Now

This is my ‘Now’ page, inspired by Derek Sivers and the many others who have followed his lead.

It’s my way of putting out there what I’m up to, crystalising what I’m doing (making sure it’s the right things) and keeping myself accountable.

If you have a website or blog, it might be worth you considering writing your own page. An interesting thing goes on in your mind when you write something down and share it… it becomes a little more real.

Incubating

I’ve got this idea for a limited edition, ethical, graphic t-shirt business.  It comes from the slight fixation I’ve had with graphic tee’s from when I was about 7 years old. They’ll be luxury organic cotton, responsibly sourced and will feature emerging designers and illustrators from all over the world. A portion of all profits will go to good causes which I’ll write about.  The project is inspired by my friend Genaro and his chili sauce business and the other businesses I’ve written about in my Who Cares Wins series (that may well become a book at some point).  There will only be 500 of each edition ever printed – once they’re gone, they’re gone.  Get in touch if you want to collaborate on it (it’s very much in the ‘incubation’ phase).

Writing

Poetic license: For a while now I’ve been writing poetry.  I’ve no idea why it started.  I just woke up one day with three poems in my head that I had to write down. I’ve now got a load published over on Medium including a couple of new ones.  I don’t know if they are any good but I think it’s important to show your art regardless.

More writing! I continue writing on CurveFinder fairly regularly.  It helps me improve my thinking on lost of topics relating to creative endeavour and self-improvement.  I’ve found that one of the by-products of writing in this way is that it helps me off-set some of the stresses of work.  If I have a sh*t day, I write something and mostly I find my mood changes.  People from all over the world have gotten in touch to say they like what I do or that I’ve made them think – this is worth more than anything.

Reading

I tend to have a few books on the go at one time and jump between them depending on my mood.

At the moment I’m really enjoying Yuval Noah Harrari’s book, Sapiens.  In it, he argues that “Homo sapiens rules the world because it is the only animal that can believe in things that exist purely in its own imagination, such as gods, states, money and human rights.  Starting from this provocative idea, Sapiens goes on to retell the history of our species from a completely fresh perspective.”

As you might have gathered I’m into self-development and I’m always looking for interesting ways to kick off self-innovation curves.  I’ve also been using Design Thinking techniques for many years in a work capacity and was therefore really intrigued by Bill Burnett and Dave Evan’s book Designing Your Life. It’s a really practical book aimed at helping anybody, no matter what age or profession create a more fulfilling way of life.  Burnett and Evan’s argue “The same design thinking responsible for amazing technology, products, and spaces can be used to design and build your career and your life, a life of fulfillment and joy, constantly creative and productive, one that always holds the possibility of surprise.”. Bill is the Exec Director of the Design Programme at Stanford and Dave is a founder of Electronic Arts, so, they know what they’re talking about.  I highly recommend.

To escape, I like a bit of fiction and I’m now into book five of the bestselling UK series Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch.  The books follow Peter Grant, an ordinary police constable turned magician’s apprentice, as he solves crimes across London.  It’s inventive, witty and like a very down-to-earth Harry Potter for grown ups. Aaronovitch also manages to lace in an intriguing history lesson about London.

Listening

Music is my rader (as Blur once sang) and I very rarely go a day without having something on.  I’m an indie kid at heart and love finding new stuff to listen to.  I have an ever growing CurveFinder playlist of old and new on Spotify.  Right now, I’m digging It Might Get Dark by White Denim.

The Day Job – landing and expanding ideas that matter

I work for a 250-year-old news media organisation.  The official line is that I work on producing digital projects and products that aid our digital transformation. Some of these go on to be used by millions of people and some fail (that goes with the territory).  But what I’ve found over 20 years or so is that ‘now’ is always about finding new ways to develop ideas that matter, playing them back against the business and our customers and then finding ways to enroll the people that will help my ideas land and expand. I’m in an industry that has been in complete flux for a long time but I’ve chosen to stay in it because it has enabled me to diversify my career, push myself creatively, and I actually like leading people through change.  It’s allowed me to learn loads, and keep the balance for my young family.  The struggle is real but, mostly, it works for me.

Examples of live projects my team and I are currently trying to land include:
  • A range of new Progressive Web App’s aimed at football (soccer) fans in key cities across the UK.  It’s another step forward in improving our legacy products.

  • ‘Mooding’ is a consumer data project supported by the Google Digital News innovation fund) where we’re trying to connect emotional triggers and psychographics with customers (readers) intent to purchase and read more.  The aim of this one is ultimately to use the data we uncover to create better content plans and better digital products that connect more with our customers’ wants, needs, hopes and aspirations.  It’s certainly stretching our wee team but the good news is we’re already making an impact on our business by giving us a better understanding of our customers.