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.


Someone has to.

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


The answer to everything?


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.


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?


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 live in the world of the possible.

Not the world of the probable.

(If you want to, that is).


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.

I used to LOVE ‘The Word’.

That thing with Terry Christian at the helm.

The twitching Mancunian.

I used to LOVE ‘The Word’ even though.

When measured against traditional ideas of television programmes at the time.

Like presenters being able to speak.

And remember lines.

And know which camera to look at.

It was shite.


Tiswas was the same.

Chris Tarrant and Sally James and Lenny Henry.

Just mucking about.

Teaching children that being unstructured and off-the-wall and messy and a little bit naughty and spontaneous is OK.

(In fact it’s not just OK. 

It’s what children are for).

Vic and Bob

Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer were the same.

Nailing teddy bears to walls.

Frightening a bald man with chives.

Just odd.


I am not sure of the exact formula for Shite-But-Good.

But the framework for successful Shite-But-Good definitely contains:

  • Being restlessly and endlessly creative.
  • Running at ideas as opposed to analysing them (literally) to their death.
  • Not giving a shit what people think.
  • Doing things for the first time.
  • Doing what you enjoy.
  • Being happy.
  • Being in a good team of like minded people.
  • Being brave.
  • Failing and being OK with failing.
  • Not judging.

Give it a go.

You’ll love it.


And by the way.

A band called OASIS made their TV debut on The Word.

On the 18th of March 1994.

With a tune called Supersonic.

Here it is (


If you run a business.

I assume it’s a worthwhile business.

Isn’t it?


You can test whether your business is a worthwhile business if you like.

By asking yourself two, two-word questions.

Both questions from the viewpoint of your customer.


The two questions are:

Why me?


Why now?

New Business Development.

New Business Development.

You know.

Those three words you use when you’re pretending not to be talking about ‘sales’.

All New Business Development means – fundamentally – is answering just these two questions.

And if you cannot answer them both.

Convincingly and compellingly.

In your own mind and in the mind of the consumer.

You are not answering why you are worthwhile and why someone should buy from you.

Right now.

So you won’t sell anything.

Simple, really.

Any time you do a thing.


Anything whatsoever.

It could be the last time you ever do it.

So if you need just one reason to do it fucking amazingly.



The best that you ever, ever, ever did it in your whole entire life.

This is it.

As a very young child.

I never accepted.

That toys can’t fly.

I used my imagination instead.


I’d pick up a toy.

With my little hand.

And an outstretched arm.

And one achy shoulder.

And I’d lock my eyes on the scaled down aeroplane.

Or rocket.

Or Pterodactyl.

For hours.

Because I never accepted that toys can’t fly.


My eyes edited out my hand as it supported the tiny aeroplane’s flight.

And my young mind edited in the clouds.

And the engine noise.

And the other aeroplanes that were chasing me.

At four years old I was good  at visualising.

At four years old I was good at focusing.

And at four years old.

You were great at this kind of thing too.

Toys Can’t Fly.

So why is it that.

As adults.

Such fanciful ideas – born from visualisation and focus – are harder to muster for most people?

You see, I am still imagining.

I am visualising and focusing on growing a brand that creates the best hand knitted jumpers in the world.

I am visualising and focusing on evolving my Brand Collective to become one of the UK’s first to only work with contributive businesses.

And I am visualising and focusing on developing a publishing brand that encourages people to tell their own story, too.

And just as I edited out the hand that held the aeroplane as a child.

I edit out negativity.

And naysayers.

And all the other things that can potentially hold me back.



It’s a bit harder to believe at 51 years old.

Harder than it was when I was 4 years old.

But it’s just as magical.

And that’s why I do it.

If I were a cat.

I’d not be a House Cat.

I’d be an Outdoor Cat.

Outdoor Cat.

It’s because I think that’s what cats are made for.

Being outside.


Buggering about.

Nearly dying 9 times.


Being creative.

Taking risks.

House cats.

House Cats, it seems to me, stare out of the window.

They stare at the world.

Through half-open eyes.

Blinking slowly.

Purring randomly.


And all that punctuated by jumping down from the window ledge.

Sauntering into the kitchen in slow motion.

And dropping their big tummies down onto the kitchen floor.

Next to their reliably filled food bowls.

To graze.

Outdoor cat.

Whilst outside.

The other side of the window.

Outdoor Cat is going bonkers.

Successfully climbing trees.

Or successfully falling out of them.

Stalking the early bird.

That is stalking the unsuspecting worm.

Where sometimes the food chain clicks in and everyone is full.

Or sometimes the food chain fails and everyone goes hungry.

That’s the way it is with Outdoor Cat.



What are you in life, then?

An Outdoor Cat?

Or a House Cat?

And are you happy where you are?

If not.

Pop to the door.

Go on.

Give it a little shove.

It’s open.

There is a way to be virtually recession proof.

And that is to be excellent at what you do.


Not just quite good.

Or one of the best.

The best.

By your own set of measurable, of course.

You have no choice but to come up with your own set of measurable.

Because ‘best’ is subjective.

Its your job to make ‘your excellence’ as objective as you can.

For your target audience.

A target audience that you will, of course, understand like the back of your hand.

So they can see.

And agree.

That you are the best for them.

That’s the way to be virtually recession proof.

Just be excellent at what you do.

Over the last 11 years of Wimbledon Men’s Singles Championships.

Just 2 men have won 8 of them.

And 2 more won the remaining 3.

These guys.

Especially the 2 that won 8 titles.

Are The Elite.

The Elite.

I wonder who they looked to in order to get to where they are?

To become better.

To get to the top.

It will certainly include – each other.

It was probably ever so.

McEnroe envied aspects of Bjorg’s play.

Bjorg envied aspects of McEnroes.

They were what they were.

To a degree.

Because of each other.

Left and Right.

Do you do this?

Do you look left and right at the great people around you.

To learn.

Or do you bury your head.

Because you don’t like them.

Because you wish they weren’t fucking there.

Because if they weren’t there, that would leave the way clear for you.

And that would be so much better, wouldn’t it?

So if you don’t look at them.

It’s easier to imagine that they never existed.

The Elite.

If you have aspirations to be the elite.

Then look at today’s elite.

Take a good look at those that are better than you.

In fact you can learn things from those that are currently not riding as high as you are of course.

Because in the blink of an eye.

You may be in their place.

And they may be in yours.

So look around.

And learn.

(In case you were wondering.

In the last 11 men’s singles finals at Wimbledon.

Djokovic won 5.

Federer 3.

Murray 2.

Nadal 1.

Take a look at the photo:

In early 2004.

My landlord was Fred Hoult.

Fred was a wonderful, well known, jolly North East businessman.

We got on well.


One day, Fred wandered in to my office.

A 1,000(ish) square foot office that I rented from Fred for about £8,000.

Fred (very politely) asked me to follow him.

So I did.

100 Yards.

We wandered 100 yards across the yard.


Chatting about the weather.

And family.

And business.

Fred saw me as ambitious.

Which is why he was taking me to The Boilerhouse.

The Boilerhouse.

The Boilerhouse was the biggest single unit on the estate.

7,000 square feet over two levels.

3,500 square feet at ground level.

3,500 square feet in the basement.


Except, on that day.

And at that point.

There was just one level.

The underground level.

Because as we walked slowly into The Boilerhouse together.

We were faced with a gaping hole.

Because at that point.

There was no ground floor.

And, come to think of it, not much of a roof either.


Here’s what Fred said.

About this shell of a building:

OK Michael.

I want to invest in redeveloping this.

But I want to have someone to move in immediately.

It’ll take 6 months.

And the rent, based on square footage will be just shy of £60,000 per year.

If you want it, you can have it for £8,000 per year for 1 year.

Then £16,000 for 1 year.

Then – you jump to full rate.

Let me know.


Ambition in your heart.

And ambition in your hands.

Are two different things.

Yes, I had talked about ambition to Fred.

And the businesses I had were good.

And I was good.

But ambition in your heart is safe.




And low risk.

Ambition in your hands is not safe.

It’s a real commitment.

Both financially and mentally.

For you and your team.


If you are going to commit to your ambition.


You have to be confident.

And you have to commit.

You have to commit to projected numbers and strategy.

A strategy that you have to monitor and change constantly.

And even though numbers on a page and strategies are not real.

Bricks, mortar, fit-outs, salaries – and giving your word (and your money) to a landlord you like and respect – are.

The Boilerhouse.

We moved into the Boilerhouse 7 months later.

Our 8 staff rattling around.

And our £350,000 turnover just about making sense of key financial ratios.

So long as the rent stayed at £8,000, of course.

Two years after that, our 25 staff and £1,100,000 turnover made more sense.

Even with a £57,000 rent bill.


What happened in those two years was all about optimism.

Measured and constantly tested optimism.

And focus.

And painting clear pictures so you take people with you.

The ambition was in my hands.

And in the room.

It was in every room that I entered.

And it was the team’s hands too.

I made sure they knew that.

And I made sure that they believed.

I made them see it

Smell it.

I made them be it before we were it.

Each morning I woke up and – just like Dracula in his coffin.

In those old films.

I sat bolt upright.

Eyes wide.



Wide awake.

Full of energy and ideas.

We had to be it before we were it.

It was the only way we were going to bring the vision to life.

And we did.

And it was brilliant.


A year later, 2008 came.

But that’s a story for another time.

And how much do I regret the 2005 to 2007 journey?

With the hindsight of 2008?