Wednesday, 30 July 2008

'Leap!' now available as an e-book

My first book ‘Leap!’ has just been released in the U.S. as an e-book. So if you fancy it as a PDF, you can buy it here at Books On Board.
Chris Nel, a Partner at The Tom Peters Company was kind enough to say this about the book:
"Ian Sanders connects brilliantly with the mindset and needs of talented professionals in their migration away from corporate mediocrity. LEAP! Is a personal guidebook to both the practicality and emotion of making work matter"

‘Pioneering Spirit’

Tomorrow I am presenting a series of videos for Courvoisier The Future 500 network, ‘Pioneering Spirit’, meeting five rising stars to try and unravel the secret of their success. They come from diverse backgrounds - the drinks industry, food, science, technology and fashion – and, like me, are members of the Courvoisier The Future 500 network.They all have different stories, different goals, different approaches...but are united by one common factor: they have passion and a true pioneering spirit. To go out there and do something new, to make it happen.

I will post up details of where to see the videos once they are finished.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

'The Last Lecture'

I must admit I had not heard of Randy Pausch until I read his obituary in The Guardian last night. Randy Pausch was an academic and scientist who died last week from pancreatic cancer.

Randy became famous for making ‘The Last Lecture’ which became an internet phenomenon.

The Last Lecture series at Carnegie Mellon University was designed to let academics give a lecture to students, imagining it was their last, to leave them with an important message. This took on added significance when Randy gave his lecture in September 2007 with the knowledge that he was dying from cancer and he had been given months to live. In the lecture he talks about the importance of having and enabling childhood dreams and of his determination to ‘have fun today, tomorrow and every other day I have’.

Randy Pausch’s mantra was that ‘we cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand’.

See the lecture here

Monday, 28 July 2008

An Inspiration Jaunt

Saturday was spent working on my book and I needed to get out and about. So a tour of Borough Market SE1 was the tonic I self-prescribed. I started – and ended – my jaunt at Monmouth Coffee Shop on Park Street, my favourite place for an espresso (despite the queues. At least they have someone taking orders from the queue). As I sat there with my manuscript, I noted other people scribbling, reading, chatting, meeting and drinking. I perched on a stool in the window and looked out on what felt like The Best View In London. The river? Hyde Park? Battersea Power Station? Nope, the corner of Park Street and Stoney Street where people spill out from the market, coffee shop and pub vying for space amidst market stalls, pallets and reversing fork-lift trucks. A great window on the world.

A pit-stop for a sausage bap in the market and then it was on to
The Rake on Winchester Walk. The Rake is an award-winning bar that sells over 120 beers from around the world. I opted for a bottle of Quilmes, Argentina’s finest. The staff at the Rake are really friendly and poured my drink nicely into a branded Quilmes glass, turning the label to face me as she put it down. And I noted she said ‘enjoy your drink’ to every customer. You don’t get that in your average boozer.

And then it was back to the Monmouth Coffee Shop via Tate Modern.

All in all, a good place to hang out

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

The Red Bull Story

It’s been a long(ish) day. I have had my head down all day. So I had to reach for some stimulation to keep me going. And I reached for a can of Red Bull.

Hardly the world’s healthiest drink and a brand that has caused some controversy but I guess it’s successful because it works. It gave me a boost. It did the job. And that’s why you see so many people drinking it. Mind you the French must know something we don’t because when I turned up at a conference in Cannes and wanted a Red Bull, I couldn’t find one anywhere. Reason –it’s illegal there!

It might be ubiquitous now (well not in France) but its early marketing strategy was about being seen in the right place at the right time. I knew the then MD of Red Bull who built the brand in the UK to the success story it is now and he had very clear objectives. He wanted it to be seen as a drink that certain type of workers would drink. Night shift workers, drivers, bar and club staff, people working late and long hours in the music industry. And when he heard I was going out to work backstage on the production of The MTV Europe Music Awards, he sent over cases of Red Bull to ship out to the Awards. This was such a smart move. We were working hard and it kept us going. On the night of the awards when the production team was working hard backstage it was what we were all drinking. We stocked the fridge in our production office with Red Bull and word soon got round the backstage village that we had some. It wasn’t an official drink of the awards, no deal had been done with MTV, it was there ‘under the radar’. But bands and crew came to our fridge asking if they could take a can. The perfect environment to spread the word about the benefits of the drink. He didn’t want it to be sold out the front of the bars in those days (yet); he just wanted it sold behind the bar for the staff. And that created a buzz.

The buzz worked and now it’s everywhere. I still indulge in a can now and then but not at the level I did back then…


Lots to Juggle

It’s all quiet on the blogging front as I have been juggling all over the place.
This week there are two new clients to juggle with one existing one, and the new book to write which is of course called ‘Juggle!’ (25,000 words written, and the publishers need a first draft next week. Gulp!)

I have assembled a panel of Jugglers for the book and will be featuring video interviews with some of them here over the coming months. The first interview filmed last week in London was with Mike Southon. Mike is one of the world’s top business speakers and one of the UK's leading authorities on entrepreneurship and sales. He is an experienced entrepreneur and founder of the Beermat Entrepreneur business network. Watch out for that interview soon.

It’s been quite a challenge writing the book, running the business, and running around interviewing and presenting videos. And that’s what ‘Juggle!’ is all about…

Friday, 18 July 2008

‘Small is a weapon, not an excuse’.

Seth Godin had some sensible things to say this week about the advantages of being a small business.

He’d bought some goods online from a merchant via Amazon and needed to return them but the seller said it would take three or four weeks to process. ‘Why so long?’ he asked back. They replied that because they were not a big company they could not do it quicker! Which makes me laugh because if you are a small company of course you can do things like that right away, it’s just about prioritising. Because there are no unwieldy organisational procedures to go through, no inter-departmental protocol to follow, no forms to fill in. You just do it! Especially if a customer is unhappy or wants to return something that is just the kind of thing that you deal with straight away.

Running my own small business I have always prided on keeping it small and that’s where my success lies. Being intimate, offering personal service and always being available. And that’s why I succeed.

Seth’s post links some good examples of how a tiny company can have a better website than a big one and ends with a great quote:

‘Small is a weapon, not an excuse’.

It's Infectious...

How many people do you know who are taking the Leap to work for themselves?

It seems that this leaping is infectious stuff. I was on the ‘phone to my publishers this morning and spoke to the fourth person there who had worked on my book project and was leaving to do their own thing…

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Still Available....

Leap has been out for six months now and in publishing that's a long time.
So it was nice to see this display in Blackwells, Charing Cross Road the other day...

The book is still available at all good bookshops (and crap ones too).

Power To The Elbow

We all spend a lot of time looking at websites, for fun and for business (sometimes at the same time).

As a business OHM advises clients on their online presence; making suggestions to refresh sites through change of language, fresh look & feel, and improved navigation to make sites more effective as communication tools. And we always advise to distil complex sites down to make them simple, replacing clumsy and cluttered navigation with an easy and elegant structure.

A friend sent me to the rock band Elbow’s site yesterday.

And in an instant I thought this was a great example of a simple and elegant site. Forget that it is a band website. For any business anywhere it’s a great benchmark for what can be achieved, for something effective yet original. Pleasing to use, easy to navigate and the sounds of the piano keys as you move across the letters is a nice touch.

Sure it's nice to use, but remember it's a great sales tool too. And business can learn a lesson or two from this band...

Friday, 11 July 2008

Getting Motivated!

A few of my friends and colleagues have talked to me this week about their problems with motivation. And they’re right, it’s tough getting motivated sometimes.

Especially when you are self-employed, you’re only answerable to yourself and you may not have any co-workers to hassle you or support you. To say, ‘where’s that report?’ or ‘did you email that client back?’

Procrastination is the potential downfall of every Leap! entrepreneur. So you have to be disciplined. My discipline is in managing my tasks by having a daily ‘to do’ list. And if I don’t get everything done that day, then I have to transfer the tasks to the next one, when it’s already full of tasks. That pressure motivates me to get things done. It’s hardly a revolutionary technique, but it works!

But we all have days when it’s difficult to get started. Inevitably you are going to get stale.

Stale in how, when and where you work. Bogged down with some administration, stuck with a tedious project. And when that happens you need to let in some fresh air to change the routine:

- Take time out.
- Go out for lunch with a friend or mentor.
- Give yourself a ‘Treat’.
- Go out for a coffee.
- Go for a run.

Any change can be so effective, however small.

On those days when I get stale I know I need to do something. Walk out of the room, walk around the block, go and have a coffee, go somewhere else.

And two things will happen:

1. You will feel liberated
2. You’ll return to your desk with a fresh perspective and clarity about all you have to do.

They say a week away has restorative powers. Well never underestimate the power of one hour away.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Don't Forget Why You Took The Leap!

When you work for yourself - and by yourself - it can be easy to lose sight of why you went self-employed in the first place. So sometimes, you have to stand back from it all and remind yourself of all the benefits of taking the Leap.

And one of those is that once you are working for yourself in the scrambled up world of work, you’ll benefit from a whole new approach to life and work.

I met up with an old colleague who works for a medium sized business. He’s stuck in a rut, missing the exciting stuff of business.

Missing doing the deal, winning business, the adrenalin and risk of it all. And whilst there are hundreds of opportunities out there where he can find what he’s missing working for others, there is one place where he can rediscover all this – working for himself.

If you pull it off, working for yourself can give you a whole load of benefits in how you run your life.

Yes, it’s stressful but it gives you an opportunity no employer can provide: the opportunity to do your own thing; to write your own job description; to be responsible for everything from sales to accounts; to be a small – but perfectly formed – self-sufficient entrepreneur.

That experience gives you self belief, confidence and a sense of achievement that is so basic. That with your raw materials (those ideas and that contact book) you DID make something out of nothing; you created a product that clients wanted to buy; you billed them and what’s more they paid you.

You don’t answer to someone else; you control what you do, how you do it and when you do it. That’s something to be proud of.

And never underestimate that triumph – to achieve all that, on your own, through determination and commitment, to stick with it and survive the knock-backs, and to survive. That is what business is all about.