The businessman and the painter: a story about the perspectives of success…

There was once a big, successful businessman who owned a beautiful house in the suburbs of a busy city.

He loved business and had dedicated his life to it. Earning a fortune in the process.

Along the way he’d fallen in love with an equally successful woman and they’d had a couple of children between them. He had everything he had ever wanted in life.

One day the businessman decided the house could do with a new lick of paint and some decoration.

He searched around for a painter and eventually found a reliable sounding one in the area. Rich as he was, the businessman still liked to drive a bargain, and was pleased that the painter was very affordable.

The painter arrived the next day – he was a humble, affable man and the businessman instantly warmed to him.

All the work that the businessman had wanted done was completed within a few days and he was very pleased with the results. He paid the painter and told him that he would be his first port of call if ever he needed any work done.

That night, as he was settling down for a glass of Scotch, he noticed that the painter had left a few of his things there.

The painter’s office wasn’t far away, so the next morning the businessman drove it over for him. He was surprised to find out that the man’s office was also his home – a modest apartment that he shared with his girlfriend.

The businessman was invited in for a coffee and duly accepted. As he went in he saw a framed degree hanging on the wall – the painter had first class honours in fine art from a very prestigious arts university.

The businessman also noticed several easels set up around the apartment with half-finished paintings on them – the artwork looked incredible.

After a while the businessman asked him: “Painter, your artwork is incredible – why ever didn’t you decide to pursue a career as an artist? You could make it so easily”.

The painter smiled and nodded; “I have done. You see, every day I paint for people and I give them exactly what they want. Not what I want, or what I think they want. And every day they live in their homes or sit in their offices surrounded by my work. I’m giving people what they need and I never grow short of work”.

The businessman couldn’t help but look astonished.

“I know my work will never go out of fashion, no one will ever steal it, no critics will ever sneer at it and no one else but me will dictate how much it costs. Plus, when I’m long gone no one will ever try to copy it!”

After his coffee the businessman left and continued on with his day, a new perspective on success had opened up in his mind and he would admire the painter for as long as he lived.

 

How old Tom & Jerry cartoons can help you tell your brand’s story

When you were younger, did you ever watch the old ‘Tom & Jerry’ cartoons?

Or, any of those other old school cartoons from that time period?

If so, you may remember an old gag they used to do.

Usually it involved a newly born baby duckling (or baby bird in general) who would mistake one of the characters (usually Tom) for its mother.

It would then follow him round for the majority of the episode.

This harks back to a phenomenon that animal experts call ‘imprinting’. So, when a baby duck is born it usually sees its mother right away and then never forgets her.

However if the duck sees someone or something else first it can often think of it as its mother.

When it comes to branding, if you’re to tell your story and make it stick in your potential customers’ minds it’s worth thinking about your unique selling points.

Is your business a world first? Do you do something that’s never been done before?

How can you imprint yourself in someone’s mind to make sure you’re the first thing they think of?

Think coke…which brand do you think of? Think fast food burgers…who comes up? Think low cost airline…who do you think of?

And so on.

Your answers to these questions could be marginally different to mine…but I bet that we’re very close.

Telling stories is all about being unique and, when you can be, being a world first.

By Ashley Brown

This article was inspired by “Positioning” by Al Ries and Jack Trout

What could you learn from Wayne Rooney?

As a football fan it’s taken me a long time to like Wayne Rooney.

And, truth be told, I’m still not quite there.

He played many a game Manchester United and, as an Arsenal fan, they’re not a team that I like.

However, at 31 years of age, he’s now gone back to his boyhood club, Everton. I feel I can like him more, at least until he next plays Arsenal – he always seems to score against us.

But this post isn’t really about football.

It’s about a decision Rooney made today (23/08/17).

He decided to step down from international football – which was a difficult decision for him, he’s England record goal scorer with 53 strikes to his name!

But, what I admire about this decision, is that he decided to quit while he was on top and focus his attention on his main job – playing for his club.

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(photo: the telegraph)

Sure he could have played for a few more years. But, he’s getting old and there’s only a certain amount of time within which you can stretch yourself over different platforms before you start getting injured or tired.

Now he can do what he loves for the club he loves with no other distractions and no other pressures.

His career will likely last longer as a result.

It’s something we can all bear in mind – an example we can learn from, sometimes it’s worth taking away some of our side jobs to work towards your most important goal.

A case of essentialising.

Now of course representing your country at a sport is a great honour, and one that not many of us have.

But what a lot of us do have are other distractions and side jobs that take up our time and, most importantly, our focus.

How often have you stopped to think to yourself something like – ‘I’ve got enough on today and yet I still need to do….’ or how often have you found yourself agreeing to something, and then realising (somewhat too late) just how much of your valuable work or leisure time it’ll suck up?

Sometimes it’s better to quit these things while you’re ahead, before they just get in the way and do you more harm than good.

After all, the further you stretch yourself, the thinner you spread yourself.

Check out Essentialism by Greg McKeown – it’ll change your life.

Of Zen and coin flips

One day a great Japanese warrior named Nobunaga decided to attack an enemy outpost, even though he had only one-tenth the number of soldiers the opposition commanded.

He knew that he’d win. But his troops had their doubts.

On the way to the battlefield he stopped at a Shinto shrine and said to his men:

“After I visit this shrine I’ll toss a coin. If it’s heads – we’ll win. If it’s tails we lose. Destiny holds us in her hand”.

So, Nobunaga entered the shrine and offered a silent prayer to the powers that be. He then headed back out to where everyone was and flipped a coin.

A tense moment fell among his soldiers.

Their lives were hanging in the balance of a simple coin.

Heads.

Everyone was relieved, and also energised. His soldiers were so eager to fight that they won their battle with relative ease.

A little while later, after everyone had finished celebrating, one of Nobunaga’s assistants approached him cautiously.

“No one can change the hand of destiny,” he said.

“Indeed not” replied Nobunaga.

Then he shows his attendant the coin that he used.

It was double-sided. Heads either way.

So, there we go – whether it comes from faking it or not – a little bit of self belief can go a long way.


(adapted from ‘The World of ZEN” by Nancy Wilson Ross)

Oh, Mr. Wetherspoon…

If you’ve ever spent more than a week in the UK, you’ll likely know what Wetherspoons is.

Or ‘Spoons as some affectionately (and some not so affectionately) call it.

It’s a large chain of pubs spread out through the country. In a nutshell they open early, close late and serve cheap ‘n’ cheerful drinks throughout the day.

Legend has it that the chairman\founder, Tim Martin, named it after a teacher of his called Mr. Wetherspoon.

Apparently Wetherspoon had often doubted Tim Martin’s academic brilliance and so he decided to take revenge and prove a point by naming his super successful chain after him.

How’s that for triumphing over adversity?

P.S I’m also aware that Tim Martin has since come out and said: “”I decided to call it Wetherspoon’s after a former teacher – not because the teacher in question at my primary school in New Zealand had said I would never make it, as some people think, but because he was too nice a fellow to be running our particular class and he couldn’t control it. So I thought: I can’t control the pub, he couldn’t control the class, so I’ll name it after him.”

…but I prefer the version of the story that I posted…how’s that for fake news and alternative facts!?

(image – trip advisor)

3 lessons you can learn from my first car…

After being together for eleven years I’m now in the process of selling my first car.

As much as I’d like to have kept it forever and ever, life has a way of moving on. But, as I’ll mention later, that doesn’t mean you can’t keep the memories.

There was a badge on my first car that bore the legend ‘Independence’. Which is beautifully apt, as that’s what it gave me – a full sense of independence that I’d never had before. I could go anywhere that the roads could take me.

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My first car wasn’t the best model out there, it wasn’t the fastest and it certainly wasn’t the biggest. But yet it was with me through many adventures, and I learnt a lot from it.

Here are 3 lessons that you can learn from my first car…

Don’t be afraid to take the reins…

My first car didn’t have power steering. To get that car to swerve in any direction it took a lot of wrenching…and parallel parking was always a problem.

(For those not in the know power steering basically makes it easier to steer your car. It’s like having an extra hand on your wheel – helping you ease off into the direction of your choice.)

But I learnt that sometimes you need to use a bit of brute force, sometimes you need to take problems and scenarios in life by the reins and give them a metaphorical wrench to get things going in the right direction. Sometimes we look over our shoulders too much for assistance, and it’s not going to always be there.

Practicality can trump aesthetics

Another friend passed his test around the same time as me, and we both got our cars on the road at around the same time.

He was luckily enough to be given a car that was all bells and whistles. It had been top of the range just a couple of years ago and it even had a soft top…which made him look cool as hell as he cruised through the British summer of that year with his aviators on. My car was more than a couple of years old, much older and a lot more humble.

I went miles in my car – it got me from A to B with no fuss and no frills. I ran into my friend about a year later, and he’d downsized to a car a little like mine.

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While his car looked awesome it wasn’t well made. There were constant problems, and parts for that car were expensive. It had cost him a couple of grand, and they’d lost a lot of money on it when they sold it. Whereas I’d spent £30 on a new wheel and £2 on an air freshener that was meant to smell like pineapple.

The glossy pages won’t tell you this, but sometimes you need to prioritise practicality over aesthetics.

Become emotionally attached to it

I fear that we underestimate nostalgia and sentimentality sometimes. No matter how long you have it for, you’ll always remember your first car. So think about it as a friend, rather than just a tool to get from A to B.

As you’ll probably know, whenever you talk to older people they’ll regale you with stories from their past. Sometimes the same story over and over again.

I used to get bored, but now I don’t…because I’ve figured out that the reason people retell stories is because they like telling them.

Who am I to rob someone of that pleasure?

Life is all about making memories. So make the most of sentimentality and nostalgia, attach mental value to things…who knows how many times you’ll revisit, retell and re-enjoy the past.

And, of course – always drive safe and take care of yourself. The most important asset you have to the world is you.

Ashley Brown, 2017