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BUSINESS

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Sometimes.

The best fuel you can get.

Is pain.

Or worry.

Or fear.

Or their badmouthing.

Or their scepticism.

Or their mocking.

Or their nastiness.

Fuel.

All of these things.

After a short pause.

And a long, deep breath.

Can be superb fuel for you.

Perspective.

All of these things also make excellent blockers for you.

They can paralyse you.

(They do me, sometimes).

Whether these things are allowed to become fuel or blockers is simply down to perspective.

It’s how I choose to see them.

Choose Fuel.

My advice.

Is to see them.

As fuel.

I was chatting to a friend his week.

About my ‘Change Year’.

My Change Year was 2014.

Change Year.

On June the somethingth, 2014.

I triggered the closure of the small group of businesses that I’d founded and run for 14 years.

My eyebrows were up.

I was whistling.

I was striding.

And I felt totally, totally fine.

Because the decision was made.

Because I was about to move in a fresh, new direction.

Because I was radically changing my entire life.

(I like change).

And because it was exciting!

Week 1. 

As week 1 passed.

My strides had turned to steps.

I slowed down a bit.

Because new realities were biting.

I wanted to help team members to get new roles.

But some didn’t want help.

In fact, some didn’t want anything at all from me.

This guy that was selfishly removing their current job.

I wanted to explain to suppliers and partners.

Why I just had to change my life.

And how that included closing profitable businesses.

And whilst one or two patted me on my back.

Many just turned their back.

And walked away.

Assumption.

I also had to manage inaccurate assumption.

Assumption about my motives for moving on.

And, by week 2, all of this had slowed my strides to steps.

And my steps to a shuffle.

This was hard!

Really hard.

The businesses had defined me.

For 14 years.

And now I was dismantling them.

All that was left.

Was me.

Me.

People looked directly at me.

And judged.

I looked directly at me.

And judged.

Maybe they’re right.

Maybe I am dismantling all of this because I just can’t do it any more.

Because I was failing anyway.

Because I was frightened.

Overthinking.

Can be a terrible thing.

Change Year.

My Change Year was really, really hard.

And it kept getting harder.

Some days, I thought I couldn’t cope.

But I did.

Some days, I thought that I’d made a massive mistake.

But I hadn’t.

Most days, I thought I was getting weaker.

But in actual fact.

Even though I didn’t realise it at the time.

I was getting stronger.

New Me. 

The new me had to learn and relearn many, many things.

But I do remember a few simple lessons more than any other.

So I told my friend this week.

My friend who is also considering change.

I think I said something like this:

If you are going to change.

Change big!

Change everything.

And don’t feel that you have to explain yourself.

At all.

To anyone.

Not even to yourself.

Because sometimes.

Things are not understandable by the rules and emotions that you know today.

They only become understandable by a new set of rules and emotions that you learn tomorrow.

And anyhow.

All I knew.

Was that if I stayed where I was.

I’d become destructive.

Sadder.

Increasingly lost.

Increasingly restless and dissatisfied.

So in some ways I am not sure that I even made a decision on June the somethingth 2014.

I think that I just let something happen.

Let Something Happen.

Nothing will prepare you for the bad times.

But if you want the good times.

You have to face both.

All the best.

If any of what I went through. 

Can help with what you might go through. 

Or already are going through

Drop me a line. 

michael@50odd.co.uk.

Very often.

When I am working as a Brand Consultant.

I spend time trying to find the very worst thing or things about you, the client.

This is because – unfortunately – the least good thing about you is the most likely thing that your customers will remember.

Link.

You’ll be judged by your weakest link.

So if I find your weakest link.

And we remove it.

You’ll be better.

And you’ll do better.

Unfair.

Sometimes, to be judged by what you do worst.

When you are trying to do great in business.

Feels unfair.

But how it feels is completely irrelevant.

Because the fact that you will be judged by your weakest link is a truth you already know.

Because you do it too.

Trying.

So if you are trying really, really hard.

And you’re still not good enough.

Try harder.

Because if you are not prepared to try your absolute best.

And to continually upgrade what ‘your absolute best’ actually means.

In a quest to become absolutely world class.

Then when your customer falls out of love with you.

For something you really should have cared more about.

It’s absolutely your fault.

Gemma from Extract Coffee is great.

She’s a fine person and a fine marketer.

Gemma really knows coffee and she really knows marketing.

And she is great to chat and listen to as well.

The Do Lectures.

I met Gemma in West Wales at The Do Lectures.

And she chatted to me about her son Leo.

Keep in mind that.

At The Do Lectures.

One meets some of the most important, impressive, unique and advanced minds in the world.

And as a consequence I remember lots that these people say because it’s so resonant and profound.

But I also remember what Gemma’s son Leo said.

Leo is 6.

Monkeymind.

Gemma is a busy and bright young mum.

And as happens with lots of busy young mums.

Sometimes, Gemma’s head gets full.

Gemma told me this.

About how it’s so often really hard to choose between ‘this’.

Or ‘that’.

Or ‘the other’.

Gemma told me how, sometimes, life really can be tricky.

Leo.

Anyhow, one day, a 6 year old Leo told his mum to to worry too much about this trickiness.

Because ‘Monkeymind’ is just one of those things that busy people have to deal with.

Gemma felt better.

Because her son cared enough to try to help.

And to empathise.

And because he was clever enough to come up with a great word to share with his mum.

So thanks Leo.

Because I can now say to anyone reading this.

If you too sometimes have so much going on that you just don’t know where to start.

Don’t worry.

We all feel a little bit like that sometimes.

It’s just Monkeymind.

All businesses are emotional.

Every one.

Because if they are not.

They can’t connect.

And if they can’t connect.

They can’t build relationships.

And if they can’t build relationships.

They die.

Balance.

It’s a balance though.

Too schmaltzy is no good either.

Make us care.

But don’t make us sick.

Everyone. 

And remember that you are not trying to get everyone to connect emotionally.

That’s impossible.

Decide what you want to do that matters.

And who you want it to matter to.

Then connect emotionally with them.

Audience.

The last thing I’ll say on this is how to identify your audience.

One fundamental consideration.

Is to forget trying to define them demographically.

Define them instead by how they think.

By mindset.

Choose to talk to, influence and connect emotionally with a set of people that think similarly.

As opposed to a set of people that fit together by some increasingly arbitrary descriptor such as age.

You’ll do better.

Emotional.

Be emotional.

Unashamedly so.

And connect.

I’m a storyteller.

I tell my own story on 50odd.co.uk.

And I have helped many businesses for many years to find and tell their story.

Turning them into brands.

Social Media.

Social Media invariably plays some part in the storytelling.

So Social Media – to someone like me – is a good thing.

It’s efficient.

But it is also important to remember what else it is.

It is the biggest conscious move, in human history, to exploit human vulnerability for no other reason than to make as much money as possible for the first movers.

This is not my opinion.

It is fact.

Because the people that are doing it look down the lens of the camera and tell us.

They actually say this.

They tells what they are doing to us.

Then, they giggle a bit.

Sean Parker

Facebook’s first President was Sean Parker.

He founded Napster before he worked with Zuckerberg at Facebook.

Here’s what Sean said, in 2017, with regards to Facebook’s early objectives:

How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible.

It is a social validation feedback loop because you are exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.

Then, it gets a little bit worse:

We understood this.

Consciously.

And we did it anyway.

After saying this part, he giggled a bit.

Social Media. 

Look, I believe we are in the cusp of change with how we communicate as people.

Social Media is here now.

It’s what we do next that really matters.

How responsible we are.

How much screen time we allow our children.

And ourselves.

And, as I am increasingly thinking, whether opting out altogether is a sensible thing to do.

I believe that for some platforms.

For some businesses.

It just is.

Giggle.

Don’t forget the giggle.

Watch the 3 minute video yourself below.

Hear the words.

Hear the giggle.

Why?

Because it’s you he’s laughing at.

https://www.50odd.co.uk/giggle/

 

If you are a business that deals in or with technology.

And you probably do.

This is for you.

Techpledge.

I have been introduced to this pledge because I attended the Techfestival is Copenhagen last week.

You’ve been introduced to it because you have been kind enough to interact with 50odd in some way.

So thank you.

Sign up. 

I’ve signed up.

I hope you do too.

https://www.techpledge.org

I was chatting to my friend Lizzie Rhodes James this week.

Lizzie is a uniquely talented leadership coach.

And we chatted about schooldays.

Schooldays. 

School, for me, was a place occasionally beautiful.

And often terrifying.

The latter never moreso than when I was being stared at.

By The Picker.

The Picker. 

The Picker was all-powerful.

Pickers moved pairs for obvious reasons.

And they held the power to pick me – or to not pick me – for their team.

Be it rugby, football or something else.

When their imposing silhouettes shifted shape as they passed judgement by raising pointy, bony fingers.

They revealed the invisible hierarchies that Social Media so cruelly points out to every young and vulnerable child every single nanosecond around the world these days.

And a 12 year old me would just stand there.

In my too-long shorts.

Peeping sheepishly through my too-long fringe.

Shivering on my two skinny legs.

Waiting for the inevitable reality of being picked last.

Ambition. 

This is a short story about ambition.

About thinking further.

About goal setting.

About you.

And also about the difference between the 12 year old me and the 30 year old me when I started my first enduring business.

The 12 year old me was frightened.

And I, most of the time, played the cards I was dealt.

I didn’t challenge much.

I wanted to be picked earlier by The Picker of course.

But I expended little energy working out how to make this happen.

Instead, I just let what happened, happen.

30.

However at 30 years old.

I was different.

My legs were still too skinny and my hair was still too long, of course.

But my attitude was not what it was when I was 12.

And here’s the thing for you to think about.

This is a story about the loftiness of your ambition.

It is about aiming higher.

Because a 12 year old me thought I had just two choices.

To be picked last.

Or to be picked first.

And that was that.

I didn’t even see the third choice when I was 12.

And I have to remind myself to see it at 51 years old sometimes.

Because the third choice is easy to forget.

Aim high.

At 30.

I aimed much higher.

I didn’t want to be picked last, of course.

But I also didn’t want to be picked first.

I wanted to stop waiting to be picked.

I wanted to become The Picker.

So I did.

And I picked me.

The new Cadbury’s advertising campaign is great.

It is called FENCE.

But the real moment of genius is not this latest campaign.

It’s this bit.

The brand consideration that allows this new campaign to happen:

There’s a glass and a half in everyone.

Which was a brilliant, brilliant update – about three years ago now I think – from this:

There’s a glass and a half in every one.

(If you missed it.

Read it again).

Brand. 

This is a very unusual update.

We are not used to this kind of a move from a brand.

Cadbury subtly shifted the brand position.

By tweaking the slogan.

This opened a whole new narrative.

And, of course shifted the focus from the goodness in the product – to the goodness in the consumer.

Whilst retaining the familiar echo of the goodness in the product at the same time.

That’s the clever bit.

Brand. Marketing. Design.

There is a delicate relationship that exists between brand, marketing and design.

Delicate because we have to stay true to brand.

Always.

We have to understand that marketing should be joined-up and for a reason.

And that it requires constant attention also.

And design and creative should then ice this communication cake with a great degree of care, sophistication and precision.

(And hopefully a large dollop of adventure and bravery, too).

Lucky.

I am very lucky.

Because I have built and led teams that have delivered world-class solutions in the areas of brand, marketing and design for over 20 years.

So I instinctively look for clear connection between the three.

And the evolutionary ‘dance’ that these three areas partake in as a business and it’s communications develop.

These days, I do this kind of work at ANGELFYSH.

If you’d like too chat about that – drop me a line at michael@angelfysh.com.

Or if you’d like a free copy of my book A.BRAND, please sign up to our newsletter.

I suppose it’s quite a simple point.

But one really well made.

When it’s put like this.

Mountains.

One of the people talking at the Techfestival in Copenhagen last week.

Focused on the subject of picking team members.

It was interesting to me because the ANGELFYSH team is growing currently.

And the Always Wear Red team will be growing soon too.

This guy asked us to think about the mountains we are looking to scale.

And this resonated.

Because all of the businesses I am involved with are scaling mountains.

Challenging.

Vast.

To be respected.

And worth conquering.

Team Members. 

Then, this gentleman asked an important question.

He asked:

Are you trying to make a mountain?

Or find a mountain?

Because if you’re trying to make a mountain you need great designers, architects, visionaries, storytellers and builders.

And if you’re trying to climb a mountain you need great navigators, organisers and climbers.

I like this kind of thinking.

The idea that we need the right kind people for our own personal journeys.

Oh; I know this of course.

And so do you.

But this exact framing made me think about silly managers.

That forget the nuances of their own journey.

Or the silly recruitment companies.

That try to place people without fully understanding their client’s journey.

And that’s when things go wrong.

Brand.

In my world of brand, ‘building brand mountains‘ means having fresh ideas.

Developing pioneering approaches.

Innovating.

Educating.

And doing things for the first time in the new worlds that we create.

And ‘finding brand mountains‘ is more likely identifying existing needs and wants.

And working out how to beat whoever is most attractive currently.

By engineering nuanced, differentiated approaches in these existing worlds.

Same But Different.

There are overlaps, of course.

But I surprised myself when I thought about how I’d build the first team.

Versus the second team.

Because I’d need very different people.

Your Team.

Think about who you need in your team.

Or maybe – who you have in your team right now.

Think about the mountain thing.

Because if you are looking to build a mountain, you may need an almost completely different set of people – or at the very list a different way of thinking – than if you’re trying to scale an existing one.