Archive

November 2019

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Your category.

The segment within which your business trades.

Or the segment within which your employer trades.

How are you taking your category forward?

How are you progressing it?

How are you changing your entire category for the better?

What is it you’re doing that makes the rest of the category sit up and listen?

What are you doing that makes the rest of the category feel like they have to ‘keep an eye on you’?

Impressed by your foresight and your endeavour.

My Brands.

For the avoidance of doubt.

Here are examples of categories.

My categories.

Always Wear Red is in an existing category called Premium Hand Knitted Jumpers.

ANGELFYSH is in an existing category called Brand Communications.

50odd is in an existing category called Personal Blogging.

(I state ‘existing’ because categories can be created. 

But you need an entirely different approach to, well, virtually everything if you create a category.

That’s another story).

Pioneering.

There is a reason that I am asking you about how you are taking your category forward.

It is because someone or maybe a few people will be being pioneering in your category.

Right now.

I say a few people because categories can be progressed in several ways at the same time.

More than just one person in a category can be hungry to change the category.

And I was just wondering whether one of those people was you?

And how you articulate, and work to deliver on, the change that you want to make?

Take It Forward. 

I am taking the Premium Hand Knit Jumper category forward by changing the relationship people have with the clothing they buy and wear.

I am taking the Brand Communications category forward by behaving like an un-agency. I am doing the opposite of what most agencies do. Flushing out bad and outdated practices where the client loses.

I am taking the Personal Blogging category forward by leading by example. Blogging to as high a standard as I can. Every single day. Telling my story. So others are encouraged to tell their story too.

Passion Plus. 

When you know how you are taking your category forward.

It feels like ‘passion-plus’.

It feels like a moral responsibility.

You look people in the eye when you articulate the change you’re trying to make.

And they are interested.

Because you are interesting.

You stand square-on as you talk to them.

You gesticulate.

Your eyes widen as you speak.

And you are consistent.

You are laser-like with your language.

You are bullet proof with your reasoning.

Because your planning is thorough.

And considered.

And professional.

And smart.

And complete.

Because you care.

Because the change you care about making matters to you.

And it matters to them.

Care.

So.

Your category.

Which category are you in, first of all?

And how are you taking it forward?

Over to you.

Forrest Gump said he started running,

…for no particular reason.

And that’s good enough for me.

Reasons.

A new ‘why’ does appear later in the film, actually.

When Tom Hank’s lovely character says,

You need to put the past behind you before you can move on.

That’s neater I suppose.

The idea that Forrest started to run because his mum had just died.

Or because Jenny had just left.

And as a consequence he was looking to put distance between then and now.

Nevertheless.

I prefer the first reason.

…for no particular reason.

Justification. 

Justification for decisions you make.

Sentences you feel you have to muster.

Sentences to quieten the frowners.

They are not necessary.

Honestly.

They aren’t.

For so many things in life.

There is no need for justification.

50odd.co.uk

You are reading this because I decided to write it.

I decided to write one story.

Every day.

For 10 years.

So I’m a bit like Forrest, I suppose.

Only he ran.

And I write.

A Thing.

And so here’s a final note about doing a thing.

Any thing.

And your reasons for doing a thing.

Basically, some people will understand the reasons why you’re doing a thing in a heartbeat.

And some people will never, ever understand the reasons why you’re doing a thing.

But the most important thing to remember about peoples understanding or misunderstanding of your reasons for doing a thing.

Is that neither opinion matters, really.

Because such reasons are personal.

Because you’re doing it for you.

People don’t look.

They don’t look freely, I mean.

And they don’t talk.

They don’t talk freely I mean.

And it’s a bloody shame.

Looking & Talking. 

People don’t look freely because they’re not interested enough.

Or imaginative and hungry enough.

Or wide-eyed and adventurous enough.

And people don’t talk freely enough because they are worried what people will say about what they say.

They are worried about being judged.

Or laughed at.

Or being ridiculed.

And that’s so restricting!

You. 

By the way.

Unfortunately.

I am probably talking about you.

Because you probably don’t look freely.

And you probably don’t talk freely.

And you should.

Just like Freddy Anzures.

He looks freely.

And talks freely.

Toilet.

Freddy looked freely when he went to the toilet on an aeroplane.

And he talked freely about what he saw there when he got back to work.

At Apple HQ.

And because he looked freely and talked freely.

What Freddy saw in that toilet is now in the pockets of about 1.4 billion people.

iPhone.

A work problem that Freddy had to solve was how to lock the iPhone.

In such a way that the phone wouldn’t trigger accidentally.

He saw the answer in the toilet.

Click here so you can see it too: https://www.50odd.co.uk/looking-talking/

OK, a quick chat about Among Authors.

A band I’ve just discovered.

Introduction.

It wasn’t looking good for them, to be honest.

12 years ago.

At 23 years old.

Bandleader Ian Ketterer had open-heart surgery.

Ian plays piano.

And he has 9 fingers.

And he’s a singer.

And he’s deaf in one ear.

Christ!

Oh, one more thing.

They are stunningly fucking brilliant!

Here they are: https://www.50odd.co.uk/among-authors/

Try this.

This morning.

Or tomorrow morning.

Just before you leave the house.

Front Door.

Stand just inside your front door.

Perfectly still.

Staring at it.

With all you need for work in your hands or over your shoulder.

And let your imagination create a nice chap or lady.

Stood immediately to your side.

Holding a clapperboard.

Action!

Then, just as you reach out to open the door, imagine that imaginary chap or lady shouting out.

Loudly and with great enthusiasm:

Action!

As they SLAM the clapperboard shut.

And you pull the door open.

And you stride out into the street.

With longer strides than you’re used to.

Breathing deeper breaths than you’re used to.

Peering at the world through wider eyes than you’re used to.

Before you see the postman or postlady and you shout:

I’d like to KISS you!

Before you pop in your headphones.

Or just let your phone play THIS SONG OUT LOUD: https://www.50odd.co.uk/action/.

Making sure that each of your feet hits the floor at exactly the same time the snare drum or the bass drum hits your ears.

 

As you stride out into the day.

Head high.

Shoulders back.

Chest out.

Smiling broadly.

And maybe even giggling!

Or…

Or you could just flop out of your front door with your mouth lolling open, Weetabix on your chin, grunting something about ‘fucking meetings’.

It’s up to you, really.

It is as much a surprise to me.

As it may be to you.

When I hear back a podcast I’ve done.

Because I can rarely remember what I’ve said.

Zest.

Anyhow.

If you want to listen to me chat on for 27 minutes.

In October 2019.

To a bright young thing called Ashleigh King.

On a podcast called ‘Nurture Your Zest’.

Please pop here:

https://www.spreaker.com/user/nurtureyourzest/michaelowen?utm_medium=widget&utm_source=user%3A11583462&utm_term=episode_title.

And if you want to hear anyone else in the series.

Please pop here:

https://widget.spreaker.com/player?show_id=4077194&theme=light&cover_image_url=https%3A%2F%2Fd3wo5wojvuv7l.cloudfront.net%2Fimages.spreaker.com%2Foriginal%2Fbd00a10c6135477c0ffb2845dbc6f555.jpg&playlist=true

Here’s what you can expect from me:

Join your host Ashleigh King as she chats with Michael Owen, multi-talented creative, business owner of ANGELFYSH, Always Wear Red, and and writer of the 50odd daily blog.

You’ll discover:

  • How he finds the inspiration to blog every day.
  • How he pushes past fear.
  • Nurturing creativity and the meaning of true creativity.
  • Imposter syndrome and why you really ARE good enough.
  • His simple sum for proving why you DO matter.
    Celebrating and embracing your differences.

Thank you.

Back in the 1990’s.

Working for Universities and Enterprise Agencies.

I told stories about brand.

Even before I knew what brand was.

Behaviours. 

I told stories about how a clearly positioned brand would influence the behaviour of customers.

And a study I came across that communicated this really well.

Was about littering.

Littering.

Basically.

In the early 1990’s.

The two places in the UK that people were least likely to drop litter.

Were churches.

And Marks & Spencer.

Things Change. 

And this is particularly interesting to me.

Because of how things change.

And because 30 years later.

In stark contrast to consumer perception and behaviours in 1990.

The 2019 M&S in Kings Cross is like actually being stood in a great big fucking litter bin.

Observations and Advice.

Some observations and advice for the great big litter bin called M&S in London’s Kings Cross Station.

  1. If, when you are unloading big trollies, you spill sticky stuff on the floor, clean it up instead of continuing to unload more bottles of sticky stuff. That way, customers don’t walk the sticky stuff around the store.
  2. If you have a really small M&S store, don’t have more than one pallet of stuff unloading at the same time. That way, we stand a better chance of getting a ‘Premium Shopping Experience’ as opposed to a ‘Being Stood in a Fucking Warehouse’ experience.
  3. Train ‘back-of-house’ people so they realise that when they wander ‘front-of-house’ (unloading pallets or whatever) they are no longer ‘back-of-house’. Train them so that they appreciate the fact that they are contributing to brand perception.  For instance, when a customer (me) asks them, “Excuse me, are all these drinks included in the meal deal?” – they answer more elaborately than, “No”. Before turning away to carry on unloading pallets.
  4. There is a difference between, ‘Reduced items’ and, ‘Items that are in such a shit state that they should be thrown away or redistributed in some sensible humanitarian way (but not sold for actual money)’.

The Crescendo.

Anyhow, here’s the crescendo of all of the above.

I am standing at the self-serve terminals with my ‘meal deal’ and some reduced melon slices.

I scan the items to reveal that the meal deal is not a £5 meal deal at all.

But £8.04 for a sandwich, a bar of somethingorother and a bottle of fizzy somethingorother.

I’ve done something wrong.

But as I believe in good design.

I should not have been able to do something wrong.

However, I decide to let this go.

Until I scan the melon slices.

Turning them on their side.

To introduce the barcode to the scanning thingy.

And at the same time splattering melon juice all over the checkout terminal.

Because the package had burst.

Brand & Behaviour.

I ended my visit by gently laying all of my unpaid for items down in the sticky mess I’d made.

Picking up my bags.

And leaving.

I was not proud of this.

But what I said earlier is true.

The bit about how a clearly positioned brand influences the behaviour of customers.

M&S, these days, is not a clearly positioned brand.

And this is manifesting on the front line.

And it’s affecting my behaviour.

Because M&S has shifted from the second least likely place to litter in the UK.

To the biggest litter bin in King’s Cross Station.

In a little under 30 years.

‘Quite an achievement.

Following the success of their first single “Only You”, Vince Clarke and Alison Moyet wanted to quickly create an album.

Clarke’s only previous experience of a recording studio had been Blackwing Studios in south-east London.

So he chose there.

On the day recording was supposed to happen, not only was the producer unavailable, but the main studios had already been booked.

So Clarke and Moyet had to record the album across several early mornings.

With studio owner Eric Radcliffe overseeing most of the recording process.

They all turned up around 5 a.m. and working through until 11 a.m. each day.

Upstairs at Eric’s.

A cool album.

That very nearly didn’t happen.

Here it is: https://www.50odd.co.uk/eric/.

 

There are 3 Truths.

Personal Truth.

Political Truth.

And Objective Truth.

And once we tune in to each definition.

We can, at least in part, see how governments, businesses and people in general can get themselves into a really shitty mess.

Personal Truths.

Personal Truths are born from things that we, as individuals, believe in deeply.

Things such as religions, I guess.

We don’t look for proof.

We just believe.

Political Truths.

Political Truths spring to life, largely, because of repetition.

Based on the idea that if something is said enough times.

By enough people.

Then other people start to believe it.

And it becomes a kind of truth.

This is understandable actually because, as human beings we are hard-wired to react like this.

We look for patterns.

And such things can be exploited.

Objective Truth.

Then there is Objective Truth.

Scientists live here.

Scientists don’t actually prove things.

But they get close.

They look at scenarios.

Both identical and similar.

They experiment and explore.

And compare results.

And when something happens over and over and over and over.

It is deemed to be true.

The 3 Truths.

So there you have it.

3 Truths.

Personal Truth.

Political Truth.

Objective Truth.

Bother.

I think that we get into bother when we, for example, start to make rules based on Personal Truths.

Certain beliefs dictate certain behaviours.

Behaviours that you may like.

But that I may not like.

And that’s a problem.

And Political Truths are problematic of course because.

Well.

They are not Objective Truths.

They are very often simply repeated half-truths.

Or notions.

Or ideas.

Or opinions.

Or maybe even lies.

And there are also problems with Objective Truths.

When we start to form opinions about Objective Truths.

When we start to dispute facts.

This is what is happening with Climate Change at the moment.

Climate Change is, as I understand it, an Objective Truth.

It is an Objective Truth that the planet is getting warmer decade-on-decade, at least in part because of the behaviours of the human race.

It’s a fact.

Yet some continue to have an opinion that these facts are not true.

Hmmm.

Funny Old World.

It’s a funny old world when we get onto the subject of truth, isn’t it?

I am not sure that I even know what truth is any more.

And that’s the truth.

Or is it?