December 2018


I’ve been around for 50 years.

Sometimes it feels like a lot.

Sometimes it feels like no time at all.

Sometimes I have loved life so much that I didn’t want to sleep.

Sometimes I have feared life so much that I didn’t want to wake up.


In order to make life better, and to learn, I sometimes look for patterns.

Patterns that might help me understand how I can nurture the natural highs and remove the lows.

One pattern I have come to recognise is that the more people I listen to, the more lows I have.

The more I try to analyse and understand who is saying what and why, the worse I feel – no matter what I discover – good or bad.

And the learning from this is simple.

It is to never try to understand people. Don’t try to unpick their thoughts and don’t spend any time trying to influence them.


The best way I can try to explain the futility of this activity – yearning to understand why someone likes a thing or does not like a thing – is with Marmite.

Some people like it.

Some people don’t like it.

If you were Marmite, wanting to be happy and successful Marmite, which of these two strategies would you adopt?

  1. Look for the people that like Marmite, build a relationship with them and look after them.
  2. Look for the people that don’t like Marmite and try to convince them they are wrong – or of the ‘rightness’ of Marmite.

It has to be 1.

Especially as I am 606 months into my 1,000 months on earth.

And I suggest you adopt the same strategy as we burst into a beautiful, brilliant, brand new year.


In 2019 I will continue to like Marmite.

And those that don’t, won’t.

If they have any sense they will flock with other Marmite dislikers.

If they have time to waste, they’ll come and bother me.

Telling me how disgusting Marmite is.

Wasting my time.

And theirs.

Happy New Year

So Happy New Year to you, whatever your tastes.

And in the months you have left, if you are not doing it already, please work towards doing what you were born to do.

And believe me, if you too listen only to those on your side of the Marmite fence – you’ll get there a lot more quickly.

And that’s good for all of us.

George Michael can, I think, cover anyone’s music.

But no one can cover his.

Rufus Wainright wrote ‘Going to a Place’ in 2007 about the Bush government.

Rufus was disillusioned with so much about America back then.


As I get older, I see cycles.

I see world cycles.

And I am recognising my own cycles.

World cycles are quite scary.

Not because things repeat.

I get that.

But because we don’t really seem to learn from the last cycle.

In fact bad things today that mirror similar things from yesterday – are very often worse.


Some people think that the best way to stop people shooting each other is to give more people guns.

Some people think that the best way to bond people together is to shut people out.

My Own Cycles.

With regards to my own cycles, I learn from everything I do.

However my big worry is that by the time I mature enough to recognise my own repeating dumb stupidity and mistakes, I will die.


I should listen to them more closely.


America was stupid 10 years ago.

And it is even more stupid now.

Here is George Michael singing Rufus Wainwrights tune, 11 years after it was written about a different America.

Sadly, that different America – is pretty much the same as today’s America.

I’m going to a town that has already been burnt down
I’m going to a place that has already been disgraced
I’m gonna see some folks who have already been let down
I’m so tired of America
I’m gonna make it up for all of The Sunday Times
I’m gonna make it up for all of the nursery rhymes
They never really seem to want to tell the truth
I’m so tired of you, America
Making my own way home
Ain’t gonna be alone
I’ve got a life to lead, America
I’ve got a life to lead
Tell me, do you really think you go to hell for having loved?
Tell me, enough of thinking everything that you’ve done is good
I really need to know, after soaking the body of Jesus Christ in blood
I’m so tired of America
I really need to know
I may just never see you again, or might as well
You took advantage of a world that loved you well
I’m going to a town that has already been burnt down
I’m so tired of you, America

In 2019, I know a question that you will be asked many times.

The more gregarious you are, the more you will be asked it.

It is:

Who are you?

Now, I have one more question to ask – right now – about this.

It is:

Who will you allow to create the answer to this question at the beginning of 2019?

Other people?

Or will you do it?

And if you are going to do it, what will the answer be?


I’m Michael Owen. Dad, husband and businessman.

I’m Designer and Founder at Always Wear Red. AWR is the clothing brand focused on giving people the edge. AWR makes people feel amazing! We change people. Because I believe when people feel amazing… they do amazing. 

I am privileged to a Founder of angelfysh, too. angelfysh is a team of proven business consultants working at board level to energise businesses to become purpose-driven brands that matter more and last longer.

Oh, and I write the 50odd blog. 3,650 diary entries. 1 each day. For 10 years.

Over to you.

So here I am with a massive owl. 

Here’s how, at 50, I ended up holding a very big, and very heavy owl for the first time.

  1. At 45 I closed the businesses I had known for 20 years to do something new.
  2. At 48 I launched a new business in a new world that I didn’t’t know – fashion.
  3. At 48 we had a new baby. Izzy Willow is our first.
  4. At 49 I wanted to do a new fashion photoshoot to pay homage to the film Kes.
  5. I contacted David Bradley, the chap that played Billy Casper in the iconic film to be a part of it. He’s now my new friend.
  6. I introduced David to someone new, John that runs Riverside Falconry in Newcastle. They’re new friends as well, now.
  7. Izzy Willow (she’s still quite new; she’s 2) like’s owls. So this Christmas we took her to see John and his owls. And I ended up holding this massive owl.

New for 2019.

There is a new meeting between me and John (falconer) and David (played Billy Casper in Kes) and Carlo Navato, my new friend that co-Founded The Do Lectures on July 16th in Newcastle.

Carlo is new to Newcastle I think and is stopping at my place.

So, I suppose that if you want new things to happen… you have to do new things.

I wonder if I am hiding?

I am certainly hiding some parts of me.


I am rather creative.

But to be as creative as I could be in this lifetime, I’d have to be braver.


To simplify, it’s like a see-saw.

At one end I have ‘Fear’.

And at the other, ‘Creativity’.

When fear is higher… creativity is lower.

When fear is lower, so creativity rises.

I will benefit from remembering this.

How about you?

Brands have to reach people.

No matter how good or worthy you are as a brand, you have to reach people.

If you don’t, they don’t know you exist.

And you have to reach people – the right people – in such a way that they want to pay attention and get involved.

They get involved when you display a belief in something that they believe in too.

I like all that.

It’s hard to do.

But I like it.

Here’s Something I Don’t Like Though. 

Imagine you have come from a parallel world, where you and we are (allegedly) intelligent species, and are hearing about this business model for the first time:


I’m an advertising opportunity for brands and businesses and I make money in two ways.

So you can visualise this clearly, imagine that I sit at the centre of a bow tie shape, creating or curating decent content that people want to experience. This draws an audience into my space.

To my left, in the left half ‘fan’ of the bow tie are people that you that want reach.

To my right, fanned out in the right half of the bow tie there are people like you. People with something to say or offer.

Here are the two ways I make money…

  1. I charge brands like you, to my right, for the delivery of messages to the people on my left. I help your messages to reach them. I’ll leave it to you to work out what to say to them and how to say it.
  2. Secondly, I charge the people to my left to switch off the adverts that I have encouraged you to make and charged you to deliver to them in the first instance. I promote to the people you want to reach that, if they don’t want to hear what you have to say they can pay me money for the privilege. This in itself has three effects. Firstly it makes me more money. Secondly it introduces or reenforces the idea to your audience that the things I have encouraged your brand to create and pay us to deliver on your behalf, are undesirable and interruptive. Thirdly, we are positioned as the hero because – for a fee – we can block out the ‘crap’ that we encouraged you – the brands – to create in the first place.

Anyhow, how should we work together?


I dunno…

Yes. OK. I get it.

The Internet.

But I don’t know about you… my habits as a consumer are changing.

Nowadays, when Grammerly or Wix or some other offering interrupts me or mine, I don’t listen.

I also don’t store them in my memory to use them later, either.

What I do do, is remember not to use them.

They just fucking annoy me.

I don’t want to be sold to at all really, but I certainly don’t want to be interrupted to be sold to in this way.

I don’t want a brand to say:

Hey. Stop being in leisure mode or relaxing mode and immediately move into consumer mode.


Fuck off.

It’s rude.

The Solution. 

I’m not sure of the complete solution.

But a big part of it is for brands to first have a true purpose that I can remember easily and that matters to me and others.

Then, politely hang around in my peripheral vision until I am ready for you. Giving me great content that I enjoy and that enhances my life is part of this approach.

And whilst, as I say, I am not sure of exactly the best overall strategy (I’m working on it), I am absolutely positive that elbowing your way in front of my face, my partner’s face or my daughters face – uninvited – does the exact opposite of what you want strategically.

I really, really, really dislike you.

And I hope that an increasing number of people feel the same way too.

This photo will help me in two ways in 2019. 

Firstly, it’s our Izzy Willow staring at me.

I don’t think she is conscious (she’s 2) of what the chalkboard to her left says.

But her ‘The Shining’ like glare does make me a little nervous.

Izzy Willow says I should play more.


And the cup of coffee to the far right of the chalkboard in the image reminds me that Fridays are coffee days.

I work 7 days each week.

Not 7 full days.

But I work every day.

Each Friday is the day that I should pop in 2 or 3 coffees with people that I can help or they can help me.

This coffee day is my day to listen.

To help.

To learn.

To talk.

To be with friends.


More structure required for me.

For work – and play.

Happy 2019 to you.

I watched ‘The Snowman’ over Christmas.

5 times.


I will take this quote from the 40 year old classic with me into 2019:

The snow fell steadily – all through the night.

It will remind me that, sometimes, things simply must take time.

Sometimes, there’s nothing to force.

You just have to be patient for things to work as they should.

I love snow because when it first falls it is a great leveller. Everything is white and clean and bright.

But it takes time to happen. Silently and slowly.

Millions of snowflakes dancing together over hours to create this blanket.


So this David Bowie quote will remind me to be patient.

To sometimes just watch and wonder and let things happen.

Great things take time.

There was a female astronaut being interviewed on Radio 5 live this week.

It was a re-run actually.

I can’t remember the astronaut’s name I am afraid, but I do remember some of what she said.

She said that she went into space when her son was 3.

He’s about 8 now.

She also said that she imagines it would be easier to explain to a 3 year old than an 8 year old why mum was buggering off in a space ship for a few weeks.

She’s probably right.


The quote that stuck with me though was this one.

It’s what she said was one of the things that helped her decide to complete the mission, leaving her family behind:

What would it look like if he saw me stop a dream?

I like this quote because it is a well constructed, open question.

And because it focuses firmly on her son and what she sees as part other responsibility as a mother.

It should make us all think.

What would it look like to our children?

To stop a dream?

How might it influence our children to make decisions about their dreams?

I mean this respectfully… but flying into space is, in my opinion, no more commendable or impressive than many more rather more mundane decisions that a person might make about the direction of their lives.

There are many ways to change a life… your life.

I don’t like how people do what they feel they should, as opposed to what they were born to do.


1000 months.

That’s all you have.

So if you sense, even for the tiniest moment that you have the opportunity to fly…


It’s almost 2019. 

I am looking forward to 2019 but I definitely want it to be different to 2018.

Particularly with business.

2018 has been a really bitty year.

Zigging and zagging all over the place with the two businesses I run.

Overcomplicated approaches to communicating the businesses.

Sprinting and jogging in business (both are important) but I am not sure I was always doing the right one at the right time.

I wasn’t as disciplined and hard working as I should have been.

I got distracted far too easily and I prioritised badly.

I had no single strategy that I stuck to.

I wasn’t as organised and structured as I could have been.


So in 2019, I’ll:

  1. Plan better.
  2. Implement the plans better.

It’s tricky when I am not answerable in the day-to-day to anyone, though.

So I will remember who I want to be proud of me, and who will benefit from what the businesses are actually trying to do.

That last bit is key. It’s what drives me.

The people I want to be proud of what I am up to are (no particular order):

  1. Me.
  2. Anyone at all that helps me to build brand and business.
  3. Family.
  4. Friends.
  5. Anyone that interacts with and can benefit from the brands and the brand’s ‘why‘ in any way.

I’ll read this again.

And simplify.

P.S. I’m going to have a lot of fun though.

Otherwise, what’s the point?

Happy New Year.