Friday, 30 January 2009

It's Juggle Time...!

Fanfare: the book is out in the UK today!

You can order it on here

You can order it on here

and it's available on the Borders, Waterstones etc websites and will be in all good bookshops (as they say) soon. If you're in the States you'll have to wait til March to see it in the bookstores.

And you can read the first 16 pages here.

Thanks all..

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Juggle Tapes #1: Gary Vaynerchuk

Finally - finally! - I am pleased to launch my video series to accompany the new book 'Juggle!'.

‘The Juggle Tapes’ is a series of videos interviewing people in business who have been successful juggling different disciplines and roles in their working lives. They explores how entrepreneurs put passion at the heart of what they do, to go beyond a job title to ensure their work identity reflects their personality. Future episodes include Kevin Roberts, Martha Lane Fox and Mike Southon. These videos will inspire you and get you thinking!

The first interview is with Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary Vaynerchuk is co-owner and Director of Operations at Wine Library, a $50m wine retail business. He presents Wine Library TV, a daily wine-tasting video blog that has made him into an Internet celebrity with various appearances on US television. More recently, Gary has become known for his talents outside the wine world as a commentator on entrepreneurship, Web 2.0 and social networking. I went to Paris to interview Gary whilst he was there to speak at Le Web conference.

These videos will also be available as a podcast at iTunes music store. The release schedule for the next 3 is as follows:

Kevin Roberts, Worldwide CEO, Saatchi & Saatchi - 6th February

Martha Lane Fox, entrepreneur - 13th February

Mike Southon Financial Times columnist and entrepreneur - 20th February

Anyway enough of all that, here's me and Gary:

44 Seconds on Juggle

Here's a video trailer for the new book (out tomorrow!)

Preview 'Juggle!'

My publishers have just posted a preview of my new book 'Juggle! Rethink Work Reclaim Your Life' here where you can get a free download of the first chapter

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

'What Do You Do?'

( A post from the 19:30 train home...)

One of my meetings today asked me what I'm working on in right now.

Like that dinner party question 'What do you do?' I struggle with a one word answer.

So I told him what I had done yesterday:

*deep breath* 'I'm advising a TV company on sales and marketing; devising marketing ideas for a radio technology client; working up a radio idea for a PR company; writing copy for an engineering client; producing a series of videos; developing ideas for a property business; promoting my new book 'Juggle'; mentoring a woman who has just lost her job; co-authoring an e-course in work survival tips; promoting myself as a TV expert; coming up with ideas to promote my children's book; taking 10 minutes out to read my son a bedtime story; whilst tweeting and blogging about all this'.

Today? Today was another story.

Patience will be rewarded

If there is anyone out there who has ordered 'Juggle' on Amazon, you may have received an email saying the delivery date has been moved to February (for UK orders). You may have even received an email saying Amazon are having trouble obtaining the item and do you want to cancel (that's the email I got!).

The book is on its way: its official publication date is Friday 30th January for the UK; 30th March for the USA. Amazon UK orders will start being fulfilled next week, it will be in all bookshops in a week or two.

Thanks for the patience...

Monday, 26 January 2009

It's All About Ideas...

I do a lot of different things in running my business OHM (and in writing books) but one thing that unites everything is IDEAS: they are the lifeblood of my own business and what I offer clients.

As ever I have had a varied day today juggling lots of different stuff, a brainstorm for a new product development for one client; a meeting with a contact who may turn into a client in a couple of months time. So it’s been a day rich in ideas.

Lots of people ask me about being good at ideas. And this is what I know.

The best ideas are the ones you have instinctively.
The best ones are when you walk out of the client office, you’re buzzing with thoughts you need to scribble down as soon as you get to the car, taxi, tube, coffee shop. Those ones are worth a lot.
Sure you can brainstorm, get your team around the table and develop them, but I bet the best ones are the ones you have just like that!

Watch my video brain dump on ideas here.

(this video doesn't have the production values of my usual ones. No crew. No Script. No genius editing. Just me talking to a camcorder after a meeting this morning)

'Juggle!' previewed at Financial Times Bookshop

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Improving your chances of landing that next job

I have contributed to a piece in today's Guardian 'More Skill Than Luck' about how to improve your chances of landing your next job. The feature identifies 7 mantras of a highly effective job seeker:
  1. Think positively

  2. Be pro-active

  3. Use your friends and family for contacts

  4. Approach employers speculatively

  5. Be decisive

  6. Do more

  7. Embrace the digital age

Some of this is obvious stuff, but check it out for tips to make you really stand out in the job market.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

If you want to have some inspiring ideas, go get inspired yourself

For centuries, artists have travelled the world in search of new landscapes and vistas for inspiration. Those journeys and fresh perspectives have fuelled great results. So why not apply the artists’ approach to business executives?

Consider the value of mini breaks and timeouts as ‘Inspiration Jaunts’; as an investment in both your intellectual capital and well being. I've always realised the value of
inspiration jaunts to stimulate and drive me.

Time off or time out is not just about relaxing or being on holiday. It’s a recharge of your battery and a necessary mental work-out.

Think of the value of holidays in getting that fresh perspective. Then try and create mini holidays in your life that stimulate the brain and offer well being, inspiration or stimulation. Lie in the park on a sunny day at lunchtime, go on a journey. If it’s not feasible to take a holiday, take an afternoon off or a long weekend and see the benefits. 24 hours could be as valuable as one week.

These Inspiration Jaunts provide great value. Stuff like:
- New experiences and new places to inspire.
- Isolation to focus on something.
- Liberation from the 9-5.
- It can feel like ‘a treat’.
- Or just some relaxation.

I take short breaks to inspire a project, a new venture or my writing. They are my oxygen for fuelling my next idea. I always find journeys so productive for ideas generation. That first beer on a flight or the first coffee on Eurostar gets me fired up to be really productive in my notepad or laptop. It can be tough craving out that time amongst other projects to release the time; but it’s always worth it. It always pays off.

To start writing ‘Juggle!’, I created an Inspiration Jaunt to the South Of France. Just three days, but the journey, the isolation, the buzz, the different environment, away from emails and distractions really fired me up. With the focus of that trip, the themes for the book came together. In the sunshine, at a café I scribbled my ideas.

A friend called to ask how ‘my holiday’ was going. ‘I’m not on holiday’ I replied. But then I didn’t look like I was at work either (Since I ‘am my office’, I’d taken it with me anyway). I was working and playing together, seamlessly. I might have been sitting there with a glass of wine in the sunshine, but it's an investment in my intellectual capital, in my next big idea. And that’s a bloody important investment. The pressure to deliver helped me get results; to return from the Inspiration Jaunt with an empty notepad was just not an option.

Good ideas are at the heart of every successful business. So you need to be a good ideas-person. Be aware of what stimulates and inspires you. You're unlikely to have good ideas working at your desk, so get out there. You need to play, to reflect, to stand back from the day to day. So go to the pub, go the park, go on a trip somewhere.

When I interviewed
Kevin Roberts for the book he reminded me that ‘inspiration out is a big result of inspiration in’ (i.e. you want to have some inspiring ideas? Go get inspired!) So like me, he’s a big fan of taking random trips away. Whether you have a big deal to consider, a big idea to devise or you just need a recharge, take an Inspiration Jaunt.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Forget Shortcuts

I've always been cynical about books or experts prescribing guaranteed ‘formulas for success’ in business, because it is rarely that simple (and there is no such thing as a guarantee), but I have realised that success often comes down to some fairly simple principles.

With Barack Obama’s inauguration tomorrow I think we can all learn a lot from his story both in business and life. About how anything is possible if you are focused on a goal, if you are passionate about what you do. That is a powerful inspiration.

But I think there is another lesson here - success is an option for everyone BUT it can’t be achieved overnight, there are rarely any shortcuts.

Sure, lucky breaks, great timing and support are all going to contribute to reaching goals, but if you want results you have to make the right investment in buckets of hard work. That philosophy is at the core of 'Juggle'; I always thought that success was about doing more, not doing less. It’s about what I call 'hard graft'. Whether you believe in Malcolm Gladwell's theory of 10,000 hours to be good at something or Gary Vaynerchuk's belief in working long hours and being a hustler, the result is the same.

To be a success and do loads of stuff you have to put in the hours. That simple.

Jeffrey Kalmikoff had a blog post on this a few days ago; that in business you need to work out whether you are a ‘Hustler’ or a ‘Lifestyler’. Are you out there, putting the hours in, hustling or are you trying to achieve success with as little effort as possible?

It's like what I felt about Obama's Shoes - if you want to get elected President, you have to pound the streets.

That’s been my story. Yes, I had some lucky breaks along the way. I wanted to work in radio, so I volunteered for some work experience and then got some on-air opportunities. At college I wanted to get involved in the Student Union so I sat through countless meetings and did a stack of reading before I stood for office. I wanted to work in TV and paid my dues as a runner, photocopying scripts and making tea. It’s the same with my recent development into writing. If you want to get published as a writer, you have to write lots and you have to persevere. If you want to succeed in running your own business, you have to put the hours in, you have to put in 150% dedication.

And the point about ‘Juggle’ is about being successful not by doing less, but actually doing more, working hard, with your passions guiding all you do.

So forget shortcuts and be prepared for some long hours...

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Be An ‘Accidental Success’ – The Importance Of The Non-Plan

For my new book ‘Juggle! Rethink Work, Reclaim Your Life’ I spoke to a number of jugglers about their guiding principles in life and business.

And their feedback confirms my own approach that has shaped my career and business:

The plan is – there is no plan.

Sure, part of being a Juggler is being an architect: designing your work life around your passions and skills. But it’s not having a grand strategic plan; more a flexible one that you are prepared to tear-up when things need reinventing (and they will need re-inventing). So you have to be flexible.

Andy Bird is Chairman of Walt Disney International. He works with Disney's business unit leaders around the world, tasked with coordinating and overseeing growth opportunities for the company. Andy describes himself as an ‘accidental executive’; he never had a big plan, but advocates staying open-minded about opportunities:

‘I don't have a game plan. I just want to do whatever I am asked to, do the best that I can, and I have got to have fun. If I don’t have fun I have learned there is no point in doing it’ [interview with Raymond Snoddy, ‘The Independent’ 19 December 2005]

Andy’s philosophy makes a lot of sense and it’s obviously paid off as he’s climbed to dizzy heights at the world’s biggest entertainment corporation. So you have to keep it loose and stay open minded.

One of my featured jugglers Roxanne Darling feels she has made up her career as she went along but is also a firm believer in the importance of instinct:

‘In hindsight, it sure feels like there have been some guiding forces in my life to make sense of the circuitous paths I have willingly taken. I do believe that when there is a strong desire for something, and it keeps showing up, then I am safe to explore it even though its value to me or relevance might not be apparent for many years’.

So whilst it’s important to have goals and objectives; a fixed strategy isn’t always the best route for your career or business development. After all, look what happens when an economic recession comes along; your plan may crumble and you have to re-invent it anyway.

Success evolves, it’s organic, un-known. Survival relies on that flexibility. So you can’t build a five year plan on where you or your business is going to be; you need to see what happens, be ready to be enterprising and be ready to juggle. Another featured juggler Mike Southon also feels his career has been ‘by accident’ rather than part of a plan; success has been the result of being at the right place at the right time, sometimes doing things consciously, other times subconsciously.

And the most important tool to navigate you through your Non-Plan?

- Instinct.

Go with your instinct every time and strive to be an ‘Accidental Success’. As Gary Vaynerchuk told me:

I made it up. I only listen to my gut feelings and my gut talks to me often’

Sunday, 11 January 2009

'Why I Love Obama's Shoes'

There’s some great photo journalism in today’s Observer newspaper; photographs of Barack Obama by Callie Shell, who followed him through the election campaign.

The photograph above was taken by Callie Shell on March 1st last year and I love it.

It says so much. But it also says something very simple to me:


(And that means you might wear your shoes out a few times pounding the streets)

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Think Juggle: Kevin Roberts' Big Question

We live in crazy times. And these times call for Jugglers.

If you challenge the old assumptions of work, this is a world where you can be defined by who you really are rather than by a single job title. There’s no rules to career development – you can carve out a unique role wrapping up your passions and interests.

You can factor in to your Juggle life everything that drives, inspires and stimulates you. Whether that be people, places, goals, mindsets or whatever.

When you do that and get paid for it, life feels good. A life where you segue from play to work and back again. Work is not drudgery, work becomes you.

Forget labels and corporate status; success is now down to the right attitude and those all important juggling skills. You only live once. If you hate your job, change your relationship with work; it doesn’t have to be a case of all or nothing. View a multi-dimensional work life as a positive force, as laying some great foundation stones for a new life that can give you variety, stimulation, flexibility and success. Just think: what an amazing opportunity…

Juggling is being your own business strategist whilst choosing to stay in control of your own destiny. You can embrace a new mindset to change your life. Rather than working harder, it’s about working smarter, doing what you love and what you are good at. It’s not a question of reclaiming time; but more a case of reclaiming your life.

And the bottom line is about asking yourself an important question, as Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi outlined to me:

‘It all starts with my long held belief that work/life balance is an outdated concept. Oprah Winfrey has the right approach, ‘Live your best life every day’. So when asked, as I was recently by Fortune about work/life balance, it's simply the wrong question. The right question is work/life integration. How do you integrate work, family, fun, community, and social commitment into one passionate day, week, month, year, life?
So think about it, and Think 'Juggle'....

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Choose The Juggle Route for 2009

I’ve been a Juggler all my working life. I never actually did master chucking loads of balls in the air, but from the age of 17 when I mixed school studies, a Saturday job and working in a radio station, right through my career, I’ve always strived to follow my heart and do more than one thing.

Some parts of that last 20 years career stand out more than others. Interviewing Billy Bragg when I was 17, protecting Prince Charles by standing between him and a lighting tripod, interviewing Christian Slater, making tea for Sister Sledge, shaking hands with Tony Blair and Stevie Wonder (not at the same time), being an escort to Mr. Blobby, working backstage at The MTV Europe Music Awards. From photocopying scripts to attending board meetings I’ve done a lot. And I love that diversity.

That ‘bunch of weirdness’ is who I am, the anathema of a carefully crafted career plan. It’s not just been about earning a living, but having fun and living my dreams. That’s in contrast to the career routes that our parents’ generation took.

In my last proper job I carved out a unique role as corporate Juggler with a ‘make it up as you go along’ portfolio. I was managing director of one division, set up an operation at a new site, organised the company away day, managed joint venture projects, and edited the company newsletter. All at the same time. Going self-employed enabled me to re-invent myself free of a single job title, instead defined by a handful. But proof that whether you work for a big corporation, a small business or are self employed, you can still choose to be a Juggler.

In the late 1980s as a teenager, I remember anticipating my working life with some trepidation. I was worried that entering the world of work would mean I’d have to wear a suit and leave my personality behind. Thank goodness it was not like that; work is changing and it’s not about going to a flash office in a flash suit anymore. But lots of myths still prevail when it comes to work and business. Myths about how you should work, how productivity is measured and how you develop your career.

But it’s time to knock them down, to challenge some assumptions and change your thinking. There are no set rules for how you should operate in business; it’s about being authentic to your own talents and personal style, not conforming to someone else’s ideas.

So if you are looking for a fresh direction or a change in your working life in 2009, where authenticity and passion are at the heart of what you do; where you can mix up your passions and talents in a multi-dimensional worklife, then become a Juggler!

Saturday, 3 January 2009