Inspiration

A 5-post collection

Silent Meetings

Since remote working became default, we've all been trying different ways of working – from those adopting Slack or Teams for the first time, to doing one-on-ones over Zoom.

There's never been a better excuse to try radical changes to team collaboration.

The weekly kickoff

Every Monday morning we start the week with a kickoff.

We have a Notion doc that everyone has access to, with a clear agenda and structure.

The person who owns each “department” of the business outlines how they're doing against their objective for the quarter, and their action plan for the week to get closer to achieving it.

We used to do these kickoffs in person in our office. And then one of the team moved to Scotland (who can blame them!), so we started do do our kickoffs with one person on a video call and the rest of us in the office.

And then 2020 hit and we were forced to all join our Scottish colleague and communicate via Zoom in these Monday morning meetings.

Lack of engagement and no lack of chaos

We started to notice a few trends in these meetings:

  • Some people would speak for more than they needed, while others would speak less.
  • We saved questions to the end and found many of the team would not have the opportunity to ask what they needed.
  • Regardless of Zoom it was often hard to digest numbers and explanations on the spot when spoken aloud.

Most of all, we started to question the very purpose of these meetings – what's the point of us all getting together at the same time on a call if we aren't going to interact? If we are just going to speak at each other?

Meetings are expensive.

“A man who dares to waste one hour of life has not discovered the value of life.” – Charles Darwin

Take an hour for the meeting (assuming it starts on time and finishes on time), plus the hour before to prepare, plus the 30 mins after to fully get back into your flow, multiplied by the number of people in the meeting.

Add all this up and you quickly realise you're taking 15+ hours of the team’s time.

Every member of the team is incredibly skilled, ambitious, and driven. One resource that is impossible to replace is their time – once it’s spent they’re not getting it back. So I try to be extremely cautious of any time we take from anyone on the team. In that time, does every member of the team feel like it was valuable to help them grow, perform better, and achieve their goals? Or do they feel like that meeting just robbed them of an hour of their life?

15 hours is a lot of collective team time, and when you also consider that everyone is being paid to be there, a lot of money being spent too.

Efficient, well run meetings not only matter morally but they make financial sense too for

Speaking on the Scaleup podcast

The Scaleup podcast is led by Charlotte, CEO of Equalture, as she chats with other founders and CEOs from all over the world about their journey of building a team and the impact that their teams have on their businesses. Milestones, failures and lessons learned.

I was honoured to speak with Charlotte earlier in July, and we had a fun discussion about some of the highs and lows of running GoSquared, about mistakes we've made along the way, and we dug into the back story of starting GoSquared in the first place.

Be sure to check out the full series for many other honest and open discussions with founders.

Thanks to Charlotte for inviting me on the show!

I ran the marathon

Today is Sunday 26th April – the date of the 2020 London Marathon. Except it's not happening today.

Last year, I ran the marathon – for the first time, and it was one of the best days of my life.

Before the memories of the day blur too much, I wanted to write them down. Perhaps someone else is thinking about taking part on this incredible day once the world returns to some form of normality.

Here's my story.


The build up

“Good luck! I’ll be watching from the pub.”

This was the first person I saw after leaving the house – a black cab driver – on my walk to East Dulwich station. What an appropriate way to start the most London of days – by bumping into someone with the most London of professions.

It was early. It was quiet. And it wasn't raining. Not hot, but also not cold. Perfect running weather.

It was eerily quiet – was it really the right day? Was this just a dream? Can I return to bed?

I had nothing but nerves. I could barely speak from the moment I woke up.

Should I drink more water?
Should I drink less?
Have I eaten enough?
Should I eat more?
I don't feel hungry! I don't want to be sick!
Will my top rub?
Will my knee hold out?
What if I trip?
Are my trainers going to be OK?
What if my timing chip doesn't work and my times don't get counted?
What if my bib number falls off?
Did I actually register everything OK?
What if I injure myself and have to pull out – my whole family are following me from the app?
Am I going to get there too early? Too late?

Once I reached the station – the platform was quiet, but a handful of other runners turned up. Clearly they've done this before. This is the correct day! This is the correct time.

When I arrived at London Bridge Station, the atmosphere became real – it was busy, despite being so early on a Sunday. People were shuffling around, following coloured flags to different platforms.

When I reached the top of the escalator up to the platform for the train to Maze Hill there were plenty of police around and lots of runners. The helicopter in the sky set me off – this is real. This is the London Marathon – and I am taking part in it.

Police were everywhere – looking after the runners, helping guide everyone to the right place. An immediate wave of positivity, of excitement, but also of collective nervousness diffused through the air.

London Bridge is where you must say goodbye to anyone you've been travelling with up until this point. You're on your own from here. I had to disconnect from the warm reassurance of Lauren. What I'd do to go and sit in a cafe and have a bacon roll right now...

The train journey vanished past, and before I knew it, we were at Maze Hill station.

The

NetNewsWire – Just the news you want, and nothing you don’t

NetNewWire icon
There’s never been a better time to get back into RSS. – John Gruber

I recently started using NetNewsWire on both my Mac and my iPhone to consume news via RSS feeds.

I made the change just before everything kicked off and the world got turned upside down, but it’s proved to be good timing.

I had previously been using Apple News to both keep up to date with the wider world, as well as follow specific sites.

But right now I can’t take it – the sensationalist headlines, the click bait, the fear mongering. I don’t need more of that in my life.

RSS isn’t a new technology, but it’s making yet another resurgence, and for me it’s because of one app – NetNewsWire.

NetNewsWire – the beautifully simple RSS reader for iOS and Mac

NetNewsWire for macOS
NetNewsWire shows you articles from your favourite blogs and news sites — and keeps track of what you’ve read.

It’s like podcasts, but for reading.

If you’ve been going from page to page in your browser looking for new articles to read, let NetNewsWire bring them to you instead.

NetNewsWire is free for both platforms, and it’s open source. Don’t be fooled by the term “open source” – it can often be misconstrued as synonymous for “designed by developers and decided by committee”, but that couldn't be further from the truth here.

NetNewsWire is an unbelievably great piece of software – opinionated , fast, light, accessible, and beautiful, and it’s unapologetically native. [1]

It’s apps like NetNewsWire that make me want to learn to code – to think that one day I could build something as great as this.

If you’re looking for some serenity in your news reading habits, and you’ve got an iPhone or a Mac, I implore you to go check it out.

Learn more about NetNewsWire


  1. Opinionated software tends to trump "please everyone" software – especially when you agree with the opinions of the decision maker. Brent Simmons, the creator of NetNewsWire has a fantastic blog where he shares his thought processes for many decisions he makes in bringing this wonderful app to life. ↩︎

General Magic

A few weeks ago I was fortunate to see one of the first screenings of General Magic in London.

Since seeing the movie, I've been telling everyone I meet about it.

It’s a story of one of the greatest teams of product, engineering, marketing, and leadership people coming together to build a device eerily similar to the iPhone, but in the early 90s.

Sketches of the original Genral Magic device

The movie pieces together with original footage how this incredible team came together, worked their socks off, and ultimately failed to deliver what they set out to achieve. It’s a story that makes you question the definition of failure – a ridiculous number of people from General Magic went on to practically define the world we live in now, and the ideas behind the device were spot on – they just took longer to get here than orignally thought.

Just a few of the people who were involved with General Magic:

  • Tony Fadell – joined General Magic as an intern, co-inventor of iPod and iPhone, founder of Nest.
  • Marc Porat – the CEO of General Magic, and visionary of the original device.
  • Megan Smith – became CTO of US, and VP at Google.
  • Andy Hertzfeld – member of original Macintosh team, also co-created Google Circles.
  • Joanna Hoffman – another member of original Macintosh team.
  • John Sculley – former Apple CEO, also launched the Newton to compete with Genral Magic.
  • Kevin Lynch – former CTO of Adobe, creator of Dreamweaver, VP of technology at Apple.

Huge thanks to Emma Sinclair for arranging a screening of this movie, and to Sarah Kerruish and Steve Jarrett for the fascinating Q&A after the movie.

If you're interested in the history of computing, you want to see a wealth of on-the-ground footage from one of the most influencial teams of people in technology, or you just want to be inspired by the willpower and hard work of an incredibly smart group of people, you have to watch this movie.

Learn more about General Magic the movie