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....