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February 2020

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When I was 20(ish).

Around 1991.

My first business turned over £36,000.

And the two of us that ran it took home about £2,400 a year each.

When I was 23 I joined the McDonald’s graduate programme on £13,000.

When I was 25 I joined Project North East on about £18,000 as a trainer and business consultant.

When I was 27 I set up Building up Business, a business support programme in the North East of England, and I was paid £25,000.

When I was 27 I worked at Universities in the evening too, earning an additional £5,000.

When I was 29 I worked for Sunderland University and was paid £40,000.

When I was 30 I ran a new business and was paid £0 for 2 years.

When I was 32 I was running my own businesses and was paid £6,000 a year.

When I was 34 I was running my own business and was paid £20,000 a year.

When I was 36 I was running my own business and was paid £50,000 a year.

When I was 37 I was running my own business and was paid £80,000 a year.

When I was 38 (it was 2008) I was running my own business and was paid £20,000 a year.

When I was 39 I was running my own business and was paid £40,000 a year.

When I was 39 a client bumped me for £26,000.

When I was 40 I was running my own business and was paid around £100,000 a year.

When I was 40 I sold shares in one business for £26,000.

When I was 42 I was running my own business and was paid around £80,000 a year.

When I was 45 I closed most of my businesses and was paid £25,000 a year.

When I was 47 I was learning a new way of working and running businesses and was paid £10,000 a year.

When I was 47 I invested over £50,000 in building the Always Wear Red brand.

When I was 49 I was starting to work out what’s what and was paid around £20,000 a year.

When I was 50 I was stabilising my new world and I was paid around £40,000 a year.

Now I am 51 I am further stabilising my new world and I am being paid quite well.

I am balancing the figure I am on now with how happy I am.

I am thinking about with what it is that I am doing to earn it.

But I do like thinking about this.

Because more than anything.

I want to be happy.

Rich Man. Poor Man. 

The happiest times in my life.

So – in other words – the times that I was richest were:

  1. When I built my first business.
    (I was earning £2,400 a year).
  2. When I was 34 and felt that my businesses were working.
    (I was earning £20,000 a year).
  3. When I was 47 and building something new.
    (I was earning £10,000 a year).
  4. Potentially now. (But I have to be careful because I am a bit confused about how to spend my time at the moment. I have to make sure that I am working with people that allow me to do my best work. This is important to me. Because it is the only way that I can be important to them).

What next?

I am not sure exactly what to do next.

Some things will stay the same.

Some will change.

But I do know that I want to be happy.

So I am going to (largely) ignore the money.

And work out the best way to be rich, instead.

If all of your work feels like you’re busking.

That’s probably wrong.

But if none of your work feels like you’re busking.

That’s worse.

50odd.co.uk

When I write 50odd it feels like busking.

Jamming.

Riffing.

Trying things.

Learning things.

Some stories feel smart and polished.

And they turn out exactly as I’d like.

Whereas others feel a little weaker.

But they are all necessary.

Because when I am busking.

I am learning.

ANGELFYSH.

I’m the Principal Consultant at ANGELFYSH.

ANGELFYSH is a 15 year old Brand Consultancy.

And I work with clients all over the UK.

Simplify. Codify. Storify.

I help clients to Simplify.

Codify.

And Storify.

Simplify means my clients stop over-complicating and over-communicating, because we find out what the brand really is all about.

Codify means creating frameworks and systems so that the brand can be more easily brought to life across the organisation.

And Storify means I storytell across multiple, coherent media.

(That’s design, marketing, copywriting and more).

But I have to admit that even when I am doing all of this.

Some of the time.

Quite a lot of the time in fact.

I am busking here, too.

I am exploring.

And experimenting.

And creating.

And imagining.

And that’s just the way it should be.

Because whilst the brand theory of Reis and Trout is important to know.

Imagination, spontaneous interpretation, the ability to see and maximise opportunity and a craving for adventure are all important too.

It’s where confident and creative bravery comes from.

And the ability to build and tell a story well.

Busking.

So think about it.

You can tell when you’re busking.

You can feel it.

And it feels good.

Because you’re not worrying about being judged.

You’re just creating.

And I can highly recommend it.

Because busking is when the magic happens.

For some businesses.

The Process is the Point.

Process. 

And when this is the case.

There is a job to do.

It’s to tell the story of the process.

And the creativity.

Beautifully.

Consistently.

And well.

Make it Matter.

You have to make the process matter.

You have to make the process matter to them.

Just as much as it matters to you.

Always Wear Red.

Three years into Always Wear Red.

I worked with a dozen or so of the UK’s best makers.

Makers that make for Gucci.

Louis Vuitton.

The British Royal Family.

Kate Moss.

Mick Jagger.

And me.

Four Years.

Four years into Always Wear Red and I shifted focus.

I changed what I make.

So I changed makers.

And I changed how I design and create things.

It’s cost me thousands.

But I know why I’ve done it.

It’s so the jumpers I make last a lifetime.

And feel amazing.

And so that Always Wear Red jumpers encourage the wearer to relax and zone out and switch off.

I wanted them to fit anyone at all amazingly well.

So the shapes are gender-neutral.

The pilling is minimised because I changed the yarn in January 2020.

And they only need to be washed once or twice a year.

Because that’s the way it is with 100% Merino Wool.

I want people that own Always Wear Red jumpers to love them.

So they are something that the owner will want to actually wear.

And share.

And repair.

And the only way I can make sure that all of this happens.

Is by focusing hard on process.

September 2020.

The first Always Wear Red jumpers are ready in September 2020.

So between now and then.

I will be amplifying the process.

Because for Always Wear Red’s jumpers.

For so many reasons.

The Process is the Point.

So; how is your driving?

Product Driven.

Are you Product Driven?

That means you’re a business owner driven primarily by focusing on what you do.

Believing that this approach alone is good enough for you to win.

Believing that just by highlighting what you do.

People will see what you see.

And they’ll jump on board.

And buy.

Market Driven.

Or are you Market Driven?

That’s acknowledging the actual needs of consumers.

First.

Market Driven is understanding and looking to fulfil what they actually want.

And, to a degree, developing your offer around that.

Better.

That certainly sounds a bit better.

It sounds like you’ll stand a better chance of success that way.

But hang on.

There’s a third way.

What about actually Driving the Market?

Driving the Market.

Driving the Market is believing in something.

It’s having an opinion and acting on it.

It’s doing something and saying something that resonates.

It’s doing something and saying something that joins, and accelerates, an existing conversation.

Driving the Market is harnessing, and maybe even changing, people’s minds.

Beliefs.

Driving the market takes people with you.

People that believe what you believe will come with you.

People that want to see the change you are promising to make will come with you.

Driving the market is being pioneering.

And brave.

And clear about what you are actually for.

What’s Best for You?

So what’s best for you?

  1. Product Driven.
  2. Market Driven.
  3. Driving the Market.

For someone like me, it is definitely 3.

Because ‘Driving the Market’ is what floats my boat.

I like to be different.

I like to be noticed for doing something that matters.

I like to express my opinion.

And I like to change things.

You.

And you?

I don’t know what’s best for you.

But what I do know is this.

If you are a ‘1’ – get someone to help you to tell your story.

Join the dots between what you do and what people want if you want to stand a chance of succeeding in the long term.

If you are a ‘2’ – first do the same as ‘1’.

And also have a good look around to see who else is like you.

Listen to who is saying what you are saying.

Because even a market driven approach will be invisible in an overly-crowded and under differentiated space.

You need to say why you are different.

And why you are a better choice.

And if you think you are a 3.

Hone your argument.

Tell your story.

Over and over and over.

Not to win business.

But to actually make the change you say you want to make.

That’s the best way for ‘number 3’s’ to behave.

And be patient.

Very patient.

Because it’s going to take time.

Drivers.

But whatever you decide.

Be like all good drivers.

Know where you’re going.

Plan.

And keep your eye firmly on the road ahead.

There have been times.

That I haven’t trusted people I work with.

Even people that I interviewed.

And employed.

And that I actually got to know quite well.

Stranger.

Yet just this morning.

I trusted a complete stranger to drive his car.

At 30 miles per hour.

Towards the most precious thing I have.

My 3 year old daughter.

Trust.

I’ve done this a lot, I think.

Not trusting people.

And I know that it doesn’t make sense.

Because when I and somebody else agree to something.

For me to then not trust them to deliver.

Is bad for me.

And bad for them, too.

Tomorrow.

I will trust another stranger again.

Tomorrow.

To stay on their side of the road.

Whilst I stay on my side.

As they drive towards me in their car.

And Izobel and I tootle along at 30 miles an hour towards theirs.

Trust. 

Trust.

Not much works properly without it.

Roads don’t work.

Relationships don’t work.

I’ll try harder to remember that.

And I’ll trust that you will too.

I went to a comedy club last week.

The Stand.

In Newcastle.

Here’s what happened.

Here we go. 

As I was queueing to go in.

I checked my ticket.

And the date on the ticket.

Was the date I actually booked it.

Two weeks prior.

Stupid.

I do things like that.

Stupid things.

And when I got to the desk and mentioned my error to the lady there.

She said she’d have to call the manager.

And I thought,

Here we go!

Hassle and shite!

The Manager.

The manager turned up.

Looked at the tickets.

Smiled.

Said,

Heh! That happens all the time.

And gently ushered me in.

Food. 

Now, the tickets I’d booked two weeks ago.

And that I’d turned up two weeks late to redeem.

Included food.

So when I got to the bar to order food and it was noted that I was two weeks late.

I was asked to wait for the manager.

Here we go!

I thought.

Here comes the hassle and shite!

The manager appeared.

Asked me my name.

Said he remembered it from two weeks ago.

And said:

I remember the name Mr. Owen.

I thought it was funny that someone would book tickets and food and then not turn up.

And he took my order.

The Bouncer.

The Stand in Newcastle was packed.

So I stood up by my chair and put my food on my stool.

As I was stood there.

And most other people were seated.

A bouncer stood up.

I could see his head.

And his glare.

Above the crowd.

And began taking big strides towards me.

Here we go!

I thought.

What’s this aggressive sod going to get me to do.

Sit on the bloody floor I bet!

Until I noticed that the bouncer was carrying a chair.

For me.

So I could sit by my food.

The Bouncer (again).

Towards the end of the night.

As one of the last acts was joking away.

I decided to pick up my empty plates and make my way to the bar.

Through a crowd.

And the bouncer sprang up again.

And almost sprinted towards me.

Here we bloody go!

I thought.

I bet he’s going to send me back and make me sit with the mucky plates until the end of the show!

But he took the plates from me.

Said,

I’ll pop those on the bar for you.

And nodded for me to go back to my chair.

The Stand. 

The Stand.

In Newcastle.

Great place.

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five released ‘The Message’ in 1982.

Loads of Lyrics.

Super-sexist imagery.

Sweary words.

A great melody.

And a couple of chap nearly actually singing.

‘Shouldn’t work really.

But it does.

Lyrics.

If you want to sing along.

Here we go.

LOTS of lyrics:

It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
Broken glass everywhere
People pissing on the stairs, you know they just don’t care
I can’t take the smell, can’t take the noise
Got no money to move out, I guess, I got no choice
Rats in the front room, roaches in the back
Junkies in the alley with a baseball bat
I tried to get away, but I couldn’t get far
Cause the man with the tow-truck repossessed my car
Don’t push me
Cause I’m close to the edge
I’m trying
Not to lose my head
It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
Standing on the front stoop, hangin out the window
Watching all the cars go by, roaring as the breezes blow
A crazy lady, livin in a bag
Eating out of garbage piles, used to be a fag-hag
Said, she danced the tango, skipped the light fandango
Was circon princess, seemed to lost her senses
Down at the peepshow, watching all the creeps
So she can tell the stories to the girls back home
She went to the city and got Social Security
She had to get a pimp, she couldn’t make it on her own
Don’t push me
Cause I’m close to the edge
I’m trying
Not to lose my head
It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
My brothers doin’ bad, stole my mothers t.v.
Says, she watches to much, is just not healthy
“All my children” in the daytime, “Dallas” at night
Can’t even see the game or the Sugar Ray fight
The bill collectors, they ring my phone
And scare my wife, when I’m not home
Got a bum education, double-digit inflation
Can’t take the train to the job, there’s a strike at the station
Neon king kong standin’ on my back
Can’t stop to turn around, broke my sacroiliac
A midrange migraine, cancered membrane
Sometimes I think I’m going insane, I swear I might hijack a plane!
Don’t push me
Cause I’m close to the edge
I’m trying
Not to lose my head
It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
My son said, daddy, I don’t wanna go to school
Cause the teacher’s a jerk, he must think, I’m a fool
And all the kids smoke reefer, I think it’d be cheaper
If I just got a job, learned to be a street sweeper
I dance to the beat, shuffle my feet
Wear a shirt and tie and run with the creeps
Cause it’s all about money, ain’t a damn thing funny
You got to have a con in this land of milk and honey
They pushed that girl in front of the train
Took her to the doctor, sewed the arm on again
Stabbed that man right in his heart
Gave him a transplant for a brand new start
I can’t walk through the park, cause it’s crazy after the dark
Keep my hand on the gun, cause they got me on the run
I feel like an outlaw, broke my last glass jar
Hear them say you want some more, livin on a seesaw
Don’t push me
Cause I’m close to the edge
I’m trying
Not to lose my head
It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
A child is born, with no state of mind
Blind to the ways of mankind
God is smiling on you, but he’s frowning too
Cause only God knows, what you go through
You grow in the ghetto, living second rate
And your eyes will sing a song of deep hate
The place, that you play and where you stay
Looks like one great big alley way
You’ll admire all the number book takers
Thugs, pimps and pushers and the big money makers
Driving big cars, spending twenties and tens
And you wanna grow up to be just like them
Smugglers, scramblers, burglars, gamblers
Pickpockets, peddlers and even pan-handlers
You say I’m cool, I’m no fool
But then you wind up dropping out of high school
Now you’re unemployed, all null ‘n void
Walking ’round like you’re pretty boy floyd
Turned stickup kid, look what you done did
Got send up for a eight year bid
Now your manhood is took and you’re a may tag
Spend the next two years as an undercover fag
Being used and abused and served like hell
Till one day you was found hung dead in a cell
It was plain to see that your life was lost
You was cold and your body swung back and forth
But now your eyes sing the sad sad song
Of how you lived so fast and died so young
So, don’t push me
Cause I’m close to the edge
I’m trying
Not to lose my head
It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under
It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder
How I keep from going under

Here we go.

Marvellous: https://www.50odd.co.uk/flash/