Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Appearing at South By South West '09

South By South West ('SXSW') is the annual interactive, film, and music festival/ conference in Austin, Texas where people get together to exchange ideas, to connect and showcase talent. The Wall Street Journal said:

“It's a place where new bands come to get discovered, stars seek to burnish their indie credentials, and executives come to share ideas”.

SXSW Interactive celebrates the best minds and the brightest personalities of emerging technology and the creative industries. This year, the organisers received more than 1,300 panel proposals for the 2009 Festival, but they only have the capacity to host around 200 of them.

My virtual friend Melissa Pierce submitted an idea for a session "Is the Planned Life Even Worth Living Anymore?" which has been selected as a ‘Core Conversation’ at the 2009 Festival. I am delighted to announce that Melissa has invited me to be her co-presenter for the session.

The belief that lives and businesses must be well planned into the future is crumbling as we continually adapt to new technologies and a global marketplace. The session will generate discussion around some themes as: Are the current business and educational systems obsolete? How one can personally adapt to the “new economy”? What’s hype, what’s real?

Happy 2009 and see you at SXSW!

New Year, New Desk

Remember the power that small changes can bring. With the New Year hours away I wanted to reinvigorate my workspace - and I guess - my outlook for 2009. So I switched desks. Out with the glass desk and in with a wooden one. It's much bigger and it's really re-energised me.

So, whether it's changing the position of your desk, giving your workspace a total makeover, redesigning your business cards or just putting a vase of flowers on your desk, small changes can have big impact.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Life - And Interview Plans - In Perpetual Beta

Yesterday lunchtime I found myself in a bar in west London W13 being interviewed on Skype by a woman in Iowa (whilst being filmed by a woman from California – although she was actually in the bar...).

The interview was for Chicago-based life coach Melissa Pierce’s film project ‘Life In Perpetual Beta’ and we talked about the importance of a Non-Plan when it comes to achieving your goals in life and business. We also talked about themes from my new book Juggle. There’s a bit of crossover between our respective book and film projects; she’s interviewed Gary Vaynerchuk for hers, he also features in mine and we are both interested in how authenticity drives creativity.

So yesterday morning when I found out that the plans for the interview were rapidly changing, and it was not going to be as scheduled in one of my favourite bars in Borough Market, I was a little frustrated. That the change in plan resulted in a convoluted additional 75 minute journey on tube and then foot to a random street in Northfields, West Ealing added to that initial frustration. But when I reminded myself it was all in pursuit of being in Melissa’s film about a life that is constantly a work-in-progress, where plans forever get ripped up, I figured it was kind of apt.

Thanks go to Melissa; to the barman who let us take over a corner of his bar for a transatlantic virtual interview; and to Adrienne of Pixel Chick Productions for filming.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Goodbye Woolworths

As Woolworths closes down and the UK loses a popular presence on the high street, many have been reminiscing about their memories of the store. For me, Woolworths was where I went to buy my first records. I bought my first 7” single at the Leigh-on-Sea store (Joe Jackson’s ‘Is She Really Going Out With Him?’) and I just paid my last visit to that same store. Not only are they selling every last item on the shelves, they are selling the shelves too. The shelves, display units, tables, chairs, ladders, random bits of plastic and even the shopping basket themselves. A bargain at 50 pence!

Five Tips For Improving Customer Service in 2009

I’m lucky enough to have developed relationships with a great network of suppliers for my business: small creative agencies, freelancers and other service companies. Most of these tick that box of being a good ‘safe pair of hands’; people who will deliver the job, no matter what. People who will go beyond the call of duty, sorting things out late at night or on a weekend. But like many of us, whether as a business or as a consumer, I have had some really bad service in 2008.

Here are my 5 tips for everyone out there to improve your customer/client service/experience (based on a few not-so-good experiences I’ve had recently):

1) IF IT'S GOING TO BE LATE, TELL US! If you’ve told the client the products or order will arrive on Friday and you know they won't be ready in time, let them know straight away. Don’t sit on the news, or wait until the client chases you – flag it up, so they know about it. It might not be good news, but if they know about it then at least they can make contingency plans or necessary changes their end.

2) COMMUNICATE APPROPRIATELY. Sure, I love brevity but don’t send clients two-word responses from a BlackBerry (unless it was a question that had a Yes/No response). Be courteous and remember why you are the supplier and they are the client (i.e. they pay you).

3) BELIEVE IN IT! Don't try and sell the client a product or service and then half way through say it's not really that good. If you don't have belief in yourself or your product, pack up and go home.

4) BE AVAILABLE! Especially in this economic recession, be available. Don’t whinge that you don’t have enough work if you decided to shut down for two weeks over Christmas. If you want to be successful, you have to be open and available. Like the estate agent that closed for 10 days and told my friend she couldn’t view the house she was interested in, or the company that closed early for Christmas, if you don’t bother being available, clients will find someone who is.

5) REMEMBER THE FOLLOW-UP: if you're selling a client something don't be great at getting them to buy and then be bad at the details afterwards, not returning calls or making sure they’re happy. Because that’s crap.

From A Random Idea To A Finished Product

In business – and life – I have always championed the power of ideas.

Not just of having great ideas, but doing something with those ideas. And I get immense satisfaction, creating ‘something’ from ‘nothing’, turning an idea into reality.

Three years ago, just after the birth of my first son, I had an idea about creating a bunch of characters for children (I am sure many of us have ideas like that). Over a lunch in my local pub in Putney with my friend Fiona - who is a children’s writer – we agreed to develop this as an idea.

That was December 2005. On Tuesday last week, three years later, a truck pulled up outside my house with a delivery. The advance copies of a book, ‘The Extremely Very Scrambled Up World Of Little Doogs’ = the result of that random idea.

So if you have an idea, don’t let it gather dust somewhere – DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

Monday, 22 December 2008

If you want business success, make sure your business is open!

Success in business is often about being in the right place at the right TIME. So you have to be quick and you have to be available. You need to be there when the client wants something you can offer.

My friend ‘phoned an estate agent today to ask to view a house she wants to buy. But she was told, there is no-one in the office now until January 2nd. That’s six working days no-one is working. That’s crap! In a recessed market - or any market for that matter - if you want to sell something you’ve got to BE THERE. Which is why my friend won’t bother phoning them back (and why they probably won't sell the house very quickly).

Sunday, 21 December 2008

'Juggle! Rethink Work, Reclaim Your Life'

Are you dissatisfied with your work life?
Are you looking for fresh ideas and solutions?
Is your life one big juggling act?

Then get ready to reinvent your work life and celebrate your multi dimensional talents.

In this ‘New Economy’ there are no limits to what you can do; so sometimes it can be hard to keep all the balls in the air. In a world where the boundaries between work and play are blurred, being a Juggler is the route to getting the most out of life. It’s not about quitting the 9-5, but developing a new mindset about work.

And you don’t need to put your dreams and passions on hold until tomorrow; juggling means you can integrate them into your life and work today.

Full of anecdotes and experiences on how to survive work challenges and maximise life’s opportunities, my new book 'Juggle' also reveals the secrets of leading business jugglers:

Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi
Mike Southon, Financial Times columnist and bestselling business author
Gary Vaynerchuk, wine entrepreneur, video blogger and internet celebrity
Melanie Greene, talent manager, film and TV producer
Roxanne Darling, coach, speaker, new media advisor and video blogger

Find your own juggle style and get back to being The Real You. It will improve your life and put passion and purpose back into everything you do.

Juggle is out in the UK on January 23rd, in the US on March 23rd. You can pre-order it on,,, Borders, and all the usual online booksellers and all good bookshops.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

The outlook for 2009, as defined by Twitterers

From The Guardian, Jemima Kiss collates feedback from the Twitter Community on what they are looking forward to for 2009 and how they think tech firms can best weather the downturn.

See the results here.

Friday, 19 December 2008

How To Survive On Planet Juggle in 2009

Business and work is changing – fast. Who knows what’s around the corner and to make matters worse, the recession is biting. Whether you work for yourself or for a large corporation success in 2009 is going to be about mixing it up; reaching beyond a single job title and doing more than one thing. Survival requires flexibility and resilience; sticking to one business model to one talent, to one market is limiting. It’s time to embrace change; it’s time to go plural.

Plurality of disciplines and hats is not just good for your wealth; it also can be good for your health as you build your passions into your work meaning that the Work You can reflect the Real You.

Success in 2009 is about having the right mindset to deal with everything that gets thrown at you; here’s your Survival Guide:

1. FORGET SPECIALISM, discover the value of being across more than one discipline. Sticking to just one thing limits your potential; place no limits on what you do and you’ll be more fulfilled.
2. BE PASSIONATE about all you do; let your passions and desires inform and shape your work life. Go beyond a job title and carve out a unique You-role. Do it your way.
3. BE ADEPT AT GEAR-SHIFTING, from segueing from the huge to the tiny, from work to play.
4. MAKE TIME FOR PLAY. Forget work/life balance! Being a successful juggler is about integrating work and play; using playtime as your inspiration and stimulation.
5. BE A CHAMELEON, FLEXIBLE AND ADAPTABLE. Re-think all you do, be happy to change the rules again and again. Don’t stay entrenched in rigid ideas of how things should be done, be happy to learn new stuff, embrace new ideas.
6. THE BEST PLAN IS A NON-PLAN. Success in this new economy is about making it up as you go along.
7. DEVELOP A PERSONAL BRAND to unite and communicate your strengths. Think and act like a big brand, sell yourself and blog/tweet/shout about your multi-dimensional talents.
8. WORK HARD BUT WORK SMART. Whilst success relies on you working hard it’s also doing what you love; and when you do what you love, it doesn’t feel so much like work.
9. HAVE PURPOSE IN ALL YOU DO. Focus on making a difference and leaving a legacy.
10. RE-THINK WORK. Work is not a place you go; it’s a mindset you dip in and out of.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

The Beauty Of Making It Up As You Go Along

Much of what I have done and achieved in my professional life has been by accident, rather than a grand plan. Sure, I had some tangible goals (to write a book/ to manage a business/ to set up my own business/ to meet people I admired and respected) but the way I reached those destinations was by default not design. That’s also the way my business has developed through organic rather than strategic growth; it’s about being guided by your gut feeling not by a 5 year rigid business plan. This philosophy is at the heart of my new book ‘Juggle! Rethink Work, Reclaim Your Life’, and seems to resonate with many people I have been interviewing for the book.

The Internet encourages that spirit of ‘making it up as you go along’. By a random click of a mouse you can land on a blog or a Twitter profile of someone who you might never have otherwise 'met'. And that connection can make a big difference to your life or business (hey, after all I met my wife on the internet!). I have made many virtual business connections through such random clicks but would struggle to pinpoint exactly where or how I found/ or these people found me. For example, ‘meeting’ Melissa Pierce and finding out about her project ‘Life In Perpetual Beta’. I cannot remember the chain of events or the chain of click-throughs that took me to Melissa's blog but once I was there I thought I have to connect with this person. And when my friend asked me how I came to discover Gary Vaynerchuk I literally can’t remember but I think it might have been something to do with Robert Scoble. But I can’t be sure.

So, I was not surprised to hear that improvisation is at the heart of Melissa Pierce’s approach to life (it’s what her film is all about). In this blog post she explains how she came to interview David Armano:

'Up until this interview, I had never seen David Armano in person, if fact, all I knew about the internet celebrity I learned on twitter. I had no plan to interview him, I’m not even sure that I know how I came to decide to interview him, somewhere buried deep in my brain lies the answer, but it doesn’t matter. I’m glad I did.

The above paragraph is a brilliant micro-illustration of the point of my lil’ film project here.

I do minimal planning, and I follow my instinct as I find new information, and I add that to my cache of knowledge, which leads me to ask more questions, and be passionate about new things and people. And this whole instinct and improvise thing I’ve got going seems to be serving me pretty well. I’m just rolling with it, I’m planning just enough in advance that I can make the next step. I can’t get it wrong, because I’ll never get it

Melissa’s film includes interviews with a whole load of luminaries from Gary Vaynerchuk to Seth Godin, and rumour is she’s going to interview some bloke called Ian Sanders too.

All this reinforces my belief that you can’t always contrive, plan or strategise an outcome. Because more often, it just kind of happens.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Wednesday, 08:24

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Part 2 Of Michelle Goodman Interview

Here's Part 2 of my interview with writer Michelle Goodman (part 1 is here):

Q. What was the catalyst for you going freelance?

It was a hasty decision. Like many twentysomethings, I hated working in an office five days a week. As far as I was concerned, 9 a.m. was the middle of the night. At the time, I was working as a publicist at a New York book publishing company. A newspaper I had interned for after college offered me some freelance work writing advertorials about clothing trends (basically ad copy disguised as journalism). New York is of course very expensive and some of the pieces paid more than I made in a week at my publicity job, so who was I to say no?

I researched and wrote these articles evenings and lunch hours, loving every minute of it. So much so, that when I moved to San Francisco at age 24, I decided to do everything in my power to avoid getting a staff job again. After a couple years of working odd part-time jobs to offset my initially paltry freelance pay, I was off and running as a full-time independent professional.

Q. When did Michelle Goodman become more than just a personal brand? When was Anti 9to5 born?

Even though I’d written for national media outlets before (magazines like BUST, Bitch, and The Bark; book anthologies; and websites like and, I don’t think I was really a “brand” until my first book was published. I started my blog,, a few months before The Anti 9-to-5 Guide hit bookstores to generate some advance buzz, and it was like instant platform. It was definitely a case of “if you build it, they will come.” Only problem is, once you build it, you have to maintain it. (More on this below.)

Q. As a freelance copywriter how do you set your stall out, what makes you different in the marketplace?

It’s helpful to have a specialty or two, as customers love an expert. If you’re a copywriter, you might specialize in software and other high-tech marketing, as I’ve done. Or you might specialize in small business newsletters, retail catalogs, ad agency work, or something else. If you’re a web designer, you might specialize in blogs for small businesses and creative agencies (or freelancers!). If you’re a virtual assistant, you might focus on working with authors and designers. Besides assuring clients that you’re familiar with the particulars of their industry, you save yourself time (and consequently make more money) by not having to learn a new field from scratch each time you take on a new client.

Q. Are you ‘freelance’ or an entrepreneur? How significant is the mindset difference between the two?

I’m a freelance writer. My “product” is my writing; that’s what I sell. My overhead is minimal; I didn’t need to obtain a loan to hang my shingle, and my publisher distributes my books for me. That said, the freelance mindset is very similar to that of a small business owner or entrepreneur who has employees, a product line, and a business loan. We’re both relying on our skills and reputation to make a living, and we’re both hustling for new “sales” every week or month.

However, I can’t hire employees or subcontractors to write my columns, essays, or books for me. Nor would I want to. When an editor hires me to write an article or longer work, they want to know that I’m the one writing it. So that’s a big difference: A creative freelancer like me who’s putting their credit line on their work can only make as much money as the billable hours they’re able to work, while an entrepreneur can hire all manner of staff to execute their idea and grow their business. I’ve toyed with the idea of starting a creative agency and I have subcontracted corporate work to other freelancers before, but that’s not the route I want my career to take. (I’m moving away from the corporate work.) Instead, I hire assistants and consultants to help with my taxes, web design, admin work, research, etc. so that I have as much time as possible to focus on my writing.

Q. How do you juggle the day job with the blog, writing the books? How do you survive?!

My day job as a freelance writer entails writing a column for

ABC News and blog posts for the Seattle Times each week, as well as contributing articles to media outlets such as CNN and Yahoo! HotJobs. I’ll occasionally do a bit of corporate and consulting work for variety (and because it pays so much better). And when I wrote each book, that was pretty much all I did for a concentrated six months.

I must admit that promoting a book on top of a full-time freelance workload is pretty tiring and I often wish I could clone myself, or just sleep eight hours a night. As for my own blog, I’ve had to cut back on posting in the past year, as I don’t always have the time. Rather than writing new posts for my blog these days, I’ll often run an excerpt of a guest post or Q&A that I’ve done on another high-visibility blog to spread the word about my books and tout the benefits of freelancing.

Q. The books are targeted at women and I like that focus – you have a big market out there. But do you welcome male readers, is there something in it for them? are they welcome?!

I do welcome male readers. Most definitely. There are about two out of 225 pages in My So-Called Freelance Life that speak directly to women (pep talk for getting paid what you’re worth and not feeling “guilty” for asking for it). But men can benefit from that message too. The reason the book is gendered is because my publisher’s niche is “books for women.” (For what it’s worth, it’s pretty well documented that women buy self-help books far more than men do.) But I wrote My So-Called Freelance Life for everyone because I think it’s silly to cut out half the audience, especially when the advice is the same for all. Lots of men read The Anti 9-to-5 Guide and said it was really helpful to them.

Q. Tell me about My So Called Freelance Life. Why ‘my so called’?

It’s a riff on the nineties TV show “My So-Called Life.” And a bit of a nod the fact that like, any job, even my dream job of being a full-time freelance writer has its ups and downs, as the book describes.

A BIG thanks to Michelle for taking part in this Transatlantic Simulatenous Blog Post/ Interview. Read Michelle's interview with me at her blog.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Working For Yourself & The Gender Difference: How Are Men And Women Different In Doing Their Own Thing?

Michelle Goodman is a freelance writer based in Seattle. She is the author of The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube, and My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire. She writes a weekly column for and is a freelance copywriter.
Michelle and I did a two-way interview on working for yourself and that much talked about Gender Difference: how are men and women different when it comes to working for themselves?

My interview with Michelle is below, and you can read my own answers in this transatlantic simulateous cross-post (!) here at Michelle’s blog

Q. Do you think men and women are driven by different factors in business?

I’ve written a lot of articles about men and women in business and in the workplace, and I hear over and over again that, in general, women are much more relationship focused in their careers than men are. That’s not to say that men are cold-hearted bastards on the job or women are sappy, weepy earth mothers who run around hugging everyone they do business with. It’s just that women are more likely than men to feel the need to establish some sort of bond with the people they do business with; men are better at playing “strictly business.”

This need to connect with, like, and be liked by our customers and clients hurts women when we worry about charging what we’re worth, raising our rates, or demanding the contract terms we know we deserve because we’re afraid of offending someone. In my new book, I definitely encourage women (and men) to get over this and remember that they’re a businessperson first and foremost. If you make friends along the way, great, but if you’re only in business to make friends, you’re not going be nearly as effective a businessperson (or as well paid) as you could be.
Q. What qualities do you think women bring to doing their own thing in business?

The flip side of the above is that women use relationship-building to their advantage in business. We’re comfortable shooting the breeze and establishing a personal rapport with clients. We want to get to know them and have a bit more of a dialog with them than “Here are the deliverables and here is my invoice.” So we ask how their holiday was or send them a link to an article we read that we think they would like, but not in a pesky, stalkerly way. We put just enough of a personal touch on our communications with clients that they get to know us as people, which as long as we’re interesting and pleasant enough, usually works to our advantage. When a client likes you as a person, they’re that much more likely to give you repeat business and referrals, not to mention go to bat for you within their own firm -- say, if you’ve asked for a rate increase.

Q. Do you think women are more suited to a freelance-life; juggling work and home; motivating themselves?

I don’t think women are any better suited than men, though we’re certainly masters at multitasking and accommodating others. Since juggling multiple projects or assignments and remaining flexible is key for freelancers, those qualities do make for a more successful freelancer.

Q. What’s the toughest thing about working for yourself?

I’ve gotten used to cracking my own whip and I actually enjoy working by myself all day, but those are two of the hardest things for many new (and veteran) new freelancers. For me, the toughies are stepping away from the computer at the end of the day (there’s always more to do!) and remaining calm each time my health insurance company raises my rates by 35 percent (this is a U.S. thing).

Q. What’s the best bit about working for yourself?

The autonomy: making your own schedule, picking your own projects and colleagues, and deciding when it’s time you got a raise.
Q. What personal attributes have given you success?

My flexibility, because deadlines and project specs do change all the time. On the flip side, I’m not so flexible that I don’t know when to put my foot down when a client’s making unreasonable demands. I have no problem diplomatically negotiating for the terms and pay I think are fair. I’m also somewhat of a perfectionist and detail freak. This comes in handy when it comes to recordkeeping as well as impressing clients. No one likes a sloppy, disorganized freelancer. In addition, I’m a tireless networker. And the more people you know, the more opportunities for work that you’ll find.

Q. What is your single most important survival tip for freelancers, people taking the leap to go it alone?

Don’t be a diva. Give the client what they asked for and do a kickass job. In fact, give them better than what they asked for. Your reputation is everything and can lead to many referrals. Also, while it’s always important to diversify your clientele (with no client comprising more than 30 percent of your income), it’s doubly important in this crappy economy. Make sure you keep a toe in at least two or three different industries, and stay up to date on the latest trends and technologies. (For example, writers need to work for the web and other digital media, as well as print.) Also, the more skills you have to offer clients, the more employable you’ll be. (The web designer who can also project manage and supervise a team is that much more valuable to clients.)

Tomorrow, I’ll post up part two of my interview with Michelle, where we talk about her catalyst for taking the leap and how she juggles her working life.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Gary Vaynerchuk in Paris

A huge thank you to Gary Vaynerchuk (and Matt at Wine Library) for his time in Paris yesterday joining me for a chat for the upcoming video series ‘The Juggle Tapes’. We had a great chat about executing against your DNA, about the wine business, juggling your passions, the importance of doing what you love and listening to your heart.

It was a whistle-stop trip on the 05:25 Eurostar for just over 3 hours in Paris to grab him before he flew back to NYC, but as he said, just the kind of thing you need to do if you really want to go for it. The receptionist at the hotel did look confused when I asked her to call up ‘le chamber de Monsieur Gary Vaynerchuk’, then I had to spell it (‘the thunder’ had not yet reached this part of Europe).

The video will be posted online in January together with the others already in the can, Kevin Roberts, Mike Southon and Martha Lane Fox.

Thanks as ever to Steve Mayatt, my partner in crime (well partner in video) for his Safe Pair Of Hands video, audio, stills and map reading skills.

With Gary V in Paris

This is me and Gary Vaynerchuk at Le Grand Hotel, Paris yesterday morning.
He 'aint about to punch me - we got on well, honest!
We'll put the video online in January..

Innovation Wins – So Make It Different

This week I took part in some videos for a new website aimed at entrepreneurs and small business. I was interviewed about marketing and reminded the audience that marketing at its most basic is about identifying and communicating your point of differentiation in the marketplace i.e. what makes you different. And if you are starting a new business and you don't know why your proposition is different then you have a problem. Because survival in a competitive market is about standing out from the crowd.

So, I knew Rough Luxe were doing something right as soon as I checked into their Kings Cross hotel on Wednesday night. This is a new hotel concept (and we have seen a few of those over the years) billed as 'Half rough, half luxury. A little bit of luxury in a rough part of London. A little bit of rough in a luxurious London'.

The business has only been open 6 weeks and the owners have certainly created something refreshingly different:
- an intimate B&B-style hotel in an area notorious for run-down hotels
- a hotel oozing with personality, from the very welcoming hospitality to the resident dog, Spud.
- there are just nine bedrooms; mine was tiny but cosy and it certainly felt homely.
- but its key point of difference is how it's furnished: distressed walls, bare floorboards, old doors, some walls just plastered, with great furnishings.

The Observer reviewed it as follows: This idiosyncratic place, with its knowing nod to the gritty surroundings, felt like a genuinely warm, and witty, concept. Will it be a success? It deserves to be. London is surely big enough, eclectic enough and downright rough enough itself for this hotel to be a winner.

So when you are launching a new product or service, make sure it’s different and shout about that difference….

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

No Sign Of A Recession at Westfield

I know there’s a recession and it’s tough for lots of people. Industrial output is down and organisations are making redundancies. Stores are closing everywhere. So with that context, my visit to London’s Westfield mega shopping complex yesterday was like visiting a different planet.

This 150,000m² shopping centre is vast, full of retailers and people seemingly spending money. And you can’t help be impressed by the scale of it, and the quality of it. I avoid shopping malls at all costs but with its Foyles bookshop, Apple store and some refreshingly different and individual international food outlets and cafes, it had a very compelling feel about it.

Maybe it was the Christmas factor, or the fact that it has recently opened or just maybe Westfield has got some recession-busting ingredients to be a success. Either way, my experience there was more like walking through a flash airport terminal than a Monday evening in ‘Recession Britain’.
picture courtesy Time Out

Monday, 8 December 2008

Future 500 Party, Soho 4th December

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Tom Peters On Juggling

Since writing Juggle, I still come across articles or pieces of writing that totally sum up what the book is all about. I just picked up one of my favourite Tom Peters’ books (‘The Professional Service Firm 50’) that I had not looked at properly since buying it in California in 2004. This is from a great series of hard backed pocketsize books published by Knopf. And I found a chapter where Tom talks about juggling.

Bottom Line: Life is about the fine art of balance. life is a juggling act. Juggling your work…and your family..and your friends… and your extracurricular passions… and whatever. It’s about balancing your needs and aspirations… with what you can actually accomplish. Those who do it successfully have mastered the art of living.

And amen to that. It's that simple...

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

'The Juggle Tapes'

Around the launch of my new book ‘Juggle! Rethink Work, Reclaim Your Life’ I am interviewing some jugglers on video for a series ‘The Juggle Tapes’. Already in the can (as they say) are Kevin Roberts, Worldwide CEO, Saatchi & Saatchi; Mike Southon, FT Columnist and business author; and Martha Lane Fox, entrepreneur of many hats from karaoke to M&S. I am currently seeking participants for the rest of the series; people who mix up work, play and their passions in all they do. Those people who can’t be defined by a single job title, and don’t have a one word answer for that dinner party ‘what do you do?’ question, but do a mix of stuff.

Here is a logo that my publishers have created to accompany the podcast series at iTunes (but don’t search for it – it’s not there …yet).

'Pioneering Spirit'

I thought it would be a good idea to assemble some random fellow members of Courvoisier The Future 500 Network and talk about what they do and how they have achieved success. The result is ‘Pioneering Spirit’ a short film funded by the network’s Future Bank. In this two part film I talk to Jelly-Architect Sam Bompas, Rum Guru Ian Burrell, Innovator David Prior, Fashion Consultant Jennifer Williams-Bafoe and web TV entrepreneur Neil Fairbrother.

I am pleased to report that everyone I interviewed is a true juggler, mixing up their passions in their worklife. And passion is at the heart of all they do....

The film is in two parts:

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Riding The Charts

Okay so I know Amazon rankings are a ‘funny old game’ – you sell two copies of a book and suddenly you climb 9,503 places in their charts; but there’s not many other live indicators for how you book is doing unless you hide behind the tills in Piccadilly Waterstone’s.

But hey, even if it’s for one hour only, and considering Juggle is not out yet – it’s good to be nudging Tim Ferriss in the Business Life chart!

Make Your Business Personal!

I just saw a website of a great little company. A company with a good proposition and a decent website. It talked of the team of experts and professionals who handle their projects. But despite navigating through the site, there was no page mentioning key people, no team line-up, no management team biogs. Nothing. It was totally faceless. No names were mentioned in any context. Just a telephone number, address and generic email.

In any business especially a sector where there is lots of competition, being distinctive is about communicating the strength of your team. And that means, don’t hide them away! Name them, tell the world their role in the organisation, link to their blogs, their biogs, even their Twitter page. What’s the point in proclaiming they are experts if you won’t even name them and their roles, let alone tell the marketplace what they have done?

This is where small business has an advantage over big business. Big business sometimes can be faceless, with huge corporations, multi departments and offices around the world. But if you are a business of just ten partners, each of you really contributes to the DNA of the business and those personalities are part of your offering.

So don’t dilute that personality, shout about it!

Monday, 1 December 2008

The Good Thing About Networking

As I have noted before, the success of my business relies on word of mouth – every client I have ever had has been through referrals, introductions and 'who I know'. So networking is an important part of my life.

The term, 'networking' has a bad press; I don't mean going to speed-networking events in a shiny suit, thrusting business cards into people's hands or 'sharking' for new business. I mean meeting people, connecting with people, keeping in touch with contacts. My business portfolio is founded on that network. One client is a guy I used to work with at a partner company, another used to work for me and now runs his own business. So, I tend to be well-connected within the sectors I operate in and I collaborate and work with/for people I have known for 10 years or so.
But sometimes the challenge is in extending that network and meeting new people in completely different disciplines. It is those kinds of relationships that really stimulate me; it's great to connect with people who don't work in media or marketing. To that extent, Twitter is a great tool for connecting with new people, but sometimes that platform can be a bit virtual (although I do acknowledge many Tweeters organise meet-ups).
With this challenge in mind, I was delighted to be selected in to the inaugural Courvoisier The Future 500 Network last November enabling me to connect with a whole new bunch of people: a woman who set up her own skincare company; a guy who is an architectural foodsmith (he makes models of buildings out of jelly); a restauranteur who is also a renowned rum expert; a woman who mentors designers in the fashion industry. I’ve met some really interesting people in disciplines I would not have otherwise met.The second year intake of new members for the network was announced in yesterday's 'Observer' and I am delighted to see of my two associates in the line-up. Chris Gould, MD of All In Media and long-time collaborator Peter Wright, currently Commercial Director at Deluxe Digital London.
We will be partying this Thursday when Courvoisier The Future 500 holds an event in Soho. Phew - just think: all those Courvoisier cocktails plus 500 entrepreneurs and their egos in one room = quite a heady mix!
I conceived and presented a short film ‘Pioneering Spirit’ interviewing five members of the network; that will be posted up soon.

From Saturday's 'Financial Times'

This author is enterprising....

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Michael Knock 1945-2008

Part of my Juggle philosophy in re-thinking work is not just mixing up your passions in your worklife but also mixing up work and play; not working so hard you have no time for switching off. It’s about living your dreams and desires now rather than putting them on hold until a traditional retirement goal.

My uncle Michael Knock died in November. He was only 63 and had worked very hard all his life. His work life was what defined him, he was passionate about working in the property business and had worked for the same company from 5th August 1963 up until this summer when his cancer accelerated and he went back into hospital. That’s a remarkable 45 years with the same company, from office junior straight out of school to managing partner. He followed in the footsteps of his father who worked there; and his son has continued that family tradition as a partner there .

I have an enormous amount of respect for him, for someone who worked so hard with such dedication. I was also pleased to enjoy a close business relationship with him over the last couple of years as I produced some marketing materials for him, helping to update the image of the company he ran which celebrates its 90 year anniversary next year. But to die at 63 when he had so much more of life to enjoy is so sad, because unlike the juggle generation, he was working so hard he had not found time for much switching off.

I shall miss him.

His obituary from the local newspaper The Echo is here

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Reconfigure Your Cashews

Reading through the last hitherto unread bits of November’s Fast Company (with a cup of rooibos) I was reminded about the potential of the BIG impact of small changes.

In an interview with Costco CEO Jim Sinegal, Sinegal explained how simplifying packaging had saved the company fuel:

‘We just reconfigured our cashews. They were in a round canister, and we put them in a square canister. It sounds crazy, but we saved something like 560 truckloads a year of that one product’!

Not only did changing the packaging save significant money but – of course – it’s also greener. So do the equivalent in your organisation or for your client. Make a small change to something and enjoy BIG benefits.

Go, reconfigure your cashews!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Putting The Hours In

Malcolm Gladwell has been popping up on TV shows from 'The One Show' to 'Working Lunch' during his trip to London. Much talk on those shows has been about his new book 'Outliers' and what factors contributes to success. One of his theories about reaching success is that to be truly great at something you need to have spent 10,000 hours doing it.

I actually think people can be truly great at something quicker than that so long as they are fully focused and passionate. If you are determined and focused, I believe you can achieve most things.

Gladwell argued his case with The Beatles, who reguarly played mammoth 8 hour sets in a bar in Hamburg before they were famous, giving them incredible experience in playing live every day.

He's right that you have to put in the hours to be good at something but I don't think you always need to clock up the full 10,000 hours- that's about ten years worth. 10,000 hours over 9 years is equivalent to 3 and a bit hours a day. Looking back on my 9 year career 'Juggling' and doing my own thing in business, I have for sure, invested that many hours in those areas that have become my own expertise. But more generally it's just a matter of paying your dues, accumulating your ‘flying hours’. And whilst self-belief, passion and determination can help fast-track success, it’s the experience that’s going to make you brilliant.

Were you ever really that good the first time you did something? I know that my second book is much better than my first. I know when I first presented a radio show at the age of 17 I was crap (I was crap the tenth time I did it too - but better quality crap). The same goes to the first time I had staff to manage, the first board meeting I attended etc etc.

So whether it's 10,000 hour or 100 hours, make sure you’re putting the hours in…

Blogging Vs Tweeting

In last week's New York Times there was a piece about a new movement in blogging: 'slow blogging'. The article featured blogger Barbara Ganley who uses her blog for slow, more contemplative reflections. She suggests that whilst Twitter is a tool that cab be used to connect with people; blogs are a tool to reflect. I agree with some of that but the joy of the blogging platform is you can make it what you will. If you want to post daily or just monthly, that is fine. But for me, a blog post is about being rapid rather than slow. (As you can probably tell) my blog posts are not carefully drafted pieces of writing - that's what my books are for. Instead my blog posts are rapid brain dumps of what has inspired me. And there are no rules.

Why did I recently go 10 days without posting? I got busy.
Why did I just post a photograph up last week with no caption or explanation? I felt like it.

So if blogging can be rapid, tweeting is super-rapid; signposting a website or just a random thought on where you are at. Again I only tend to tweet once a day – that’s because I don’t have the time (nor the inclination) to be doing much more than that. But I see evidence that many others on Twitter are tweeting twenty times a day; they are using the platform to have real conversations.

The bottom line is that the joy of these platforms is they are different; they have different audiences and different dynamics. I love the simplicity and rigidity of Twitter and the flexibility of a blog post. And whether you blog or tweet daily or monthly; whether you are slow or quick, you can do whatever you fancy.

They are the tools to communicate your personal brand; so whatever you do - use them!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Live With Malcolm Gladwell

Having enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell's Blink and The Tipping Point, I was keen to see him 'live’ when he was in London last night. In case MG has passed you by he’s what The Observer has billed, ‘the most influential thinker of the iPod generation’; he’s a columnist, writer and thinker who's enjoyed huge commercial success so I was also keen to pick up some tips.

He came on stage at The Lyceum Theatre and spoke for an hour and twenty minutes (or thereabouts) on one topic. He told one fascinating story about the human cause of ‘plane crashes, of how cultural and behavioural attitudes had caused cockpit communication to break down. To be honest, I was expecting more than one story, but it was fascinating stuff. Although as we applauded him at the end I joked to my friend Peter, ‘I didn’t realise we had come to see a talk at the Civil Aviation Authority’.

If you’d said to me that an American writer could fill a London theatre (twice) with a story about plane crashes I might have questioned your sanity, but Gladwell tells a good story. No video inserts, no PowerPoint slides just him and a microphone. Think of it as a great dinner party story but backed up with a few PhD students’ dissertations. Not only did he make good money out of selling 4,000 seats at the theatre (no production costs/ no set/ no backing band to split the door receipts with); his new book was selling well in the foyer. Nice business model!

Malcolm Gladwell seems to be in the tradition of a great intellectual; a thinker who undergoes deep research to develop his ideas as was proved with his plane crash story. Whereas I don't have that depth; my ideas are more instinctive and rapid - I don't commission deep research to back up my ideas, I just go with my gut. But certainly he has some fascinating things to say and I like how he communicates them. He's captured people's imagination.I think it's great that people are writing books on subjects like this and filling theatres too. It's like my sister said to me when I told her about my new book 'Juggle'. She said she could understand how someone could write an article or an essay on my subject; but she couldn't understand how you could write 40,000 words on it. I’m sure she would be similarly dismayed that a writer could fill a theatre twice with an anecdote about why ‘planes crash!But with Malcolm Gladwell – and my own small contribution - here's proof that you can...

Monday, 24 November 2008

'Is it work or play?'

Tonight I'm going to the theatre to see an audience with the Author and Thinker Malcolm Gladwell. My wife checked this morning, 'you're working late tonight aren't you?'. And I replied, 'Well no - it's not a meeting I'm going to' but then I thought she is right - it's part of Work. I'm sure Malcolm will inspire and stimulate a whole load of thoughts that are very much in my 'work' arena. Sure, it might be entertaining and stimulate the 'play' side of me, but it is more relevant to what I do (as an Author and Thinker myself). So yes - it's work. As I write this, I am listening to Radio 4's 'Start The Week' (also featuring Malcolm Gladwell - he gets around); and I am also dealing with some emails.

But of course this begs a whole load of questions about what is work, and what is play. Yesterday - Sunday afternoon, as many of us do, I sat in the living room and answered some client emails. Some flashes of work in an otherwise 'day off'. In the old days - and I acknowledge this is still true for millions of people - 'Work' was a place you went to, an office with four walls that defined your work identity and was the boundary between work and play. When you were home, you weren't working. Now we work not just in offices, but also at home, and a ton of places in between. It's all mixed up.

So, as I shall argue in my new book 'Juggle', 'Work' is a mindset we dip in and out of constantly. Forget Work/Life balance - this is totally about work/life integration. Work and Play are not neatly segmented disciplines but totally mixed up elements. And the future is about mixing 'em all up...!

Friday, 21 November 2008

My Love Of Writing

In 1977, aged 9, I swallowed a marble.
And I wrote a story about it that was photocopied and despatched to aunties and uncles around the country (as was the marble – but that’s another story).

Then I realised that I liked writing. So at secondary school I became editor of the school magazine, I wrote for a music fanzine in the 80s, at university I contributed a column for the student paper, in one of my jobs I edited the company newsletter. I never wanted to be a journalist (or even a writer) but I enjoyed writing. Now, I write a lot in my job. Crafting copy for a client website, writing a client ad, blogging, tweeting, writing proposals, reports.

And now – as part of my juggling - I write books. In the last 24 hours, I have just approved publisher proofs for two books, at completely different ends of the writing spectrum. One is my business/ work/ self-help book ‘Juggle’; the other, a children’s book ‘The Extremely Very Scrambled Up World Of Little Doogs’ (which I haven’t actually written; I co-devised it, but hey I get a co-writer credit). Two books with my name on them, coming to a bookstore near you very soon.
So give me a pen and a blank sheet of paper, or an empty screen and I am a happy man...

‘Remembering Who The Client Is’

There’s not much in business that is a dead cert; but one fact that informs my attitude not just in business but also as a consumer is remembering who the client is. ‘Who the client is’ is rarely ambiguous – one party is paying another in a transaction and part of that interaction relies on a service being provided.

I always remember that fact in all I do. On every project, with every client I work with, however mundane the task, the bottom line is that they have paid me (or will be paying me) and I need to deliver. I try and remember that everyone has a choice in a free market; they don’t have to use my business.

Of course I expect the same from my own suppliers – that they are client-friendly and they provide a great service. That they remember which party is ‘paying the bill’ (or indeed, ‘paying their bills’).

I recently went in to a newsagent to buy a newspaper. I walked up to the counter where the shopkeeper was on the ‘phone. I smiled, said ‘hello’, gave him money and said ‘thank you’. Not only did he fail to pause his conversation, he failed to acknowledge the transaction or say thank you (or anything) back. I told him what I thought of his service - but maybe he didn’t hear me because he was still on the ‘phone.

So, please: always remember, whatever side of the metaphorical counter you are on, who the client is.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Why I Don’t Do Beauty Parades Anymore

My ‘virtual friend’ Michelle Goodman did a guest post at the New York Times Shifting Careers Blog, ‘When To Work For Free’. It got me thinking…

Michelle is certainly right that many of us who run small businesses or freelance are asked to do stuff for free. And sometimes, I have chosen to work pro bono, for example, for a ‘not for profit client’ but I try not to work for free where the client has a big budget! In the process of business development, we are often asked to come up with a bunch of ideas for a prospective client in order to ‘prove our credentials’ or we are expected to give a hint of a strategy as a teaser. And yes, that is inevitable but I have also got my fingers burnt. I have ‘given away’ too much insight and intellectual capital before a client commits (if they commit). I gave so much detail away in a proposal once to a client, I gave him all the insight for him to go off and do the project himself - he never hired me! We have done too much on proposals and pitches, where we are evaluated in a beauty parade alongside competitive pitches. And I try not to do that anymore.

It is accepted practice that creative agencies pitch against others to win client accounts. If you are shopping for creative services, a brand refresh or a new marketing strategy a client will ask to come up with a bunch of ideas for free. If you win the beauty parade they may hire you; if you don’t, who knows how your ideas may influence and inform a direction or strategy, with no reward? It’s a funny old practice, and I wonder why it still persists.

And yes, I’ve done it a few times to win high profile clients, I took that risk (and it worked, we won it). But I have also wasted man days in working up proposals; I’ve twisted the arms of talented designers asking them to create brand identities and creative treatments for work we may not win, or worse, where the client is ‘going through the motions’ of a pitch process but they knew who they would appoint from day #1. But no other industry works like this; you don’t ask prospective suppliers to actually do the bulk of the work, giving away their talents, before you appoint them. Of course, a proposal is a critical part of the sales process but you need to balance that with not giving away too much.

There are some exceptions. Pitches where you get paid for your work regardless of whether you win. Accounts where the reward is huge and the opportunity to be short-listed is like gold dust, but generally, especially at the grass roots end where small agencies do not have teams of people sitting around available, this practice risks exploitation.

So if you want to work with me or my business, sure let’s talk, let’s meet up but I won’t do loads of work up front - on spec- before we have agreed a relationship. Because you either want to work with me or you don’t!

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

‘Martha and Me’

This is me interviewing Martha Lane Fox yesterday. This was filmed in the latest in the series of ‘Juggle Interviews’ which will be released later this year. We look like we are in the on-board bar on Eurostar but in fact we were in the basement bar at Lucky Voice, Martha’s karaoke club in Soho.

Martha was a true icon of the Dot Com years as founder of that she founded 10 years ago. Now she’s a real Juggler, running Lucky Voice, a charitable trust Antigone, plus she’s on the board of Marks & Spencer, of Channel 4 and also Mydeco.

We had a fascinating conversation about how she juggles such a demanding portfolio, how passion is the driver behind all she does and how she rarely manages to switch off. We discussed what took her from a virtual business to a ‘bricks and mortar’ business; we talked about whether the Work Martha is the Real Martha and she told me how important she thinks the power of song is.

Thanks to Martha, Ellie and the team down at Lucky Voice Poland Street and also to Steven and Clem for shooting it.

The Next 'Apprentice'?

A few months ago I got a call from a BBC producer asking if I wanted to take part in a new reality business show. It was going to start filming in June and I had to commit to be available for filming (and away from my business – and family)– for up to six weeks. I couldn’t make that kind of commitment.

The new show airs tonight on BBC3 and it’s called The Last Millionaire. 12 young entrepreneurs travel around the world completing tasks; the winners go home, the loser stays.

(Hmm, think I was better off out of that one...!)

Monday, 10 November 2008 refreshed and relaunched

My Ian Sanders website at has just been re-launched to include the new book 'Juggle' (not sure where I'll put the third book?!)

More Than One Thing

Some of my new book ‘Juggle’ is about the notion of people doing more than one thing in their lives; eschewing categorisation and a single job title to mix up their passions in a unique business portfolio.

That fascinates me; I love meeting people who mix things up and break the old rules of work. I was reading one of my favourite newspaper features, ‘Expat Lives’ in the Weekend FT and the interview was with a guy who has a web-design business, works in a clothing business and performs as a musician. All at the same time.

Tomorrow I am interviewing two people for my series of short films, ‘The Juggle Interviews’. One is Martha Lane Fox, an entrepreneur whose portfolio includes running a karaoke business ‘Lucky Voice', two charities and also she’s on the board of Channel 4 and M&S. The other is an old friend David Sloly who is Creative Director at the technology ad agency Mason Zimbler. He may have one job title, but he mixes up his passions to do more than one thing.

The interviews will be posted online later in the year.

Start Up Success

Amongst all the business pessimism out there, I have always maintained there are still a lot of opportunities out there for start-ups with the right approach and a lean operation. In the Weekend FT there was a an article echoing my belief, ‘Rapid Rise in Spare Room Start Ups’, that cited research that reported a 16% rise in people launching businesses in their spare rooms.

Read Jonathan Moules’ article here.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Introducing 'The Schnoops'

I've always been fascinated - and driven - by creating something from nothing, turning a random idea, a quirky scribble in a notepad into a tangible product. My business OHM has helped clients realise the potential of ideas, launching new products and ventures.

For a number of years I have had the idea about creating a new intellectual property for children. Indeed, I found a notebook from 2002 where – on holiday in Turkey – I articulated such a goal. Coincidentally, on that very holiday I met the son of
Oliver Postgate, the creator of the children's series Ivor The Engine and The Clangers, and I was inspired by the power of such creations.

Back in 2005, when my first son was born he had a handful of soft toys that got me thinking. It inspired a bunch of characters I created; five animals with distinctive personalities (above is a picture taken from an early proposal document I drafted). I dreamed of doing something with this little world I had created so I asked my friend, a children's writer
Fiona Cummings if she would work with me on an idea. Working together we developed the characters and storylines and Fiona very patiently started writing a series of books 'The Extremely Very Scrambled Up World of Little Doogs'. Three years after that first lunch meeting at The Spencer Arms in Putney, after many coffees, peppermint teas, glasses of wine and not forgetting Fiona's obligatory champagne, The Schnoops is Born!

The first book in the series is published by Matador in early 2009 and we've just launched a website where readers can find out more and download the first three chapters of the book free of charge.

Keith Chapman, the creator of Bob the Builder, Fifi and the Flowertots and co-creator of Roary the Racing Car was good enough to say this about the project: “Extremely, very excellent adventures by Fiona Cummings and Ian Sanders. Little Doogs and his chums are great fun and are destined for stardom.”

This has very much been a project I have kept under wraps; but in pursuit of The Work Me being The Real Me, it’s now well and truly out of the bag – visit

And a big thank you to Fiona for all her hard graft in the long gestation of the project!

Friday, 7 November 2008

Leap Takeaway #9

The final Takeaway on the menu is about the importance of super-serving the client; not just when you’re courting a new client contact, but throughout the whole relationship.

Monday, 3 November 2008

The Thing About Twitter

I’d heard about Twitter from a Robert Scoble blog post a long while back but I didn’t think Twitter ‘was for me’. But after a couple of people said I should really start ‘tweeting’ I thought it was time to give it a go. For the uninitiated, Twitter is a social networking tool that allows you 140 characters to communicate to followers and contacts. So 7 days ago I lost my Twitter-virginity.

I’d had it with social networking tools like Facebook a long time ago but as a micro-entrepreneur, writer, blogger etc, I like the idea of Twitter because I love its simplicity. As my friend Rachel said, it’s a platform for micro-blogging. I also love brevity so 140 characters as a medium is very compelling.

But there’s something more important here. What I love about Twitter is that can you tweet about anything from the mega-important to the mundane – there’s no rules, it’s not just for ‘work’; it’s also not just for ‘play’. From a link to a blog post or a tweet about a new video I have produced, right through to a mundane weekend blog about enjoying an espresso and a bacon sandwich or playing with one of my kids.

One of my themes in my new book ‘Juggle’ is about the importance of authenticity; of being your true self, of the Work You being the Real You. If you choose to tweet in that style, Twitter can be a mirror that reflects that real you.
Another theme of ‘Juggle’ is about mixing up work and play, rather than neatly segmenting them, and again that’s what Twitter does (if you choose to use it like that). And whoever is reading your tweets – whether important clients, friends, contacts or random people around the world who you haven’t even met – there you are, for all to see, ‘warts and all’. And if people don’t get it, then maybe they don’t get you.

I find that authenticity very refreshing – ‘This is me’.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Loving Variety...

Of all I love about my Juggle life, I love the rich variety of projects, people and priorities that make up my days.

Whilst this juggling does cause me headaches along with inevitable stress, that variety can be really enriching. Take an afternoon of meetings one day last week as a snapshot. A quick lunch meeting in the funky surroundings of The Hospital Club for – what else - a ‘club’ sandwich to accompany a catch up with a business partner. Then a bus and a walk through Green Park to the next meeting; a coffee in the elegant surroundings of The Lanesborough Hotel with a contact of mine, who the week before had just been dining with – and interviewing - Buddy Holly's widow (he had some great stories to share); then – via some proof reading of a company newsletter in the back of the 74 Bus - off to a pub in Farringdon to have a beer with an ad agency account manager. 3 very different meetings in very different settings with very different agendas. Not untypical; it's what most days are like, switching from one project to another, like a chameleon. But it reminded me one of the things I like about living on Planet Juggle.

'Take Me WIth You'

A friend of mine Charles Sharman Cox recently made a short film ‘Take Me With You’. Charles juggles a portfolio that includes film making, making videos for corporate clients and directing and writing for the stage. 'Take Me With You' has been entered into the Sundance festival and here’s a trailer.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Changing Your Worklife

Amongst all the market uncertainty out there, people are having – or choosing - to reinvent their work lives. I met a contact yesterday who has worked in music and broadcasting all his working life; now he’s diversified into property development, building houses. He didn’t expect to embarking on a new career in his early 50s but he’s enterprising enough to diversify, recognising that his management skills are scalable, whatever the industry (and he’s being very successful at it).

Increasingly, people are mixing it up, rather than just having one trade. A guy I know is a designer but also manages – and works behind – a bar. He’s a very good designer; he also makes a neat espresso. Neither of those roles dilutes the other; if anything it strengthens them.

Inevitably the current economic climate will force people to do new stuff, to rapidly embrace change and decide on new career routes. I saw this article in Sunday’s ‘New York Times’ - ‘Out of a Job, and Realizing Change Is Good’ – by a woman who lost her job as an investment banker on Wall Street. After the initial shock, she felt liberated by having different priorities in her life and after interviewing for another bank role, decided she wanted a real change. Now she’s working in the not for profit sector.

It’s an old cliché of course, but change like that needn’t be a shock, it can be the start of a whole new You…

Leap Takeaway #8

We’re up to #8 on the menu in ‘The Leap Takeaways’ and this one’s about the benefits of looking at things from a different perspective. Stand back from the obvious and spot the non-obvious.

Watch it at
You Tube or you can also get these as a video podcast at the iTunes store, search on ‘Ian Sanders’

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

(Soapy) Innovation

When I went to wash my hands in Bar Music Hall in Shoreditch, I saw this. It’s a soap statue of a Budda by Korean artist Meekyoung Shin, and visitors are encouraged to use it to wash their hands.

Now that’s what I call innovative; an art installation in soap which is also interactive….

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The Importance Of Blowing Your Own Trumpet

Working for myself, doing my own thing, running my own business, writing books - I have known from the outset you have to be a good self-publicist.

On receiving some of my self-billed propaganda a few years ago, one friend commented that I was 'good at blowing my own trumpet' and he was right; you certainly can't rely on anyone else doing it for you (unless you have a publicist or PR company on side). So you need to communicate with your target audiences and recognise the importance of a One Man Brand.

Me? I have a business website, an author website, this blog, a YouTube page and I've finally started tweeting at Twitter. With so many social networking tools available there is just no excuse for being shy: communication is the key to success. And it's something I advise my clients on constantly – you have to be proactive in communicating with you customers and your industry at large. And in times of recession, of economic uncertainty and poor market confidence, it’s SO important to communicate, to keep in touch with clients and prospects. A small business – or any business come to that – that doesn’t keep in touch can jeopardise its reputation; like any relationship, a hiatus in communication is not healthy.

I’m currently working with a small business on a newsletter initiative. It might not win me an award for Most Original Idea Of The Year but it works, it’s cost effective and it’s simple (3 great reasons in my book). It’s a proven way of keeping in touch with clients, contacts, shareholders with news and views.

Do whatever works for you, but make sure you keep in touch, make sure you communicate to your audiences and yes, you can blow your own trumpet.

Monday, 27 October 2008

'Leap Takeaways' debut on iTunes

The 'Leap Takeaways' have just been launched as a video podcast at the iTunes store; there's one being released each week.


Thursday, 23 October 2008

Keeping It Simple....

As regular visitors to this blog will know I am a great believer in refreshing & reinvigorating communications; and I am also a fan of brevity.

With these two principles in mind, we have just re-launched my business website. Forget an over-engineered website; the new OHM site is a stripped-down one pager - we thought we’d keep this one nice and simple (I think this is version #5 of the OHM site, but hey – you gotta keep it fresh!).

Thanks to Paul Ingle for his ‘work in progress’ design concept and the neat idea for the ‘at a glance’ view for all those time-poor jugglers out there…

Leap Takeaway #7

This week’s Leap Takeaway is about the benefits of putting your personality into your business. Have the courage to be yourself, to do your own thing and not only will your business offering be more distinctive, but chances are you’ll also be more passionate about what you do.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

I'm a (Project) addict

I confess. I'm a Project Addict.

Everything I touch is a project, and I can't get enough of 'em.

So much of what I do is diverse with different shaped assignments and different roles for similarly different shaped clients, it's good to have some consistency. That consistency is uniting all I do as A Project.

I love that concrete criteria that defines a project: projects have a start, an end, a client, some goals.

I've just delivered two – very different – projects.

One, a 9 month project from conception to birth. The creation of a global brochure dealing with multiple client contacts in multiple territories, different languages, different cultural and industry considerations. Dealing with an ad agency, designers, copywriters. Lots of multiplicity with a common goal. My job – turning that idea into a hard copy set of brochures. Done.

Another, an assignment for a media company. Much more rapid a project. One month for me to soak up the DNA of the client, talking to key staff, management and their customers. And then standing back, coming up with a bunch of ideas, a blueprint for change.

Both very different shaped projects, where I added value in different ways. But tangible projects. And I apply the same criteria, whether a one-off or a big one.

Now it's time to dive into the next one(s); no time to draw breath....