James Gill

CEO and co-founder of GoSquared.

London, UK 120 posts

What sells? Climate or ROI?

Climate vs ROI

What sells? 🌍 Climate, or 💰 ROI?

In the world of sustainability, what *actually* sells?

Is it a friendly, climate-focused tagline?

Or is it cold, hard business return-on-investment?

As someone who’s been leading with a sustainability focused message for over a year, just asking that question makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

When selling a product in a crowded market, you always need to stand out from the rest of the industry. And it’s hard to dislike a more sustainable alternative.

Standing out from the industry tends to mean leading with a proposition that is different. If everyone else leads with a pitch around ROI, then how do you lead with a pitch on ROI and still maintain differentiation?

I recently had an inspiring conversation with Tim Schumacher who put the question to me: do people buy based on environmental benefits or business benefits?

What gets you in the door might not be what gets you bought.

From what we’ve seen at EcoSend, leading with a pitch around climate is a fantastic way to drive awareness and attention, and it expresses our values in building the most environmentally conscious email marketing platform in the world.

However, leading with an environmental pitch doesn’t always drive business.

In fact it’s a challenge I’ve heard many times from other founders in the climate space — people love the idea of changing the world for the better, but when push comes to shove the business decision almost always wins out.

That business decision might be:

  • Switching will take time, so we’ll stick with our current tool.
  • We will go with the most trusted brand, to avoid unnecessary risk.
  • There’s a specific feature we need that your product doesn’t have.
  • We can get this cheaper elsewhere.

Fortunately with many environmental focused products and propositions the trade-off of climate vs ROI doesn’t necessarily need to exist.

Often what is better for the environment is also the more effective, more impactful decision for the business.

The challenge is finding the right balance between communicating your climate focus while driving awareness of business impact.

It’s something we’re going to experiment with more at EcoSend — by focusing on sustainability, we’re building a highly optimised, efficient platform where your emails are much more likely to get delivered, opened, read, and actioned.

Can we ultimately drive more people to a climate conscious solution by leading with a business focused pitch?

We’ll find out.

The Apple Watch Ultra: a review after 9 months

I’ve owned an Apple Watch since day one.

I started with the Apple Watch stainless steel model, now known as “Series 0” because it was before they started referring to the models with this convention.

I have loved my Apple Watch ever since, with a borderline obsession for my activity rings, and admiration for the quality of the overall ecosystem, from iPhone and Mac interconnectivity, to beautifully crafted bands, to an elegant charger.

Over time, my desire to work out with Apple Watch has grown, to the point where I purchased an Apple Watch Sport to help me with training for long distance running. I always felt conflicted with the Sport — compared to my original Apple Watch it was far less of a fashion item, eschewing polished stainless steel for aluminium. Yet the Sport was great for running and workouts. I used it until the battery started to struggle to get through a full day.

I held off buying a new Apple Watch until last year, when Apple unveiled its new round of devices. Last year was undeniably a very minor upgrade in the history of incremental upgrades across all models. For the Ultra, aside from the new double-tap gesture (supposedly enabled by the new chip inside), and a new watch face, the 2023 model was identical in terms of functionality to the original model released the year prior.

Ultra or not?

I knew it was time for a new Apple Watch, but which one? I missed the stainless steel beauty of my original, but I had no intention of cutting down on my exercise. If anything, I wanted to be increasing my physical fitness with new, tougher workouts.

Apple Watch Studio at Apple Battersea

I went to one of the many local Apple Stores in London — the Battersea store, and was thrilled to find they have an Apple Watch Studio. It’s an area of the store dedicated to trying on different models and bands, with staff available to help walk through the different options. It’s more like going into a high end jewellery store than a gadget shop.

I had looked online at the different options for hours on end. But it was only when I got to the store that it hit me — the stainless steel Watch was no match for the Ultra. The steel model looked more like a piece of jewellery, especially the smaller model that I had been accustom to. The Ultra, on the other hand, felt like a tool. A beautifully crafted tool of course, but it had a tactility that reinforced my intentions for the device — to help me get things done and push myself. Just looking at it made me want to go climb up a mountain!

What made the Ultra even easier to decide on was the surrounding body of the watch. It had a glint in the light, a slight shine, around the bezel of the display, which I hadn’t noticed before. It struck

An interview on the Misfit Founders podcast

The incredibly generous and supportive Biro Florin recently invited me on his show Misfit Founders.

The show was filmed in his beautiful house in Brighton, UK, and we chatted about building a SaaS business, and a whole lot more.

It's the first time I've spoken at length about our work on EcoSend and how GoSquared fits into a bigger picture more than ever.

It's a very long show (the best part of two hours!) so if you have the time, I hope you enjoy it.

Thank you Biro, for inviting me on, and helping to set my life goals for a podcasting setup like yours!

Designing the LoveFrom, Serif typeface

If you're into design, and especially typography, you're going to love this.

With a brief introduction from Sir Jony Ive, this talk dives deep into the design of the LoveFrom, Serif typeface.

I found it fascinating to learn how the team took inspiration from the original works of Baskerville, even finding the original hand-made steel plates that measure just a few millimetres, made hundreds of years ago.

Where do you find inspiration to write?

Every so often, I feel at a loss when trying to figure out what to write about.

I frequently feel uninspired and lacking in ideas, so I will go weeks, possibly months without writing.

But there’s a great source of material I haven’t turned to enough: questions.

Whenever I speak at an event, or meet another founder, or really, anyone, I’m usually thrown a question of some sort.

I’ve started to note these questions down, as they’re the perfect starting point for topics to write about.

I’ve found that writing answers to questions I’ve been asked has three valuable advantages:

1. Writing addresses my frustration

If I had more time, I’d have written a shorter letter. — Blaise Pascal

When I’m asked a question, typically I must think on my feet.

Occasionally, that works OK. But sometimes, about 2 minutes after I’ve answered the question, I’ll realise I had something better to say on the topic.

There’s no rewind, or “edit” button for live conversation.

It can be incredibly frustrating!

By retrospectively writing an answer to questions I’m asked, I can address my frustration by giving a better answer.

2. Writing helps form better answers

I find writing to be a fantastic way to clarify my thoughts.

It forces me to consider something on a deeper level. The act of writing can crystallise a topic for me.

It’s correlated to the way I like to learn: if I must teach someone about something, it will absolutely force me to learn more about that thing.

I’ve often found that teaching others is the best way to teach myself, but it always feels like cheating!

3. Writing multiplies my impact

I’d like to think another benefit of turning these questions into written articles shared here, is that I can be more helpful to you, the reader of this blog.

When I have a chat with a friend, or when I am fortunate enough to speak at an event, I often think “gosh I wish that was recorded, the conversation could have been very helpful for more people.”

A wonderful thing about writing is it tends to last a lot longer than audio or video. It’s easier to find via search, and can more easily be edited to bring it up to date.

Some questions I have written answers to

Some questions I need to write answers to

  • Why are you building an email marketing tool, when it’s one of the most crowded markets you could possibly enter?
  • What’s driving you after so many years to keep doing GoSquared?
  • How have your values influenced your decisions and lifestyle recently?
  • What advice do you have for someone starting out on their own startup journey?

Do you have a question for me? Please

Measurement, goals, and instinct

“Not everything that can be counted counts. Not everything that counts can be counted.” — Albert Einstein

A friend shared a fantastic podcast episode with me today: Brian Chesky of Airbnb on Steven Bartlett’s show, “Diary of a CEO.”

Brian shares his journey building Airbnb and covers many of the low points and personal challenges of being a founder, grappling with balancing work and friendships, and a lot more. I highly recommend giving the episode a listen.

Something Brian also talked about creativity, instinct, and measuring success.

He highlighted that Airbnb is one of the few companies in the Fortune 500 with a designer and creative talent in the boardroom.

The world of business has come to praise measurement and financials more than creativity. Yet, the world is changing faster than ever, requiring ever more creative thinking to adapt and change.

I’ve always struggled with balancing instinct, creative ideas, and doing bold but immeasurable work against the “proper” way to do things: small, measurable experiments, data-driven decision-making, and focusing on ROI.

It reminded me of a quote I read a while ago from David Ogilvy:

“I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgment; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamp post for support, rather than for illumination.”

Why put craft into anything if you can’t prove it makes a difference?

Why go the extra mile to make things “just right” if no one seems to care?

Brian’s suggestion is to not try to measure it.

As soon as someone passionate about their craft has to justify making their work as good as it can possibly be, they should probably move on.

Craft and creativity must be baked into your company’s culture. As a leader, you are the one that sets and reinforces that culture in every action you take.

The whole conversation inspired me. Speak up for what you believe in a little more.

Consistency is boring

"It looks almost the same as the last one!"
"It's surely not worth upgrading from last year's model!"
"Apple has really lost its ability to innovate lately."

Another year, another iPhone.

But this is how Apple rolls.

People remember the exciting moments. People get excited for the shiniest things.

But often, success comes from the boring: being consistent, executing relentlessly, not letting things slip.

Apple may not be able to hang on to their success forever, but since 2007 they have shipped at least one new, successful model of iPhone every single year. They didn't even let a global pandemic get in their way.

They’ve never once slipped up — no exploding batteries, no massively unpopular designs, no unexpected huge delays.

That’s boring, but that’s a big part of what has turned the iPhone into a business that generates $200 billion per year.

Most of us aren't running a global consumer electronics business, but I think there's something to take away for all of us — whether you're a founder, an employee, or just trying to improve in your personal life.

Often the success comes not from a single moment of genius, but from the compounding effects of showing up consistently and not giving up.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." — Aristotle

Thready or not, here I come

As you’ve probably seen, Meta launched their newest app today, Threads.

It’s like Twitter, only considerably slimmed down.

For day one, it seems it couldn’t have gone better for the makers of Instagram.

As someone who geeks out on tech products all the time, I find the Threads launch fascinating, so I jotted a few notes and observations down about it.

Timing is everything

It’s no coincidence that Threads is launching in the same week that sentiment towards Twitter is at an all-time low.

Elon Musk decided to enforce aggressive rate limiting for all users, made Tweeetdeck redundant for many, and obliterated the value of public URLs by preventing tweet embeds for non-logged-in users.

It’s clear Threads could be better.

It could have more features.

It’s not quite ready when you compare the feature checklist.

But launching this week while Twitter is in the dumps (more than usual) may just give it the strong gust of goodwill that helps this spark of a product turn into a full-blown, roaring fire of a platform.

Ship early, iterate

Many “critical” features aren’t in at launch, but is the app and experience solid? Is it easy for new users to onboard? Is the experience reaching a threshold that the majority of users will enjoy and trust? Yes.

You want the ability to filter your feed, you want better search, you want to have more clarity on who’s following you. You want an API. You want the app if you’re in the EU!

But all of those are trade-offs between shipping now or shipping later.

Someone had to make that call. The easy option is always to wait. Waiting always feels safer.

Shipping this week looks like it was the right call. The rest can come later.

Aside: If you’re interested, a while ago I wrote about the importance of shipping early, and often.

Nothing to lose

What I’ve enjoyed most so far as an observer of the Threads launch today has been seeing Meta operate like they have nothing to lose.

Launch today. Move fast. Share the numbers. Integrate with the open standards (eventually).

It seems unlike many of Meta’s most significant big launches: Instagram Stories was a bolt-on to not lose out to Snapchat, Reels is another tab to avoid losing out to TikTok, and Instagram itself was an acquisition.

Threads, though, is a joy to see: Zuck and the team building something that doesn’t just compete, but that could genuinely be better than Twitter. Making something people want. With a beautiful blank slate.

Maybe I am just relieved to not have another tab, view, or swipe in the Instagram app. Or perhaps it’s that my trust in Twitter has dwindled.

Whatever the reason, I’m rooting for Threads. If you’re on it, join me!

Sign up for your own product

"You don't get a second chance to make a first impression."

If you work at a gym, you know where the changing rooms are.

If you’re joining a gym for the first time, and you’re heading in for your first session, everything is alien.

You don’t know where the changing rooms are, and if the signs don’t point you in the right direction, you’re lost.

When I signed up for a gym session recently, I felt totally lost and a little foolish, wandering around trying to find somewhere to get changed into my kit. I almost left out of sheer embarrassment before I plucked up the courage to return to the reception desk and ask.

Whether you build software, build physical products, own a restaurant, or run a gym, nothing beats using your service as a first-time user to find out how you can improve it.

It’s always great to get feedback from customers but sometimes they don’t tell you everything. Sometimes they may not even care as much as you do about the experience.

It’s easy to even get frustrated that customers don’t “get” the thing you’ve built. You’re so proud of certain elements you can easily get blinded from the areas you’ve overlooked.

A while ago, I gave a talk on user onboarding, and one of the recommendations was to sign up for your own product every week. I even paused to encourage the audience to put a recurring event in their calendars!

Several years on, I feel that suggestion is as relevant as ever, and it’s advice that’s easy for me to give and seemingly hard to follow.

When did you last sign up for your own product?

Why would Apple make a VR headset?

A quick sketch of my dream Apple headset

The silence is deafening — Apple is going to announce a VR headset imminently.

The very fact Apple hasn’t denied any rumours, and the increasing nods towards a big launch, are evidence enough. If they weren’t, then we’d know by now.

The feeling is very reminiscent of the run-up to the launch of both the original iPhone and Apple Watch — both products were widely expected to be unveiled, but the knowledge of exactly what they would entail was almost entirely unknown.

We’ve been here before

My sketches of the proposed Apple Watch ahead of its announcement.

While I never wrote about that feeling before the iPhone launch, I wrote a piece just before the Apple Watch was announced: “Why would Apple make a Watch?” in which I tried to get into the mind of the decision makers at Apple and understand why they would enter the watch market and what the device might enable.

Looking back at that piece, I feel quite proud. While I was not the only person pondering such concepts, I proposed the Apple Watch (or iWatch as I believed it’d be called at the time!) would:

  • Enable you to pay on the Subway, and allow for contactless payments — before Apple Pay came along.
  • Have easily detachable / swappable straps.
  • Become a key health companion, continuously monitoring your activity and heart rate.
  • Enable you to sleep better and wake up at the optimum time.
  • It’d prioritise telling the time at all costs, despite its smart features.

I got many things wrong too — I thought the Watch would:

  • Have incredible, unbelievable battery technology.
  • Rethink the concept of a display: “I will eat my metaphorical hat if we see a full colour backlit Retina display on the device”.
  • Be the “magic wand” remote to your Apple TV.
  • As you can see from my sketches — the physical appearance of the Watch I believed Apple would make was more akin to a Fitbit activity band.

I love reflecting on that post because it’s what makes following a secretive company like Apple so fun — you can dream and imagine, and you get to find out eventually if you were right. You get to decide if you felt Apple lived up to, exceeded, or missed your expectations.

So with an entirely new device and category just around the corner, what do we hope to see from the Californian giant?

Let’s dig in…

What will it be called?

I don’t believe Apple will call this a “headset” at all. Apple has never referred to the iPhone as a “handset” even though it’s how carriers and many consumers referred to phones before the iPhone.

Normal people don’t buy “headsets”. Headsets are for gamers and geeks.

Apple makes products for people who want the best, and they, of course, charge prices aligned with that approach.

There are numerous rumours and trademark filings, and even supposed confirmations in various code

The British firm perfectly producing hundreds of military uniforms for the Coronation

If you’re interested in tailoring, if you’re interested in British manufacturing, if you’re interested in military uniforms(?!), if you’re interested in the royal family, or if you’re interested in family run businesses, this is something to watch.

Patrick Grant (who owns a tailors on Savile Row, presents the Great British Sewing Bee, and frequently stands up for British manufacturing) presents a one-hour show about the family run business, Kashket & Partners. They’re responsible for producing the hundreds of military uniforms for the Coronation of King Charles.

This program hits a certain sweet spot for me in the Venn diagram of my interests. I am in total awe of the level of detail, care, and craft that goes into something of this scale.

Watch Coronation tailors: fit for a king on BBC iPlayer

BBC Website for the show with clips

Feeling sorry for AI

You may know how to suggest 10 helpful recipes from nothing more than a blurry photo of some ingredients.

You may know how to create a dramatic photograph from nothing more than a few sentences.

You may know how to write a witty one line joke that entertains the reader.

You may even know how to suggest a gift for Mother’s Day.

But you will never know the deep joy of tasting that first bite after cooking a meal for five hours.

You will never know the tingle on the back of one’s neck when a picture takes the viewer back to a heartwarming moment in time.

You will never laugh your belly off at a witty line delivered by a hilarious actor.

You will never experience the unparalleled love that a parent can have for their child.

AI is the star of the show right now — a daily headline around the world. It’s smarter than anything we’ve seen before.

But what does it mean for our future to have a force that is so intelligent, without feeling or true, deep emotion?

Reflect, recharge, and go

By the end of 2022 I was feeling exhausted. I desperately needed a break.

I'm uncertain if I really got a considerable break over Christmas — we hosted Christmas at our house for the first time, I cooked for eight people, and we headed up to Scotland for New Year celebrations.

It was fun, but it wasn’t entirely relaxing.

It was different, though — different to the usual schedule of work, the usual stress and the usual ups and downs of a working week.

Critically, I managed to reflect on 2022, and I spent some time thinking about 2023.

I’ve started January of this year with a few intentions:

  • Don’t eat meat (at least for January)
  • Exercise daily
  • Get to bed by 10pm
  • Wake up before 7am

We’ll have to check in on these as February rolls around, let alone January 2024. But I have intentions and I am feeling positive about all of them so far.

Upon further reflection though, I know I am guilty of a cycle — every January, I feel re-energised, I start afresh, I have great intentions, and I carry them out. I’ve even written on this blog about them (often I write when my energy is highest, too):

Perhaps my more profound realisation heading into 2023 is that even the greatest of intentions can be weighed down and held back — by external forces, by lack of energy, by drifting without realising.

Why don't I have any intentions as September rolls around? Why did my writing, my exercise, my routine fall off mid-to-late last year? Why does that happen almost every year?

In 2023, my most important intention is to not wait until December to reflect, recharge, and reassess myself.

There is too much I want to achieve in this life to let a month slip by.

I will take more time to check in with myself, to reflect on how I’m feeling, how I’m spending my time, and to recharge my batteries to make every day count.

Here’s to a fulfilling 2023.

A week in London like no other

I have never thought of myself as much of a royalist...

But when the news broke that the Queen had passed away on Thursday 8th September 2022, it hit me harder than I expected.

I know people have many thoughts and feelings about the royal family, but regardless of what they might be, the week following her passing was remarkable for so many reasons.

I hope, regardless of your views, these notes might give a little glimpse into London for those who weren’t there.

The announcement came like a full-stop in the middle of a sentence you were enjoying reading. The national anthem interupted whatever was on TV.

Everything stopped.

Over the week, I felt a sense of emptiness, one that perhaps is shared by many. The nation has lost a key ingredient that we can never replace.

From singing along to a Queen medley in Covent Garden to witnessing the impeccable processions from the military, here are a few of my highlights.

A higher order

We live in a world where corporations are often considered the new religions. To some, queuing for trainers or a new phone may be the equivalent of visiting church on a Sunday.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, but the last week was the antithesis of capitalism as religion.

The normal experience of daily city life — the bombardment of advertising, hunger for the latest tech gadget, and the desire to stand out and grab attention faded for a brief moment.

It was a week for people to come together, not purely to mourn, but to celebrate a life. It was a week where total strangers from all over the world shared in a piece of history.

It was as heartwarming as it was historical.

The centre of the world

The world's media surrounding Buckingham Palace

On the Friday evening after the news broke I wandered around London to soak up the atmosphere.

I strolled down the Mall to see members of the public laying flowers, quietly staring up at the gates of Buckingham Palace. Many thinking "we'll never see the Queen stand on that balcony again."

It was only when I reached the palace that I realised how significant this news was to the world, not just the UK.

I was taken aback to find the world's media hunched up in countless marquees surrounding the palace, each with lights on and cameras out, late into the evening, communicating back to newsrooms throughout around the planet about what was happening.

It felt like I was at the centre of the world.

Singing along to Queen in Covent Garden

Crowds gathered in Covent Garden singing along to Queen

I wandered into Covent Garden on that Friday evening.

Street performers are here every day — some juggle swords, some walk on tightropes, some eat fire. Some do all of those at once.

As someone who’s lived in or near London all my life I tend to breeze through — I've been there and seen that many times!

But something was different on that Friday evening. Initially I thought it

Email is not free

For pretty much ever, it's been free to send email.

But just because there's no charge on your credit card every time you send an email, it doesn't mean there is no cost.

The costs of email are hidden.

Sending email is not free in terms of the time and attention of the recipient. Some studies show that people spend over 25% of their working day handling email. How much is their time worth?

Sending email is not free in terms of the data that can be gathered by other parties along the way. Gmail is "free" for good reason.

And an eye-opener for me this week, after the hottest day on record in London: sending email is not free in terms of its impact to the planet.

But despite all of this, at some point, we told ourselves email is free. Look at your inbox (and, if you dare, your spam folder) to see how many people treat email as if there are no costs at all.

We’d do better as senders, and as recipients to think of email as being just as costly as posting a letter in the mail.

Because in many ways, it costs a whole lot more.

P.S. I realise there is some irony if you are receiving this post via email. I hugely appreciate you subscribing, and I hope it was worth the cost on this occasion.

Episode 15 of Lost and Founder — What we've learned from 16 years of GoSquared

On 3rd February GoSquared turned the grand age of sixteen.

In the latest episode of Lost and Founder, I talk about eight of the 16 lessons from those 16 years — on building, ideas, and on customer relationships.

Recently when GoSquared turned 16 years old (or young?) we shared a blog post with 16 lessons from those 16 years.

We received a ton of great feedback on the post, so I thought it’d be good to share some of those lessons on the show and speak about them a little more.

Here are the first 8 of the 16 lessons we’ve learned along the way so far...

On ideas and building:

  1. Build something people want.
  2. Share early, share often.
  3. Constraints breed creativity — embrace them
  4. The details are not the details, they make the product

On customers:

  1. Use your own product. Be your own customer
  2. Charge the trust battery
  3. Your customers are smart — treat them accordingly
  4. Treat each customer as unique, but scale your process

Thanks, and see you next time!

Music: Jakarta by Bonsaye. Podcast hosting: Transistor.

16 lessons from 16 years of GoSquared

Today marks the 16th (yes, you read that right — sixteenth) birthday of GoSquared.

We were just kids when we started building this thing.

We were meant to be doing homework and getting into trouble, but we were obviously far too cool for that.

To celebrate this milestone, we put together a timeline of our journey from February 2006 to today.

We also took the opportunity to reflect on some of the lessons we've learnt along the way. 16 lessons to be precise. Maybe you've come across many of these before, but it never hurts to reflect...

1. Build something people want.
2. Share early, share often.
3. Constraints breed creativity — embrace them.
4. The details are not the details, they make the product.
5. Use your own product. Be your own customer.
6. Charge the trust battery.
7. Your customers are smart — treat them accordingly.
8. Treat each customer as unique, but scale your process.
9. Never underestimate what a small group of focused, aligned, motivated people can do.
10. Celebrate the small wins. Have fun along the way.
11. Most meetings don’t need to happen.
12. Knowing yourself is a superpower.
13. Simplicity is a war.
14. If you think you’re repeating yourself too much, repeat some more.
15. Focus is impossibly hard, but without it you’re doomed.
16. Just do it.

If you want to dive into any of these lessons further (and have a cup of tea in hand), then please take a look at the complete post over on the GoSquared Blog.

Finally, a huge thank you to everyone who has supported us on this journey so far. Friends, family, colleagues, customers, investors, and all the amazing people we've met along the way.

Episode 14 of Lost and Founder — The January Blues

In my first episode of Lost and Founder of 2022, I talk about how I’m getting through the darkest month of the year, and why January can actually be a great time reflect, reset, and build a stronger you for the year ahead.

I always find January a tough month — all the fun and excitement of Christmas and new years is over, the weather is awful, it’s dark outside, and to top it all off we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic.

But fear not, there’s a world of opportunity out there! I’m spending some time at the start of January to reflect on 2021. I’m not setting myself huge audacious goals because I don’t know what the future holds, and I know the chances of success are low unless I use my previous experience to inform my future actions.

Don’t get caught up in all the “new year, new you” nonsense — be careful what you read on social media! Instead, look at yourself, spend time reflecting on your own successes and where things could have gone better, and use that to channel your next steps as you enter the new year.

Actions / take aways

  • Go easy on yourself — the last two years have been hard on all of us.
  • It’s never too late to reflect — if you haven’t already, you still have time to reflect on 2021.
  • You don’t have to make new years resolutions — instead get clearer on your values.
  • If you are clear on your values, channel your thinking around small habits you can adopt day by day rather than setting huge unwieldy goals.
  • Give yourself something to look forward to at the end of January — like a trip to somewhere you like, a gift to yourself, or some other treat.

Thanks, and see you next time!

Music: Jakarta by Bonsaye. Podcast hosting: Transistor.

The crippling fear of hitting “publish”

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” — Pablo Picasso

I’ve been feeling it increasingly — I’ll put a tweet together, a short article, maybe even a visual piece of work. I’ll be feeling pretty good about it, and then the time comes to hit “publish”…

That’s when the fear creeps in. What if this is rubbish? Is this going to offend someone? Will it be misunderstood? Will people judge me for it?

It’s been enough to make me undo all my work and not hit publish on countless occasions.

I know I’m not alone on this — even the best feel it to some degree whenever they’re about to publish their work.

I keep trying to tell myself, though: don’t let it stop you.

Usually, the worst thing that happens is no one cares. Everyone looks the other way and gets on with their lives.

No one cares as much about you and your work as you do.

With that in mind, I urge you (and my future self) to overcome that fear next time by hitting publish. It’s the fastest, most effective way to learn, iterate, and improve.

Remembering Richard Rogers (1933–2021)

I woke up this morning to see the news that Richard Rogers had passed away aged 88. Richard Rogers has been one of the most influential architects of the last 100 years, and while I’ve always been aware of his work I didn’t realise quite how many of my favourite buildings were created by his practice.

Among others, Rogers is responsible for the Lloyds Building in London, the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Millennium Dome, Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport, and The Leadenhall Building (aka “the Cheesegrater”).

Rogers’ work has influenced my fascination with modern architecture since I was in my earliest years. I still have the fondest memories of visiting the Millennium Dome as a boy in 2000 and being awed by the scale of the place. I still recall having the sense that “this is a significant moment in the world, and I’m living through it”, and the architecture I associate with that moment is almost entirely the work of Richard Rogers.

The Rogers-designed spaces I’ve been fortunate enough to visit have me feel inspired, motivated, and ambitious, but also have made me feel closer, more connected to the people around me.

His legacy will live on for many generations to come, and I hope will continue to inspire many more.

Thank you for architecting some of my favourite landmarks of London.

Read more on Wallpaper

Photo: Interior of the Lloyds Building, 2006 by Phogel.

The Origin of Baileys

The iconic Baileys
On December 3rd, 2007, Diageo announced the sale of the billionth bottle of Baileys since it was first introduced in 1973. [...]

The initial thought behind Baileys Irish Cream took about 30 seconds. In another 45 minutes the idea was formed. Baileys was like that for me. A decade of experience kicked in and delivered a great idea. It wasn’t as instant as it seemed. This is the story of its creation.

I love so much about this story — two guys in Soho, London in the 1970s tasked with a vague brief. The doubts, skepticism, and challenges of putting something new into the world.

This is a story of the ultimate success of a huge product and brand, told by the humble people who invented it, without reaping the significant financial rewards you might expect.

The article is actually from 2017, but I only just came across it here:In 1973, I invented Baileys

If you want more, there’s a book written by David Gluckman himself: “The Sh*t will never sell!

When I inevitably raise a glass of this after dinner at Christmas, I'll have this story in the back of my mind and remember: everything around us is here because someone, somewhere, at some time had to deliver on a vague brief to put it there.

Episode 13 of Lost and Founder — The Great Resignation

It's been a fair few weeks since the last episode of Lost and Founder, but I'm pleased to return with a topic I've been doing a lot of thinking on lately: the Great Resignation.

I hope you find this episode helpful, and as always, if you want to talk about anything in the show, please reach out.

After a year and a half, it seems that more people than ever are looking for a change in their lives.

In what some have dubbed "The Great Resignation", in this episode I look at how to handle team changes in the wider context of managing a team through a period of significant change.

This year, the term "the Great Resignation" has been increasingly used to describe the explosion in people wanting to change their careers.

As a planet, we're in unprecedented times – and it's no wonder that many teams are going through a tumultuous time with changes never seen before.

If you're anything like me, handling team changes is one of the most challenging aspects of being a manager and leader. I find it hard to even know where to begin on this topic, but I thought I'd share my latest thinking in this episode with the hope it will be valuable to others out there going through similar challenges.

Actions / take aways

  • Every change is an opportunity to look at the business – what is going well, what isn't?
  • Understand people’s goals and desires and ensure they’re on the right path.
  • When someone leaves there can be tremendous opportunity for others on the team to grow into new roles.
  • Be clear with yourself on the goals and needs of the company.
  • Remember: everyone is on their own journey. You can’t control that! Focus on what you can control – organisation design, encouraging the culture and performance you want to see, leading by example, and making people the hero on their own journey.
  • You’re not alone. This stuff is hard. Talk to others and you’ll realise that many others are in the same boat and going through similar challenges.

Links and further reading

Thanks, and see you on the next show!

Music: Jakarta by Bonsaye. Podcast hosting: Transistor.

Building a long lasting startup – interview with Biro Florin and yours truly

Building a Long Lasting Startup

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by prolific podcaster, entrepreneur, and all-round lovely guy Biro Florin this week on the The Startup Corner.

We spoke about how GoSquared got started, why a healthy dose of naivety can be an asset, and how raising money ideally needs to start with asking yourself a big, deep question. Plus a whole lot more.

If you have a spare moment in your day I'd encourage you to check out the show – Biro is a fantastic host and presenter, and a real pro when it comes to producing a quality podcast in record time.

View the show on YouTube

Chair Times

If you’re interested in chairs, or the process of product design, or, ideally if you like both, then this is the documentary for you.

A soothing, fascinating deep-dive into the history of seating, presented by the experts at Vitra.

If you have a spare 90 minutes, grab a cup of coffee, sit back in the best chair you have, and watch the movie for free on the Vitra site.

Watch Chair Times

Episode 12 of Lost and Founder — Steve Jobs

This week marks ten years since Steve Jobs passed away, so in this episode of Lost and Founder I share how the great man himself inspired me early on.

Anyone who knows me knows I have been a fan of the fruit company from California for a long time. In this episode, I share how I became a fan of Apple early in my life – from hanging out in the design agency my mum worked at, to being fortunate enough to get an unwanted Mac from my dad's office.

Steve Jobs influenced me in many ways – through his keynotes, his showmanship, his stories, and through the many products his company brought into the world.

In this episode I summarise three key areas where Steve Jobs had an impact on me: his showmanship, his obsession with simplicity, and his views on life.

Actions / take aways

Thanks, and see you next time!

Music: Jakarta by Bonsaye. Podcast hosting: Transistor.