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....

Monday, 20 October 2008

Business Growth By Keeping it Small

I am currently working with some clients advising them on how to grow. When we talk about business growth we tend to think about hiring more people, getting new premises or expanding internationally. But often growth is about building on what you doing best; about focusing on your strengths, increasing customer service, charging more for what you do, innovating your products and services, reinventing your offering and keeping it fresh. Being the market leader in a defined market niche rather than getting lost in a crowded market where you’ll fail to stand out.

For my current projects I have been talking with my clients’ customers, asking them why they like using the company’s services. And the answers are fascinating (but they don’t surprise me).

They all like using my clients because they are small. They like the fact that they know the staff, that they have an intimate and flexible relationship, that they are personable and not a big faceless organisation. They like the fact that the company owners are still hands-on. If my clients embarked on a traditional growth strategy, they may alienate their customers.

So remember, to succeed in business you don’t have to be the biggest, have the most staff, or the most number of offices. It’s smarter than that – it’s about occupying and servicing a distinct market niche. Being 150% good at what you do, having a great bunch of people and keeping it fresh.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Leap Takeaway #6

This is Leap Takeaway #6 on the menu, about the importance of keeping it simple in marketing. Forget communicating six, twelve or twenty reasons why your business, products or services are so damn good; just focus on one!

Leap Takeaway #5

#5 in The Leap Takeaways is about a much under-rated tool.
Forget an MBA from Harvard or a degree in business studies, the most valuable tool in any entrepreneur’s, executive’s or freelance’s tool box is Instinct.

with apologies for 'creative camera work' - the director got carried away!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008


Finally the pile of my books on my bedside table is diminishing and I’ve got round to reading Kevin Roberts’ definitive insight on the emotional connections between brands and consumers, ‘Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands’. It reminds me about my own ‘lovemarks’, those brands that I feel passionate about. Brands like The BBC, Moleskine, Paul Smith, Habitat, The Monmouth Coffee Company, Muji (that is a paradox - Muji was conceived as the non-brand brand), Sony, Fopp, Jack Spade. You may not have heard of Jack Spade; it’s a great little New York-based brand that makes work bags. Their brand essence is best summed up by this statement that is on a little booklet that comes with the bag.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

The Leap Takeaways

My video series of ‘Leap Takeaways’, those easily digestible business nuggets, are soon to be released on iTunes and Capstone Books have created a neat little logo to accompany the series.

More details once they are live at the iTunes music store.

Making It Up As You Go Along

Making it up as you go along’ might not sound the most robust business strategy but believe me – it works.

I had lunch with a new contact last week and she asked what my long term plan was. And my long term plan is actually about not having a plan. It’s about being open minded and totally flexible about where my business and life might take me. Sure, I have a bunch of (big) goals, both personally and professionally for the next 6/12 months and I’m confident of achieving (most of) them but I don’t have a detailed plan, a well plotted out methodology for getting there. Because in this ever-changing world, there is just no point having a rigid plan. I remain focused on success; focused on projects and goals. Beyond that, I am making it up as I go along…

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Leap Takeaway #4: Make A Difference

Next on the menu of the Leap Takeaways is a really simple way to benchmark your performance: ask the question, 'did I make a difference?'

In everything you do for your client or customer, ask that question. And the same applies to your role in an organisation. Strive to make a difference in all you do and it will help your success.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Time For A Re-Brand

When I launched this blog I branded it ‘The Scrambled Up World Of Work’ a signature phrase I originated for the ever-changing world in which we live and work. Now it’s time for a change. In line with my new book ‘Juggle’, the blog becomes ‘Life On Planet Juggle’. Everything else stays the same!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The Importance of 'On Time'

There's lots of things I take for granted in life and business and one of them is delivering on time. Doing stuff when I said I would; delivering projects on time; not being late.

It's part of that whole Safe Pair Of Hands offering. When I delivered my manuscript of my second book to my publishers (on time), they said they were grateful that I had stuck to the deadline (maybe other writers don't?!). But running my own business – and surely, running any business, there's never been a question of not doing 'on time'. If I didn't do stuff on time, I wouldn't have a business (that simple).

On Time is where it's at; it's what will give you that competitive edge. Because who wants to deal with clients, suppliers or team members who don't deliver on time?

You may read this and think this is such damn common sense; it's hardly a business revelation. And you'd be right (but I still see people getting it wrong).

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Food For Thought

Whole Foods Market are the US retailer behind London's 'Fresh & Wild' organic/wholefood stores and last year they opened a huge food emporium - on 3 floors - in London's High St Ken, in the old Barkers building. It's an impressive store full of fresh food and produce with a really comprehensive offering. Its coffee shop was a great place to hang out today on a rainy Sunday morning. Although Whole Foods are a huge organisation with 270 stores in North America and the UK, the retailer has some original initiatives that UK supermarkets could learn a thing or two from. A couple of examples.

First, the Kensington store has in-store artists, a team of in-house graphic artists who produce all the store's distinctive signage. There was no sign of them on a Sunday morning but they hang out in a glass walled office where you can see them do their stuff (never seen sight of this concept before).

Second, they have a noticeboard for 'Sharing Ideas', where customers can post enquiries or complaints that store management then scribble responses to, for all to see.. The kind of exchanges that would normally remain in the in-boxes or in-trays of customer service personnel, but here displayed on the wall. Despite their size, they are trying to keep things personal.

Good simple ideas to give us all food for thought; whatever our business.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Leap Takeaway #3: ‘Sell’ Is Not An Expletive

Next on the menu of the Leap Takeaways is that critical ingredient in every business – Sales. Success might be thinking about sales differently; sales is not about hawking around a powerpoint presentation or cold-calling - it’s about building relationships and making connections.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

A Product That Works

Sometimes to be a success you don’t need to have a product that’s going to win technology awards or gain acclaim for great design; you just need a product that works.

And that’s the success story of the Asus Eee PC. It’s cheap, light and - it works. It’s a small laptop with a proper keyboard. I’ve had mine for a few months now and love it. I joke it’s a Fisher-Price laptop, indeed it was developed for kids - now it’s being used by business people everywhere because of its portability, functionality and robustness (and price point). An iPhone or Google phone it certainly isn’t.
But I love its simplicity.

And it still gets a ‘wow’ comments from people who haven't seen one yet. A guy came up to me in the coffee shop the other morning to admire and ask questions. Then right afterwards I was sitting outside checking emails when I saw Jennifer who I recently met and interviewed for the ‘Pioneering Spirit’ video (I love it when the world gets smaller by bumping into someone in a huge city ... just like that). She liked the laptop so much she went out and bought one.

It may not be the smartest looking piece of kit but it does what it needs to – it works!