Do you remember that summer holiday programme that entered our psyche like the Grange Hill sausage coming from stage left? The one with the irritating singalong theme tune? The one that single-handedly delayed a generation of the obesity crisis?
Why Don’t You was the pied piper of summer mischief - get out and do something less boring instead
If you don’t, it was called ‘Why Don’t You’. It was the pied piper of summer mischief - getting kids to go out and do sport, make stuff in the woods or set up pranks for their friends.
Looking back at it now, it’s as anachronistic as the Bisto family, but at its heart was a key message. In that mind-numbing theme tune sung by kids in corduroy and paisley were the words: "Get out and do something less boring instead."
And in January this year, the heart of British winter, I did just that.
I asked myself: "Is there a more exciting challenge in business right now than the chance to build a potentially £1bn brand from scratch?"
I wanted to find out the answer. I mean, it’s great when you have the cushioning of a corporate around you. But what if you ditched that, cashed out the chips and went all in? Stopped talking about it, fought the fear and actually did it?
Cult of done
As one of my favourite manifestoes, the ‘Cult of Done’, states, "Done is the engine of more".
I had to DO this to learn more about it. Challenge myself free from ‘The Man’ shackles that convinced me failure wasn’t an option. Open up to a Huxley type world that uncorked the latent desire in me to continually learn, experience and challenge myself.
Working with start-ups, my biggest learning has been simply to do stuff. Whatever it is, make changes daily, test your theories, reframe them, pivot, drive more and more understanding. We thrive on chaos. We don’t know when payday is except that there’s a big one if we hit our targets.
Start-ups aren’t about the inflexibility of management and bureaucracy, they're about the freedom and tenacity of networks and people. We love ‘radical collaboration’ and practice ‘extreme empowerment’. We have no choice.
Hunger is crucial
A lot of these principles I already employed at previous roles - it’s just that, in a start-up, they become real, really quickly. They are executed in days, not weeks. Time is critical, growth is recognising a twinkle in the eye and using your gut instinct to make it fly. Hunger is crucial, every investor meeting is like Dragon’s Den – but, hell, I am learning, I am being challenged and I love every minute of it.
I have a renewed energy, a feeling of being alive. Of doing something. Something you own and can say, hand on heart, you created
We had an Edison moment four weeks ago when a piece of tech we’d been working on for most of this year suddenly clicked into place. Not only that, we were able to inform people about a significant piece of breaking news 30 minutes before it hit the BBC News site.
A product, positioning and go-to-market strategy was shaped within days and we now have paying clients.
If you can honestly say that everyday you walk into your place of work not knowing what will happen, which clients will come on board, who you’ll meet, where your next chunk of cash is coming from – and there’s a real buzz to it, this is for you.
I have a renewed energy, a feeling of being alive. Of doing something. Something you own and can say, hand on heart, you created.
This is one of the pinnacles for all marketers - the bragging rights to say that I was there. I did that. There’s no time like the present. So, why don’t you?