Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Doing New Stuff, Meeting New People

We can all get so settled in our roles; doing the same old thing, dealing with the same people it can all get a bit too familiar. Knowing how your next meeting will go, aware of the personalities of your suppliers and project teams. But it's great to meet new people to broaden your horizons, get a fresh take on something or inspiration on a new approach to doing business. It makes for a really fresh injection of energy and ideas to a project or business venture. When I trialled a new supplier on a project, not only was it a breath of fresh air to benefit from some new ideas, but it reinvigorated my own offering. Similarly, since our 'black book' of contacts is the lifeblood of our business; it's great to extend the network to include contacts of contacts.

I am currently midway through a day of meetings with New People and it feels good. Good to be challenged and stimulated away from the status quo. Good to get a fresh take on things. It's always interesting to find out people's backstory - of how they have progressed in business; what were the catalysts for change were in their own stories. It's valuable not just because I find it simulating to meet new contacts; but because it is inspiring for my next book project too.

So stretch your horizons and schedule some meetings with new people. Get your clients and associates to introduce you to their contacts; identify and target business owners and professionals that you might want to work with online. And go and be a pioneer for the day....

Saturday, 22 March 2008

The Bit About Being A Safe Pair Of Hands (Again)

Readers of my book will know the importance of being 'A Safe Pair Of Hands', there's a chapter on the very subject and I'm a real believer in 'ASPOH'. It's the criteria for how I recruit people, team members and suppliers and also it's why my clients hire me.

Writer and entrepreneur Mike Southon recently interviewed me for his series of Beermat Radio podcasts sponsored by The interview is available for download on the Beermat website or as a podcast on i-tunes. And the interview with me is also the subject of Mike’s ‘My Business’ column in today’s Financial Times.

Mike has a very relaxed approach to his interviews, with little premeditation about the themes we would be discussing. Half way through the interview Mike hit upon the theme for my own story: being that safe paid of hands. Throughout my entire career, whether working for an employer or for myself, my success has been because employers and clients knew they could trust me to do a job well. That I would make 'it' - whatever 'it' is - happen, on time, on budget and on brief. Okay, so it's a bit more complicated than that, but you get the idea. There are so many suppliers and managers out there who consistently DON'T do the job well, everyone loves someone who does.

As Mike Southon says about success at the end of his FT column, "…Above all, you have to deliver on your promises. Happy customers will tell all their friends. The world will then beat a path to your door. Being a 'safe pair of hands" can be very rewarding whether you are in business or politics”.

Read the full article here, online on or at Mike’s weekly ezine.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Interview on Beermat Radio

Financial Times columnist and author of the Beermat Entrepreneur Mike Southon has interviewed me for his series of Beermat Radio podcasts.

There's a free 13 minute version of the interview HERE
There's a paid-for 31 minute version HERE
or find it on i-tunes, search on ‘Beermat Radio’....

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Hunting For New Business

Over the past couple of days in conversations with friends, associates and clients the same subject keeps on coming up: seeking new business.

‘Getting New Business’ is always top of most of our to-do lists and the subject of much effort and agonising. And rightly so; it’s the lifeblood of all we do.

One of my clients asked me recently, ‘how do you get new business?’ as if there were a proven procedure for getting new clients and projects (if only).

However much we strategise and plot sales and biz dev initiatives, you cannot always contrive new business; you cannot create a guaranteed path to picking up new clients. Because so many business wins are about being lucky.

Being in the right place at the right time. Getting an email or voicemail landing in your lap just like that. An approach out of the blue, or a referral. All that is lucky.

But you can’t build a business on luck. So you need to make sure you have a simple and effective communications strategy in place to optimise every opportunity.

Stuff like: be distinctive in how you set out your stall, be smart, be better than the competition AND stay on your targets’ radar at all times.

Sometimes success is just about being local, being available and providing something your targets want. So don’t overcomplicate it.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

City A.M. Recommends 'Leap'

London's free daily business paper for The City, "City A.M." recommends 'Leap!' in this morning's feature 'How To Pick The Right Business Book'.

Reviewer Donny Sheldon comments,

".. Leap! tackles the mindset of the entrepreneur and the issues to be faced navigating the modern business world. Through unpretentious, conversational writing, Sanders urges readers to instil independence into their business attitudes, with such aspirational chapters as Don’t Listen To Anyone Who Says No To Your Ambition and Conformity Sucks.’s an honest approach to inspiring entrepreneurs."

Of course, those working in the financial world will be rightly preoccupied with bigger issues this morning, but for those who find themselves victims of an economic downturn, at least 'Leap!' might inspire them to go it alone...

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Dan Schawbel: Part II

Personal Branding expert Dan Schawbel has done an online interview with me, where he asked me about the principles behind 'Leap' and we discussed some of the themes in the book.

Read the interview here.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

John Attwell

Thank you to John Attwell who's just taken my latest series of publicity photographs, shot on Chalkwell Beach.

Thanks to John and his trusty Leica M8. Check out John's online portfolio

Dan Schawbel & The Importance Of Personal Branding

Whether we are self-employed or work for an employer, how we position ourselves is key to success. How we define and communicate our strengths and values, how we sell our skills and talents. It's called Personal Branding.

Dan Schawbel is a Personal Branding guru based in Boston and fast getting a reputation as the leading personal branding expert. Fast Company magazine said, 'Schawbel is a personal branding force of nature'. He produces a blog, a magazine and a video podcast series. And he has a day job.

And he’s only 24!

Dan and I met online where I asked him a few questions:

Q. You are synonymous with personal branding. When did you wake up and realise the importance of 'Brand Schawbel?' What was the catalyst for you being such an advocate for personal branding?

I was trying to find my own brand for years, but only uncovered a few interests and skills, such as mentoring, marketing, graphic design and web development. On March 14th of last year I discovered that personal branding was exactly what I had been talking about all along, without ever mentioning the term. I had 8 different jobs in college and my own consulting company, aside from 7 leadership positions in organizations. During each interview I would market myself with a resume, cover letter, cd portfolio, website, and more. I never realized exactly what I was doing and when I discovered that my brand was "personal branding" that changed everything. Since everything I loved matched the topic, it was quite easy to be an evangelist. My passion activates everything I do, no matter how much work I take on.

Q. You're writing a book on personal branding. Is it just aimed at people starting out in their careers and wantrepreneurs or is it also relevant to people working for big corporations too?

I personally think anyone can benefit from my book, but I tell everyone that the sooner you discover your brand, the better. I think the best time during one's personal lifecycle in when they are in college because they are given many choices that can impact their future. In saying this, I'm more targeting college students and young professionals, who, for the first time in history, have the ability to accomplish their dreams in a very short period of time. This group I commonly refer to as Gen-Y or "The Millenials." I think corporations can benefit from this book (I can't give much away), especially HR, because the book unveils career development from all walks of life. HR wants to learn how to recruit and retain Gen-Y and Gen-Y seeks to position themselves as hot properties for HR. When they come together opportunities are created and people have great lives.

Q. You're a busy guy. How do you fit in editing a magazine and all the other activities alongside the day job?

This reverts back nicely to the first question you asked. Passion drives just about everything in my life. I don't drink coffee and I do get sleep if that surprises people. I don't like taking notes either. Instead of storage I manage everything in my head. The magazine works out because it's quarterly, which gives me enough breathing room to pull it off. I blog 5 times a week, which gets intense at points, especially going on vacation, but I still pull through for my readership. The book is a beast in itself, but I'm in very good shape after 5 months somehow. I just love personal branding and the effect it has on people.

Q. My next book 'Juggle' is about the necessity of wearing many hats in order to be enterprising. It's about being a polymath. Do you struggle juggling all your various hats?

I wear more hats than anyone would ever realize. I'm 24 years old, with 7 years experience in marketing already, starting in 2001. Aside from the blog, magazine, book, TV show, awards, freelancing and full-time job at EMC, I also am on the board of advisers for a social networking site. I think my biggest struggle is on the horizon, when I go to publish issue 4 of the magazine, while sending in my draft to the publishers (of the book). I've never faced any challenges that great before, especially while juggling everything else. I've learned that "juggling" is actually very smart. Who knows when you can get laid off from one job. It's good to be doing many things, not just for your resume, your brand, but to have a secure career.

Q. You're still young. Has age ever been an obstacle to how you are perceived? Or has it been an advantage?

Age is a major obstacle at points. It is a criticism of my generation, but it doesn't bother me anymore. I think there is a lot of opportunity for people my age to make a difference in the world, hence the book. At every large corporation I've worked for, there are criticisms and people don't trust my generation with "the big projects." That is quite alright by me because I create my own projects on the side to learn outside of the normal work day. You need to keep gaining these skills and pushing yourself further to be a marketable knowledge worker. It's an advantage for me because I'm closer to my generation, so it's easier to talk to them and explain how important personal branding is.

Q. It looks like you're someone with drive, determination and all the other tools of an entrepreneur. But you still have a day job where you work for someone else. How long before you take the full leap to start-up Dan Schawbel Inc?

I get this question all the time, of course. I'm not really sure. I like to let some of my projects guide me to the next. I enjoy what I'm doing now, but I never let myself feel isolated in one area. You need to be constantly moving forward and with all the changes in technology, it's impossible to predict the future. I can't even keep track of the 2,000 social networks on the internet, or the 5,000 tweets I get each day, or the email, or the Facebook friends. My benefit is that I'm young, so now is the time to screw up, learn from it, and narrow down your path.

Check out Dan at

Monday, 10 March 2008

The Joys Of Shedworking

Where you work is important. Sure, you might do a lot of work on the road, in a coffee shop, on a train but you’ll inevitably still need a dedicated workspace somewhere. In an office building, in a shared workspace, in your spare room at home or even in a shed at the bottom of the garden.

For those who have taken the leap to work for themselves, many opt to keep overheads low by working from home. That is fine; just make sure there is a separation between where you relax and where you work. If you choose to work at home don’t try and work in the corner of your bedroom or living room -you’ll find it impossible to switch off. Because it’s hard enough as it is blurring work and play, so you have to make sure you can shut the door of the office. So wherever you choose to work, it’s got to have a door.

Many homeworkers are opting for shedworking, a cost-effective and practical solution for one-person offices. Shedworker Alex Johnson has established a
Shedworking blog, documenting the “lifestyles of shedworkers and those who work in shedlike atmospheres”.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

A Tale Of The 9-5

I am a couple of chapters into Joshua Ferris' novel 'Then We Came To The End'; a darkly funny tale of a Chicago ad agency where not very much happens; where the workers strive to avoid actually doing any work by attending pointless meetings or huddling in co-workers' offices to hear the latest gossip. And of how their insecurities grow as people around them start to get fired. It reminded me of what people 'can get away with' working for big employers, where accountability is measured by visibility, i.e. managers are more interested in whether you attended that meeting, or replied to that email rather than your productivity. In my early 20s I had a short period working for an employer where I didn't have much to do and I quickly got bored of trying to fill my day with not very much. The tedium frustrated me, so I went to my boss and asked for more to do. I am sure we've all had experiences of being in jobs with not much to do; I remember a friend who in his early career used to take an afternoon nap in the toilets. Now it seems we are at the other end of the spectrum, always too much to do and complaining about never having enough time to get it all done.

'Then We Came To The End' chronicles the struggle to survive that tedium of office life. As people are fired, morale suffers and depression sets in, but the workforce still hang in there. Few workers have the courage to leap themselves, they wait to be pushed.

"When someone quit we couldn't believe it.'I'm becoming a rafting instructor on the Colorado River' they said. 'I'm touring college towns with my garage band'. We were dumfounded. It was like they lived on a different planet. What would they do about car payments? We got together for going-away drinks on their final day and tried to hide our envy while reminding ourselves that we still had the freedom and luxury to shop indiscriminately".

Working for yourself can seem like a planet away from 9-5 drudgery; I miss quite a few things about working for someone else but I sure don't miss the tedium.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Club E

The Club E Network is a US online and "on the ground" social network for aspiring, emerging and experienced entrepreneurs. Conceived by a group of entrepreneurs, small and large business owners, authors and academics, students and professionals - Club E is bound by a passion for Entrepreneurship. Club E has city-based networks throughout the U.S. and a site with video content, updated daily.

I am pleased to feature in their featured Video Of The Day “Getting It Going” for today March 2nd.