By innovation only

Every September, Apple announces new iPhones without fail. Here’s a QuickTake of the 2019 iPhone event.

Intro animation

Apple kicked the event off with a beautiful introductory animation that many would describe as an artistic homage to the soon-to-depart Jony Ive. Regardless of the meaning behind this animation, it's utterly delightful.

Apple Arcade

Apple Arcade

Apple's first focus was to talk about Apple Arcade – the gaming subscription service announced earlier in the year. Some great games, nothing too much new other than official release date and official price of $4.99 / month.

Because Apple controls everything here, it’s going to be available in 150 countries on launch. Relatively easy for Apple to do, very hard for anyone else.

AppleTV+

See – a new show coming to AppleTV+

Apple’s Netflix competitor was also announced earlier in the year, and Apple has been teasing more and more trailers in the last few months.

Nothing new to report from the event except: Apple is aggressively pricing this. Not only is the service $4.99 / month – half of Netflix – but they’re also giving everyone a free year on any new purchase of an Apple device.

Aggressive pricing is perhaps required here – Apple is playing catchup, and their catalogue is tiny right now. They’re building from zero.

But with original content there’s a lot to be said for having 10 incredibly well produced and popular shows over 100 mediocre ones. Only time will tell whether Apple’s high quality production will equate to popularity.

iPad

New low-end iPad

The lowest end iPad gets an update. Apple also took the time to remind us that the iPad has its own OS now. I’d expect the really exciting iPad news to be about the iPad Pro which were massively overhauled in the last year – maybe there's time for an October event before Christmas.

Apple Watch

Apple Watch Series 5 with always on display

The headline for the Apple Watch is health. Health health health.

The heartfelt stories Apple shared about customers whose lives had been impacted and / or saved as a result of wearing Apple Watch were nothing but heart warming and made you want to well up. The story is clear: Apple Watch is not a product, it’s a living, breathing example of technology serving the human race for good, not evil.

It's very easy to get caught up in the emotion but then you do need to remind yourself it's a consumer device that costs $399 or more and will last for approximately three years before it needs replacing.

The Series 5 features an "always on" display while maintaining all day battery – I didn’t realise this was possible today with current tech. Very cool to see it shipping in a device that I thought was still at least another generation out.

iPod Nano ad from 2007
Apple Watch Series 5 intro video

It never fails to amaze me how Apple comes up with new visuals to promote

Over-communication

Within a team – whether you’re five people or 500 – bad communication is often the top reason for things to fall apart.

If you can communicate better you can operate better.

But it’s extremely easy to under-communicate. To assume that everyone knows the plan, everyone knows the reason we exist, everyone knows the pricing, everyone knows the roadmap, everyone knows the mistakes you’ve made and the lessons you’ve learnt from them.

But in reality, most people on the team don’t know the same information. They probably have far fewer things clear in their heads.

If you’re in a position of leadership then you’re probably in a position of immense power to communicate more, and to communicate better, with your team.

I’ve made this mistake too many times – to assume everyone “gets it”. To not repeat what you feel is already obvious.

But what you think is obvious as a leader may be clear as mud to some on your team – especially if they’ve just joined your company.

Communicate the big and important stuff clearly. Communicate frequently. Then make it clearer. And then communicate it again some more.

Communicate the same thing over and over and over until it’s painful to repeat it again.

It’s extremely hard to over-communicate as a leader. And the risks of under-communicating far outweighs the risks of over-communicating.

Obey the rules or exceed the rules

I had an encounter with a business the other day where I felt frustrated by their marketing approach.

They sent me snail mail without my consent, and even had the misfortune to send their mass mailing out with a typo in the headline.

I messaged them to tell them about the typo but also to politely ask them not to send me such mail in the future. Aside from being mail I didn’t want, I thought it was against the GDPR ruling we’ve had in Europe for over a year now.

Apparently their approach was still legally compliant with GDPR, and they have no intention of changing it.

But it made me realise – some individuals, and some businesses choose to scrape by and meet the rules.

While some people and some businesses think the rules don’t go far enough – they choose to set the example, and enforce a higher standard than the laws ever could.

Some rules are there to be broken, but some rules and laws are there to protect customers, society, the environment, and more. Those kinds of rules can be obeyed, or they can be exceeded by each of us.

The companies that exceed the rules, tend to exceed customer expectations. And those companies have a bright future.

Stop comparing

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

The above quote rings more and more true the longer I'm on this planet for.

So much of our culture, and our social interactions involves comparing ourselves to others.

You can use this comparison to motivate you, but too much of the time it seems to cause dramatically more negative consequences.

“Keeping up with the Joneses” isn’t just a challenge, it’s an uninspiring goal. Stop comparing yourself to those around you, and start comparing yourself to where you want to be.

Focus on your own goals and let them drown out the voices in your head telling you to “level up” against those around you.


The customer is right

Not every customer has the same problem, the same opinion, or the same reason to buy from you.

But if they’re your customer, they’re yours to keep. Or to lose.

You lose a customer by taking their money, and moving on to the next customer. You lose a customer not through actively annoying them, but through neglect.

You keep a customer by listening. By seeking their feedback. By understanding them. And then by acting. By making your product or your service better for them based on their needs.

If you can keep that feedback loop frequent and efficient, it’s hard to go wrong.

Just don’t stop seeking feedback, and don’t start thinking you know better than your customer. They’re usually right.

Strengths and weaknesses

Do you know what your strengths are?

Do you know what you're weak at?

If you can be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses, then you can start to act on them.

You don't necessarily need to improve where you're weak – just admitting that you're weak in a specific area can help you to decide if you should get better there, or find another solution.

For example, if you're running a business and you're weak on financial knowledge – you can choose to improve there, or you can choose to give that role to someone else. The only option you can't pick is to continue to be weak in that role and hope something changes by luck or magic.

The only caveat to improving all your weaknesses is you end up in the age-old situation of being a jack of all trades and a master of none. In the early days of any business, this is not necessarily a problem. But as soon as you have a team – of even, say, five people – it's time to start thinking about what you want to be a master of.

Do you know what your strengths and weaknesses are? If not, don't be afraid to ask those around you. People are often very nice, so it's likely they won't be forthcoming with your weaknesses. So make it easier for them – if there's an area you feel isn't your strength, simple ask those around you "Others have told me I could improve in X area – would you agree?"

Once you're clear on your own strengths and weaknesses, and you know where you want to improve, then it becomes a lot easier to worry less about your weaknesses and shortcomings.

Time boxing

Over the last few weeks I’ve been trying hard to box out my time each day of the week.

One of the challenges I struggle with, and from speaking to many other people – both founders and anyone working in a small team – is it’s hard to switch between the hundred different tasks you have each day.

It’s widely understood that constant task switching destroys your productivity, but it’s so hard to escape when there’s a constant torrent of new tasks to be accomplished and decisions to be made.

But escaping the torrent and becoming productive requires you to be in charge. You need to take control of your time.

Control your time

If you can control how you spend your time you can do so much more.

I was always sceptical of this, but since putting a concerted effort into boxing out my time during the week, I’ve become dramatically more productive, less stressed, and I’m able to spend my energy on the most important work – not just the most urgent.

How can you start to take more control of your time?

One simple change I’ve made is to book in my calendar the time I would normally leave as empty with an event – perhaps it’s titled “Map out our plan for Q4” or “Deep creative work”.

It doesn’t matter too much what tasks you put in – what matters is you treat your “free” time in the work week as protected time.

If a meeting deserves to get a fixture in your calendar, why the hell doesn’t the most important work you do get to feature there too?

A chance to reflect

As a bonus – it’s one thing to map out your week ahead of time, but it’s another to reflect on where your time went.

During the week, stuff comes up. Priorities change. "Urgent" tasks – even when we try our hardest to avoid them – tend to take priority.

I’ve been trying to keep track of my time throughout the day retrospectively by adjusting my calendar events based on what actually happened.

None of this is highly scientific. None of this is necessarily “industry standard”. And none of this requires any fancy tools or software. It just requires a calendar and a mindset change.

Do you feel in control of your schedule? If you do, I’d love to hear about what you’ve done to accomplish such an achievement.

Giving and receiving feedback

When was the last time you gave someone you work with feedback that was more than just “nice one!” or “great!”?

If you don’t give direct, constructive, helpful feedback you’re doing your team a disservice.

It’s so much easier to keep your thoughts to yourself – to hold it in and move on with your day, or to try to do the task yourself next time. But neither of these options help you build a great team, and neither of these options help the individual who needs the feedback most.

Two sides of feedback

There are two sides to feedback – the giving and the receiving.

Something we are always working to infuse within the team at GoSquared is a shared understanding of why feedback is so important – it enables each of us to improve and be the best we can be.

The following talk from Kim Scott on Radical Candor is a helpful step in the right direction for understanding why feedback is important and how you can encourage everyone on your team to get better at giving and receiving it.

https://youtu.be/MIh_992Nfes

What is your top priority?

It’s important to know what you’re going to do today. It's important to know what you’re going to do next.

It’s also important to know what you’re not going to do today, this week, this month, or ever.

But establishing your set of your priorities doesn’t happen by chance or by accident. If it does, then they’re not priorities, it's just a list of things to do.

To be clear on your priorities you also need to think about what’s most important in your business, in your social life, in your family, in your relationship, and to you personally.

Is figuring out your priorities a priority right now? Maybe it’s time to make it one.

If you can sell one, you can sell two...

My sister recently started her own business – selling beautiful, handmade, refillable candles.

I'm incredibly proud of her achievements so far, and I can't wait to see where her business goes next.

The whole process has been a huge learning curve for me though – having run GoSquared for so many years, it's refreshing to see a business from inception again.

One key misperception I see with founders just starting out, is that they hold too much back for too long – they wait until everything's perfect before sharing their creation with the world. They believe there will be a sudden influx of customers that will buy their perfect product the moment they launch.

Even for established businesses, having a queue of willing customers is a challenge – for a fresh new enterprise, it's as good as impossible.

Don't hope or even plan for the flood of customers. Time spent planning for that is time you could spend elsewhere.

Stop perfecting.

Just sell one thing to one customer.

Then do it again.

And then again.

You have to start one by one. You'll learn a lot this way, and you'll be making progress each and every day.

If you can sell one candle, you can sell two. And if you can sell two you can sell many, many more.

For the record

Meetings changed recently at GoSquared.

They got quicker.

They got clearer.

They started more promptly.

The need to be in every meeting reduced.

And the amount of “he said she said” reduced to zero.

What happened?


We started recording meetings.

At first, it was an alarming change – it felt weird.

Was it a step towards overbearing surveillance? Could this be used against me in the future? We all had concerns when starting out.

But a few months in, and the results have been undeniable.

The inspiration came from learning of Ray Dalio’s approach to running Bridgewater Associates. At Bridgewater every meeting is recorded, and direct, clear, honest feedback is strongly encouraged.

As with Bridgewater, recording meetings is part of a wider understanding across the team that we want to grow as individuals and as a team, and if we don’t hold each other to a high standard then we’re letting everyone down.

Now every individual in a meeting is aware that anyone else in the business has the opportunity to listen at a later date. It encourages everyone to bring their best to every meeting.

Why do we do it?

The key reasons we started to record meetings:

  • If someone can’t be present and wants extra detail on why a decision was made or how an idea came to be, there’s a place to understand that.
  • So anyone in the meeting can reflect on their own performance – just as a sports team reviews their performance after a game, it gives us a chance to review our own performance.

How do we record meetings?

There’s nothing complex:

  1. Start the meeting.
  2. Remind everyone the meeting is about to be recorded. If someone isn’t OK with it they can veto the recording any time. Consent is required.
  3. Open the Voice Memos app on your phone.
  4. Hit Record.
  5. Remember to hit Stop at the end of the meeting.

To be clear, we don’t record absolutely every internal meeting – private one-to-one catchup conversations with the team and similar situations where discretion is critical are not recorded.

Customer conversations are a different ballgame entirely. There's a huge benefit to recording conversations with customers and potential customers. The emphasis on consent is even greater here, and is a topic for another day.

It’s worth noting that we’ve evolved how meetings are run at GoSquared a heck of a lot over the years. Those learnings are also for another post – stay tuned.

I hope this is helpful, and reach out to me on Twitter if you have questions about our approach.

Don’t change your birthday on Twitter

On Friday I changed the birthday on the @GoSquared Twitter account.

It was set to 3rd February 1991. Correct date, wrong year. I thought “🧐 that looks odd” so changed the year to 2006 – the actual year we legally started the business (unlike 1991 which was the year I was born).

I received a warning saying “you can only change this a few times” – in itself a poorly worded error. Why can I only change it a few times, and what definition of “a few” are you going by, Twitter?

Either way, I thought this would all be fine. After all, why would I need to change the date again after this? So I went ahead and confirmed.

“Your account is locked.”
Your account is locked

This was literally the next thing I saw. A blank screen with one link to a support doc. No buttons or options to undo the change, or change the date again.

What did this change cause?

  • It locked everyone out of the @GoSquared Twitter account – you cant read the timeline, you can’t post, you can’t do anything.
  • It instantly hid our profile so it didn’t exist publicly – we didn't show up in search results, and if you went directly to the profile it just told you it didn't exist.
  • It paused our active Twitter Ads running – of which we spend a not-insubstantial amount of money on every month.
  • It cut our access to all related Twitter tools including the Twitter Analytics product.
  • Any Tweets mentions or quoting our own Tweets showed a lovely “This Tweet is unavailable” message.

We were deleted from Twitter.

All this, despite being an active user of Twitter since February 2008 with over 6,000 followers, being a verified Twitter account, and an active paying customer of Twitter Ads having spent many many thousands of dollars over several years.

To make matters worse, the issue arose at around 10:30am London time. I immediately took their recommended action of uploading a scan of my ID, and also submitted a support ticket to Twitter Support. I also reached out to the Twitter Business team via an email address they shared in previous communications. A number of people also mentioned @Twitter, @TwitterUK, @verified, and @TwitterSupport in various tweets to try to drive attention of the issue. We even reached out to any contacts we had at Twitter. But nothing.

Nothing until 8:30pm, and only after calling in a favour from a couple of very helpful people: @KeaneJoel and @Jonah.

I’m not writing about this to moan, I’m writing about this with the hope that no one else goes through the same stressful ordeal.

Don’t change your birthday on Twitter.

Twitter – you have got to improve on so many fronts here:

  • This is very nearly the most destructive action one can take on their Twitter account. You have to make that clearer to the user at the point they are making the change.
  • Is there any such

Running the marathon

On Sunday of this week, I’ll be running the 2019 London Marathon.

My primary feeling right now is fear, followed closely by nervousness, and a distant third is excitement.

I’m running for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution – the RNLI – they’re the charity that saves lives at sea. They’re like a fourth emergency service in the UK, except they’re all volunteers. They’re the people that come to save you if you are in trouble at sea or in a river like the Thames in London.

This post is less about trying to persuade you to donate – although if you are feeling generous or wish to show your support in any way, I would appreciate it more than you can imagine. See my JustGiving page to follow along.

The marathon is a distance I have never run before. Doing this is a venture into the unknown – will my body be able to cope? Will I make it to the start line without an injury? Will I be feeling 100% on the morning of the big day? Will I need to go to the bathroom mid-race? Will I eat enough of the right food to ensure I have energy to get me around? Will I hit the infamous “wall” unexpectedly and struggle to finish? Am I worrying about everything that could possibly go wrong?

The only thing certain to me right now is this: I would never have trained or run this far unless I had committed to entering for a place in the London Marathon.

If I can take out just one thing from this experience it’s that you simply don’t push yourself to your limits unless you have a really big hairy audacious goal to aim for.

And there aren’t many goals as big, hairy, or audacious as running 26.2 miles.

Just a few years ago I had barely run 5km. I hated running at school. And now, in just a few days I’ll be starting a race across an absurd distance.

The whole experience has had me thinking: is there an equivalent to the marathon in other parts of my life? How can I push the boundaries of my own abilities in other areas?

Whether it’s running or not – is there the equivalent of a marathon you can commit to to push the boundaries of what you think you can achieve?

Thanks to everyone who has supported me so far – whether with advice, suggestions, or donations. It means the world to me.

See you at the starting line!

How much do you care about the details?

The details are not details. They make the design. – Charles Eames

I was lucky enough to get a new Apple Watch this week – the Series 4 Nike+.

Apple Watch box and lid.

The packaging is beautiful as with any Apple product. Compared to my Series “0” original Apple Watch, the packaging is different – being a sport model it's unboxing the Series 4 is slightly less theatrical, but it’s still delightful and the details astound me.

One point that stood out – there’s hardly any documentation, but the paperwork that is in the box is carefully crafted down to the last detail.

Apple Watch face, bezel, and paper border radius.

Look at the border radius and shape of the paper – look at the border shape of the watch, the screen of the watch, and even the wrapper that goes around the paper. Even look at the previous image and see the box cut-out that holds the paper in place.

They all match up. And that’s not by accident.

Imagine the time and effort it took to ensure that happened internally – from the graphic design of the leaflet, to the collaboration with the printing team to the facility where they cut the paper stock. To the quality control to ensure it always looks perfect and not wonky or misaligned.

All this effort for a detail that almost no one will pick up on. But almost everyone will feel it.

Create more. Consume less.

The start of the new year always provides time to think deeply about what you’ve achieved (or failed to achieve) in the last year, and where you can do better.

Life can be short – when a new year comes along it reminds me of everything I still want to achieve.

For me, at this point, it comes down to two areas: create more, and consume less.

Create more:

  • Art. Draw more.
  • Writing.
  • Photography.
  • Time for exercise.
  • Good habits for money management.
  • Happy memories.


Consume less:

  • Social media.
  • News.
  • TV.
  • Plastic.
  • Poorly made, short-life products.
  • Meat.

Best of luck with your own goals for 2019.

My morning routine

I would not describe myself as “a morning person”.

I love a lie in. At the weekends I’ve always enjoyed lying in bed – perhaps with a cup of tea – and making the most of relaxing.

But during the week it’s hard to justify spending your morning under the covers – there’s a job to do, a business to build.

Needless to say, there are articles galore out there about building a good morning routine, to the point where the mere mention of the topic induces an audible sigh from those in the same room.

Despite the extreme cliché of the subject, I’ve been trying to figure out the right routine for me, and I thought it might be worthwhile sharing my learnings so far.

What I have learnt so far seems to suggest that waking up earlier – and happier, with more energy – requires more than just a loud alarm.

Goals for the morning

I have a few goals for my mornings:

  • Wake up early (to give me time before any scheduled events in my calendar).
  • Get myself showered, and feeling fresh.
  • Wake up with energy to start making decisions and acting on things.
  • To arrive at the office with a clear plan for my day.
  • To arrive at the office in a good mood, ready to crack on with the day.
  • To ensure I have enough energy to keep on form for the entire day – especially after lunch.

With all these desires for my mornings, I realised I clearly need to avoid any situations where I wake up late, rush to the office, and feel like I’m playing catch-up from the moment I’m in. I also need to avoid situations where I'm in a total grump and a pain for the team to work with.

My current routine

My routine so far goes something like this:

  • Set my alarm for 6am.
  • Actually wake up and get out of bed at 6am.
  • Get the kettle on.
  • Jump straight in the shower – no questions asked.
  • Leave the shower, shave, dry hair, get dressed.
  • Make tea (kettle now boiled!), eat a bowl of cereal.
  • Catch up on more casual / personal tasks like reading the news and messaging any friends who are waiting on me to get back to them.
  • Run through my tasks, emails, and other items and get them prioritised. I've started using Superhuman to manage my email workflow which has been a massive help here.
  • Leave the house for a leisurely stroll into the office, mulling over my first tasks for when I get in.

The morning routine starts the night before

Getting up at 6am has been painful for a long time. I'm only just getting used to it, and I still have my days of failure.

Even before I started reading "Why we sleep", I was vaguely aware of the importance of a healthy night of sleep. But waking at 6am simply can't happen (for me at least) if I'm getting to bed at

What can you be the best in the world at?

And what can you not?

In a recent chat with a good friend of mine, we discussed the fantastic book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins. The key focus for us was assessing what you’re great at, and what you’re merely good at.

We took some time to each go through areas of our businesses, asking each other where we believed we could truly be “best in the world”.

At first, my desire was to say "yes" to multiple suggestions – "sure, yeah we can be the best in the world at that!", and "yeah, we can be the best in the world at that too!"

But you can't be the best in the world at many things* – and the more "things" you try to be the best in the world at, the lower your chances of being best at any of them.

To build a world-class, truly successful business, choose what you want to be the best in the world at. And stop spreading your energy thinly across the stuff you're merely "good" at.

* We focused primarily on features and product areas when discussing what we were great or not great at. On reflection, I think it'd be more useful to focus on the customer-focused solutions and use cases – or the "jobs" your product is hired for – than the features themselves here. Focusing too much on a specific feature can lead you down a narrow and dangerous path and ignore the true requirements and desires of the customer.

Have a nice day!

Walking to work the other day, my route crossed paths with that of a bin lorry doing its rounds.

I saw the guys moving a bin back to the building where they took it from – a heavy, dirty thing that most people wouldn’t dare go near.

When I stopped to let them go across my path I was pleasantly surprised to be met with “no sir, after you!”

I said thanks and the same man replied with “have a good day, sir, thank you!”

Perhaps I’ve been living city life for too long but I didn’t expect such manners, and such kindness from a stranger – let alone a man focused on collecting and emptying bins.

It’s not that I’d expect someone who empties bins to be rude – it’s that as a profession it’s not traditionally focused around exceptional service.

The exchange put a smile on my face and I found myself walking to work with a spring in my step.

When was the last time you were kind without any expectation of a reward? What opportunities do you have to brighten someone’s day?

I’m trying to be more like the bin man – be polite, be kind, and don’t expect an instant reward.

Instead, enjoy the the feeling that you’re making someone else’s day a little better.

What Starbucks can teach us about consumer behaviour

“A tall skinny macchiato with syrup and 4 shots please.”

On a recent visit to Starbucks I spent some time watching and listening as customers flowed in, collected their drinks, and left to head to their busy work days ahead.

One gentleman walked in and if I had to guess I’d have put him as a standard cappuccino kinda guy. But I was wrong – instead he asked for a tall skinny macchiato with syrup and 4 shots.

I always enjoy people watching, but after hearing a few orders – even within the rush hour in the centre of London in a coffee shop – something blindingly obvious struck me: people can be so very different from each other.

It’s pretty obvious when you think of anywhere that has a menu as extensive as Starbucks, but it made me reflect on assumptions we often make throughout the day when running a business.

It’s easy to think people are “like you”. And it’s easy to think “no one would do that!” Or “why would anyone ever ever want that?!”

Figuring out what people want doesn’t necessarily mean you need to hold a bunch of user groups or feedback sessions or do extensive research.

Sometimes all you need is a reminder – get out of the building and just watch the world go by for 10 minutes.

Starbucks is a great place to observe consumer behaviour in all its wonder.

Jump in at the deep end

I was in central London doing some last minute shopping today, and I debated getting the Tube back with all my bags, or being lazy and jumping in an Uber.

It's been a knackering week, so I opted for the Uber.

But I'm so glad I made this choice – I ended up having an extensive chat with the driver who had moved here from India to become an IT consultant.

He's a freelancer so is keen to get more work, hence why he's driving for Uber on the side. Naturally, we got onto the subject of building a personal "brand" – or at least, finding ways to get people to notice you.

We were talking about starting a blog and how he's not written in a long time. I could hear him finding reasons to hold off on writing – he wasn't ready.

But I hear this all the time – "I'm not ready". When will you be ready? How will you ever be ready?

You will never be ready unless you start.

So I started pushing him to just write. Just Do It!

You have to just start, with the knowledge your first attempt will probably suck.

Then he told me a story that really resonated with me: he explained how when he lived in India he desperately wanted to learn to swim.

The pool was deep at the deep end – 16 feet deep! Because it had a diving board.

He would walk around and walk around and become increasingly nervous, just staring at the depths of the water.

He'd stand back and watch as others swam up and down, growing more and more frustrated.

Until one day he jumped in (at the shallow end), and just started to try.

He kept trying and gradually swimming further and further from the edges until he could fully swim.

This simple story just emphasises so much of what holds us back from doing new things – fear. And that fear leads us to push back the idea of even starting.

You can’t learn to swim unless you jump in and try.

Whatever you're hoping to start in the new year – don't wait. Just start. Jump in.

Photo by Artem Verbo on Unsplash.

iPhone X

I've spent about a week with iPhone X now.

While I doubt the world needs another review of Apple's latest device, every time people see it they have questions, so here's a few thoughts I've been keen to jot down.

When you work in the software world, it's easy to get so caught up in the latest gadgets, innovations, and ideas that you forget most people in the world don't live and breath tech every day.

Last weekend, I popped home to Kent to celebrate bonfire night, let off fireworks, burn an effigy of Harvey Weinstein, and talk iPhone X with my extended family.

A conversation with my uncle

So, how’s this one different to your old iPhone?

Well. It’s got no home button. It’s just all screen.

Oh right…

Yeah! So you used to use your fingerprint to unlock (like an animal) – you now use your face.

So does it actually work?

Yeah! It really does! Look let me show you!

Tries Face ID. Points it to my sister – nope. Points at me... – It works!

(This was a far more successful demo than at the Apple keynote)

Oh cool, so is that the difference then?

Well, no, that’s not all, you can now use the tech behind Face ID for loads of other cool camera stuff – like… erm… well it’s got Animoji.

Animoji?

...

Yeah, let me show you...

So this is what we've done with the world's most advanced technology? Talking poop?


To a lot of people, iPhone X is simply "this year's iPhone".

They haven't watched the keynote. They haven't studied the Apple site in detail for ridiculous amounts of time. They haven't been tuned in to MacRumors for months.

Thank God for that – most people are far more grounded and sensible with their time than me.

My last iPhone was an iPhone 6 – I was thrilled to get this device back in 2014. That iPhone introduced one of the biggest changes to the lineup – a highly anticipated larger device with a larger screen.

But in the three years since then, Apple's "lack of innovation" has seen a swathe of incremental improvements compounding to make switching from iPhone 6 to iPhone X a huge step up in experience.

Face ID

Touch ID is an action. Face ID is invisible.

We talked a lot about "courage" last year when Apple removed the headphone jack launching iPhone 7. Arguably it took even more courage to remove Touch ID in favour of a totally new, unproven technology as the primary way to authenticate iPhone X.

On day one, I'll be honest – I had a few hiccups with Face ID. I didn't realise how often I unlock my phone when it's very low compared to my face. I wear glasses too – and when I first set it up, I didn't have them on.

After a few hours of mild frustration, I set Face ID up again, and since then I haven't

Taking a break

I never took a day off in my twenties. Not one.
– Bill Gates

It's easy as a founder to think that working your socks off every single day continuously for years is the quickest route to success.

I used to firmly believe working hard and working fast, avoiding breaks, would get us further faster. It's only after many years in this world that I've come to the realisation that a break – even a short one – is needed frequently to continue to perform at your best.

This doesn't just apply to startup founders of course – anyone in any job needs regular breaks, but it seems the world of startups is particularly focused on working your ass off until you make it big time. Hearing of the success stories like Musk and Zuck and countless others reinforces the feeling that if you're not "working" you're wasting your time.

I just took a week out to stay in Cornwall (south west England, it's a beautiful place if you haven't been). I had poor phone reception, unreliable wifi access, and ~300 miles separating me from GoSquared. It's not natural for me to be as disconnected from the business.

You know how when you've had your computer on for weeks and haven't switched it off? And you have 30 tabs open in your browser, and you've left 5 files open in 3 different apps? Your computer starts getting a little sluggish. Sometimes you just need to hit reboot, maybe install an update or two, and get back to full speed. That's exactly how taking a break this last week has felt – it's been like flushing my RAM. And I feel a hundred times better because of it.

There's nothing like a few days out of the office, away from an internet connection, and away from your normal surroundings to clear your head.

When was the last time you took a break? Don't feel guilty if you feel like you need a few days off – you've earned it, and you owe it to your team to take it.

The 5 dysfunctions of a team

The dysfunctional team pyramid - 5 dysfunctions of a team

We recently grabbed lunch with another London based startup, and during conversation with the founder, he recommended a book I hadn't come across before – The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni.

As anyone who has managed people before will know, building a team is really hard. You work your socks off to hire the best people you possibly can, but getting those people to work together as a single unit doesn't happen by magic.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team applies a relatively simple set of guidelines to spot and resolve problems within your team and encourage everyone to collaborate effectively.

Absence of trust

If people are unwilling to be vulnerable within the group, it can be hard to build trust within the team.

Fear of conflict

If the team seeks "artificial" harmony, it can harm your ability to have a constructive and passionate debate.

Lack of commitment

A lack of buy-in for group decisions creates ambiguity throughout the team resulting in outcomes that no one sticks to.

Avoidance of accountability

Members of the team avoid the responsibility to call out peers on counterproductive behaviour, resulting in low standards being accepted across the group.

Inattention to results

Individuals focusing on personal success, status and ego before team success causes the team to suffer.

Overall, each of these attributes is no surprise, but having a framework to align your team is incredibly helpful.

Is your team performing well in all five of these areas? What can you do to address any "dysfunction" within your team today?

The best Watch face

I'm in San Francisco this week for a conference, and it was only when I was getting off the plane from London that I got another reminder of just how helpful the Apple Watch can be in daily life.

When I first started using my Apple Watch, I used to set my Watch face to whatever Apple's marketing shots showed – usually one of the analogue faces because they visually look great.

But in recent months I have been more comfortable with setting my watch exactly how I want it to work for me, even if that means it doesn't look like a minimal Dieter Rams watch on my wrist.

I've found I've settled on the "Modular" face as the most practical watch face for my daily life.

Modular

Modular watch face on Apple Watch

The density of information on the face is exactly the right balance for me – any more information and everything would be too small to see. Anything less and I need to dive into the OS of the Watch to find what I need – nobody's got time for that.

With the Modular face, everything is just a tap away. I find myself jumping into my Activity Rings far too often every day to check on progress (the screenshot above was taken just after I woke up – I promise).

This face is perfect for anyone who travels a lot. Being able to switch on a secondary time zone in just a few taps is incredibly helpful. Sure, analogue watches have had the ability to set secondary timezones for decades upon decades, but the ability to say "I want to put the time in London down here now" makes it so easy and so effortless that you actually make use of the functionality.

The Apple Watch is a great watch

There's a lot of pressure from the tech media to push the Apple Watch to replace the iPhone in some way. That's not the Watch I want to see any time soon.

Right now, the Apple Watch for me is a really versatile timepiece, an addictive fitness tracker, and a handy way to check notifications on the go. If it keeps getting better in those three areas then I'll continue to be a very happy customer.

Talking on the Kobestarr Digital Podcast

I recently had the privilege of speaking with London-based founder Kobi Omenaka on his new podcast "Kobestarr Digital".

We spoke about the challenges of finding your first customers, finding product-market fit, what metrics to focus on, and some of the backstory of how we built GoSquared.

It's almost an hour long, so if you're feeling brave, give it a listen – I would love to hear your thoughts!

You can download the podcast and read the show notes over on Kobi's site, or head to iTunes to subscribe.

Enjoy!