October 2018


When I was younger, in my teens, I used to pop out to the Video Shop.

It was normally some kind of a cobbled-together concession inside an off license. Or inside a general dealers.

Then ‘Blockbuster’ came along and it all seemed a little more glamorous.

But it was the same thing really.

I was popping out for a film to watch.


I remember, there was one line of text on a VHS box that always caught my eye. It was:

Based on a true story.

And the slightly less convincing (now I’m older I realise this):

Adapted from a true story.

I’m reminded how irresistible this idea is.


Now, in October 2018, the world is different. But I still think that, deep down, the magnetism of a true story is real.

Two things:

  1. Social Media allows us all, if we want to, to tell lies. To exaggerate or spin.
  2. Authenticity is as valued as it has ever been in business and in life.

For the first time, about 6 months ago, Instagram noticed more traction on their ‘Stories’ than their ‘Feed’.

It is no coincidence that Stories are much more authentic. And Feeds are much more doctored.


And so I suppose the question I am left with is, is the story that I am telling about my life:

  1. True.
  2. Based on a true story.
  3. Adapted from a true story.

It is very exposing to tell your true story.

But it is also irresistible to others. Because I want to learn about my life from your life. And the reverse applies, too.

And anyhow, if we lie we are not just lying to them out there are we? We are lying to ourselves, too.

So, and this is especially true as we get older, isn’t it about time we all started telling our true story?

That way, we all might stand a slightly better chance of learning from each other. Helping each other.

And all living happily ever after.

OK you need to pop to for this short story. And you’ll need sound.


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 wanted to give you something nice. 

To say thank you for reading

So I had a good think.

To try and find a gift that was really, really valuable.

The Gift.

Even though I know some of you that read this, I don’t know all of you.

So it was quite hard to think of a gift that you’d all like and all value.

Something that would make every single one of you feel nice.

But I have done it.


Please watch this 36 second clip from a 2012 film called ‘Hit and Run’.

This is an entirely unremarkable film by all accounts.

Apart from this 36 seconds.

Because once you’ve watched this 36 seconds you will have received a really valuable gift.

It’s something that, weirdly, far too many of us forget about. We don’t look at it properly. Or calmly. Or lovingly.

If you want it to work really well, imagine that you are saying this to someone you love, or that they are saying it to you.

It’s the gift of…


I am in my 6th decade. Because:

  • 1-10 was my first decade.
  • 11-20 was my second decade.
  • 21-30 was my third decade.
  • 31-40 was my fourth decade.
  • 41-50 was my fifth decade.
  • 50-60, the decade I am in now (I am 50) is my sixth decade.

To come (maybe):

61-70, my seventh decade.

71-80, my eighth decade.

81-90, my ninth decade.

91-100, my tenth decade.

100-110, my eleventh decade.


All of the figures below are approximate because I looked at the UK and America and a couple of other European countries and took an average. And also it is massively influenced by when you were born and how old you are now. As a general rule, the younger you are now, the longer you will live.

15% of men die during or before their fifth decade. 85% of men go on into their 50s.

30% of men die during or before the end of their sixth decade. 70% of men go on into their 60s.

45% of men die during or before the end of their seventh decade. 55% of men go on into their 70s. 

65% of men die during or before the end of their eighth decade. 35% of men go on into their 80s. 

90% of men die during or before the end if their ninth decade. 10% of men go on into their 90s.

Over 99% of men die during or before the end if their tenth decade. Under 1% of men live over 100.

Almost all men die during or before the end if their eleventh decade. Very few men live over 110.

No man has ever lived into a twelfth decade. No man has ever lived over 120.

So What?
  1. You read and accept the above as fact. And you should. Because they are facts.
  2. You build in that almost all the percentages (except the last one) may swing (say) 5% and even 10% either way. And that you might die today.
  3. In the light of knowing these truths, you are not spending every SECOND of your waking life either:
    1. Being the version of you that you really love and want to be, or
    2. Working towards being the version of you that you really love and want to be, or
    3. Helping someone else to become the version of themselves that they really love and want to be…

… you’re an idiot.

You’re welcome.

This is a short post with an important message.

It is:

Stop taking things too seriously.

There is a simple three-step test to work out if you are taking things too seriously.

Here are the three simple steps.

  1. Say, out loud, the thing that you are wondering about. The thing that is making you wonder, “Am I taking things too seriously?”
  2. Judge, accurately and without prejudice, whether you sound like a bit of a dick.
  3. If you do sound like a bit of a dick, stop being a bit of a dick and taking things too seriously.

That’s it.

The Chicken Game

If you look at the image at the head of this little story and find it funny (you will have to be at the 50odd website to see it) – chances are you are not actually a dick and stand a good chance of not taking things too seriously in your future.

And if you don’t find it even a little bit funny then, sorry, I can’t help you.

Have a nice day.

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. 

Every morning, when I get to my toothbrush, I find these two tablets.

Each day, I pick them both up and I swallow them.

I am honestly not sure what they are. But they’ve been there for a few months now.

Occasionally, if I forget to take them, the next day the dose is doubled.

So on those days, I am given four.


It struck me today that I could be being murdered. Slowly but surely.


But because I trust Lisa I just take the tablets.

However this morning, as I left the bathroom, I looked over at her through slightly squinted eyes.

She looked back.


This cold and terrible act. This frozen blooded monster, killing me slowly. Silently.

Thinking back, I think she gave me a half smile this morning. And then glanced over my shoulder to check the pills had gone.

Then she left the bedroom.


What evil is this?

I shall face her tonight. And for anyone reading this, if I don’t write a story ever again, you know who to talk to.


I am glad I am thinking reasonably and rationally about this. And not stirring myself into a panic because of silly self-talk.

I never do that.

And before I go, the front door key is under the green plant pot. THE GREEN ONE.

Just in case anyone needs to get into my house to give me CPR tomorrow morning when SHE, after reading this, accelerates her evil plan.

Thank you you for being there for me.

We just found the most valuable bag of crisps in the world.

Crisp Life.

But first I remember that – way back – crisps were priced at 2p a bag. Space raiders. I was 10(ish) years old.

I remember looking down at the 10p piece in the palm of my left hand and thinking how amazing it was that I could buy 5 bags of crisps with this one coin. I had the (crisp) world – literally – in the palm of my hand.

Also amazing was the fact that the 10p piece, with a debossed lion wearing a crown, almost covered my palm.

Were 10p’s bigger back then? Or was I much smaller?

This is more commonly known as ‘The Wagon Wheel Phenomenon’.

The Wagon Wheel Phenomenon. The effect of an evil plan hatched by the bastards that work in Wagon Wheel Towers. They make Wagon Wheels smaller at the exact same rate that we get bigger, ruthlessly hammering home the fact that that childhood is finite.


Suddenly, in my very early teens (the late 70’s and early 80’s), a single bag of crisps broke through the 10p barrier.

And with the advent of Phileas Fogg crisps (1982, I was 14), single handedly inventing the ‘adult crisp’ category – my awareness of crisps and their price point was about to change again.

Beautiful advertising and crazy flavours (Punjab Puri etc.) changed everything.

My ‘Crisp Price Index’ went bonkers and we now have £2+ bags of crisps in this crazy world of ours.

Time passes quickly, doesn’t it? No matter how we measure it.

The Most Valuable Bag of Crisps In The World

Anyhow, the reason I am writing this little story is because we are selling Lisa’s mum’s house at the moment.

Because Lisa’s mum died earlier this year.

And in a cupboard in the kitchen Lisa found a small, crinkly, out of date bag of crisps that her mum had bought for Izobel.

It’s a teeny bag. And a bit squashed.

But in the history of crisps (and the history of crisps is of course laid out in it’s entirety in this highly educational story) there has never been a more valuable bag of crisps than these.

It’s because I know what Mary was thinking when she bought them. As she placed them in the cupboard for the next time she saw Izobel.

She will have played through Izobel’s reaction. And imagined her own. And smiled.

The price she put on those moments, and so the price I put on these crisps, is too high to fathom.

I suppose it’s because, in the past, I used to value things because of what other people told me they were worth.

These says – I decide.

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!


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’.



I want to become extraordinary.

Superb at something.


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).

I was invited to 10 Downing Street a year or so ago.

A PR type thing by government really. To show that they interact with fledgling businesses from around the UK.

Nevertheless, it was nice to be asked.


Ralf Little came with me. Ralf and I own Always Wear Red together. He’s the chap that was in The Royle Family (Antony) and is becoming an increasingly great actor and writer as his career develops. He is good to have around.

Ralf is super-bright. A former Junior Doctor. Ralf regulary sparred with Jeremy Hunt in front of his 190,000 twitter followers. And commentates on a broad range of issues online to this day.

He’s funny.

The NHS.

Anyhow, on the way to Downing Street, we stopped to chat to some brilliant campaigners for the NHS. We gave them a few pounds and got some stickers. The stickers said (something like) “Jeremy Hunt’s a Bastard”.

The stickers didn’t say that. But I wish they did. The sentiment was similar.

Grow up.

As we left Number 10, people took the opportunity to take photos. Most were proud British citizens, puffing chests out to create images they could show their grandchildren.

So how come a couple of guests thought it’d be funny to take a picture on the doorstep of Number 10 with a sticker saying (something like) “Jeremy’s a Wanker” stuck to their tie?

The stickers didn’t say that. But I wish they did. The sentiment was similar.

Do some people never grow up?

Apparently not.

Double Maths. 

Getting told off at school was a bit embarrassing. Just for a moment though.

Then comes that deep guffawing laugh as you run across the playground with your friends, back to reality.

In case you were wondering, it’s a similar feeling aged 48 when you post a photo like this to 190,000 Twitter followers, a few hundred people comment and laugh after about 5 seconds, and Downing Street’s PR catch up with you after about 10 seconds to ask you to take the picture down.

There was no playground to run across, guffawing.

So we ran across London instead, swinging our satchels and bunking off double maths.

That’s what it felt like to me, anyway.

Don’t grow up. It’s overrated. 

IMAGE: Ralf wearing AWR Red Camo Tie