The power of opposites can be extraordinary. 

I have always said that if I ever had a coffee shop, I’d put this sign in the window:

We have great toilets. They’re for customers and not-yet customers. When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go! You are welcome to use our facilities whether you are buying this time, or next time. Just keep them shiny. Have a great day.

I think we’d sell more coffee that way. I don’t know of course, but I’d like to think we would.

Highest not Lowest

Think the best of people not the worst.

Set your life up for the highest common denominator, not the lowest.

Do the opposite of those that live in continual fear of the fools and the thieves.

Set your life up for the generous and the loving.

Preparing for being diddled or fiddled feels wrong to me. It puts you on the defensive. It changes you from warm to cold. Your eyes change.

My good friend Pete Zulu runs The Black Horse, a cool pub in East Boldon, North East UK. It’s filled with beautiful and interesting things. Books, guitars, ornaments, weird pieces of clothing and memorabilia. All on show. Nothing nailed down. All ripe for nicking.

And whilst I am sure the fools and the thieves do pinch things, most don’t. And if you are one of the ‘most’ – you smile. It’s a wonderful place.

Pete is a good man. With endless respect from me and others for what he is and does. He has  many great friends. All of which, I am sure, would ‘have a word’ if they experienced any fool or thief taking something that was not their’s from Pete’s pub. I certainly would.

And I think all this is connected.

Do The Opposite

Do lock your bike when you pop into Tesco’s Extra.

But I wonder what happens when you offer the lady that cleans the communal kitchen at work a cup of freshly ground coffee from your office, because she is looking tired, instead of dumping your dirty plates in the sink and ignoring her?

I wonder what happens when you try really hard to usher every single other person in the bus queue safely onto the bus before you, with a smile and and jig and wavy arms, instead of sticking to your place or elbowing to get on as soon as you can?

I wonder what happens when you take empty beer glasses from your table back to the bar and, with a smile, ask for a cloth to wipe your own table whilst the busy boy or girl serving does their thing. Then thank them sincerely?

I’ll let you know. Or you let me know. Either way – let’s do it.


  1. I love this thought, Michael. All those little actions, such as a smile to a stranger, ushering somebody in front of you in a queue, taking your beer glasses back to the bar, are actions that make you feel better regardless of the impact on others. But also, they *will* have an impact on others. Your actions lift moods and encourage others to do good. You’ll just probably never see that impact first hand.

    So keep doing them anyway, for you and for others!

    • Michael Owen Reply

      A ‘giving economy’ intrigues me. As a principle and in many ways in practice. If more of us gave, and fought hard to give more than others, I reckon we’d be in pretty much the same place. We’d have things not because we’d got them. But because we’d been given them. And ‘they’ would too.

      I was taught that business was about getting as much as I could. Acquisition of money and things. That this was the goal.

      It isn’t.

      And I am no longer surrounded by people that think like this. And I am much happier.

      Have a great day Richard. Please keep commenting on here as you see fit. Please help me spread the word about 50odd and if there is ever anything that I can do for you, please let me know. You are welcome for a coffee at AWR HQ anytime.

      I am

      Thanks again. M

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