It was called a ‘Uher’ and as a BBC local radio contributor in the late eighties, it was a required tool of the trade. An allegedly portable - yet bulky - reel to reel tape recorder, I lugged it around concert venues interviewing everyone from Billy Bragg (interview here) and Hank Wangford to Flaco Jimenez and Guana Batz for the BBC Essex ‘youth programme’ Revolver. It might have been an unpaid role, but the opportunity to meet musicians I admired was a kid-in-the-sweetshop moment for an eighteen year old music lover. That Uher, my BBC name badge and a typewritten sheet of questions gave me my very own licence to be curious.
26 years later, in 2012 a renewed licence arrived in in the form of a side project writing for the Financial Times ‘Business Life’ page. With my iPhone and Moleskine notepad proving more portable than the 1980s Uher, the FT gig provided me with a fresh challenge - how to nail storytelling in 1,100 words. Writing for the FT gave me the opportunity to shape stories around people, businesses and trends that have been on my radar for a while: from the emergence of ideas festivals to the benefits of coworking spaces. In the last twelve months this voyage of curiosity has taken me from a wet field in Wales (The Do Lectures) to the Microsoft NERD centre in Cambridge, Massachusetts (The Venture Lab bootcamp).
From the 12 FT articles I wrote in 2012 I’ve picked out six ideas to give your business life an edge in 2013:
- Develop a side project. A side project gives you an opportunity to learn new stuff, experiment and make you a better entrepreneur.
- Nomadic working can get results. Productivity is not about sticking to your desk in an office; it’s about recognising that you might be more productive away from your desk, whether working at home, on the road or being location-independent.
- Rethink how you prepare presentations. Don’t use your slide deck as your speaker notes. Avoid making slides full of bullet points; start using pictures instead.
- Avoid digital sloppiness. Digital tools may make business communication rapid but remember to“Stop, look, edit” before you press publish/send.
- Learn to draw again. Try using doodles and visual notes to capture and communicate ideas. Visual communication is a powerful tool for getting others to understand complex concepts.
- Mash-up your skills. Celebrate your multi-dimensional talents and add new strings to your bow. Try applying your knowledge in one discipline to solve a problem in an entirely unrelated one.
Finally, thanks to the sixty people I’ve interviewed for the FT in 2012: Michael Acton Smith, John Bardos, Chris Barez Brown, James Barlow, Scott Belsky, Paul Benney, Jim Bland, Edward Boches ,Stephanie Booth, Andrew Branch, Moshe Braun, Sunni Brown, Joel Bukiewicz, Ben Casnocha, Jose Castillo, Ariel Chait, Kelly Dawson, Genevieve DeGuzman, Jennifer Dorian, Nancy Duarte, Anna Felton, Jocelyn Goldfein, Hugh Griffiths, Ann Handley, David Heinemeier Hansson, David Hieatt, Mark Hillary, Kelly Hoey, AnnaLise Hoopes, Dan Jansen, Charles Joynson, Lisa Kay, Jennifer Keller Jackson, Will King, Jamie Klingler, Peter O’Neil, Jesse Noyes, Gerry Newton, Alexandre Papillaud, Sarah Parmenter, Christian Payne, Ella Peinovic, Neil Perkin, Maria Popova, Dan Porter, Garr Reynolds, Kevin Roberts, Mike Rohde, Tina Roth Eisenberg, Laura Sampath, Sharon Tanton, Wendy Tan White, Tam Thao Pham, Steve Tongish, John Vincent, Emilie Wapnick, Phil Waknell, John Willshire, Lea Woodward and Mohan Yogendran.
[picture credit:Uher by James Cridland]