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CONFIDENCE

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Read this here: https://www.50odd.co.uk/beanbags/.

The photograph helps.

Beanbags.

The beanbags at The Do Lectures are not very comfortable.

They’re too long.

They’re filled with unknown stuff that just doesn’t support you.

It moves somewhere else!

So that you are quite literally brought down to earth.

Landing with a firm ‘bump’ on your arse.

On the cold, hard floor.

So when I sat there one morning.

Eating my cereal.

Alone.

I felt, well, lonely.

It seems to me that those Do Lectures people really haven’t thought this through.

The beanbags at The Do Lectures are not very comfortable.

Rona

The evening before.

I sat on the same beanbag.

Chatting to Rona about life.

The beanbags at The Do Lectures are really comfortable.

They’re perfect for two.

They’re filled with unknown stuff that supports you beautifully.

Because one person balances the other.

You raise each other up.

You float.

Above the cold, hard floor.

So that when you sit there with gin and tonic.

Together.

I feels lovely.

It seems to me that those Do Lectures people really have thought this through.

The beanbags at The Do Lectures are really comfortable.

Life.

When Rona and I chatted, we chatted about life.

About how life can be very uncomfortable.

And feel too long.

Filled with unknown stuff and people that just don’t support you.

They move somewhere else!

So that you are quite literally brought down to earth.

Landing with a firm ‘bump’ on your arse.

On the cold, hard floor.

Feeling, well, lonely.

Life can be uncomfortable.

Another Life.

After a little more gin, we chatted about life some more.

About the fact that life can also be really comfortable.

Perfect for two.

Filled with unknown stuff but the other person supports you beautifully.

Because one person balances the other.

You raise each other up.

You float.

Above the cold, hard floor.

So that when you sit there with gin and tonic.

Together.

I feels lovely.

The beanbags at The Do Lectures.

They really are a very comfortable place to be.

The most wonderful American sitcom is ‘Cheers’.

And the most wonderful Cheers characters are Norm Peterson and his wife, Vera Peterson.

257. 

In almost all of the 257 Cheers episodes.

Norm sits on his stool at the far end of the bar.

And Norm’s wife Vera is at home.

And in each Cheers episode, little stories – just like this one – are told.

Stories.

*BAR PHONE RINGS IN CHEERS*.

*WOODY ANSWERS*.

Woody:

“Hello?

Oh; hi Mrs. Peterson!

Yes, Norm’s here.

*TURNS TO NORM*

Mr. Peterson. 

It’s for you.”

*HANDS PHONE TO NORM*.

Norm:

“Hello?

Oh; hi Vera.

Whaddya want?

Woah slow down!”

*PAUSE*

“I dunno.”

*PAUSE*

“I dunno!”

*PAUSE*

“I don’t know where it is.

Under the stairs?”

*PAUSE*

“In the garage?

No? 

OK well keep lookin’.

I’ll be home later.

Bye bye.”

*NORM PUTS PHONE DOWN AND SLIDES IT BACK ACROSS THE BAR TO WOODY.*

*NORM CONTINUES, HUNCHED OVER, TO DRINK BEER.*

Woody:

Is everything OK Mr. Peterson?

Norm:

Yeah; I dunno Woody. 

I dunno why Vera always has to bother me here at Cheers.

Something about,  (*PUTS ON VERA’S VOICE*), ‘have you seen the fire extinguisher?’.

I dunno Woody.

*NORM SHAKES HEAD*

Woody:

Weeeell; did you ask Mrs. Peterson why she was looking for the fire extinguisher Mr. Peterson?

Norm:

*INCREDULOUS

No!

Should I have?

etc.

Voice and visuals.

When your brand speaks, it should sound like you.

Every single word.

Should sound like you.

Yet when I meet people, for the first time, that run businesses.

And then look at their websites.

I almost always know what it is going to say there – before I look.

And I almost always know how it is going to say it – before I look.

There is absolutely no unique voice.

No character.

No stand-out.

Technically, this is ‘category marketing’ when it comes to message and simply ‘copying’ when it comes to tone.

The business is saying what everyone else in the same category is saying – and in the same way.

It is, if you like, a strange kind of painting by numbers.

It’s sterile.

And boring.

Because painting by numbers is soulless.

Norm and Vera.

Norm and Vera are beautifully painted characters.

We know Norm and we know what to expect from Norm by the end of episode one.

And from then on in he is consistent.

He is, well, Norm.

And what is more incredible is that Vera behaves just like Vera too.

Every time she appears in the story.

And more incredible still is that Vera never actually appears in person in any of the 257 episodes**.

You never actually see her.

Yet you still know her.

And you know what to expect from her.

And this is why all brands have absolutely no excuse for not painting characterful, soulful, memorable, meaningful, ownable and compelling persona.

It is key to the creation and longevity of all brands.

Storytelling.

Tell your story.

And – because it’s hard – if you can’t find it tell it exceptionally well, invest in getting someone to find and tell it for you.

The greatest stories in the world are told by and about the greatest characters in the world.

Whether this be sitcoms or brand stories.

The rules are the same.

And if you don’t know what the rules are – work with someone that does.

Because a story untold, or a story told badly – is exactly the same as no story at all.

And no story at all – whether you like it or not – means no brand.

**Vera did actually appear in just one of the 257 episodes.

The food fight episode.

But as she had a fruit pie thrown in her face, you didn’t actually ‘see’ her.

Oh, and Vera’s pie faced character is played by Norm (George Wendt’s) wife in real life.

The other day someone asked me how I became a blogger.

On 50odd.co.uk.

A blogger that writes every day.

A blogger that – somehow – writes something every day that means something to at least one someone.

Even though I’m only really writing for myself.

The answer?

Because I decided to.

Decisions. 

It’s that Stephen Covey thing.

Habits (true decisions) form when three things are present:

  1. What to do
  2. How to do
  3. Want to do

I know what to do to create a blogging platform.

(Or I know someone that does).

I know how to blog.

(I didn’t know if I’d be good at it, of course.

But I knew how to do it).

And I wanted to do it.

I thought it would be good for me.

To get ideas out.

To make room for more.

And it has.

So I simply decided.

Decisions.

Anything you want to do.

Follow the Covey thing.

What to do.

How to do.

Want to do.

And that’s why, when anyone says to me:

Eeeh; I really want to go to the gym and lose some weight.

I reply:

No you don’t.

Because if you did.

You’d be doing it.

Now.

Decisions.

So if you really do want to do something…

Decide.

I am a fan of rollercoaster thinking.

Free thinking.

Creative thinking.

Unguarded thinking.

Out of control thinking that garners silly ideas and dead ends.

Thinking that does not worry about being judged.

Because it’s this kind of thinking from which the best ideas – eventually – come.

Not all the time of course.

But, sometimes, it doesn’t matter.

Because along the way there is great fun to be had.

Because it is funny, crazy thinking that keeps you going.

Thinking that makes conversation adventurous and engaging.

Children. 

The best people in the world at this kind of thinking are little people.

Children, I mean.

Children just don’t care.

Children stumble boldly between the verbal and the visual.

As happened to me yesterday.

When I told a 3 year old Izobel that the blue liquid in the bottle I was carrying was mouthwash.

There was nothing more beautiful than – thereafter – holding a straight-faced, meandering and visually-rich conversation about why – if mice do indeed wash in blue liquid – they remain white.

Or brown.

Or black.

Mousewash.

As a 50 year old man.

I had never heard of ‘mousewash’ before.

Until Izobel misheard it, harnessed it, and told me all about it.

And then explored it with me.

Her imagination whirring.

What a lovely conversation it was too.

The world is so much more magical when we just let things flow.

Imagination.

I haven’t told Izobel about mouthwash yet.

Because, well, it’s just not as interesting as mousewash.

Imagination.

Fantasy.

Story.

There’s a lot to be said for it.

And whilst mousewash may not be the next big thing commercially.

It really is the loveliest idea I’ve heard all week.

Here’s a good idea.

Whenever you are about to say anything.

Anything at all.

To anyone at all.

Just before you do.

Ask yourself a simple question.

Ask yourself how you think what you’re about to say will make them feel.

Further.

Then, if you like, you can go a bit further…

List (in your mind) three of the things that you anticipate they’ll feel.

And see how you feel about yourself.

See how you feel about the fact that you are about to – consciously – make another human being feel this way.

Focus. 

This is about focus.

Focus away from what you say.

To how what you say makes people feel.

It’s helped me.

(And whoever I talk to, as well).

Which is a good thing.

Happy days!

I was in Finland 6 or 7 years ago.

On holiday.

Away from the control freakery of my day-to-day.

Away from the environment where I tried to control my businesses and every one and every thing in it.

Instead, I had reluctantly handed myself over to the control freakery of the travel agent.

The travel agent was looking after things now.

The Agenda.

There was an ‘agenda’.

An agenda!

On a fucking holiday.

My worst nightmare, really.

Because I like to do what I like to do.

And this agenda included Husky Running.

Something that I had not even processed as a ‘thing’.

Husky Running.

What was the point?

Husky Running.

When my Husky Running time came – I went along.

I complied.

I became the passenger.

And it was transformative.

It is one of just a handful of things in my whole life that has changed me permanently.

Trust.

I was immediately subordinate to an established, complex team of beautiful, perfectly synchronised wild animals.

They just knew what to do.

They just knew who should do what.

They were ‘doing their thing’.

And it was one of the greatest privileges of my life.

To be looked after by animals in this way.

To let go.

And to trust.

The Passenger.

That day, I learned to be a passenger.

Properly.

The huskies just did what they did.

I had absolutely nothing at all to add.

In fact, if I had tried to add anything at all, the experience would immediately have become a lesser experience.

So I remained silent.

The passenger.

The Point.

And the point of this journey through the snow?

Was that it was just that.

A journey.

Every half second, because my senses were heightened, and because I was just experiencing instead of controlling, I noticed something amazing.

The 28 magically synchronised feet of 7 dogs.

The horizon.

The new, terrestrial clouds of powdery snow that the dogs made, to cool and freshen my face.

The trees.

The mixture of barks and squeaks and telepathy that fused the dogs together as one driving force.

All of this was new.

And beautiful.

And unforgettable.

And the only way I could enjoy the experience and the show to the maximum was to become a passenger.

Which was new for me.

I had to become a true spectator.

To forget my ego.

To lose my control freakery.

To control my fear of things going wrong.

And simply trust.

The Journey. 

I try to remember this today.

To enjoy the journey.

And to be led by those that know much better than me.

In a way I never could.

And to leave them to do their thing.

A thought just arrived.

In my head.

As I looked down from the first floor of my house.

Out of the window.

And saw Lisa smiling.

And happy.

In our sunny garden.

Teaching Izobel about water bombs.

(Lisa will, of course, regret this at some point).

Happy. 

Anyhow, here’s the thought.

The one that arrived.

I thought back to when I was single.

And when I really wanted to be with someone.

I thought about when I used to say this to my friends.

And to myself:

I really want someone to make me happy.

Now that I am with someone I just wanted to point out that this is completely the wrong thing to say.

And to think.

And to want.

Because this was not what I wanted at all.

I wanted this:

I really want someone to make happy.

This is what makes me happy, you see.

Seeing Lisa happy.

No wonder I got it wrong for so very long.

I like a challenge.

Doing things that are bloody hard.

I think this is me rebelling against the run-of-the-mill.

And the obvious.

And the ordinary.

Always Wear Red. 

As you may know, I am in the middle of narrowing down my clothing label Always Wear Red to hand knits only.

I was building relationships with wonderful makers around the UK making lots of different brilliant things.

But I was spreading myself too thinly.

And as I crave true excellence in just one thing.

I had to choose where to focus.

And I choose hand knits.

Hard. 

The main reason I chose hand knits is because hand knitting, of course, can’t be automated.

And even if some clever machine materialised that could create hand knits.

Well, I wouldn’t want one of them.

I want hand knits that have been knitted by hand.

But building a brand around this is hard.

Bloody Hard.

In fact, it’s bloody hard.

Quality control.

Consistency.

Costing.

Pricing.

Scaling.

But, I think, that is the main reason that I am doing it.

And because, when I was researching, I couldn’t find any dedicated, specialist hand knitting brand that committed to that one thing.

That adored that one thing.

Wanting to master it.

And wanting to protect the craft.

And paying the makers, the knitters, well.

Ethically, boldly, confidently and with interesting, contemporary design twists and storytelling.

I spent quite a while looking.

Looking for the world’s best brand for adorable hand knits.

Hand knits that couples fight over.

Hand knits that children want handed down to them from their parents.

And because I couldn’t find someone committed to doing this.

I decided that someone really should commit.

And that that someone – should be me.

Here’s how we’re looking so far: https://www.50odd.co.uk/hard/.

I wrote a book a couple of weeks ago.

And released it it digital format online.

For free.

A.BRAND

It’s called A.BRAND.

Here’s how I describe it in the foreword:

A.BRAND is an easy to digest, fast and practical business guide.

It’s for business owners that want to be brand owners. Because brand-rich businesses –are rich businesses.

A.BRAND can be read end-to-end in under an hour. Or it’s a useful go-to.

It’ll feed conversation, and support informed decision making around how to get help with brand building and communication.

Some of the most important and interesting brand, marketing and design conversations revolve around a simple A or B.

Here are 20.

If you’d like a copy, please go to www.angelfysh.com and add your email address to the A.NEWSLETTER signup.

You’ll then get your copy of A.BRAND for immediate download.

It’ll give you the confidence to address issues relating to your Brand Building and Brand Communications – properly.

Thank you.