I Hate Bumper Stickers

I don’t know about you, Dear Reader, but I seem to be bombarded some days by ‘bumper sticker’ social media posts, with everyone and his brother, and everyone his brother has ever met, coming up with a few words of advice, homilies capturing how to deal with everything that ever happens in life, and I hate them, which is unusual for me, and mock them for their stupid cleverness and triteness, condemn them as the lowest form of so-called wisdom, fit only to be ignored or quickly forgotten.

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Five Beads on a String Around My Wrist

Moments are what matter, I’ve always felt, more than the ages we live through, the stand-out, unforgettable moments, happy and sad, that help us discover ourselves, and find our purpose, spark our fire within, each moment like a precious bead on a string around my wrist, unique treasures to help me remember my past, whispered or unspoken universal prayers for my future.

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Ask Me Anything

You would have loved my father, lots of people did, he was just so interested in them, and they told him their stories. It was always beautiful to behold.

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Hands Up…

…if you ever missed a target, forgot to make the call you really needed to make, overslept, woke up in the wrong town, did something stupid, were late to a meeting you were running, made an excuse, were rude when you could have been kind, let someone down, drank too much, took drugs to get through a gig, ran out of money, were mean, shouted at someone who didn’t deserve it, who does, didn’t dare to speak up or stand up, let yourself down, let yourself go, stopped seeing the good, were jealous, made an unkept promise, didn’t walk on the beach when you could have, buried your head in the sand, bore a grudge, laughed at misfortune, didn’t help, didn’t love, didn’t give, forgot what mattered, went home with the wrong person, had a bad day or week or month or year, threw your wedding ring in the ocean, refused to smash your favourite bloody cup, wrote the answers on your wrist and got caught, found yourself wanting, loved things and stuff way too much, didn’t love people enough, blamed someone when really it was you, didn’t go to the wedding, was late to one of your own, said you would break someone’s leg and actually did, talked to yourself at a silent retreat, flirted with the woman behind the till, forgot to look up, forgot but didn’t forgive, didn’t say thank you, lost your way, lost the plot, lost your friends, lost everything, and then, yes you did, ate the last Rolo.

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Only The Motivated…

Only the motivated will get up at crazy o’clock and drive half the night to get to the gig that doesn’t pay well, ahead of time, because it will keep the lights on for another day, and will keep the dream, that has become a goal, alive.

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The Margarets

The first Margaret went by Maggie, and I met her for the first, and only, time on the steps of the Further Education College I had just been told to leave, expelled, because it turned out it was not ok to drink a vodka martini in a Social Studies class, not even in a proper glass, with an olive.

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Wanna Do Magic

I knew, before I agreed to run a 12 week Magic Club in a Junior School, that it would be up there with the toughest gigs on the planet, which turned out to the best reason for doing it, along with a lifetime love affair with magic, and a hankering to return to the simple life of a street performer.

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The Sweet Shop

I can’t remember his name, or what he looked like, or anything about him really, except that he hit me quite a lot, as he was, incredibly, perfectly entitled to, and that he changed my life.

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The Unforgettable Glass of Water

He was a best selling business author, flying first class or by private jet all over the world, advising the biggest of businesses, and, unsurprisingly, he was, at that time, the highest paid speaker on the international circuit.

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It’s My Birthday…

 

…and I’m not saying how old I am, don’t even ask, I’ll just say I can’t remember, but anyway I have a Birthday Wish for you, Dear Reader, that you find everything you’re looking for, your one true love, your faith in yourself, whatever lights your fire and puts a light in your eyes, that you find your path, or a path, that you see you are better than you know, that you trust yourself, that you find all this, and more, and, seekers, here’s where to look - it’s all there, waiting for you, believe it or not, already, everything except cake, just, Dear Reader, dare to look within.

So that’s my birthday wish to you, and I’ll be jumping in the ocean, a very short dip, like every year on this day, and if the cold doesn’t kill me, you’ll find me and my blog every Saturday on alisdairandapencil.co.uk

Xxxx

The Healer

This is the first page of my new book, The Healer, be out in October 2024, it's an intro from 'the writer' character, Rich Wood...

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One Hundred Broken Arrows

I don't remember much about the gig, except it was great, on a Sunday in a basement just off Marble Arch, a new venture run by a friend, who's awesome, and it was full of talent and love, the wackiest, most wonderful speakers, and I missed a lot of it, sitting on the outside steps, drinking coffee and smoking and thinking about a woman in a green dress who was dating someone else.

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Screwing up in Athens, London & Vegas

Honestly, truly, really, I've always given everything I have, at every one of thousands of gigs around the world, and I've mostly hit the mark, or more, got it right almost every time, but, hard as this is to say, not actually every single time.

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Dead Ted's Secret

 

Ted, never in a million years Edward, was a legend, alive and dead, for so many things, and to so many people, and to me for one big idea.

I was the new kid on the Marbella coast, a sales trainer, fired on my first day out there, then picked up a gig, the same day, training a timeshare team, but first I had to show them I could sell. I had sold five properties in five days, earned a gold five star pin I never wore, a party at the beach in my name, and got the gig.

My boss, fond of changing his name, with a drawer full of passports to match, was an ex-New York cop, obsessed by success, and money, stopping just short of being a psychopath by some kindness in his heart he couldn't quite get rid of, cut me a deal for $100 a day and a tiny slice of the action.

All I had to do was a talk at the sales meeting every morning, seven days a week, for 20 minutes, and whatever I said, it seemed to work, and sales went up in a rush. I was just starting out then, light on content, up all night writing my talk, sometimes winging it, talking more about motivation than sales techniques, about how to be someone people would want to buy from, and sometimes about nothing to do at all with sales, just something that would make them feel good. The gods chose to smile on me in the Marbella sun, and I found my voice, and a knack of turning rogues and scoundrels into Honest Joe's, and double or more their sales.

Pretty soon, word went round, and I started picking up gigs with sales teams all along the coast, and everywhere I went, I heard about Ted.

He was creating his legend, turning up unannounced at a timeshare resort, politely demanding a job, and making a sale on his first day, then the next and the next and just kept going, over a hundred straight days in a row, and still going. Everyone knew about him, and his success, talking in hushed voices about how much money he was making, but no-one seemed to know much about him.

I had to meet him, to find out the secret of his success, and pass it on, so I found out where he worked, heard he started the day when the sun came up, and drove to his resort at 5am one day. I didn't know then his secret was a simple philosophy, a way of dealing with people, or that I would follow it to this day, and talk about it to thousands of salespeople all over the world.

He was there, at a coffee hut, sat at a table, drinking coffee, thoughtful, and he looked up as I walked across the car park, jumped up and came over to meet me.

"You have to be Alisdair, I heard tell you were asking where I worked" he said, dead-eyeing me, "I was hoping to meet you. I'm Ted."

"I know you're Ted", I said, holding his gaze, "I want to know everything."

He laughed, and we both sat in the sun, with terrible coffee, and Fortuna cigarettes, and became friends, easy as you like.

I started asking him questions, and he stopped me, leaned forward and put his hand on my arm.

"I'm not much of a talker" he said, "but I'll try and tell you who I am."

"When I was a kid, I was in the army, but that ended badly, I don't care much for authority and it cost me a few months in the cells on our camp, in Singapore, and a dishonourable discharge."

"I went back to England, with not many skills, but there always jobs for travelling salespeople, door to door, and that's pretty much what I did for the next thirty years.

I sold everything, brushes and mops, pots and pans, every kind of vacuum cleaners, life insurance, beer and wine making kits, hair restorer and all sorts of potions and remedies, like a proper medicine man in my funny way, garden tools, car washing sets, wedding rings, would you believe, and a whole lot more.

There was a lot of rejection, slammed doors in my face every day, but I didn't mind, there was always another door. I loved it when I made a sale, loved that people would let me in their house and actually listen to my spiel, even make me a cup of tea, sometimes coffee, and even a biscuit, or a sandwich. It made me believe in people, and their goodness.

Trouble was I always did ok, but never much better than that, and I was always moving on, a new town, anew product, a new script to learn. I always made some money, but never really aced it, never made enough to put some away.

So it went, life on the road, getting by, mostly, and then a year or so ago, I was sleeping in the car in a motorway service station, and I woke up and realised, from nowhere, I'd been doing it wrong all through the years.

I saw clearly that the thing I loved, to be listened to, everyone loves that too, and no-one turns away a good listener. Over the next month I worked out a new way I could sell, the way I really wanted to, without a script, with care for people, and I was convinced I would finally hit the big time, so I sold what little I had, and came out here, for once following my instincts, just knowing it was the right thing to do, the right place to be.

He stopped, drank some coffee, smiled.

"So far, so good" he laughed, "The funny thing is that I thought I had discovered a secret, and then it turns out everyone knows it!"

Over the next hour Ted told me all about it, and it was a secret really, and he explained why it worked, and how to do it, and that it wouldn't work unless you really meant it, you weren't just using it to get a sale, and I was hooked straight away, just intuitively getting it.

There were so many mornings with Ted over the next few months, and a few late nights too, and I learned more from him than I could possibly have time to tell, and then he died, minted, as he liked to say, and over three hundred people went to his funeral, although most had only met him briefly, to pay their respects.

So, dear reader, I'll tell you Dead Ted's Secret, but only if you try it out and pass it on.

Be Interested (first, and a lot), and Interesting (second, and a little)

See you next Saturday, with tales to tell. 

Love you

 

(If you want to know more about Dead Ted, and The Big Man and other extraordinary people, buy my book Twenty One Meetings, from Kindle, I'll put a link up when I can work out how, but I'm guessing you can get there under your own steam)

 

The Spain Notebooks

My brain has a problem storing pictures, and I have no images in my head, just words, so my notebooks are like photo albums, and always bring back memories, often long forgotten.

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Coffee with The Big Man

I was in a jewellers, just off Carnaby Street, looking for a ring for someone I don't remember, but anyway changed my mind, and left, walking the back way through to Old Compton Street, in Soho, thinking about when I lived and worked on that patch, selling ad space.

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I was in Las Vegas, with The Woman in the Green Dress, and we went to a water park.

I had been to Vegas dozens of times, for speaking gigs, and I had never felt the need to visit such a place, particularly one with a massive neon sign boasting, 'The Biggest Water-Slide in the World, but these things happen sometimes on a honeymoon.

At that time I used to spend a lot of time paragliding, and loved the freedom of being up in the sky, yet remained utterly terrified of heights.

The Woman in the Green Dress was something of a daredevil, pretty much fearless facing any kind of physical challenge, so I knew what was to come, and had a fast decision to make.

Sure enough, as we went to our changing rooms, The Woman in the Green Dress said, "See you at the slide", and I knew which one, and just smiled and nodded, unable to actually speak without blowing any sense of cool and revealing my terror.

I trudged out of the changing room, barely able to lift my feet off the ground, arriving to see The Woman in a Green Dress more than halfway up the series of eight or nine metal ladders leading up to a tiny platform practically in the sky.

'Who knew' I thought, standing looking up towards the top of the ladders, 'I would be facing a marriage save or breaking moment, two days into a honeymoon'. I quickly made the right decision, that time anyway, and put my foot on the bottom rung and began the slow climb, becoming ever slower the nearer I was to the top.

I knew I had to be the person who did The Biggest Water Slide in the World on my honeymoon, so used every mental gymnastics trick I knew to temporarily set aside my fear, made it to the top, lay on the slide, repeating my favourite affirmation of the time - Ten Foot Tall and Bulletproof - pushed myself over the edge, and after around one second of hurtling almost straight down, plunged into a deep pool of icy water. Mostly, I remember climbing out of the pool, laughing almost uncontrollably and feeling completely happy.

What I'm saying, in my roundabout, let-me-tell-you-a-story, kind of way, is that, win or lose, I really like a good challenge - they are good for us, wouldn't you say? - and I have a few good, simple, life-changing ones for you, dear reader, today.

Firstly, I challenge you to write a few words, a positive affirmation that inspires you, and make it your screensaver for the day, bombarding you with your message. It has to be short, it has to be your own words - not something borrowed from a nonsense Facebook posted bumper sticker - because of the law that says we never resist our own ideas. That's it, let me know how you get on.

Secondly, I challenge you to look for the good in someone who is not exactly your BFF. Again, that's all, and maybe, obviously, notice how by changing the way you think, you change the way you feel about someone and the way you treat them. Looking for the good in people is a first step to love, and kindness.

Lastly, the ultimate challenge, from yesteryear, issued by Emmet Fox (1886-1951), ahead of his time - I challenge you, for seven consecutive days, to be 100% positive. Just taking the challenge can't help but make you more aware of your mindset, and more positive, so I'll keep on taking it until I crack the whole seven days. It's a so simple challenge, for good and bad times, for all times, for you, your seven days starts now.

Plenty to play with for you this week, let me know how you get on, either in the comments or on acuniversal@yahoo.co.uk or alisdair@alisdairandapencil.co.uk.

 

Good fortune, I love you.

 

 

Beginning, no fear

Today I'm starting with a kind of spoiler alert, because we don't know each other well yet, and I'm going to say some tough things, always and only if I think they will help. So, you'll just have to trust I mean well, whoever you are, dear reader. So, here goes.

Don't trust your loved ones when it comes to your motivation. They probably won't be the ones to tell you if you've let it slide, become the negative in the room, the complainer, the problem finder - they love you and don't want to hurt you more than you're hurting already, and, anyway, they are used to you the way you are, how you've become, and don't necessarily want you to change.

When it comes to your motivation, trust yourself. Trust your inner voice, the one that has all the dreams, it'll help you find your line in the sand, the thing you want so bad you can't not do something about it. Goals, new ambitions, a point of sharp focus that lights your fire, that moves you, don't always come easy, but they can only come from you.

The goals lights your fire, sets you ready. The hard part of something new, of making change, of taking a new path, is beginning. The first step is all too often the one least taken.

Take this blog.

 

I've been meaning to write it since the first stir-crazy days of lockdown, whenever that was, so long ago now.

By then, in that weird state of voluntary house arrest, my business was pretty much gone, a small fortune of speaking gigs disappearing from my diary in a steady stream of short emails, and no-one paying their cancellation fees. There was no new business to chase, and it felt like roaming the world, loved up and talking about motivation was over, and I slowly and firmly closed the door on it.

At 3.00am on one of the first days of lockdown, I was up, as I often am, drinking black coffee from a paper cup, the perfect cup, smoking a big cigar, the last from a lovely, hand-crafted humidor I had just sold on Ebay to pay a couple of bills.

I picked up a favourite book, a battered, much read copy of Hunger, by Knut Hamsun, flicked through the pages searching for something, a passage I loved, and a photograph I didn't know was there fell from the pages onto the table.

It was a small, black and white, Kodak print of me, aged six, in a T-shirt and shorts, blonde, with pixie ears, looking dead at the camera, a small smile, and in my eyes I look eager, excited, a little bit scared, sort of happy and hopeful too, very probably for no particular reason. It's how I've felt every day of my life, and in my mind I imagine I still look the same, although that is an illusion!

Straight away I knew what I had to do, I would write about motivation, and maybe help people locked up and down around the world.

Having a clear goal is the trigger for your motivation, in lighting your fire within, but it is not enough. It has to be a goal that matters so much that you can't not do it, that you'll do what it takes to achieve it. A goal without activity is like a fire without fuel, the flame slowly but surely diminishes, although a spark still remains. I had a clear goal, but I didn't do enough to make it a reality.

I made many, so many false starts, wrote about 20,000 words, but none felt good enough, made three false starts creating a website for a blog, and eventually put away the photo that inspired me, put it back in the book, Hunger, and put that at the back of the bookshelf, hiding my disappointment in myself.

I started an online coaching business, began a new book (The Healer, coming soon!), picked up some magic gigs (I was a street magician as a kid, and still am sometimes), grew a small farm of tobacco, lived and laughed and loved, like you do.

Things that matter never leave you, once they are part of your inner self they are part of you. So, time rolled away until another 3.00am came around, and I faced myself, had a long hard look at myself in the mirror, didn't like the look in my eyes, and knew it was time.

I had to find a way to face the fear, of failure, that I wouldn't be able to do what I wanted to do well enough, that no-one would read it, or would hate it, or it wouldn't help anyone, or I would run out of ideas, or it wouldn't look good, or I wouldn't have time, and what if all my fears came true

I like being up in the night, it's when my head and heart get together, and thinking about all my fears, I had a very simple thought 'So what'.

I laughed, made some coffee, smoked a cigarette, a Kent UltraLight 100, grabbed a Rhodia Dotpad, sharpened the stub of a Blackwing pencil, and began, and every day since has been better by far.

If there is something you want, that matters to you, you can't quite let it go, but you're overwhelmed by all you need to do to get it, this is your time. Just think of one simple thing you can do, something that will get you started, maybe it's a phone call, an email, a conversation, and do it. (Do It Now is a good mantra for the overwhelmed)

You can stand on the edge of the pool, wondering what the water is like, dip your toe in the water, still wondering, or you can do what needs to be done - just jump in. I dare you.

Happy Saturday, thanks for spending this time, see you next week, same time same place, love you.