Owen’s Birthday

There are two things I’ve learned from Owen.

The first is how to think.

And the second is how to live.

How to think

When you’re thinking about something, do it properly. Take your time with it. Invest in it.

Don’t spew out something superficial, something off the top of your head, something that you heard from someone else, and accepted at face value.

Think categorically; systematically; intuitively.

How does your idea fit in with the entire canon of what’s come before? Was it lifted directly from someone else’s thinking? What’s the twist?

How does your idea relate to its audience? What part of their lives are you attempting to touch? What spacesemotions, and mindsets would encourage your target audience to interact with whatever you’re presenting to them?

Is it real? Is it authentic? Where’s the love?

Most importantly: is that the best you can do?

The question is not an indictment. It’s not meant to make you feel small. Is that the best you can doIt’s not a question of ability. It’s a question of effort, and integrity.

Did you give it your all, and did you bring yourself to care?

So that’s the best you can do.

Now how are you going to explain your idea to someone?

Here’s how: step by step. Start from the beginning. Start from a truth that we can all agree upon. Start from something you’ve experienced — or better yet — something we’ve all experienced.

And build it from there. Premise –> Thesis –> Argument –> Creative Solution –> Conclusion. It’s really that simple.

Knock yourself. Be your own worst critic. Debate, agonise, throw the idea away. Don’t get attached to it: flog it, abuse it, disown it.

And if someone else defends it, maybe you’ve got an idea there.

Remember: the idea isn’t about you. It’s about your audience, and what you’re doing for them.

How to live

Owen is alive. Even when he’s sleepy, or bored, or not paying attention, he’s there.

Owen inhabits his body and is always full of beans. Where does he get his energy from? It’s a mystery to me. Maybe from Johnnie Walker. Maybe from Chotu’s cooking. Maybe from the salty, sea-tinged Bandra air.

Whatever Owen does, he puts his heart into it. Shaking your hand, welcoming a guest, presenting an idea, winning a pitch, telling a story, kicking a football, lighting a cigarette, cursing in traffic.

Maybe that’s his secret: no half measures.

Or maybe it’s because he never accepts a half-assed job: not from his employees, not from his kids, not from Manchester City Football Club, and not from himself.

Or maybe it’s because he really cares about people. He makes them feel warm and loved and like they’re part of the joke. Owen can make anyone feel like a million bucks.

Maybe the one thing about living that Owen’s taught me is that there’s no point in being around unless you’re fun to be around.

Happy birthday, man




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