August 2018


When I started Always Wear Red I spent over a year researching. I’m still researching of course. But in the early months it was pretty intense.

This is not like me. I am more right brain than left. I live in the world of the possible rather than the world of the probable. I don’t like research.

However on this occasion, with a lot at stake, I researched intensely. My sense of adventure was as honed as ever but I wanted a degree of surety. I wanted to learn from those that had gone before me.

Two small quotes from two big names stick in my memory.

One from Paul Smith, that made me feel a bit sick.
One from Tom Ford, that made me feel a bit scared.

Both quotes started with an absolute – ‘no one’.

Paul Smith

Paul Smith is one of the most successful British fashion designers ever. He has a personal net worth of around £350 million. His business remains privately owned.

When I was researching Paul, I had just closed two multi-award winning creative businesses and I was buoyed by new possibilities. I was confident. I thought that if I can do it ‘there’ I can do it ‘here’ too.

Then I came across something that Paul Smith says quite a lot:

No one cares how good you used to be.

That was a bit of a shocker. Paul was talking about how he stays consistent and focused in a world that craves innovation and excellence constantly.

“Hmm,” I thought. “I’d better get ever better”.

Tom Ford

Tom Ford was Creative Director at Gucci and YSL before setting up his own label. Tom is now worth $300 million. I am about to quote him but can’t find where I first read this.

No matter.

Even if I imagined it it’s still useful:

No one ‘needs’ anything that we have ever created.

Explaining why something is better is a waste of time. Why someone ‘needs’ it. This is trying to prove how you fulfil a need better than the next woman or man. In the world of luxury clothing this doesn’t work.

No one gives a shit about ‘better’.

Tom Ford knows that and so do I. I am determined to change how a man feels about himself and the way he sees his world when he chooses to wear the AWR collections. I create confidence for them; in them.

I sometimes spend too much time over-explaining why we are a better product (we are). When I should be talking about the fact that AWR things make you a better you.

That, after all, is our purpose.

Paul and Tom

So, Paul reminded me that it is important to never rest on your laurels. And Tom taught me that your brand has to be valued and really loved, not just known.

Maybe there’s something for you there too?

Paul Smith Video (available at the website):

When you are asked about your ‘position’ on something, what do you do?

Do you:

  1. State your position.
  2. State a position that you think they want to hear.
  3. Hedge. Sit somewhere between 1 and 2. Not revealing anything concrete at all.


You may not know this, but I am occasionally called by the BBC to comment on my position on certain topics on air.

It’s normally things to do with design, brand, marketing and advertising. Quite recently I was asked to comment on the furore over ITV2 taking advertising revenue for cosmetic surgery adverts during the ad breaks in Love Island.

I am brought in on all the big stories.

A few years ago I was asked to comment on whether Cheryl Tweedy/Cole/whatever would be damaging her personal brand if she changed her name when marrying Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini in July 2014.

I am clearly held in extremely high regard by the BBC.

Their Position

Anyhow, with regards to Love Island, what they asked me specifically was, do I think that ITV2 should shift their position and not allow the cosmetic surgery brands to advertise within a programme that itself (allegedly) promoted young people going under the knife.

I answered quickly.

I said (something along the lines of) “ITV2 hold ‘no position’ on the subject of whether young people should be exposed to cosmetic surgery advertising or not. They don’t care.”

This was not what the BBC journalist wanted to hear. So he dug deeper. I explained,

“If you are exploring ITV2’s ‘position’ on the subject of whether they think young people should be sold cosmetic surgery or not, you are asking the wrong question.”

This was live in air. I went on:

“I believe that ITV2 care only about advertising revenue. And because advertising revenue is directly linked to viewing figures, whether ITV2 choose to allow the ads or disallow the ads, they will still not have shifted their actual position.”

“ITV2 have two choices.

“First, keep the ads (and the ad revenue) if they think the furore will die down. They clearly have no objection to the ads as they chose to air them in the first place. 

“Second, ITV2 could pull the ads and lose revenue from those ads. But they will only do this if they think that by keeping the ads, viewers would walk, adversely affecting viewing figures and potentially damaging overall advertising revenues from other ‘spenders’. 

“So in summary, ITV2 don’t give a toss about the issue you’ve raised – only the issue of their revenues. They will do what is best for their income.”

My Position

This is quite a grumpy story isn’t it? So I do apologise. But on this occasion with the BBC I did want to get my position on matters like this, over.

I don’t know if I am right or not. But I do get fed up with big brands and organisations pretending to believe in or not believe in one thing or another simply to turn a profit.

I prefer people, brands and organisations with principles that they stick to. Even if that means short term losses.

And anyhow; they asked me my position – so I told them. Scroll back to the top…

… I chose ‘1’.

Does something only become ‘great’ at the point it gets an audience? Or when the audience reaches a certain size?

I don’t think so. If it’s great, it was already great before people found it.


The relationship between audience size, audience engagement, creativity and quality can be confusing. And if we worry about it all too much, it can overwhelm.

Logic tells us that the better something is, the more people engage. But there are other forces at play.

Timing, taste (no one is for everyone) and luck for example. All of which are a nuisance.

Confidence and Patience

If you want people to discover how great you are, confidence and patience have a big part to play.

And please note that if you rely on audience size and engagement as the only way to decide if something you are doing is great, you may be in trouble.  Your spirit may become broken as you wait to be found.

What to do?

My plan is:

  1. Be as great as I know how, today (and then try to be even greater tomorrow).
  2. Do it for me (so I remain individual, true to me and not solely reliant on what other people do or say in order to assess my value).
  3. Be patient (because I do think that what I am doing is valuable, so when people do eventually find me they will benefit).


Being great and being found are two different things.

My friend Pete’s instagram page is great, but he’s currently only been found by a couple of hundred people ( It’s a shame in my mind. But not in Pete’s. Because he’s doing it for him.

There are numerous amazing things out there without audiences. And when the audience does come it doesn’t mean they suddenly got great. It just means they suddenly got found.


Is it possible that you will be great and never found? Yes. Of course. That’s the way it is. But that is not a reason to not to be great.

Being found is not what makes you great. Being great is what makes you great.

And if you get frustrated – remember, there is something much worse than being great and not being found.

It’s being found and not being great.

Here are 4 things I would never dream of doing as a 50 year old man.

I am, after all, a grown up and appreciate fully that all of them are silly.

  1. Think of all the things I didn’t do when I was younger and look for someone to blame. And if there is no one around and no one I can call, blame myself. 
  2. Take a look at all the people younger than me that do have the opportunity to do all the things that I didn’t do, and tell them how stupid they are for not doing all the things I didn’t do at their age (see 1.). I think younger people like it when older people do this. Especially if they are your own children.
  3. Think about all the things that I used to do that I am clearly far too old to do any more, then moan about the fact that I can no longer do them.
  4. Worry about all the bad things that could happen to me, even in the knowledge that over 90% of the things that human beings worry about happening, never actually do happen. I would no more likely do this than walk around with an umbrella up on a sunny day in readiness for when it next rains. Both are silly.

So to be clear, the reason I would never do any of these things is because I am an intelligent person and none of them make sense.

I am – as all that know me know – prefect.

Life is full of questions. Which is brilliant. I ask lots of questions because I want to learn.

I am immune to that look a certain kind of person gives me when I ask ‘stupid questions’. You know the look. They smile, pan you up and down, inhaling and exhaling short and fast. Then they look around for someone to share their incredulity with.

I don’t mind. I just stand there with my mouth open, waiting for them to answer.

How Much?

Anyhow, I wanted to talk about asking better questions. With particular reference to one question that comes up in the world of Always Wear Red sometimes. It’s a question I welcome. Because it gives me the opportunity to tell wonderful stories.

It is:

Why is your stuff so expensive?

This is a great question. I get to talk about why. I love doing that.

But on the subject of buying things, from chicken to clothing, there is a far, far better question than this.

It is:

Why is your stuff so cheap?

This question tends to flummox people. But I’ll tell you the real reason that I prefer this second question to the first one.

With the first question (Why is your stuff so expensive?) a good brand will give me a set of answers that I really like. Or even love!

With the second question (Why is your stuff so cheap?) a brand generally gives me a set of answers that I don’t like. For example:

“We produce them quick.”

“We make them in places where labour is cheap.”

“We produce them in massive numbers.”

“The material is very commonplace.”

“The design is engineered for mass production over all else.”

I don’t like any of that. I don’t want any of that.


I worry that a chicken is £3.

Last Sunday I crouched by the chickens in ASDA. Elbows on my knees. Frowning at the chickens.

They are £3 because (amongst other things):

  1. 94% of chickens sold in the UK are allowed by law to have an A4 sheet sized allowance of space in a shed.
  2. Chickens are kept in constant dim light day and night to discourage rest and speed up growth.
  3. Antibiotic use is routine resulting in 1/4 of chickens testing positive for antibiotic resistant e-coli.

These answers are even shittier than, “We produce them quick.”

And as I say; I don’t like any of that. I don’t want any of that.

Do you?

Better Questions

Ask better questions.

If you think someone is taking the piss with pricing (profiteering) put them to the test by asking why the price is so high. If they are scared to give you clear answers then they’re in the wrong.

But if all you are interested in is the £3 chickens and you don’t ask why it’s so cheap because you are scared of the answers you’ll hear – you are in the wrong.

If you have a child, if you want one, or if you ever were one – this is a very important film.

If you want to see an ego-free political discussion built on doing what is right as opposed to winning today’s argument just for the sake of it – this is a very important film.

If you want to see a man talk about something he believes in in such a way that it will make every political discussion you’ve seen for the last 20 years, plus every one you see in the future reenforced as the stage-managed, self-serving facade that it is – this is a very important film.


I am a big fan of authenticity and purpose. Believing in something. Standing for and then following through and doing something that matters.

This is an example of how 6 minutes and 50 seconds of authenticity and purpose, expressed lovingly, won $20 million for something that I know that you believe in too.



I can’t watch this short film without getting upset. Not because it’s a sad film, because it isn’t. It’s a happy film.

I get upset because this kind of authenticity is so rare. The film was made when I was 1 year old, in 1969. 49 years ago.

There are two key moments but I would encourage you to watch the whole 6 minutes and 50 seconds.

The first amazing moment for me is from 3 minutes and 35 seconds to 4 minutes and 15 seconds.

Remember, this is 49 years ago. Mr. Rogers – in this 40 seconds – is addressing root causes of mental health problems in young people.

He is right. Almost 50 years ago, he understood.

If you watch from 5 minutes and 5 seconds through to the end you will see how Mr. Rogers explores how to talk to children as adults. With a song.

This is pioneering behaviour at it’s very best. Not many people I have ever met have been brave enough too express what they believe in in this way.

So please, at the end of reading this, watch it all.

How To Win

This final point sounds very patronising, but that’s OK.

Many younger people think that passionate rhetoric about a subject requires aggression, calculated persuasion, bravado, posturing, manipulation, play-acting, hyperbole, point scoring and high-fiving.

None of this is true.

And for the left brainers amongst you, this few minutes of heartfelt storytelling resulted in the ring-fencing of $20 million dollars in 1969. Today that’s about $140 million dollars. As the result of a 6 minutes of just talking.

It is worth 6 minutes and 50 seconds of your time for many reasons. So I hope you give it a go.

If you are reading this story in your email, please go to to watch the movie. If you have anything to say about this story, or indeed any story that you read at, please comment at the end of any story you read.

I’d appreciate it. Thank  you.

Apparently, just before we die, our life will flash before our eyes.

This may very well be true. A unique phenomenon if indeed it is correct. Both scary and comforting at the same time.

When I Die

So, if it is true, I imagine I will see a movie of my life. Just before I go.

I also imagine that I will only see the good bits. (It’s my death so I’ll choose what I fecking want). I imagine that I will only see what really matters to me.

I’ll certainly leave out the following:

  1. Regret.
  2. Complaining.
  3. Bitterness.
  4. Anger.
  5. Point scoring.
  6. Lying.
  7. Greed.
  8. Jealousy.
  9. etc.

Which begs the question, why are some of us waiting until the moment we are actually going to die before leaving all of this useless, poisonous, pointless waste-of-time-and-space shite, out of our lives?

I’ll leave you with that thought.

Image: Taken by me at Do Lectures 2018, Wales.

I was quite annoyed at Thom Yorke this morning. 

I had a beautiful little phrase in my head when I woke up at 5am. A phrase that made me feel calm and happy. (It’s quite a judgemental little phrase by the way, but it made me feel brilliant and not at all oppressed).

This phrase made me feel good about myself. About my creativity, ambition and sense of adventure.

This four word phrase also reminded me that being ‘wrong’ in many people’s eyes is all part of the game we are playing. We should embrace this second point wholeheartedly.

In fact, if we are palatable to everyone we are definitely, definitely doing something terribly wrong.

Thom Yorke

Anyhow, the phrase is:

Dreamers. They Never Learn.

There is probably a proper name for something like this. A thing that was designed to be an insult but ends up being a compliment.

What is it that we are supposed to learn, exactly? That life is not for dreaming? That’s like saying life is not for living. Living is dreaming.

Every time I read it I can see the kind of person that says this. And the kind of person it is said to.

Thank feck I am the latter.

Oh, and the reason I am annoyed at Thom Yorke is because it’s not my phrase, it’s his. The beautiful song and video from which the lyric comes (it’s the first line) is called Daydreaming.

If you are reading this in your email, go to to watch and listen. If you’re at already, it’s below.

Issues around mental health are such a puzzle. Especially with middle aged men.

84 men kill themselves each week in the UK. 12 every day. A 2017 Samaritans report revealed 6,639 suicides in the UK and the Republic of Ireland in 2015. 4,997 (75%) were men. The highest rates of suicide were in the 40 – 44 age band.

Anti Depressants

I was on anti depressants about 8 years ago when I was 42. For a day or two. Then I stopped. I decided to see how I’d do with just counselling because the medication caused me to have an immediate and dramatic dip. After a couple of months, the storm – and the issues (all my fault) that were the catalyst for the storm – passed.

Told You So

During that time however, I’d occasionally drive stupidly. So irresponsible and cowardly was I that I actually entertained the idea that dying in a car crash would be the most balanced and ‘right’ solution for me. ‘Right’ because, if it happened, it was fate playing a part. This allowed me to take no responsibility at all for my own life. Or anyone else’s.


So if I’d have died, my shitty view of myself would have been verified in no uncertain terms.

“‘Told you I was worthless. I’m dead.”

Look Closer

I have no idea what to do about the depression and suicide problem. Asking people how they are is too simple. It may be part of the solution but it’s not the full story.

When I was depressed I was highly skilled in radiating OK-ness when, behind my eyes, I was – from time to time – totally indifferent about being here at all. So much so that the gap between me smiling and saying I was OK, and not being here, could have been literally seconds. I could have been whistling as I exited.

This kind of thing seems impossible to fathom. I don’t know what to do about it. Trying to look closer – to see behind a person’s eyes to the truth – I don’t know how you do that.

But if I sense that anyone is troubled, I do intend to try.

The image at the top of this story is, I admit, rather dramatic. However it is a good indication of how quickly I and many others would swing from one extreme to another. Seconds.

In the time it takes you to spin it and read it upside down – I’d have changed.