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: