Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Forget The Planning. Focus On Doing.

I’ve spent much of my career busting myths about the way things *should* be in life and business. In most organisations there’s a lot of effort devoted to the tradition of business planning. Five year plans, forecasts, projections. But now more than ever, I don’t see the point of long term planning. Sure, I understand the rationale: the importance of investor and shareholder accountability and of measuring performance. But it seems so academic in an ever changing world: better to be pragmatic and reactive in a world where things change in a flash.

It’s a subject that I hope to be talking about at SXSW 2010 with David Sloly – ‘How To Unplan Your Business’. I also talked to Gary Vaynerchuk about it on his recent trip to London (video here, go to 08:11):

"A 5 year plan is impossible in a world where what 5 years represents is so different than it used to”.

And then this week Stefan Stern in the FT talked about ‘The Death Of The Five Year Plan’:

“ are unpredictable. The economic outlook is uncertain. The world has changed. If old-style strategy formulation is not exactly dead, then it is hardly in the best of health”.

So I say forget long plans and just focus on DO-ING. Put the damn idea or start-up or new product into the market and test and tweak as you go. Forget projections about what it’s going to make in Year 2, who knows until you get started? Who knows how market forces will change, how technology will change the game?

Let’s remember how technology has changed business lifecycles. I can launch a web business in a couple of hours. I can shoot a video on my Flip and post it up straight away. Here’s another example of the game-change. On Monday evening the songwriter Dave Stewart said let’s write a song on Twitter. Followers had just five minutes to write the lyrics and 24 hours later, the results are up = a demo of the song ‘Love Tower’ (featuring my lyrics). And it’s good! Download it here.

So quit the big planning and the big plans and just GET DO-ING.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Change Your Scenery

A familiar story.

Burning the midnight oil trying to come up with that idea for your presentation. Trying to devise that wow strapline for your website. Working out the killer application for your new product.

And where do too many of us attempt these tasks? At the office, our desks at home, in board rooms.

Try changing your scenery. To a coffeeshop, a train carriage, the beach, a park bench.

You'll be amazed what a change in scenery can do, you just have to get out of the office.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Crushing It With Gary Vaynerchuk

Here’s the second part (well actually it was shot first) of my brand new video interview with Gary Vaynerchuk that I recorded on the M4 from Heathrow to Kensington when Gary was in London earlier this month.

In the video I chat to Gary about his new book ‘Crush It! Why Now Is The Time To Cash In On Your Passion’ – he talks about how social media has put power into the hands of the individual and covers:

- the importance of publishing ‘old school’ and how he doesn’t get ‘romance by a platform’. ‘I don’t care if it’s smoke signals or a laptop’.
- how social media has changed the game, gatekeepers have lost their power and now everyone is in play.
- it’s all about niches; ‘everyone’s passion is more narrow than they think’.
- the fact that you can still crush it if you’re quiet; you don't have to be loud like Gary.

if the video is not displaying properly above, you can see it on YouTube here

Friday, 16 October 2009

Jose and The Spicy Factor

I talk a lot in my business about the importance of having a point of difference in the marketplace. Whether you’re a freelancer, a corporate exec, a micro-business, an indie band or even a stand-up comedian, you have to work out how are you different from the competition?

Someone who shares that philosophy is Jose Castillo. Jose is based in Tennessee and I met him on his trip to London this week. Jose is a true juggler: he writes about new media, speaks to groups and conferences in the US and Europe, and consults with Fortune 500 companies and start-ups on the convergence of technology, marketing, and ideas. With his wife he also runs a co-working space in his native Johnson City.

What unites everything that Jose does? What he has billed the ‘spicy factor’. Through all his projects Jose strives to invest that wow factor clients are looking for: it’s about creating spicy projects. Recent spicy projects include pumping up 160,000 fans at the hottest race in NASCAR, leading panels on User Generated Content in Silicon Valley, starting up a company focused on generating new media business concepts, and launching a monthly Geek Dinner.

Here’s a 5 minute video I recorded with Jose on Floral Street, Covent Garden.

If the video doesn’t display properly above, you can see it on YouTube here

Friday, 9 October 2009

Me and Gary V: Part 1

Last Friday Gary Vaynerchuk and I took a ride from Heathrow to central London together. Gary had come to London from Hawaii (via LA) to speak at the Future Of Web Apps Conference. Having interviewed Gary in Paris last year (download the video free on iTunes here) and connected again in Texas at SXSW it was great to welcome him to London. I shot two videos with him; one about his new book ‘Crush It’ that I will post on October 20th and this one below.

For anyone who doesn’t know who ‘Gary V’ is, he’s the New York based wine entrepreneur who’s reinvented himself as a social media star. Having made his name presenting the daily wine tasting video blog Wine Library TV , Gary became an expert on social media and web 2.0 speaking at conferences around the world. His first book ‘Crush It: Why Now Is The Time To Cash In On Your Passion’ is out this month (part of a $1m multi-book deal), he now runs a consulting business Vaynermedia and has recently launched a wine club website and a food retail website He’s a true juggler and he also has about 850,000 more followers on Twitter than me.

In the video Gary talks about:
- the importance of change in his life and business.
- his ‘layer cake’ notion where he juggles a lot of different business interests.
- how social media is changing the agenda for businesses; they can’t dictate to people anymore.
- staying flexible in business and the impossibility of the five year plan.

*If the video is not displaying correctly, you can watch it on YOU TUBE here

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Stamp Out Workplace Apathy!

I walked past a newly opened clothes shop yesterday morning and saw a woman sitting at the counter. She was looking down, deeply engrossed in reading a book (and nothing wrong with reading a book, but there’s a time and a place).

But I couldn’t help thinking - hasn’t she got better things to do? Tidying up the stock. Changing the window display. Writing emails to customers. Coming up with ideas to fill that shop. Something proactive? Even sweeping the floor?

Okay so maybe she has a bad boss or no one to mentor her (or maybe she is the boss). But there’s no excuse, it’s about using your initiative. Wherever you work – and especially in a competitive job market - I can’t believe someone has ‘nothing to do’, there’s always stacks of things that you *could* be doing, whatever level you’re at in an organisation.

Success – and survival - in the workplace in 2009 is about ‘upping your ante’ to be better than the next guy, so whether you’re working in a business or an employer yourself, take the initiative and beat apathy.

Monday, 5 October 2009

A Brand Juggle: From Ice Cream To Radio

I’m doing some ad hoc videos with people who interest me; those who have a good story to tell behind their business or career, people who juggle plurality in their working lives or who have reinvented themselves through their career. The first one is Giles Pearman.

Giles is Group Director Of Marketing at Global Radio, the UK’s largest commercial radio group that owns stations like Classic FM, Capital FM, XFM and Heart.

I met up with Giles last week in London’s Green Park to find out how he juggles his multiple brand portfolio and to discover how his passion drives all he does.

In the video interview you’ll hear:
- how he made the career transition from marketing ice cream to radio.
- the importance of loving the brands he works on to go the extra mile.
- how he has to be ‘jack of all trades’ to understand the different touch points for the consumer.
- How marketing is understanding who your target audience is and super serving them.
- The importance of instinct and keeping his feet on the ground to ensure he preserves a real-life take on things.

Here’s the interview below (with Buckingham Palace and a few random pigeons in the background)*

*if you can’t see the video above, it’s on YouTube here