July 2020


As a business or a brand.

If you want to win.

You have to be fucking awesome.

And fucking patient.

All of you.


Markets are so competitive.

There are so many good people out there.

Doing what you’re doing.

Saying what you’re saying.

So the care.

And attention.

And cleverness.

And patience.

And bravery that simply must be invested in your brand.

To get the behavioural change you want.

Is immense.

The Invitation.

Think about it like this.

You’re busy, right?

You want a great business.

You want a great family life.

You want to stay fit.

You want to buy amazing things every now and then.

You want to buy into and make a difference to causes you care about.

And you want to have a good quality and amount of fun and downtime too.

And so you should.

The Invitation.

Now imagine that against the balancing act of your business, family, fitness, trinkets, causes, fun and downtime.

Imagine you receive an invitation enticing you to take time away from all of those valuable things here listed.

Here’s what you’d do.

You picture the invitee and all you know of them.

You picture all the events of theirs you’ve been to before.

You picture the laughs you’ve had and are likely to have again.

And you remember the exposing fun and hangovers you’ve had and are likely to have again.

Then you close your eyes.

Smile warmly.

And decide.

Bad Mannered.

So how silly it is that so many bad mannered, pig-thick bloody business people are so quick off the mark to invite me to their party and buy.

When I’ve never even heard of them.

And I’ve never bought from them before.

And they’ve never helped me to understand what they are like.

And I’ve never shared anything meaningful with them on any level whatsoever.

Behavioural Change.

To get my behaviour to change.

In the way that you want.

When I have so much going on in my life.

You have to show me a little respect.

You have to build the relationship.

And, of course, you have to have the funds in place to allow you to build the relationship.

You have to be fucking awesome.

And fucking patient.

All of you.

Or else the only person at your party.

Will be you.

Just a really lovely way to start the day.

And a reminder that if you need help. 

To ask.

Or a reminder that if you know someone who may need help.

To ask them how they are.

Because they are probably as bad at asking for support as you are.

Suddenly my life is like a river
Taking me places I don’t want to go
But like all good men who swim too well
It takes all that I have just to cry for help
Then that voice in my head tells me no

Here it is:


I recognise that.

In my life.

I’ve been ‘known for’ different things.

By different people.

At different times.

And that got me thinking.

I wonder what I am ‘known for’ these days?

And more importantly.

Do I like it?

Known for.

I suppose some people call this Personal Brand, don’t they?

What they’re ‘known for’.

And there was a time.

When I ran onebestway.

The biggest and best known of the communications agencies that I created.

From the year 2000.

That onebestway took me over.

And all I was known for was onebestway.

So much so that when I closed onebestway in 2014.

I disappeared.

And that’s not good.



At that stage of my career.

I personally was known for nothing at all.

These Days.

These days.

I wonder more about what I am known for in the context of ‘who I am’.

Rather than ‘what I do’.

And that changes the focus of the question from:

I wonder what I am known for doing?


I wonder how I am known for being?

Being Not Doing. 

How you are perceived as ‘being’ is more important than what you are perceived as ‘doing’.

Because what you are doing, changes.

And how you are being.

Assuming you are being authentic of course.

That never changes.

So that’s why it’s a question worth asking.

I wonder how I am known for being?


More importantly.

(And a little more scarily).

Do I like it?

There’s probably a secret formula.

For how many times you have to try to be useful.

Before you actually are useful.


It is nice to be useful to someone.

And it is nice to feel useful, too.

Really nice actually.

But there’s probably a secret formula.

For how many times you have to try to be useful.

Before you actually are useful.


Best advice?

Keep trying.

The Hot Seat isn’t even hot.


Not for everyone, it isn’t.

It was certainly never was for me.

Hot Seat.

I am defining ‘Hot Seat’ as the seat where the ultimate decision maker sits.

The leader’s chair.

The chair that houses the arse of the one they all turn to.

The one they all ask.

The one they all expect to have all the answers.

(Even though you know that’s not your role really.

You have to know where to find the answers.

Not have them).


I suppose.

Is the most common definition of Hot Seat.

And the reason I’m writing about it right now.

Is because I have come to realise that the Hot Seat is the only seat in which I feel really comfortable.

And that will never change for me.

I like it here.

But as I say.

It’s not hot, to me.

It gets warm here from time to time.

That’s for sure.

But never hot.

In fact.

Being in the Hot Seat.

I’d say.

Is pretty cool.

I’ve made more moments in these last three months than any other three months of my life.

This first, three month lockdown phase, I mean.


And when I say ‘made’.

I don’t really mean made.

Because that sounds like I was proactive.

Or that I planned these moments.

And that’s not the way it was at all.

Because these moments.

They just happened.


These moments were ugly.








Uninspired (and uninspiring).





Nothing, really.

And because these moments came from nothing.

And led to nothing.

That’s why.

To me.

They mean everything.

Here are eight of them:

I was 20 when I graduated as a furniture designer/maker.

As enthusiastic and curious about life.

As I was directionless and scared.


I noticed my friends writing letters for jobs.

So I did too.

I wrote 60.

Spelled correctly.

Smartly photocopied.

Hand signed.

And looking good.

I fired them off to see who would offer me a future first.

And the response was unanimous.

No one.


Next, I noticed my friends getting jobs.

Shit jobs.

For shit money.

Spending their shitty incomes on shitty things.




And student-quality accommodation.

So I did that too.

I started selling Sky Television door-to-door.

(And believe me.

That really was shit).


Next, I noticed I was bored.

I noticed also that I had skills I wasn’t using.

I noticed people running their own business.

And I noticed that I wanted to do that too.


I noticed some things that businesses did.

I noticed that businesses bought lots of crappy, samey promotional gifts and blanket-sent them to crappy databases.

I noticed that businesses winning awards would invariably be photographed holding a samey £500 cut-glass rose-bowl from Fenwick.

I noticed my skills as a furniture maker.

And I noticed the opportunity to reapply my skills to the promotional gift market to create much shorter run, much higher quality, much more personal incentives for cleaner, smaller databases.

And I noticed the opportunity  to reapply my skills to the awards market to create bespoke, ergonomically superior, branded pieces that photographed to maximise brand exposure for the sponsor.

And quite quickly.

Customers started to notice me addressing these needs too.


There’s a lot to be said for noticing.

But notice what you notice.

Because if all you notice is what everybody else is noticing.

It is unlikely that anyone will notice you.


Not a cool name for drugs.

It’s dehydrated mashed potato.

Ask your dad.

Izobel is 4 now.

She’s layered.


And interesting.

And she teaches me lots.

Right now, Izobel is teaching me The Joy of Losing.


I can be a bit of a dick sometimes.

Trying to be right just for the sake of being right.

And nothing good has ever come of this.

The momentary smugness is not good for me.

It’s nothing I want.

And it is replaced by emptiness within seconds anyway.

As I notice the ‘wrong’ person’s feeling of defeat.

As they cast their eyes downward.

That’s good for nobody.

The Joy of Losing

With Izobel.

I lose games.

I lose arguments.

I lose felt-tip pens down the back of the settee.

I lose the opportunity to watch football.

Because The Grinch is on instead.

And I lose face.

Because a 4 year old Izobel feels cleverer than me.

Superior to me.

Like a winner.

And I love all that.

Never Wrong.

And so I continue to learn.

I learn the Joy of Losing.

Because I’ve learned that never being wrong.

It’s a terribly lonely place.

Mainly because the other arseholes you’ll meet there aren’t particularly good company.

And secondly.

Because it’s a silly, empty and temporary illusion anyway.

If you want to build a great brand.

A brand that goes from strength-to-strength.


Remember these thirds.

The First Third. DIAGNOSIS.

The Second Third. STRATEGY.

The Third Third. TACTICS.

Not Just a List.

It’s not just a 1-2-3 list, though.

These are equal thirds.

All equally important.

And the reason I am explaining them as equal thirds.

Is to highlight that it is The First Third that most often gets diluted.

And when that happens.

Businesses are setting themselves up to fail from day one.

A Closer Look.

Here’s a closer look at the thirds.

The First Third. DIAGNOSIS.

Diagnosis is really, really understanding what’s going on right now.

With you.

Your customers.

And your competitors.

And it is the foundation of everything.

Second Third. STRATEGY.

Strategy is how you are going to achieve the Brand Position that you want.

Based on everything you learned in The First Third.

It includes clarifying what Brand Position you want to be known for.

Checking, of course, that the Brand Position you want to be known for is in fact derived from The First Third.

Rather than some rabbit-out-of-the-hat thing that you happen to like the look of.

Something that you just happen to think we all should all be interested in right now.

Because you see The First Third as ‘a box ticked’ rather than ‘real lessons learned’.

Third Third. TACTICS.

Tactics are the practical, timely things you will do inside the strategy you’ve designed.

The strategy you’ve designed to achieve the Brand Position that you want.

Based on what you learned in The First Third.

It is how you will get into the consumers consciousness.

A Further Note on Brand Position.

Your Brand Position.

By the way.

Communicates what your core purpose is.

Why you exist.

Your Brand Position incorporates your Value Proposition.

(How exactly you are valuable to and valued by your customers)

Brand Position considers Brand Attributions and Associations.

(The benefits or characteristics of your brand that come into a consumer’s consciousness when your brand is mentioned or discussed).

And Brand Image, or Branding.

(What you look like/sound like).

And all of these can only exist contextually.

And a consequence of.

What you found out inside The First Third.

The First Third.

So there you go.

It all comes back to The First Third.

Because if what you’re doing in The Second Third and The Third Third are not derived from what you unearthed at The First Third:

  1. Your customers genuinely valuing your purpose.
  2. Your competitor’s inability or unwillingness to deliver on that same purpose.
  3. The fact that you (and only you) can deliver on the purpose promises you’re making – really well.

You’re knackered.