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CREATIVITY

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This is a 7 part story.

If you like Ken Loach’s 1969 film ‘Kes’ – you’ll have fun.

If you don’t like ‘Kes’, I’ll see you next week.

Or just stick around and by the end of the week – you probably will like it.

Man In Field Makes Us Laugh

OK let’s set the tone for the week. Let’s see whose ‘in’.

Because only a Kes fan will find this video funny, I think.

Scenario:

Man in field.

Runs towards camera wearing red tracksuit.

A tune made most famous by Monty Python plays in the background.

Dialogue? None.

Is he improvising and just doing what the hell he wants? Probably.

Why is it funny? Because I had a PE teacher like this.

(We all had a PE teacher like this).

More tomorrow.

(And by the end of the week I’ll have explained how I went from watching Kes wide-eyed and open-mouthed in 1978 aged 10, to wandering around HMV in Newcastle in 2017 aged 49, alongside David Bradley (Billy Casper), buying every copy of Kes in the shop).

OK you need to pop to 50odd.co.uk for this short story. And you’ll need sound.

Memories.

I heard this tune this week.

For the first time in years. It brought back memories.

But it did take me a few days to work out where I first heard it.

When I remembered, and looked it up, I was hooked (again) on the little film that goes with it.

Which One Are You?

So, when you watch it, what I’d like you to do is to pick.

I’d like you to pick which one is, or was, or maybe still is – you. Let me know in the comments.

This makes me smile. Especially with sound.

PS I’m the guy in the red shirt. But I wish I was as cool as Snoopy.

 

I’d encourage you to be accepting of and comfortable with how little you know. 

If you think back to a year ago from now, and think about what you have learned between then and now, I really hope it’s a lot.

It is for me.

And if it is a lot for you too, I bet there is also another truth about the last year.

It is – that you had time to learn even more than you actually did.

If you really wanted to.

Our capacity for learning is amazing!

More.

The sad truth is that we’re not here for long. I don’t worry about not having learned and done all I want to by the time I am going to die. It’s impossible.

But I do worry about cruising along being ‘OK’.

Average.

Ordinary.

I want to become extraordinary.

Superb at something.

World-beating.

And I think that the first principle towards achieving this is to be accepting of and comfortable with how little I know.

That way, just as regularly as I hunger for breakfast, dinner and tea (yes, that’s what we call them where I come from) – I will hunger for learning.

I will hunger for learning with the same drive and regularity as eating. Many times a day.

It will become a habit.

Now… what will I learn today?

(And tomorrow. And the day after that).

In the image alongside this short story at www.50odd.co.uk, I’d just eaten the best scrambled eggs I’d ever had. This image was taken last Sunday morning. Take a look.

The scrambled eggs were cooked by a genuinely superb chef, Pete, at his house. And I was eating them with new friends.

Scrambled Eggs

As I put my knife and fork down at the end of breakfast, I paused and glanced across the table.

Pete, who I will now introduce, was sat to my left. Pete has led and innovated at numerous restaurants and was also the lead singer in a band called The Toy Dolls. When I met up with Pete in the pub the night before he was with Dave. Dave played guitar in The Kane Gang and Prefab Sprout. I chatted to Dave’s wife about cats.

Also in the photograph are Geoff and Josh, two American guys from a band called Paris Monster. We’d met them for the first time the night before. Geoff and Josh are part way through a world tour. Out of shot are Christian, Paris Monster’s tour manager, Sarah (Pete’s wife) and Lisa and Izobel – my family.

After breakfast, we all played records from Pete’s collection of about 5,000 records, drank coffee and chased dogs.

How We Got Here

This is how we got here:

  1. I left a job that dulled me. That weighed heavy. A job that was keeping me from becoming all I could be.
  2. I started a brand I was happy doing (Always Wear Red – clothing brand) but made no money at all and I worried about (just about) everything.
  3. I wanted to do a ‘Kes’ (Ken Loach, 1969) homage fashion photoshoot so tracked down David Bradley, the guy that played Billy Casper in the film ‘Kes’ 50 years ago and did it. And I hosted an event so people could meet this amazing BAFTA winning actor.
  4. Pete Zulu (Toy Dolls chap) was in the audience that day and took my photo and sent it to me. I met Pete. We became friends.
  5. I wanted to learn about fashion from the best so I somehow ended up with a hero of mine, Howies and Huit Jeans Co-founder David Hieatt and his brilliant wife and Co-founder Claire Hieatt at their house in Wales. That’s where I met a guy called Christian, a fan of a band called Paris Monster.
  6. Christian explained how he had called Paris Monster and asked why there was no UK leg to their world tour in 2018. They said they hadn’t really thought about it. Christian offered to organise it. Paris Monster said yes.
  7. Christian told me there was a Newcastle leg on the UK tour. I said they could all stay at my house if they wanted. Christian said yes.
  8. Last Saturday, Pete Zulu and I went to see Paris Monster in Newcastle. Pete invited us all for breakfast the following day. Then Paris Monster (Geoff and Josh) and Christian (UK tour manager) stayed at my house.
  9. The following morning, Pete made scrambled eggs.

It was a great weekend.

And as I popped my knife and fork down and scanned the room, I wondered how all of this happened.

And it was then I remembered.

I did number 1 on the list above.

 

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.

 

This story is best read at the 50odd website, not by daily email (as some do).

Two things.

First, I sometimes hold back from giving my absolute all to what I do. Because of being judged. What might people think? About what I look like or sound like. Or what I am doing. What might they read into it?

Is this holding me and other people back from creating the most timelessly beautiful things I can?

Yes. I need to work on this.

Second, I don’t want to die. But I know I will. I don’t know how to express my fear and concern about this.

Hope There’s Someone

This song, by Antony and The Johnsons is timelessly beautiful. And expresses better than anything I’ve ever said, how I feel about dying. It addresses both of my aforementioned issues, in one.

If this is the first time you’ve heard this artist – I hope you love what they do.

Oh I’m scared of the middle place
Between light and nowhere
I don’t want to be the one
Left in there, left in there

A Stunning Hour:

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?

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!

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.