In Zest! Seller, Chris Joseph tells how he recovered from losing an arm in an industrial accident to go on to make big waves in the advertising industry, leading to court battles with some of the world’s largest corporations.
Chris is now the founder of Right Against Might (RAM), a new organisation which aims to hold the biggest businesses and organisations to account on behalf of underdog consumers.
Using a unique approach, the company aims to secure “swift justice” without resorting to legal action for thousands of people across the UK with nowhere else to turn.
The journey for Chris, from Stockton-on-Tees, began when he decided against becoming a Catholic priest, after training in a monastery, and subsequently lost an arm the following day in an industrial accident.
He went on to work in the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, and subsequently took on Barclays Bank, Philips, Shell, Hutchison Telecommunications over trademark and banking disputes in London’s High Court during the 1990s.
He found himself being told by journalists that he should write his autobiography – which is free to download. Chris says: “What I did in terms of how I wrote the book was, I actually just got up one morning and I wrote out loads of little chapter headings, just different things that have just happened. Then I would wake up every day, and I’d write a couple of little pieces on each one.
“I’d pick two out and I would spend two or three hours writing a piece for each one, and making the copy neat and tidy and factual.”
Chris has long suffered from bipolar disorder, which used to be known as manic depression, and the book originally had the working title Manicdotes.
“I have a kind of legacy of survival and overcoming life’s obstacles, by working laterally and creatively. Despite the horrors and the struggles in my life, I kept smiling, that was the thing: I kept going and kept smiling.”
Despite the optimistic tone, Chris says the book explores the pain of losing his arm and the stigma that can be attached to mental health issues.
He lost an arm when he was working in a foundry and it got caught in the gears of a gantry crane. He said coping with the pain at the time has stood him in good stead, as it helped him to train his mind to cope with adversity.
“This is a personal account of pain and stigma as well, the stigma associated with mental illness, the taboo around amputation and overcoming, or fighting back, with a smile on your face,” he says.
“It’s very much about empowering people. It’s about, through my own experiences, showing people that they can fight back. They can challenge, they can keep going and they can overcome whatever life throws at them.
“For 14 years, I was experiencing bipolar illness and going through the different cycles of the highs and the lows, but especially the highs and bizarre things were happening while it was all going on. Obviously it was very concerning and often problematic for the people around me but each time it happened I thought I have this condition, and it is a real and elevated state of being and clarity of thinking and experience that only a small number of people ever go through.”
He said recognising objectively when he was ill put him on the path to recovery. “I remember the first time it happened, I remember my father standing over me with a crucifix trying to cast demons out. People didn’t know what was going on. But then the next time it happened, I learned a little bit more and a little bit more.
“After 14 years, I knew what to do and I brought it under control when it happened. When I feel it’s happening, I manage to control it and suppress it. It’s something I’ve learned how to control and that’s an important element of the book, showing people that it can be done.”
Another important element of the book deals with creativity. He says: “It’s overcoming things physically as well. Or finding another way of doing things that makes you think differently, I do believe that.
“It’s about a whole life full of extraordinary ups and downs and massive experience to draw on and to help others through suffering and thinking laterally and creatively. It’s a crazy, creative, funny, exciting, disappointing and sad world we all inhabit. The important thing is just to keep on going and see what life has in store for you next. Half the fun of it is not knowing for certain.”
The e-book, narrated by Chris, can be downloaded for FREE so that the knowledge and experience he has accumulated over his life are not beyond the means of anyone