Thursday, 26 February 2009

The Gospel According To Harry Drnec

This week’s Juggle Tapes interview sees me in conversation with Harry Drnec. Harry is a world-renowned marketing specialist. Born in Chicago, he served as a US Air Force pilot in Vietnam and started his marketing career as Brand Manager at Anheuser Busch and then Marketing Director of Gallo Wines. He bought Maison Caurette, a London drinks distributor where he made brands like Sol Beer, Becks and Snapple famous in the UK. As CEO of Red Bull UK, he built a company that was losing money into a market leader. He is now Chairman of a carbonated drinks company; he’s consulting for Nissan in India; he’s on the board of a technology startup and has a farm in Suffolk that raises rare breed cattle and pigs.

In the interview Harry talks about the opportunities and challenges of going from a business life focused on just one thing to having a portfolio of business interests.

- Harry on Change: he talks about his reluctance to work in the same environment and why he left secure jobs to take a risk and try new things.

- Harry on Sol Beer: how he managed to create such a success with Sol Beer and how ‘the consumer is the only game in town’.

- Harry on Branding: the different between brands and products and that ‘a product must have differentiating qualities’ to be a success.

- Harry on PR, ‘if you have to talk about yourself in marketing a) you’re boring and b) your yesterday’s news’

- Harry on Red Bull; a product that when it started out, ‘no-one knew that they needed it’.

- Harry on Juggling: ‘the most difficult thing is balancing time and make sure you are doing justice to each' of his business interests

- Harry on Life Beyond Drinks: ‘just because I have been in drinks all my life doesn’t mean I can’t have a good business feeling for cars’

Harry on Recessions: ‘recessions are when big ideas are best’

- Harry on Success: ‘you can’t get ahead by following what other people have done’

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

'My Tools Of The Trade'

Another productive afternoon's brainstorming...

Introducing David Sloly

Next week's Juggle Tapes interview (if we can get it edited in time) is with digital guru David Sloly. David is Creative Director and Head of Digital at Mason Zimbler in Bristol and we recorded the video by Clifton Gorge. David's a real evangelist for web 2.0 and has a great mashed-up cv that includes dj'ing, writing books, producing Sony-award winning radio shows, producing TV shows, prototyping a laptop stand and now psychotherapy. Lots to juggle. Watch out for that next week.

If you're struggling with the answer, turn it upside down

Sometimes, the solution to a problem or a challenge is easier than you think.

To the people at First Great Western trains who helpfully put power sockets at tables throughout the train. If you installed the power socket UPSIDE DOWN then I could have recharged my laptop. Alas, I couldn't so I went to the bar, had a G&T, put on the ipod and wrote some notes for a presentation instead...

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Ian in Bristol

Monday, 23 February 2009

Bust Your Stress!

I’m going to start blogging some excerpts from my book. I thought this one was apt for a busy Monday; how to bust your stress….

Do you ever have one of those days when you wake up and think ‘how on earth am I going to get everything done?’ When you feel stressed, you know you have too much going on and lack the clarity to survive the chaos?

In my experience, there are two types of stress: good and bad. Stress when your life is rocking and rolling, you are juggling projects and play, busy and buzzy but life feels good. It’s mad, but you feel on top of it. At the end of a busy day you feel stimulated by everything.

Then there’s the other stress. That feeling in the pit of your stomach when you know you are under too much pressure. When that pressure feels unsustainable. And then – for the sake of your health and well being – you know you have to do something. You need to heed the warning signs, temporarily allow yourself to drop a few of the balls, to focus on the real priorities.

Remind yourself that some of the stuff that gets chucked your way can just wait; don’t drown in a sea of chaos. Sometimes you need to be tunnel-visioned to forget the 34 things on the to-do list and just worry about the 3 or 4 that have to get done before you go home tonight. Focus your energies there and you’ll have a more productive working day.

I looked at my schedule a few days ahead of a holiday. And I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to do everything in time. I asked myself 'are all these meetings critical now?’ Those that weren't, I cancelled. I’d created a false sense of chaos by putting too many meetings in at a time when I needed meeting-free days.

It’s easy to get in a panic. Don’t get in a cycle where you’re stressed about being stressed! I know this guy who’s always running around stressed; I feel stressed just watching him. When you break down his worries, they’re hardly tangible. So whatever you do, don't create your own stress, by getting in a flap.

Here’s a Stress-Busting checklist to deal with those panic moments:

1. Introduce a buffer to prevent you from getting too-stressed out. Remove – or lessen – the pressure on your week, cancel that social engagement, dump your weekend plans to just chill and you can manage your stress levels.
2. Break the projects down to its basics. Consider what’s important, what’s not important and formulate a plan to get through the next 24 hours or whatever. And that will give you clarity and help you juggle.
3. Put things in perspective. Ask yourself, 'if this doesn't happen now, what's the worst thing that can happen?'
4. If you are suffering to-do list anxiety, set your alarm for 5am one day or spend a Saturday morning ploughing through actions and ticking them off with no interruptions. Its remarkable how much you can get done and also you can then approach Monday morning with clarity and a sense of being on top of stuff.

And if you are still struggling with everything and it’s all getting too much, then:


> PAUSE (that’s the important bit)

> REVIEW the to-do list

> SHOUT ‘Enough’ and raise the drawbridge!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Borough Market

Saturday, 21 February 2009

I hate queues but...

I hate to wait in line, but I'll always be happy to wait for the best coffee in London.

Monmouth Coffee Shop, Borough Market, Saturday 21st February

Thursday, 19 February 2009

How Mike Southon juggles beermats, a band and a column in the FT

Today’s Juggle Tapes interview is with Mike Southon. Mike is a business speaker and a leading authority on entrepreneurship and sales. He is an experienced entrepreneur with a weekly column in the weekend Financial Times. He’s founder of the Beermat Entrepreneur business network and has co-authored several bestselling books, including ‘The Beermat Entrepreneur’. He also plays in a band Mike Fabgere.

Mike talks about the philosophies at the heart of his success:

- How being a successful juggler is about being part of a team;
- How we manages his different identities;
- His belief about reinventing what you do every seven years .


Brand Obama

From The March issue of Fast Company magazine:

'The year's most successful startup took a skinny kid with a funny name and turned him into the most powerful new ..brand in a generation'

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Index Trivia

It’s fascinating looking through the index of my new book. It was produced by a professional indexer so it’s quite an eye opener to see what random words and themes in my book were seen fit to index.

I had to scratch my head with a few of these to remember why they are in.

Here’s some odd ones:

James, Sid (p62)
Jellies (p164-165)

Then a couple of companies get a mention:

Innocent Drinks (p46)
Spinvox (p111)

And then of course, the real important bit in any business

Coffee Shops (p121)

And then the growing importance of the T word:

Twitter (p45, 92, 101)

Monday, 16 February 2009

JUGGLE TAKEAWAY #1 Ask Yourself: 'Where Is The Value In What You Are Doing' (right now)

With lots to do, one of your biggest challenges in juggling is not so much what to do, but more importantly what NOT to do. Choose to spend time on ‘the wrong stuff’ and you’ll be wasting your time.

How can you ensure you focus on the Right Stuff? Apply value criteria in calculating what is a priority. Is the boss or client screaming for something? Is there a courier waiting outside for it? For everyday task prioritisation and ‘Do I do this now?’ stuff, you need to constantly ask this question:

‘What or where is the value in what I am doing. Right now?’

Apply that question to dealing with that email, browsing that website, attending that meeting, seeing that supplier. You have to be ruthless with your time (and in ‘play’ too). That doesn’t mean rule out everything else; it just means make sure you know there’s value in all you do. You can still take that ten minutes to browse over a coffee or to take half an hour to go for that run. Because both of those have value (hey, take ten minutes for a power nap, so long as you benefit from it!).

Ditto with tasks, meetings and projects. Value may not always be strictly about the bottom line, but other benefits. You have so many opportunities to evaluate, you have to – and in a flash – decide and prioritise. You have to make choices constantly.

We are all aware of the stuff that can take over our day. The stuff we don’t really need to, but get sucked into it. You need to try and eliminate distraction.

Stuff like random web surfing, browsing Facebook aimlessly, watching that ‘Father Ted’ clip on YouTube, anything that will give you cause to procrastinate what you are meant to be doing.

The other day I decided I needed some new office furniture. I can’t remember what prompted me to do it there and then but I drove to an out of town store, found nothing. Wasted time. Drove to another store. And then I got frustrated, at 40 minutes in, and then 90 minutes in. How did I get sucked into this? What was I thinking? All that time invested and nothing back. I should’ve just looked online or thought about where I wanted to go before I started.

Asking the ‘where is the value?’ question is another way of looking at the much talked about 80/20 rule; the principle that 20% of your efforts is responsible for 80% of your success. It’s maximising that 20% and reducing wastage.

Also try asking yourself, ‘is what I am doing now making a contribution to what I am all about’? Sitting in this meeting, hanging out with this team, delivering this project, making this phone call, is this part of my DNA, is this who I am? And if you feel, 'this isn't me?' then act on it. Get out.

Use these criteria to make sure what you’re doing now has a pay-off. That pay-off might not be today, might not be next week, but somewhere, where is the Return On Investment? It doesn’t have to just be financial; it might be stimulation or fulfilment.

If there’s no return, dump what you’re doing.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Me & Business Books

Although I have had a long-interest in all things businessy, I've sometimes been a bit cynical about many of the titles that take up shelf space in a business section. Evangelical titles and cheesy covers with promises of how to make a million or be a super success. Cynical because I don't think you can 'learn' business like that. But there are some business writers that I have always had time for, two of whom I discovered in the late 80s while at college -Tom Peters and Charles Handy. Neither of these business gurus spoke in a cheesy language, their style was down to earth and the simplicity of their messages really struck a chord with me. Peters especially became a great source of inspiration throughout my early days in junior management when I was literally handed a directorship with zero guidance or mentoring. Tom Peters filled that vacuum. I was so fired up by reading his 'Liberation Management' I bought a copy at Waterstone's and presented it to my boss, I just wanted to share the Tom Peters gospel with someone. I stuck a post-it on the front cover signposting 2 case studies that had really spoken to me. Unfortunately my passion fell on deaf ears and he never acknowledged the gift; I think he always misread my intentions and thought I was telling him to polish his own management skills (I wasn't).

When I started working for myself I enjoyed Peters' series 'Reinventing Work': I loved the style and format of those little hardback books. I picked up the first in Borders in Palo Alto on an inspiration trip to California when - paradoxically - I was in the book store researching titles in pursuit of writing my own business book, then billed 'The Self Sufficient Entrepreneur'. Reading that first one on the 'plane back to London it helped give me the confidence to shake things up and reposition my business based on me. It was the start of a journey, and I don't just mean the flight. I forgot the idea of the book and reinvigorated my own business.

And then last year suddenly - and strangely - my own book appeared on in the business section of Waterstone's and Borders. My first book 'Leap!' was never meant to be a great work of intellect or a big idea; it was very much my own story, written like a blog but it helped readers change their own working lives giving them the confidence to take the leap to work for themselves. I kind of felt it was like the book 'The Best Friend's Guide to Pregnancy' that I gave my wife when she was pregnant with our first child, not a how-to guide, but a book offering you advice, tips and inspiration. And now my second book 'Juggle!' is somewhere between a warehouse and book stores in the UK.

So as I look back on my relationship with business books it's great to have a companion to review some of the classics, remind myself about the key messages of past reads, see what I've missed and identify some new books for my must-read list. 'The 100 Best Business Books Of All Time' by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten segments their selection in different genre categories offering the reader 'what they say, why they matter and how they can help you' in short, punchy chapters. Each chapter is a really good tease, communicating the essence of each book and some key points. Not only have they created a really useful guide, but they've also created a great looking book in design and layout (something that is really important and often neglected). It feels good to read. I've only just started flicking through it but already it's made me want to pick up a Guy Kawasaki book.

There's a really good website for the book at

I'll end with a quote from Charles Handy that Jack Covert reminded me about in his review of 'The Age of Unreason'. As ever, Handy was formulating ideas ahead of his time. Here's his take on the changing landscape of work (published back in 1990!):

"Now for the first time in the human experience, we have a chance to shape our work to suit the way we live instead of our lives to fit our work. We would be mad to miss the chance".

Friday, 13 February 2009


I am enormously grateful to Dylan and the team at Change This for publishing my manifesto ‘Living The Juggle Life’ this week. I have had some great feedback and comments both on Twitter and through blogs that have put posts up; it’s great to take my ideas to a wider audience and gratifying to hear they resonate with so many.

Writing my book and banging the Juggle drum as I go about my daily business can be tough, and it’s great to get such instant feedback from people via the PDF Manifesto format. And that’s what Change This is all about, spreading and sharing ideas, what a great idea in itself.

Here’s just a couple of the blogs that have posted about it:

Thursday, 12 February 2009

How Martha Lane Fox Juggles Karaoke with M&S

This week’s ‘Juggle Tapes’ interview is with Martha Lane Fox. Martha is one of the UK’s best known entrepreneurs. She was a real icon of the dot com years having co-founded the travel website She now juggles a business portfolio that includes running a karaoke business Lucky Voice (or as she prefers calling it, ‘a singing business’), being on the boards of Marks & Spencer and Channel 4 as well as having a charity foundation Antigone that provides funding to criminal justice charities. She juggles a portfolio that enables her to dip in and out of different interests, she talks about being excited by change and growth and – like everyone else in the series – says you should ‘only do stuff you are passionate about'.

Here are her thoughts on juggling:

‘You need to be brutal about what am I actually good at and what do I think will add something to the various things I’m doing’

‘it hadn’t been my plan to have a portfolio of interests quite so young … but things happen and you deal with them’

‘(Work and life) is knitted together; we’re lucky to have tools to live life in a more integrated way’

‘One of the great joys of having all these different things to do is that you can juggle them and you don’t really switch off’

‘By being across many different things you bring something a bit more interesting to each thing you’re doing’


Wednesday, 11 February 2009


I am pleased to announce that the influential ideas-sharing US website Change This has selected ‘Juggle!’ as a manifesto published today on their website.

ChangeThis is an online media source that was initially founded by Seth Godin and exists to spread ideas that change minds and improve lives. Each month, they publish between 4-6 manifestos in PDF format. Manifestos, usually between 2,000 and 4,000 words in length, appear in a wide range of topics from business and technology to parenting and politics. They have nearly 20,000 notified readers and subscribers and the site shows a history of over a million and 1/2 downloads. Publishing a Change This manifesto in a downloadable PDF form is an innovative way to get your ideas out to a new audience.

You can see a summary of the 'Live The Juggle Life' manifesto here

And get a 10 page full PDF of the Manifesto here

Why Harry Drnec prefers instinct to market research.

Episode ‘5 in our Juggle Tapes series is with Harry Drnec (ex Red Bull, Sol Beer, Gallo Wines). Going through the archives prior to the intetview I found a cutting from The Independent On Sunday 1992 in the ‘My Biggest Mistake’ column. In this piece Harry tells the story of whilst working for Gallo Wines he made the mistake of listening to research rather than his gut. Click on the article to read it.

“My biggest mistake was in allowing market research to dictate one of my major decisions ... Where I went wrong was in allowing a system to dictate my decision. Now I know why I hate market research. ... If you know your business well enough, you ought to be willing to take a chance on a product that you believe in”.
The Harry Drnec video interview goes live Friday 27th February on Viddler.

Paul Smith on juggling in business

Over lunch I picked up one of my favourite books, Paul Smith's You Can Find Inspiration in Everything - (And If You Can't, Look Again). I picked it up because – surprise, surprise, I was looking for inspiration on a project.

And I was struck by two quotes I found in the book:

"My job is a bit like jugglers that spin plates on poles. Keeping them all spinning perfectly is difficult. There is always one which starts to wobble when you are designing 19 collections a year, have more than 25 shops, 450 staff and are the chairman of the company".

"The reason I’ve been successful is because I’ve just got on and packed boxes, and I know that VAT means Value Added Tax not vodka and tonic. I’ve sold on the shop floor; I’ve typed invoices. At some point I’ve done everything, and I’ve always kept my head above water financially. Nevertheless, I’m extremely nervous about becoming a businessman and not a designer".

Monday, 9 February 2009

Turning ideas into reality

Friday, 6 February 2009

Introducing Harry Drnec

With 4 ‘Juggle Tapes’ in the can, we’ve been filming new ones.

Yesterday, I interviewed Harry Drnec. Harry Drnec is a marketing expert and entrepreneur who’s spent much of his career in the drinks industry. Born in Chicago, he started out as a US Air Force pilot in Vietnam before going to business school and embarking on a career in marketing. After working with brands including Budweiser and Gallo Wines he came to UK and in the ‘90s he made brands like Sol Beer and Snapple famous in the UK. Harry was then CEO of Red Bull UK, where be transformed a company that was losing money into a market leader. He is now Chairman of a carbonated drinks company; he’s involved in a technology start-up; he’s advising a car manufacturer; he’s on the board of several other companies; plus he has a farm in Suffolk that rears rare breed cattle and pigs. He’s a juggler and loving it!

Harry was excellent company and we have recorded some great material on the benefits and challenges of going from a life doing one thing to a life juggling many. It should go live on Viddler in a few weeks.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Why Kevin Roberts Likes To Juggle

In my second in the series of The Juggle Tapes I went to Paris to interview Kevin Roberts. Kevin is CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi - one of the world’s leading creative organisations with a team of over 7,000 people across 83 countries. He is also the inaugural CEO in Residence at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School, he’s Chairman of USA Rugby, and a Director of New Zealand Telecom. He is the author of ‘Lovemarks’ and ‘The Lovemarks Effect’.

In the interview recorded on the roof of the Publicis building in Paris Kevin reveals his secrets for success – it’s all about juggling. These are the principles at the heart of his business success:

« 'Jugglers are living the most liberated, free, entrepreneurial, inspirational lives'

« ‘It’s not about work/life balance; it’s about work/life integration. I don’t want to balance my life, I want to blast it to the max'

« ‘Only do the stuff you enjoy.. just choose the things you are passionate about’

« ‘I tend to run things by imagination, intuition and inspiration’


It’s all about stories

I went to an event at Writtle College in Essex today billed as ‘Grow Your Business In Challenging Times’. Actually it was somewhat wrongly billed as the content was more about the importance of design in business. There were a number of speakers throughout the day but what struck me as I travelled home with a colleague was that the speakers who stood out were those with the interesting stories to tell (stories about their lives, their businesses, their ups and downs). From software entrepreneur Doug Richard and Landscape Architect Liz Lake through to the designer Wayne Hemingway and a young Dutch guy Philip Hess, whose company has designed an innovative umbrella – they all had good stories to tell. Stories that we could relate to, learn lessons from, and stories that entertained.

And whatever else they are about: at their most basic, that’s what my books ‘Leap!’ and ‘Juggle!’ are about; they are about my own story in life and business.

So forget crafting a detailed presentation on business strategy – just tell your story.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Surviving in A Tough Climate

There’s a lot of pessimism out there about business and enterprise but as I have said before I believe there are also a lot of opportunities out there too.
If you can launch a new business or survive building one during a downturn, then that’s a good basis for future business success.

3 ever-so-obvious ingredients for success:

1) Focus on a niche; don’t try and be all things to all people.

2) Keep it lean; keep overhead to an absolute minimum.

3) Work bloody hard.

Watch the video

Monday, 2 February 2009

Think about new benchmarks for success

At the heart of living the Juggle life is the need to redefine success; because when you juggle stuff you do for money with stuff you do for love, it’s not just about the salary anymore.

Traditionally, business success was all about Status and Salary. Even today, a friend of mine who’s job hunting proclaimed that his primary motive is to get a job that ‘earns as much money as possible’.

(Nothing wrong with that) But that’s not mine.

Measuring success is not about those traditional benchmarks. For many of us, it’s less about where you are on the corporate ladder, what position you occupy, what your perceived status is, and what your earnings are. Instead success is more about such indicators such as passion, happiness, fulfilment and lifestyle.

So instead of asking yourself whether you’re going to get a pay-rise this year or get promoted to a position with a bigger salary try introducing some other benchmarks. Ask yourself:

« Is this role something I feel totally passionate about?
« Do I work with a bunch of people who enrich and stimulate me?
« Is my job an extension of my DNA; is the Work Me the Real Me?
« Do I have the autonomy and flexibility I want?
« Do I get to ‘make a difference’ in this organisation?

Don’t be an unhappy overpaid executive (because what’s the point in that?), consider more important benchmarks in your career development.