Not too long ago, I met one of my heroes. I met Ian Brown. You know, lead singer of the Stone Roses, wrote arguably the best song ever in ‘F.E.A.R’, renowned as an all-round legend in Manchester, top lad, sorted, nice one etc.
I spent much of my youth listening to his music, buying Adidas tracksuit tops and generally wishing that someday, somehow, I would meet him, we would be pals, and even though my guitar playing is enthusiastic at best, he would invite me on tour and life would be sound. You’ll be surprised to know none of this happened. Except one part. I did meet him.
To split the audience straight away, I met him at a football match, at Old Trafford. Yep, I’m a Red so let’s get that out of the way straight away. (Half the readers have now disappeared but I digress).
When I tell this story in the pub, 50% of people immediately say, ‘I bet he was a tit really huh’, or rather….. ‘B*llocks’. But I have the photo to prove it so the only question I answer is what he was like. I’m a normal bloke, he was with his kids and it was ridiculously busy and wanted to get home. But you know what? He spent 5-10 minutes out of his day and talked to me, he shook my hand, he posed for a photo and was genuine. He looked me in the eye and listened. Actually bloody listened. How many people must he meet that do exactly what I did. I tripped over my words, well you would if you’ve waited 20 years to meet one of your heroes, but he didn’t care. He got it. He knew I wanted to speak to him, ask him everything I had ever thought of asking him, and was patient, smiley, funny and honestly, one of the nicest blokes I’ve ever met.
They say don’t meet your heroes, you’ll only be disappointed, but thankfully I can say that isn’t the case.
So why tell us this you ask. It only reminded me of a prospective client I recently met. Now hold your horses, I’m not saying I’m like Ian Brown. I’m not a rock legend. I’m not cool, (well, I say that. I try, you know…) but this gentleman thought that because I was a designer I would be aloof, uninterested in his small project, and look down on it as I was used to bigger things, larger clients, more exciting situations. In fact I swear he thought I would turn up in a black roll-neck sweater, driving a Saab with designer glasses and baffle him with industry terminology.
I didn’t purposefully go out of my way to prove this wrong. The thing is I love my job, and no matter what the project, it gets my ears flapping and my mind racing. We had a coffee, we talked football (and he’s a Blue…) and just talked. Nothing to complicated, just an overview of what he wanted, how long it would take and inevitably what it would cost. I was there 45 minutes and the total time spent talking about work was 20 minutes. Maximum.
He contacted me 2 days later and commissioned us to work on his idea, apparently because I was interested, enthusiastic, and took the time to talk in detail with no promise of anything at the end – and I made it sound simple. We laughed, we had a chat about nothing to do with business and we got on. I have no idea whether he spoke to any other designers or companies, and I am not interested either. I like to make this job fun. It’s my work but it’s also my hobby. I like people, I like to talk (Can you tell?) I get excited about their projects, their dreams and their hopes and you can only get that from speaking to people one-on-one. No secretary. No project manager. No middle men. Just me. And you. Having a chat about what you want to talk about.
In my tiny mind filled with fonts, colours, designs, and of course, the Stone Roses, that makes me similar to Ian Brown. And to me, that is the ultimate compliment.