I was 20 when I graduated as a furniture designer/maker.

As enthusiastic and curious about life.

As I was directionless and scared.


I noticed my friends writing letters for jobs.

So I did too.

I wrote 60.

Spelled correctly.

Smartly photocopied.

Hand signed.

And looking good.

I fired them off to see who would offer me a future first.

And the response was unanimous.

No one.


Next, I noticed my friends getting jobs.

Shit jobs.

For shit money.

Spending their shitty incomes on shitty things.




And student-quality accommodation.

So I did that too.

I started selling Sky Television door-to-door.

(And believe me.

That really was shit).


Next, I noticed I was bored.

I noticed also that I had skills I wasn’t using.

I noticed people running their own business.

And I noticed that I wanted to do that too.


I noticed some things that businesses did.

I noticed that businesses bought lots of crappy, samey promotional gifts and blanket-sent them to crappy databases.

I noticed that businesses winning awards would invariably be photographed holding a samey £500 cut-glass rose-bowl from Fenwick.

I noticed my skills as a furniture maker.

And I noticed the opportunity to reapply my skills to the promotional gift market to create much shorter run, much higher quality, much more personal incentives for cleaner, smaller databases.

And I noticed the opportunity  to reapply my skills to the awards market to create bespoke, ergonomically superior, branded pieces that photographed to maximise brand exposure for the sponsor.

And quite quickly.

Customers started to notice me addressing these needs too.


There’s a lot to be said for noticing.

But notice what you notice.

Because if all you notice is what everybody else is noticing.

It is unlikely that anyone will notice you.


Not a cool name for drugs.

It’s dehydrated mashed potato.

Ask your dad.


  1. When I worked with Premier Foods in St Albans, the Smash martians were in reception. I saw them every day. The real, life sized Smash martians! It may have been a crap product, but it was a cool ad. I remembered it from my childhood. Still do.

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