I went to TEDx Newcastle last week.

And I heard some really clever people.

Talking about some really clever things.

Really simply.


I have worked with brands that create Mission Statements and Value Statements and similar for years.

And they are always too complex.

So I always distil them down.

To scarily few words.

Maybe six words.

This is because people are more likely to remember simple things.

And if they are more likely to remember them.

They are more likely to do them.

The PCI Rule.


Using this approach.

I’ve distilled a day long TEDx Newcastle event.

And event with 1,000 people milling about.

And 12 or so excellent speakers.

Into 3 letters.

They are PCI.

And I’ve turned these three letters into a rule.

A rule for me


I have done this because I’m quite tired at the moment.

I am allowing myself to be pulled from pillar to post with my work.

Which is taking me towards the edge of the cliff called ‘capacity’.

And that’s not a good place to be.

Not because I will fall of the cliff.

(That won’t happen).

But I will lose something as I approach the edge.




Clarity of thought.

Something will weaken.

So I have to be careful.

And my new rule is helping me.

The PCI Rule.

PCI stands for:

  • Positivity.
  • Creativity.
  • Imagination.

It was the chap from Twitter that mentioned these words.

He suggested that when we all get trapped in The Loop.

Doing  too much work.

Forgetting to be positive, creative and imaginative.

We are worse off.

We don’t grow.

And I totally agree.

So, my new rule.

Whenever I am feeling a bit shitty.

Or that I am not doing my work as well as I could.

I move into positive, creative and imaginative mode.

And it works!

I feel better.

And I do better.

Try it.

It might work for you too.

Most people.

Are most happy.

At the start of their lives.

And at the end of their lives.

So if you plot this phenomenon on a graph.

A graph where the y-axis (the vertical axis) tracks happiness.

And the x-axis (the horizontal axis) tracks time.

We, ironically, end up with a smile shape.

An unhappy smile.

The Unhappy Smile.

When we are young we are carefree.




Wide-eyed, energetic and confident.

And when we are older we become increasingly aware that this life of ours is a mere visit.

That our days are in limited supply.

That days with people and projects we care about don’t go on forever.

So we embrace the days more.

We open our eyes in the morning.

Grateful that we opened our eyes in the morning.



It’d seem to me.

That if we can remember, imagine or re-imagine the freedom of childlike thinking.

Then layer that with an increasing awareness that we are just visiting.

And the focus that this can bring.

We can be happier.

And – just this once.

Wiping the smile from the face of something.

Is a good thing.

Little old you.

Sat hunched in the corner.






Unable to reach people.

Therefore unable to make a difference.

To anyone.

Or anything.


And because of all this there is little point in you developing ideas.


Or unique notions.

Don’t bother being creative either.

Because no one is looking.

And no one is listening.

So the creativity and passion and drive that you have had inside you since birth.

(And it is in there).

It may as well stay inside.

Because what’s the point of expressing yourself?

In a vacuum.

Little old you.

Sat hunched in the corner.



In your lifetime.

No matter how old you are right now.

You will easily connect with 1,000 people.


There’s social media.

There’s just getting off your arse and getting out there.

Helping people.

Being generous.

Initiating meaningful conversations.

1,000 people is not hard.

And neither should it be hard to encourage your 1,000 people to connect with their 1,000 people in the same way.


Because if you do.

You are one step away.

One click away.

One conversation away.

From one million people.

And you are two steps or two clicks or two conversations away from.






Something to Say.

If you have something to say.

Or if there is something you want to do.

Or if there is something you want to change.

Fucking say it.

Or do it.

Or change it.

Say it or do it over and over and over.

And if you don’t have something to say or do.

Or if there is nothing you want to change.

Have a word with yourself.

Get off your arse.

And find something to say.

Find something important to do.

Find something to change.

Then fucking make it happen.

Because if you are two steps away from 1 billion people.

You are just three steps away from everybody.

Little Old You.

Little old you.

Sat hunched in a corner.


One morning.

When I ran my Creative Agency.

A polite and well presented young chap wandered into the office.

Up to reception.

And introduced himself to our Office Manager, Samantha.

Under his arm.

He carried a large, multicoloured Pinjata.


Samantha came over to me.


She said.

This chap is wondering whether you have five minutes for him?

Right now.

I did.

So I invited him in.


The young chap shook me by the hand.

Introduced himself.

Sat opposite me at the board table.

Popped his pinjata down next to him.

And explained to me that he was looking for a new role.

In New Business Development.


I said

Pop your cv through please.

And links to anything anything amazing you’ve been involved with.

And I’ll take a look.

He answered:

Oh, I have my cv with me today.

And with that, he slowly pushed his pinjata towards me.

It’s in there.


If you want people to be interested in you.

Be interesting.

One of my biggest problems with Colleges and Universities.

Is that they push young people out into the world.

Very often with a great degree of talent, knowledge, skills and potential.

But with no clue of how to communicate or position themselves compellingly or memorably in the minds of the new people they meet.

It’s hard.

But it’s meant to be hard.

Because the best jobs, of course, should go to the best people.

The most conscientious people.

The most capable people.

The most interesting people.


Samantha and the team hung and battered the pinjata.

Ate the sweets that fell from it.

Handed me the cv that fell from it.

And I offered him a job the following day.

He started the following week.

And what was his cv like?

I don’t know.

I didn’t read it.

I noticed something this weekend.

I noticed that loads of children’s programmes.

Are themed around one thing.


The Plot.

You know the plot.

First, there’s the discovery.

The discovery of a Treasure Map.

This is SUCH an amazing feeling.

Can you remember that feeling?

Izobel could feel it as we watched the television together.

And I could feel it, too.

The excited realisation that something really, really special is out there.


Yet findable.

By you.

The Search.

Then there’s the journey.

The search.

The search zigs.

And it zags.

Because one minute there is hope.

And the next there is hopelessness.

And then just when it looks like all is lost.

If we just.



We find it!


Treasure Maps.

When we are children.

Treasure Maps are found.

By Scooby Do.

And by Captain Pugwash.

And we.

The viewer.

Shares the feeling.

The excitement is tangible.

The excited realisation that something really, really special is out there.


Yet findable.

By you.


And I just wanted to point out that.

As adults.

You can get that very same amazing feeling again if you like.

And you don’t even have to find a Treasure Map.

Because you can make a Treasure Map.

In your mind.


Give it a go.

Close your eyes.

And imagine.

It may take a little time.

And it may take a few goes.

But the realisation will happen.

The excited realisation that something really, really special is out there.


Yet findable.

By you.

I think you really do have to decide what kind of a world you want to create for yourself.

But decide properly I mean.

Not just say silly empty words.

That make you sound like a nob.

When nothing happens.




Then really, really fucking focus.

And be consistent.

And resilient.

And don’t give up.

David Bowie. 

I think that David Bowie decided to become a legend.

I really do.

I think he just decided.


And here’s how I define legend.

David sits on Parkinson.

Next to Tom Hanks.

Telling a little story about how he was asked to write some lyrics for some song.

That he made a really shit job of.

So Paul Anka was asked to mend the lyrics problem he’d created.

And so Anka did.

And Paul Anka wrote My Way.

For Frank Sinatra to sing.

And then David Bowie said, well, I was really pissed off about that.

So I wrote this other song.

As a strange kind of revenge attack.

That was a bit like My Way structurally.

Called Life On Mars.

And then he just stands up and sings it

With just a piano.

And it was absolutely fucking out of this world.

Absolutely flawless.


Because I don’t think that David Bowie is actually singing.

He’s telling a brilliant, unique story that he made up.

That makes you tingle.



So here’s what you need to do now.

Think of your best anecdote.

Then compare it to this bit of David Bowie’s life.

And if it’s absolutely nowhere near as sexy.

Create an actual anecdote that gets closer.

An anecdote of your own.

Maybe not as sexy as David’s.

But get as close as you can.

Something better than walking into TESCO just as they were marking down the buns that you actually went in there to buy.

(That’s one of mine).

Your World.

There’s time for you.

But life’s short.

I think you really do have to decide what kind of a world you want to create for yourself.

But decide properly I mean.

Not just say silly empty words.

That make you sound like a nob.

When nothing happens.




Then really, really fucking focus.

And be consistent.

And resilient.

And don’t give up.

Please take a look at the video here:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

There is a downside to being a brand.

Yes, brands stand for something.

So this means that they matter more to consumers.

And therefore they attract more attention.

And more customers.

So they have the potential to last longer.

And (run right) make more profit.

But even after all that good stuff.

There is a downside to being a brand.

Here & There.


Just because a brand works (resonates) ‘here’.

It doesn’t mean it will work (resonate) ‘there’.

In fact, it is very often the case that because a brand resonates ‘here’ it will not resonate ‘there’.

The short version of the rule is this.

If you are a brand, you matter.

And whatever it is you matter about.

Dictates where you (should) work best.


Let’s take the Virgin brand for example.

Virgin stands for ‘The People’s Champion’.

Over the years, Virgin has nurtured the perception that they are looking out for us.

That they are on our side.

And because they have delivered on this promise enough times over the years to keep the brand resonant in this way.

They do hold this perception with very many people.

Even today.

The Rules. 

But the rules of brand dictate that even global brands like Virgin.

Only work where the brand position resonates.

Virgin really should work well in the banking sector.

Because banks treat us like crap.

I can ‘feel’ that Virgin should do well as a bank.

And when Virgin went at trains.

I was pleased.

Because the Virgin brand resonates in the train category, too.

Because – just like banks – train companies treat us like crap, as well.

(Virgin aren’t doing so well with trains.

But it’s not because of the brand’s perception, I’d suggest.

It’s because they are failing to get the operational parts right.

Or because they are failing to do the right deal.

For whatever reason).

Virgin Cola.

But Virgin’s brand.

As famous as it was.

Didn’t work in the Cola category.

Yes, Coca Cola and to a lesser degree Pepsi Cola took steps to block Virgin.

But a brand that stands for ‘The People’s Champion’ was never going to work in this space.

Because we just didn’t need saving from Coke and Pepsi at the time.

The Virgin brand didn’t resonate here.

Brand Extension.

If you really do crave brand extension that much.

If you really do want to do new things.

But you realise that your current brand won’t resonate in the new category.

Start a new brand that will.

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.