What motivates you?

“What motivates you?”  – I question I’ve been repeatedly asked over the course of my career.

Many exaggerate, whether for ‘bragging rights’ or because maybe it just feels that way – but now when I talk about the fact that for over a decade I ran my company by doing 100 hour weeks – if feels like complete and utter madness.

So, what motivated me… I can tell you it wasn’t the usual suspects, for me instead it was my addiction and I say that in the most literal definition. A way in which I could escape albeit ‘mask’ depression and through generating wealth I was depleting happiness and health at an equal pace.

The purpose however of this post isn’t about what I spent a large portion of my life on, rather it’s what I now spend the rest of my life doing. I left the agency life and 100/hr weeks behind upon discovering I was going to become a father. Which since then has been the happiest I’ve ever been in my life, my depression will be with me forever I am sure of that however not a day goes by that I don’t look at my son and smile.

But when your son in a mere few months old and his mother, a woman who over the years put up with so much sh*t, stress, and pressures to allow me to grow and run my companies to the extent I did is diagnosed with cancer only a few months after giving birth – it puts the whole world into perspective even more so. Had I not decided to leave my workaholic life behind when I found out I was becoming a father, better believe I’d have done it upon hearing the test results.

Since removing the addictive drug that was ‘work’ from my life, I found myself almost transferring the addiction to other areas – namely health and fitness having completed recently a 40km bike race, 80km bike race, a 12km trail run and a half marathon for the incredible Safe and Sound Group.

The next stage however, is to thank Derby Royal Hospital and in particular the Breast Cancer Ward for their amazing efforts during this whole process. I haven’t picked a particular end date nor target, but I thought £5,000 should be a good starting goal and as such I will be doing a number of events over the next few months.

The next event I shall be taking part in is the HUUB Events Jenson Button Triathlon in Derby this July – if you can spare even a £1 it will always be appreciated – the greater the donation the bigger the impact you can help make and I am always grateful for those who can donate even the smallest amount.

Please, donate to such a wonderful hospital.

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Startup weekend Derby – it’s coming!

So you’ve come across this event called Startup Weekend but aren’t entirely sure what it is. This is the post for you!

What is a Startup Weekend ?

A Startup Weekend is a get together of people who want to work together and build something. They may have an idea, a dream or just a desire to help build something new. Over the weekend ideas are pitched, selected, validated, prototyped and presented. All with the help of each other and some battle hardened industry experts acting as mentors for the weekend. Finally on Sunday evening people present their business to a panel of Judges, a winner is selected and everyone celebrates to a great weekend.

Does it have to be an online business ?

NO! Lots of people do online sites etc but teams work on physical products such as food and drinks or even services. I’ve even seen a cheap water filtration system for the 3rd world being built as a social enterprise business.

Sounds interesting right! So how does the weekend actually work?

Friday: Everyone gets together for some food and networking. A wise entrepreneur will tell a tales of toil and plight that ends in ultimate triumph. This leads onto a fun idea pitching warm up that prepares people for the main event the “Pitchfire”. If you have an idea this is your chance to pitch the room and hopefully get selected to form a team. You only 60 seconds per pitch so keep it concise and let people know what you need help with.

Once everyone who wants to pitch has had their 60 seconds worth its time to network, talk and cast votes on your favourite ideas. Then the topmost ideas get to form teams where ideally you want a selection of skills such as a designer, developer, marketer to help bring the idea to life. Even if you idea did not get through you can still form a team if you can get at least three people to agree to join forces.

With a team formed its time to go home and try and calm your over excited brain down and to try and coax it to sleep ready for Saturday.

Team forming, can I go with a pre existing team? Yes, you can but the rule is you must not have worked on the idea before. Most people go as an individual though or with friends but without a set idea.

Saturday : You have and idea and a team now what. The mantra for the weekend is ”No talk, all action” so its time to get out and validate your idea. Although you do need to talk we want to make sure your idea solves a problem that people have, so you need to know what problem is that your idea solves. Who is it that experiences this problem and where would you come across them on the weekend? Its time to get out and speak to the public about the problem NOT the solution. Note down the stories and then get back together as a team to share your research.

Do people have this problem your idea solves? If not maybe the research highlights something similar that you can “PIVOT” too? If they do its time to start doing some prototyping, research on possible rivals, research, etc.

Sunday : Time to carry on where you left off, if you have some product prototypes show them off. If you have no prototypes now is the time to build them. Try and find some people from your target market again and get some feedback. Would people actually hand over some hard earned cash for this? You get some google Adwords credits and a free domain in your pack for the weekend, use them to create a marketing site and see what kind of engagement you get.

Remember you have a presentation looming at the end of the day so you also need to start laying down some slides about the problem, your solution, the market research and how the business would work.

Try and rehearse your presentation and get some feedback before you do it for real.

Sunday evening : time for everyone to get together and marvel at what each other has achieved. Each team puts on a short presentation followed by a Q&A session with the judges. After every teams presented, the judges go off to confer and you get to eat and wait. The winners are announced and its time to relax, chat and celebrate an amazing weekend with your new friends.

Did I mention that Derby is having its first ever startup weekend this March ? We have an awesome team of mentors and judges lined up, so get involved!


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2016 a year in review

After what has been nothing short of an eventful year – I recently posted the below on the business desk East Midlands news website last week when questioned on how 2016 has been.

What has been your highlight of the year?
For me it must be the birth of my son Henry in October, couple that with the transactional completion of getting out of the digital agency space and taking a well-earned break over several months before joining the RDS Global board of directors.

And your lowlight?
Moving away from digital agency world after a decade of hard work and fun to helping that transition work for all involved over to their new home.

How do you think 2016 will be remembered?
The year we lost some of the world’s best known entertainers, the political scene was flipped on its head and of course the year Steve McClaren came back to Derby county.

Hero of the year (business or otherwise)?
Personally – Jessica my far better half who has helped me in countless ways. In the business world however I would say Nottingham based entrepreneur Justin Johnson who in an early 2016 discussion helped to analyse where my attention and focus was at.

And villain?
Too many to name, but tend to reside under a single business address.

What’s your New Year’s Resolution?
Continue to develop and grow personally, professionally with RDS & my other ventures.

Post first appeared on thebusinessdesk.com

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Remembrance Sunday 2016

PR, agency, business, life and investing – it is all trivial really when you think about it.

Today is a day for remembrance.

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