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I have a three word answer to questions like this.

Michael, why are you trying to create the best hand knitted jumpers in the world?

Michael, why are you trying to create the most talked about daily blog in the world?

Michael, why are you trying to create one of the first Brand Communication agencies that only works with businesses wanting to make a contribution?

(As opposed to working with brands that just want ANGELFYSH help them to flog as much stuff as they can.

To as many people as they can.

Whether the customer can afford it or not).

Three words.

My three word answer is always the same.

It’s:

Someone has to.

I don’t know what else to say, really.

There were 11 seasons of Cheers.

My favourite sitcom.

The sitcom that I watch all 257 episodes of.

Each and every year.

Remembering.

This is a short story about remembering.

Remembering who or what helped you to get where you are today.

Remembering the good people.

And the important people.

Coach. 

Coach.

Or Ernie Pantusso.

Played by a fine man called Nicholas Colasanto.

Was only in the first 3 series of Cheers.

Because he died before the making of Series 4.

However.

(And I like this).

Coach was remembered in every single season ever made.

The first 3 season because he starred in them.

And the last 8 seasons because of the photograph of Geronimo at the back of the bar.

Just across from where Cliff and Norm sit.

Geronimo. 

This photograph hung in Nicholas Colasanto’s dressing room during the first 3 seasons of the show.

And from the fourth season to the last season.

It hung in the bar.

It was always there.

Because the cast and the crew wanted coach to be remembered.

So much so that.

At the end of the final episode.

Aired May 20th 1993.

Just after Sam Malone says the final words ever to be said on Cheers:

Sorry. We’re closed.

He then wanders slowly over to Nick Colasanto’s photograph.

And gently straightens it.

Remembering.

This is a short story about remembering.

Remembering who or what helped you to get where you are today.

Remembering the good people.

And the important people.

Here’s the clip: https://www.50odd.co.uk/sorry-were-closed/

 

Born in 1802, Victor Hugo was a French poet, novelist and dramatist of the Romantic movement.

Hugo is one of the greatest and best-known French writers.

Born in 1939, Greggs is a Newcastle upon Tyne based bakery with 1,950 stores at time of writing.

Greggs is the largest bakery in the UK and makes very lovely sausage rolls.

Victor Hugo and Sausage Rolls.

It was Victor Hugo that once said:

Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come.

And it was Greggs that once said:

The wait is over… 3.1.19 #vegansausageroll.

Northern Pride.

I am really proud of Greggs.

A brand whose time has come.

I am a guy living in the North East of England.

A place I really like.

But a place that is still all-too-often characterised by Jimmy Nail, Sting, Cheryl Whatevershescalledthesedays’ arse-tattoo, where the shipyards used to be, where Newcastle Brown used to be made, where silly football clubs have self-destruct buttons and that place the Northern Powerhouse forgot.

I see Greggs as a genuine local hero.

A retail success story.

A brand with a sense of now-ness.

It knows what it is for.

And why it works now.

A strong, fun ‘brand-of-the-people’ that we can watch, enjoy and admire.

Quality.

Greggs is a decent quality, clever, patient, steady monster of a business.

A smartly run and smartly marketed monster.

Quietly going about its business and achieving, for the the first time in 2018, a turnover of one billion pounds.

Employing 22,000 people.

And still the home of the Festive Bake.

Togetherness.

Greggs seems to bring people together too, I think.

With little bragging or bluster.

It makes me feel nostalgic.

It’s simple and straight forward so that I understand it.

It’s built on common sense.

It’s fun.

And, business-wise, it is probably the best thing about the NE for me since I arrived here in 1987.

I love Greggs.

And if you love Greggs too, here’s a canny little Greggs Locator.

Just for you.

Be ambitious.

Honestly.

Just be ambitious.

Because no matter how high you get.

You acclimatise.

You really do get used to the altitude.

Altitude. 

I’ve paid annual rent of £3,600 and annual rent of £57,000.

I’ve employed 1 person and I’ve employed 30 people.

I’ve paid a total wage bill of £12,000 and I’ve paid a total wage bill of £750,000.

And, honestly, when you’re busy in the day-to-day.

And all other variables around you are adjusted accordingly.

It feels OK.

Ambitious. 

So whatever it is you are thinking of doing.

Go for it.

Be ambitious.

Because no matter how high you get.

You acclimatise.

You really do get used to the altitude.

My advice to you.

If you are a business leader or an aspiring business leader.

Is to every now and then.

Just stand there.

Watching.

McDonald’s

I managed McDonald’s restaurants in my very early 20’s.

A business not without flaws.

But one thing they got me to do.

As a restaurant manager.

That was really good.

Was to regularly stand in the dining area of the restaurant.

Watching.

Watching the crew.

The customers.

The counter.

The stock levels.

The cleanliness.

The eye contact.

The smiles.

The body language.

The hustle.

Watching everything.

It’s amazing what I learned doing that.

Mostly about how we made our visitors feel.

1992.

I first did this kind of ‘watching’ in 1992.

And I did it again last week.

But not in a McDonald’s restaurant.

I practiced my ‘watching’ whilst renewing my passport in the Passport Office in Durham.

First Impressions.

I watched the long, greasy hair of a tall, skinny man swing to-and-fro.

As he laughed and chatted with his much shorter, much rounder but just as grubby work colleague.

On the front desk.

The shorter and rounder grubby man’s job, I think, was to stare at me and point me silently to the tall grubby man as I approached.

The tall grubby man’s job was to wave a metal-detector wand over my body for just under 2 seconds before silently waving me past him.

To stand at the end of a different cordoned off area.

About 6 feet away.

Where I watched a lady behind the counter say:

Next.

Before asking me why I was here.

I replied:

To renew my passport.

She asked to see my old one.

That I’d lost.

So she corrected me and said (something like):

If you have lost your passport.

Then you are not here to renew your passport

You are here to replace your passport.

This mini-conversation took place without her smiling or looking up once.

Until I asked what difference a renewal versus a replacement made to what was about to happen next.

At which point she did actually look up at me.

And after a couple of seconds.

Said:

Nothing.

Skill.

It is quite a skill.

To make another person feel so inadequate.

So quickly.

And with so few words.

Waiting.

She pointed me to a large waiting area where I sat.

With 2 other people.

For 15 minutes.

I had been 5 minutes early.

So this 15 minute wait meant that they were now 10 minutes late for me.

Watching Some More.

I watched some more.

A large, tired looking security man.

With an impressively large tummy.

So large in fact that it refused to allow the front of his shirt to tuck into his trousers.

Instead creating two little white shirt-curtains as he leant forward.

Balancing his forearms on the back of a chair.

Chatting to a colleague about beer.

Waiting Some More. 

Eventually, an automated voice invited me to window 9.

10 minutes late.

The chap didn’t apologise of course.

He just looked at the paperwork that I handed to him.

Asked me to sign something.

And a little under 5 minutes later.

I left.

The Passport Office At Durham.

When I stood in the dining area of my McDonald’s Restaurant in 1992.

Watching.

It was because my manager cared about what happened there.

And he wanted me to care about what happened in my restaurant, too.

To care about how our visitors felt.

And I did.

The Passport Office at Durham is staffed by people that don’t care about how I feel.

Managed by people that don’t care that they don’t care about how I feel.

And that’s why.

I suppose.

That the Passport Office at Durham is so utterly, utterly shite.

With any agency.

Be it a Creative agency.

Or an Advertising agency.

Or a Marketing agency.

Or a Brand Communication Collective like my ANGELFYSH business.

It’s important for you to know something.

It’s this.

How different are the people that sold me the work.

From the people that will be delivering the work?

Handmedowns.

It is not uncommon.

Particularly in bigger agencies.

That responsibility for the successful delivery of what you buy is passed down from (for example) Creative Director Level.

Through Senior Designer level.

Through Designer level.

Through Junior Designer level.

To Design Intern level.

Commitment.

In of itself, this is not always a bad thing, actually.

But only if there is an end-to-end and top-to-bottom commitment to quality.

And a commitment to great recruitment.

And a commitment to great training.

And, if appropriate, a commitment to great shadowing or buddying.

And a genuine commitment to the fact that no client is a guinea pig.

Ask. 

So if you are wondering about how this subject is handled in any agency.

Either your current one.

Or a new one.

Just ask the person that’s trying to sell you something to tell you about, and ideally to introduce you to, the delivery team.

If the response is immediate, crystal clear and transparent.

You’re fine.

But if you get mumbles.

Or they introduce you to 12 years olds that get paid in Jelly Babies.

You’re probably not.

Boxers.

When they enter the ring.

Don’t wear glasses.

Because no matter how good they are.

They’re going to get hit.

Resilience.

Boxers expect to get hit.

So a big part of their focus and planning and training is the development of resilience.

Boxers prepare.

And boxers leave their glasses in the dressing room.

Great Business Leaders.

Great Business Leaders.

When they enter into business.

Shouldn’t wear their heart on their sleeve.

They shouldn’t take things personally.

Because no matter how good they are.

They are going to get hit.

With late payers.

And suppliers that lie.

With clients that don’t listen.

And employees that lie.

With orders that don’t turn up.

And sales people that lie.

Punches, unfortunately, can come in from many different directions.

Resilience.

Great Business Leaders should expect to get hit.

So a big part of their focus and planning and training is the development of resilience.

Great Business Leaders prepare.

Great Business Leaders leave the heart that others wear on their sleeve – hidden.

Great Business Leaders don’t take things personally.

Difficult.

It’s difficult to do this sometimes.

But you must.

Boxers wearing glasses.

Stepping into the ring and not expecting them to get broken.

Stupid.

Business leaders with hearts on sleeves.

Stepping into business and not expecting them to get broken.

Ditto.

Don’t wait to take time off.

Don’t wait for the right time.

Don’t wait for the best time.

Because it won’t come.

Take It.

If you want time off.

Just take it.

Or…

Alternatively

You can talk shite to yourself.

And not take time off.

Shite.

If you are not sure what talking shite to yourself actually sounds like.

Here is a little guide.

It’s called ‘The Shite List’.

It is a list of some really great examples of shite that you can tell yourself.

To avoiding taking time off.

No one can do what needs to be done but me.

The place won’t run without me.

Once I get this week out of the way things will be different and easier.

Thingy in the office isn’t experienced enough to cope.

This is going to be our busiest month.

We’ll break if (enter something trivial here) happens.

The Shite List.

Now.

This is the important bit.

This is why I call these excuses ‘The Shite List’.

Because there are just two possible explanations why everything on the list above is shite.

  1. They are all lies. (Believe me. They’re probably lies. This means they’re shite).
  2. They are all true. (And if they do happen to be true. This means it’s most probably you that’s shite).

Either way.

It’s a shite list.

And something in your life needs sorting.

So sort your life out.

And take time off.

Have a read of this one here please: https://www.50odd.co.uk/quality/.

Rihanna and Eminem are two of the biggest names in the world.

How in earth does this happen to some people?

And not others?

Quality

Well.

Like all great brands it starts with the quality of the offering.

If it’s not excellent – don’t bother.

The product.

The service.

The music.

The entertainment.

The whole package.

And these two are just bloody brilliant.

 

Google.

The answer to everything?

Google.

So try this.

Pop to Google.

(The search engine that is used for 92.6% of the world’s Internet searches.

The search engine that makes 40,000 searches every second.

3.5 billion searches every day.

1.2 trillion searches every year.

The search engine used by millions and millions of people to help drive decision making.

And drive lives.

And drive destinies).

And ask Google to do this:

Google. Create something new for me.

Newness.

Google can’t do this.

Google can’t have real, alive, unique ideas.

Yes, Google can answer most of the questions you ask it.

But newness?

No.

Google can’t create new.

Because Google looks backwards not forwards.

Google isn’t brave.

Or adventurous.

Or creative.

Or beautiful.

Google lives in the world of the probable.

Based on existing information.

Based on what went before.

You.

You?

You live in the world of the possible.

Not the world of the probable.

(If you want to, that is).

Creativity.

So turn Google off.

You choose your next move.

You can be brave.

You can be adventurous.

You can be creative.

You can be beautiful.

And you can start today.

But not with a click of a mouse.

With a click of your fingers.

That’s all it takes.

What gift creativity is.

Go create.