markets and audiences can appreciate a sensible alliance that may magnify important issues and thinking.

But this self-important and vacuous rubbish is just awful.

Prince Ea

Anyhow, Prince Ea.

I don’t know much about him. But I did see a recent acceptance speech he made for an award.  And I liked what he said.

I don’t know if he was being sincere. But I do know he wasn’t being spontaneous. I have seen a pre-recorded version of what he said.

However, all of that considered, I still liked what he said enough in the 60 second video to transcribe it. I wanted to internalise it.

It’s good.

Here’s what he said:

That word ‘influencer’ is interesting to me.

Because it’s like, we’re influencing people to do what?

A lot of people call themselves Social Media Influencers but you’re influencing people to do what?

Is it to reach a level of beauty that is not attainable naturally?

Is it to have people lust after cars or material objects that will never bring somebody true happiness?

Is this what it means to be an influencer?

You know when you get pulled over. You’re drunk. They say you’re under the influence.

A lot of people are intoxicated by what these influencers put out there.

When you get sick what do they say? They say you’ve come down with influenza.

A lot of people are ill because of what these influencers put out there so I have just one question for every influencer because we are all influencers. And that question is:

When people come to your page do they walk away better or worse?

Thank you guys.

 

I forgot something important about business and life.

And it’s Richard Branson’s fault.

That Richard Branson writes books called “Screw It Let’s Do It” and says things like:

If someone  offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.”

I agree with this wholeheartedly. I really do and I do behave like this.

But I forgot a really important other, parallel rule.

I forgot to sometimes say no.

This Week.

  • Monday Evening. Spent the evening with a new model and a talented young photographer, shooting for the very first double page advert (pages 4 and 5) for a new relationship with a business magazine.
  • Tuesday Evening. Went for dinner with my friend Paul Lancaster and one of the founders of PayPal, Paul Davidson.
  • Wednesday Evening. Delivered a talk for Colour Collective UK about the madness of building a business and a brand around a single colour.
  • Thursday Evening. Presenting an award at The North East Marketing Awards. I was a judge a few weeks ago.
  • Friday Evening. Going for dinner with our newest model and his wife at a nice restaurant they know in Newcastle.

Now, keep in mind that the highlight of my week is normally Gogglebox. And you can see that this is an unusual week.

You know how, sometimes, you say ‘yes’ to things and they are months away. Then they suddenly arrive.

Well that’s all that happened.

All at the same time.

Shaughn McGurk

My friend Shaughn is one of the many millions* of people that read this blog currently.

And Shaughn (politely) bollocked me for falling behind with writing 50odd things.

I will write one per day for 10 years.

But I am behind.

So I apologise.

I’ll be back on track next week. Unless I’m watching Gogglebox of course.

I can’t say ‘no’ to that.

*By ‘many millions’ I in fact mean about 200. I fibbed. 

I was chatting with Tony Robinson OBE yesterday about – well – everything. We had lunch together in Newcastle.

Tony is a speaker, campaigner, writer, broadcaster and multiple business founder/owner. In amongst many other accolades and recognitions, Tony was presented with an OBE in 2001 by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace, for services to small firms and training.

Alive

Tony is a brilliant man, and brilliant looking too. A real head turner. Take a look at that hat! (And the Always Wear Red 100% Merino Wool Skinny Bandage Scarf of course).

Anyhow, we chatted about how – over the years – Tony has campaigned tirelessly and effectively for causes affecting the smaller business world. I like Tony because he’s generous, clever and a do-er. He has made positive change happen. And he wants to do more.

I also like the fact that Tony is not chest-beating. Nothing about Tony is self-congratulatory. He talks only about the people’s lives he’s helped to make better and the good feeling he gets from making real change and pissing off the odd out-of-touch bureaucrat along the way.

Tony and I have decided that the number one priority for us both, in our quest to make our world and the wider world a better place, is to not die.

Staying alive is important. We agreed on that. So as we (and you) get older – we’re staying fit. Tony is running marathons and I am popping to the gym with the guys from STORM every now and then.

Faster

The other thing we both agreed on is that, as we get older there is absolutely no reason to slow down.

Or indeed to stay at the same pace.

We should get faster.

Sleep less. Bugger about less. Meet more. Affect more. Talk more. Listen more.

Do more.

If for no other reason than – because we can.

Tony travelled from York to see me yesterday. And he insisted on buying coffees and lunch. Such effort, generosity and sincerity is rare. Too rare.

Tony was touched by my STILL story. Whilst we’re Still In The Game – so we can do anything!

And so it is that Tony and I have decided to:

  1. Live forever.
  2. Get faster. Speed up our lives to do as much as we can for as many as we can.

I, and Tony, plan to deliver on at least one of those two.

Simon Sinek talks about it doesn’t he? 

Finding your ‘why?’

And today I am talking about it because I just launched a 150 second long film that I made with a friend of mine, Dan Prince – and it’s about this subject.

It’s a film about Simon Bourne. He wants to change the way people buy shoes.

And Julia Austin. Julia believes that the only way to get amazing beer is to get amazing ingredients. “It’s what’s inside that counts”, she says.

It’s about Nick Birss too. A guy that learned about coffee the Australian way. He then brought his learning back to the North of England. He believes his way is best.

And the film is about me. I believe that if you wear amazing you feel amazing, and that if you feel amazing you do amazing. I, and Always Wear Red, are Creating Confidence.

Why?

The film captures the beginning of our days. I wanted that because that’s when you feel the magic of purpose most.

Or… it’s where you unfortunately don’t feel it.

If you are reading this and it is the beginning of your day – I really hope you’re feel it.

Your ‘why’.

Because if you have a why – a purpose – you matter more and will last longer.

People like David Hieatt and Carlo Navato taught me that. They’re amazing. Just like Julia, Nick and Simon.

Please watch the film. It’s at www.50odd.co.uk if you’re reading this in your email alert.

Meet us.

Have a great day.

 

Here’s a nice story. ‘Worth remembering.

Jack Straus began playing in World Series of Poker events in the early 1970s.

He finished in fourth place in the 1972 Main Event. He won his first bracelet in 1973 in the $3,000 Deuce to Seven Draw event and also finished in third place in the Main Event that year. He won the 1982 World Series of Poker Main Event, earning $520,000 and a second WSOP bracelet. His appearances at the final table of the Main Event in 1972, 1973, and 1982 put him in a small elite group players to have made the final table three or more times.

Special!

1982 World Series Of Poker Main Event

Famously, Straus’s 1982 win was a comeback after being down to a single $500 chip, supposedly the origin of the common tournament poker aphorism: “a chip and a chair.”

Although accounts vary, the most common story is that he pushed his chips into the pot, was called and lost the hand. Straus had thought he was eliminated from the tournament, but when he got up, he discovered he had one chip left under a napkin on the table.

Because he did not declare himself all-in, the tournament directors allowed him to continue playing.

With one chip.

Still In the Game

Straus, from this single chip, went on to win $520,000 in 1982.

Today, that’s worth $1,400,000.

At Always wear Red we created 100 Limited Edition Poker chips to commemorate this. As a reminder to us all. Take a look at  the photo, above.

So long as we are still here, we can do amazing things.

We’re Still in the Game.

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.

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.