Category

CONFIDENCE

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Bikes need stabilisers.

So do businesses.

And, sometimes, people do too.

Stabilisers.

The difference between bike stabilisers and these two metaphorical ones I mention (business and life).

Is that once you’ve worked your way past your bike stabilisers.

You probably won’t go back.

But the other two – stabilisers for your business and your life – you may need them more than once.

And that’s OK.

I don’t think that business or life are things that you initially wobble through, learn, and then have mastered for ever.

So from time to time.

When you feel you need to.

Go get the stabilisers.

Stabilisers. 

My stabilisers in my personal life are my friends.

The ones that understand my business side as well as my ‘me’ side, mostly.

People that take the time to listen to me.

When I am wobbling.

And for my business, I have a coach.

As some businesses have me to help them when I have my ANGELFYSH hat on.

I help people when they wobble through the tricky bits.

As others help me.

Tricky Bits.

I may be experiencing tricky things for the first time.

Or I may have forgotten how to confidently zoom forward as smoothly as I once did.

Either way; I am glad they are there.

Stabilisers.

Nice to have.

When you need them.

Paul Lancaster started Newcastle Startup Week 3 years ago.

I don’t know how many more years it will last.

And Paul probably doesn’t know either.

But what I do know is that Newcastle Startup Week is very, very special.

Newcastle Startup Week.

This May.

Over a 5 day period from the 13th to the 17th.

Over 700 people will gather in Newcastle and Gateshead to explore a huge range of subjects around starting and growing businesses.

It’ll be about 1,000 people once we add in students.

But it won’t be at all businesslike in the traditional sense.

Suits will be few and far between.

As will vol-eu-vents.

Instead, there will be the excited and the entrepreneurial, buzzing with optimism and positivity.

As well as amazing local food, coffee and beer served from mid morning to late into the night at amazing local venues like Tyne Bank Brewery, Back Yard Bikeshop (By The River Brew Co.) and Stack Creative Social Hub.

And because of all this.

What comes as absolutely no surprise to me at all.

Is that this event is more attractive, better attended and more loved than anything of its kind that I have ever seen by any university, college, enterprise agency, local authority, networking organisation in the North East of England over the last 20 years.

And I have worked for 4 universities and the North East’s 2 biggest enterprise agencies.

Nothing has ever come close.

Festival.

Newcastle Startup Week is a festival.

The speakers (of which there are 60+ from around the world) are diverse and intense.

Each speaker gets an average of 20 minutes to do their thing.

So the content is sharply constructed and efficiently presented.

The whole event crackles and buzzes with seemingly endless layers of information, entertainment and inspiration.

And it is unencumbered by waffly sponsors.

They’re clever enough to know that just being involved, and a sprinkling of a few well-chosen words, is enough.

Tickets.

Newcastle Startup Week is innovative, layered, surprising, fast-moving and vibrant.

And as I say – very, very special.

Which, I guess, makes Paul Lancaster very, very special too.

All you need to know is here, including how to get a week-long ticket.

And if you email me at michael@500dd.co.uk, asking for a discount code, I’ll send you one that’ll give you a 50% discount in these last few days.

Please.

Go.

Could you entertain the idea that the thing you fear most.

Is the thing that you are actually destined to do or be?

Could that be true?

Destiny.

There must be something in this.

Something that I have always said fills me with knuckle-whitening, brow-wetting, heart-quickening fear is stand up comedy.

My friend David Taylor (http://www.nakedleader.com) did this a few years ago.

In a proper, grown up comedy club in London.

Much respect!

Actually if there’s a bigger word than respect – that’s what I actually mean.

Astounding.

Masochism

But I remain interested in this… the idea that the thing you fear most is the thing you are destined to be or do.

Is this masochism do you think?

Because I actually quite like the feeling of white knuckles.

And the scary, involuntary dampening of my brow.

For no reason.

And the quickening heartbeat, too.

Adrenaline. 

It’s adrenaline I suppose.

The thought of standing up and telling jokes to strangers.

The idea of saying something that you yourself have crafted to be funny.

But what then if no one laughs.

I feel sick at the very thought!

What about you?

What about you?

What do you fear most?

And, because you fear it so intensely, is that the very reason you should be doing it?

I can’t quite get my head around this notion.

Let me know what you think about this please in the comments at www.50odd.co.uk.

My newest and most crisply structured brand is Always Wear Red.

I thought AWR started on Valentine’s Day 2016.

But I am mistaken.

Always Wear Red actually started about 35 years ago.

When I was 15.

Claire. 

Claire lived up the road from me on Windermere Crescent.

She was no older than my 15 years.

Yet somehow, she was a young woman.

And I was a boy.

School. 

We walked to school together.

Each day I’d get ready in my blend-in school uniform and peer up the street for her.

She’d smile as I joined her to walk at her side.

I knew exactly when she’d walk down the street.

Claire was easy to be with.

And I loved listening to her.

She told me stories about me.

The me I wanted to become.

In the future.

In my head.

Boyfriends.

Claire’s boyfriends were very often older than Claire.

She told me tales of fumbling in cars.

Tales about sneaking off.

Tales about what happened when they got caught.

And (much more interesting) tales about what happened when they didn’t get caught.

15. 

As I was approaching 16, I decided that I should be Claire’s boyfriend.

And a big part of my plan to make this happen was for Claire to see me not in my school uniform.

But in my special tee-shirt.

I had bought this t-shirt from ‘town.’

On one of the occasions I’d been there mum-free.

With my mates.

Special Tee-shirt.

You see, upon wearing this special t-shirt it clearly made me infinitely more fanciable.

So I’d get my mum to iron it for when I thought Claire might be walking down Windermere Crescent on a weekend.

Or in the school holidays.

So I could accidentally bump into her.

I felt different with Claire when I was wearing my special tee-shirt.

I felt like I could actually be Claire’s boyfriend.

Always Wear Red. 

Always Wear Red started when I was 15 years old.

When my special tee-shirt turned me into James Bond.

When my special tee-shirt made me feel that I could do anything.

The feeling was real.

The feeling that, when you wear something so, so special – you’re unstoppable.

And I thought about this feeling in 2015.

I thought to myself:

…imagine a clothing brand born to make us feel amazing.

That created confidence for us.

Now that would be something.

And Always Wear Red was born.

To find out what you’re great at, you have to do shit.

Not ‘do shit’ as in ‘do things badly’ you understand.

I mean you have to actually do things.

Rather than just talking about them.

Perfectionism.

Perfectionism is self-sabotage.

It just is.

Waiting around for that perfect opportunity.

Or that perfect moment.

The thing to know here is that, perfect opportunities do exist.

But you don’t know if they’re the real deal until you take the step and actually do them.

Because some things that you’d bet your life on being perfect – aren’t.

And some things that look imperfect – once you start them – turn out to be perfect.

Things People Say.

Ooh, I’m a perfectionist me.

So I’m not doing it until it is perfect.

Really means

I’m scared.

And that’s fine.

Doing any great thing has to be a bit scary.

Do Shit.

So, if you want to be shit hot.

Do shit.

Because – no shit – it’s the only way to know.

I am the Co-founder and majority shareholder of a clothing brand called Always Wear Red.

The other shareholder is Ralf Little.

Ralf is the actor/writer that played (amongst other roles) Antony, the son in The Royle Family.

Colin.

In mid 2015 I was in London with my dog, Colin.

I was sat outside a restaurant waiting for the lady I was meeting.

I wanted a wee and as dogs weren’t allowed in the restaurant, I asked a guy on the next table to look after Colin as I went inside.

When I returned, I looked more closely at the helpful stranger.

It was Ralf Little.

He too was waiting for someone so I chatted to him about my clothing brand concept.

Decisions.

After chatting with Ralf for a minute or two, I made a decision.

I decided that I wanted him to own my business with me.

Ralf is smart.

Clever.

Attractive.

And was one of the main characters in one of the UK’s best ever sitcoms.

I imagined he was rather well connected.

And I was genuinely interested in what he could bring to the business.

My decision was made.

Zoe.

After 10 minutes, he was sat next to the lady he’d been waiting for.

Zoe Rocha, daughter of fashion designer John Rocha and sister of Simone Rocha.

Zoe is super impressive.

And at one time was the COO of Stephen Fry’s Production Company, Sprout Productions.

So I made another decision.

I decided that I wanted Zoe to become a shareholder too.

6 months. 

6 months later, Always Wear Red was owned by 3 people.

Me, Zoe and Ralf.

Decision Precision.

There are two important things here.

First, the precision of the decisions I made.

I decided what I wanted.

Second, it is important to note what I did to make it happen.

I treated Ralf and Zoe with the respect that people of such calibre deserve.

I tried my very best to help them understand my vision.

What they’d get from our journey together.

And I listened hard.

I tried to work out how my dreams dovetailed with theirs.

How their creative path overlapped mine.

And, after a few months, I got what I’d decided I wanted.

Decide.

If there are things you want in your business.

Whether it’s something you are going to plan for.

Or if it is an opportunity that lands in front of you because you want a wee and need someone to look after your dog…

Make a proper, precise decision.

Then do every single thing that you possibly can to get what you’ve decided.

Jill knows she is inferior, therefore she is superior to anyone who thinks she is superior to him.

My friend David Bradley bought me 4 books last month.

One of them is called KNOTS by R.D. LAING.

It’s a mad book, containing observations by the Oxford Professor of Poetry that he describes as,

…remarkable insights into the ways human beings behave to one another.

Things People Think and Say.

I like the book because it contains just a few pieces of dialogue and prose over it’s 90 pages that I can dip into and out of.

I like books that I can pick up and put down.

My attention is rarely held for long.

However, with this book, the reason I dip out is because with more than half of it I don’t know what the hell it’s going on about.

This isn’t a book review.

Yet.

Because I haven’t finished the book.

Because I don’t understand most of it.

But one or two bits of it are really amazing and explain big chunks of the human psyche really efficiently.

I recognise the behaviours and thinking in me and in people I know or knew from what I am reading.

Take the quote at the beginning of this little story.

The quote is simply saying that if you think everyone is better than you, and someone thinks everyone is not better than you, and because of this they like you, then you are better than them.

(You might want to read that again).

And so it might follow that they are not therefore good enough for you.

Because they couldn’t even fathom that everyone is better than you.

If this is describing you now, or in the past, or anyone you know or knew, then that person:

  1. Will never allow themselves to love anyone because anyone worth loving would not be hoodwinked into thinking that you are lovable.
  2. Will never allow anyone to love them because anyone that would entertain the idea of loving them is clearly not good enough to love them because they think you’re lovable, and you aren’t.

There’s a simple lesson I suppose.

And it’s an old one.

It’s that lesson about loving yourself being really important because, until you do, you cannot be involved in a truly loving relationship with anyone else.

I have always sensed this is true.

I think.

But I never really understood why it’s true.

I think I do now.

And by the way, I am sober as I write this.

Just in case you were wondering.

Read this again if you have 5 minutes.

I haven’t explained this brilliantly I don’t think…

But the quote at the beginning – I like it!

I think it really does explain why loving yourself is important.

Confidence can lead you to a fearless, happy life.

Once you wake up to a few simple truths.

A life unafraid.

A life where you can just ‘be you’.

Here is insight that will set you on your way to being confident, fearless and happy.

It is part of the story of why confidence comes and goes in life.

The Story of You

  1. Age 0 to 2 – FEARLESSNESS. You’re little. You don’t understand fear. You explore and adventure. Anything goes.
  2. Age 3 to 5 – NATURAL FEARS. You start to recognise bumps and scrapes, needs and wants, friends and enemies, sharing and selfishness, togetherness and loneliness. You start to fear, naturally, not having what you want when you want it. This changes you. You have tantrums. But, largely, you’re OK.
  3. Age 6 to ‘you choose an age‘ –  LEARNED FEARS. You and others begin to shape and make learned fears. Fears that contain you. Fears that hold you back. Fears that shrink you. Others ridicule your quirks and your uniqueness. The things that make you different. They tell others about your mistakes, too.  So everything gets muddled. You begin to question things. You worry. You fear what people think of you. And these learned fears breed more fears.
  4. Age ‘you choose an age‘ to death – FEARLESSNESS (AGAIN). You – somehow – wake up to the fact what others think of you matters only as much as you allow.

Keeping these 4 stages in mind, you just need to remember 3 things if you want to live a more confident, fearless and happy life:

  1. Anything learned can be unlearned. 
  2. Confidence and fearlessness feed into and from each other because confidence erodes fear and fear erodes confidence (you are most confident in stages 1 and 4 above).
  3. You choose your ‘you choose an age’ age. No one else.

There’s this great big block of time in any person’s life, normally between (about) 7 years old and (about) 60 years old – so about two thirds of your entire fucking life – where fear erodes confidence and this lack of confidence results in less happy and fulfilled days.

You know it’s true.

Kids are bonkers.

Older people, once they wake up to the fact what others think of them matters only as much as they allow, are bonkers too.

You’ve seen older people like this.

Bonkers is great!

Confidence. Fearlessness. Bonkersness.

Bonkersness

So, all you have to do to be more confident, fearless and happy – is to choose a ‘you choose an age‘ age (see above).

Suggestion…

… your ‘you choose an age‘ could be whatever age you are now.

If you like.

Endnote: I’ll talk about tactics to help you on this journey in other stories.

Because – I know – it’s hard.