Thursday, 15 December 2011

Adding Another String To Your Bow



So my third book ‘Zoom!’ is now well and truly published; it’s on the bookshelves in UK stores and the first international orders are now being fulfilled. At the same time, I’m already working on book four, ‘Mash-Up’ (my second collaboration with David Sloly). So it’s that part of the journey where post-it notes are being stuck on the wall, interviews and research conducted, and evenings invested in editing and writing.

Of course, in this world you can’t *just* be an author anymore, you have to be a content creator (as well as a promoter of course). Content creation doesn’t stop with the manuscript, you have to think about the guest posts you’ll write for other sites, the video interviews you’ll grab so you have extra content, the stories you’ll reversion into manifestos and so on.

That multi-platform landscape is now where all marketing is played out and it’s something I evangelise to my business clients, ensuring that their message and content sweats, that they tell their story simultaneously across different platforms.

One of my own goals is to to become platform-agnostic in my business storytelling; to not stop at books, columns, blog posts or videos. So I’ve just started contributing to Monocle magazine’s new online radio channel Monocle 24, interviewing business pioneers for their show ‘The Entrepreneurs’. I’ve loved the quality of Monocle content since they launched the print title; now having contributed to the magazine it’s great to tell entrepreneurial stories for Monocle 24. Sure - this is not going to replace core business as the dominant activity, but it’s a natural by-product, another string to my bow. And on a personal note, conducting interviews takes me back twenty five years to when I started out, working on BBC local radio. One of my first interviews, back in November 1986 when I’d just left school, was with Billy Bragg (I’ve put it on YouTube here). The current series of interviews for Monocle includes Guy Kawasaki, Founder of Moo.com Richard Moross and French Radio London CEO Pascal Grierson. They’ll be featuring on ‘The Entrepreneurs’ show over the coming weeks, check the website here or follow me on Twitter for details on when they go live.

So have a think how the shifting content landscape can enable you to add another string to your bow. What additional talents or products can you offer the market? Have a think about those natural by-products. Can multiple platform opportunities act as a catalyst for your skills going ‘multi-media’ in 2012?

Stop thinking singular; start acting plural!

Friday, 25 November 2011

It's Not The Size Of Your Idea, It's Doing Something With It That Counts

A couple of themes converged for me recently: one) the potential of a side project, what you can do in your spare time if you put your mind to it; two) the importance of making an idea happen fast, rather than leave it gathering dust on a shelf.

So first, the side project. When I talk to some people about opportunities they can explore outside of their day job, they tell me they have no time. No time? Yep, they’re too busy watching TV or whatever. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you want to develop your talents in a new area or try stuff out, you might need to make some sacrifices. Doing it ‘on the side’ is a perfect way of prototyping ideas or even shaping your next career move as Shane Mac remind us in this great little video. So when my wife and I said let’s create a manifesto of thoughts in words and doodles, we gave up TV for a week and created it on the side.

The result is ‘Little Twenty’, a seven page ebook that you can check out by clicking on the image below. We could have sat on that idea for weeks or months but instead we decided to just roll our sleeves up and get on with it, creating it.  The results aren’t perfect; our manifesto is hardly going to deliver a new book deal or change the world but it’s a nudge in the right direction. And we think it’s better doing *something* with an idea than nothing at all. I showed it to a publisher friend who made some smart suggestions about target audiences, niches and giving it more focus. And he’s right - it’s very much a work in progress, there are improvements to be made. But as I advocate in my new book ‘Zoom!’, it’s more important to make your ideas happen, fast, launch in beta, prototype. So, that’s what we’ve done with ‘Little Twenty’. We just put it up there, made it happen. It won’t change the world but it was fun to invest a few evenings creating something. And if it has two views or two thousand, the important part was that we did it. So it’s not how amazing your idea is, it’s doing something with it that counts.


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Zoom! Ideas Surgery

This Saturday I’m running a Zoom! ‘Business Ideas Surgery’ at my local bookshop The Book Inn in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. If you're in London or Essex and you fancy a trip to Leigh, here is some stuff you may want to know:

  • What’s an ideas surgery? It’s a one-to-one session where I will help bring clarity to your business idea, give it some ‘polish’ and add some insight. If you already have a strong idea but are unsure how to make it happen, I’ll suggest some steps and give you some tips.
  • Who’s this aimed at? You may be someone with an existing small business or might want to monetise a hobby or passion as a side project. Maybe you’re a kitchen table entrepreneur or are tinkering away with an idea for a new product in your garden shed. Perhaps you just had a great idea down at the pub or maybe your existing business just needs an injection of new ideas.
  • How much does it cost? Just the price of my book (£12.99). I’m offering a free 15 minute consultation to every customer who buys a copy of ‘Zoom!’ at the Book Inn. If you wanted to buy two or more copies, you get half an hour!
  • Can I pre-book a slot? Sure, send an email to hello (at) iansanders (dot)com or you can just turn up.
  • What is The Book Inn? The Book Inn is a great little independent bookshop. It has a cafe in the back of the shop serving teas, coffees and snacks. It’s opposite a library and in a great area of town with plenty of bars, cafes and shops.
  • Where is The Book Inn? It’s at 49 Broadway West, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, SS9 2BX. There is some free parking (limited to one hour) outside. It’s a 5-10 minute walk from Leigh-on-Sea train station (45 minutes to London Fenchurch St via C2C). Map here http://g.co/maps/tjp49
  • When is it? Saturday 26th November from 10am.
If you want some inspiration for your idea or just a kick-start, come say hello!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Zoom! Has Landed


I've always got great pleasure from taking a random idea and making it happen, and my new book 'Zoom! The Faster Way To Make Your Business Idea Happen' is a great example of that. The book came out in the UK on 1st November and it's great to finally see it on the shelves in the book shops. I've been so busy writing guest posts for other sites, this blog has been a bit quiet.

So if you missed them, here's a selection of what I've been writing:

  1. 'Why Doing Is Better Than Thinking', for Management Today.
  2. 'Making Your Business Idea Boxable' for Virgin.com.
  3. 'From Napkin Idea To Business Start Up' for Worksnug.com.

Friday, 7 October 2011

5 ways to check out 'Zoom!'




My new book 'Zoom! The Faster Way To Make Your Business Idea Happen' is out on November 1st and here are a few resources I have created around it:
  1. There's a free sample chapter you can read, download and share here
  2. I have written a Change This manifesto 'How Unplanning Your Business Can Make It Happen Faster' that is available to read, download and share here
  3. There's a Zoom Guys website with more about the book here
  4. You can buy it on Amazon.co.uk hereAmazon.com and from all your usual online retailers. And in the UK find it in your local book shop.
  5. There's a couple of videos up (with more to come) featured interview extracts from the book. Here's links to: Guy Kawasaki and Leon restaurants' John Vincent with their tips to faster ways to make your business idea happen. And there's a video trailer above.
Thanks!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Using Visual Storytelling To Break Through the Clutter

Like many connections I’ve made over the last few years I can’t pinpoint exactly how or when I became aware of ‘Marketoonist’ Tom Fishburne and his distinctive cartoons. I think we met briefly at a drinks party Todd Sattersten hosted at SXSW 2010; Tom also came along to my Unplan Your Business ‘core conversation’ I co-hosted with David Sloly in Austin that year. Then later that year Google Alerts told me about a Neil Perkin blogpost on Unplanning that referenced Tom and a cartoon he’d created called ‘Waterfall Planning’ off the back of my SXSW talk (that incidentally Neil had stumbled upon serendipitously). So yes, it was all pretty random.

Starting out doodling at Harvard Business School, today Tom sets his stall out simply: to “create cartoon campaigns that help businesses communicate”. I’ve always liked Tom’s work - just as Seth Godin’s blog posts consistently resonate; Tom’s pictures always seem to nail it. He is based in San Francisco but is in the UK this week because he’s just been speaking at The Do Lectures (whose founder David Hieatt, we happen to feature in the Unplan Your Business booklet). 

We met up in London yesterday and grabbed a quick chat on video on the power of visual communication to break through the content clutter. In the video below Tom also has some interesting thoughts on ideas generation: rather than thinking of your capacity to come up with ideas as a well that will one day run dry; think of it as a muscle, that so long as you’ll exercise it - ideas will keep flowing.


Monday, 19 September 2011

ZOOM: Guy Kawasaki on Prototyping

I've created a short series of videos of people featured in my new book "Zoom! The Faster Way To Make Your Business Idea Happen".

In the first video, Guy Kawasaki, author of 'Enlightenment: The Art Of Changing Hearts, Minds & Actions' and former chief evangelist of Apple offers his tips on faster ways to make your business idea happen. Guy explains Step One in making your business happen is to prototype: to get a product that is workable, to ship it and to get customer feedback:
“If you’re going to go into the cookie business, Step One is not to plan out five years of how many chocolate chip cookies you’re going to sell. Step One is to make a batch of cookies and see if people beyond your family will pay for it”.
Here's the video:



Monday, 12 September 2011

How SXSW, Dave Stewart, A Volcanic Ash Cloud And Twitter Made My Book Idea Happen


I was sitting in a green room at the Hilton Hotel in Austin, Texas. It was March 2010 and I was at the South By South West festival - a place where people come to both make their ideas famous and also to discover new ones. Alongside the film premieres and the music showcases, two guys from England who no-one had heard of: my friend David Sloly and I were about to unveil our ‘How To Unplan A Business’ idea to a small audience. We were passionate about a striking but simple idea: that anyone looking to start a business should forget a business plan and unplan it instead.
And ‘unplanning’ is exactly how my latest book happened.
A couple of days after our SXSW talk, David and I were in a Starbucks on Austin’s Congress Avenue, with large hangovers. The festival hosts a lot of parties and all that drinking on rooftop bars had taken its toll. We sat there, tongues out, our espressos dwarfed by the huge cups of iced water we were gulping down our throats. Amidst the fog of that morning-after hangover, we thought it would be cool to write a book. Really, it was just a pipe dream. So how was it that David returned to that same Starbucks 12 months later, with a manuscript in his bag for our publishers, a division of Pearson Books? How the heck did that happen: how did our random idea get picked up?
Our journey from that hazy, hangover-induced thought to reality involved a music icon, a volcanic ash cloud, a sprinkling of serendipity, Twitter and of course - no damn plan in sight.
Six weeks after SXSW I was back in London, and for an unrelated project, I was trying to meet polymath, musician and all-round creative dude Dave Stewart. I’d tried to meet up with him for nearly a year, but he was always too busy. Then one morning in May I was walking up Wardour Street in London’s Soho when I thought the bearded guy in shades who just passed me looked familiar. I tweeted that I thought I just saw Dave Stewart. “That was me, stuck here because of volcano” he tweeted back, in reference to the erupting Icelandic volcano whose ash cloud had shut down European airspace. That ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ moment - for that’s what it was - kickstarted my attempts to meet Dave. And a few emails and ‘phone calls later, we met one Sunday afternoon at The Soho Hotel where we chatted about life as CEO of his own ideas factory, Weapons Of Mass Entertainment.
After our meeting we connected on LinkedIn; and then, in another blink and you’ll miss it moment, I happened to notice on my screen that Dave Stewart had a new contact - a woman named Liz Gooster. That surname ‘Gooster’ made me inquisitive, so I clicked on her. She was editor of Dave’s new book ‘Business Playground’ and I started following her on Twitter.
At this point my friend David and I still hadn’t got our act together developing the book idea. With him in Bristol and me on the other side of the UK, we hadn’t seen each other for a while and had got busy. And then I went on holiday to Cornwall with my family. While I was there, I got an email from Liz Gooster. She’d seen I was following her on Twitter, checked me out and discovered our Unplan Your Business idea. Did we want to write a book? If so she was interested.
Four months after that email, David and I were sitting on a Eurostar train en route to Paris on an inspiration trip to start the book, a writing journey that finished back in that Austin Starbucks.  This time without the hangover. And now we’re about to launch that book - ‘Zoom!’; the book that happened without a plan.
Without Dave Stewart I’d not have connected with our editor Liz; without the ash cloud, I’d never have seen Dave; and without Twitter this story wouldn’t even have got off the ground. Forget strategic planning - if you’re looking to make your idea happen all you actually need is a music icon, a volcanic ash cloud, Twitter and a liberal dose of serendipity. Hangovers optional.

Zoom! The Faster Way To Make Your Business Idea Happen” by Ian Sanders and David Sloly is published by Financial Times Prentice Hall, November 1st

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Ian Sanders Blog Has A New Home


If you're wondering why there's not been a new post for a while you should know that the Ian Sanders blog has a new home at http://iansanders.com/blog . There's a video interview with Guy Kawasaki and a whole stack of new content to check out.

Monday, 4 April 2011

SXSW: “One Giant Espresso”

So, okay you’re probably bored of all the news, tweets and blog posts that came out of the South By South West festival in Austin, Texas last month. But for professionals in music, film, technology and interactive, there’s no doubting SXSW remains an important force in connecting people, sharing and soaking up new ideas, talents and trends. 2011 is the 25th anniversary of the festival and a book - 'SXSW Scrapbook' - has been produced of recollections and highlights. I’m pleased to be featured in the book; here’s my recollection ‘Do Believe The Hype’ (click to enlarge and view).

Monday, 21 March 2011

Where Inspiration Meets Action


Lots of people spend their Saturdays playing or watching sports. The bunch of guys sharing my early train to London last Saturday were on the way to the football, bottles of beer clinking at 8am. I was on my way to check out one of my own favourite sports: ideas.

You’ll be familiar with the TED Talks events, there is now ‘son of TED’ - or TEDx - independently organised TED events. Saturday saw The Observer host their first TEDx event, a day packed of over twenty speakers sharing ideas. It’s such a great concept; going to a one-day event bulging with twenty speakers means you’re more likely to get value than from a one-off keynote. So this is the bit like a festival approach to ideas, rather than a single headline act gig, you get a whole day of it. With twenty minutes for each speaker, there’s enough time to listen to their story.
TEDxObserver delivered a big caffeine hit of inspiration and stimulation. So many different people, different emotions and one speaker even got us dancing. A real mix of names: Vivienne Westwood, Goldie, Sarah Brown, Jude Law, Russell Davies, 7/7 survivor Martine Wright, Baaba Maal (performing above), Mariella Frostrup.

The overarching theme of the day – for me – was that that simple theme of taking action to create change. Of how Martine Wright turned a tragedy into a catalyst for becoming an Paralympics competitor, of how Goldie used music and art to change his life, of how South African landowner Mark Solms did something about the injustice he saw around him and created a shared-ownership winery. Okay ‘taking action’ might not be the most sophisticated strategy for change or success but it’s a damn good place to start.

Many of us get moved by reading a book, watching a play, seeing some TV coverage, reading an article and yes, even attending a conference. Fewer of us actually do something as a result of being moved. We miss the moment and fail to take action. Me? I’m going to aim to do something with my scribbled notes from Saturday. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Co-Writing The Business Book: The Polishing & Editing Bit

David and I have just less than four weeks before our book needs to be finished. April 4th is D-Day, and it ‘aint movable. With most of the content down, we’re now into a period of hyper-polishing and editing. Here’s a video post on how it’s going:

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Does Your Business Care?

Gary Vaynerchuk gave some great marketing advice for businesses with one single word: “Care”.

Caring goes a long way. Something I was reminded about yesterday in two experiences within a couple of hundred yards. I visited a bar for the first time for a coffee and emails. The bar was advertised as a venue with wifi, the website says “There's wifi, papers and good music - we would like you to feel at home...”. Sounds nice, yes? So when I turned up on a quiet afternoon and asked the waitress was there wifi, she told me it wasn’t very reliable, it might work but it might not. Turning to a guy I later discovered to be the manager, he said to her she might have to turn some equipment on and off to get it working, but he didn’t offer any engagement with me. He wasn’t bothered. So okay, it was a quiet afternoon and I was the only customer, but no-one cared. The wifi was very intermittent and I left soon after. It was a lacklustre experience. Two minutes away I found a little espresso bar, a great coffee for £1, served with such great service and a welcome. The espresso bar guy might never see me again and I only paid him a quid but he cared. That was obvious. Two contrasting experiences.

So however good your website promise, your Twitter feed, whether you have a loyalty card or a great promotion - none of that matters. It just matters if you care.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Ditch The Rule Book: How To Run A Business Your Way

Next Tuesday I was down to be talking on a SXSW Interactive panel ‘Ditch The Rule Book: How To Run A Business Your Way’. It was an idea I’d co-created with Espree Devora  targeted at freelancers, start-ups and entrepreneurs; to share our ideas, stories and experiences on trying to stay authentic in business, getting success not by following the rule book, but staying true to your values and your own business style. If you’re going to be in Austin for SXSWi, please check out the panel with Espree, Lewis Howes, Shane Mac and Giang Biscan along with my ‘stand-in’ Liam Martin (!);  it’s Tuesday March 15 at 9:30AM at The Hilton Hotel, Salon D.



So seeing as I can’t be there, I decided to make a little video to be played out at the panel. It’s my three tips to running a business your way:

Friday, 25 February 2011

So you’re a good storyteller. Are you a good story listener??



Since my book deadline conspired against me going on my annual Inspiration Trip to Texas, I’ve been keen to make sure I soak up the best of what London has to offer with talks and events throughout February and March. Last Friday I went to my first ‘The Story’ a one-day conference at The Conway Hall where a mix of artists, writers, digital producers and bloggers shared their storytelling experiences.

Storytelling is important to me as it unites all the projects I juggle. Whether I’m writing my new book or advising a client on how to communicate their offering, it’s all about stories. 2011’s 'The Story' had a good line-up, from the comedy writer Graham Linehan to the photographer Martin Parr. There were also a few surprises; I didn’t think I’d be that interested in Phil Gyford’s story, the guy behind Pepys’ Diary. But it was fascinating to hear how Phil has taken a story from the 17th Century and used digital tools to tell it now, from daily blog posts to Twitter. With 50% of his online community over the age of 60 it was great to hear an online success story that was not about young people.

But the stand-out for me was Karl James, a performer and director who runs The Dialogue Project, where he uses recorded conversation to explore people’s life stories. Karl played some audio clips of conversations reminding us about the importance of listening. He says we’re missing out by not listening properly, and I think he's right. In one audio clip where he’s asking the father of a child with leukemia about his feelings, there’s a gap of 19 seconds between Karl's question and the father's response. Karl didn’t try and fill that silence, he needed that silence to hear the right story. Through another example, he showed us that sometimes the story is not where you’re expect it to be, and that you need to listen to give it the freedom to get there.

Karl gave me such a simple but essential takeaway - how good are we at listening? In a crowded and noisy world full of multiple stories on multiple platforms are we pausing to listen? So I’m embarking on my own listening strategy, with my family, my friends, clients and people I’m interviewing for my book. I’m going to be listening more.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Don't Forget The Implications Of Transparency

Sometimes I - still - forget that by publishing so much of my life online, people know what I've been up to. That pub talk about the restaurant I went to, the film I saw, the meeting that went well, the train that was delayed is known-news for those that already read about it on Twitter. Of course that's no great revelation; it's a choice I made to be transparent and authentic, a case of what you see is what you get.

So bearing in mind the benefits and drawbacks of the transparecy that comes from social media, I was surprised to get a LinkedIn request from someone who seemed to have forgotton the new rules of engagement. I received a LinkedIn invitation from a woman I'd never heard of who'd opted for the 'I have worked with you in the past' option; a woman who explained she was contacting me on behalf of someone else, a recruitment consultant. So, what was wrong with that?

  1. If you want to use LinkedIn to hustle for business, that's fine. But just be honest. Don't suggest we've worked together when we haven't.
  2. It was sent by someone on behalf of someone else. The whole point about LinkedIn is 1-1 *authentic* connections, not connections via conduits.
  3. Do your homework. My LinkedIn profile is available to see. It clearly states that my employer's business name happens to be my own name. That means I work for myself. So asking me if I'm happy in my current job and would I be willing to look at other jobs is a lazy approach, they could have tailored it to me if they bothered looking.
  4. So transparency is two-way right? So I looked up the recruitment consultant's profile on LinkedIn. He lists loads of current roles (which is fine) but I don't see recruitment consultant anywhere near the top of that list. That tells me a lot. He should have thought about that.

So, remember the rules of engagement have changed. Social Media can be harnessed as a tool to drive new business, but don't be lazy, don't be impersonal and don't bullshit. And then - you might get somewhere.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The Business Hustle: Lessons In Business From Jay-Z




I’ve just been reading ‘Decoded’ by Jay-Z. Decoded is on the face of it, a book that deconstructs his lyrics, but like the rap itself, there’s more to it that first meets the eye. The book is also part autobiographical and I left with some lessons that are valuable for anyone looking to make their business idea happen. So here are four business lessons from Jay-Z:

1) Being A Good Hustler Is Better Than An MBA. Whether he was dealing drugs in his teenage years or running Roc-a-fella Records and his business interests, Jay-Z embraces the spirit of the hustler. Those skills that he learnt on the street corner dealing - okay they may not be politically correct - but they still remain the essence of any enterprise: you buy something for one price, sell it on for a higher price and make a profit. For him, the hustler trying to find his fortune is the ultimate human story, “it’s the ultimate metaphor for basic human struggles: to survive and resist, to win and make sense of it all”. That mindset, that spirit, and that emotional investment is essential if you’re going to be a success.  Speaking about the launch of Roc-a-fella, he says, "we didn't know business yet, but we knew how to hustle".

2) There’s No Magic Without Hard Work. Like many before him, Jay-Z reminds us that success needs hard-graft. "Without the work, the magic won't come”, he says, and commenting on Michael Jordan, "that's the kind of consistency that you only get by adding dead serious discipline to whatever talent you have". Of course there are no overnight success stories in business; sure, you might get lucky, but you still need to invest ‘sweat equity’.

3) Have A Goal, Write It Down And Hit It. When he set up his businesses, Jay-Z set goals, "We made short and long term projections, we kept it realistic, but the key thing is that we wrote it down, which is as important as visualisation in realizing success". Once you commit that goal to paper, it helps focus your mind on meeting it. If it stays loose you can’t hit it.

4) Be Resourceful. Jay-Z talks about getting resourceful to deal with droughts: "a drought in the game is when the supply or demand starts to drop - and that's when resourceful hustlers have to get creative". Back to the dealing on the street corner, he talks about the metaphor of turning a 'mound' of work into a mountain of money. We all face droughts, when customers dry up or a deal falls flat. That sense of being resourceful is at the heart of the one-person business (I wrote about it in my first book Leap! Ditch Your Job, Start Your Own Business And Set Yourself Free: "All I have is my bare hands, a load of contacts and a bunch of ideas. And with that, I've got to make a whole load of money. It's that simple and it's that scary".

What else did Decoded remind me? That like a lot of art, rap can be read on more than one level; it’s truly multi-layered. So don't dismiss it -  'the art of rap is deceptive' - if you look under the bonnet you may be surprised).

Friday, 28 January 2011

Managing Your Personal Bandwidth: Admitting You Can’t Do *Everything*


“How do you have time to write a book?” my friend asked the other day.

I told her, I had to make sacrifices. Mainly leisure time.

Ever since I started researching my second book ‘Juggle!’ I’ve advised and talked to many people who lead - or aspire to lead - multi-dimensional work lives. The biggest challenge? TIME: how to use it.

Whatever you do, whatever the demands on you, there’s something we’ve all got in common. We all have 24 hours a day. In which to do stuff, make a living, have fun, get inspired, kiss our kids goodnight. So you have to make choices. If you want to launch that hobby business or master that new skill, you might have to ditch TV.

Between now and the beginning of April, the pressure is on as I juggle writing a new book alongside a  full portfolio of projects. Some things have to give. That TV series, that evening relaxing, reading that novel. So there are tough choices to be made. To spend Sunday with the family or working on the book. And I’ve just made another one.

In March I was due to be participating in a panel at SXSW Interactive, this would have been my third trip to the festival, being part of the line-up in ‘Ditch The Rule Book: How To Run A Business Your Way’ along with Espree Devora, Lewis Howes, Shane Mac and Giang Biscan.

SXSW has always given me enormous value but it takes a big investment in time (and let’s not forget the cost of getting there). Being away in Texas at a critical point in my book writing with all those wonderful distractions was just going to create too much pressure and stress. So I’ve had to stand down.  I’ll miss my annual dose of inspiration, both for my business and for my soul.

But, it’s a reminder that you can’t do everything at the same time. So don’t try, manage that personal bandwidth carefully.


Monday, 24 January 2011

What do you do in a nutshell? Getting famous for ONE thing.

In a cluttered and noisy marketplace, it can be tough to get heard. We know that distinctive and single-focused brands tend to stand out from the crowd. But for companies and people who provide more than one talent or product, it can be difficult providing that focus.

My advice to those jugglers – whether businesses or individuals – is that they need to identify a common thread that unites their plurality: an attitude, an industry specialism, a philosophy, a unique approach, whatever. Make that thread the single minded proposition to shout about. When clients and prospects get to know you they can learn about the rest of your talents; but first you need to get famous for one thing.

I help my clients distil everything down to that focused, simple and get-able proposition. As I juggle a multi-dimensional work life, it’s something I struggle with myself. How to communicate that breadth – from marketing expertise to book writing – simply? My answer is that I am all about ideas (I'm the 'Ideas Guy'), and I produced this little video below that – hopefully – communicates this clearly. It’s not always an easy one to pull off, let me know what you think. Leave a comment or get me on Twitter @iansanders.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

"Am I crazy?"

"Why would you do that for free?" the radio presenter asked Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, with incredulity. "Why on earth would people work on something without getting paid for it?" she persisted, failing to grasp the raison d'etre of Wikipedia as a community-owned and ran initiative.
But of course many of us do things we don't get paid for.

As we redefine what ‘work life’ looks like in 2011, the lines between ‘work’ and ‘not work’ are more blurred than ever. As people choose work/ life intergration over work/ life balance, many choose to mix up elements of their life in a continuous stream. One economic defintion of what constitues ‘work’ might be things we get paid for, but there are increasingly a bunch of things many of us do, without being monetised for each and every one of them.

In my own portfolio there are elements that are about revenues and elements that don't have a financial return. Together, they define me, stuff I feel passionate about and make happen irrespective of the financial model.

Last year there was a bunch of stuff I did that I didn't get paid for:

- wrote an e-book
- conducted video interviews with people like Dave Stewart
- went to SXSW Interactive in Texas (a big investment in time and money)
- wroteguest columns for Moo, Smarta, Business Matters, Management Today
- met a whole bunch of interesting folk
- mentored students about enterprise
- advised readers on taking the Leap
- blogged and tweeted

Sure, put all that together and it builds Ian Sanders' brand equity, makes me more sticky to clients, got me a publishing dea,l blah blah. But there was no hard measurable 'ROI'. Instead it was about carving out a worklife that sustains me mentally, emotionally and financially. Let's be clear: my motivation was passion not cash.

And some may still ask "Why on earth would you do all that if you don't get paid for it?" Okay so I might sound crazy to them, but to me this is just a reflection of who I am.