The Book

Who and What is this “book” for? How to use this “book”?

It’s YOUR book – compiled/curated for and by you

“Really Useful Resource”/Guide(like a Travel book)/Reservoir/Repository/Library

Collection/Miscellany/Bits and Bobs/Patchwork/Compendium/Research file/folder –of really useful information

Lots of “food for thought” – “fuel for thinking”

To help and support your personal and business/work/job development

Only accessible online or by email

Downloadable onto your own device(s) – PC/laptop/tablet/phone/kindle/USBstick

Download only what you need – say one chapter at a time  – make it more sustainable

Print off only what you need/as you want – create your own folder/ring-binder/book – with dividers – like I used to prepare research reports for major clients (Amplifon, Pleasure Beach Blackpool) – you can add your own notes/other reports as you wish

Constantly evolving/never finished/never-ending – so you always get the latest edition/version – always adding new stuff and revised stuff

Interactive – let me and others know how you’re getting on – share your own ideas and experiences

There are many Questionnaires/forms to help you make the guide personal to you  – complete and return by email to the Author, and strike up a relationship

Free to download – free to use for yourself – your own team/tribe/family AND share with others – friends, colleagues, etc,

OR make at least £10 donation to a charity instead of money to me – either Saint Ann’s Hospice Manchester (where they looked after my daughter before her death) , a Breast Cancer Care or Research Charity or your own chosen charity

“Pay it back” for all the help I received in my career or  “Pay it forward” to the next generation(s)

If there’s ever anything you don’t understand – or want some more details on, please contact me on

Contents -There are 7 main chapters

Each one has been written to be just  7 minutes to read each one, so this makes 49 minutes in total or under an hour to read. Average chapter wordcount – to read in 7 minutes – 800-1300 (ave 1000 words)

Therefore you can find out who your ‘friends’ are in less than an hour!!

There are many forms and exercises for you to complete – this is inevitable take you more than an hour!

But they are also interactive – [guess what? what else from me?] each chapter has a research questionnaire at the end for you, the reader to complete and return to the Author by email to start or continue our relationship.

Preface A           Who is this book for? It’s for you!

Preface B           Introductions – Thanks to MY Mentors – Acknowledgements

Chapter #1        How it all started for me – Why? (including The 7 Serving Men)

Chapter #2         Friends, friendship and trust

Chapter #3         Values – what are they and what are yours?

(including  DISC and Colours)

Chapter #4          Who are your best friends- Table and Graph of Friendship Fit

                              (including the 7 senses and the 7 tests)

Chapter #5         Culture – Cultural fit/affinity – Table of Client Cultural fit – (including the 7 secrets of new and more business)

Chapter #6          How to tell who’s going to be your friend in 7 minutes?

(including Tips for Networking and the 7-letter acronym ASHIINE)

Chapter #7           7 year life-cycles – how and why?

Appendix A           Let’s be honest : Coming Second is called Losing

Appendix B             About the Author/Researcher/Editor

Appendix C              Bibliography – for further reading

Preface A

Who is this book for? It’s for YOU!

The main target market for this book is people in business, particularly working for themselves/self-employed (a rapidly growing number of us) – with their own business,(either now or in the future),  wanting success by selecting and getting (and keeping!) the right good friends (in life and in their business); the right clients/customers; the right employees/team around them.

The purpose of the book is to help and support your personal/life and business development, by understanding your own and your business’s culture and cultural fit with others, e.g. friends, colleagues and clients. Life and work? Life-work balance? Personal-professional?

Especially more the younger/newer ones, e.g. just leaving college/university or “just starting out in life” /thinking about/getting/starting/changing their own business or profession/job – “at a crossroads in life”, the current target market for my own Mentoring.

I always remember one of my own Mentors, John Donaldson, once telling me that the purpose of Positive Input (an Educational charity we were both Officers of) was to avoid people having to say “Oh, I wished I’d known that earlier/ when I was starting out” (using the benefit of the Wisdom of “Elders”).

This book is particularly for all my own Mentees, reached through my alma mater Manchester University’s Gold Mentoring Scheme, Greater Manchester Business Growth Hub, NorthernSoho MentorMatch; Tech Manchester (UK Fast), Creative Allies, other Mentors/Coaches, and all past, present and future Mentees, (“Once a Mentee, always a Mentee”; “Once a client always a client” – unless there’s no shared Values!)

It’s not really for  academic/education/training – though some might be interested for “real world” lectures/examples – example as the BBC/Sir John Harvey-Jones discovered by accident its use as a training tool with the TV programme  ‘Troubleshooters’).

Other Mentors/Mentoring schemes? – a Handbook for other Mentors to use with their  own Mentees! .

It’s for the many people who are or should be interested in how their culture and their cultural fit with others affects their relationships and their success, both in life and in business.

It’s for those people who want to re-think – to re-evaluate themselves and their life in a new and different way. In particular, this book is for those who want to challenge themselves – to reappraise who they are and their relationships in their life and in their business. In some words “those at a cross-roads” in their life, career or business.

Thus, those who are thinking of changing their career, changing or adapting their life, maybe wanting to start-up or develop their own business, and so forth.

There are case histories and examples  from people who have been through this process. One such case history will be from a close friend who said to me “I wish I’d done this earlier. I recommend others to do this process now, and before starting a business, especially a partnership, not later, when the damage is done”.

International audience/experiences

Friendship has no artificial barriers or boundaries – I have friends from USA to the Philippines! I’ve travelled to 25 different countries (from Finland to Singapore

[lots of stories – from hot saunas and ice cold pools to 3-day passes ‘cos of
my long hair?]

I’ve also noticed that some of my best Mentees so far are all from overseas, i.e. Kenya (Angela), India (Siddharth) and China (Yujie), where respect for Elders is greater than in UK.

I’m  hoping this book will be translated into Chinese, German, Spanish and French

Tone of Voice /Style 

None of this book is an exact or perfect science – real people are involved (“nowt so queer as folk” -I’ve interviewed nearly 20,000 of them – all different and unique in their own individual ways), mostly research respondents, plus many clients, suppliers, employees, agencies, etc.

Innovative – Thought-provoking – Action-provoking

Personal style – like my research reports (2,000 of them!) prepared with a particular person/client in mind – and my presentations/client meetings/discussions (they were always interactive – often dialectic!)

Bullet points – words – phrases – not many long or even complete (certainly not complicated) sentences (that’s how “real people” actually talk, after all!)

May end up looking like a 50 page questionnaire! They’ve always worked well for me in my business – so why fix what isn’t broken?

Relevant examples/stories/anecdotes/applications/action pointers – not going off at too many tangents (leave them for later/other books – or in boxes at the side or footnotes) ) [NB only relevant stories – not too many tangents, you High I behavioural style/creative brain you!!]

Authoritative – Reliable – Dependable – Respectable

Direct (US style) – not too indirect (UK style)

Neutral – Not too matey – de-jargonise it

Sense of Humour – Scouse Humour –

A Scouse point of view

Fred Fazakerley (yes, that’s his real name, also a place in Liverpool – try pronouncing it properly) wrote “History has given us Scousers – our tough upbringing; our distrust of authority; and an attitude that varies from ‘embattled alienation’ to ‘truculent paranoia’ !!! (see another book re: migrants/ outliers/jokers/Jesters)

See also how different US Presidents – communicate with/to their people/citizens

  1. Trump (2017- ) uses Twitter (limited number of characters/brain cells needed) –(both Twits)
  2. FDR (Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1944 during Second World War – only President to serve more than 8 years                                                           – used “fireside chats” on evening radio (familiarity)
  3. JFK (John/Jack Kennedy (1961-murdered 1963)                                          – used TV  for youth (new generation- see chapter 1); goodlooks; enthusiasm

4.    Eisenhower (1953-1961) – soldier, “talking down” to troops, orders to others to obey!

The 7 key aspects of good communication

  1. Content – based on consumer need/likely response (based on research)
  2. Target market – demo, psycho, geo, socio, educo(?) etc
  3. Method and style – language, grammar, vernacular, tone of voice, etc
  4. Media used – print, video, TV, film, internet (all, some or none)
  5. Rational appeal/response
  6. Emotional appeal/response
  7. Call to action

There are Questions at end of each and every chapter (on blue paper)

“Light the blue touch-paper (as in a firework) and withdraw to a safe place”

I would always do summaries; pose questions or suggest conclusions/action points at the end of every report and certainly at end of every presentation of results for clients I ever did.

Most chose to agree with these and use them as the basis of plans of action for the future (thus the moniker of the company became “really useful research”)

Others chose to ignore them – one agency even tore out the blue page at the back. They won the account by hiding this from the client; but the product failed and they were fired. The client was shocked when he found out about the missing page and regretting spending nearly £1 million on advertising – but employed me as his research consultant from then on!

A quick question for you?

How many legs does the average person have?

The story of one focus group I did for Yates’s food in Halifax, of 8 men, 7 with 2 legs and 1 with none! [He explained that “once he’s in Yates’s, if he doesn’t like it, he can’t walk out”]

Preface B

Introductions and Thanks 

This book is based on the story of my lifetime (3/4 of a century – 75 this year in 2020) of adventures and experiences – giving me my wisdom, knowledge and experience.

Dedicated to the special women (my baes) in my life –  Jean Wharton (my life and business partner of 37 years now) and my 4 daughters – Ann, Helen, Steph (RIP), and Ness (plus my grand and great-grand children). Also to my siblings Liz and Richard and late parents – Ron and Peggy.   

Thanks to all my past and present Mentors:-

Geoffrey Petch (my History teacher at Goole Grammar School) (learned how to research around and behind and beneath a subject not just on the subject itself)

The Professor Max Gluckman (Manchester University Social Anthropology)– my own personal tutor – invited to his house (afterwards, I wrote to my Dad – “I thought we had a load of books in our house, then I went to his”)

Burt Cross (Coop) – “check, check and check again” [ Riaz Khokhar, father of one of my Mentees, Sonbal – says “think 3 times, and then again”!]

Philip Kemp (my Marketing Director at Cussons) “the difference between “making” a decision and “taking” a decision”;- between “thinkers” and “doers” – and between “intrepreneurs and entrepreneurs” [ but not the ex-HR Marketing Director – that’s another story]

Bob Lee (my Marketing Manager at Cussons, then marketing consultant) – thanks for my first client!

David Fisher (Harrison Cowley/Rex Stewart/independent) – together we rescued Beaverbrooks The Jewellers from bankruptcy– with just one single word!

Keith Bradshaw (Bradex Insurance Brokers) through all the odds

Graham Hoyle (Retail Performance Improvement) – for showing and sharing with me the true meaning of friendship – through thick and thin!

Jeff Edis (Barkers; Cahoots; Consult together )““You make the bullets (Market Research &Development), we’ll fire them (Marketing/Advertising/Sales)” and thank you for the title of this book!

Stephen Seymour (Qogenta People Solutions) and Andy Hall (GM Business Growth Hub)– for teaching and honing my Mentoring

Andy Hall (now at Greater Manchester Business Growth Hub) – for sharing and encouraging our mutual experiences

and especially Adrian Banger (Paradigm Partnership) for helping me to understand myself (after my Mental Health breakdown); and that soft skills are as (if not more) important than hard skills in my “bank accounts”.

Also thank you to all my colleagues who helped make my business – Really Useful Research and Development – such a success : including Chris Braithwaite; Margaret Robertson (and all her nationwide team of fieldwork interviewers and supervisors); Paula Campbell; Jane Durham; Geraldine Pratten; Mary Baker Young; Darren Noyce; Alison English; Helen Stowell; David Keepe; Helen Pratten; Rob Pratten; Steph Turri;  Noreen Sims; Beverley Glancy; Carole Harvey; Sonia Bellamy; Anna Fenton – but , most of all, our clients – all £12million of them!

Special thanks to the “Panel” of Friends/editorial commentators who have helped me compile this book  – Will Stone, Will Kintish; Ruth Shearn , Phil Atkinson . Alexis Beaumont , Ian Sandall , Ian Dunkerley, Maxine Pollard Skelton, Tony Murray, Rach Emson and Karl Sanderson; Guy Parker, Fay and Rupert Hine, John Donaldson, Carl Bradshaw, Colin Bell; Linden Kitson; .Andrea Goodridge.; Angela Kabiru; Mick Farmer; MingMing Guam (for the word “Guide”), Lu Carr, Victoria Humphrey, Sarah Rowley, Pete Emms,   Would you like to join them?  

To start you off, here are some Really Useful Hints

“problems are merely opportunities in disguise”

“how to turn negatives into positives”

“turn negative energy/negative thoughts into positive energy/positive thoughts”

“affirmative strokes”  – “positive affirmation” – ticks!!

Dr Travis Bradberry writes:

“Keeping a positive attitude does not happen by accident, Maintaining positivity (in life) is a daily challenge that requires focus and attention. You must be intentional about staying positive if you’re going to overcome the brain’s (natural)  tendency to focus on negatives/threats”

The 3 Most Powerful Ways to Stay Positive are:

  1. separate facts from fiction (negative thoughts not facts)
  2. identity the positives in life
  3. cultivate an attitude of gratitude for the positives

(Emotional Intelligence 2.0 – from Linkedin 16th July 2019)

The Chapter #1 : How it all started for me?

It’s said that “everyone has a book inside them”. This is mine! This is my story:- The idea behind this book was sparked by the work that my dear friend Jeff Edis & myself were doing as “The Consult Group”, a business development consultancy for a wide range of different creative and marketing services agencies – mainly here in the North of England – “The Northern Powerhouse”  – of many different types, sizes and more importantly cultures.

Close your eyes and imagine the scene: – The year is 1960 – the  start of a new decade – the 60s – “The Swinging 60s”- Everly Brothers are #1 with Cathys Clown- President Kennedy elected and “the torch passed to a new generation” – Bob Dylan is about to leave college to go to NYC to see his hero Woody Guthrie – the Minis are coming (both the car and the skirts!)-  my Dad’s new maternity hospital project in Bishop Auckland started – so we moved to a brand new home in a brand new town: Newton Aycliffe (in NorthEast of England) – shortage of youth facilities.

I am 14 (2×7) – beginning of my teenage years – “Why must I be a teenager in love?” (Dion & the Belmonts, 1959)- end of Massey’s second stage (see chapter 7) – too young to go in a pub [unlike my friend Phil Atkinson, who started at the LittleB in Sale when he was 14, I waited till I was 17-a dockers’ pub in Goole!!]

So I joined the only youth club there – the Methodist Youth Club – volunteered to do market research survey of new residents –  if aged 13-17,they were invited to Club –  if under 13, take note for future contact (the first ever CRM system?).  I did all the interviews, I loved it,  did the analysis, kept the reports up to date, actioned the results – the very first “Really Useful Research report”!! 

Then University in ‘63 –studied Social Anthroplogy (The Professor Max Gluckman) and Psephology(Richard Rose); mesmerised by statistics; survey research techniques; asking questions; research survey vacation jobs; absorbed by “Human Groups” by Sebastian Sprott.

I found and adapted this poem (which should be every market researchers mantra – and probably anyone with a sales role)

7 Serving Men – adapted from Rudyard Kipling (1865- 1936) ’s 6 Honest Men – in “The Elephant’s Child” , first published in 1900 (in The Ladies Home Journal)

I keep seven honest serving-men

They taught me all I know;
Their names are What and Why and When 

And Who and Where and How.

  AND How much?  *Rudyard Kipling was a member of a wealthy family with the British Raj in India, and didn’t need to worry too much about money, so I’ve had to add this one for our commercial world!

– The Farmers Arms story

My friend and Consult Group partner in business development for creative agencies, Jeff Edis and I were sitting in a pub in Leeds one day (it was actually called The Farmers Arms on the Leeds Bradford road  – we used to go in there a lot, if only for a quick relief, (and some nuts and crisps – pre diabetic days!), after a particularly bad meeting/day at the office.

I was rambling on about how it was that we got on really well with some clients, but really badly with others (sometimes in the same city in the same market place) – and that the same seemed to be true of our own clients with their clients as well.  Jeff asked “so Mr. Researcher, why is that?” – I replied “well Mr. Creative, I think it’s because we can be friends with some clients but  not with others – because we share the same culture”.  Jeff replied – “you mean ‘you can’t be everybody’s friend’” – and so the idea for the book was” born”.

The book started to be written back in 2007, and, with Jeff’s and many others’ invaluable help, I’ve put it together – based on my thoughts and experiences of over 50 years consultancy in market research, marketing management, business development, new business, culture analysis and appraisal, and more recently Mentoring young and up-coming individuals and businesses.

Over the years of ensuring that market research becomes “really useful” to our clients (the main differentiator from other market research companies since we started back in 1981) I’ve developed a whole series of useful maxims, including “The Really Useful Theory of Wisdom” :-

     W=Ke        [not quite as world-changing as Einstein’s e=mc2  ]

Wisdom is not just Knowledge and Information  (University Lecturers, Professors and Libraries have plenty of this) but Knowledge to the power of Experience (see also my DISC Behavioural Style profile – “John is driven by status and  power”)

Particularly in reference to age and experience, Elders exist throughout world cultures, e.g. Christian religion , UK Parliament (“Father of the House”), African tribes and witchdoctors. See also book “Wisdom at Work: the Making of a Modern Elder” by Chip Conley (the man behind AirBnB) .

–   “asking questions that get results” (the word “that” came from the Editor of the BBC Encyclopaedia (she had a double 1st in English from Oxford Uni) – that became the BBC’s first ever website   HYPERLINK “” before we could launch the printed version of the Encyclopedia) (1994)

  • “really useful research” (with help from one of my best clients, Robert Owen of The Pleasure Beach Blackpool – not Blackpool Pleasure Beach, because of “cognitive dissonance” )

In total, over 25 years, my market research business conducted  £12 millions worth of research (a garage full) (mainly ad hoc project or development research) (see also  “about the Author”)

  • my Father taught me that “if you don’t ask questions, you don’t find out/you don’t learn”
  • One of my really best friends (now sadly departed),Keith Bradshaw, used to tell his son Carl that in sales/business development with clients –  “If you don’t ask you will never get!” –

Others nicknamed me :

–   “The Wise Old Owl of Manchester Marketing”  – owl for wisdom,  and for working overnight/driving in the dark

–    “The Nosiest Man in Britain” (said Jeff Edis) with the “longest nose” to sniff out valuable pieces of information about consumers and clients to help with personal and business development.

  • “Uncle John” –  Uncle” is the English word for the Greek word “Mentor” [in Homer’s Iliad, when Odysseus was away fighting the Trojan War,  he left his son Telemachus in the responsibility of his friend/brother Mentor, thus his son’s “Uncle”]. I had a favourite Uncle (Eric) – my Father’s Brother – from Liverpool – to whom I turned “in times of trouble” (from ‘Let It Be’, The Beatles last single – their singles career lasted 7 years from 1962 to 1969). I also had it on my business card and on Linkedin for a while, despite the design agency’s misgivings because of certain sexual overtones to that word.  My friends Tony Murray in HongKong and Bash Ali  – and others- still call me that!

Many other people have Uncles – Vicky has her Uncle Dave; Nicole has her Uncle in Poland; Yujie from China –her Uncle is in Singapore.

Who is your Uncle and why? Doesn’t need to be a ‘real’ Uncle – could be an adopted one!

 (Blue Paper)


Chapter 1


Q1. What have been the major milestones in your life story so far?

Q2. What words/phrases/quotations do you use to guide yourself?

Q3. How would you describe who you are – and what you do in life – and in business? (IN NO MORE THAN 10 WORDS)

[One of my milestones was developing and launching Cussons Imperial Leather Family size (1978)– which everyone else in the company said couldn’t be done – launched with a competition in no more than 10 words to win one of the first ever remote-control Grundig TVs, the winner from Tesco Scarborough with Jimmy Tarbuck,  one of my favourite Scouser comedians, along with Lee Mack (Not Going Out and Would I Lie to You?), the recently late Freddie Starr and Professor of Happiness Ken Dodd ]

Chapter 2 – “What is a ‘Friend’ ?  

Dictionaries/other people’s opinions/views/what is your own definition?

So how would you define “a friend”? PLEASE WRITE IN YOUR OWN DEFINITION HERE

There are hundreds of different ways to define the words ‘friend’ & ‘friendship’, for example: –


a Facebook ‘friend’? (The median average number of Facebook friends a person has is 200)

Snapchat (on 30th July 2019 – International Friendship Day) announced it is an app where “Real Friends” can connect – it ~”cultivates authentic and lasting friendships”

LinkedIn or Instagram ‘connection’ or ‘follower’?

 How to win friends & influence people? (Dale Carnegie Institute)

Australian TV Soap “Neighbours” which starred Kylie Minogue – theme song written by Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent (1984)  “when neighbours become good friends”

 Society of Friends/Quakers – Joanne Griffiths – extra chair for the unexpected friend at the table (Liverpool-Beatles-John Lennon-1964)

 “I get by with a little help from my friends” (100 + other friendship quotations)

“Friends are the family we choose for ourselves”

Plato said “Friendship is the distinctively personal relationship that is grounded in the concern of each friend for the welfare of their other friend, for the other’s sake”

Types of friends – “social” friends(Ruth Shearn) “friends you can call up in middle of the night”  “stand by me” (John Lennon/Ben E. King )

My partner of 37 years now, Jean Wharton, has given me two:-

A friend is someone who you are there for – either in person or on the phone when you/they need a friendly ear to listen:

A friend is someone who you don’t see for ages, but when you do, it’s like you saw them yesterday.

My own hypothesised conclusion based on all my research for this book is that “a friend is one who has common/shared Values”

Trust and Friendship :

Rach Emson and Karl Sanderson (MD and CD of Vivid Creative in Manchester  HYPERLINK “” asked “Trust -What does this mean in today’s society? What foundations is trust built upon? How can we maintain trust through rocky times?”

What is Trust?

Basically, it’s a firm belief in the reliability – the truth  – and the abilities of someone else when dealing with you  (and vice versa of course). So, for example, clients dealing with suppliers, be that market research or artwork, and suppliers/agencies dealing with clients, be that strategy or deliverables!

Trust involves having confidence – belief – faith – freedom from doubt, especially in terms of what is said or supplied from one party to the other.

It is to believe that the someone else is good, honest, and will not cause any harm to you (and of course your business) .

Adrian Banger says

“Trust is the glue that holds/binds the bricks of an organisation together”

Trust is one of the 3 foundations of all relationships :-

           “Know, then Like, then Trust”.

Friends Behaviour

However, more often than not , people define their friends by their behaviour towards or with you, e.g. their common interests, hobbies, drinks, how they react in a crisis, etc.  – but it goes much deeper than that. These behaviours are based on their Values – the foundations of how they live their life and/or conduct their business

Because friends share the same Values as you, it means that friends can put their trust in you (and vice versa). You can rely on your friend to look after you and your best interests, even your money or your life – for example  when you are not actually physically there or available to ask/consult – without even needing to ask – in the same way as you would for them, because you know they share the same Values.

So does being “trustworthy” mean they are “worthy of trust”?

Each individual has their own unique/different set/list of Values – and this book will show you ways in which you can determine and describe yours (also remember to review them constantly/annually if you already have them, as they will change over time with new influences and new environments and new experiences!) and then use them in your personal and in your business development.

Degrees of Friendship

Of course, there are degrees of Friendship from “Best Friends” to “casual acquaintances” – even “Facebook friends”!! – [see also section on Dunbar’s numbers] and my book explains these differences/variations/degrees of %correlation between friends

[see Chapter 4 for a questionnaire and table about this]

together with hints and tips on how to describe and recognise these in others,

Types/kinds/levels/ or I prefer the word degrees of friends, e.g. “social” friends(Ruth Shearn) “friends you can call up in middle of the night”  “stand by me” (John Lennon/Ben E. King ) ; “friends who stand behind/protect my back” (my Solicitor, Robin Willoughby),

Also by length of time been a Friend – “friends since birth” “quote from my daughters Ann and Helen about sisters”; “school-friends”, “friends since University”,  BFF’s; “longtime friend” “new friend” , “baes”, etc.

Art’s Principles

Arthur Gensler is the founder of Gensler, an architectural and design firm, which has grown from one man in 1965 to a global business  with 46 offices in 14 countries, and 5,000 employees.

He has written about his Principles – I would call them Values – on which he has based the growth and continuing success of the business. He writes “stick to your own standards and encourage the same from those with whom you work – and with your clients” . He gives examples of how he has gained clients – and lost/resigned clients because of this.

“Trust is the most powerful currency in business”, Gensler states.

“the value of trust is in building relationships between people you can trust to have and maintain the same standards/Values” 

“the earned trust of clients and employees serves as the basis of a strong business”

Trust is hard won – but easily lost!  And once lost, it’s hard if nigh impossible to regain, so don’t even try!

A trust fund

A related meaning of the word is in a trust fund or trustee relationship

“holding property on behalf of others”  “holding money in trust for someone”

A Power of Attorney entrusts the Attorney to handle a person’s financial and property affairs – but also their health and even life or death –  based on their best interests, determined by knowing and acting on their Values on their behalf, even it that person has become unable or unconscious to make their own decisions, e,g if they are close to death (a situation I’ve personally had to face quite recently with my aged and disabled Aunt).

Some more helpful hints (From the Wise Old Owl)

Everyone has good and bad days. But friends support you through ALL the days (good and bad)

That’s why for many people , their “friends” are a bottle of whisky – or a glass of sherry!


Trust and ethics go hand in hand.

Ethics are the foundation of your character. There are no short cuts when it comes to ethics or being ethical. Either you do the right thing – based on your Values or those of your friend/client – or you don’t!

As Jack Welch (CEO of General Electric 1981-2001, just short of 3×7 years) asked the question:  “Can you look in the mirror every morning and be proud of what you are doing?”

[But be careful – what YOU see when you look in your mirror ISNT what other people see when they look at you! It’s the opposite way round!]

A final thought from “The Friendship Book” by Francis Gray (published every Christmas for a Christmas/New Year present by DC Thomson of Dundee in Scotland – also publishers of that wonderful kids comic The Beano!)

What is a best friend?

A best friend is a treasured gift,

A prize beyond compare,

Someone who shares the bad and the good,

You know is always there.

A best friend listens patiently

To every word you say,

But most of all, a best friend is

Like you in every way.

(Blue paper)

Chapter 2

Questions for you, the Reader – FILL IN AND RETURN BACK TO ME on

Q1   what is your own definition of a “friend” – or “friendship”?

Q2   how can you tell who your friend or friends are?

Q3   what are your ethics? And why?

Chapter #3What are your Values?

Always start with you/yourself and your values – as an individual

The Ancient Greek maxim aphorism “know thyself” is one of the Delphic maxims and was inscribed in the pronaos of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi according to the Greek writer Pausanias. The phrase was later expounded upon by the philosopher Socrates in his writings..

Peter Drucker (1909-2005) in  his  book “Management Challenges for the 21st Century” declares that “Success in the knowledge economy comes to those that know themselves – their strengths, their Values and how they best perform”

Lao Tse (604-521 BC, founder of Taoism) says

“He who understands others is learned                                                                     He who understands himself is wise”

TTI Inc (Target Training International, based in Phoenix Arizona USA – who conduct the full internet based DISC Behavioural Styles Profiles) states that

“Behavioural research confirms that the most effective people are those who understand themselves – both their strengths and their struggles/weaknesses – so they can develop strategies to adapt to the demands of their environment”


This adaptation process will also apply to our adaptation to climate change, just as we did to the last major climate change 11-15,000 years ago (see also Sid Yadav at United Nations – and Angela Kabiru in Kenya/Rift Valley)

15,000 years ago the “Native Americans” arrived on the North America continent from the Asia continent (hence the similarity in their eyes to Chinese and Japanese)  crossing a land bridge across the Bering Strait, as the ice from the ice age retreated (further north then on land because of the salt water in the Pacific Ocean. Hear Buffy St. Marie sing  in “Soldier Blue” – “for 15,000 years we’ve sung her praises – this land is my land”. .

DISC Behavioural Style Profiling “the wheel” “colours” “stars”

(see blank wheel here)

D   Red            – Driver – Director – Conductor

I     Yellow        – Influencer – Ideas – Innovator – make up own rules

S    Green         – Steady – Supportive – Salt of the Earth

C    Blue            – Cautious – Compliant – stick to the rules  

Profile (NOT test) Individuals first, then Teams/Groups.

Different body languages can often be used to identify each different type

Ive also conducted analyses of 101 creative and marketing people in the North of England, to show the different behavioural styles of different functions – also differences between natural and adapted behaviour (see Darwin)

There are many other books and papers on this subject, so I’m not going to cover in any more depth here.

Good book is “Surrounded by Idiots” by Thomas Erikson (see bibliography)  

If you’d like your own DISC profile done – either simple 10 minute version or more indepth analysis (covering both natural and adapted/current styles – and the “behavioural gap” between the two) please contact the Author.

DISC Behavioural style profiling – “Wheel”

Belbin Team roles (and behaviours, e.g. biscuit preferences)

Another excellent tool for examining and developing roles within a team

1. Resource Investigator      (Jammie Dodgers)

2. Team Worker                    (Garibaldis)

3.  Co-ordinator                    (Viennese Whirls)

4.  Plant                               (Florentines)

5.  Monitor Evaluator             (Jaffa Cakes)

6. Specialist                          (Artisan Biscuits)

7.  Shaper                              (54321 chocolate wafer biscuits)

8. Implementer                      (Digestives)

9.  Completer Finisher           (Chocolate  Liebniz biscuits)

9 different types of Cultures based on these roles, where one particular type dominates, then gets cloned

What’s your favourite biscuit?

See above for each Belbin type   (Belbin Team News 29 January 2019)

See also article about National Biscuit Day from McVitie’s biscuits

(Daily Telegraph article 8th July 2019)

See also the “B” test in Chapter 4

MyersBriggs  – 16 different roles  through MBTI assessments

More suited for more production/process/controlled environments

But this method does produce some interesting descriptions for each of the 16 roles, eg ENFP is “The Inspirer – not just the fluff” (eg Velody) and an ISTP is “The Mechanic – literal thinker”.

Wealth Dynamics

Another interesting personality profiling technique


Lots of work has been done on the meanings of colours within cultures .

There’s a particularly good article by Gregory Ciotti on “The Psychology of Colour in Marketing and Branding” published in Medium on 27thJune 2016.  

DISC Behavioural Styles (use the coloured wheel on a previous page to demonstrate)

Dominant style – Red

Influencer style – Yellow

Steady/supportive style – Green

Compliant style – Blue  

Persons clothes – For Dawson Home Fashions (was Hygiene Industries) in the USA (research in 1991/92) we could predict which color of shower curtains a peruser of the section would choose by their favorite color (observed by the predominant color of the clothes they were wearing) (NB US spellings here – this was the USA) This was especially true in Bed & Bath Beauty Shops (which I visited in New Jersey and New York States) {see Video Story]

Home/Office Environments – inter-relationship with their behavioural style within their culture

e.g. Creation ADM – green – Supportive Style

Note that meanings of colour do change with culture. For example,  in Chinese cultures, red means lucky (see Chinese New Year lucky bags) whereas in Western cultures red means danger!

Emotion – Also often related to the 7 main types of Emotion

How many colours are there in the rainbow?


What are they?


Different mnemonics :-

(Richard Of York Gained Battles in Vain)

(Read Out Your Good Book In Verse)

Also DISC colours match up with the 7 colours of the rainbow

Orange – mix of D and I (extrovert styles)

Indigo and Violet (Purple) – mix of C and D (project led)

[Lime Green – mix of S and I])


Of course, all these colours are gradations or degrees of colour – dependent on the % degrees of refraction of light

Over the rainbow” 

Song from “Wizard of Oz” (193X film) sung by Judy Garland (then aged X_

Also Ariande Grande for the “Manchester 22” murdered at the Manchester Concert Arena on 22nd May 2017.

Cyndi Lauper – “True Colours”

(also sung by Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake)

(written by American songwriters Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly)

 “Your true colours shining through”

“Never be afraid to let them show”

“Your true colours are beautiful like a rainbow”

Values Profiling

“The most important thing in life (and in business) is to decide what is most important to you [and your business] “

“The signposts that guide your way in life”

Beliefs > Values > Behaviour  (Gandhi? Hinduism?)

The following questionnaire should be completed  initially by you, the reader, Please follow all the instructions (in CAPS) and DO NOT turn to the next page until instructed to do so.

It can also be used in a group situation – with either each individual completing the questionnaire separately, with no-one else watching/conferring, and then comparing the responses between and within the group  – its always interesting to compare and contrast different views, and then discuss why and how these differences have developed – then compile a “group view” of Values – or start with the group as a whole, comparing, contrasting and discussing different opinions within the group (like in a focus group discussion)

It is often the differences between different people and their different opinions that can reveal some really interesting opinions and reasons for our Values, just as in a focus group discussion (of which I’ve now personally conducted 2,000 – on subjects, as various as

Aberdeen Evening Express newspaper amongst both current, lapsed and non-users – thanks Geoff Teather

Vegetarian meat pies for Warburtons – thanks Colin Bell

Chesterfield Steels – thanks Dan Kirby and Andy Weir

the future of Chester Zoo amongst different ages and family stage and composition – thanks Chris Vere.

The selection and composition of the individuals within the group is vitally important. Should they be from the same family/section/department or from different ones? The same/similar ages? Genders? Levels of responsibility? Or carefully controlled mixes? How should the group be conducted? With or without a leader or moderator? Should he/she be independent , unknown or external to the group/business – or one of your own?

The dialectic process between two different views can result in “fission” and disagreement within the group, OR “fusion” and new insights OReven, in more creative environments “frisson”. Dialectic groups/processes – Hegel groups (1770-1831 – see more at “Masters of Political Thought” by Lane Lancaster).


NAME  ______________  BRAND/COMPANY/ORG/GROUP_________

DATE ________________REVIEW (in 12 moths] _____________

“The most important thing in life (and in business) is to decide what is most important to you [and/or your business] “

 choose one of these 3 questions, whichever is most appropriate

  1. What should I/my/our business stand for?
  2. What should be the values by which I/we operate?
  3. How do I/we want other people to perceive me/us?


This process is self- evaluation – your own perception of yourself and your Values – not necessarily the reality! [BUT isn’t/doesn’t perception = reality?]



“The most important thing in life (and in business) is to decide what is most important to you [and/or your business] “

choose one of these 3 questions, whichever is most appropriate

1. What should I/my/our business stand for?           

 2. What should be the values by which I/we operate?

 3.  How do I/we want other people to perceive me/us?

 NOW Look over the list of values NEXT PAGE.  Circle any values that“jump out” because of their importance to you. Feel free to add any others if needed

Note not ALL of them, because you can’t be ALL things to ALL men –and women!

As Bob Dylan more eloquently put it in “Talking World War 3 Blues” (Freewheeling 1963):

“Half of the people can be part right all of the time; Some of the people can be all  right part of the time; But all of the people can’t be all right all of the time; Abraham Lincoln said that*; I’ll let you be in my dreams, if I can be in yours!”                                                                                             

[*it was actually Carl Sandburg who said it!]

Donald Runsfeld (US Secretary of Defence  2002) said

“Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know; there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also  HYPERLINK “” \o “w:Unknown unknown” unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.

And if one looks throughout history, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones”.

truth                                           persistence                                 resources

efficiency                                    sincerity                                      dependability

initiative                                      fun                                             trust

environmentally friendly               customer-focussed                      excellence

power                                         wisdom                                       teamwork

control                                        flexibility                                       service

courage                                      generosity                                   profitability

competitive                                 commitment                                freedom

excitement                                  recognition                                  friendship

creativity                                     learning                                      influence

happiness                                   honesty                                      justice

honour                                        originality                                    quality

innovation                                   candour                                      hard work

obedience                                   prosperity                                  respect

financial growth                           responsiveness                           fulfilment

community support                      purposefulness                              fairness

integrity                                      order                                          strength

peace                                         spirituality                                   self-control

loyalty                                         adventure                                   cleverness

clarity                                         co-operation                                success

security                                       humour                                       stewardship

love                                            collaboration                               support




“The most important thing in life (and in business) is to decide what is most important to you [and/or your business]

choose one of these 3 questions, whichever is most appropriate

1, What should I/my/our business stand for?                                                           

 2.. What should be the values by which I/we operate?                             

3. How do I/we want other people to perceive me/us?



1.       _____________________________________________________

2.       _____________________________________________________

3.       __________________________________________________

Of course, you can have as many Values as you wish – but choose 3. 5 or 7 for yourself or your business, enough that you can handle and then action.  The less you have, the more likely you are to a) remember them ; b) communicate them to others, e.g. the team, colleagues and clients; and c) act on them in every aspect of your life and business

Examples of Corporate Values:

Values they would like to have – or aspire to have.

Sainsburys (food retailer)

  “it’s our Values than make us different” (from other shops/our competitors)

Bowmer & Kirkland (construction company)

“Bowmer & Kirkland is family owned and promotes family values.

We are committed to creating a future free of incidents, injuries and ill health as a result of our activities,

We wish to create an industry where everyone is valued, all views are listened to and a safe and healthy working environment is the norm not the exception

We take pride in everyone returning home safely every day.”

Central Manchester NHS Hospitals & Healthcare Trust

  1. Compassion
  2. Respect
  3. Consideration
  4. Pride
  5. Empathy
  6. Dignity
  7. Expertise (not currently listed – possibly because these Values have been developed from internal, eg staff,  not external, eg patients, and they often miss the most obvious, because they work with it every day)

BNI (Business Network International)

  1. Givers Gain ®
  2. Lifelong Learning
  3. Traditions and Innovations
  4. Positive Attitude
  5. Building Relationships
  6. Accountability
  7. Recognition

(Blue paper)

Chapter 3

3 Questions for you, the reader  FILL IN AND RETURN TO THE AUTHOR on

Q1. what are your  own personal 3 main Values?

Q2. what are the main Values of your team/business? (brand)?

Q3. How do you express or communicate your Values to your friends or to your clients (current and prospects)?

Chapter #4 :  

How to tell who are your best ‘friends’ (in life and in business) :The Concept of “Friendship Fit”

– based on your own Values (go back to Chapter #3)  – and then others’ Values > shared/common Values

– based on my own 49+ years in business (i.e. 35 = 5 sets of 7year cycles in my own businesses, plus 14 = 2×7 in the corporate world)

Where do you get your Values from?

           Is it nature or nurture? Or a combination of the two?

– the role of family?

 Inter-generational transfer – is it genetic/biological or emotional/psychological?

            For example – my own Father’s 7 Values were:

1. Family first! his own, his brothers and sisters, mother and father , his children (me and my 2 siblings)

2. Pacifism/non-violence (Took “The Pledge”- “Conscientious Objection” during the 2nd World War – that didn’t make him many friends in “high places” but did gain him his 2 best life-long Friends, Uncle Horace and Uncle Arthur, because of these shared Values for life, not death)

Father believed that if you had to resort to violence to solve a dispute or an argument, you had already lost it! You had already failed!

He campaigned passionately against child soldiers – both in UK (school cadet forces, Territorial Army for under 18s) and overseas – through Amnesty International –and their regular letter-writing campaigns

3. Respect for others – whatever their opinions/age/geographical origin/race or religion/colour of their skin

4. Frugality/Economy – He was brought up during the Great Strike in the 1920s, the Great Depression of the 1930s, the War 1939-45 and aftermath – with austerity, utility and rationing in the 1940s and 50s.I remember one of my daughters asking why he removed the stalks in the shop from bananas before buying them – to save money; mum and dad even baked their own bread (and delicious it was too!)

5. Healthy mind -> Healthy body ; and Healthy body -> Healthy mind. He was a lifelong teetotaller – No alcohol, tobacco or drugs ever went in his mouth!  

6. Music, especially on the “wireless” – for rest and relaxation of both the mind and the body. He told me how Mozart composed his first symphony at age 8 and that playing Mozart as background music during school-lessons  improved kids’ performances. Dad played his beloved cello too!

7.Respect for all rules – including speeding when driving! He also told me  it would improve my fuel efficiency if only I didn’t drive so fast!

So, how many did I inherit from my Father ? maybe 5 or 6 out of 7, guess which one in particular I  didn’t? –#7-  the source of many a conflict with him during growing up and later in life! (Clue, I’m a Low C on my DISC Behavioural Style profile)

Andrea Goodridge,  HYPERLINK “” ,another fine Mentor from the Greater Manchester Business Growth Hub Mentoring Team, led by the irrepressible Andy Hall, helping people to “flourish” (based on her own experiences of “significant emotional events”) told me about the work of Dr. Morris Massey.

She starts with a quote from Louisa May Alcott:

“Painful as it may be, a significant emotional event can be the catalyst for choosing a (new or different) direction that serves us – and those around us – more effectively. Look for the learning!”

Andrea has also written about the  top 7 leadership activities, on how to be a Great Leader, based on her own experiences   HYPERLINK “”

Massey states that “Our Values guide our approach to life and relationships. They inform our way forward through the many choices we are offered every day. You could say they make up a large part of who we are, and how others view us.

Massey concludes – and Andrea concurs – that, unless a “Significant Emotional Event” such as death of a close relative occurs or we make a conscious effort to adjust our values, we live our life modelling the behaviours formed from our Values.  

“Dunbars Numbers”  

Two academics – Robin Dunbar and Jeffrey Hall – have done a lot of research work on the number of “friends” that a person can have. Robin Dunbar is an “evolutionary psychologist” and worked first at Liverpool, then Oxford Universities in England. He published his research “Social network size in humans” in the New York Human Nature journal in 2003. Jeffrey Hall is Professor of Communications at Kansas University in USA. His research was published in the “Journal of Social  & Personal Relationships” in 2018.

Between the two them, their findings have become known as “Dunbars Numbers”. They have found that “150” is a rough limit on the number of meaningful relationships we can manage. Some of the early research (before the Internet and emails) showed that the average number of Christmas cards given/received was 153.5 individuals.

It is interesting to note that 150 is made of up 7 x 7 x 3 = 147 +3

The average number of “Facebook Friends” each person has is around 150, and on Twitter, 150 “meaningful conversations” is the norm.

There are also “layers” of friendship (see also my “graph” of friendship”), based on cognitive limits of the brain, for example:-

          Acquaintances        150

          Casual friends         100

          Friends                     50

          Good friends               15

          Close/best friends      5

Some people postulate that “you can count you real friends on one hand. If that adds up to 5, then you’re lucky” (Philip Atkinson, Xantus)

Friendships take time to develop, so the more time two people spend together, the more likely they are to become friends (and vice versa of course!)

You need to invest time to build different levels of friendships and relationships, for example:

          50 hours turns an acquaintance into a casual friend

          90 hours a casual friend into a friend

          More than 200 hours to qualify as a best friend

The amount of time spent together is associated with the closeless of friendship levels.

Some more recent work on the “neocortex” of the human brain has predicted that the number of relationships for humans is 150. The neocortex is that part of the brain (about 76% of it) that deals with high-order functions such as sensory perception, cognition, spatial reasoning and language.

The Table of Friendship Fit

( correlation coefficients by Values (2 page questionnaire)

A simple test to work out who your best friends are (by degrees of correlation on shared/common values)

Write in your top 10 Values/Beliefs          â      You    Friend        A       Friend            B      Friend          C
     Name                     à       John       Paul      George       Ringo
Challenging                                 x         
Humanism                       x           x         
Sense of humour                                 x         
Facts                                 x         
Fun loving                                          
Support Man. City                       x                    x
Correlation       10/10            8/10          80%         6/10         60%         9/10        90%

Note of caution here!

Each of these Values may not all have equal value.Some (e.g. honesty) may be more important than others (e.g. City till I die) – and therefore they need to be given higher weightings .

Now do it for yourself and your friends  (and/or clients):-

Write in your top 10 Values/Beliefs          â      You    Friend        A       Friend            B      Friend          C
Write in Name                    à        
Correlation          10/10              /10          /10        /10

Graph of Friendship Fit

The 7 cultural tests

First impressions of a client are mostly observable (eg their website, online presence)

The 7 “cultural tests” for inter-compatibility are:-

1. Appearance – dress, clothes, fashion, colours, hairstyles, facial hair, hats, etc, cardigans or jackets? Shoes? (see a Market Research interviewer’s and Salesman’s training) Formal/informal (jeans/denims or not?)? “the T (Tie) test”

 2. Food – biscuits, restaurants “The B (biscuit) test” (comparisons of 2 pictures – one just a single type, very neat/clean; the other mixed including a wrapped (secret) one, all piled high in a jumble/variety)

 3. Drink – The “Would you have a drink in a pub/bar with this person?” Test

 4. Language – accents, English/non, “The Fxxx test”, loudness

 5. Sound – music, sound of silence (music from Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel)

 6. Environment – reception, layout, colours

 7. Beliefs  – badges, emblems, ties, medals, certificates on wall

See also Maslov’s Pyramid /Triangle/Heirarchy  of Needs – 5 Levels

All these tests apply both within businesses (see the excellent books “Managing by Values” by Ken Blanchard and Michael O’Connor; and “Food Safety: How to really make a difference in food manufacturing” by Adrian Banger and Philip Barlow) and between businesses and between people?

The 7 Senses (5 physical and 2 meta-physical)

  1. Hearing –  ears
  1. Seeing/sight – eyes
  1. Tasting/taste – tongue
  1. Smelling/smell – nose
  1. Touching/touch – fingertips
  1. Sense of time and place, e.g. deja vue; intuition
  1. Sense of well-being/emotion/feelings, also that “gut-feeling” you get – the vagus nerve

Note there are some cross-overs, e.g. your mind’s eye/your 3rd eye (see also the 7 yoga chakras)

Also we were given 2 ears and 2 eyes – but only 1 mouth – for a reason!

The vagus nerve

The longest nerve in the human body – connects most of the major organs between the brain and the colon (the gut).

Deep and slow diaphragmatic breathing (inhaling and exhaling from the diaphragm) – like in Yoga breathing   stimulates the vagus nerve to operate more/better – from neck down to abdomen (where the gut is).

(from Katie Brindle about Yang Sheng, the art of Chinese self-healing, in a Harvard Health blog post)

Stimulating the vagus nerve activates the relaxation response, reducing your heart rate and blood pressure.

If high, linked to feelings of physical and psychological well-being

If low, negative moods, loneliness and heart attacks!!

Deep breathing “turns on” the vagus nerve – to act as a brake on the stress response (The

It is largely responsible for the mind-to-body connection – mediating between thinking and feeling.

“Trust your gut” really means “trust your vagus nerve”( Christopher Bergland, Psychology Today, February 2013)

(Blue paper)

Chapter 4

3 questions for you? PLEASE FILL IN AND RETURN TO ME on

Q1  How many friends would you say you had? And what criteria do you use?

Q2 Who are your best friends? And how do you decide?

Q3 Which of the 7 cultural tests do/would you use in deciding on a client, a supplier or an employee?

Chapter #5

Culture – what is it? Based on your Values? “the way we do things round here”

What is culture?

The word culture originally comes from agri-culture : cultivating/how to get the most out of the land, the plants and the crops/for maximum effectiveness ;  and the animals. (see also why there are 7 days of the week?) 

More simply put, culture is  “the way we do things around here” “the way people live”

There are so many different “ways to do things around here” – and I have found that there is no right or no wrong way, just different ways, different cultures. This affected not only which clients we  decided to work with but also which clients/prospects our agencies’ clients were working best with, both currently and in the future – and those they weren’t.

The way we live our lives/the way we run the business

More scientifically, “culture” is the collective noun for behavioural patterns that have been socially acquired and transmitted – by means of signs and symbols and by the achievements of particular human groups.

            (Henry Pratt Fairfield, Dictionary of Sociology and Related science, 1967)

            (also Arthur Asa Berger, The Meanings of Culture, A Journal of Media and Culture, 2000)

The actual word “culture” is derived from the Latin word “cultus” – meaning care, worship, tending, cultivation – and the past participle of “colore” – to till the ground!


A related phenomenon is that of cults. These are particular social groups with a more limited/very specific/extreme set of Values – often deviant from the norm, eg religious, spiritual, philosophical beliefs, eg polygamy, end of the world, etc. and/or formed around a particular/limited but charismatic and authoritarian personality/object/goal. [ I remember several Agencies – and two in particular –  like that – with the name of the “Founder” the name the Agency – both started with letter ‘H- was this a co-incidence? ]

Well-known cults in recent history include

The Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas – led by David Koresh (1993)

Al Qaida – Osama bin Laden (2001 – 2011)

Peoples Temple in Jonestown Guyana  – Jim Jones (1978)

Symbionese Liberation Army – Patty Hearst (1974) 


Outside of natural/normal order, eg mystical, magical, super-natural, unexplained.

Research amongst marketing guys about agencies (for “The Drum” magazine) (2002/3); thanks Gordon Young

I recall some research work I did many  years ago (2002/2003)– for “The Drum”, the advertising and marketing magazine, then published out of Glasgow, Scotland.

The main objective of this research was actually something completely different, as part of the research we investigated the factors/criteria used by marketing managers to select a marketing services supplier/agency.

The research consisted of 5 indepth focus group discussions – with 30 individual marketing managers or directors of client companies in the North West and Yorkshire areas. They were all moderated by me (just 5 of my 2,000 fosus groups) in places like Brighouse and Wakefield in Yorkshire – and Manchester Airport and Haydock Park in the NorthWest of England.

When discussing how clients go about deciding which agencies/suppliers to use, I identified the all-important issue of “shared cultures” or “cultural fit” that is one of the most important influencers on that decision.

Later on, I did some work for a major NorthWest regional legal firm – which identified the self-same influencers on choice of lawyers and solicitors. T hanks Simon Williams at Fanatic [separate story of the re-branding from Drumhawk to Fanatic – locked in a  room at the Circle Club before they were allowed to watch an England football match on TV!] 

As I began to talk about it more and more, I found that many others shared this view – but that this wasn’t in any of the textbooks or industry guides on “how to choose a friend” or “how to choose an agency” .

Then others jumped on the bandwagon.  For example, a “research report” commissioned by North West Vision & Media (a public sector QUANGO no longer in existence thank goodness) mentioned “cultural fit” as a throw away line.

Even recruitment/HR/personnel  have started to use the phrase – hiring for hard skills, firing for soft skills – but often to fire people than to hire them!

Mirrors and Apples

  • “oh to see ourselves as others see us” – the fallacy of the mirror test  (see Andrea Goodridge)– Snow White and her Wicked Stepmother –
  •  apples – Alan Turing  committed suicide by eating a poisoned apple  – Have a look the Alan Turing Trust (recycling computer and electronic equipment )

      –    The “Apple” log has bite (or is it a byte?) out of it? Is this subconsciously related to Alan Turing, Manchester-born and educated “father of modern computers

Cultural fit/cultural affinity with others  

(Why use a long word with 7 letters from McKinsey consultants when a short, simple direct 3 letter word would be better?)

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) (Darwin Day 12th February each year) postulated

          Theory of evolution – not creationism “On the Origin of Species*(1859)

 “the survival of the fittest” (two different meanings of the word “fit” – one for physical strength or the other for adaptability to environment) – both in life and in business

          He was a child of wealth and privilege who loved to explore nature

          Father of Modern Humanism

         [ “The Garden of Eden” – UNESCO heritage theme park at the North end of Lake Turkana/Lake Rudolf/The Jade Lake/The Rift Valley  in Kenya/border with Ethopia (the Lake is drying up because Ethopia has dammed the tributary river for its own irrigation and hydroelectricity) on the Equator line/ – Angela Kabiru –  HYPERLINK “” –    2 two separate entrances for US residents, whether  below and above the Mason Dixon line]

See also the Aral Sea in Asia, now a quarter of the size it was 20/30 years ago, due to intensive cotton production in Kazahstan. Also Lake Chad in Africa, shared by 4 different countries all with rapidly growing populations.

Based on findings with Consult Business Development – 49 clients and “cultural fit” over 7 years between 2003 and 2010 [see more examples/other book : “Cultural Fit in the Real World”]

Refer back  to The Farmers Arms story (chapter #1) – and research reports for Drum and for NorthWest Solicitors (earlier this Chapter #5)

How it works in life and in business – common/shared Values

It works in business – between companies, between clients and agencies, between employees and employers, between different departments – in exactly the same way as between friends in personal life.

Selling – what it is / what it isn’t?

“I hate selling”

Selling? Order-taking? Selling-up?

Sales is really about Building Relationships

Building and maintaining – Relationships

Sales is often better described as “Business Development”, and sales people as “Relationship Managers” (as the Banks started to do!)

Advertising/Marketing is not Sales, it is Persuading/Motivating/Getting/Enabling People to buy

Starting with Market Research/Market Analysis – finding out what a client/customer wants, then what they need, what they already know/think/believe – and then building on that. 

Partnerships? Exchange of skills/etc. Collaborations? Joint Ventures?

Some Cues/hints on maintaining relationships – to build on and enhance those shared/common values  

Birthdays – send birthday cards/emails- keep aBirthday book/reminders in your calendar/diary (don’t rely in Facebook and Linkedin) ;

Anniversaries –remind clients/friends/colleagues a few days beforehand

Thank you – postcards, emails

Offer to meet – “touching (the same) base together” – for a drink/pint/coffee (see the cultural tests at Chapter 4)

Linkedin ;  CRM systems, etc.

A simple maxim to remember

(i) people buy from people

( ii)   “          “       “       “             they like                                            

(iii)   “          “       “      “               like them(common/shared Values)

Like = same word, but 2 different meanings

Importance of new business –if there is a 7 year cycle to business,  you will need 14 (2×7)% or 1/7 of new business each year just to stand still

Some recent research for WARC (Advertising Best Practice) conducted with 81 [needs checking!] senior marketing professionals including 57 from clients and 56 from agencies in the UK between August 2018 and January 2019 has revealked that the “average client:agency relationship” has dropped from 6.5 years (nearly the archetypical 7years – see Chapter X) in 2015 to 4.8 years in 2018/19 (global average is 4.7 years). A symptom of the growth in project-based rather than retainer-based relationships! (On this basis, you will need 21(3×7)% new business just to stand still)

–  pitching by agencies for clients – see Appendix A  “coming 2nd is called losing”

Table of Client Cultural Fit

Seth Godin said “”everyone is not your customer” so “not everyone is your customer”

So how do you decide WHO should be your customer?

Do it by degrees of shared or common values – the same way as with friends .

Values WRITE INà 1     2 3 4
Current Clients (SCORE OUT OF 10)          
Prospect Clients YES/NO/MAYBE          


 (AND indeed for getting a new job, as well)

Name: ________________           Company/Brand: _______ 

Date: _______________________

After having decided on your Values (personal and/or business), then agree your target market through “Client Cultural Fit”. Then use these 7 sources to identify new or more business:-








Pick the top 3 and concentrate on those.

And don’t forget the 8th – JFDI  !!

(Blue paper)

Chapter 5

3 questions for you? PLEASE FILL IN AND RETURN TO ME on

Q1  What is your definition of “culture”? in both life and business?

Q2  How would you describe the culture of your business? Or the business you work in?

Q3  How do you find your best current and potential clients/customers?

Chapter #6 :  How to tell who’s going to be your ‘friend’ in 7 minutes?

Written for Guy Parker  HYPERLINK “”

This chapter finishes off my own life story (started in Chapter #1)

My personal experience of having to go to 7 different schools in 14/15 years – having to meet so many other schoolboys and girls(!) at once – need to make school friends quickly (not be a Billy No Mate, like my brother was)

Also 7 different homes before University – my Dad ran 7 different hospital projects in his career – and 7 different homes since University. Therefore, how important are friends and neighbours– cup of sugar; spare set of keys, Neighbourhood Watch (esp. the unofficial one!)

Also 49 (7×7) years in business – colleagues; clients and suppliers

We now need to  go back and review book chapters and questionnaires so far, especially 

You  start with your own Values

 Then “the required Values in your prospective friend/ client” .

 How much you share the same Values (“The Table of Friendship Fit”)

 Degrees of “cultural fit” between friends ; or between clients- current and prospective (#The Table of Client Cultural Fit”)

The 7 cultural tests/7 senses

  • Networking situations  (“ASHIINE”)
  • Learn how to observe? How to Listen?  We have 2 eyes – and 2 ears – but only 1 mouth (for a reason)  
  • Keep quiet yourself as much as possible “Don’t fill the spaces with noise” “deliberately leave ‘pregnant pauses’ and see what ideas “give birth” ( I used this a lot in market research focus group discussions)

How to say yes and no

  • Ways on how, why ,when and who to say no to /how to walk away (written for Linden Kitson) 

 Your response to a difficult client/difficult request varies according to how close a Friend the request comes from:-

  1. if very close/best or near best friend, where you share 100% of your Values, you would never say no
  2. if no shared Values (use the Table of Friendship Fit (chapter #4) , then you would always say no
  3. responses in between should be dependent on the scale/degree of Shared Values

             – also gain the mind-set that “no” or “not today” actually means “just a hot prospect for tomorrow” (Richard Denny)

   Practice Practice Practice (“How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” story)

This musician from “out of town”(carrying his instrument case) is walking along Seventh Avenue in New York City, USA, somewhere near West 56th and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park. He sees another musician (also carrying his instrument case).

He asks this other musician “please, can you please tell me the best way to get to Carnegie Hall? [ NYC’s premier concert theatre – which was actually very near to them ]

The other musician thinks for a bit and replies “Practice, Practice. Practice”

The same is so true of so many other skills we each seek to master (my own is writing this book!)

Practice makes Perfect

Malcolm Gladwell’s in his book “Outliers- the Story of Success” popularised the theory that 10,000 hours of dedicated practice in a given field or area of expertise allows a person to become truly “expert”. This infographic on next page takes a deeper look at this idea.

As one of my Friends and closest Colleagues at Really Useful Research & Development, Chris Braithwaite, now with an MSc in Positive Psychology, and – at “The Appreciative Partnership” with his wife Victoria – wrote to me :

“success is only 10,000 hours away – so better get started!”

10,000 hours is 5 years of working fulltime – or

                        10 years of 20 hours a week

                         20 years of 10 hours a week.

How soon can YOU become an Expert?

Practise makes Permanent

The more you “Practice” the more it becomes a “Permanent” Habit,.

Note ‘Practice’ is a noun (a thing word) and ‘Practise’ is a verb (a doing word),

Remember c is before v , because n is before v in the alphabet, 

The 7 P’s

Proper Positive Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performances (Carl Bradshaw)


The 7 Networking Cues  ASHIINE

(7-letter maxim/acronym adapted together with networking guru Will Kintish)

(There are 2 II’s because they are the 2 most important )

  1. Appearance –  In the first 30 seconds, you never get a 2nd chance to make a first impression!
  1. Smile – friendly exchange
  2. Handshake –strength (overbearing, firm, meek ? – special handshakes (eg Masonic) – also kisses – airkisses, European kisses, kissing hands
  3. Introduction – first 3 words you say (remember the human brain can handle/cope with only 3 things at once); and the 7 or 30 second elevator pitch .
  4. Interest  – show interest in the other person/ask questions of them , such as ” what do you do?/what are you doing now?” “what keeps you busy these days?” Also Dale Carnegie said “if you want other people to like you, show interest in who they are and what they do.
  5. Name – repeat your first name, badges to the right – for ease of reading
  6. Eye Contact – keep it – don’t look down or away or (worst of all) another person in the room!!

See also “How to become a more confident and effective networker”  and “Business Networking: The Survival Guide both by Will Kintish  

7 other networking “musts”

1.   preparation – Practice Practice Practice; Practise makes Permanent; Practice makes Perfect  (see earlier this chapter)

  • what’s your objective/purpose at the meeting? Set yourself 3 goals/people to meet
  • research/request lists before or at beginning of event – who want to meet?
  • business cards (yours and theirs-where you going to keep them?)
  • good quality ballpoint pen(that doesn’t leak) or pencil (not fibretip or pen ink)
  • followup afterwards
  • be yourself, not necessarily what others want you to be

Other notable 7’s

How many teenage years are there?

How many sides does a cube – or a dice – have?

How many Beatles were there?

How many years did the Beatles singles career last?

McKinsey 7s model is a tool that analyzes firm’s organisational design by looking at 7 key internal elements: strategy, structure, systems, shared values, style, staff and skills, in order to identify whether  they are effectively aligned and allow organisation to achieve its objectives.

But these and many others are for another book! !

(Blue paper)

Chapter 6

3 questions for you? PLEASE FILL IN AND RETURN TO ME on

Q1 How do you tell who’s going to be your friend? (personal or business)

Q2 How good are you in networking meetings? How can you improve? (what’s the acronym?)

Q3  What are you / what would you like to be an expert in? How long is it going to take?

Chapter #7 –

The importance of 7-year cycles – “7 year Visions”

Which is biggest organ of the human body?

Brain? Heart? Stomach? Liver? Kidneys? Skin?

How long does this take to completely replace itself?

1 day? 1 week? 1 month? 1 year? 7 years?

Even Lee Mack (another comedian from Merseyside, Actually Southport) knows this – he used it in his latest TV comedy “Not Going Out”!

Many occurrences in life happen every 7 years – e.g. “7 year itch” (not necessarily divorce or separation but an itch)

The importance of the Number 7 – “the worlds favourite number (except in China!!)  – days of week (and why?); waves on the sea-shore; spikes on the crown of Lady Liberty on Statue of Liberty in New York harbour; etc. – see separate book/post on this.

So in my Mentoring activities, I have developed this very powerful 7-year Visioning format , Both for individuals and for groups/teams/businesses (comparing and contrasting similarities and differences between and within the group) –

Why do others use 10 years? Decades? Is that because of the Romans?

I prefer 7 – because it is more personal/lifecycle related.


Name: ___________________________         _____________________  Date:_________________

  Now/2020 1 Year 2021 4 Years 2024 7 Years 2027  
Age: I am/will be:-          
PERSONAL Where am I now?/what am I doing now (2020)?   Where will I be/what will I be doing?(in the future)                        
PROFESSIONAL Where/what is my business/brand/career is doing now (2020)?   Where/what will it be doing? (in the future)                            


1.                                                                                       DATE BY __________________________

2.                                                                                       DATE BY __________________________

3.                                                                                       DATE BY __________________________

You can also use this same 7-year cycle technique to trace a person’s  or a group’s development backwards over time.

See also “7up” ( a series of UK TV programmes that trace several childrens developments every 7 years – NOT the US soft drink!) This has now reached 63 years in 2019!

According to Dr Morris Massey (see also Chapter 4) (slightly amended!), our Values are developed during three major periods in childhood and adolescence:

  1. The Imprint Period – 0-7 years old. Where we’re like sponges, absorbing everything around us and accepting much(if not ALL?) of it as true, especially when it comes from our parents – and favourite teachers. My own 6 year old grandson insists that Jesus actually walked on water, why? Because his teacher told him so!  Another well-known saying is “give me a boy at 7, and I’ll show you the man!”
  2.  The Modelling Period – 7-14 years old. Where we copy people, often our parents, especially the one of the same gender ( father or mother) , but also other people, e.g. teachers, Uncles/Aunties, grand-parents.
  3. The Socialisation Period – 14-21 years old. Where we are very largely more influenced by our friends, media, technology, music etc,in the “outside world” and naturally turn to people who seem more “like us”.

Note that there are also 7 teenage years – from 13 to 19 inclusive – a period of intense developments – physically, emotionally and socially. (both girls and boys). And don’t the parents of teenagers know about it!!!!

The 7-year cycles of life

Name: ___________________________          Date: ______________________

cycle Ages* Years Activities/Achievements (personal/business)  
1st   0-7    
  2   7-14    
3   14-21    
4   21-28    
5   28-35    
6   35-42    
7   42-49    
8   49-56    
9   56-63    
10   63-70    
11   70-77    
12   77-84    
13   84-91    
14   91-98   The Attenborough Years

*Indicative ages (could be 1 or 2 different)

(Blue paper)

Chapter 7

3 questions for you? PLEASE FILL IN AND RETURN TO ME on

Q1 What is your  7 year Vision for yourself?

Q2  What is your 7 year Vision for your company/business or career?

Q3  Which of the 7-year cycles of your life have been/will be the most important in your life?

Appendix A

Let’s be honest : Coming Second is called Losing

(Original blog by Jeff Edis and John Ardern , written back in 2009)

We make no apologies for adapting this line both from Leeds United’s Billy Bremner’s footballing autobiography, “You get nowt for being second”, and from David Keane’s excellent book, “How not to come second”, on the do’s and don’ts of pitching for new business. It’s a wake up call for us all and a reality check for those who indulge in the seven deadly sins (for sins read excuses) on being told they haven’t got the business:

  1. The client wasn’t ready for our solution
  2. They bought a particular individual at our competitor
  3. We are too big for them
  4. We are too small for them
  5. It was a fix – we didn’t have a chance
  6. They think we are too expensive
  7. The client is an idiot.

Although we haven’t come across a more helpful book on the business of successful pitching, we believe that even the best advice can lead to the worst possible outcome. No matter how thorough your preparation, how brilliant your strategy, how compelling its expression, how insightful your research, how competitive your pricing, it can all come to nought.  Which isn’t just a big disappointment to you and your team: it saps morale, undermines confidence and costs your company plenty in terms of time and money. But perhaps worst of all it leaves that question hanging in the air – “if we thought we had got it so right, how come we came second – again?”.

The awful truth is that until you answer that question, no matter how good you are, you are going to lose a lot more business pitches than you win.  Having experienced both the agonies and the ecstasies of competitive pitching in our own business careers, without truly understanding why we won when we won or lost when we lost, we decided to dedicate ourselves to unearthing the dark secret.  Why are some companies almost unstoppable on business pitches whilst others are destined to be always the bridesmaid and never the bride?

We decided that the best way to start our search for this holiest of holy grails was to set up a research study to identify the triggers that influence companies in their choice of creative and marketing agencies. Although this research was about the choice of creative and marketing services suppliers, we believe it holds good for the majority of manufacturing and service sectors and businesses. As with much research, the findings confirmed a lot of what we already knew. But as we sifted through the respondents’ comments we unearthed a rare gem – “cultural fit” – that provided the insight and the confidence to set up that most challenging of ventures: a business development consultancy.

Seven years on, having proved the theory in practice, we have been sufficiently encouraged to publish this book (which we will produce as a series of on-line chapters, complete with updates and comments as we go along), so that we can share some of what we’ve learnt and provoke further thought and study on the subject.

So what was this remarkable revelation that set us off on our new business venture all about? When probed as to what ultimately made the difference, assuming that all of the competing agencies ticked all the boxes in terms of professional competence and expertise, one of the respondents answered  “I ask myself the question: ‘can I sit in a room with these people?’ “.

Why is it that great truths always seem so obvious once they have been unearthed? There you were worrying about the brilliance of your strategy and about putting on a presentation that would put a Las Vegas spectacular to shame, when the most important factor is quite simply whether your collective face fits – or, as we have come to call it, whether there is a “cultural fit”. It’s something we’ve known from childhood – you either got picked for the team in the playground, or you didn’t.  And sure it had something to do with whether you were any good or not, but it had more to do with whether you fit in or not.  We also find this concept in one of those old fashioned homilies that more often than not prove to be unerringly true: “Birds of a feather flock together”. So however much you would like to be friends with everybody, in business as in life, “you can’t be everybody’s friend”.

So rather than chasing business where there is little or no common ground, you can significantly improve your strike rate where there is a “cultural fit”. Sounds great but how exactly do you go about identifying these “birds of a feather”? The answer is that you can’t, well not until you’ve discovered your own company’s culture first.

And how you may ask do you do that?  If at this point you are tempted to refer to the academic textbooks on the subject, your interest in pinpointing what makes your company tick could be decidedly short lived.  The names of the theorists on company culture are enough to stop your new found interest in “cultural fit” in its tracks. There’s Trompenaar, Rorbaugh, Kluckholn, Strodtbeck and a host of others whose theories are as difficult to comprehend as their names are to pronounce. But before you decide to get your daily dose of YouTube, rather than try and understand the arcane theories of organisational culture, let’s take refuge in a more common sense description of company culture – which is “the way we do things round here”.

Every company has its own particular way of “doing things”.  It probably wasn’t created consciously, no one wrote it down on day one.  It just sort of happened. If you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that a company’s culture is often in fact an expression of the founder’s values.  A company’s culture is the heart and soul of the place and determines how a group of people behave.  If you want an example let’s take Walt Disney: that organisation’s culture of “imagination and wholesomeness” didn’t come from any market analysis or requirement, but from the founder’s belief that imagination and wholesomeness should be nurtured for their own sake. And the rest as they say is history.

Do you agree? Do you disagree with what we’ve unearthed? What have YOUR experiences been?

Appendix B

About the Author/Researcher/Editor : John Ardern  

Born  September 1945, English Lake District Cumbria, England (his Dad was an “evacuee” from Liverpool Hospital Board during the War, from Fazackerley Hospital to Threlkeld Sanitorium)

Family – Parents; 2 siblings; Partner; 4 Daughters (see Preface B);

Peripatetic childhood/youth – 7 different homes before University; 7 more since!

Education – 7 schools; Manchester University (1963-66); BA (Econ.) Honours degree in Social & Economic Studies, majoring in Social Anthropology

Profession/Work – Market Research & Development ; Client-side companies; Full Member of professional body Market Research Society (MRS) and Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)

Adventures and experiences, e,g. 2,000 focus groups (16,000 respondents); friendship groups; dialectic groups; Hegel groups; approx 2,000 research reports;

Travelled around the World (and First Class too!) (1974) by age of 28(4×7) – 3 day week in UK (I worked 6!); immunisation in time; Japan; Hong Kong and Singapore (3 day pass ‘cos of my hair)

7 months driving across America – 31 different States (took 17 years to complete  1999-2016) 

How to contact the Author

With comments, questions, requests and more information



Other Books/articles/booklets by The Wise Old Owl

#1.     Butterflies – 7 ways to bring back butterflies (and bees)

                    (1st published 1982 as 10 ways ) by JA & Ian Eckersley.

#2.     Chess – how up to 7 year olds can learn to play chess in 7 easy stages

          JA  &  grand-daughter, Molly Barclay (donations to St. Ann’s Hospice).

#3.     How and why you can’t be everybody’s friend – both in life and (especially) in business/work .

#4.     Cultural fit in the real world (49 clients in 7 years)

          JA & JE (+ 12/20 digital photos).

#5.     How successful creative & marketing people in the North behave (based on 101 DISC behavioural styles) JA & Adrian Banger.

#6.     Mental Health 1st aid kit (7 things to do when you’re feeling down)

#7.     The power/magic of the #7 – organs (which is the biggest human one?), lifecycles, days of week, lucky numbers (except in China!)  rainbow colours, waves at seaside, Robin Hood, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books, number on a Quidditch team?

#8.     Pearls of Wisdom (30th birthday party @ Circle Club 2011)

#9        What is wisdom? W=ke

#10.    I get by with a little help from my friends

                    –  The Beatles (Sgt. Pepper Album 1967) John/Paul/Ringo

                    –  Joe Cocker (1968) and the Woodstock generation(1969)

                    –  My own favourite 100+ songs

#11     100+ friendship quotes/friendship book

#12     How & why  I closed down the Middleton jam factory in 1967– and 2,000 other stories/ adventures/experiences, including 2,000 focus groups.

Appendix C


Human Groups (W.J.H. (Sebastian or Jack) Sprott) reputed to have been  romantically involved with the economist John Maynard Keynes (we never  knew this before the 1967 Wolfenden Report on Legalising Homosexuality in the UK)


Managing by Values (Ken Blanchard &Michael  O’Connor);

Food Safety- How to really make a difference in food manufacturing  (my Mentor Adrian Banger and Philip Barlow);

7 Pillars of Sporting Success – and how to apply them in business (Andrew Thorp);

Outliers  and The Tipping Point (Malcolm Gladwell)

        Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us (Seth Godin)

How to become a more confident and effective networker  and Business Networking: The Survival Guide (both by Will Kintish)  

        Surrounded by Idiots: The Four Types of Human Behavior and How to Effectively Communicate with Each in Business (and in Life) (Thomas Erikson

How to win friends and influence people (Dale Carnegie)

Start with why? (Simon Sinek)

Inside Her Pretty Little Head (Jane Cunningham & Philippa Roberts)

Wisdom at Work: The Making of a Modern Elder (Chip Conley)

The Business of Coaching: how to earn your living as a coach (John Donaldson: the Coach’s Business Mentor)

Grieving Dads (to the brink and back) (Kelly Farley and David Dicola)

and many more.

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