Do Purpose - Why brands with a purpose do better and matter more.
I have never had a strong desire to write a book. But that said I have spent the last decade writing about brands, business and things that have inspired me. The thing that all these businesses seemed to have in common was their desire to change something. They had a reason to make it happen. Something in their belly was driving them forward.
I have always been curious about why some people are so driven. I still don't know the answer. But what I am clear about is that these people know why they are doing it. And their purpose keeps them pushing, stops them from quiting and in the end, makes us fall in love with what they are changing. Because it is the change we want to see in the world too.
For me, purpose driven companies are the most interesting ones on the planet. So, I have written a book about it. But, I guess I have been writing it for the last 10 years without realising it.
Miranda from Do Book Co persuaded me people might be interested in reading it. (Time will tell if she is right on that one.) She has cleverly teamed up with the pioneers at Unbound, which I think is appropriate as they are in business to change the publishing industry.
My ambition for the book is that it becomes one that you keep refering back to. I do this with Paul Arden's 'It's not how good you are, it's how good you want to be'. And Yvon Chouirnard's 'Let my people go surfing'. If I get anywhere close to those two, I will be more than happy.
Here is a page from the chapter on Time.
Your time is limited. Remember that.
Each day you’re given 86,400 seconds from the ‘Time Bank’. Everyone is given the same. There are no exceptions. Once you make your withdrawal, you’re free to spend it as you want. The ‘Time Bank’ won’t tell you how to spend it. Time poorly spent will not replaced with more time. Time doesn’t do refunds. Time is your biggest gift. Indeed, it is more valuable than money as you can make more money, but not more time. But there is one simple truth: Your time is limited. And one day you will go to the bank and it won’t have anymore for you. And it will be at the exact moment, that you will know the answer to this simple question: Did I use my time well? Did I do what mattered most to me? Did I find my love? And did I pursue it like a wild hungry dog chasing a three legged rabbit?
You can click on the link for Unbound here, and make a pledge to get a special edition of the book.
Right now, you are looking for the project that will define you.
You want to do your life’s work. But you haven’t found a place that will let you.
And the clock is ticking.And you hear every tick.
You want to put all that experience learnt from over 10 years working in front of house and being restaurant manager in the best places in the world to good use.
You probably have a young family by now and returning home to Wales sure feels like the right thing to do. But you want a legacy project. In fact, the way you are wired, you need a legacy project. Well, we would love to talk to you.
You see, two years ago we started The 25 Mile. We took over a pub in the centre of our town in Cardigan, on the far West of Wales, and re-opened it.
Our idea was to source the main ingredients from a 25 Mile radius. We wanted to show the world that local is the future.
The first year, oh boy, the learning curve was almost vertical. And, trust me, there were times when we wondered what on earth we were doing. We knew our town had a small catchment area of just 4,000 people, of which we figured around 400 people would possibly be interested in dining with us. And that would make it hard for us to survive as a business. We knew that. So we went into it with our eyes wide open. But, what our town lacked in numbers it made up for in having some of the best ingredients in the world. The dolphins, as good as the views are, come here for the fish.
Another one of those key ingredients was persuading Scott Davis to join the team and become a partner in the business. He had learnt from some of the best Chefs in the world: Gordon Ramsey, Marco Pierre White and all the chefs at the legendry Japanese Restaurant Nobu. But for Scott, like the salmon from our rivers, it was time to return home so he could practice what he had learnt.
And the business is beginning to find its feet. It has grown 20% this year. We are forecasting it will grow another 20% next year. And yet, we have not written a single press release. Nor placed a single advert. Rather than spend time hyping ourselves, we spent time on getting good at what we do.
Over the last two years we have built an amazingly talented young team. The growers have learnt that we will support them come rain or shine. And like them, we are growing. And our customers are learning that they can rely on us to have a great time in a relaxed environment. Consistently.
So right now, we are thinking about the future. We always knew if we could make it in our town, we could make it in bigger towns too. And we could take The 25 Mile idea to towns up and down the West Coast of Wales. And then Devon and Cornwall. And, one day, over to the West Coast of Ireland.
We want to celebrate local, to support growers and to show that the providence of food does matter to an ever-growing band of customers. And we want to show to everyone that all these empty town pubs can thrive again and become an important part of the community.
At some point we will have to go and talk to potential investors about taking this idea to other towns. In our favour, we have a strong idea with a narrow focus, we have the start of a powerful brand, we have an international book publisher already interested in doing The 25 Mile book, but, more importantly, we have shown that it can work in a small town like ours.
One of the most important questions a potential investor will ask of us is 'who is on the team?' We have a strong team for sure, but we are one person short on the team. And that person is you.
I have no doubt we can go and raise money for The 25 Mile Group. But I am also pretty certain we will not raise a penny without you on the team. As you already know, it is not easy to take an idea and roll it out. The attention to detail is insane, building teams is a dark art, and managing a business that will be growing fast takes a steady pair of hands.
So if you are interesting in driving this business forward, if you care about the food that your customers eat, if you believe in the growers, if you believe in these small towns, and if you believe in the power of small communities to come together over food, we’d love to talk to you.
People who know me, know I don’t have much time for Email.I don’t reply to all of my Emails. And the ones I do reply to are as pithy as I can make them.In my book, one word replies are not rude, but are saving both the reader and the writer time.
I view Email as distraction from making things happen. I view getting things done as more important than having an empty in-box. I have bought all the apps to help me cope with Email. But they don’t work for me. It’s not them. It’s me.
“You can do anything, but not everything.”
I guess the point I am making is that Email is very efficient at using up a great deal of our time. It’s a super addictive distraction device that will stop us from getting stuff done if we allow it to.
Time is limited. And therefore, expensive.
So companies seek to take time out of each process to save money.
That’s why we when we phone companies up we can’t speak to humans anymore.
Instead we have to Press 1 for a suckier service than before.
So we all get it. We understand why they have to do it, but none of us really like it. No one thinks it is better. It’s just more efficient.
When we try to find ‘Love’, we don’t seek efficiency. When we play some music, we don’t sing to get to the end of the song. We don’t go to bed at night and dream about one day finding efficiency.
Humans are complex critters. But also incredibly simple too: Humans like speaking to humans. We just want to speak to someone who cares. Generally speaking, someone with a pulse helps this process along.
And who’d of thought this? Giving a shit can be great for business.
Zappos has built an entire business around caring about the customer. They even spend weeks training people, and then halfway through the training, they offer people money to leave. They want people who care to stay, and people who don’t care to leave.
So if you want to build a great company, make it less efficient.
Hire humans who care about the stuff you care about.
When you run a small company, next week is always the biggest week.
And next year will always be your most important year.
That tends to breed a culture of not ‘digging where you stand’. Of not focusing on today’s problems, because tomorrow will fix them. It doesn’t.
The reason next year’s product will not be ‘the one’ will be for the same reasons as this year’s isn’t ‘the one’ either. For a product to truly change, you have to first change the culture or the thinking that will produce it.
Part of this is accepting that your current project, product, website, blog, is the one. So commit to it. Iterate like crazy on it. Make this your best work.
You are here. Dig.
A start-up has the odds very much stacked against it.
But at the same time it has such incredible advantages that allow it to overcome them.
Yes, it’s under-funded. It’s almost a rights of passage. Apart from a computer, it has no infrastructure to speak of. No one knows they exist. They have no experience in what they are doing. They have never started something before.
But the things in its favour are enough for it to win.
First, they have a great idea. Sure, big companies have great ideas too, but a Start-Up amplifies the power of a great idea by making it happen fast.
A great idea executed at great speed has the power to disrupt entire industries because it launches the idea first. Being first matters when you are disrupting things. You get the most media coverage, but also you get the most funding and the most time to work on getting it right. You build a customer base quick. And your customers are already giving you feedback to get better.
“Your biggest rival is in his living room coding wearing just his underpants while eating his breakfast”
The speed comes from energy, passion but also being a tiny team. They have no legal department, they have no sales departments, they have no meetings, they have no office politics, they have no history of doing it in the same way, they have no memos, they have no bosses, they have no time for research, they have none of this. And all this is slow stuff.
Small teams make things happen faster. Boom.
When I worked the markets in the South Wales Valley, I had this amazing old Fiat 128. I loved it. But it had one or two quirks.
The key one was the petrol gauge didn’t work. I didn’t know if it was nearly empty or completely full.
So when I did a market, I was super keen to sell so I would have money to fill the car up full with petrol so I could relax. On days when I didn’t sell, and there was too many of those, I wasn’t sure if I would make it home. I did my fair share of walking home.
"Sales is Power" - Wu Tang
I learnt to drive in that car. And, more importantly, I learnt the importance of selling.
Yup, always be shipping.
The single biggest reason most businesses fail is because they never start.
People sit around telling their friends their great idea and don’t ever make it happen. Ideas need someone to make it happen. Ideas need doers not talkers.
Another reason businesses fail is because when they do eventually start, the founders don’t quite believe in the idea. Or one of the partners doesn’t. A lack of belief can be much more damaging than a lack of funding.
In terms of Rugby or Football, this is the equivalent of not fully committing in the tackle. And when you are half-hearted in the tackle, you much more likely to get injured.
Players, who’re saving themselves for the next big game or an important tournament, often end up injured because they held back. Holding back often ends up in tears.
If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don't even start.
Likewise, ideas need you to commit. They need all your money. They need all your time. They need all your energy. They need all your love. They need all your belief.
If you are half-hearted about the idea, don’t even start.
One night last week, there was a knock at the door.
It was a guy delivering Yellow Pages.
He delivered one for us. And one for the next farm, who were out.
I will never use it. I doubt the farm over the road will ever use it either.
Its time has been and gone.
It saw the Internet as a threat and didn’t move fast enough. Instead of cannibalising itself, it let Google do it for them. They kept doing the thing it had always done.
Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.
And now it has to change when it is at its weakest in terms of its ability to raise money and perhaps more importantly, is it just too late. The transition from paper to digital should have happened at least a decade ago.
The trouble with doing business like you always have done is if your customer is changing faster than you are, you will wake up one morning and they will be gone.
And you won’t have to worry hearing the knock at the door; the door will have gone too.
Last week we tried something new.
The Do Lectures turned into something else for 72 hours.
It became a place to start ideas.It became a place of doing.
It was an experiment. And the experiment was to see if you could take ‘time’ out of the process of the starting new companies. Can we accelerate them?
Like anything when you try something new, there is resistance.
But you have to let the experiment take its journey: Judge it at then end, and not before it starts. And not even halfway through.
Over the 72 Hours I saw people pitching their ideas via Ipad’s on Facetime to some amazing business guru’s while standing in a field on the western edge of Wales.
I saw websites being built.
I saw hackers building working prototypes on the spot.
I saw logo’s being crafted.
I saw people lose confidence and then bounce right back. I saw groups come together and I saw them fall apart. I saw frustration and elation.
I saw ideas being pitched and funded there and then.
But what I really saw was a glimpse of what the future looks like. And it is exciting but it won’t be easy, simple or predictable.
Ideas are messy.
1, Don’t follow.
2, Don’t seek consensus.
3, Trust your instinct.
4, Look for what isn’t there. But should be.
5, Ideas make you stand out. Great ideas make you standalone.
6, Ask dumb questions. They are not that dumb.
7, Most great ideas have difficult births.
7, Inform your ideas from what you see, what you hear, what you feel.
8, Don’t chase a fashion. Go where others haven’t.
9, Remember, ideas are plentiful. People who make them happen are not.
10, Don’t let your idea down: Execute well.
11, Good execution is hard.
11, Find the very best people you can and work with them.
12,Timing is important.
13, Love what you do. Or don’t do it.
14, Answer common problems.
15, ‘Standing still’ is just a nicer way of saying ‘going backwards’. Don’t stand still.
16, Fallow. Creativity needs rest.
17, Some ideas look good on paper and suck in real life. And some suck on paper but work in real life. Don’t be quick to judge your ideas.
18, Disrupt the status quo, or you’ll soon become it.
19, Failure is informative.
20, Optimism helps.
21, There are no short cuts. Do the work.
22, Luck matters.
23, "If you are going to try, go all the way. Or don’t even start." CB