A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times



Believe it or not, and you would never guess if you saw me (remember that bit), but I'm actually old enough to remember real life stories of times gone by, before the one minute silence, let alone life before the two minute silence. 

Yes, there was Armistice Day, when former servicemen assembled in Whitehall and remembered their wars, but that was pretty much as far as it ever went. And I can remember as a youngster, being told by my older brother David that there had once been a time when the whole country, in factories, rail stations et al, would all observe a minute's silence together. But that had been the preserve of a previous generation, our generation was the fortunate one; we would not be sacrificed in war and no one would have to mourn our wasted lives, therefore collective grief could become a thing of the past.

Admittedly, there may have been an odd occasion at a football ground, when a respected servant of the club was honoured by a minute silence, although this was typically punctuated by the hooligans amongst the opposition support.

But then somebody realised that the cause of cheap nationalism could be forwarded by re-inventing the one minute silence, in the pretence that we needed to re-visit and thank a previous generation for their efforts.

Please accept my deepest sincerity now when I state that I personally believe that we owe a massive debt to my parent's generation. I also believe, however, that that gratitude should take the form of a decent pension, access to a comprehensive health service and a right to live securely, before we even consider any of the more token gesture forms of gratitude.

I suspect, therefore, that it was first the Tories, having set about destroying the quality of life for the elderly, who hit on the jingoistic ruse of papering over the cracks by "honouring" the older generation in the highly symbolic — AND ENTIRELY FREE — one minute silence.

But once people had become inured to the practice, it simply isn't considered enough to stand for just one minute. Apparently that seems disrespectful, so now we get the TWO minute silence, because we all need a little longer to show just how much we care apparently.

But it wasn't just for those war veterans anymore either: Oh no. ANYONE could now qualify. Overnight we Brits became a victim culture. And later, under a touchy-feely New Labour party, we were all made super-sensitive. To be human is to feel another's pain. And it's not enough to feel it these days; it is necessary to SHOW it. 

7th July 2005 (The UK's 9-11) was a horrible day. My own experience, however slight in comparison to those who genuinely experienced those events, was still too close for comfort, and I found it all deeply moving. I also willingly took part in the silence that took place a week later, standing with thousands of others in the eerie calm besides Kings Cross, untroubled by the tourists who persisted in wheeling their suitcases through us, as though they were witnessing some eccentric lunch-time siesta type custom amongst the locals.

And then, a whole year later, we're seen to be having another go at it all.

It was 2006 now and Radio 4's Today Programme was almost entirely dedicated to digging over the ashes of the previous year's tragedy. The newspapers reprinted that year’s photographs, and reinterviewed the victims. And once more we we're asked to observe the ‘silence’.

Why? How much respect can we bear? Is victimhood something to revere? Why didn't we stick by the rhetoric AND CARRY ON IN DEFIANCE while in the face of terrorism?

Surely, the more we show how much they hurt us, the greater the value of their actions, and the greater the value of their actions, the greater their effectiveness at hitting at the society they detest. Surely we should be countering this by putting our tragedies behind us and actively moving on. Or did I miss something?

Back in the day, Twentieth Century warfare was fought on a massive scale, particularly in terms of the Great War. "The Lost Generation" that perished in that conflict had a profound effect upon their contemporaries left behind to pick up the pieces. Hundreds of thousands were slaughtered, to the effect that every village, every factory, every railway station, had seen a member taken. The Somme alone claimed 20,000 souls in one day. It is no wonder, then, that the survivors left felt the need to grieve together; everybody had lost someone. It was genuinely a bid to stop it ever happening again.

And while terrorism is wicked and frightening in its random and pointless acts of violence, it is not, however, anyway near the scale of social disaster that the Great War was. Neither are any of the other tragedies of our age, however hurtful they may feel.

Even now, in a post Hillsborough age when it seemingly only takes one scouser to trip on the litter strewn streets of Merseyside to send the people of Liverpool into a grieving frenzy, (and the florists off to the Mercedes dealerships with their earnings), maybe it's time to finally stop and ask WHY we need to do this. I mean, are we really that sensitive? Or are we all just a little bit too comfortably off to be feeling good about ourselves anymore?

FFS... Let's all toughen up a bit and maybe take a leaf from our parent's generation; keep it to our self and get on with it. Stiff upper lip and all that jazz...

And now the do goody liberals can interrupt this post and tell us it's good to let it all out... I'll get my coat.


A MINUTE'S SILENCESocialTwist Tell-a-Friend


I understand from the Guardian newspaper that people are "Wyatting" in pubs these days.

This refers to the practice of trawling internet jukeboxes in pubs, with the express purpose of deliberately choosing tracks considered inappropriate for the setting. These are usually long and "difficult" works, such as those by Brian Eno or Robert Wyatt, hence the name. The newspaper articles debate whether or not this is some kind of statement, or just another childish prank, the next big thing etc.

Well, sod "Wyatting"; I didn't even know that there were internet jukeboxes! (Although, it does now explain the playing of the Argentinean national anthem in the Lord Nelson the other night, particularly as the version appeared to be from circa 1928).

And anyway, when I was doing this kind of thing thirty odd years ago, it was more simplistically called... wait for it, wait for it... taking the piss: just one of many tedious practical jokes to which teenage boys are genetically attracted.

Of course, as far as the pre-internet options were concerned, there wasn't a vast opportunity for dissent back in the 1970s, as the jukeboxes of the day would only hold something like 100 ‘pop ex’ singles of dubious quality, and these ranging from "Distant Drums" to "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep".

In fact, the only record available for subversive purposes around that era, was "Sultanesque”. This was an otherwise obscure B-Side of Roxy Music's "Love is the Drug", an early experiment in "electronic" music. This comprised of a long throbbing intro, with Bryan Ferry playing a single note saw tooth wave, manually turning the knob on an early synthesizer, producing a sound not unlike the electric current running through a badly wired guest house. This lacklustre din continues for over a minute until a simplistic "beat" arrives, followed by, well, little else. For 5 minutes & 24 seconds.


In the interest of research, I've just played my copy, and with the passage of time it doesn't sound too different to a lot of early electronic music of the period, (usually practiced by the Germans, and "avant gardists"). However, back then, hardly anyone had been exposed to that kind of thing outside of art-schools, and it wouldn't be unfeasible if some who had purchased the A-Side on the strength of its radio performances or its position at No. 2 in the charts, may well have played the B-side and concluded that the disk was faulty and needed to be returned.

Thus, armed with my only option, I would sit in the Rockley Arms, awaiting my moment to squidge across the beer-soaked carpet to the juke box, where I would deposit the freshly minted decimal coinage in the slot; select the track by punching the clunky buttons, before returning to my rickety seat to admire my work.

To the clients of that nicotine-stained boozer, the 5 minutes & 24 seconds that would follow was never considered educational or enlightening. No one said "Hmm; interesting, this could prove to be a prescient moment in popular music", or even "the brave thing to do would be to release this as an A-side!" 

No, what they would actually say was "BLOODY HELL, WHO PUT THIS SHIT ON?" or "WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS!" or even—amongst the more mannered patrons—"Excuse me Landlord, could you turn this down, it's giving my lady wife a headache!"

And yet to me it was all hilarious. There they were one moment, swigging their Watney's Red Barrel, moaning about the England football team, the perils of immigration and their disappointment with Brentford Nylons, whilst not really listening to "Hold Back the Night" and "Tie a Yellow Ribbon". Then the room would be slowly, and initially imperceptively, infused with a sonic fug, which would only slowly seep into their consciousness.

Conversations would stall, brows would furrow, and geezers would turn about in their seats looking in the direction of the Juke Box: possibly expecting to see an electrician sorting out the apparently poor earthing. The initial confusion would give way to general disgruntlement, which in turn would rapidly develop into opprobrium of the "WHICH ONE OF YOU CUNTS DID THIS?" variety.

I didn't need Cannabis back then, the response of the drinkers to that track could keep me giggling senselessly for months.

Mind you, I only witnessed this the once, as I was very much of the belief that practical jokes were not about schadenfreude (pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others, although I didn't know there was a name for it back then), and that it should be suffice to merely set up the circumstances of a prank, and then leave the hapless recipients to their fate*. I found the concept of their plight far more agreeable than the vulgarity of witnessing it firsthand. From then onwards, I would merely visit the juke box as we were leaving a bar, dial up "Sultanesque" and exit, smirking for the rest of the evening at the confusion to come.

*I went too far with this once, when, attempting to smoke bomb the Red Lion, I quickly realised that the Fumite I had just ignited was NOT appropriate for a prank, designed as it was to help plumbers detect the extent of blockages in flues. As the rank, over-bearing odour belched from the fizzing tablet atop the cistern I struggled, Napoleon Solo-like, with the lavatory windows, only to find that Jack, the world's meanest landlord, had NAILED them shut. Choking and blind, my eyes streaming with tears, I ran into the bar and gestured to my (unknowing) cohorts that it was time to leave. We donned coats and made our way to the door as brows furrowed and the atmosphere grew acrid as the locals began to rub their eyes.

After spending the rest of the evening at the Potter's Arms, it was decided to risk returning to the Red Lion on the way home. We arrived in time for last orders, just as a police car pulled away.

Apparently, my "prank" had cleared the pub with the impact of an early 70s counter-terrorism raid. The air was still vicious, and those few stragglers left stood around squinting through blood-shot eyes, sporadically coughing, and unable to taste their drinks (but then, in the Red Lion, that would not be a bad thing). Jack couldn't prove anything, but his grimace that night as he served me was more menacing than the usual distain he would normally display.

Of course, back in those the "good old days", we knew how to make our own entertainment.

A CUNNING STUNTSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend




Sometimes you need to be hit over the head two or three times with a blunt something or other, before things really sink in. And that’s what has happened to me recently. The lesson I learned – or at least the lesson I had reinforced – is so potentially life-changing, that you’d be mad to the point of insanity, not to give it some serious thought.

Although I profess to be quite interested in the written word, to describe my knowledge of classical literature as patchy would I’m afraid, be embarrassingly flattering. And that’s a shame really, because there are some amazingly profound lessons to be learned through it. For example, just recently I came across one of the most widely known quotations from Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing (Yes, I did have to look that bit up) – one to which I’d given very little thought before…

“All the world is a stage and all 
the men and women in it, merely players.”

And it only resonated with me this time because of three other things that have happened to me recently.

The first is that I read a book by Derren Brown (a UK magician) called Tricks of The Mind. In one chapter, Brown discusses the subject of developing and displaying confidence. Now if you’ve ever seen Derren Brown perform, I think you’ll agree that he comes across as being supremely confident. And yet it wasn’t always like that, and indeed isn’t necessarily like that today.

You see, in his early life, Brown suffered from the same doubts and insecurities as most of the rest of us. So what made the difference? Well he discovered something very simple, and yet extraordinarily powerful… in order to become confident, you firstly have to act confident. And once you start to act in a confident manner, others begin to treat you as being confident, and guess what? You become confident because of the way other people are now treating you. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for you…

But if it doesn’t come naturally to you, you have to,

‘fake it before you can make it’.

The second thing that happened concerns one of the actors who feature in the movie Clubbed. Part of ‘the deal’ when you star in a film is that at some stage or other, you’re expected to help promote it. Now acting and promotion are two completely different things, which is why the cast of this film were booked in for a training session on how to present themselves in interviews.

Some of the cast were ‘naturals’, but one guy (I won’t say who to save his blushes) just isn’t comfortable with this sort of attention. Whilst he fully comes to life on screen, in private he’s a pretty quiet and unassuming guy. Perfectly fine qualities in a human being, but not so great when you’re trying to excite and enthuse other people about the film you’ve just made.

The lady running the course had seen all this before and knew exactly what to do. Instead of giving him a whole list of specific instructions which she knew he’d probably forget anyway, she gave him just one instruction…

Just imagine it’s a part, and you’re playing a successful movie star!

As soon as he ‘got it’… that he wasn’t being himself in these interviews, he was simply playing a part, just as he did every day of his working life, the transition was almost instantaneously made. He acted like a movie star, so people started to treat and react to him as though he was a movie star. And by now, you should know what happens next…

He’ll start to feel like a movie star, and that will 
affect how he behaves naturally...

But just like Derren Brown, he had to fake it before he could make it.

Thirdly now (and I saved the best till last), I (yes dear, sweet, little, old me) have recently found myself more and more in situations that demand I engage with people face to face and even have to speak publically, in front of people, people judging me, judging the way I look, the way I speak, the way I fluff my lines almost every time, oh alright then, every time dammit.

I used to sell insurance back in the early nineties (believe it or not, I have sold kitchens and cars as well, brand new shiny ones too), and the catchword of the day then was that people will buy into your enthusiasm. And guess what, to be enthusiastic, you act enthusiastic ‘cos enthusiasm sells right?

Notice any parallels yet? Is there a common theme being reinforced? Is there an ‘aha’ moment anywhere in here for you? 

Like I've already mentioned, I know there was one for me. It seems that the world is indeed a stage and we’re all the cast playing our parts on it. And the great news is, is that we get to choose the parts we play. Nobody else chooses those parts for us. And if we play the part well, the world demands and dictates that we play it again and again for life.

But I must warn you, it works both ways. Choose a lousy part for yourself – and if you don’t apply any conscious effort and thought to this, you probably will do – and that’s going to be the part the world will allocate to you too.

So, once you realise that you become what you present yourself as being, it’s a tremendously enlightening and empowering moment, because it’s then that you know that your fate and fortunes lay entirely in your own hands. But it can also be a frightening moment too, because every excuse you ever had for not being where and what you want to be is stripped away from you in an instant. And you probably already know, there’s a lot of comfort to be had in those excuses.




ACT THE PARTSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend


In his book “A Mathematician Plays the Stock Market” John Allen Paulos tells a story of a man and his wife, who travel all the way to Las Vegas to do some regular touristy sightseeing, and maybe do a little conservative gambling.

Anyway, after a long night out, and losing $1,000 dollars, the hero of the story wakes up to find a $5 chip sitting on the hotel dresser in the room he was staying at. Naturally he thinks of it as some sort of magical sign or omen, jumps out of his bed and runs back down to the casino floor, in such a hurry that, he doesn’t even change out of his green bath robe. He ran to the nearest roulette table and threw the chip onto the red seven, which hit and paid 35-1 on his $5, or $175. 

He then continued to gamble and put the winnings on another single number, which in turn hit, leaving him with $6125. He continued like this for another two wins, leaving him with $7.5M. The casino would not take another wager, saying that they could not afford that payout if he were to hit again. The man ran to the nearest casino that agreed to take the bet. He threw the money on number 8 hitting once again. Ecstatic the man decides to let the £262M ride, only to lose it all on the next spin.

He left the casino and began to walk back to the hotel room where he met with his wife as she was waking up and asked him “Where have you been?” The man replied that he had “Been playing roulette downstairs for the morning.” His wife then responded “Well how did you do?” The man casually replies “Not bad I suppose, I only lost 5 bucks.”

Now in case you didn’t know, this is an example of what is called mental accounting, which was defined by Belsky and Gilovich in 1999 as “The inclination to categorise and treat money differently depending on where it comes from, where it is kept, or how it is spent.” 

The bloke in the green dressing gown had just lost a huge sum of money. But in this somewhat exaggerated example, he never really saw the money as his, and so he was extremely reckless and cavalier with it and the loss didn’t really hurt him. But there’s a lot more to this entry than that of just an academic interest or even an amusing story.

For example, it’s well documented, that people gambling while using a credit card, often place bigger bets than they would if they were using cash. Obviously, the money is the same, but the source for some reason, makes a complete difference. And even if you’re not a gambler, you can probably recognise the truth of this – it’s a lot less painful to pay for something using a card than it is paying with cash that you can see instantly disappear when you spend it. It’s totally irrational I know, but none-the-less it’s still a harsh reality for a great many of us.


Let me now give you another manifestation of this:

Let’s say you set out one Saturday evening to buy a well earned takeaway meal. It’s a very windy day this day, and as you take your phone out of your pocket, you pull a $10 note out along with it, and it blows away and down a gutter. It is gone. You still however continue to walk into the take away and buy your meal for $10. How much has the meal cost you? Most people would say it’s cost $10, and perhaps you’d agree. Assuming you still had enough money on you, you’d certainly continue with your plans to buy your much deserved takeaway.

Let’s imagine now that you get to the same take-away unscathed, you buy your meal for $10, but on the way out, you trip up and tip everything out on to the pavement before even taking a bite. Leaving a perfect pavement pizza for the whole world to see. You now have to go back into the shop again and buy the same meal if you still want to eat. So how much will this meal cost you? Most people would now say it will cost them $20, and may well decide to not proceed to buy it as a result. And yet the financial consequences of both visits to the takeaway are exactly the same. Logic would suggest that both situations are viewed, and reacted to, in exactly the same way. But in reality, that won’t happen for most people.

I’m sure you will agree (I can wait...), this is a huge and fascinating area which straddles the wide and varied fields of psychology and economics, but I still had to bring it to your attention for all of its practical applications to you, both as an individual and or a business person.

As an individual, it’s worth giving some thought as to what extent you use ‘mental accounting’ like this in your day to day life, and whether a more rational and consistent approach to money would have a positive effect on your finances. Because by all rational measures, money is just money. Its source, place of keeping and intended purpose should not really be relevant to its value or how easily you can part with it.

And moving swiftly now from gamekeeper to poacher, as a business person, it’s useful to know that your potential customers usually have a variety of sources for their money, and they are unlikely to treat each of them in the same way. They are attached to some money (cash, earnings and funds with a pre-determined purpose for example) much more strongly than other money, such as winnings, Paypal balances and credit card balances.

When businesses look at ways to increase sales, they usually look at the offer they’re making, their product and their pricing. But they rarely consider how they might exploit the ‘mental accounting’ of their customers, and tap into sources of funds which are valued less highly, and are more easily accessed as a result.

So in order to hopefully open a few of you up now, particularly if you have any kind of money making enterprise, I would suggest it could be worth giving some real thought to this little anomaly of the financial world, because while I’m sitting here all on my little lonesome, doing my best to entertain and educate you all without so much as a buy your leave, a pardon me or even a stray fart from you in your passing by, it would still be nice to occasionally hear from a few of you reader types. I’d be particularly interested as to how you guys think you might be able to use this information to your own advantage (Still waiting...).



WORTHSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend



As you might very correctly imagine, I’m on a hell of a lot of mailing lists these days, partly because I’m totally enthralled by all the tricks of the marketing trade (yes I’m that sad), and partly because I’m a sucker for anything that costs far more than it really should do. And it was for the latter reason, that I recently received an email (my inbox probably resembles most people’s spam folder) the other day about a new Porsche that’s been released.

And now, for your edification and delight, I’ve reproduced most of the email below, but cut it off at the point where the sending dealership is revealed because I suspect this is most likely a promotion filtered down from head office, and that the dealer was probably already embarrassed enough to be sending it, without me adding to his woes. Anyway, here’s the email…

Dear Mr Robinson

Life, intensified – the new Porsche Macan.

How can you engineer intensity? How do you create it, capture it and instil it in everything you do? At Porsche, it’s a question we ask ourselves constantly, and today we have a new answer.

With the new Macan we’ve not only built a compact SUV, but also the first sports car in its class; a genuine Porsche. From the athletic design and range of powerful engines, to details such as the centrally positioned rev counter and steering wheel inspired by the 918 Spyder, this is our Porsche DNA. Born of a philosophy that has endured through more than 65 years of sports car engineering: in the wind tunnel, on the racetrack, and in our hearts.

The new Macan is a sports car that is practical, yet far from ordinary. That takes us to the heart of the action, and closer to our hearts’ desires. A car that gives us what we’ve always been looking for: the feeling of being truly alive.

If you’re hungry for more, visit www.porsche.co.uk/macan to find more detailed information and reports relating to the development of the new Macan. Alternatively, please contact us on…

Imagine now, the theme of the conversation in Porsche's head office in Stuttgart on an average Monday morning…

“So did you have ze good veekend Klaus?

“I did indeed Wolfgang, thank you very much for asking… and you?

“Excellent Klaus… excellent. But enough of ze pleasantries. We must now return to ze question ve are constantly asking ourselves…. ze one vee ver wrestling wiz on Friday afternoon, and every day for as long as I can remember. Just how can you engineer intensity? Not only zat Klaus, but how do vee capture it and instil it in everything vee do?”

“I’m buggered if I know, Wolfgang. To be honest, I still don’t understand ze bloody question. Vi can’t vee just try to make ze cars better like everybody else?"

Now what’s that I hear you say? You can’t imagine that? Well that’s because a conversation like that would never ever take place. In fact never in the history of human endeavour has anyone ever asked the question,”How can you engineer intensity? How do you create it, capture it and instil it in everything you do?” Not even once, let alone constantly.

It’s just an example of what I’m going to call (for the sake of a better term) ‘Advertising Agency Bollocks’… if you’ll pardon my French (which I’m guessing you gratefully will do after just enduring my German).

They get away with it for one very simple reason – nobody bothers or indeed needs to measure what they do, or compare it with something better. The cars sell of course because… well they’re excellent cars… and so the people creating ridiculous promotions like this will always get away with it – their contribution is never measured or properly assessed.

You and I on the other hand, don’t have that kind of luxury. We don’t have endless TV shows, newspapers, magazines and thousands of online sources telling the world how great our product is for us. We don’t have over half a century’s worth of manufacturing and racing heritage. And so for the most part, we stand or fall on the marketing we do today.

And when you’re in a hole like that, I hope you don’t open up a promotion with ‘Life Intensified’. I mean, have you ever felt the need to have your life intensified, by the way? No, me neither. It’s just meaningless arty farty drivel which does absolutely nothing to move a prospective customer any closer to making a purchase. And any advertising or marketing which doesn’t at the very least do that... is in my book; money down the drain.

Do you reckon you’d be reaching for your credit card any faster if you read ‘Life Intensified – A new room setting by Localad Services? I didn’t think so! (But if you do... nudge nudge wink wink).

If asked how to create a successful advertisement, sales letter or promotion, the first thing I’d suggest is to avoid copying the ‘big boys’ because they have budgets way beyond our comprehension, and no real way of measuring how effectively they’re spending them. We will all go broke very quickly, creating the kind of ad’s which Porsche turn out. So what should we do instead?

Well it’s a huge subject, but for now you could do a lot worse than follow a very simple three step formula I read once, which has always stuck in my mind and works really well considering how low tech and cheap it is to implement. It goes like this:

1. Tell ‘em what you’ve got

2. Tell ‘em what it will do for them

3. Tell ‘em how to get it.

Sounds ridiculously simple I know, but if you start analysing the myriad advertisements and promotions you’re exposed to on a daily basis, you’ll quickly realise that very few of them fulfil even these three basic requirements.

All anyone really wants to know is what’s in it for them. How will their life become better by owning or using what you have to sell? Follow the three step approach, and answer these questions convincingly and compellingly, then add how easily they can get their hands on it, and believe me, you will make sales.





Obviously by using the above three step formula, you can be certain you won’t be getting a job writing any meaningless promotions for Porsche and the like, but do it right and you might just make enough money to buy yourself one.


INTENSIFIED?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend




I can probably be blamed for many things, 
but my name isn’t going to be one of them, Oooooh no, not my name!! 

That's because I wasn’t around to choose it at the time; that was my parent’s fault (so don’t you come running to me about it). And yet, at the same time, don’t get me wrong here because, after living with it for nearly far too many decades to mention, I have gotten rather used to it and these days, I’ve got absolutely nothing against it – I’m quite happy with it in fact. 

But that’s where the real problem lies...

You see a lot of 'other people' are happy with it as well, and as a result, they insist on using my name for their own dastardly purposes. 

For the record, I am not…
 
Andy Robinson the American actor who played probably the most overlooked screen villain of all time as Scorpio in the film Dirty Harry, or the shape-shifting head of security, Odo in Star Trek Deep Space 9. 

Andy Robinson, the English Rugby Union coach and retired player. 

Andy Robinson, the English footballer who primarily plays as a central midfielder. 

Andy Robinson, the English comedian from Off the Kerb Productions. 

Or any of the other 'Andy Robinson' charlatans masquerading as me on line these days.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Some of these people had the name well before I did, but that’s not the point. It’s MY name now, and because of that, I want full exclusive use of it!

But why?

Because with all these other (and perhaps more famous) people using it, it makes it very difficult for me (the one and only Andy Robinson) to stand out on any Internet search.

I mean, who do you think is more likely to get the most prominence on Google if you type in the name Andy Robinson…the villainous shapeshifting actor who played Scorpio or me, a small world bloke from Springwood with an even smaller one man band business to promote?

Now I said at the start that I couldn’t be blamed for my name, but there’s something that perhaps I can be blamed for – and that's for using it! And that's because if you want to stand out online, and take advantage of the undoubted free attention and traffic which Google natural (organic is the term) searches can bring you, an unusual, unique or more offbeat name could certainly help you.

The aforementioned actor Andy Robinson is far more less likely to experience the same internet related Andy Robinson problems I do. Tap his name into Google and you’re not going to get an accountant from Worksop or a miniature lion keeper from Snowdonia (two other impostors who appear before me on a Google search). Neither is he likely to get Andy Robinson the surprisingly appealing and popular but microscopically small time entrepreneur from Springwood. (Actually, at some stage you will but it will likely be on page Goooooooooooooooooooogle, not the front page).

So, to steal a popular football chant that yet another listed Andy Robinson might better relate to… 

There’s only One Andy Robinson!

Well according to Google, there is. Mr Robinson the actor. He started out his career as plain Andrew Jordt, and I suspect he would have faced a lot more competition for search engine attention had things stayed that way without the fame that followed his name change.

And it’s the same story for a lot of other household names too. David Jones would have battled for a lot more attention from plumbers than David Bowie ever has, Reg Dwight would have probably got lost in a sea of Greengrocers whereas Elton John didn’t, and Richard Hall could have been swamped by listings for lawyers, but Moby never was.

Having a unique or unusual name was always important for TV, film and music personalities well before the birth of the internet. But today it’s increasingly important for everyone else too. When you run a business and someone types your name into Google, you want them to find YOU straight away – not some funeral director from Sydney or a cobbler from the Gold Coast (more imposters).

What this means is that you need to give some careful thought these days to the name or names you’re using to front your business or enterprises. And depending on the business you’re in, that may mean changing the name you use personally or what you call your business. And you certainly need to give it a lot more thought than I ever did – which was practically none!

But to jump to my own defence here for a moment, I’m so old now (yes, I really am) that there was no internet let alone any Google (can you believe that?), when I was making these decisions for the first time. But you might not have that excuse, particularly if you’re in the early stages of a new venture or business now.

So let me just ask you this... 
When people type your ‘name’ into Google, what will they find? 

The answer will instantly reveal what changes (if any) it would be wise to make when planning any kind of 'enterprise' (did you see what I did there? Enterprise - Star Trek. Oh never mind). And at the same time, with the onset of the latest and new improved 'personalised search' services, maybe you should look into clearing your browser history too.



ANDY ROBINSONSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend


Now I don’t get out and about very often... Most days you’ll find me exactly where I am right now – slumped in an old red office chair behind my computer keyboard staring into space with a more than blank expression on my face, desperately hoping that it’s my turn for a little inspiration to pay an all-too-rare visit my way. 

Sometimes, I’ll get up and move around a bit, look out of the window perhaps, maybe even talk to the cat perchance another human being may one day be present for me to actually imbibe in a conversation with – but most of the time (well all of the time really) it’s just lots of sitting and lots of meaningless staring, only to be punctuated by the occasional depressive sigh. Most days, inspiration for me is making house calls elsewhere.

The casual observer may conclude that I’m not doing very much at all – that I’m wasting my time. And most days the casual observer might be 100% right. But last Monday was to be different. Last Monday wasn’t going to be most days.

You see, the sun was out, it was 30 odd degrees centigrade in the shade and I decided it was time that I parted company with my trusty office chair and actually make plans to go see what the outside world had to offer me. And nobody could ever dare say that I didn’t get anything done on that day, because within an hour of arriving in the wonderful expanse of countryside known as the great outdoors, I had:

Stood in the biggest and sloppiest dog turd on the face of the planet in open-toed sandals no less.

Had my sunglasses stolen by a naked toddler.

Halted the filming of a period drama.

Quite impressive, I’m sure you’ll agree. And you’d be right because you can’t do any of that from an office chair in Springwood, I can tell you!

We (Madi and I) had gone to the Daisy Hill Koala Centre, a place I’ve wanted to visit many times before (mainly down to the lack of Australian wildlife I have experienced in all my time here). What I hadn’t realised though, is that the gardens don’t actually open until 11.00am and we’d arrived quite a bit earlier than that. Now you might wonder why I wasn’t aware of this fact? 

Well the answer is a simple one – I’d only ever been out and about with my wife Jodie before now, and such is the degree of preparation and preamble which any outing with my wife normally entails, that it’s flat impossible to arrive anywhere before 11.00am, let alone somewhere less than an hour from home. In fact as Madi gleefully pointed out as we pulled up in the car park, “We wouldn't have left the house yet if Mum was coming!” 

However, a few minutes later, I had cause to wish that she’d come along after all.

Since the gardens were closed we decided to kill a little time by walking down by the adjoining river, an area completely devoid of animals. But they’d clearly not been long gone. And I realised this when, like previously mentioned, I looked down after stepping backwards to take a photo, to see the sloppiest, smelliest dog turd clinging to my open toed sandal and perilously close to making a final assault over the top on to my toes. I suspect you might think I make these things up round about now, but Madi likes to photograph anything bad that happens to me (she has a file on her phone labelled Andy being ‘Special’). So here’s the evidence for all to see.

So why did I wish my wife Jodie was there? Well she has many fine skills to her name, and one of those is an almost minesweeper-like ability to detect and avoid animal excrement of all forms. She can often be seen walking through the Hyperdome (shopping centre to you non-locals), down a street or through a field announcing “Dog muck!”, “Sheep poo!” or “Cat shit!” at the appropriate moment. Strange behaviour for someone who generally walks alone, but there you are. Had she been with us, I probably wouldn’t have stepped in it, and even if I had, there would have probably been a ready and waiting remedy to hand. And that’s because the preparation and preamble that makes it impossible to arrive anywhere before 11.00am is frustrating, but it does result in a bag full of tissues, wet wipes, towels and no doubt a washing line or two.

As it was, this day we had nothing and I had to do a passable impression of a rutting stag for ten minutes before all traces of the offending material had been transferred to the local fauna. I was just relieved to be wearing smooth soled sandals rather than deep-ridged trainers, which would have necessitated an unpalatable, but all too familiar, operation with a sharp pointy stick.

Anyway, with freshly scraped-clean sandals we set off again for the gardens which were now open.

It was getting hot by now, and so we headed straight for the waterfall type structure where a ribbon of water flows from high on the hill behind the koala house. Apparently, it’s a popular place to cool off in hot weather - and a source of brisk business for the full time employed first aid department given the number of people who fall on the slippery surfaces there. I could spend many a happy hour there, taking bets on who was likely to go arse over tit next.

Anyway, we took our shoes off left them on the side, along with my sunglasses and other stuff, and waded our way in. And it was then that I noticed a naked toddler running down the hill and making a beeline for our gear. He promptly picked up my designer shades (okay I paid $10 for them in a 2 for 1 deal in a Westfield mall but I’m trying to build a story here) and hared off back up the slope with them.

Now as a middle aged man (indeed as a man of any age) your options are somewhat limited when something like this happens. You haven’t really prepared for such eventualities. It’s not like you’ve been sitting in a pub at some point in your life and someone has said to you “Okay, here’s one for you. You’re having a paddle and a naked toddler runs up and whips off with your sunnies. What do you do?” You’d have thought about it then, but nobody ever raised the scenario, so you just haven’t.

I briefly contemplated chasing after the little fellow, but quickly realised that that wasn’t going to play well with the police… or with anyone else really. “So Mr Robinson, the only reason you were chasing this two year old naked child was to recover a pair of sunglasses which you say he stole from you worth … hmm let me see … around a fiver? That’s the explanation you’d like us to consider is it?"

And so you do what I did. Nothing at all. Eventually my thief got bored, discarded them in a bush and I sheepishly went to collect them. Having cooled off, we decided to move on and see what else the gardens had to offer. Now when we first walked in, I’d seen a small sign that said something about filming, but didn’t read it. I really should pay more attention I suppose because as we emerged from behind some trees, we found ourselves right in the middle of a period drama. There were horses, there were coaches there were gentlemen and ladies... all in period costume… and then there was us in just shorts, T-shirts and shades. We didn’t really fit in, and it didn’t go unnoticed.

Somebody yelled ‘Cut!’ and a nice lady who I think was liasing with the film crew on behalf of the Koala Centre, strode over to us. “Are you enjoying your day in the gardens today?” she enquired patiently. She didn’t fool me though. I knew this was a precursor to what she really wanted to say. After all, I know someone with an agenda when I see one. 

She put it very nicely, but here’s what she said in essence. “We’re fookin filming today and you’re right in the middle of the bastid shot. Didn’t you read the bloody signs on the way in? Now it’s a sodding massive garden, this. Bloody huge it is. So please go bugger off and play somewhere else in it. Thank you so much sir.”

She did however invite us to stay and watch for a bit, hence the pictures below. You can tell the cameraman in the back of the coach is thinking, “That’s the pillock who just ruined our shot.” I also want to show you another photo though, something else you won’t see when the programme is aired on TV later in the year sometime.

 

As you can see, it’s a period coach being pulled along by a 21st century ute with the actors being filmed inside the carriage. When you see the finished programme, you won’t see anything of that of course. Nor will you see any of the other day trippers just out of shot, the dozens of crew in vests and shorts, the 6 large trucks containing goodness-knows-what or the idiot in crappy sunglasses with smelly sandals taking photos of it all. Nor will you see the 14 hours of effort (no thanks to me) that went into creating what will probably end up as no more than two minutes worth of useable film. You will see what the producers want you to see… a carefully edited version of what happened on the day. In effect, a total illusion.

I know this isn’t a revelation to you. You know that what you see on film and TV – the finished product – isn’t real. But what you might not think about too often is that the finished product almost every individual, business and organisation presents to the world is just as much an illusion as well. It’s a carefully edited version of what they want you to see, and not an accurate reflection of any kind of reality. It’s the glossy tip of a sometimes scabby and perilous iceberg.

It gives no real indication of what went into creating what you see, hear and touch. You get no real feel for the time and effort it took to get to what you’re now experiencing. A film crew will often work all day in order to get two minutes of useable film. Some days they will work all day and get nothing they end up using (not always my fault). The same input/output ratio is often in place in less obvious fields, but you wouldn’t know it without getting a peek behind the scenes at the preparation, the trial and error, the blood, the sweat and the tears.

The bottom line is that because you usually only get to see the final result, rather than the processes that led to it, it’s very tempting to draw the conclusion that others have life much easier than you do – that their grass is greener than yours. The reality though, is that if they do have green grass, they have invested much time and effort in growing and tending it. They probably have an awful lot of grass that dies or goes brown as well. Sometimes their grass won’t grow at all, and the only thing separating them from the masses is a recognition that nothing worth doing is ever as easy as it looks… and a refusal to give up. Green grass takes time and effort to cultivate.

I think this whole issue of the ‘hidden workings’, explains a lot. It explains why we have a tendency to look enviously at what others are doing; it explains why we are tempted to easily abandon our own jobs, businesses and projects for ‘easier pickings’ elsewhere… and it explains why most of us then give up on these new undertakings as well, when the full enormity of the iceberg is revealed… when our grass starts to turn brown… or to keep the film analogy alive, when we see what’s piling up on our cutting room floor.

Whatever businesses, projects or careers changes you’re planning, it’s worth investing some time and effort to see past the illusion created by the ‘finished product’. It isn’t always easy because the world doesn’t want you to see the iceberg below the surface, it doesn’t want you to see its scrubby grass, and it doesn’t want you to look at what’s on its cutting room floor either. That would just spoil the illusion. No, it isn’t easy, but it is crucially important.

Building a business or a career on an illusion is tantamount to building a marina in an oasis. Ultimately it will leave you high and dry. Yes, there’s short term comfort in illusion, but it doesn’t come close to compensating for the pain and discomfort when reality sets in.

And while we’re on the subject of the grass being greener... I was watching the recent World Cup held in Brazil and it was evident that the grass on some of the pitches, which was in a very poor condition a few days before the tournament, was somehow miraculously transformed come kick off time. The media however, were quick to quell my thoughts of me going prematurely insane by exposing the previously unknown secret – the grass at these venues had been painted!

I did a little research into this and found that it’s pretty big business in North and South America, where long dry spells can leave grass looking very tired and brown. Believe it or not, there are now franchise opportunities in the United States which help people get started in the grass painting business, but how hard can it be?

There are plenty of situations where greener grass would be desirable, and where weather, animal urine or footfall has rendered the surface less than perfect. I’m thinking about sports stadiums, golf courses, public parks and gardens, and even private koala gardens where there is a filming party, wedding or other event. I also wonder whether there’s a market for an ‘Emergency Grass Repair’ service? 

If you want to look into this, the following company seem to offer the paint products you need. http://www.naturalgreengrasspatch.co.uk/



So all in all, we’ve come a long way from a foot full of dog shit, haven’t we? 

Oh, and if you ever get to watch what was being filmed on your television and see anyone who looks like me in crappy shades, dubious shorts and shitty sandals, you’ll know the film editors did a really lousy job!


THE GREEN GREEN GRASS OF HOMESocialTwist Tell-a-Friend



It was the roughest time of his short life and Richard Parker Jr was hurting. His heart was heavy and filled with pain and he couldn't stop crying. His father had been killed just three days earlier in a car accident and it had devastated him and his whole family.

Senior was his everything to Richard including being his hero and the best friend he had in the whole wide world. Richard had his whole life ahead of him and he knew his father would have wanted him to move forward. They would hang out together and do so many things in each other’s company. Richard and his father would talk for hours at a time about anything and everything. He would tell his father about his passions for science and his dreams of becoming a physicist and mathematician. Richard wanted to go to one of the top universities in the country to earn his degree in science. It brought an instant smile to his face when he thought about how happy and excited his father would be when he shared his dreams with him.

Richard senior was always very supportive of his son no matter what he did or wanted to do. He would miss his father's encouragement now, but Richard would never forget all of the things his father had taught him. His mother was concerned for Richard because she knew how close he and his dad were. Belinda felt that only the fullness of time would help heal her son but for now she just wanted to support him. Richard was now the man of the house and he knew his father would have wanted him to help take care of his little brother and two sisters as well as his mother.

As time went on the family began to adjust to their loss and move on with their lives. Belinda and Richard would sometimes sit on the sofa and look through the family photo album at the pictures they both took with his dad. They would cry and laugh together as they talked about the fun times they had had with him.

They say time heals all wounds which was, to some extent true as Richard and his family were slowly able to move on. Belinda returned to her work as Richard prepared to graduate from high school and go on to college. He was accepted into Eton thanks to his excellent grades and it was hard for Richard to control his excitement about attending this new college. Everything was going great for him and his family as life got easier for them.

There was however still one thing Richard wanted to do but couldn't bring himself to do it and that was visit his father's grave. Everyone had been to the cemetery to visit except for Richard because he was still having problems dealing with his father's death. Although months had passed since the accident, it still felt fresh to Richard as he struggled to cope with it.

Sometimes he would walk by the cemetery to see if he was ready to go inside but then he would turn and walk away. This would go on for years because his father's death was still far too painful for him to bear.

By now, Richard had made all of his dreams come true and had accomplished everything he’d set out to do. He worked as a physicist now at a nearby science laboratory and taught math at a local university. Richard married his girlfriend Davina who he had met in school and she gave birth to their son Richard III to carry on the name.

After spending time with his own son, Richard felt he was finally ready to go visit his father's grave. It was a balmy Sunday afternoon when he and his son made the trip together and they both walked up to his tombstone. While standing there looking at his father's grave, Richard became very emotional as the tears started coming down his face. After gathering himself Richard began talking to his father again, simply telling him how well the family were doing. Richard told him how he had made all of his dreams come true and then he finally introduced his father to his grandson.

The sun was going down and Richard had spent several hours talking to his father and it was a great relief to him. It was just like old times again and Richard realized that while his father may be gone physically, he was still with him spiritually.

That day was father’s day, and Richard consciously began a tradition of going to the cemetery, and talking to his father once a week. It was rewarding for Richard because his father had always inspired and encouraged him and even in death it was to be no different. Richard was excited about where he was in his life and where he was going. But the icing on the cake for Richard was the fact he had got to continue to be with his dad.




FATHER'S DAYSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend




In the good old days of real entertainment, music hall comedians would regularly launch into their first joke or sketch with “A funny thing happened to me on the way to the theatre tonight.” It was all nonsense of course, just a way to get the show going. But a funny thing really did happen to me on the way to the theatre (well cinema)the other week, and any modern day comedian witnessing it would have had his first 10 minutes worth of material readily laid out on a plate for him.

It was a Saturday afternoon, and I was with wife and child on our way to the cinema where we were to embark in a couple hours worth of viewing the movie Lucy. Our route took us down a wide road which weaved through a sort of housing estate and past the Hyperdome shopping arcade thingy just off the motorway at junction 28. 

Anyway as we approached our destination, I saw a man in his later years, walking slowly across the road towards us – apparently deep in thought about things more ethereal. And as we got closer and I realised he was a vicar/priest/pastor/man of the cloth and for a brief moment I wondered what God bothering duty he was about to perform and perhaps much more to the point, where he was going to do it? The thought didn’t last for long though.

That was because a metallic green hatchback was coming at him from the other direction. The vicar was oblivious to its presence, and the car had to slow right down as he continued his leisurely crossing of the road. The driver was clearly infuriated by the delay caused and blasted on his horn to the vicar as he passed. We weren’t in the least bit prepared for what happened next. The clergyman spun around, made a familiar Churchillian hand gesture and yelled “F*** OFF!” at the stunned motorist before proceeding on his way.

“Did he just say what I think he said?” asked the daughter.

“Yep.” I replied.

“And he was a vicar?” added the wife.

“Unless he was on his way to a fancy dress party!” was my answer.

We all dissolved in laughter at the incongruous turn of events. It appears Father Jack (of Father Ted fame) is apparently still alive and well and living in Loganholme of all places. Who would have guessed?

What we were witnessing of course, was a quick peek beneath the veneer that he presents of himself to the outside world. I’m sure the 'vicar' wouldn’t normally talk to people like that, but the combination of being startled by the car horn and a surge of anger caused his spiritual ‘mask’ to slip and offer us a quick glimpse at what lay beneath.

We’re all like this of course. We present ourselves with an image in line with how we’d like the world to perceive us, but the reality can often be very different. Most of us don’t want the world to view us in a negative way – say as unsophisticated, uncouth, greedy, lazy or self centred individuals… or with a strong interest in some of the more base pleasures in life. And so we apply a veneer that is more refined, cerebral and sophisticated in both taste and action, than is our underlying pre-disposition. The monster within only makes an appearance when we’re under pressure or stress, when alcohol or drugs remove our inhibitions a little, or when we think nobody is looking!

But that monster is instrumental in most of the decisions we make, and he’s certainly making his opinions well and truly heard when we’re considering whether we will buy a particular product or service.

A great deal of marketing fails to hit the spot because it’s aimed at the prospect with the veneer still firmly in place. Over the years I’ve spoken to dozens of people about their marketing and have often had cause to criticise it for being too safe, too boring and too corporate. The reaction is nearly always the same… ”But our customers are sophisticated/serious/refined people. They wouldn’t like anything too extreme.” In my experience, this is nonsense. They all have a monster lurking within, and he’s the one holding the purse strings. He makes decisions based on strong emotions, and you don’t light a fire under those by being too safe or corporate.

If you’re reading this it’s safe to assume that you’re familiar with my company’s services and the way that they’re marketed (Not the tamest methods in the world, see www.facebook.com/localadserv ).

So who do you think would respond to an advertisement that says, “The information the police don’t want you drivers to have’ and then goes on to sell a book about avoiding speeding tickets in the UK. Teenage boy racers in baseball caps, perhaps?

Well I questioned the author who took a little look at his database of buyers and here are a few interesting highlights he gave me:

- There are 34 men of the cloth (and they’re just the ones using their titles!)

- There are 51 knights of the Realm

- There are 26 Lords and Ladies

Plus at least a dozen household names from film, music, politics and TV that he happened to notice when their orders came in.

Now of course, I don’t know anything about the other people who bought from him, but it’s safe to assume that a great many of them are far removed from what you might expect, and far too refined/serious/sophisticated to respond to the sort of advertising and promotion I would personally favour. Except, of course, they all too often do respond.

So if for some reason you’re not getting the results you want from your advertising and marketing, it could be because you’re trying to sell to what you see rather than what you get. And what you get is often a lot more base and ‘earthy’ in its behaviours, needs, wants and motivations than it would like you to believe.

In other words, you need to sell to the vicar out on the street, the one sticking two fingers in the air while ‘effing and jeffing’ at wayward motorists, not the one standing in his pulpit.


"ONIONS HAVE LAYERS"SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend



Generally speaking, I have a Golden Rule for my food preparation, which if I’m honest, can be a little restrictive to say the least. The rule itself goes like this: If any dish takes longer to prepare and cook than it does to eat, then it’s strictly off the menu. And that’s because anything else just seems to throw the effort/reward relationship completely out of balance for me. 

I’ve yet to find too many kindred spirits though, and if the popularity of TV cookery and food programmes is anything to go by, I appear to be in a very tiny minority. But appearances can be deceptive!

It will probably never happen, but occasionally I have the odd fantasy about appearing on Masterchef (the UK version because that’s where I came from right?). The show’s hosts Greg Wallace and John Torode are whispering to each other conspiratorially off camera as I make my entrance…

“So John, I gather this Robinson bloke is something of a novice?”

“That’s right Greg, but I’m expecting great things from him today.

“Why’s that?”

“Well he’s been talking himself up Greg, something about blowing all the other competitors away with his dish. He’s really up for it.”

“That sounds exciting John, I like a chef with confidence. So what’s he cooking for us today?”

John refers to his notes…

“For his main course, he’s preparing baked Haricots in a light tomato jus on a bed of grill-seared Ciabatta, and for his pudding he will be serving a fermented milk and summer fruit thickening, presented in a foil preserved crock. This should be interesting; I can’t wait to see how he pods the Haricots… wait a minute… what the hell’s he doing with that can opener?”

“It looks like he’s got a tin with a bright blue label there, John. Can you make out the lettering on the side? H… E… I…”

And then John would refer back to his notes and the penny would drop…

“Strike me down with a Didgeridoo Greg, the shyster’s doing us beans on toast and ripping the lid off a strawberry yoghurt carton!”

Cooking is huge business on TV these days. Aside from Masterchef you’ve got the likes of Come Dine With Me, Ready Steady Cook, The Great British Bake Off, Hell’s Kitchen, Two Fat Ladies, The Hairy Bikers, Two Greedy Italians… and myriad series and shows featuring the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, and Heston Blumenthal.

And all of this is a bit puzzling to me – and not just because I don’t cook. You see, at first glance it doesn’t make sense. It’s a bit like radio conjuring. The main senses impacted upon by the activity don’t come into play. You can’t taste anything through your TV. You can’t smell anything through your TV. All you can do is look and listen. And to add to the confusion, the effect on the audience’s cooking and eating habits is nowhere near as great as you’d expect from the number of people watching. We (the UK) are still a nation of take away and convenience food addicts.

So why the popularity, and what’s going on?

The answer tells us something important about human psychology, in as much as what really interests us, and ultimately what you need to do if you want to get people’s attention and draw them towards your business, product or service.

Although there is a fair amount of interest in food and cookery, it’s at a much lower level than the viewing figures for the shows would actually suggest. In most of the popular programmes, food and cooking are little more than a vehicle for serving up (did you see what I did there?) what people are much more widely fascinated by – theatre, drama, characters and personality.

The success of Masterchef is partly due to the food and cookery content, but much of the audience tunes in for something else – personalities, drama and jeopardy (Will the dish work out or be a disaster… who will be knocked out… who will cope and who will crumble?) 

Come Dine With Me is more about the interaction and conflict between the competitors, than it is about the food. Anything with our Mega Chefs Gordon, Jamie or Nigella is driven more by their personalities and enthusiasm. And that means that a large proportion of the audience tune-in just to see them, rather than to get cookery tips that they’ll never ever act upon.

In fact, select any cookery or food programme on TV and you will find either drama or personalities holding the whole thing together. So what’s the connection? It’s not about the food… it’s not about cookery… almost nine times out of ten it’s about the people! And that’s because people are far more interested in other people than they are in anything else. If they do have an interest in other things, you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s at its strongest when there’s a connection with a human story, drama or personality.

People come first. Other stuff comes a very poor second.

This has huge implications for anyone marketing products and services. If you attempt to sell things by talking about the product or service in isolation, you’ll lose a large part of your audience straight away. It would be a bit like a cookery show without the format or the characters. The most successful marketing does what the most successful cookery shows do… it creates personalities, it creates stories with a human angle, and it places the ‘product‘ in a wholly human context. It gives it life.

So whatever you’re selling, give some thought to how you can bring it to life through stories, drama and interesting characters. How was your business formed? What difficulties or pieces of luck have you experienced along the way? What characters or personalities have been connected with your business or product? The answers to these types of questions are what can raise your marketing from the banal to the barnstorming.

Remember this one thing and you’ll multiply your chances of success every time. Simon Cowell has made a whole career out of it. His millions are there because he knows that... 

People are interested in themselves first, other people second… and what you want them to buy, a very poor third.



MASTERCHEF?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend



In 1895, Albert Einstein’s father received a discouraging appraisal from his son’s teacher…

“It doesn’t matter what Albert does, he will never amount to anything.”

Hermann Einstein needn’t have worried though. Within ten years, young Albert had blossomed into an intellectual giant and was already beginning to unlock the secrets of the universe. And in the fullness of time he became the foremost Theoretical Physicist of the twentieth century (other than Sheldon Cooper of course), and his is the name that comes to most lips when the word genius is mentioned.

Likewise, his stage and film career spanned a total of 76 years, during which he made 31 musical films. He was named the fifth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute. Gene Kelly hailed him as the pioneer of dance on film. And yet when Fred Astaire arrived in Hollywood, the director giving him his first screen test, summed up his potential as follows…

“Can’t sing, can’t act... Balding... Can dance a little.”

I was reminded of these somewhat wayward assessments today while reading about Sir John Gurdon who recently won the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his groundbreaking work using DNA. Like Astaire and Einstein, he had also been subject to an appraisal of his abilities which proved to be somewhat wide of the mark.

As a 16 year old schoolboy, Gurdon had received a report from his Biology tutor containing the following withering assessment…

“It has been a disastrous half. His work has been far from satisfactory. His prepared stuff has been badly learnt and several of his test pieces have been torn over; one of such pieces of prepared work scored two marks out of a possible fifty. His other work has been equally bad. I believe he has ideas about becoming a scientist. On his present showing this is quite ridiculous, and it would be a sheer waste of time both on his part and of those who have to teach him.”

So how did Gurdon become such an accomplished Biologist? Indeed how did Astaire and Einstein achieve such great success in their respective careers after receiving such damming criticism from on high? Well I don’t have any insider information here for you, but I believe the answer may lay in a sentence I omitted from Gurdon’s 1949 report, and here it is…

“Several times he has been in trouble because he will not listen, but will insist on doing his work his own way.”

And here’s what separates out the great achievers from the also-rans… the thing that carves a clear divide between the cogs in machines and the creators of machines – Doing things your own way.

Do things the way everyone else does them, or the way they’ve always been done in the past and you will never be responsible for breaking new ground, no matter what field you operate in. The furthest you can ever go is as far as others have gone before you. All you can ever be is a cog in a machine which someone else has created for you. But insist on ‘doing work your own way’ and there’s no end to what you might discover and accomplish.

Having said that, teachers are cogs, programmed no less to create nothing but more cogs out of us. Indeed, everyone in authority from the government down, tend to put systems in place to churn out compliant and homogeneous cogs. The world needs cogs, and it needs lots of them. And so it tends to criticise and punish those who refuse to conform to the norm – at least in the short term. But what Astaire, Einstein and Gurney all had in common was their refusal to conform to expectations, and their insistence on doing things differently – in their own way. In short, they were more interested in what could be than what already was. Subsequently, the results speak for themselves.

A word of warning though – this only works if independence of thought and action is married with effort, application and ability.

It isn’t enough just to be different. But there are millions of individuals in the world who tirelessly work away as facilitating cogs in a pre-existing machine, when they could so easily have the potential to be architects of new, improved machines of their own creation. It’s only the fact that they have been indoctrinated into conforming to a particular mode of operation that prevents them from doing so.

So if you find you haven’t yet had the breakthrough moments you’d hoped for in your life, it could be worth considering whether doing things right, your own way, rather than following a well worn path, might be worth a try. After all, Einstein himself once said,”Insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.” 

So do it your way. You can be sure of encountering severe resistance, and it certainly won’t be easy – but then the things that are really worth doing rarely are now are they?




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Its my own fault really, its all about what I see in the world, and how it all translates for me.

Please, please, please, dive in and enjoy this blog and all that I will ever ask in return, is you add a few comments whilst passing through.

And if you've enjoyed reading the contents as much as I have compiling them, help spread the word through your friends.

Thanks again for dropping by, hope to see you again real soon.

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