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June 2020

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I was asked to chat on a podcast this week.

Called ‘INBOX’.

A dozen speakers from around the world.

Chatted about email marketing.

Storyteller.

I was billed as a storyteller.

Which is good for me.

Because I do like a good story.

What’s going on?

One of the reasons I was asked.

(So I am told).

Is because I have a knack for finding stories and writing compellingly.

For myself and for my clients at www.mychael.co.uk.

So that a loyal readership develops.

A Question.

And it is because of this observation.

That I asked myself a question.

I asked myself:

What’s going on?

When I am writing.

What am I actually thinking?

Four Observations.

Here is how I answered.

And I included these answers as part of the podcast itself.

I made four observations.

First:

I am not writing so that I can sell to you.

I am writing so that you can work out if I am the kind of person you want to buy from.

Second:

I write for the love of writing.

To see if I can find stories that matter.

And tell them well.

Third:

Writing is like loving.

The relationship builds.

It is built on trust.

Shared memories develop.

We have ups and downs.

And things take time to bloom.”

Fourth:

There should be a voyeuristic aspect to what I write.

When you read, you should feel like a (welcome) voyeur.

Not a prospect.

So there you go.

That’s what’s going on.

When I am writing.

For myself and for my clients.

That is what I am actually thinking.

Imagine that you are sat on the very front bench.

In a hall containing row after row of benches.

Facing front.

Imagine also that the people sat on the full benches behind you.

Staring at the back of you.

Are all the people you have ever known.

Stand.

Imagine then that you stand.

Stand, and shuffle a very short way to the front of the room.

Climb three small steps.

Slowly.

And then turn.

Faces.

It is a big room.

And you say this.

Silently.

To yourself.

Inside your head.

My.

I have known a lot of people.

And you are right of course.

Because most of us have known.

Or at least have thought we have known.

Many more people than we care to imagine.

Before I Go. 

Then.

You speak.

Before I go.

You hear yourself say.

I just want to stand up.

And say something.

If I may.

And then you pause.

Because this is the moment you realise how important what you say next actually is.

And this is the moment you realise how important who you choose to say it to actually is.

Because you can choose to speak to everyone.

Or you can pick out one single person.

And speak only to them.

Eyes.

Your eyes flick around the room.

You want them to scan smoothly.

But instead they flick.

Flick.

Flick.

Until eventually.

You decide.

And smile.

Before I go.

You hear yourself say once more.

I just want to stand up.

And say something.

If I may.

And then.

Calmly.

You say it.

Alfie Joey is a North East based actor.

Writer.

Comedian.

Impressionist.

Singer

Presenter.

Artist.

Cartoonist.

And probably more.

So yes.

Alfie Joey is a creative chap.

And I’ve met Alfie a couple of times.

So I know first hand that Alfie is an all-round good guy, too.

Angel.

Anyhow.

A few months ago now.

Alfie painted The Angel of the North.

He referenced the red colour he’d used in this particular one.

And he referencing me personally.

In a social media post because of my Always Wear Red brand.

I said I thought the paining was excellent.

And just last week.

Alfie was kind enough to sent it to me.

And here it is in my house: https://www.50odd.co.uk/trigger/.

Trigger. 

I wanted to make a point about triggers.

Triggers are doing something that is the catalyst for something else to happen.

And this kind act from Alfie.

Was in fact the trigger for me to push forward on a couple of quite significant things in my life.

One was passing on a bit of kindness to two other people.

(And maybe they then passed on a bit of kindness to people that know too?)

And  another thing that Alfie triggered.

Rather more significantly, perhaps.

Is the fact that this gift from Alfie was the trigger for me moving house.

Kindness.

A wee bit of kindness every now and then.

Doing something nice just for the sake of it, I mean.

It can trigger things you may never know about.

And you may never be thanked, either.

But that’s not the point of being kind, is it?

The ‘thank you’ bit.

It’s for the sake of doing it.

So give it a go!

Who knows what you might trigger.

(And Alfie.

Thank you).

If you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing.

Thank goodness!

Because it means you’re ‘doing’.

And if you’re ‘doing’.

It means you started.

Beyond.

But what have you started?

And where are you going?

What is beyond you not knowing what you are doing?

Well if you think about what was beyond almost every single bloody thing you have ever done.

In your whole life.

That started off with you not knowing what you are doing.

Then you will remember in a heartbeat that beyond not knowing what you are doing.

Is knowing what you are doing.

And beyond knowing what you are doing.

(If you keep on going, that is).

Is being pretty bloody good at what you are doing.

And beyond being pretty bloody good at what you are doing.

Is.

(If you keep going long enough).

Expert!

Start.

So never forget that.

If you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing.

Thank goodness!

Because it means you’re ‘doing’.

And if you’re ‘doing’.

It means you did what most people don’t do.

It means you started.

We are not what we say.

We are what we do.

And I am beginning to notice.

More and more.

That there are those that do, and don’t talk.

And there are those that talk, and don’t do.

National Governing Bodies.

This is not a post about politics.

Or race.

Or sport, even.

It’s just a post about the fact that

I am beginning to notice.

More and more.

That there are those that do, and don’t talk.

And there are those that talk, and don’t do.

And a neat illustration of this.

Happens to be when I listen to Sport’s National Governing Bodies talk about their commitment to inclusivity.

Juxtaposed with the infographic I’ve pasted alongside this short story.

Bad People?

What they say on this subject doesn’t make them bad people.

But I definitely think that the things they say on this subject.

Once we take a peep in their boardroom.

Show them to be absolutely and totally.

Full.

Of.

Shit.

Do.

We are not what we say.

We are what we do.

Here’s the infographic: https://www.50odd.co.uk/do.

I want to go to London.

I am not sure if it’s because I really love it there.

Or if it is because I am not allowed to go.

But whatever it is.

I really want to go to London right now.

London.

I like going to London because it’s so busy.

And because I meet up with a handful off really nice people.

And most of all because of the hustle and the bustle I think.

The vibrancy.

And the possibility.

Home. 

I like coming home too, though.

Coming back from London.

To Newcastle.

That feeling is just as good as going to London, actually.

London.

But I really want to go to London.

Maybe because I really love it there.

Maybe because I am not allowed to go.

But whatever it is.

I really want to go to London right now.

One of my favourite brands.

In the whole wide world.

Is Under Armour.

So it was interesting to have a comment on my LinkedIn page this week.

From Keith Hoover.

The President of Black Swan Textiles.

And former Vice President of Manufacturing and Innovation and Development.

At the mighty Under Armour.

And Keith was taking the time to comment on something that I said!

Little old me!

Wow!

Here’s what he said about what I’d written:

That’s just silly.

Oh.

Silly Me. 

Hmm.

Here’s our full conversation:

Me

This is really useful guidance.

For when you are next thinking about buying a piece of clothing.

FIND OUT.

Find out where, why, how and by whom the piece is made.

Then.

Knowing those things.

Consider whether you like the piece more.

Or less.

MORE OR LESS.

If, once you know where, why, how and by whom the piece is made.

You like it more.

Buy it.

And if, once you know where, why, how and by whom the piece is made.

You like it less.

Don’t.

Keith:

That’s just silly.

Me: 

Hello Keith.

Expand on your opinion you get a moment, please.

It’s a little echoey as it stands.

Bye for now.

M.

Keith:

Michael Owen don’t assume anything.

I’ve seen a good deal of the apparel industry around the world over a long distance of time.

I’ve also read a good deal of history, so my perspective is deeper than the here and now.

There are many problems to solve and opportunities to provide.

If you want to spend all of your time researching how your t shirt was made, then have at it.

Why limit it to clothes, however?

What about your phone?

Your toilet?

Your toilet paper?

What about the code behind your apps?

What about your food?

Your water?

Your thoughts?

It seems to me that you’re being awfully narrow and apparel centric.

You’re here for a reason and a short period of time.

If you choose to spend most of it wagging your finger rather than solving real problems through actual work (not merely being aware), then you’re wasting your life and your gift.

Me:

Hello Keith.

It’s good to hear your thoughts.

Not least because I admire Under Armour.

Anyhow, for the avoidance of doubt, I’d encourage anyone to, ‘spend time researching how their teeshirt was made.’

I believe ‘where, why, how and by whom’ a thing is made should influence buying decisions as much as aesthetic and quality.

Brand ‘values’ increasingly impact brand ‘value’.

So attention here is wise.

Particularly as finger-wagging life-wasters like little old me want to ensure brands they buy from (and into) don’t (for example) treat people like shit.

Ironically, based on your opening phrase, I don’t limit my thoughts to clothes.

Because they’re not thoughts.

They’re values.

So it’s toilet paper et al.

I’ll close in violent agreement with your endnote Keith.

I like solving problems.

Using life and gift.

And 3 brands.

My Brand Strategy Business builds brands as I describe here.

My clothing brand encourages people to buy less and buy better.

To Wear.

Share.

Repair.

My blogging brand encourages people to take control of and tell their story in our short 1000 month visit.

Agreed!

To not try to solve problems would indeed be ‘silly’.

I’m not looking to change the world.

Just mine.

Happy Sunday Keith.

M.

Lesson.

I learned a lesson.

About me.

Someone I admire had an opinion diametrically opposed to mine.

And that’s natural of course.

Because neither of us are stating facts.

We’re both just expressing opinions.

Yes, we both have experience, points of reference and even data to back up our opinions.

But they remain opinions.

And on we go.

In parallel.

Business. 

It’s how I do business these days.

I am not running around trying to get those that don’t like Marmite to like Marmite.

I am not primarily trying to change your mind.

I don’t have the time.

But let there be no doubt.

I am clear about what is in my mind.

I am clear about the change I am trying to make.

And I am speaking my mind so that if you agree with me.

You can come with me.

And if you don’t.

You won’t.

It saves a lot of time.

For you.

And for me.

Michael Jordan was celebrated because of his talent.

Dedication.

Bouncebackability.

Agression.

Resilience.

Physical fitness.

Business acumen.

And a lot more besides.

But the thing that impressed me most about him.

Was his ability to ‘be here now’.

His ability to be present.

Worry. 

Michael Jordan.

Apparently.

Didn’t worry about the past.

And he didn’t worry about the future, either.

He saw missing shots in his past as a part of the game.

And when he was asked about coping with difficult shots in his future.

He would frown.

And through that frown.

He would say:

Why would I worry about missing a shot I haven’t taken yet?

Present.

I like that.

I like that Michael Jordan saw no benefit in projecting the past into the future.

Neither the bad things from the past.

Nor the good things from the past.

Be here now.

Be present.

Good advice.