The Way We Roll

Jazz Trumpet, Maya Angelou and Inclusive Design - John Corcoran explains.

August 11, 2020 Season 2 Episode 4
The Way We Roll
Jazz Trumpet, Maya Angelou and Inclusive Design - John Corcoran explains.
Chapters
The Way We Roll
Jazz Trumpet, Maya Angelou and Inclusive Design - John Corcoran explains.
Aug 11, 2020 Season 2 Episode 4

From Jazz Trumpet to Inclusive Design - John Corcoran shares his journey on The Way We Roll.

John Corcoran is a man of many parts whos life and experiences have included being in a pop band, playing jazz trumpet and working as a jazz club impresario. (He once booked Ronnie Scott and Maya Angelou).

He has over thirty years of experience and expertise in design, technology, brand, communication, marketing and business management. He has a passion for people and an obsession for simplifying complexity.

During our conversation, John explains how he went about redesigning and repositioning the Phil & Simon Show. (Morecombe and Wise and Cannon and Ball get a mention).

He is passionate about social inclusion and discusses the importance of designing for everyone. The needs of older and disabled people are often overlooked by many; John examines why this is a mistake given the needs and commercial opportunities offered by these groups of consumers.
 
John is a real enthusiast, an expert in his field, warm, funny and entertaining, take a listen.

You can read more about him and his work at basil.org.uk

Show Notes Transcript

From Jazz Trumpet to Inclusive Design - John Corcoran shares his journey on The Way We Roll.

John Corcoran is a man of many parts whos life and experiences have included being in a pop band, playing jazz trumpet and working as a jazz club impresario. (He once booked Ronnie Scott and Maya Angelou).

He has over thirty years of experience and expertise in design, technology, brand, communication, marketing and business management. He has a passion for people and an obsession for simplifying complexity.

During our conversation, John explains how he went about redesigning and repositioning the Phil & Simon Show. (Morecombe and Wise and Cannon and Ball get a mention).

He is passionate about social inclusion and discusses the importance of designing for everyone. The needs of older and disabled people are often overlooked by many; John examines why this is a mistake given the needs and commercial opportunities offered by these groups of consumers.
 
John is a real enthusiast, an expert in his field, warm, funny and entertaining, take a listen.

You can read more about him and his work at basil.org.uk

Announcer (00:00):
 This is The Way We Roll with Simon Minty and Phil Friend 

Intro Music (00:04): Music 

Simon (00:12): 

Welcome to The Way We Roll with me, Simon Minty

Phil: and me Phil Friend, 

Simon: Our guest is a colleague, but he is also a friend it's, it's hard to put him into a box with a single job title. So we've used some words from his LinkedIn profile and concentrate listener because there's a few, so words like brand strategy, creative design, user interface, social identity, art and innovation. 

Phil (00:38): 

Now we first met John in the early two thousands via the Business Disability Forum. He was co-head of a design agency called Wire Design and they specialize in business improvement through brand design marketing and digital innovation. 

Simon (00:53): 

And we ran events with him on inclusive design called beyond big type, which was such a great title. I used to always get excited because I'd put my sort of creative media suit on when I was doing those rather than my regular business suit. 

Phil (01:07):

 (Laughter ) Now John works with high level individuals and organizations and I quote, "optimize growth 

and success using brand design and digital innovation". 

Simon (01:17):

 Now our regular listeners will have noticed we've changed recently. We used to be the Phil and Simon show with a photo of me and Phil looking at each other. 

Phil (01:26): 

And now we are The Way We Roll. And John was instrumental in rebranding us, coming up with a design and identity and helping us switch all the social media and other channels over to the new situation. So, John, 

John (01:42): Hello, 

Phil (01:42):

 It's brilliant to have you here and thank you for giving us your time and so on. 

John (01:47):

 It's great to be here. I'm a fan of the show and a regular listener. So it's good to be here to know. 

Phil (01:53):

 We thought we'd just kick off really with asking you how you, you know, start working with people like us. I mean, there's me, who's 123 years in his socks said this rather lovely middle-aged chap. 

Simon (02:06):

 To much detail and quite annoying. 

John (02:10): Yes, yes, yes 

Phil (02:10): 

And we make podcasts as you know and we talk about disability incessantly, and we sometimes make each laugh and quite often we make each other annoyed. So, I mean, how did that all come about? Were we easy to work with? 

John (02:22): 

Um so that's a lovely question, isn't it? You were fun to work with and, I kind of been one I've worked with the ages ago so I wanted to work with you again. So when Simon came up to me and begged me to do it, (laughter) uh, you know, I was, I was more than happy to actually it was,it was enjoyable. It was, you know, you were very honest.  I knew you really well, which was really helpful, I think. And when it comes to branding, that's kind of really important how much you understand what people are all about. So, so yeah, it was good fun. And,uit was a little bit of hard work It a little bit awkward, like nothing's painless when it comes to branding, but, but it was good overall. I think it was good. And I'm pleased with what you've got. 

Phil (03:07):

 Do you think John, your bit like me and Simon, we used to have this sort of mantra that we wouldn't work with people we didn't like, you know what I mean, does that work in your environment. 

John (03:18): 

Well, I used to have that as an ideal, but when my business started growing, I suddenly found I was taking on work for the sake of earning money. So it's a lovely ideal. And I'm at a space now where I kind of can do that more. So it's quite a nice time, but no, I did get to the point where I was just churning work. Some of it, I didn't like just to keep the machine oiled, so to speak 

Simon (03:45): 

The imagery that you came up with for us, and then we, obviously we discussed that a bit, but you immediately had an idea and there was a kind of a concept and a style almost. And then, then there was the orange and that the various other bits, how did you create that? Well, how did that come to you? What were you thinking of? 

John (04:02): 

Yeah. Well, it wasn't about you. I just had an idea I wanted to run with really. (Laughter) So no. Well, the funny thing is because having known you so well, I kind of saw you straight away as a, as a double act, right? So I worked years ago, I'd worked back in theatre and events marketing. So I thought this is great. This is like redesigning for Tommy Cooper or Ken Dodd again, you know, it's, I'm going Cannon and Ball or something. So I thought brilliant. So I just went straight back to all those references and those old film posters for Morecombe and Wise and Three Stooges. And I just thought that just felt about right. I wanted to do something that didn't feel kind of corporate and electronic and neat because you're not neat or corporate or electronic. So I kind of wanted something that felt quite organic. And so I went straight back to those as references. I pulled out some of the bits and bobs as well with some old jazz posters, some kind of communist posters to reference Phil obviously (laughter) and and and a little bit of young stuff as well I threw in, even though, you know, just thought, I just thought it should appeal it on some level to young people, for some reason, but no. So I just went straight back to that I'm mean a lot because your brand is so well defined and what you, you know, the way you come across, I look at you and I just, I think about you and I just of, I start chuckling, I smile a little bit. I mean, it's really, that's really nice. So I just went with what I felt was right. To be honest. But then, you know, just worked it up from there, 

Simon (05:32): 

Which is really lovely. And thank you. There's lots of, kind of sweet compliments in there nowadays. I mean, the image you've come up with minds me a poster of, of those times. And that's what it's about. Presumably, now it's posters are posters done, and it's about leaping off that little screen in our hand. 

John (05:51): 

Yeah. So, so with your, with you, I mean, every client is a slightly different approach with you because your just an online, you know, product or service or kind of broadcast. I just went straight across everywhere you might appear everywhere people might find you and its not one bit of print. I'm never ready obviously, but I just mapped them all out. So it's screenshots of everything. There's not, how do I make this work across all those channels? I think there's something like 17 of them in total Facebook. There's Twitter and everything else, I just looked at that and thought, how can I create something that is a bit more distinctive that practically works, that can be consistent? And that kind of reflects your personality across pretty much all of that 

Simon (06:37):

 I can't believe it's 17. That's remarkable 

John (06:41):

 On the hoof, by the way. I think it's probably about 10, but I thought 17 sounded more impressive. 

(Laughter) 

Phil (06:49): 

What that makes me think about John is then how do you, how do you stand out in such a crowded field? Do you know what I mean? How did you, what, what were you thinking about how we would be noticed aside from the clear work you were doing on the graphic and stuff? 

John (07:05): 

Well, I mean, I think when it came to naming, I think I wanted to run with the name the Minty and Friend Show didn't, I because I thought that what you have as your advantage is you two and so that for me is, is a unique, something unique that no one else has and Minty and Friend, because you were called the Phil and Simon show weren't you? 

Phil (07:28): Yes. 

John (07:28): 

And Phil and Simon aren't unique names. You know, there's no more unique than the word John, as we talked about. It's not it doesn't sound that interesting, but Minty and Friend, I thought it was great. You know, it's you, and that's, what's special is your relationship together and your agenda and the way you do it and you're wit and everything else. So I wanted to run with that, but actually so, so I thought, I think you are the thing that stands out, I was trying to capture a little bit, which is why your faces had to be there and your names have to be in it as well for me. Yeah. 

Simon (07:58):

 And you reminded me, I remember one of the conversations was it was like a, we were going to take over the world, we'd be doing international tours and shows as this Minty and Friend, brand! 

John (08:08):

 A bit ambitious, isn't it? 

Simon (08:08):

 Yeah. Well we're okay with the podcast right now. (Laughter) 

John (08:14):

 Oh no. I had you in Las Vegas residency with Elton John and Minty and Friend on the on the following week. Absolutely. 

Phil (08:25):

 Is there something to be said for having a view of a business. I mean, going back to your business life much more than the stuff. 

John (08:31): Yes. Yes. 

Phil (08:32): 

It's something about inspiring the dream isn't there, that you could be different and bigger and better and stuff, presumably, but that's a huge thing that you do for companies. If you went down this route, you might get gigs in the O2 Arena or whatever. 

John (08:48): 

Well, I've never met anyone who's running a business or has got something that they're putting a lot of effort into that doesn't really kind of think they can be better than they are who doesn't have a bit of a dream. So I think you've gotta be realistic, but I think, yeah, if I can help people to kind of get to where they'd like to be or what I think they should be and a lot of people just, they're not clear about that vision. I can kind of help them with that a little bit, but if they are sometimes their brand or identity, just, it's kind of holding them back. So if I can say this, this, this, and this will all join up and it will give you a better chance of being more successful and reaching more people and making a bigger impact. Everyone's eyes light up, you know, it's like a, you know, it's just the way it works. 

Simon (09:31): 

I totally get that. I think we're going to come back to cause you are a lot broader than what we've just talked about in terms of what you do. But also I know the work that you've done with us, it just makes you kind of go up a level. You feel a little bit smarter, a bit more professional, a little bit more. I don't know you can take on the world, whereas before it was me and Phil sitting, looking at each other, it's very different. 

John (09:52): 

You weren't far off, you were pretty good as you were, obviously what you do is great, but there was just a when I looked across everything you already had a lot of it just didn't join up and just lacked credibility, lacked quality a little bit. You weren't far off. It just needed making sense of. 

Announcer (10:09):

 This is The Way We Roll presented by Simon Minty and Phil Friend. You can email us at [email protected] 

Simon (10:17):

 We're going to go to your new work but we want to just go back a bit when we did the stuff with the Business Disability Forum, do you remember Beyond Big Type? 

John (10:26):

 I do I do I'm afraid? Yeah, it feels like about 20 years ago now. 

Simon (10:30): 

15 ish. Now again, we always have to remind the, the listener. This was a particular time. People were talking about adjustments and employment, but no one was talking about comms. No one was talking about design accessible design in terms of that communication and print and so on. So how did you come up with Beyond Big Type? What was the purpose for you? 

John (10:51): 

So 1997, I a won to contract to help a London local authority to kind of make sense a little bit like you really to make sense of their brand and identity. Wasn't renaming them, wasn't coming up with their logo, but they're all over the place from my point of view of how things looked the way that came across from a quality point of view. And, and when they, when we got the piece of work or I got this to work at the time with my business partner, Peter on the brief, it said just as a small line and make sure it's accessible. So I went to them, I said, what do you, what do you mean by that? He went I have no idea. We just put it on there because we're a, we're a labour authority and we should make accessible. Then he pointed me at the RNIB and they had at the time, a little leaflet booklet, which I think it was called the See it Right guidelines. And it was kind of one of the only things that were out there. And I looked at it and I read it and I could see the intention was good, but it said things in it like no type should be less than 12 point. You can never use capital letters. It's a very, very simple, it kind of showed you how to design a poster or a record cover or anything, you know? And,uI just kinda sat there, thought that that doesn't make sense to me. And so I started to contest it and the, the, the Beyond Big Type was kind of a response to,uclients just writing on, on a proof to you make this type bigger, right? I said, well, you can't do that because that's body copy. And if I do that, there's a relationship between the intro and the headings and everything has to go bigger just to keep that hierarchy cause that's really important in design. And, hnd they would go how'd you mean it's gotta be, you know. Leonard Cheshire came to us and said, make our newsletter more accessible. It was all in 12 point and I said, well, you need different headings. You need more space, you need a whole range of stuff going on. So I went to cross to the Royal College of Art and met, Professor Roger Coleman and Roger is the guy who's credited with coming up with the phrase inclusive design and he and his colleague, Julia, Professor, Julia Kasimm, I sat and worked with them for about five years on and off. And they were just brilliant and they inspired me. I just kinda thought designers, aren't doing it. Clients don't quite get it. So I took on this kind of evangelical mission to kind of broker between designers and clients. So, you know, for the benefit of people who are actually using the materials at the end, at the end user, I guess is what you'd call it, 

Simon (13:30): 

Probably why we love you and love what you do. And there's that we've got another colleague David Bonnett who does architecture and his is make it accessible, make it beautiful. And that's what we kind of get with you. It does not make it bland and accessible. It's how do you make this fabulous and interesting and completely accessible? 

John (13:48): 

Well, I felt everyone was concentrating on the practical kind of basic functional side of, of communication like that, that, that Beyond Big Type used to split into four parts, the first part was about understanding. So people started to appreciate that it isn't just about visual impairment, that's cognitive, the, you know, then there was a piece called informed, which with all the practical, it needs to work and you need to be able to get access to the information. But then in the afternoon, we'd go into Engage and like the qualities that design brings, like making it interesting and desirable and distinctive and memorable and beautiful. There's the, you know, I mean, not if I used to use an analogy like a food and say, don't just give people bread and water. It just seems a bit patronising, you know, give them everyone deserves a full banquet kind of thing. And that's the way I was thinking. And then at the end of that, there was a whole bunch of stuff around which formats do you use. So there's a whole range of stuff that needs to be considered. But yeah, I just wanted to say don't throw out all the good things, beautiful, engaging things, that design adds just for the sake of having some functional information, 

Simon (14:56): 

You've reminded me one of the bits we used to do, which is your thing where you'd have, you'd identify sort of 12 created customers or users, and there'd be Aunt Flossy who still likes her newspaper and listens to the radio and then there was Mahal who is always out and about, and he uses his Walkman ir his MP3 player and that was kind of making these people real. So we could keep using all the different formats as well. It wasn't just reducing it. It's making it broader. I mean, that concept of individual people is that yours was at other people's. Yeah. 

John (15:32): 

Well I came with about, I dunno, I don't know if it's mine or not probably, but I bet I, I went to Julia, sent me off to meet a lot of artists, right. Who were blind and visually impaired. And I became friends with a couple of them, but I started one of these guys who just said to me, well, I can't come up with one answer cause everyone's a bit different and I don't want this and why don't you call us? And then he said, and he started talking to me about colour. And I kind of, I mean, this is really naive of me back in the day, but I hadn't assumed anyone who was blind calamata to them. You know? I mean, it's very big. And so it changed the way I thought. And I realized that you couldn't just say, make everything this, and therefore it works. You have to understand that everyone's on a scale of cognitive, sensory, physical abilities and everyone's a bit different. So yeah, that was really important to me. And I, I think I started calling it, designed for the individual, but in fact, it's now the big thing, everyone accepts that you're not trying to come up with a, a one size fits all solution, but if you can set things up so that they, it shows you really understand an individual and that's commercially great, isn't it 

Phil (16:38): 

What launched a lot of that stuff back then was this concept of reasonable adjustments, wasn't it? You had to make websites accessible. You have also, and you've explained beautifully, the kind of rush for everything has got to be an aerial and 12 point. You've you failed to make a reasonable. 

John (16:58): Yes, yes, yes. 

Phil (17:00): 

I remember Simon and I are looking at the designs you did for us while you were at Wire Design for Minty and Friend, and it was radical. It was very different. And I remember saying to Simon because you're right, you know, I am the one in the room going what about, accessibility you know, I said, to Simon, it's in italics for God's sake and blind people are supposed to read this and Simon absolutely said there are ways of making it accessible for people that need that without us having to do everything in one document kind of thing 

John (17:38): 

Absolutely. I mean, I think I used to show Simon didn't I the two album covers of the, of the Sergeant Pepper's, was one of them and Never Mind Bollocks was one of as well, wasn't it under a beautiful graphic, iconic covers. and then I used to show them, done by the RNIB guidelines that would tick a box and they were both white with or just off-white in fact with you know, dark grey text in Arial at 12 point. And yeah, you just start to see you that just doesn't work 

Simon (18:11): 

You've also reminded me. I think there was an image of maybe 20 different CDs. Now they're all done in the accessible format and they're just the spine of them. You couldn't make head nor tail. It was impossible to work out. Then you put them as they were and every, every single one of them leaped out at you, you could see what was, what, yeah. 

John (18:29): 

Yeah. All part of the George Michael Bond, which was called ironically was called older and it was done in a 5% tint off black or some things or 95% black off a hundred percent black or something you couldn't read at all, which I thought was a lovely done by a friend of mine actually. But anyway, but the yeah, and I just, I just thought I just thought it was really important to kind of challenge some of these things and just to, it's not that simple. And and, and, and what used to happen as well is I would get invited in then. 

So all of a sudden then we went to the Royal College of Art and we got awarded a brilliant prize on inclusive design by Sir Terence Conran was there everybody's really important. Radio Four mentioned it in the morning, the next day. And, and it kind of led to us, people started ringing me up and saying, can you come in and sign off on some of our designs like tick it? You know, I'm going well, that's kind of not what it's all about really. And, and the problem you would get is that designers would design something without really understanding the possibilities. Okay. Cause they're all, it's really quite interesting and more challenging if you take on the challenge and then clients wouldn't really understand the possibilities of design and you end up with this conflict where the designer would compromise slightly make the type a bit bigger, the client wouldn't be fully happy. No one goes away happy. And the end-user gets something which is kind of a bit of a mush. So at that, that was my agenda way too often, I got invited in by people, you know, Natural History Museum to mention no names and said to say, you know, can you just sign this off? And I wanted them to start to get the design teams to work with disabled users during before they even started putting something together. 

Simon (20:18): 

You were not about sort of Kitemark stamp of approval. You're about, let's do it properly. I was really glad that you were doing it. I always think disability is the unsexy one. And you were bringing sexy to disability in design and accessibility, which is always cool. 

John (20:34): 

Yeah, I got, I got sucked into it. I started enjoying it and I met some wonderful people and it was really challenging at times. And I got invited to some great places, but I just got, I just got really sucked in I got a bit disillusioned at one point. I kept getting referred to the disability officer for the company. So a big company would ring up you know, BT, whatever B&Q. And they ring up and say, can you come in? I go, yeah, great. We're going to talk about the top, top level about how we can change things. And we're not gonna compromise on the beautiful design qualities then they put me up in a room with a guy with no budget and say, tell him how to do it, you know? And he would say, well, can we have it 12 point? And you end up going around in circles a little bit. So I did get a bit disillusioned at one point 

Phil (21:23): 

Because you've worked in both spheres, the disability world, and you work commercially and the non call it that the non-disability world. Have you formed a view on whether there is an actual business case for companies to take disability seriously? Because it's a big question Simon and I have been asked that question. I don't know how many times, so why shouldn't we ask you it, I mean, do you, do you sense that money can be made by getting inclusive? 

John (21:52): 

Okay. So Roger always used to at Royal college used to bang on it. They always used to go about a business case and talk about Oxo, good grips, and a whole range of different things that have been a success and everything. But when I, when I started, I remember thinking 10 years later, I see you've been trying to bang on about this business case. If there was a real business case there now, and there's demand it would have happened, but naturally if there's a social need, you know, and then there's a commercial desire. There's a, I reckon there's a part often overlaps and that's a really fertile ground. Well, I think if you work in that space, there where social need overlaps with commercial desire. I reckon that's where it sits. And that's what I'm going to focus on. That's where I'm getting quite excited about over this partly I've had time to think of this lockdown, but I think that's the area I think, I think yes is the answer. There is a case. And I think it's because people either get siloed in the disability area or they get obsessed with the commercial and then think, Oh, let's make it work for disabled people. I want to explore that area in the middle, I'm quite excited about it, 

Simon (23:09): 

The bit you just mentioned about being sat in front of a disability officer. I I have a fear that can be also with diversity now and really that role of that disability or a diversity person. If you're one of those people who's listening, your role is to bring John to the in house design team or the in house comms team, or to meet the procurement person. It's not for them to be the end point. They're meant to be bringing the two parties together. So you speak to the right people and then it becomes built into everything that they do rather than both you and the disabled person officer banging on the door. 

John (23:45): 

It's about understanding and it's understanding the opportunities. Cause I think the more people understand on both sides, the better chance you've got of doing. It's not really just about saying I I've done that now. It's about properly understanding, you know, 

Announcer (23:59):
 This is The Way We Roll presented by Simon Minty and Phil Friend. You can email us at 

[email protected] 

Simon (24:07):
 I kind of suspected this but I didn't know until I started doing some research about you, you got a bit of a 

jazz background. 

John (24:15):
 Cool, cool. Jazz. Yeah. 

Simon (24:19):
 Your black roll neck on for us today. 

John (24:22):
 I have my trumpet down here by my side. Actually, if you want a little number, I can get that out for you. 

Phil (24:28):
 Do you play? Are you musical? 

John (24:30): 

Well, so, so well, yeah, I was into music from being very young. I think my dad had the whole family playing musical instruments and he used to take us around like a little band to show off a bit like the Partridge Family, but a bit more ugly, you know? So yeah, no, he used to take us around at Christmas and I got lumbered with the cornet at the time because it was a brass band locally, but I wanted to play the trumpet. So I moved on to trumpet and I was playing trumpet one day in this music shop and a guy walked up to me and he said, I've got I'm in a pop band. Do you want to play the trumpet? We need a trumpet player. Oh yeah, that sounds cool. And so I got more and more into jazz, but if you play trumpet, you kind of get into jazz. That's just what you do . 

Simon (25:16):
 Was that Wet Wet Wet? 

Phil (25:16):
 No, it was in Warrington. Oh, Wet Wet Wet. Oh, sorry I thought you said where, where, where? 

(Laughter) 

Simon (25:21):

 No, no, no. I was going to say Johnny hates jazz. 

John (25:26): 

So yeah, no, that was it. So I joined and we and it was brilliant fun really and it was a pop band and it was called Explained Emma which you will never have heard of probably, but we entered a competition that time in a Star Group, Northwest 83. It was, and then we beat Rick Astley to win it. 

Phil (25:49): Wow. 

John (25:50): 

Yes. Yes. And we were offered a record contract in Italy as part of the deal Peter Waterman was judging at the time, but he didn't, he didn't sign us he, signed Rick Astley it's weird, but then jazz trumpet was my thing. And I left and joined the jazz band and I ended up setting up a small jazz club. I booked Ronnie Scott when I was 21, paid him and it was brilliant. Yeah. It was great. All in Warrington. So introducing jazz to Warrington, 

Simon (26:18):

 You worked with a trumpeter now, I need to get these pronunciations right. Wynton Marsalis. 

John (26:24): 

So, I started, I found my way into, after setting up this jazz club and promoting some events, I got heavily into promoting and doing publicity marketing for these events, which is how I got into publicity marketing in the first place. That's a weird connection here. And I became a publicity marketing officer for a venue in London. And, you know, I was promoting really some of my heroes, Wynton Marsalis, Chick Corea you know, Sootie. (?) came on that as well. 

Simon (26:56):

 Did you say Sootie? 

John (26:56):

 All the big names. Sootie yes, and Sweep, you know, they were a double act. 

Simon (27:04):

 That's nearly how I poster it, turned out it wasn't it. Yeah. 

John (27:06):

 It's going that way. (Laughter). 

John (27:10): 

Yeah, no. So I, so I met some of these people. I worked backstage, I was a production manager. I was doing promotion publicity. I learnt loads in that kind of in, in that time, because I was doing PR so I would market the show and then if you walked into a show, with one of your heroes in there on the stage, and you only had the front row sold, that was an immediate reaction to, I've done a crap job, publicizing, this show, design, marketing, publicity, all that stuff. So I worked with some great people it was at a time when Apple Macs was first kind of coming out into the market properly. And we bought one at this venue, in the old days we were doing, you know, kind of the old cow gum and stick and lick and repro houses and everything. And so I kind of learned a lot, which is great. And then this Mac came out and it just had like 16 levels of grey, but you could do things with type I thought was just amazing. So I would stay every night for about six hours for four years, constantly upgrading, constantly teaching myself ended up whilst I was at the theatre with kind of my own business, almost overlapping it. So I kind of knew I was going to set up and it's where my passion was. 

Simon (28:22):

 You did some graphic language. I had no idea. You said cut and lick and repro and I didn't know what you were talking about. 

John (28:28): 

Yeah it was the old days when you used to kind of just stick things on a board, type on a board and stick pictures on a board and mark things up, and you would send them across to the printer and say, this is how I want you to put this together. For me, basically. 

Phil (28:39):

 The name Maya Angelou is in your list of previous lives or contacts, how did that come about? How did you meet her? 

John (28:48): 

I came, she was just one of she's a hero of mine. Maya Angelou but she was one of the people I met her a couple of times. I had the privilege of meeting her again at this theatre. We promoted her, but to be honest, she didn't need much promotion cause she's sold out in about 10 minutes. Yeah, no, she's, she's great. We had some brilliant people. I've had some, not so brilliant people there, but they, they used to have a motto saying, we'll get everybody on the way up all the way down, you know? 

Simon (29:17): 

I wanted the dream. My dream is Maya sat you down one day and said, look, thi's trumpeting and jazz is all very well, but you need to get into disability and accessible design John, and you went, all right, Maya, I'll do it for you. And yeah, 

John (29:29):

 No, no, not quite but that, but yeah, no, she's amazing 

Simon (29:33): 

We are up to date you are inspired by social challenges. And you just said a lovely phrase, but you know, if there's a social need in the commercial need and a social desire, there's a sweet spot in there. So now being inspired by social challenges, what does that mean? What do you gravitate towards? 

John (29:50): 

I talked about the sweet spot or this kind of fertile territory between kind of a commercial desire and social need. And one of the areas I think that's strongest is with the ageing population. So  I'm really passionate about working on issues around the ageing population. You know, people have been talking recently about this shift in the way that the ageing population is going to go up the triangle, the pyramid is going to slightly invert. And I remember, you know, talking about this back in Korea, about 10 years ago or something, South Korea and Japan, we were over there talking about the same thing because they have a super-ageing population, but it, it will prove the commercial case for me. And I think it can be a great way of pushing the case for disability because of course older does not mean disabled as we all know. But if you look at those graphs, the correlation after 65 just gets quite steep. So I think that's an area I'd like to focus on. So there's a new organization at Royal College of Art called Design Age Institute and the guy who's going to run it. I worked with as a client on several occasions, and I'm quite excited about this organization. So I'm kind of hoping I'm gonna be getting involved there in some way, which is quite good. I'd like to be working with the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers. I think, you know, Phil. 

Simon (31:17):

 Conflict here conflict (laughter). 

John (31:19): 

Conflict absolutely conflicts yeah. All over the place. But I think it's, it's, it's, it's got huge potential and I'd like to you know, and I've spoken to the guys there a little bit, I want to, I want to do some work with them, which is great. 

Phil (31:34):

 So you've clearly got not a lot on really you're very 

John (31:37):

 (Laughter) Well. I've got my mind, doesn't stop whizzing around, 

Phil (31:40): 

I think, just to touch on one very important area you mentioned and that's that ageing population thing. And yeah, RIDC would be very very interested to, to talk to you about some thoughts that we've been looking as you know, at the longevity economy, Simon and I have talked about it on the show and it's a hugely rich area and it may well be that, that is where there's an interface between disability and non- disability, but there's a lot of common ground, so we'll have to see how that shapes up. 

John (32:12):

 That'd be exciting times, I think really in that area. So yeah, 

Simon (32:17): 

Obviously I've known you for quite a while, John, that your someone who is outside of this area, but the way you talk about it, it's so natural and also your language and the things that you use around this are just spot on. I never, I never have to worry about, you're not getting some of the what I call a disability 101 bits it's 

John (32:33):

 (Laughter) I don't know what that means but there you go. 

Simon (32:36): 

Well, I like people who have a completely different profession, but then can double over into the area of disability and get it and speak the language and get the basics right. But you're, you're also moving into mentoring and sort of life coaching. Is that right? Am I putting too much on it? 

John (32:53): 

No. I mean, I've been asked by a couple of people who run businesses just to kind of, because most of what I do, because I've run a couple of businesses, which is great and a lot of what I do touches across the top of all businesses and I think I've got some skills, a couple of people have asked me to kind of help them out a little bit to just kind of just be a sounding board. So I, yeah, it's interesting. I'm flattered if somebody asked me, but it's not something I'm going to really throw myself at. But I'm more than happy for someone who I, as long as I like them enough to, to be a sounding board and to, to give advice if I can, it might not all be good advice, but so yeah, 

Simon (33:32):

 I take your point. It's more about responding rather than something you're, you're pushing wholeheartedly 

John (33:37):

 I think that's right. Yeah. That's probably a better way to sum it up, 

Simon (33:40):

 But the whole bit you do, which is around sort of understanding someone's identity and what makes them tick and what they're all about is so powerful, so useful. 

John (33:49): 

Yeah. No, I think, I think it is. I'm thinking, understanding. I mean, all those are, I mean, brand, I mean, I, I, I try not to call it brand because people think about it in different ways. People do think as identity, but understanding why, I mean, I know people talk about brand purpose, which I tend not to use as well, because it's a bit, most people in business have some ambition. It's not, doesn't have to be a social purpose, but they have a vision. Sometimes they lose that vision. It gets a bit blurred. So if I can help them to kind of regain that clarity and to find a way to kind of help achieve it, some of it is I can, I've got marketing, I've got business, I've got brand, I've got, technology's a big thing that I do. A lot of that is really useful to most businesses. So if I can bring some of the self help people out that's yeah, I'm happy to do it. 

Simon (34:39): 

Well, we'll definitely make sure that everyone listening to this show gets your contact details and so on. 

John: That'd be great.

Phil:  I think one thing I would say about you, John, I don't know you as well as Simon does, but I'd echo very much what he just said, that your passion for this subject is what really, really matters to me. I think you just give a damn and you've clearly learnt so much over your lifetime that you're now sharing with people like me and lots of others so long may it continue? I think people like you around us, make sure that we, we, we, you know, we have the best tools we can have for communicating the messages. And I think brand and identity really help with that. So it's been fabulous working with you. I've really enjoyed The Way We Roll work. Cause it was great fun. You're fun to work with that's important. 

John (35:31):

 You have fun too. I love you guys too. There you go. 

Simon (35:37): 

Our listenership is very broad and there'll be Joe Schmo. Who's your regular disabled person who is listening. Cause they like it. And then we've got people working in corporates and all sorts. I would if I were the listener and you kind of like, the the way John talks is to contact him. We asked you to come on the show. This is not your stuff. Cause I just think you have a clarity of thought and can help a lot of people. So yeah. and we're very appreciative of what you've done for us. 

John (36:03):

 No, it's been a pleasure. Absolutely. 

Simon (36:05):
 That's it for this show? John, before you go, do you have a website? Do you know about websites for these things? 

John (36:12): 

Several of them? No, I've just decided. I just, I was thinking this morning, I probably should put the web page just in case you asked me this. So I've decided to name my new direction. After my old dad who died five years ago, his name is Basil B A S I L. So I'm going to call it basil.org.uk. So that leaves me about a day to make and publish a web page. 

Simon (36:37): 

You're on social media and LinkedIn as well. So just in case they can grab you there, but yeah, a little bit. Thank you to our listeners. I hope you've enjoyed the show is it's always a joy to have a sort of engaged and knowledgeable guests. So our thanks to John 

John (36:52):

 Thank you very much guys. 

Phil (36:55):

 No, it's been lovely, John. So thank you for joining us. And if you want to contact us, we'll leave that at the end of the show. Thank you very much 

Announcer (37:02): 

This is The Way We Roll presented by Simon Minty and Phil Friend. You can email us at [email protected] or just search for Minty and Friend on social media. We're on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.