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April 2019

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In a recent post we chatted about businesses that care.

I suggested that businesses have a responsibility to not only work towards satisfying what customers care about.

I suggested they should also educate markets to care about what matters to all of us.

Here is that story: https://www.50odd.co.uk/care/

Part 2

This little story follows on.

So; if you do build a business that cares about something lovely and worthwhile, you also have to be amazing at what you do, of course.

First.

Because you can’t hide a crap product or service behind a worthy cause.

Motivation v Gratification.

Please remember this.

Because it will help your business to matter more and to last longer.

The Motivation behind someone choosing you is linked to you being truly excellent, and telling your story well.

The Gratification they feel about having made the purchase is born, at least in part, from the greater good you do.

Your purpose, if you like.

A coffee brand that is nice to rainforests only works if the coffee is great.

Great coffee first…

…then add in something people should care about.

To build the brand, consolidate the purchase and build the community.

If you tick both of these boxes – Motivation and Gratification (and get them the right way round) you could do really well.

Genderless clothing brands are a good thing. 

Because they encourage people to share what they wear.

And because they (should) do away with any silly stereotyping.

Here are some to take a look at.

https://eckhauslatta.com 

Based in New York, quirky, quite nice and slightly bonkers.

https://t-o-o-g-o-o-d.com/clothing

Minimalist, cool and – again – a bit mad.

www.bethnals.com

Decent denim-obsessed basics.

Not terribly adventurous but yes – interesting and affordable.

https://vertigga.com

Another American brand.

Youthful.

The (odd) Wilde Boots are interesting.

Genderless.

I personally see genderless clothing as simple, common sense idea.

Not a political stance and neither for or against any particular group or persuasion.

Just something that, if done well so that it encourages us all to buy less and buy better, makes sense.

The examples here are early entrants to the category.

The category itself is young.

I suspect some enter it as it feels newsy.

The best will do it because of how it can effect our world positively.

They are the ones that will last.

Wear It. Share It.

We live in a world where over 70% of all clothing made is either burnt or buried within 3 years.

Things need to change.

And genderless clothing could be one small part of that change.

Wear it… then share it.

If you run a businesses, it makes sense to build your brand around something people care about.

That means listening hard.

Because if you care about what they care about then, in theory at least, they’ll care about you.

Care.

But is it not also true that, as a businesses, you have a responsibility to make people care about what you care about?

Assuming the thing you care about is good for everyone.

The answer – is yes.

The Wrong Kind of Shareholder. 

Lots of businesses have the wrong kind of shareholder.

The shareholder that only cares about making money is the wrong kind of shareholder.

The shareholder that only cares about the short term is the wrong kind of shareholder.

The shareholders that pretends to care about something important because it gets them onto the latest marketing bandwagon is the wrong kind of shareholder.

The shareholder that does not see their and their teams talents as an opportunity to do something good for everyone is the wrong kind of shareholder.

And the Founder can of course be the biggest baddie of all.

Because it is she or he that let the shareholder in.

Responsibility.

There are lots of things that need care in the world.

Lots of people, too.

A great way to start a business, I think, is to pick up a cause or two that you care about and weave them into what you’re doing.

The Rules keep changing.

All our lives.

And it’s sometimes tricky to work out what behaviour is OK and what isn’t.

Narratives formed in different times seemed OK ‘then’ but – clearly – they never were.

How on earth could we have been so stupid?

The Rules.

I’ve said silly and inappropriate things all my life.

Sometimes out of innocence.

Sometimes out of ignorance.

Sometimes out of drunkenness.

And sometimes because I was just being a dick.

I am better these days as I have matured, slowed down, become more considerate, caring and rounded as a person.

We learn The Rules as-we-go.

Nursery.

I was reminded that we learn The Rules as-we-go, today.

At Izobel’s nursery.

Because, as she and her friends are 2 years old, The Rules are less clear.

Izobel and I were waiting in the corridor for 7.30am to come.

7.30am is a time that sends Izobel wobbling into her classroom.

Smiling broadly.

Looking up and deep into the eyes of her temporary carer, hands outstretched to receive her red cereal bowl.

Waiting.

As we waited in the corridor, parents and children strode past.

As each of them paced the corridor, Izobel held me tighter.

Shy.

Safe in my arms.

But still watching intently.

And because of the lack of rules, Izobel thought it totally acceptable to completely ignore the lovely, ‘Good Morning Izobel!’ and, ‘Hello Izobel, how are you today?’ chatter.

She also thought it totally acceptable, as one particularly friendly looking dad crouched on his haunches to say, ‘Hello, Izobel!’ to say nothing at all, look him in the eye, flare her nostrils and let one continuous 3 to 4 second pump.

Without blinking an eye.

Nothing.

He rose, smiled, and wandered off to work.

Relax.

I am going to relax a bit more.

Judge less.

Because the world is not all filled with bad people saying and doing bad things.

It’s – sometimes – just people that haven’t learned The Rules yet.

And a less judgemental world might be quite a nice thing, I think.

To find out what you’re great at, you have to do shit.

Not ‘do shit’ as in ‘do things badly’ you understand.

I mean you have to actually do things.

Rather than just talking about them.

Perfectionism.

Perfectionism is self-sabotage.

It just is.

Waiting around for that perfect opportunity.

Or that perfect moment.

The thing to know here is that, perfect opportunities do exist.

But you don’t know if they’re the real deal until you take the step and actually do them.

Because some things that you’d bet your life on being perfect – aren’t.

And some things that look imperfect – once you start them – turn out to be perfect.

Things People Say.

Ooh, I’m a perfectionist me.

So I’m not doing it until it is perfect.

Really means

I’m scared.

And that’s fine.

Doing any great thing has to be a bit scary.

Do Shit.

So, if you want to be shit hot.

Do shit.

Because – no shit – it’s the only way to know.

I love Antony and the Johnsons as you will know if you follow 50odd each day.

I love them mostly because of their bravery.

And the music of course.

I Fell In Love With A Dead Boy.

‘I Fell In Love With A Dead Boy’ is a song with a beautiful melody and production.

It’s as captivating as a live performance as it is in the studio version.

Meaning.

I am not sure what it is about.

Some think it’s about being in love with someone that is ‘dead inside’ so they can’t love you back.

Some think it’s referencing Anohni’s personal journey.

Anohni formerly was male and has now transitioned.

Personal.

I love how Anohni is creating in a very personal way.

Telling the stories she wants to tell.

Beautifully.

No matter how strange they are.

Strange is embraced.

The title of this song would, I assume, be received with puzzlement from a commercially minded music promoter.

But Anohni is staying true to her art.

And I really like that.

Because so many people do not.

The song appears alongside this story at the 50odd website.

I don’t look at ‘Fried Egg Clock’ that hangs on our kitchen wall to tell me the time.

I use it for something far more important than that.

Fried Egg Clock.

We were in Blackpool not so long ago.

My little (immediate) family plus my brother and his little family.

We chose Blackpool because it’s good, plasticky fun.

Ambition.

Now, it’s good to be ambitious.

To set goals.

Even on holiday, I think.

So Lisa and I set our sights on some lofty goal that we happened upon in Blackpool.

We wanted to win enough paper tokens from the slot machines and arcade games that we could win Fried Egg Clock.

Determined.

We determinedly began.

Soon, we were joined in this important challenge by my brother Sam and his wife Sara.

You see, there were two Fried Egg Clocks.

Background.

I run Business Communications businesses and clothing brands in the North of England.

We’ve won awards all over the world and we sell all over the world.

Sam runs a training company called Thynk.

He works for some of the biggest brands in the world, delivering training all over the world.

And today, we as businessmen and brothers stood side-by-side.

Fists fat with palm-staining 2 pence pieces.

And a stern expression.

Today was not about global business.

Today was different.

Today was far more personal.

Today was about Fried Egg Clocks.

Time. 

So as I said at the beginning.

I don’t look at ‘Fried Egg Clock’ that hangs on our kitchen wall to tell me the time.

I use to for something far more important than that.

I use it to tell me about all time.

Not just what hour it is now.

It tells me the time I have is precious and personal and as plasticky as I want.

It tells me that the times we make with the time we have are everything.

That is why it is the most important clock in the world.

Lots of people look but don’t really see.

They don’t take in the details.

And that’s such a shame.

Because you can miss so many lovely things.

Look.

Don’t go through life with your eyes closed.

Taking things for granted.

Not looking at things properly.

Not absorbing the fine detail.

Because the fine detail is normally where the magic is.

If you have a great tasting meal, be curious as to how the flavours were made to work together.

Or how it as cooked, maybe.

Be inquisitive and try to find the magic.

If you wear something super comfortable or that feels super sturdy, it’s because of the care and attention throughout the design and make.

And how the materials were chosen too.

When you are buying clothing, try to get into how and where it was made too.

I think these things matter.

Look at the care with which it is finished.

All these things will help you to appreciate value and to understand why something costs what it costs.

Or, if you look for the beauty in the detail and it’s not there, maybe it will help you to understand why it is so cheap.

And why, ultimately, you may be left feeling cold and disappointed as a consequence.

Observe. 

You can do this little test to prove that we all, all too often, look but don’t see.

We just don’t absorb the fine detail properly.

Or question things as we should.

AIR WAIR

Have you read the words ‘AIR WAIR’ before?

If you think that you have, do you remember where?

And if you do remember where, and had to write it down, would you spell it like this?

This is spelled correctly by the way.

Life.

For me, life is too short to fly along at breakneck speed all of the time.

Pause occasionally.

Take in the detail.

It’s lovely.

And lots of the little magical things in life are free.

Just like the little AIR WAIR tab that might sticking out of the back of the Doc Martens you are wearing now.

Or the pair or pairs you have at home.

If you do or did own a pair of Dr. Martens shoes you’ll have seen this tab hundreds of times.

But you may not have questioned the technology it relates to.

Or even know how to spell it.

Slow down.

Slow down.

There’s loads to see…

If you’re going to use Groupon or a similar platform, be aware that all you are doing is dropping a level.

Price-wise is what I am referring to of course.

You’re doing this so you can reach more people.

So more people more easily say ‘yes’.

So more people can experience what you have to offer.

Levels. 

But the message here for your business is that, if you do drop a level and sacrifice profit, it is just stupid if this is the full extent of your reach/business growth strategy.

I will illustrate.

Hair.

Lisa took a look at the open, non-Groupon(esque) marketplace in an attempt to decide where to go for a hair somethingorother.

There were various factors that influenced the buying decision.

Location.

Price.

Brand reputation.

Website.

Groupon.

Some of the people that Lisa looked at also chose to venture into the world of Groupon.

Here’s what they did in this new place…

They lowered their price.

That’s it.

Bugger all else.

Which is just fucking stupid.

All they did was create another level of ‘things’ to choose from, all with zero narrative about why they should be chosen over the competition.

Apart from price.

So they had differentiated themselves in one way I suppose.

They differentiated themselves from the ones that weren’t dumb enough to just sacrifice margin.

Think. 

All I am saying is, if you are going to drop a level – think!

Why should people chose you over the competition that now exists at this lower level?

You are not the only hairdresser on Groupon.

The market does not want a haircut from anyone so daft that they think simply dropping the price is a shortcut to long term success and an ongoing relationship.

They won’t be able to come back soon anyway.

Because you’ll be out of business.

Endnote.

As I mentioned in my earlier Groupon post, silly price wars are – ultimately – good for no one.

Build your brand.

Make me love you.

That way you’ll matter more and last longer.

And if you don’t know how to do this – find someone that does.

One Friday in the summer of 2009, at about 2pm, I received a telephone call.

I was at work at the time, leading the biggest business (to date) that I have created.

It was called onebestway.

A Creative Agency.

The telephone call went something like this:

Hello, onebestway, Mike here. How can we help?

Hi, can I speak to the owner please?

Yep; that’s me. How can I help?

I’m calling from Virgin 1. The digital TV station. We’re looking for a team to take part in a television programme. We’ve researched you a little. Can I explore this with you?

Sure. Go ahead.

We’re relaunching the channel. This summer. And the flagship show for the launch is called The Naked Office. Basically we are looking to place a psychologist with a team. He will bond them so closely that, after a week, they’ll all be comfortable coming to work together – naked.

I paused.

It was a Friday as I say.

So this was a mate being silly right?

No.

It was a producer from a production company called Shine .

And the invitation was real.

Moments.

So this was one of those defining moments.

We all get them.

Maybe not exactly like this.

But we get them.

I had already said yes in my mind.

But I had to ask the team.

All but one said yes.

So we did it.

The Naked Office. 

The Naked Office aired in the autumn of 2009.

About 5 million people saw it in the UK after the repeats and the interviews.

Globally it was more.

Adventure.

It was great fun.

An adventure.

Some of our industry thought we were brave and ballsy.

Some thought we were sensationalist and crackers.

Both were right.

David Taylor.

David Taylor was the psychologist in the television programme.

David has authored 5 books now.

And David and his wife Rosalind became good friends of mine.

Here they are.

Saying yes. 

Anyhow, do I regret it?

100% no.

Would I have regretted it had I not done it?

100% yes.

When In Doubt.

So.

My advice when faced with whatever weird and wonderful opportunities might arrive in this too-short life of ours.

When in doubt…

Say yes.

If you are reading this story in your email, there’s a photo you might want to see with today’s story at 50odd.co.uk.

But then again…!

David Taylor (nice chap): www.nakedleader.com.