Don’t take advice from me about cars

I know nothing about cars, for many years I’ve been happy with the fact my cars always had a start button. Press the button – engine starts and off we go and until my new car turned up (which I love) – I was doing a thousand miles a week on the road in a nice black BMW, up and down the country seeing clients every day of the week.

You might think that stacking up 50k of miles a year would give me some insight into how these wonderful machines work – but no, not a clue.

To that extent – if I ever offer advice about cars – other than ‘that one looks nice’ – DON’T LISTEN TO ME – I can’t give you much solid advice. The same principal should apply therefore to numerous outlets – my lawyer who really doesn’t understand much about how the internals of a complex piece of software shouldn’t tell me about how I should refactor that bit of code I’ve been working on.

Yet time after time – we see people taking advice from someone who has little to no experience in a subject matter – its infuriating because this is how problems mount up. I recently spoke with a friend who attended an event on how to market your business more effectively on social media. The only problem was the one doing the preaching wasn’t a social media ‘guru’ (more on that another day!) but instead was an ex-accountant who auto-tweets and cross posts all their content from various news stories without any context at all.

Don’t get me wrong – fantastic to see there be 20+ people in the room all paying £100 to be there because Joe down the street said he had a great time in the seminar learning how to tweet more often (and hey it gets retweeted by Sarah the auto retweet stripper account who just wants to meet you as she is single and in your local area!)

If the person on that webinar, that stage, that ebook, whatever it maybe – hasn’t actually accomplished what it is you are there to learn – then why bother?

It is because most of us want to believe in ‘the secret’, there must be a formula, a method, a step by step plan to: build our businesses, increase profits, get more users, be a better leader, gain more followers, etc.

The real secret, is there is no shortcut, there is no ‘follow this ten step plan to success’ – its about hard work, dedication, some degree of luck (although thats not the right word really), timing and DOING THE WORK.

Continue Reading

East Midlands Only Star Code Club & Regional Champion

star_club_logo

Anybody that knows me will know I am involved in many areas of technology and education, be it on various boards or as ambassador and advisor to companies and charity’s in these areas.

Back in 2014 after getting to meet and talk to various people about Code Club – I decided it was time to bring a louder voice to the East Midlands with Code Club. As one of the few clubs that would be run by a business owner I knew I could give my Code Club a different direction than most. After numerous discussions with various venues – Derby City Council had the Central Library on offer to host Derby Code Club.

Roll on some two years or so later and after being a very vocal advocate of Code Club, training others, growing the club locally and ensuring that as many youngsters got into coding as I could – my club was awarded the Star Code Club status, the only club in the East Midlands at this time to have the star club status. Not only that but I was named the East Midlands Code Club Champion.

Working alongside Derby council and the Derby central library to teach children aged 9 – 11 to write code, produce games, animations and projects using the MIT project Scratch is nothing short of fun, inspiring and entertaining for all involved. Following on from a very successful 2014 & 2015, the Derby CodeClub run every Saturday morning in Derby central library has been a great opportunity for young children with a passion for computers and learning how they work to come along and spend the morning creating games, using their imagination and figuring out how to piece blocks of code together to create truly unique pieces of work.

In an article last year for the Derby Telegraph Alison Martin, the city council’s cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “It is very important that our children acquire good computer skills as early as possible. Our code clubs will engage children in fun digital activity outside of school, and so contribute towards their overall learning.”

The official Code Club web site offers up the best description of their mission:

“Code Club is a nationwide network of free volunteer-led after-school coding clubs for children aged 9-11.

We create projects for our volunteers to teach at after school coding clubs or at non-school venues such as libraries. The projects we make teach children how to program by showing them how to make computer games, animations and websites. Our volunteers go to their local club for an hour a week and teach one project a week.

Each term the students will progress and learn more whilst at the same time using their imaginations and making creative projects. Terms 1 & 2 use Scratch to teach the basics of programming. Term 3 teaches the basics of web development using HTML and CSS. Term 4 teaches Python and so on.”

With an ever growing waiting list of children wanting to attend Derbys local CodeClub, its important that more people get involved with the local community to help develop the skill sets and interests of young children with a passion for IT being the Derby truly is the city of innovation.

You can find more information and request updates on Code Club Derby by following this link to the official Code Club web site. Also worth reading the 2014 year in review blog post to see how the organisation is growing across the country.

Continue Reading

Selling your time for pennies

On the internet, they like you should spit it
I’m like you should buy it, n**a that’s good business
 – Jay Z

Hourly, salary or shareholder getting paid dividends in a business – it matters not how you get paid but the fact that you do. You are no matter how you look at it – selling your time for pennies (some more than others).

That doesn’t bother me so much, rather its when we swing the pendulum too far the other way that we need to adjust our focus. When folk won’t go past 5:01pm to do their job, or perhaps worse still take take take and don’t give back – namely to those who would most benefit from that time.

time-is-money

Ditching agency life earlier this year where I committed a good 70-90hrs a week of my life for ten years – means that now I do have more time to give back.

That said anyone that knows me will know that even at the busy agency times I was still able to give back with being active on Derby Councils Enterprise 4 Education board, mentoring a number of fantastic secondary school pupils through STEM, mentoring & supporting students at Derby University (such as DrivenMedia), developing training academies and the list of boards and charities goes on.

I rarely promote the majority of entities I am involved with but after a thrilling conversation today which lead me to feel more comfortable with being as active as I am in so many fantastic ventures – I feel like I may just shout a little more from time to time about the companies and individuals I work with.

For we all sell time for money in one way or another – wouldn’t it just be great if perhaps a few more of us left money on the table to give a little more back. I’m not perfect by any means – but putting an hour to one side now and then to sit down and help others is the bare minimum I can accept from myself.

Continue Reading

Pokemon Go and how marketers will ruin it

Marketers ruin everything and we know this without a shadow of a doubt. So it only makes sense that given the fact that Pokemon Go has become more viral than flappy birds and angry birds (remember those games?) did means that with the augmented reality (AR) element that marketers will undoubtably take hold of the AR sphere here and start making some dollars out of it.

pokemon-reddit

Some clever folk already have created fantastic side apps to Pokemon including chats, mapping and social networks that work side by side – but the big step is local marketing opportunities. Not only are US ride sharing companies jumping on this by offering discounted trips to those trying to find pokemon around the city, but tourist attractions in the states are offering money off tickets to popular attractions and local restaurants adding Pokemon lure modules are reporting an increase in business…

pokemon-go-imgur

This is all very obvious when you think bout it but because you don’t own a restaurant doesn’t mean your own business can’t benefit from this new fad. I say fad because like many others before it – there will be the typical curve bell of interest and attention before the next big thing comes along but unlike oculus rift – Pokemon Go has made some form of AR available to the every day human being out there trying to catch em all!

Once a fully baked advertising platform becomes available within Pokemon Go – marketers world wide will be able to jump on this and execute like never before. Your going to see further AR with museums and cafes opting to have rare pokemon in their halls or exclusive extras found at your local eatery. Never mind the fact that incubating your pokemon at the local pizza restaurant for 2 hours will most likely give you some extra kudos and prizes.

It won’t be long before marketers figure out the next couple of steps in AR and how this Pokemon craze some ~15 years later has become a hot topic all over again will inevitably lead to marketing channels like never before. I for one see an enormous opportunity for snapchat and pokemon go to team up to deliver some unique AR opportunities.

Continue Reading