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.


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.

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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.


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…


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.

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3 Things I have learnt from mentoring entrepreneurial students

Over the years I have mentored numerous students who have the dream of running their own businesses or becoming entrepreneurs in their own right. It would come as no surprise that there are things to be learnt from both sides of the table. As I have helped with marketing, technology and general business advice – I too have picked up on a few things from the students I have mentored and wanted to share with you here 3 things I think to be of interest I have learnt.

Variety of drive

What one person desires and is willing to put into achieving their goals isn’t nearly as much as the next might be willing to do. This can cause some controversy over the word entrepreneur which is being thrown around to anyone who has a web site and an idea to play on, but the real fact is where one person maybe entrepreneurial in the sense of willing to give it all up for greatness – there is (rightly so) those who are only willing to go so deep in the rabbit whole and who still may be entrepreneurial.

A variety of both how far one person is willing to commit vs others – neither is bad – but in a world where people boast of their 20hr days and 4hrs of sleep a night – it is hard not to follow the convention. Those putting in a solid 10hr day may just well outwork their tired caffeine infused counterparts.

Understanding your passion, your drive, your ‘why’ – is crucial. Are you happy to be putting in 8-10hrs a day? Can you commit 14hrs+ a day? What are you willing to put in? There is no right or wrong answer.

Its the latest craze

For a lot of students I speak to often ‘entrepreneur’ has become that ‘cool’ job title or term to use. What was once a label for ‘unemployed’ or ‘still trying to figure it out’ has become a buzz word for many. Since Zucks put on a hoodie and made a few billion and the likes of Dragons Den put ‘entrepreneurship’ in the spot light it has become the one word bio for many.

Not everyone with a web site is an entrepreneur in the same way that not everyone that buys the Ralph Lauren shirt is a model. Its a term that many people are applying to themselves and others incorrectly and is detracting from what the real purpose is.

Far too often I’ve asked the question ‘what do you want to do in business’ and the answer comes in the shape of ‘an entrepreneur’… there is something inherently wrong with that answer in my opinion.

That age/race/background still matters

Its a sad thing to say particularly as we have so many young talented entrepreneurs doing so well, that people will still undoubtably ‘judge’ someone based on their looks, race, ethnicity and even age.

The human race has a tendency to judge people far too quickly – we are all guilty of this to some degree. Having mentored a number of students of different ages, backgrounds and seen first hand how they are dismissed or not taken seriously because of these facts.

I recall being 21 years old and meeting a potential client at an event who would later become not only an influential figure in my development over the years but a great client to work with for several years. Being young, smart and good at explaining who I was and what benefit I could bring to their business, I thought I had it in the bag – only to be largely ignored because of my age. Once my name kept floating around this person decided to bring me in to consult on some projects and after a very short time I was told the reason for the quick dismissal in our initial meeting.

“When I look at 21 yr olds – they have all the talk and none of the action – you proved me wrong” the client said. The fact that we can look at someone and immediately make a snap decision we don’t want to work with that person because of age or cultural background is astonishing.

This particular client grew to be someone I considered a mentor myself and a great businessman – perseverance keeps you going. If you are 18 to 25 (or even older) and regularly get knock backs, or if you are finding it difficult to get those meetings or be taken seriously – KEEP PUSHING.

Patience is GREATLY underrated. You need to be patient.

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Culture matters – but so does IQ

It is easy to understand that agency life and the technology world has been largely influenced by those great American firms such as Google, Twitter, Facebook and many other Silicon Valley giants.

So it is not uncommon to walk into startups or agencies that have the fridge stacked with fizzy drinks, the football or pool table, the best of tech, huge multi monitor setups, bean bags and all the other crazy antics that go along with such a young, vibrant and energetic environment such  as the agency I ran for the last ten years had.

The problem is building a fantastic culture will only ever take you so far – you still need to hire the best people possible for the team. Recruitment has forever been one of the most difficult aspects of growing a business.

At my previous company iBox which I ran for 10 years we hired some of the best and brightest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and couldn’t have been more proud of each team member and their empathy, intelligence and drive.

This is not something that is straight forward to find – along side building a team that creates and maintains a culture you want to exist in your company, the fact that each member of the team has to be at the top of their game every day can only exist in an environment where they work well together and operate under a single vision.

You can teach culture, it can be instilled into your new recruits by your existing team – scale the vision. But a good team member needs to have IQ (and EQ) enough so that they can make those sales calls you need, build that beautiful web page or put together the incredibly detailed marketing plan but also integrate within the organisation beyond their basic job description.

A team member that goes above and beyond those ten bullet points set out in their job description is someone that doesn’t need telling on a daily basis how much value they bring to their organisation but realises that they are making a difference every day. A problem solver vs a problem stater makes an enormous difference to an organisation.

iBox had an incredible collective of highly intelligent people and I’m happy to see each one in a role they can continue to develop in going forward.

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