4 Things I Learnt As I Turned 29

Stealing this idea from Ryan Holiday – who does a yearly blog like this.

I’ve learnt a lot in the void between 28 and 29, here are the 4 things that stick out the most:

1. Selective Approval

When you’re a kid adults tell you to ‘not care what other people think’. I think it’s true… to an extent.

There are times in life where you should care  – e.g. job interviews, first dates, sales pitches, etc.

But there are other times when you shouldn’t.

I was in the supermarket and I was having a nightmare with the self service machine. There were all sorts of unexpected items in the bagging area and a queue was gradually beginning to form behind me. An impatient one, at that.

(Note: Isn’t it about time they started making psychic self service machines that don’t have a meltdown every time the unexpected happens?)

My card wouldn’t work – so I had to fish around in my wallet for another. Tuts rang out from behind me. Sweat mopped my brow. Then a satsuma fell out of my hand and rolled across the floor.

I could feel dozens of hateful eyes burning down on me.

Luckily I persevered, managed to fit it all in my bag and hurried out.

Do you know how many of those people in that queue I’ve seen since that incident? 0.

And do you know how many times they’ve thought about it since then? 0.

I didn’t need their approval, their opinions didn’t matter. Yet I made myself uncomfortable by seeking it. After this realisation I’ve started to live freely.

Look for the people whose approval does matter. Ignore anyone else. Plus, according to social studies, it’s noted that those who don’t look for approval are often seen as more influential.

2. Fitter body. Fitter mind.

I was never in good shape at school. I was never anywhere near fit until I was in my early 20s and playing football several times a week. A habit that ended due to a snapped ankle.

The weight didn’t pile on right, though. Not until I was 25. It got to a point where I didn’t like my photo being taken and couldn’t bring myself to wear a t-shirt in public. When I look back now it makes me sad as I have very few photos to look back on from that period of my life – my body image was terrible, every mirror told me a different story. I didn’t know what to believe.

But that’s a story for another day, a whole blog in itself.

In November last year a gym opened nearly opposite my flat and I signed up. I trained hard. With the help of my friend I stuck to it and now, nearly a year later, I’m still going. Stronger and happier.

It’s helped with creativity too – positive endorphins from a morning workout set me up for a better day at work. Mind and body in tune.

3. Buy Expensive Jeans

Seriously. If you’re anything like me and you wear jeans a lot, it’s worth paying more for a good brand (if you can).

Very contrary I know, as everyone out there tells you not to be materialistic.

But they fit better, feel better and usually last longer – which helps in the long run, as we know the fast fashion industry isn’t good for the planet.

Also, nice clothes make you feel more confident. There I’ve said it. But, deep down, you know it’s true.

4. Phil Collins is a very good musician

I can’t believe it took me 29 years to realise. Great dry sense of humour, too.

 

 

Stefani Germanotta, you’ll never be famous

Lady Gaga has become the first person to win an Oscar, a Grammy, a BAFTA and a Golden Globe in the same year.

Not a bad year, right?

What gets me most about this is that, back when she was at University, there was a mean-spirited Facebook group entitled “Stefani Germanotta, you’ll never be famous”.

A closed group where the 12 members all made fun of her.

I wonder where they are now?

Rod’s Trousers

Some months ago I read Rod Stewart’s autobiography. Which, as a side note, I really enjoyed.

From the book I learnt many things, and one of them was that, when worn correctly,  tartan trousers can actually look all right.

Fast forward to Boxing Day and I spot a pair in the sale for £10. Stocks were low but, fate intervened and one of the last remaining pairs was in my size.

So I bought them.

And, feeling somewhat daring, I wore them to work last Friday. Reception was good.

Oh… and no, I didn’t use my best Rod Stewart impression when I asked people what they thought:

“Do ya think I’m sexy??”

Anyway, as I walked home I passed a pub and a drunken patron lumbered i front of me. Luckily I had the dexterity necessary to navigate my around him but, due to his high levels of intoxication, he seemingly took offence to me being on the pavement at the same time as him.

A terrible crime, I know.

“Nice trousers” he bellowed, “you off to play a fuckin’ gig or something?”

With that he kind of jiggled and danced on the spot in the limp way that uber-drunk people often do – I can only surmise that, from somewhere far above, an invisible puppeteer was having a hand spasm while trying to control him.

“Yep,” I smiled, “I’m headlining”

This was met with a grunt of disapproval. He clearly wanted me to bite. Wanted a reaction. I could see in his eyes that he was gearing up for some Friday night confrontation.

But I walked on.

Perspective is an important tool. I could have looked at his comment two ways:

A) How dare he insult my trousers!

B) He said I looked like a rock star… which, for many 28 year old guys, is a pretty desirable thing to be/look.

I took it as the latter.

Perspective is a powerful weapon to have in your day-to-day arsenal. It’s a mindset.

When presented with a comment or a piece of information look at it from both ways before deciding how you should feel about it.

I’ll be wearing those trousers again.

How this one thing I learnt from working in radio can help you write content for your audience…

I used to host a radio show several years ago.

Alongside a couple of friends/co-hosts I’d present a 2-3 hour program every week.

It was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done, and I still miss it today.

In real life I talk a little fast sometimes, and when I first started talking on air I was a little hard to understand.

But soon there was no stopping me – same with my co-hosts.

Presenting became easy for us, we didn’t even need to think about it – we just automatically began to adapt our speech so the listeners could follow.

We often used to have guests – musicians, local people of interest and even students who wanted some work experience.

After a while I began to notice that some of them struggled to talk to the mic. They’d stare at it intently and change the pitch of their voice as they tried to imagine this invisible audience that they were talking to.

Sometimes talking too slow, other times talking too fast.

It didn’t make for good radio.

So, after a few shows, I began to think to myself – how did I first overcome this problem?

Part of it was through practice, but the other part of it was due to me looking across at my co-host as I spoke.

So, rather than talking blindly into a mic, I was focusing and talking in a conversational tone to someone opposite me.

For me that was the key. Simply visualising someone and talking to them.

So I began to tell the guests to look at me as they spoke, rather than talking into the microphone.

It worked.

Nerves ebbed away and confidence skyrocketed.

It’s the same with writing.

If you’re writing for purpose don’t just blindly write – visualise the person you’re writing for.

Wrap and direct your words at them.

Seems obvious, but time after time I read posts and articles that just don’t connect or flow.

Maybe even print off a picture of someone who looks like your audience demographic and blu-tac it to the wall in front of you.

I promise you tone and flow becomes easier when you’re looking at who you want to talk to.

(that’s me in the middle of the featured image in case you were wondering)

by Ashley Brown age 27 and 3/4 2018

Minidisc players and the idea in you

 

A few months ago my cousin was clearing a few of his old things out from his parents’ house.

He came away with a small box of items that had meant a lot to him as a youngster.

Among these trinkets was his old minidisc player.

For a short while in the early noughties, minidiscs were supposed to be the next big thing.
Their popularity soon stifled though, as digital recording and playback became the norm – lost to a generation of people who didn’t want to have physical copies of their music. (Ironically though, with the resurrection of vinyl, this is tilting the other way).

For a short while the minidisc had been his very favourite thing. With an air of nostalgia he turned it on and listened to the disc that was inside – a tune that hadn’t been played for over a decade.

He remarked simply, yet philosophically, on how it was weird that one day he’d just turned it off and never used it again – only for it to turn up some fifteen years later.

How often do you have that with a thought or an idea? All that thinking about something, only to switch off and forget about it.

Ideas aren’t physical things, such as minidisc players. If you lose them it’s much harder to get them back.

As a creative I always used to, annoyingly, have my best ideas when I wasn’t able to write.

The novels, the stories and the concepts that I’d come up with…usually when I was driving or in the gym…right at the time when my laptop was out of reach!

I used to think to myself – ‘I’ll come back to that idea when I get a sec’.

I never did though. Because the enthusiasm for the idea would disappear before I could touch methaphorical pen to metaphorical paper.

So now I carry a notepad with me at all times. So I’m never caught out. I can jot down my ideas whenever and wherever.

I think this is a better option that writing it on my phone. My phone is a bustling hub of distractions…and a big reason of ‘why I didn’t write today’.

I also invested in an expensive notepad. Not because I’m materialistic. But, because I figure that…the more I pay for something, the more naturally valuable it seems and the more likely I’ll be to use it.

Unlike that minidisc player, it’s unlikely that your ideas will come back to you. So have something with you at all times to note them down.

Before you know it, your notebook will become a goldmine of creativity.

I know it seems simple, obvious even, but yet so many people let their ideas slip away.

The writer Robert Louis Stevenson reckoned that ‘Treasure Island’ was born from a couple of dreams that he had.

He also remarked that, had he not have had a pen (or quill back then) by his bed, he’d have forgotten the idea before he could have converted it into a story.

Don’t let your ideas walk the plank…take note of them!

(image credit: wikipedia)

Why are Iron Maiden more popular on Spotify than Madonna?

It surprised me when I read that, and I imagine it’ll surprise you too.

Not because Iron Maiden are bad…I’m a fan.

But because Madonna is…well…a pop singer. And, popular music should be the most popular…right?

She’s certainly more commercial, in a traditional sense. Plus, as much as I personally enjoy it, I’m aware that metal is an acquired taste – whereas Madonna’s music is aimed at appealing to everyone.

She also had the bonus of appearing on MTV and stations such as BBC Radio One, Iron Maiden never really had that exposure.

As a singer Madonna has always looked to adopt the latest trends – performing the hits that the crowds of the day would enjoy.

Whereas Iron Maiden found their target audience early on and found out how to please them. They never wrote a love song or anything like that. They just kept on doing the things that their fans like…building an army of life-long supporters, who would no doubt look to spread the love onto their children.

Meaning that they’d have another generation of fans, starting off a cycle that will eventually mean that the East London outfit’s music will last far longer than they will.

Not only that, but Iron Maiden’s songs tell stories about things that their target audience like. Fantasy, history, horror and even sci-fi.

trooper
(it’s really good, too!)

Plus look at their branding – they brew their own beer just the way their fans like it, they tour as much as they can and they have their own Boeing 747 jet that lead singer, Bruce Dickinson, personally flies.

How cool is that?

Plus they have their own logo. Same as bands such as Nirvana and Metallica. Does Madonna have a logo? If she does, I can’t recall it easily. Neither can I recall a logo for bands such as Take That.

It’s why, when you go into high street fashion stores, you see Metallica or Iron Maiden t-shirts for sale, you don’t see Madonna T-shirts.

Here’s a quote from Lady Gaga:

“Some people really don’t know the importance of metal and the scope of it. Those guys were filling stadiums, and they still are. And it’s because of the culture of the music, the poetry that’s so powerful, that whenever the fans come together, they unite in the essence of what Iron Maiden is all about. I always used to say to people, when they would say, ‘Oh, she’s the next Madonna.’ No, I’m the next Iron Maiden.”

gaga
(the next Iron Maiden)


by Ashley Brown.

Oh, by the way the initial inspo for this article came from Ryan Holliday’s fantastic ‘Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts’

 

 

Calvin Harris

The trouble with making music as a job is that I have no outside interests. All I can do to wind down is go to sleep.” – Calvin Harris

He makes a good point.

For many people who aren’t creatives in their day job, their creative discipline is usually just a hobby or a side-job.

Often they do it because it’s very therapeutic.

And it begs the question…how would you manage your down time if your hobby becomes your day job?

I guess for some of us that’s the dream…