What start-ups can learn from the Tour de France

One of my favourite podcasts is Radio 5’s Sportsweek. It’s broadcast at 9am on Sunday just as I’m walking the dog so I usually listen to it across the week before work. Garry Richardson is a bit Marmite – he is always quite obviously digging for an angle, which grates with me, but at the same time, the show is excellent and he always seems to have exactly the right guests.

This week, he had the head of Team Sky – the pro cycling outfit that won the last two tours with Sir Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome (though no such luck this year). Sky have been amazing and Sir Dave Brailsford is clearly quite a leader. I was struck by his ethos for success and it rang true with me regarding life for anyone building a start-up. When asked how he felt about the need to change tactics when his main rider crashed out of the race, he answered simply with the tenacity of someone who knows that the path to success is never direct and is always hard work:

We start off with the basics that the goalposts will move and that life’s not fair

Chelsea Fringe

On my cycle home, I pass one of the locations for Chelsea Fringe every evening and have been meaning to post about it. Chelsea Fringe – what a great idea. The Edinburgh Fringe is now the gem of the Edinburgh Festivals and started, I believe, as a response to the more traditional Edinburgh International Festival with its impressive, but elderly tattoo.

Gardening is and should be more accessible that just the rarefied experience offered by the Chelsea Flower Show, so the notion of a Fringe adds, at a stroke, a hint of cool and modernity – and increases the overall appeal and accessibility.

What else could do with a fringe? Ideal Home Fringe? The Proms Fringe? Glyndebourne Fringe? Henley Regatta Fringe?

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Show off media v non show off media

An awful lot gets labelled as social media. And irrespective of the words used, It seems any new way of communicating is bundled together as all the same sort of thing by the media for convenience.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp, Vine, Telegram, Skype are all birds of a feather, but I think they can be best be understood and categorised by noting whether they are show off media or not.

Places where people routinely show off, professionally or personally
– Facebook
– Twitter
– Linked In
– Vine
– Instagram
– FourSquare

Places where the whole point is to keep it private
– email
– Whatsapp
– Skype
– Telegram
– Snapchat

The killer app for both groups remains your address book. That’s the truth as to who we care about – and the real long term asset.

Don’t think

Ray Bradbury on the power of intuition

I’ve had a sign over my typewriter for over 25 years now, which reads “Don’t think!” You must never think at the typewriter — you must feel. Your intellect is always buried in that feeling anyway.

lastminute.com ads from 1999/2000

Digging through some old files I’ve found these four posters I commissioned for lastminute.com through M&C Saatchi/Immediate Sales. They’re not my favourites but they’re the only surviving ones I have. The Blair “don’t plan” ad was an opportunistic response to the news that the then Prime Minister’s wife was unexpectedly pregnant.

The best ad we ran, IMO, was “Surprise your girlfriend. Take her sister to Paris.”

The LMN brand was all about spontaneity, adventure and romance. I have to say I think they lost that sheen, though they appear to be wanting to get it back.

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Purpose beats benefits

It’s good to know what benefits your product offers, but really powerful brands have a purpose – a point of view on how they believe the world should be. This reason to exist can create an authentic connection with people and a guiding narrative for the business.

How Pixar stays creative

Great interview with Ed Catmull, President of Pixar outlining some of the practical, tough ways they manage the creative process. There are some excellent insights into how to manage creative people and the importance of collaboration.

Fundamentally, successful companies are unstable… the forces of conservatism are trying to go to a safe place

There are a small number of people who are socially dysfunctional, very creative. We get rid of them.

When we say we are director-led, we mean the director has to lead