Why Mike Staniford traded a harbour view for a brick wall

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After an impressive career, latterly as creative head of a global branding and design consultancy, Mike Staniford walked away. With no desire to scale to that lofty corporate position again, he loves his new life. These days he spends much of his time either staring at a brick wall or making a mess in a disused loading dock. So what’s he up to? Let’s find out.

In this episode of Mellow Brick Road, we hear how a growing dissatisfaction at being able to deliver his best work, finally drove Mike to leave the land of the tall buildings.

I didn’t retire. I left to become a writer and a painter.
— Mike Staniford

This wasn’t any spur of the moment ‘ball of flames’ exit as Mike had been hatching his plan for a while. As we’ll hear, he’d developed a pretty clear picture of what he was going to do even though success was by no means guaranteed.

As Mike tells us, he was in a good financial position when he cut loose and openly admits this helped strengthen his resolve. As it would.

What I particularly admire about the way Mike is approaching this stage of his working life is the discipline he brings to his day.

Faced with lots of blank paper - whether to write on or paint on - Mike comes from the just-make-a-mark school of the creative process. In other words, he gets things going and figures out the detail later. You’ll hear him talk about ‘writing rubbish’ and learn how he benefits from being a fast, prolific painter.

I like the way Mike avoids distractions and maintains focus. This can be a huge challenge for corporate escapees, as they find themselves untethered to the structures and processes of corporate life. He’s thankful he stares at a brick wall and has learned not to have his phone in the room when he’s in creative flow. Such simple actions, so rarely done.

I also admire how he’s quick to seek help and guidance when facing problems, taking immediate action rather than wallowing in inaction or undue hesitation.

He’s constantly sowing seeds for the betterment of his projects and propels and promotes his work with a confidence many established artisans will envy. Very likely a habit he picked up in his past life.

Clearly Mike believes in himself and the quality of the work he’s creating and I hope you find his story as inspiring as I have done.

Please let me know what you make of the show. Feedback and commentary is always welcome. 

Mellow Brick Road has now been replaced by my new show, Rekindle and you can subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts and iHeartRadio. And if you’d like a gentle nudge each time a new show is published, subscribe to my newsletter.

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Robert Gerrish