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February 2019

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Triggers is a book written by a friend of mine, Pete Zulu.

For the avoidance of doubt, here are three reasons that ARE NOT reasons for why I am reviewing it:

  1. Because Pete is my friend. I am reviewing it because I like it and I think you will too.
  2. Because Pete asked me too. He didn’t.
  3. Because I was gifted it. I bought it. In fact, I bought four copies. 1 for me. 3 for friends. It’s £15.

Triggers.

This is the book that any of us could have written.

In the same way that we could have all done a Picasso or a Hockney or a Pollock sketch or painting.

That Jackson Pollock Pillock.

Have you seen his stuff?

It’s like the floor of my shed.

Well if the floor of your shed is worth £75 million then yes, I suppose it is.

Eyes and Brains.

Triggers is a book for the eyes and the brain in equal measure.

Because the story (for the brain) is punctuated with 88 photographs (for the eyes) that Pete has taken.

The photographs are all lovely.

And some are here: https://www.instagram.com/petezulu3/

Simplicity.

The idea for the book is simple.

Pete chops his life into 8 segments, each segment attached to an aftershave, the smell of which trigger memories.

It’s neat and relatable.

And you’ll read the whole thing in about an hour if you just devour the words and sentences.

And you’ll read the whole thing in about a month if you too remember Aramis, Kouros, Denim and Brut – because you will read it more than once and some of the time you are reading it it will be out loud, to other people.

Because you’ll want them to remember what you remember too.

Writing Style.

Triggers is the book you could have written because of its writing style.

But it is also the book you could not have written because of its writing style.

Debbie Owen, TV Scriptwriter commented:

It’s odd to read something that follows so few writing rules and makes me genuinely not care.

I don’t know you Pete, but from reading this I really like you because you let me in.

When you read this book it’s like you are listening to Pete chat to you.

Pete is the best writer that doesn’t really write that I have ever read.

I want one.

It’s £15.

And I don’t know how you get one.

But as one of the things that Pete and Sarah do these days is run The Black Horse in East Bolden I do know that you can get one there if you pop in there.

The food is superb so even if there are no books left, if you’re hungry, you’ve still scored.

Or if you want me to help you get one, email michael@50odd.co.uk.

I’ll speak to Peter.

I’ve been on drugs of one kind or another all my life.

Actual drugs I was rubbish at.

I was 30.

With cocaine I just kept sneezing.

With ecstasy I just got dizzy and fell over.

So after about two weeks, I stopped.

Money.

Money was a drug when I was about 40.

I had made some money so I bought some things like houses and cars and clothes.

The buzz from this drug lasted quite a while.

It probably made we walk with a bit of a swagger.

Raise one eyebrow from time to time and say daft, patronising things.

‘Look a bit stupid and superior.

I wasn’t that good with this drug.

I quite liked making money but didn’t spend (some but not all of) it wisely.

Whiskey.

Alcohol is the drug that I’ve been involved with for longest.

Swimming pools full of the stuff whilst studying and in my 20’s.

Probably the same in my 30’s.

In my 40’s slightly less because I started to see how silly or inappropriate or dead alcohol made people.

I used to anaesthetise with alcohol in my 40’s.

In my 40’s I didn’t drink alcohol to remember how great life’s good bits were, I drank to forget how good the bad bits weren’t.

And in my 50’s (I’m a beginner) I drink in fits and starts.

Aware that there is a direct relationship between how many days I get to see Izzy Willow and how many  glasses of whiskey I swallow.

Other Drugs. 

Other drugs through my life include girls, cigarettes for a few years and my new drug (which I am noticing is giving me a similar high to the other drugs I’ve tried in my life) which is creativity.

I am being very creative, these days.

More creative than I have ever been in my life.

And I am SO annoyed that I have waited this long despite something I have known for years but refused or resisted to internalise and act upon.

These days, I am simply less fearful of what people think.

I am creating for me.

Like when I was 3 years old when I knew no other way of creating.

I am annoyed because I was told about this phenomenon years ago.

By Pablo Picasso.

It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.

Creativity.

I am just starting to learn and believe this.

And that creativity can be a drug.

A good drug.

And it’s not a day too soon.

Because when my 1,000 months are up – I will be gone.

My creativity however, will remain.

Now I am in my 50’s, and I am older, I have more to remember. 

This is worth remembering.

I remembered to remember what I have to remember at a bus stop in the middle of Newcastle last week.

One evening at about 6 o’clock.

I chose a busy bus stop up near Haymarket, because I knew there’d be a lot of people milling about.

Living their lives as I went about living mine.

Then I did this…

Cantona.

Do you remember when Cantona scored that goal against Sunderland in 1996?

The video is at the end of this story at 50odd.co.uk if you don’t remember.

Well, I stood like he did after he’d scored.

Looking around for a few seconds.

Taking it all in.

Thinking what a privilege it is to be here.

Sad that it’d soon be over.

But remembering to love the fact that I am here today.

That my life is filled with good people, family, possibility and opportunity.

It is worth remembering – that all of this is worth remembering.

 

Jill knows she is inferior, therefore she is superior to anyone who thinks she is superior to him.

My friend David Bradley bought me 4 books last month.

One of them is called KNOTS by R.D. LAING.

It’s a mad book, containing observations by the Oxford Professor of Poetry that he describes as,

…remarkable insights into the ways human beings behave to one another.

Things People Think and Say.

I like the book because it contains just a few pieces of dialogue and prose over it’s 90 pages that I can dip into and out of.

I like books that I can pick up and put down.

My attention is rarely held for long.

However, with this book, the reason I dip out is because with more than half of it I don’t know what the hell it’s going on about.

This isn’t a book review.

Yet.

Because I haven’t finished the book.

Because I don’t understand most of it.

But one or two bits of it are really amazing and explain big chunks of the human psyche really efficiently.

I recognise the behaviours and thinking in me and in people I know or knew from what I am reading.

Take the quote at the beginning of this little story.

The quote is simply saying that if you think everyone is better than you, and someone thinks everyone is not better than you, and because of this they like you, then you are better than them.

(You might want to read that again).

And so it might follow that they are not therefore good enough for you.

Because they couldn’t even fathom that everyone is better than you.

If this is describing you now, or in the past, or anyone you know or knew, then that person:

  1. Will never allow themselves to love anyone because anyone worth loving would not be hoodwinked into thinking that you are lovable.
  2. Will never allow anyone to love them because anyone that would entertain the idea of loving them is clearly not good enough to love them because they think you’re lovable, and you aren’t.

There’s a simple lesson I suppose.

And it’s an old one.

It’s that lesson about loving yourself being really important because, until you do, you cannot be involved in a truly loving relationship with anyone else.

I have always sensed this is true.

I think.

But I never really understood why it’s true.

I think I do now.

And by the way, I am sober as I write this.

Just in case you were wondering.

Read this again if you have 5 minutes.

I haven’t explained this brilliantly I don’t think…

But the quote at the beginning – I like it!

I think it really does explain why loving yourself is important.

The reason this version of this song is so good is because, firstly, the song is so good.

But in the wrong hands of course this is the very reason that it can go really wrong.

The performer is so talented and raw in his approach – it works out.

He, it seems to me, is playing it just as he wants to this time.

And it may be a little different next time.

He is just doing what comes naturally.

What he is feeling about this song at this moment.

A Smiths song, performed live by Jeff Buckley.

It’s so easy to laugh
It’s so easy to hate
It takes strength to be gentle and kind

Go here: https://www.50odd.co.uk/kind/

Who would you gift immortality to?

And how would you decide?

For me, I was gutted when Terry Wogan died.

So I’d give it to him.

Because (I think) he was kind.

And I would have liked him to have been my dad.

And George Michael.

Because I think his best work was yet to come.

And David Bowie because I loved his surprises.

And he was a visionary.

(Bowie got old.

His ideas didn’t.)

And David Attenborough because I think that he is caring and true.

And Anthony Bourdain because he was raw.

He was just – well – himself.

Authentic.

Kind. Creative. Authentic. Brave.

Basically (and I have just worked this out) I would give the gift of immortality to anyone that scored highly in my little world in the areas of kindness, creativity, authenticity and bravery.

So, imposing my thinking on the rest of the world (as I do), in order to get on other people’s immortality list, I am going to be as kind, creative, authentic and brave as I possibly can.

From today.

Thank you.

This short story is for business owners or those wanting to build their own business.

Marketing.

It’s everywhere, marketing.

The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements – profitably.

It sounds dead easy when we read that neat CIM definition.

And I suppose, when it’s stripped down, it is pretty straight forward in principle.

The more experienced a person is, the better of course.

And the more they care about the work they do.

And the more they have good ideas.

These are all important.

But it’s simply what you do in the space between you and the people you want to influence.

In order to move you towards achieving your business goals.

Brand.

I want to mention something that is more important than marketing though.

Brand.

Marketing is subordinate to brand.

Because if a business does not have a brand its marketing will be sub-optimal at best.

Here’s my definition of brand:

A perception held in the mind of a consumer about your product or service.

If you are a business owner that wants to become a brand owner (there’s a difference) – it is your job to engineer these perceptions.

Or to get someone to help you to do so.

Because it’s a science.

And until you do know what you want to be remembered for as a brand, reduce your marketing spend.

To zero.

Because until you know why you are different and better, you cannot expect your customers to either.

So until you have something to say.

Don’t say anything.

Agencies. 

There’s only one thing worse than a business owner that does not know why they are different and better.

And that is a creative/design/marketing/brand agency not knowing why their client is different and better.

Because if they don’t know that, the only strategy they have left is you get their client to outspend the competition in the marketing space.

And if they do that, the agency wins – and the client loses.

Because the agency gets fees.

And the client’s profitability is eroded by unnecessarily high marketing spend.

Zero. 

So.

In summary.

Until you know why you are different and better, and why your customers should choose you over the competition, and you’re prepared enough so you can communicate this at every touchpoint simply and consistently, reduce your marketing spend.

To zero.

Here is a truly brilliant song.

With a truly brilliant video.

Please go here to watch and listen.

I’d predict you will want to watch this more than once.

The music becomes more ever more beautiful at around 2:10.

And the video ever more harrowing shortly after.

So do please be prepared for that.

Creativity

This is what happens when creativity is not questioned.

And doesn’t look for pointers for what to do from what went before.

One person’s vision.

Raw.