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That Enterprise Article

Here’s an article I wrote which has just been published in the March issue of Enterprise Magazine. After the limitless joys of the web it’s quite hard to whittle down your thoughts to a mere 550 words, so excuse the brevity. But hopefully it’s a nice read! 🙂

Unless you’ve decided that you won’t engage with the internet in any way, then it’s almost certain that you have at least one profile online somewhere. Whether it’s a personal profile like Myspace, or a more business oriented one like LinkedIn, you are using social media to project an image of yourself that, to one extent or another, will be viewable by any person on the planet with an internet connection and, here’s the kicker, your great-great-grandchildren. Having an online identity is inevitable, and it will be available for anyone to view forever. How we engage with the social internet is something not to be taken lightly.

Firstly we must be aware of search results. What’s going to come up when our name is entered into Google? What about the information that is always associated with our name – our biographies. Do they portray us as hyper-efficient, revenue-generating machines or a laid-back networker? What are the keywords that will attract attention, and do those keywords trigger the relevant searches on Google? What words do you want to be associated with on search engines?

Tom Critchlow, Head of Search Marketing with web-experts Distilled, had some great tips for using social media to improve your online identity. “Make sure you choose an online ‘handle’ which is both easy to remember, unique and short. Be consistent – make sure that you keep the same username across all the social media sites. Make sure you are contactable – If someone wants to get in touch with you make it easy for them. Never underestimate the power of email. Last but not least, engage! When someone emails you, email them back, when someone twitters you, twitter them back”.

With his final point, Tom hits on a crucial fact about social media and online branding – You can’t just expect to just constantly promote yourself and your products. There’s a certain amount of give and take. For every time you advertise your blog to your Twitter network, be prepared to make 20 other “tweets” that are relevant links to other people’s works.

And this leads us neatly onto the social network of the moment. You’ve no doubt heard of Twitter by now and if you’ve read this far then, yes, you should be using it. For me, it’s the network where the boundaries between social and professional are most blurred. But it’s also the most powerful networking device I’ve ever come across. The micro-blogging format lends itself to sharing links to interesting articles and reports, using keywords to attract more followers and thus generating fantastic contacts with people you would never normally have found. However, it also lends itself to pithy asides, comments on the latest TV shows and occasionally a silly photo or a drunken joke. Keeping your discipline, and maintaining a professional (if informal) image is important.

I’ll leave the final words to Carl Morris of social media strategists Native. “The term ‘personal brand’ is not to everyone’s taste, but if you do anything on the web you need to understand it. Your prospective client, employer or advocate will take seconds to figure out who you are. Attention is scarce! So you need to represent yourself in a way that makes it as easy as possible for them”.

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Passion, perseverance, and stuff


I saw the film Anvil a few nights ago. It’s a documentary about a rock band who, thirty years on from being on the verge of greatness, are living in near-obscurity and decide to give it one last push before giving up for good. It’s an absolutely brillant (and hilarious) film and I was incredibly touched by their perseverance, their passion and their lust for life. And it reminded me that perseverance is that rare quality that is usually the one factor that many people are missing out on when looking for success.

I often advise people on small business and creative industries, and tell them to look at the top DJs and producers in the world: Carl Cox, Pete Tong, Sasha, Roger Sanchez, Eric Morillo, The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, The Prodigy etc – I’m fairly certain that not one of them is under 40, and I know that some of them are over 50. (edit – I’m reliably informed by Ian -see comments below- that Liam from the Prodigy is a spritely 37). The average age of the freshest, hottest 3 DJs in the world (Tiesto, Armin van Buuren and Paul van Dyk) is 37.2.

Being a DJ is usually considered to be a youngster’s game. These guys are clear evidence that if you’re good enough you might make it, BUT if you’re good enough AND you’re willing to stick at it long enough then you’ll definitely improve your chances of making it. I suppose it’s a case of having the talent, and using the perseverance to maximise the likelihood of getting your break…

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer”. ~Albert Einstein


A few bits and pieces…

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We’ve recently announced details of Ignite Cardiff #2, and with that in mind I thought I’d link to this article explaining how to “Deliver a Presentation like Steve Jobs”.

14 Tools Of Highly Effective Twitter Users
– I particularly like the first tool. I’d be more inclined to find out how annoying I am though, rather than vet others before following….

This looks quite interesting if you’re based near South Wales and are in the creative industries, innovation, enterprise etc. I’ll probably be there.

This link is either the greatest link ever for a procrastinator, or a fascinating archive of the things that amused us over the early years of “the internet age”.

Very interesting take on what’s “killing” the music industry. Not illegal downloads, according to the author. Surprised to see that the value of music being shipped is more today than it was in 1993.

My Dad’s been very ill recently, and I’ve been “hanging out” at an online forum where people exchange experiences and support about the illness that he’s suffering from. One post struck me as absolute gold: A woman has become very housebound and insular in the last year, not wishing to leave the house. But in the recent snow her husband and kids persuaded her to go out and make a snowman with them. The phrase that convinced her to get out there? “Let’s go make some memories“.

Life is short, and all we really have at the end of it is our memories, so go make some.

* The pic at the top is of my girlfriend and I, mid-jump, making some snowy memories a few weeks ago. That blurry shot is the best of about 15 attempts to get a shot of us mid air in the snow, using a self timer!

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Insights into personal branding online

I’ve just finished writing my regular column for Enterprise Magazine. My topic this month was “personal branding on the web”. I’ll publish the full article here once it hits the streets, but I thought I’d share the unedited insights of two experts who shared their wisdom with me. I didn’t have space for all their thoughts in the actual article, so here they are in their full glory:

Tom Critchlow, from Distilled:

  • Make sure you choose an online ‘handle’ which is both easy to remember, unique and short
  • Be consistent. Make sure that you keep the same username across all the social media sites you sign up to (twitter, digg, etc etc). This makes it easy for people to connect the dots and helps your existing ‘friends’ on one social media site find you on other sites.
  • Make sure that you choose an online username which you can rank for in Google. People use search. A lot of people use search actually and being able to rank for your own name is valuable because it allows you to present searchers with a page of your choosing and importantly you can set up a contact form etc on the site which leads me onto the next point:
  • Make sure you are contactable. If someone wants to get in touch with you make it easy for them, whether it’s an email address in your twitter background, a contact form on a website or blog etc. Never underestimate the power of email!
  • Monitor the conversation about you. Using a tool like google alerts (free) or Distilled’s reputation monitor (cheap, few more features) allows you to monitor the interwebs for any mentions of your name. It’s important to choose a unique, short name in point 1 above so people can find you but it also removes a lot of the headache associated with monitoring as well.
  • Last but not least, engage! When someone emails you, email them back, when someone twitters you, twitter them back. If someone tweets something you can help them with don’t be afraid to send them a note. Online networking is hugely powerful and has gained Distilled £100,000s of business. Be nice to people and be nice to people and you’ll get it back in spades.


Carl Morris
, from Native
The term “personal brand” is not to everyone’s taste, but if you do anything on the web you need to understand it. Your prospective client, employer or advocate will take seconds to figure out who you are. Attention is scarce! So you need to represent yourself in a way that makes it as easy as possible for them.

Full article online in a few weeks when it goes to print.

🙂

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Agility

Here’s an article I wrote that’s just been published in Enterprise Magazine. Thanks to Rob and Dan for their insight. You can download the whole issue here, which includes a rather dashing photo of me! 🙂 And while you’re at it, keep up to date with tiptop news via their Twitter account.

It’s 5am and I’m wide awake. My mind is clearly more eager than my body to start the first working day of 2009. I’m thinking back over the last year and how I can improve over the next 12 months.

2008 was an odd year for me. I achieved a lot, bringing more people together through my networking events, and worked on some brilliant projects with some amazing people. Yet with my key “revenue generators” I often felt hamstrung by a lack of resources, both in terms of talent and finance. Needing to find people to carry out work for me, and sourcing the capital to pay for it all meant that things often seemed to move incredibly slowly. A lot of this stems from the fact that much of the work I do has the internet at the very heart of it, but I’m neither a web developer or designer. It would be technically impossible for me to build these ideas on my own.

I spoke to Dan Zambonini, technical director of internet development agency, Box UK. He thinks that being a solo entrepreneur isn’t the issue it once was. “Luckily, with the web now as it is, there are plenty of online websites that can match up idea people with doing people. Technical people love to do interesting things, so if you know the right people, you’ll often find someone who’s willing to help you out for the sheer pleasure of it.”

Dan believes that there’s a growing demand for smaller, smarter online services that do one thing well, rather than trying to do everything. The idea being to get them up online as soon as they work and improve them as they go along, using your first customers as your testers too.

“Especially now with online services….it’s easier than ever to realise sophisticated ideas with less effort. Twitter, Facebook, Flickr; all started off much simpler, and have added features as they’ve been demanded”.

For some, being agile isn’t a desirable quality but an absolute prerequisite. “Digital PR has to be lightening quick because that’s the way the web works – the window of opportunity in online media is so much smaller”, says Rob Mosley from boutique digital advertising and PR agency Nonsense. I asked him for a good tip on getting projects up and running quicker. “I think debate is the biggest enemy to getting stuff done quick. If you get into a habit of making decisions fast, so you can get on with making things, you’re 80% of the way there. Obviously our clients need to trust us a lot for us to do this, and they also have to accept that we’ll make the odd mistake… which is still better than missing the boat”.

So what are my new year’s resolutions? Find smart and quick people to work with who are keen to get involved in exciting one-off projects, turn my ideas around faster, don’t worry about them being perfect from the start, tweak them as I go along, and feel more fulfilled that I’m not constantly languishing in “development hell”.

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Why you should give it away

Andrew Dubber has just written the most concise, brilliant post about why you should give away your music online for free (or more correctly, why you shouldn’t be scared of giving away your music for free). Of course, this applies to almost any creative works, whether it’s music, writing, video etc etc.

Read it here. I’ll certainly be pointing people in its direction constantly for the forseeable future….

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Now’s the time…

The end of 2008 came with a whole load of personal and professional challenges for me, and I was very glad of the time off over Christmas and the New Year. But now I’m very keen to get stuck back into 2009 and believe it will be the best year yet, for many reasons. I’ll expand on my thoughts another time, but in the meantime here’s an extract from a letter written to Tim Ferriss by his mentor. Inspiring reading from his latest blog post

While many are wringing their hands, I recall the 1970s when we were suffering from an oil shock causing long lines at gas stations, rationing, and 55 MPH speed limits on Federal highways, a recession, very little venture capital ($50 million per year into VC firms), and, what President Jimmy Carter (wearing a sweater while addressing the Nation on TV because he had turned down the heat in the White House) called a “malaise”. It was during those times that two kids without any real college education, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, started companies that did pretty well. Opportunities abound in bad times as well as good times. In fact, the opportunities are often greater when the conventional wisdom is that everything is going into the toilet.

Well…we’re nearing the end of another great year, and, despite what we read about the outlook for 2009, we can look forward to a New Year filled with opportunities as well as stimulating challenges.

Now’s the time, folks!

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In the Mux

I remember Muxtape.com. It allowed you to make an online mixtape from a huge list of songs. It was a simple, brilliant idea, although I never used it. And I remember that it got shut down earlier this year, which is sad. But today I stumbled across the founder’s statement about what happened. It’s a very well written piece that has lots of insight for anyone in the music industry or anyone in the world of digital startups, or licensing, or working with other peoples’ intellectual property. Hell, it’s useful for anyone. Read it here.

Also, I came across OwnGig. Looks like an interesting take on the whole crowdsourcing thing, which is an increasingly popular trend. Anyone wanna pitch in with me to get Stevie Wonder to perform live in my kitchen?

Finally, I’ve just learned about the Project Triangle. Never heard of it before. Useful little tool for prioritising tasks and knowing where your product might sit in the market.

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bands business creative creative industries developer entrepreneur Entrepreneurship marketing media Music Industry myspace planning productivity startup technology

In the Mux

I remember Muxtape.com. It allowed you to make an online mixtape from a huge list of songs. It was a simple, brilliant idea, although I never used it. And I remember that it got shut down earlier this year, which is sad. But today I stumbled across the founder’s statement about what happened. It’s a very well written piece that has lots of insight for anyone in the music industry or anyone in the world of digital startups, or licensing, or working with other peoples’ intellectual property. Hell, it’s useful for anyone. Read it here.

Also, I came across OwnGig. Looks like an interesting take on the whole crowdsourcing thing, which is an increasingly popular trend. Anyone wanna pitch in with me to get Stevie Wonder to perform live in my kitchen?

Finally, I’ve just learned about the Project Triangle. Never heard of it before. Useful little tool for prioritising tasks and knowing where your product might sit in the market.

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We live in incredible times

I like to think of myself as a fairly patient kind of guy. I’m less likely than other people I know to throw my mobile out of the window when it freezes, and I’ve learned to save my work regularly in case my laptop crashes (which it never does). And I’m often stopped in my tracks when I think that, for example, less than a second after i press the “Publish” button on my laptop (which is connected to the internet via my local cafes wireless network) that the whole world will be able to read these words….

I’ve been thinking for years about whether humans (as a collective) are able to psychologically cope with the sheer complexity of life that comes with being surrounded by incredible technology. And there’s a whole book i could write on it, so I won’t bore you now. But I often wonder if as a species we wouldn’t be happier reverting to the 5 or 6 meditative actions a day (ploughing, harvesting, hunting etc), rather than maintaining the incredibly fragmented lives we live now (check email 52 times, write 12 texts while eating lunch, receive 6 phonecalls, watch half a movie while writing emails etc etc etc). I often wonder about the impact of this on our collective mental health. I often feel like my brain needs “defragmenting”, a phrase that will be familiar to anyone who performs their own computer maintenance.

Anyway, before I end up starting down that avenue for lengthy discussion I’ll leave you with this brilliant, and relevant, clip of American comedian Louis CK on the Conan O’Brien show. As he says – “Everything’s amazing, nobody’s happy”. Maybe we should show a little more gratitude for the incredible times we live in.

Hat-tip to Merlin Mann.

Categories
creative creative industries Entrepreneurship free wifi future laptop louis ck networking productivity remote working working from home

We live in incredible times

I like to think of myself as a fairly patient kind of guy. I’m less likely than other people I know to throw my mobile out of the window when it freezes, and I’ve learned to save my work regularly in case my laptop crashes (which it never does). And I’m often stopped in my tracks when I think that, for example, less than a second after i press the “Publish” button on my laptop (which is connected to the internet via my local cafes wireless network) that the whole world will be able to read these words….

I’ve been thinking for years about whether humans (as a collective) are able to psychologically cope with the sheer complexity of life that comes with being surrounded by incredible technology. And there’s a whole book i could write on it, so I won’t bore you now. But I often wonder if as a species we wouldn’t be happier reverting to the 5 or 6 meditative actions a day (ploughing, harvesting, hunting etc), rather than maintaining the incredibly fragmented lives we live now (check email 52 times, write 12 texts while eating lunch, receive 6 phonecalls, watch half a movie while writing emails etc etc etc). I often wonder about the impact of this on our collective mental health. I often feel like my brain needs “defragmenting”, a phrase that will be familiar to anyone who performs their own computer maintenance.

Anyway, before I end up starting down that avenue for lengthy discussion I’ll leave you with this brilliant, and relevant, clip of American comedian Louis CK on the Conan O’Brien show. As he says – “Everything’s amazing, nobody’s happy”. Maybe we should show a little more gratitude for the incredible times we live in.

Hat-tip to Merlin Mann.