Wednesday 29 December 2010 case study - 7 simple steps to test any idea or muse business

I talked in a previous post about our new venture, The Bulb Club. We're now bringing our first idea to life and it's called This time it's real light bulbs we're interested in rather than idea light bulbs!

I'd like to share with you the steps we've taken so that you can learn from our trial and error approach and hopefully be inspired to bring some of your own ideas to life rather than working on other people's ideas (i.e. having a job).

Who knows where any idea could take you, you could start a successful Muse Business, get your ticket to freedom and live your life to the absolute MAXIMUM! The important step is to take action and get your ideas out of your head and into the world. The Bulb Club project is trying to make this process as simple and repeatable as possible.

Our steps to date on the Bulbomatic idea are as follows:

Saturday 18 December 2010

Toolkit of a Digital Nomad : v1.1

I’ve spent the last 3 months carrying my homemade 'office' on my back. This means that I can work practically anywhere. Recently Jason Fried of gave a excellent TED lecture on "Why work doesn't happen at work". He has a point. When was the last time you managed to get much work done at your office desk?  The joy of a digital nomad lifestyle doesn’t just have to be for the not-employed. If you’re in a job you can benefit too, improving your productivity and reducing your working day. I can now get as much done in about 3 hours as I used to do in 8-10 hours at a conventional office because I’m inspired by my surroundings (that I choose and change) and because no one interrupts me.

Here’s my toolkit...

Saturday 11 December 2010

BUSINESS: Introducing The Bulb Club

Following on from my last post I’d like to tell you more about The Bulb Club. As you know my loose goals include being more creative, increasing connections and collaboration, starting a business and achieving a target monthly income.

The Bulb Club is a club / social framework for achieving these goals. What I’ve realised is that it’s actually more fun and energising (for me at least) to work with other people. I believe that small, nimble, practical, skilled teams can be incredibly productive. What I don’t believe in (well it doesn’t work for me) is fixed working hours, pointless meetings, too much talk, commuting, interruptions, big teams, lack of focus, lack of ethics or higher values etc.. things that many companies often suffer from.

So how does it work?

Saturday 4 December 2010

UPDATE: What I've been up to so far

It's been just over 3 months since I left employment.  It actually feels like much longer than that, so much has happened already! I thought it would be good to take stock and look back on the things I've been up to so far.

Apologies for another long post, I promise I'll write some shorter ones soon! :) Here goes...

The first item on my todo list when I left was to write the big masterplan, but I quickly realised that could be a bad idea. For the first time in a very long time I had the luxury of unplanned time, so I purposely set out without a master plan. I wanted to spend the first few months with enough space to let random things happen. I did want to set some vague 'goals' though just to give me some direction. So I created some directions of travel that I wanted to explore. I did this rough plan using the technique described here, creating some 'nothing' time and taking a pen and paper along.

My 'Agile' plan has areas of explorations, targets and a first step rather than a detailed timeline

Friday 26 November 2010

CREATE: Better productivity by doing less

A great deal is talked about productivity. There are literally thousands of blogs, books, techniques, videos etc.. around on how to improve it. I've just installed a Pomodoro timer onto my Mac and am going to use the Pomodoro technique to write this post. But is productivity really important? Do we need to be more productive? Should we be focusing on this?

There are things we need to do in life. We need to make sure our dependents are healthy, nurtured and loved. We need to make sure we eat and sleep occasionally and look after our own bodies. Beyond that everything else is all gravy, it's a bonus. We really don't need to do much more.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

THINK: Community Payback for all?

This morning I saw a team if people picking up rubbish. They had 'Community Payback' written on their yellow vests and I'm guessing they were there because of their crimes.

But it got me thinking. Why is it only necessary for 'naughty' folks to 'payback' to the community. It seems to me that many people are extremely disconnected from their local communities. What if for a few hours a week it was compulsory to 'payback' or even 'invest' in your local community. Now I'm not a big fan of heavy handed state legislation but surely this would help to solve a lot of our modern day problems.

Reconnecting and helping the local community could lead to less litter, less loneliness, less crime, less pointless travel, less tv watching, more interesting activities, more local business, more art, more tolerance and understanding, more of a sense of a real community that helps and supports itself, the benefits would go on and on. Just a thought really.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

CONNECT: Get involved, introduce yourself...

Hi everyone,

I started this blog as a way for me to document my own little journey, but what's been really amazing is the amount of incredible people that I've met both online and in the real world since I began. And I'd like to meet more of you.

Sunday 14 November 2010

That little problem of money and how to make it

We all need to have money right? Me included. Unfortunately it's necessary to eat, put a roof over your head, cloth yourself, travel to other interesting places, or even indulge in the little luxuries that might make you happy. You need some of the stuff if you want to live to the maximum. You can work for other people or you can try to make it yourself, and many people including myself are exploring the latter option so they can have more freedom and flexibility.

If you've watched The Social Network you may think that it's worth investing your time into trying to create the next Facebook and set yourself up as the next billionaire. The odds of that happening though are well, tiny!

The good news though is that the odds are much better if you want to create a small online service that might appeal to a couple of thousand people. It's possible to make a million dollar business with even numbers this small. You can even create something that you find fun and that could benefit the world...

Friday 12 November 2010

Jellymongers, x-rated cakes, an agile agency and a dollop of Tuttle

This week I've been dipping in and out of Internet Week Europe and generally mixing it up around London on the look out for innovation and inspiration.

Here are a few highlights...

Monday 8 November 2010

Calling designers! Bored? Want to get involved in something fun and different?

Calling all designers (or friends of designers)...

Do you fancy getting involved in something a bit different? Are you getting bored of what you are doing? Too much corporate work, or maybe working for people who just don't appreciate you or let you show off your talents. Are you still studying, or maybe just finished and looking for some experience. Are you in between jobs or working but not really enjoying it?

Life to the maximum might just be able to help.

Saturday 6 November 2010

STOP: creativity and the power of nothing

All great designers and musicians know the power of nothing. If you're new to the design world it's very tempting to put as much as you can onto the page, to fill every last inch with images, shapes, words or information. Experienced designers know that white (or any other colour) space is incredibly powerful, it allows the page to breath. It gives the design power and presence.

The legendary Peter Saville used this technique to give an almost spiritual dimension to much of his work. It's very brave and hard to leave so much of the canvas empty, our natural inclination is to fill things up. Surely the more you add, the better it will be? But this just isn't true. 

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Are you being yourself, am I?

This post has been inspired by Neils Hermus, a guy who I've gotten to know more about over the last few weeks since. Like me, he decided to quit his job, jump into the unknown, and write about the whole experience. His blog stands out because of it's honesty. Neils is writing exactly what he is thinking and feeling, and if some people don't like it that's fine by him. In fact he's so keen to ensure his true message and personality come across that he's dedicated a whole post to it.
It made me think about a couple of things...

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Get the most out of Istanbul - 7 fun things to do

We just spent a few days in Istanbul the 2010 European City of Culture. It's the fifth largest city in the world with nearly 13 million inhabitants, has a history that stretches back 9,000 years and is the gateway between Europe and Asia. It's beautiful, chaotic, friendly, overcrowded, noisy and exciting all at the same time, a real city of extremes. The locals seem to know how to live life to the maximum and it really is a city that never sleeps.

It's huge, even compared to London and you could explore for years. But if you have limited time then here are my top 7 recommendations to get the maximum from your visit:

Sunday 10 October 2010

Top tips from the top lifestyle bloggers - 3 takeouts

Jesse Jacobs of brought together two of my favourite bloggers, Leo Babuta of Zen Habits and Tim Ferriss along with Zen practioner Susan O'Connell to discuss 'Zen, Tea and the Art of Life Management'.

This is the video of the event. It's well worth a watch from end to end, but it's very long so I've summarised my own top 3 takeouts in case you don't have time to watch it all.

Here are my top 3...

Wednesday 6 October 2010

5 EASY ways to be happier and more alive TODAY!

First of all I want to say I've had a lot of fun writing this post, was just what I needed after a tough week last week. If you have as much fun trying out some of these techniques as I have then I'll be even happier. Now back to the post...

What are we really looking for out of our lives? More money, bigger house, more stuff, vacations in the sun? But think beyond those things, what are we really looking to gain from climbing the corporate, financial or social ladders? Most people would say happiness. They just want to be happy in their lives.

'be happy' a popular goal on

I guess one of the great 'con's of the 'con'sumer society is that owning more stuff, having more money, or consuming more will make you happy. Watching programs like Mad Men is an interesting look back at how mass advertising trained people to think it that way, and for many people that's still the philosophy that they buy into or are told to buy into. I myself have tried it, working hard to climb the ladder to get more money to buy the stuff that I thought would make me happy. You know what, it really didn't work, I wasn't a very happy person at all.

To some extent stuff can make you happy, but in my own experience I found that it didn't bring real, deep, long lasting, meaningful happiness and in some cases it brought more problems than not having the stuff in the first place. Owning a gorgeous sports car sounds like a superb idea until you get one and have to spend a small fortune on servicing it or have to spend a week getting a scratch professionally repaired. And think about all the cool things you could be doing instead of sitting in an office trying to pay for it.

Also in my life to date the happiest people I've met have had very little. And the most miserable people had the most material wealth. The conventional wisdom doesn't seem to be true at all. And this is a good thing. Once you realise that conventional thinking doesn't make sense you can stop working so hard to get all the things you don't need and spend more time doing the things that make you happy.

So what kind of things can make you happy if amassing money and stuff won't?

Saturday 2 October 2010

The importance of reconnecting with old friends, before it's too late.

This blog is primarily focused on how to be more positive and get the most out of life. Today however I'm going to talk about death. It's something that I've recently experienced in that one of my closest childhood friends passed away and we went through the painful emotional experience of burying him. It was incredibly sad and brought out a whole spectrum of feelings including anger, frustration, sorrow, sympathy and thankfulness.

Don't you just love embarrassing old school photos

Justin was a great friend. We were born 6 months apart and lived about 20 yards from each other. We spent a huge amount of time together growing up and eventually shared an apartment and house once we'd left home. We walked the Yorkshire Dales, worked part time in the same garage and had some of the best nights out ever. 

I don't think anyone had a bad word to say about him. He was a great listener and conversationalist. He had so much potential, he was intelligent, easy going and charming. His life ended well before it should have done and now he is gone many people will miss him. A life that is cut short like this really makes you how fragile and temporary our existence is. Any day could be our last and we should be making the most of each and every moment. And we should be making time for each other.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

7 practical challenges you might face whilst living your dream life

When you think about giving up your office life, having more leisure time, planning your day however you want to and living out your dreams, what springs to mind?

Perhaps you imagine sitting on a beach with the sound of the waves gently lapping against the shore, whilst you occasionally check your email to see how much extra money has been deposited into your Swiss bank account since you finished your last bottle of ice cold beer?

(image via @johnnyvagabond)

Wouldn't that be nice? No challenges, just a life of easy and comfort. It's possible, I'm certainly not doubting that, and maybe one day that will be me. However right now in my first week since leaving employment to explore other ways of life, I'm still firmly in London trying to get my plans up and running and I'm already starting to find some challenges that I didn't anticipate. Practical challenges that need to be overcome before I can settle into this new lifestyle that I'm trying to create...

1. Need for social connection

This is an obvious one, but travelling to an office each day provides lots of opportunities to catch up with people you know and interact with them. It could be anything from a simple 'hello' to a long lunchtime catchup with colleagues you class as good friends. It's also a good way to meet new people through contact with new starters, clients or suppliers.

When you work from home these opportunities are few and far between and sometimes don't happen at all. It's easy to think that substituting real contact with social networking on Twitter/Facebook/etc.. will fill this void, but as we all know it's easy to end up wasting hours or whole days getting distracted with the entertaining or informative links being shared. On the flip side, I'm finding that the total lack of interruption means that the days seem about 5 times as long as they would normally, and you can get a huge amount done.

Solution - I think for me it will be signing up to a few daytime classes (languages, fitness, etc.) and catching up with more friends in the evening (update - I now think this is really important, here's why). It's definitely not daytime TV. Another solution to the isolation of home-working is to head into the city and work wirelessly. But even in a tech-hub city like London, that can have it's problems...

Tuesday 7 September 2010

The Big Questions: 'So what do you do?' and 'So where are you going to?'

I've been asked the big questions 'So what do you do?' or 'So where are you going to?' many times recently and I've given a variety of answers to people and gauged their reactions. Some people are confused or even baffled, others are genuinely excited. To be honest it's almost impossible to answer but I will give it another try.

Friday 6 August 2010

Motivation, Inspiration and Hiking

I've just spent the week hiking in the beautiful Lake District in the North West of England. If you haven't been I'd highly recommend putting it on your list of places to visit in Europe.

During the week we used the Pictorial Guidebooks written by the famous fell walker and mountain lover, Alfred Wainwright. Wainwright went from having a rather ordinary government job to becoming a world famous author and MBE (Member of the British Empire). He did this by documenting his passion for walking in a unique way that inspired others to go out and discover the heart and soul of the Lake District.

We followed Wainwright's favourite routes up 3 mountains:

Friday 23 July 2010

Inspiring happiness

Take an hour out of your day as soon as possible to watch this inspirational video by Tony Hsieh the CEO of

Tony is not only a business genius, he's also an amazingly humble and grounded human being who has realised very early in life how to achieve his own dreams, but more importantly align his dreams with creating a better world for others.

Once you've watched this, another great resource to look at is A Brief Guide to World Domination by Chris Guillebeau. In this pdf Chris asks what he calls the Two Most Important Questions in the Universe. When you read it you'll see that Tony has cracked these questions and that's probably why he's so inspirational.

There's a lot you can learn from Tony, take a look at Delivering Happiness for even more inspiration.

Heirarchy of needs

I come across this image of Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs quite a bit in my marketing work. In fact, I think one of the reasons I decided to get out of agency life and corporate marketing was that it got used so much by planners and marketers to manipulate people into thinking their products and services would deliver a better quality of life for people. I never believed that increased consumption, or buying stuff you don't need, could lead to self-actualisation, in reality it's usually the opposite. But when you work for people, you often have to do whatever it takes to create success, even if you don't necessarily agree with the methods or the outcome.

I'm not going to write a thesis on this, but looking at the pyramid again today it struck me that for most people, my self included, it's pretty obvious why it's so hard to achieve self actualisation and real happiness in life.

Monday 12 July 2010

Remote working

One of the first things I'm aiming to do whilst maximising my life is to put everything in place to be able to work from anywhere I choose. At worst this will allow me to be free of the wasted time, energy (mine and the planet's) and money consumed by commuting (and see my girlfriend more and not be too exhausted to go for a run), and at best allow me to live and make a living wherever I choose in the world.

So I'm on the hunt for tools that can make this possible. Here are a few I've already found and am using or am considering using: