Part 3 is missing from most businesses.

And I think we should put  that right.

3 things.

The first 2 parts  feel super-important to most people.

And the third part, not so important.

But to me.

All 3 parts are equally important.

And I also think that the reason most businesses never really maximise.

Is because the third part is missing.

Part 1 – Mattering.

This is understanding what you do from the market way around.

Making sure you matter.

It is knowing what you are for.

It is knowing the difference you want to make.

And knowing that that difference matters.

And who to.

That’s your market.

Part 2 – You.


Ability is not necessarily talent.

But you definitely need to be able to deliver on the promises you make in Part One.

With conviction.







And I could go on.

But you get my drift.

Part 2 is about being bravely all in.

Part 3 – Playfulness.

The best way to get noticed.

In a world that is.

Let’s face it.

Pretty boring.

Is to be different.

And one of the best ways to be different.

Is to be playful.





A little bit zany, even.

That way – you noticed.

You get impact.

And if you can get impact.

You can start to communicate.

And if you start to communicate.

You can start to persuade.

And if you can start to persuade.

You are on your way to building relationships.

And building a business.

So there you go.

Part 1 –  Mattering.

Part 2 – You.

Part 3 – Playfulness.

I was asked to chat on a podcast this week.

Called ‘INBOX’.

A dozen speakers from around the world.

Chatted about email marketing.


I was billed as a storyteller.

Which is good for me.

Because I do like a good story.

What’s going on?

One of the reasons I was asked.

(So I am told).

Is because I have a knack for finding stories and writing compellingly.

For myself and for my clients at

So that a loyal readership develops.

A Question.

And it is because of this observation.

That I asked myself a question.

I asked myself:

What’s going on?

When I am writing.

What am I actually thinking?

Four Observations.

Here is how I answered.

And I included these answers as part of the podcast itself.

I made four observations.


I am not writing so that I can sell to you.

I am writing so that you can work out if I am the kind of person you want to buy from.


I write for the love of writing.

To see if I can find stories that matter.

And tell them well.


Writing is like loving.

The relationship builds.

It is built on trust.

Shared memories develop.

We have ups and downs.

And things take time to bloom.”


There should be a voyeuristic aspect to what I write.

When you read, you should feel like a (welcome) voyeur.

Not a prospect.

So there you go.

That’s what’s going on.

When I am writing.

For myself and for my clients.

That is what I am actually thinking.

Alfie Joey is a North East based actor.








And probably more.

So yes.

Alfie Joey is a creative chap.

And I’ve met Alfie a couple of times.

So I know first hand that Alfie is an all-round good guy, too.



A few months ago now.

Alfie painted The Angel of the North.

He referenced the red colour he’d used in this particular one.

And he referencing me personally.

In a social media post because of my Always Wear Red brand.

I said I thought the paining was excellent.

And just last week.

Alfie was kind enough to sent it to me.

And here it is in my house:


I wanted to make a point about triggers.

Triggers are doing something that is the catalyst for something else to happen.

And this kind act from Alfie.

Was in fact the trigger for me to push forward on a couple of quite significant things in my life.

One was passing on a bit of kindness to two other people.

(And maybe they then passed on a bit of kindness to people that know too?)

And  another thing that Alfie triggered.

Rather more significantly, perhaps.

Is the fact that this gift from Alfie was the trigger for me moving house.


A wee bit of kindness every now and then.

Doing something nice just for the sake of it, I mean.

It can trigger things you may never know about.

And you may never be thanked, either.

But that’s not the point of being kind, is it?

The ‘thank you’ bit.

It’s for the sake of doing it.

So give it a go!

Who knows what you might trigger.

(And Alfie.

Thank you).

If you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing.

Thank goodness!

Because it means you’re ‘doing’.

And if you’re ‘doing’.

It means you started.


But what have you started?

And where are you going?

What is beyond you not knowing what you are doing?

Well if you think about what was beyond almost every single bloody thing you have ever done.

In your whole life.

That started off with you not knowing what you are doing.

Then you will remember in a heartbeat that beyond not knowing what you are doing.

Is knowing what you are doing.

And beyond knowing what you are doing.

(If you keep on going, that is).

Is being pretty bloody good at what you are doing.

And beyond being pretty bloody good at what you are doing.


(If you keep going long enough).



So never forget that.

If you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing.

Thank goodness!

Because it means you’re ‘doing’.

And if you’re ‘doing’.

It means you did what most people don’t do.

It means you started.

I want to go to London.

I am not sure if it’s because I really love it there.

Or if it is because I am not allowed to go.

But whatever it is.

I really want to go to London right now.


I like going to London because it’s so busy.

And because I meet up with a handful off really nice people.

And most of all because of the hustle and the bustle I think.

The vibrancy.

And the possibility.


I like coming home too, though.

Coming back from London.

To Newcastle.

That feeling is just as good as going to London, actually.


But I really want to go to London.

Maybe because I really love it there.

Maybe because I am not allowed to go.

But whatever it is.

I really want to go to London right now.

One of my favourite brands.

In the whole wide world.

Is Under Armour.

So it was interesting to have a comment on my LinkedIn page this week.

From Keith Hoover.

The President of Black Swan Textiles.

And former Vice President of Manufacturing and Innovation and Development.

At the mighty Under Armour.

And Keith was taking the time to comment on something that I said!

Little old me!


Here’s what he said about what I’d written:

That’s just silly.


Silly Me. 


Here’s our full conversation:


This is really useful guidance.

For when you are next thinking about buying a piece of clothing.


Find out where, why, how and by whom the piece is made.


Knowing those things.

Consider whether you like the piece more.

Or less.


If, once you know where, why, how and by whom the piece is made.

You like it more.

Buy it.

And if, once you know where, why, how and by whom the piece is made.

You like it less.



That’s just silly.


Hello Keith.

Expand on your opinion you get a moment, please.

It’s a little echoey as it stands.

Bye for now.



Michael Owen don’t assume anything.

I’ve seen a good deal of the apparel industry around the world over a long distance of time.

I’ve also read a good deal of history, so my perspective is deeper than the here and now.

There are many problems to solve and opportunities to provide.

If you want to spend all of your time researching how your t shirt was made, then have at it.

Why limit it to clothes, however?

What about your phone?

Your toilet?

Your toilet paper?

What about the code behind your apps?

What about your food?

Your water?

Your thoughts?

It seems to me that you’re being awfully narrow and apparel centric.

You’re here for a reason and a short period of time.

If you choose to spend most of it wagging your finger rather than solving real problems through actual work (not merely being aware), then you’re wasting your life and your gift.


Hello Keith.

It’s good to hear your thoughts.

Not least because I admire Under Armour.

Anyhow, for the avoidance of doubt, I’d encourage anyone to, ‘spend time researching how their teeshirt was made.’

I believe ‘where, why, how and by whom’ a thing is made should influence buying decisions as much as aesthetic and quality.

Brand ‘values’ increasingly impact brand ‘value’.

So attention here is wise.

Particularly as finger-wagging life-wasters like little old me want to ensure brands they buy from (and into) don’t (for example) treat people like shit.

Ironically, based on your opening phrase, I don’t limit my thoughts to clothes.

Because they’re not thoughts.

They’re values.

So it’s toilet paper et al.

I’ll close in violent agreement with your endnote Keith.

I like solving problems.

Using life and gift.

And 3 brands.

My Brand Strategy Business builds brands as I describe here.

My clothing brand encourages people to buy less and buy better.

To Wear.



My blogging brand encourages people to take control of and tell their story in our short 1000 month visit.


To not try to solve problems would indeed be ‘silly’.

I’m not looking to change the world.

Just mine.

Happy Sunday Keith.



I learned a lesson.

About me.

Someone I admire had an opinion diametrically opposed to mine.

And that’s natural of course.

Because neither of us are stating facts.

We’re both just expressing opinions.

Yes, we both have experience, points of reference and even data to back up our opinions.

But they remain opinions.

And on we go.

In parallel.


It’s how I do business these days.

I am not running around trying to get those that don’t like Marmite to like Marmite.

I am not primarily trying to change your mind.

I don’t have the time.

But let there be no doubt.

I am clear about what is in my mind.

I am clear about the change I am trying to make.

And I am speaking my mind so that if you agree with me.

You can come with me.

And if you don’t.

You won’t.

It saves a lot of time.

For you.

And for me.

Take a look at the photograph with this story.


Here it is:

It’s a tree.

Just to the right of the tree.

Your right as you’re looking at it.

Lisa’s right as she took her daughter’s photograph, I mean.

That’s Izobel.

The Tree.

I suppose the tree will be a few hundred years old right now.

And Izobel is 3.

I wonder if the tree worried about what it was for in it’s earlier years?

Like I did in my earlier years.

Like I do now.

And then I remember something.

I remember that if that tree was an oak tree.

(It’s probably not an oak tree.

I don’t know trees).

It wouldn’t have produced its first acorn for 50 years.

And that makes me feel a little bit better.


As George Lois reminds us in his neat wee book, ‘Damn Good Advice (For People With Talent!)’

Charles Darwin was 50 when he wrote, ‘On the Origin of Species.’

Ray Croc was 52 when he emerged as the catalyst for the acceleration of the McDonald’s Restaurants global empire.

Colonel Sanders was 60 when he started KFC.

Frank McCourt, a New York schoolteacher wrote Angela’s Ashes at 66.

And won a Pulitzer Prize for it at 67.


I’m nearly 52.

I wonder what I’ll do when I grow up?

This is really useful guidance.

For when you are next thinking about buying a piece of clothing.

Find Out.

Find out about where, why, how and by whom the piece is made.


Knowing those things.

Consider whether you like the piece more.

Or less.

More or Less.

If, once you know where, why, how and by whom the piece is made.

You like it more.

Buy it.

And if, once you know where, why, how and by whom the piece is made.

You like it less.


Whatever you’re writing.

If you want it to be good.

You have to write it twice.

Write Twice. 

You have to write it twice because.

To write something good you have to be two different people.

First, you have to be the writer.

Second, you have to be the reader.

And you can’t be the two different people you need to be at exactly the same time.

So here’s what to do.

Be the Writer. 

First, just write.

Get it out.

All of it.

Everything you want to say.

Just say it.

Don’t bother editing it too much.

Just write.

Be The Reader.

Second, be the reader.

Cross things out.



Think about what you are trying to say from the reader’s perspective now.



And refine.


Leave a gap between being the writer and the reader too.

A cup of coffee sized gap should do.


See if that helps.