Do It Yourself Celebrity

Do It Yourself Celebrity


Last Friday 29th July I went to the Holmbush Centre at Shoreham to help my old friend and radio colleague Patrick Souiljaert man (person?) a stand at the entrance to Tesco there. He has written an autobiography in microscopic detail about the challenges of his life as a person with Cerebral Palsy. He was starved of oxygen a birth which led to the condition. However, instead of letting it define him, he has used it to energise and power his ambition, refusing to accept its limitations, using them instead to define his goals.


After going to school in various special establishments (the word special is used in its loosest context here) in the South, Patrick emerged as a man with extreme sensitivity to his and others place in the world. He worked at a major telecomms company for many years before deciding that he could be a radio producer. He achieved this and worked for three Sussex-based radio stations before deciding that he could also be a property investor before going on to become an international speaker, writer and motivator.

His book — ‘Stairs For Breakfast’ was self published a year ago and has so far sold over 700 copies.

It is a raw, no-holds-barred account of the first half of his life with names and organisations changed to protect the innocent and the less than innocent. It is a page turning, honest, gripping story that demonstrates an almost documentary, forensic recall of detail and really installs the reader inside the head of someone who reacts powerfully to the limitations that life has laid upon him.

Last Friday, Patrick, John , Clare and myself went to Holmbush armed with 200 copies of the book, some banners and a great pitch provided by the generous customer services team at Tesco led by Lisa. I was given access to the public intercom system in order to make announcements.

Patrick called out to most passers by with a friendly ‘hello’, ‘how are you?’ and a goodly minority stopped to have a chat and by the end of the day 38 copies of the book at £10 each were sold.


The point of this post? That you don’t have to accept the hand that life has dealt you. That you can dream and then wake up and achieve those dreams.

That you can decide to be a writer and go and write and publish your book. That you can call yourself an international motivational speaker and go and motivate by speaking. Internationally.

Stairs for Breakfast. Success for lunch. The world for supper.


Standing at the doorway of the year (what I’m doing next)

Dreams are like angels (Joseph Mallord William Turner - The Angel Standing in the Sun 1846)

It’s good to be connected. The human being thrives in community and dies apart. You are connected to me. It might be through business, family, socially or some other variation on the serendipitous interaction of email. Connection is good.

Today is Christmas Eve when we traditionally wait for stars to come into alignment, precursor angels to whisper in our ear and a sense of imminent goodness to happen. Sure, 2010 was a tough year and some aspirations have had to be put on a ventilator for a while – but day by day that infant we call hope will grow imperceptibly into a thriving new year.

In two very happy years at I have seen the advent of Auto-Response Psychology within a new neuro-scientific approach (recognising that it is our brain that is telling us that we just can’t help it) and help nudge forward the frontiers of new Psychology. As part of this process I’ve walked the ancient paths of Sussex Downland and gazed in wonder at the hills and vistas of Sussex, stopping along the way at Slindon to see lambs being born, sometimes on the very same day as squealing, mewling ideas. I’ve learned how the human mind works and laughed out loud as I’ve seen those ideas work out in practice in sleepy country pubs. I’ve risen before dawn to make the journey to South West London to communicate these ideas to others. I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals to enable them to take back control of their lives.

Who wouldn’t want to improve the way they think?

And in thinking differently, I am moving on. Helping others to change has changed me. Understanding why people do what they do and helping them to change (if they want to) has led to a better understanding of myself. Enabling individuals to reclaim control over the levers of their lives has shown me that I am the master of my own destiny. Healer, heal thyself.

The apocryphal tale is told of an elderly lady living in Moscow at the end of the Communist era. With Glasnost thawing, she was left with the inheritance of fifty years of municipal neglect. A radiator in her lounge had been live electrically for the whole time she had lived in the high-rise apartment block. If she touched it, she received a shock. After a while she had adjusted to this by arranging the furniture around the radiator so that she didn’t have to go near it. Fifty years had passed. One day, there was a knock on the door. A man in a boiler suit was standing there. “Have you had problems with your heating system?” She nodded. “I am here to rectify this. I will only take a few minutes.” She allowed him in and watched as he went to the cupboard under the stairs and reversed the live and earth wiring at the fuse box. “It’s fixed now – go and touch the radiator.” She couldn’t. The habits of fifty years prevented her from touching the offending radiator. The electrician walked up to the unit and touched it. Her eyes widened and tentatively she walked up to the radiator and put her hand on it. In that instant fifty years of avoidance and fear departed.

As human beings of habit, the neurological pathways in our brain will constantly bypass areas of fear (I’ll protect you from the hooded claw, keep the vampires from your door) often with a big ‘hands off’ warning. As soon as the individual realises that they are in control of these feelings and that the feelings are there to protect them, they adjust. The radiator can be touched again.

Perhaps it was watching Series Three of ‘Mad Men’ on TV that did it.    The enigmatic/open, cerebral /animalistic, alpha male/fragile egomaniac Don Draper reminded me of why I entered the advertising industry all those years ago. The eureka moments, the knowledge that only my fevered brain could come up with those ideas. Perhaps it was feeling the loss of not working in a creative team; perhaps I had just felt the overwhelming reservoir tank of creative thinking build up for too long.

Perhaps I just love the feint/thrust/lunge/riposte of advertising, so I was inspired recently to send an email to half a dozen ad agencies whose work I respect and admire (sorry, I’m not naming them here, you know who you are).

Here’s the weird part. One of the companies I had admired from a distance turns out to be run by someone who is also trained in Psychology – and who has run a radio station (Radio Mercury). Historical note: I co-founded and then ran Splash FM in Worthing in 2003-6.

I walked into Zero-FiftyOne after meeting with Neil Macadam and felt like I had been there for years. After talking with Neil Macadam, David Smith and Jon Dudley of Zero FiftyOne I knew that it was time to return to the lodestone and create more words. The thing is, I now know where to send those words to really make a difference. The buzz in the room was familiar. We speak the same language. The glove fitted.

I join Zero FiftyOne on the 4th January. My email will be My landline: 01273 587446; mobile 07803 269154 and the website:

The market is like a tough vocal judge waiting for you to hit the right note. It acknowledges your brave, but off-key attempts, smiling patronizingly as you miss the mark. However, the only time it will sit up and take notice is when you hit that note. The one that makes a difference. The exciting thing is that you and you alone can do that. It’s not always obvious before you start what the right note, pitch, scale or emotion is, what the right product is, what the right strategy is. It’s frightening and inspiring realising that you and no-one else knows when that note will appear. Hitting it is a heart-stopping, unpredictable experience. But only you have the talent to give it a shot.

So when would now be a good time to do that?

It would be nice to catch up and hear how you are.  If you would like to stay in touch professionally, socially or personally, that would be great. Dreams are like angels, they keep bad at bay. Let’s make 2011 a really good year.

‘The Power Of Love’ by Frankie Goes to Hollywood

I’ll protect you from the hooded claw
Keep the vampires from your door
Feels like fire
I’m so in love with you
Dreams are like angels
They keep bad at bay-bad at bay
Love is the light
Scaring darkness away-yeah
I’m so in love with you
Purge the soul
Make love your goal
[1]-The power of love
A force from above
Cleaning my soul
Flame on burn desire
Love with tongues of fire
Purge the soul
Make love your goal
I’ll protect you from the hooded claw
Keep the vampires from your door
When the chips are down I’ll be around
With my undying, death-defying
Love for you
Envy will hurt itself
Let yourself be beautiful
Sparkling love, flowers
And pearls and pretty girls
Love is like an energy
Rushin’ rushin’ inside of me
[Repeat 1]
This time we go sublime
Lovers entwine-divine divine
Love is danger, love is pleasure
Love is pure-the only treasure
I’m so in love with you
Purge the soul
Make love your goal
The power of love
A force from above
Cleaning my soul
The power of love
A force from above
A sky-scraping dove
Flame on burn desire
Love with tongues of fire
Purge the soul
Make love your goal
I’ll protect you from the hooded claw
Keep the vampires from your door

Off the map?

Are you out there?

How often have you heard the expression ‘it’s off the map’, or ‘I haven’t planned for this’, or ‘there is no routemap for what I am going through?’ The language of life often delineates where we go and what we are prepared to try. ‘That’s off limits’, or ‘don’t go there’ have far more impact and meaning than the words first suggest. We hear expressions like that virtually from the womb. In fact, it comes as a surprise that the first words we hear as infants aren’t ‘Welcome to the world, don’t walk on the grass!’ 

As children we will hear exhortations to ‘be careful’, to ‘watch where we’re going’ or ‘look out!’ – the culture of childhood is not to explore or to go to places that we are not supposed to. If anything, this culture of carefulness has become more pronounced in recent years. We sensibly, oh so sensibly channel our kids into the Scout or Guides and allow them to discover new things under very managed circumstances. Nothing wrong with that at all, but kids need to test themselves against bigger, stronger opposition than the local five badges on my sleeve brigade.

Most of us stay on the map for most of our lives. We explore the map, we go the very edge of the map in certain circumstances and occasionally we deliberately get ourselves lost, just to prove that we can survive in the wild. However, we are not in the wild, we are at the edge of a very civilised map. We clutch our compass and probably the phone number of our favoured local cab firm and we stride out with a slight sense of adventure.

When Christopher Columbus discovered America he did not set out with the objective of discovering a place called America. True, there was a sense of a brave new world existing out there somewhere, but not one that was already charted. A true explorer is not someone who re-discovers the known. To find yourself, you have to first lose your bearings.

In American law, discovery is the pre-trial phase in a lawsuit in which each party through the law of civil procedure can request documents and other evidence from other parties and can compel the production of evidence by using a subpoena or requests for production of documents and depositions. The important point here is that the lawyer does not know in advance what this request might turn up. If they did the request would be superfluous and the trial would probably not be necessary.

In the same way, if we know in advance what we are going to discover then actually we have already discovered it and the process of exploration is redundant. When people talk about career and planning their life, what they are attempting to do is read a map that they do not own yet. Let’s consider the word career for a second. A career cannot exist in advance. By definition, a career exists in retrospect. It is printed on a CV. It is difficult to plot or calculate in advance. However, careering about in your job or life in general may have the unexpected consequence of touching the edges of what is possible. You may discover areas of the future that you didn’t know existed.

Staying on the map means that you will not discover what lies off the map, the other side of the horizon, where the places are when you wander off the beaten track. Do you want to live on a beaten track? Do you want to live on the wall or off it?  

You don’t have to subscribe to the National Geographic in order to explore. You don’t need to buy a tent and canoe down the Amazon. You don’t need to be Bear Grylls or Ray Mears. It’s a state of mind not a state of nation.

The first step of discovery is understanding that the door in front of you is locked on the inside, not the outside and that you hold the key. Step through it and breathe in the air. It looks unfamiliar but the sun is shining. Beyond the map, there is another map, undrawn.

Congratulations, you have just become an explorer.

Who’s to blame?


We live in a blame culture. If we fail our exams, it’s the fault of the teacher – or it could be the environment we grew up in, or the school. If we trip over a jutting flagstone, then it’s the fault of the Council and we reach for the solicitor’s telephone number. If we have a bad day at work then of course it’s the fault of our Boss – or the customer.

The people we love to hate are politicians. We get more passionate, more animated about them than perhaps  anything or anyone else. I have read pieces in the press and posts on social networking sites recently blaming politicians for all of the following: Global-warming-whose-to-blame
The economy; the current recession; the education system; the health service; the UK’s place in the world; the war in Afghanistan; the state of the roads; the environment; unemployment; lack of ambition amongst young people; high teenage pregnancy rates; depression; lack of hope.

If all the above were true, then we would be forced to admire our politicians for their amazing ability to involve themselves on so many fronts – and in having so much influence.

If we didn’t blame the political classes, then we could blame our parents. They made us what we are. If they didn’t, then it is God’s fault. It must be someone’s fault. If it’s someone else’s fault, then it absolves us of any requirement to do something about the situation ourselves. It’s much easier to moan than to act.

blame_toon_wideweb__470x422,0 The corollary of this is a growing sense of powerlessness amongst people. The feeling that we are trapped by  circumstances – that whatever we do, the situation will remain insoluble. The blame game enables us to  remain on the sideline as spectators rather than as participants. If ‘things’ happen to us; if we are ‘lucky’ or  ‘unlucky’ people; if we accept the theory of ‘karma’; if we are just pawns on the chessboard of life and others  are the players, then the hope that we have (as agents of free will) begins to extinguish.

Even if we are victims of circumstance, of how others treat us, of misfortune, inequality or disability – the way  in which we react to these events defines our feeling of self-worth. We often confuse what we do with who we are. No outside event, perception or label can affect the core value of who we are. What we do and what happens to us on a daily basis can change the way we feel – but does not increase or reduce our essential worth as human beings. You may have a good or a bad day but your stock as a unique individual does not rise or fall. Just the way you feel. And feeling is behaviour. Behaviour is not who you are.

Similarly, blaming someone else for the world’s ills may make you feel better, temporarily. But it does not change your value for the better or worse. Your value is not enhanced because someone else is being castigated. Better to decide what it is you can do to improve the situation, locally, personally, incrementally. If it is someone else’s fault there there is no point. However, doing something yourself may inspire others to do the same.

Taking responsibility  for your actions, life and the things that go on around you is not the same thing as blaming yourself. Everything that happens provides some extra useful learning – and you grow as a result of it. chickenblameHow many redundancies lead to new opportunities? How many failed businesses lead to successful ones later? How many failed relationships lead to a resolve to have successful ones next?

Wouldn’t it be interesting if there was no-one to blame?  Stuff happens. We learn from it. We use it as fuel for the next pot roast. Blame becomes an outdated concept. As does bitterness, regret, what might have beens, even failure. What might it be like to start each day with a clean slate – with infinite possibilities and no back catalogue?

So who’s to blame. Not them. And not you either..

The Occasional Treat by Roy Stannard (Psychology in writing Pt 1)



Blue was an undergraduate in her second year at University.

She believed that being pale was an interesting image and that people who were rather loud were to be discouraged. In accordance with this belief, Blue wore clothes that blended with her surroundings, whether Seminar walls, bus seats or long grey corridors. She adopted a manner that meant that people often didn’t notice her at all and in consequence, was rarely bothered by people who she didn’t know very well, and only a little more often by people she did know well.

She was studying Applied Invisibility in the School of Self-disparagement at the University of Bland.

Every morning she would get up, apply her very subtle make-up, find her everywoman jumpsuit and brush her hair into a bob – which frankly didn’t bob very much. She would walk down the road and wait for the 8.48am bus that took her to University every morning.  Blue would sit by herself at the very back of the bus. That way, she didn’t need to talk to anyone, she could show her bus pass to the driver and disappear down to the end of the bus. For the whole of her first year she didn’t speak to a soul, or a spirit or even a living person.

Each day she would attend lectures, seminars and tutorials and only speak when spoken to. If the Tutor addressed her personally she would colour a little (subtly, so hardly anyone would notice) and reply in the shortest form possible – and with as little character and personality as she could manage. After all, people who dominated groups, talks, bus rides and bus queues were to be discouraged. They obviously had issues which Blue prided herself on not having.

One day, Blue was waiting for the 8.48am bus and a small elderly gentleman also waiting for the bus turned and smiled at her. “Good morning, young lady” he said with a courtly bow and a twinkle in his eye. Blue half-smiled at him and turned away quickly, concerned not to be caught up in conversation with some old man who obviously didn’t have any friends in his life. He persisted, “It’s a lovely day, isn’t it?” She nodded glumly, with barely hidden irritation. He continued, “Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Treat. Are you a student by chance?”

Blue was now standing outside of her comfort zone. The last thing she wanted to do was engage in conversation first thing in the morning when she had so many other things not to think about. “yes”, she said, hoping that this admission would satisfy him. Treat looked anything but satisfied. He looked instead a little like a boisterous whippet being offered a ball to play with. “It must be wonderful to get up every morning and think that I am going to College in order to learn something new. To meet new people and discuss ideas. How wonderful to think that I could come home that evening with a completely different outlook on life. Is that what you think when you catch the bus in the morning m’dear?”

“I suppose so”, Blue murmured, wishing that he would go away. The opposite happened. The bus arrived and Blue crept onto it in her usual demure fashion whilst Mr Treat positively exploded onto the bus. Like a visiting dignitary trying out a third world mode of transport, he made small talk with the driver, complimenting him on his punctuality and processed down the bus talking to every passenger and asking after their well-being. As far as Blue could remember, he had never rode on the bus before. All these people were strangers to him – and yet, he seemed to know them all intimately. Worse, they all seemed to revel in the attention, looking up and smiling, returning his greetings. The whole bus seemed awash with chatter, good will and, well, joy.

Treat sat down next to Blue, who almost squirmed with discomfort. He turned to her, resting a friendly hand on her shoulder. “Well, m’dear, let’s talk about you. We have twenty minutes on this bus to while away and I want to hear about everything that’s going on in your life.”

Blue was panic-stricken. No-one in almost ten years had pinned her down like this. She was used to answering questions in a quiet, detached sort of way, giving the minimum and keeping people at a safe distance. It was easier that way.

Treat was having none of this. “Come, come m’dear, I want to hear all about your successes and hopes and even your fears. What would you like to happen today?” Blue knew that her low-risk strategy for engaging with people was being trampled on. Her layers of defence were being breached. Little rivulets of this man’s energy were penetrating her sandbagged front door. Blue’s innermost private spaces would soon be awash with good natured conversation. She turned away, rudely. She felt her face run red with shame. After all, he was just being friendly. Amazingly, she felt a little tear form in one eye and start to trickle down her right cheek. She brushed it away and stared out of the window.

She glanced to her side and with a start realised that the seat next to her was empty. Treat had gone.

The tears ran freely now. He was the first person to ask how she was in months. He was the first person to really show an interest in her, in what she thought and what she had planned. How could she have been so rude? Her whole being ached – and yet in the pain there was another kind of sensation. Of having connected with someone, however briefly.

She glanced out of the window. There was Mr Treat walking brightly along the pavement. He looked up at the bus and caught her eye. He smiled at her, winked and mouthed the words, “See you tomorrow..”

It was then she realised that her secret wish had been granted. And all that day she practised what she would say to Treat the next day with people she met.  On the bus home that night, she couldn’t stop smiling because of all the comments people had made to her. Blue had become bright Blue. She even said ‘thank you’ to the bus driver.

She was amazed by how much she was looking forward to tomorrow.


Roy Stannard 8.5.09