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LOVE & LIFE

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Some people think they don’t go to enough events.

Some people think they don’t go to the right events.

I think that we don’t go to enough of the right events.

Events.

I have worked out what makes a great event.

They are events built around The Generosity Economy.

If you’ve not heard of The Generosity Economy it is not surprising.

Because I made it up.

(At least I thought I made it up. Until I searched for ‘The Generosity Economy’ on Google and found it all over the bloody place. But as there are several similar but different definitions of what the Generosity Economy actually is. I am going to make a definition up of my own. Here goes…)

The Generosity Economy is an environment where all people try to help each other out as much as possible. And give value to other people wherever and whenever they can.

As opposed to the economic model where people try to help themselves as much as possible. And get something of value from other people wherever and whenever they can.

Events.

The two events I’ve been to where The Generosity Economy is most prevalent are:

  1. The Do Lectures
  2. Newcastle Startup Week

Both are annual events.

They’re of different sizes.

And in different locations.

Yet both have a similar ‘buzz’ around generosity.

Conversations. 

Many of the conversations at these places start with (something around) what I can do for you.

And not what can you do for me.

The few that try to sell – stand out.

And not in a good way.

Today is an Event.

Anyhow, if you like, you can treat today as an event like The Do Lectures or Newcastle Startup Week.

We don’t need David Hieatt or Paul Lancaster to prompt us to be generous (even though they do, and I am glad that they do).

You can just do it.

If you want.

Today.

Start Now.

So, who will you help?

What will you give today – for free?

For nothing in return.

I hope it’s something.

PS.

Oh, and there’s a PS.

If you do become a part of this Generosity Economy.

At least two things happen.

  1. It’s viral. You will encourage others to be generous to others too. Good breeds good.
  2. You feel great. When you help someone. Expecting nothing back. You just do.

So I hope you give it a go.

How long does real friendship last?

For best friends?

For my friend Pete and his best friend, the answer is – a really long time.

Steely Dan.

My friend Pete’s best friend really liked Steely Dan.

So much so that, earlier this year, Pete took his best friend to a Steely Dan concert.

And that’s where the trouble started.

Not because Pete tried to get his best friend into the concert without a ticket.

(Under the circumstances, that was fine).

The trouble was – security thought Pete’s best friend was drugs.

Pete’s Best Friend

When Pete’s best friend died a couple of years ago, it left a void.

From what I hear, Pete and his best friend were really close.

Both of them lovers of music and – according to Pete – his best friend was that friend who would laugh at things no one but Pete and he would.

And Pete misses him.

That’s why he took his best friend’s ashes to that Steely Dan concert earlier this year.

To sprinkle him.

Not to snort him.

Or smoke him.

(As security thought).

Friendship.

It seems to me that Pete and his best friend have it just right.

Still buggering about and getting into trouble.

Even though one of them is no longer with us.

Well, not in the way that he was.

For Ever.

Security insisted that Pete didn’t leave his best friend at the concert.

As Pete had planned.

Security saw it as, somehow, wrong.

Pete and his best friend had different ideas though.

And so it is that Pete’s best friend.

Because of his best friend.

Rests silently in a field.

With Steely Dan.

For ever.

Here’s a tune (https://www.50odd.co.uk/friendship/)

 

Here’s a Facebook post.

I popped it out there a couple of days ago.

Having founded and now running Always Wear Red is a weird journey.

The downs are hard.

The zigging and the zagging.

The learning is constant.

The bruising – when things don’t go to plan – can be brutal.

Wanting to be absolute best… designing bravely… wanting to make a real difference… wanting to build relationships with the best makers in the world takes a lot of time and money.

Creating a brand that I love.

And that I want others to love too.

It drains me.

But then.

If you stick at it.

And ask the hard questions.

And do the hard things – well.

The good comes.

And it lifts you.

It lifts you high.

Here is a word-for-word message I just received.

After I’d asked to meet up with this person.

A person whose work I adore.

I wanted to chat about Always Wear Red.

Her message to me just now:

“Yes darling… once I get off “the road”. I’ll make time for myself and go exploring. Loving your designs, BTW. Cheers”

Well, I don’t know that this will mean something to all of you.

But it meant a lot to me.

The message was from Alison Moyet.

It’s just a nice feeling.

That the things I love today, are allowing me to revisit the things I loved when I was younger.

The message for you?

If things get tricky… keep going.

There are lovely things just around the corner.

I don’t know which corner of course.

And neither do you.

But they are there.

‘Night.

Alison Moyet.

Here’s Alison singing ‘Only You’ in 2016.

At The Burberry Show.

If you’ve not seen Alison Moyet for a few years.

You’re in for a surprise.

I am sitting in silence. 

Apart from the click and the clack of my keyboard.

Hiss.

When I pause from typing, I can hear a dull hiss.

Deep in my ears.

But nothing else.

Music. 

My mind drifts to what music I should put on.

On my phone.

But instead of popping to YouTube, I do something I so rarely do.

Something quite different.

Something that makes me feel a little insecure, actually.

I turn my phone off.

(I paused when I got to the screen that prompted me to ‘slide right’, actually.

Just for a second.

But then.

Slid I did.

And the phone went cold).

Isolated. 

I feel.

Well.

Isolated.

Frank the dog snoozes to my right.

Boats bob on the River Tyne to my left.

And this, the 295th daily 50odd story, is written.

Silence. 

Silence breeds silence.

And that’s a good thing.

Silence in the mind makes room.

For new things.

New things. 

In the silence, my consciousness drifted.

Looking for new things to fill the space.

But I didn’t find any new things at all.

Not one.

I found something far, far better.

I found old things.

Old Things.

My senses were heightened.

All of them.

And, somehow, I tuned in to old things.

Things that have almost always been there.

In the background.

I heard Mickey Chips (our cat) meow just then.

As he chattered at a bird.

Goading him from a boat’s mast.

Out of range.

Then, I looked down into my coffee cup as I sipped.

Noting the coffee’s beautiful, even deep brown hue.

It was such a lovely colour that I inhaled deeply.

Smelling it.

Coffee is such a lovely smell.

And I also noticed that when Frank looked up at me.

He looks, well, a little lonely (see photo: https://www.50odd.co.uk/old-things/).

So I cuddled him.

Frank.

I was reminded that Frank is always there for me.

And that I am not always there for Frank.

Sometimes because it is impossible.

And sometimes because I am doing something pointless.

Looking at utter, utter shit.

On my phone.

Off.

Life is better with your phone off.

Really.

Not because you discover new things.

But because you remember the old things.

Some people.

They’re grabbers.

LinkedIn.

I quite like LinkedIn these days.

Now I have worked out what it is.

It’s actually a really great way of connecting to a new tribe.

People you can help.

By sharing your ups and your downs and useful little things that may just make their lives better.

Downside. 

On the downside, LinkedIn is for the moaners.

And the chest-beaters.

It’s OK.

We can sidestep them.

But it is also home to The Grabbers.

The Grabbers.

Grabbers on LinkedIn appear quite nice at first.

They do come in with a ‘can you help me’ quite quickly, I find.

But that’s OK.

I like to help.

They are not so hot at coming forward to help you, mind.

When you ask for a wee bit of support.

But that’s OK too I guess.

We all get busy.

But over time, the grabbers say:

Ooh. Can I have one?

And:

Hey. That thing I saw you talking about the other day. Can you dig it out for me again. The one about brand. And pop it through to me.

And I tend to find that they don’t actually say:

Thank you.

Instead, they say:

Cheers!

Because, I suppose, it is quicker.

For them.

Linkedin and Car Drivers.

The problem with LinkedIn is the same problem I observe with some car drivers.

Car drivers, for some reason, seem to think that when people are in their way, they can shout things like:

You bastard!

Or:

What the fucking fuck?!

Blurted from the most aggressive and nasty face they can muster.

If they were in the street of course.

They’d not do this.

Because the car-shouters tend to be quite cowardly when face-to-face I find.

And if they chose the same approach as the adopted from the safety of their cars.

They’d have their nose bloodied.

And quite right too.

It’s similar with LinkedIn.

If I were face-to-face with any reasonable businesswoman or man I’d expect (something like):

Hello. How are you?

Great!

Me too.

So what’s happening?

Actually…

You know what.

I was thinking about you just the other day.

I saw this great new book.

I’ll write it down for you.

Here.

I have a pen…

And I’d not expect:

Hey.

I hear you have a discount code.

Can I have one.

Cheers.

Bye.

It may be just me.

But that’s OK.

They are real.

The Grabbers.

And I wish that they weren’t.

Grabbers…

I just don’t like them.

One of the best storytellers I have ever known.

Is my friend Pete Zulu.

Because he can capture a feeling in just a few words.

Interpretation.

This tiny snippet is something that Pete wrote on his Instagram page next to a lovely photograph.

A photograph that Pete had taken.

I must stress that I will almost certainly have interpreted Pete’s words incorrectly.

But, on occasions like this, incorrectly is fine.

Because however Pete told the story, I interpreted it in my own personal way.

And that’s the point, I think.

Candles. 

There’s a photograph of a young child on Pete’s Instagram page.

I can’t remember who it is.

But he looks worried.

Beautiful.

But troubled.

The caption, written (probably quite badly but brilliantly all at the same time – a rare skill) by Pete went like this.

It was a simple question that this worried, 4(ish) year old boy had asked.

It was:

Who will blow out my birthday cake candles if I die?

I have no idea what prompted this question.

And it doesn’t matter.

Because, if you are anything like me you will feel something about this question.

And death.

And childhood.

And innocence.

And fear.

And loneliness.

And how we all germinate ideas and fears – good and bad – whatever our age, inside our heads.

I hope that, like me, you are smiling.

And that you feel affection for this boy.

And for all young people.

And that you remember how lovely it is to engage with innocent minds.

To help them.

And – importantly – to re-learn, from them, how to think beautifully again.

Anyhow.

That’s what I took from this.

And, of course, it was a nice reminder about Pete’s beautiful mind.

Photograph.

Please.

If you are reading this in your email.

Take a look at Pete’s photograph, too: https://www.50odd.co.uk/candles/

I am not sure if I can still do a handstand.

I may be able to.

But I haven’t tried for such a long time.

Fitness. 

I do grown up fitness, though.

With posh, clunking, robust machines in grey, black and red.

With settings that ensure that whatever I lift gets heavier and heavier and increasingly unpleasant to move as-we-go.

And whirring bikes and rowing machines that go nowhere, yet get me somewhere.

Fitter, I think.

Fun.

Grown up fitness is not fun.

That’s why so many people do it in fits-and-starts.

As it happens, I have the nice people from STORM to help me.

So I do enjoy it.

And I stick around.

But the fundamental activities.

Running on the spot.

Cycling to nowhere.

Lifting until you can’t lift any more.

That’s not fun.

Well, not for most people.

Handstands.

How strange it is then that handstands are fun.

And hula-hooping.

And, I imagine, skipping.

And running around trying to catch a frisbee.

There’s a lot to be said for childishness.

Woven into what we grown-ups are supposed to do.

I’d strongly recommend it.

Not just when were are trying to get fit.

But in everything.

To feel good.

And to smile.

Disclaimer:

If you decide to try a handstand.

And land on your head.

It’s not my fault.

OK?

(But do send a picture.

Of the handstand.

Not you landing on your head).

I once ran a business called onebestway.

It was a Creative Agency.

Over 14 years it grew from nothing.

To something.

Growth.

Specifically, it grew from nothing to sales of £1,250,000 over about 8 years.

Then trundled on.

Winning awards and creating jobs over 14 years.

But it wasn’t always steady growth.

Sometimes, there was sharp decline.

Consett.

An example of sharp decline happened one cold early morning early in year two.

Our offices were in Consett.

And I turned up early.

I was always in first.

First to see the cold computers and desks.

First to warm them, and the room, for the others.

Except on this one morning.

Because when I arrived at the office.

I saw something quite different.

Different.

On this one morning all I saw.

Was a brick.

Brick.

One way to enter to an office.

In the middle of the night.

If you have no keys.

Is to use a brick.

Throw it at a window.

(That should do it).

And one way to very, very quickly ‘unplug’ monitors from sockets.

Is to hit the cables with an axe.

So the axe cuts through the cable – and the table top actually – with speed.

I learned both these things on this cold morning in 2002.

Momento.

For years, I kept the brick.

I smiled at it.

It was a momento.

It reminded me, and the thought of it still does, that we bounce back.

The brick incident was a mere blip.

A bump in the road.

The road from nothing.

To £1,250,000 of sales.

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.

You have to be careful when you feel bored.

When there’s an occasional emptiness.

When you feel that life should be giving you more.

Because it can make you react in the wrong way.

Boredom.

Firstly, many say that there is no such thing as boredom.

Just boring people.

And there is something in that.

But what I am talking about here is when we all occasionally derail.

Bored with, well, everything.

When we feel like something is missing.

So we react.

Reaction. 

The reaction should be creative.

But sometimes it is the exact opposite.

It’s destructive.

Because the dopamine hit that we get from creating things can be muddled with the dopamine hit we get from destroying things.

Winning makes us buzz.

But so can the cut-and-thrust of arguments and fallouts.

Saving money and hitting a savings milestone can give us a buzz.

But so can splurging and spending crazily.

Really pushing the fitness thing can make us feel euphoric.

But so can binge drinking.

Junkies.

Thrill seeking is part of life I think.

It is for me.

The thing I have to watch though is chasing the right kind of buzz.

Creative ones.

Positive ones.

Not destructive ones.

I’m not a junkie.

I don’t crave any old ‘hit’.

But; sometimes – I do have to remind myself of this.