Why America is still the land of opportunity

I just spent two weeks in New York. It was supposed to be a very non-descript trip, without a concrete purpose. I went there to attend a few tech conferences, meet a few people I had connected to via email and wanted to meet, and get a local vibe of the new hot tech scene that everyone is talking about – now the 2nd largest in the world after silicon valley.

I write this on the plane on the way back to London. And already I have my return flight booked for next week, I have a real estate agent looking to get me a flat (or ‘apartment’ i should say :-)) and I already signed up new office space there. And got close to making my first hire. And I feel I moved slow even. 🙂 That’s the pace this city moves in.continue reading »

What politicians dont get (or do)!

The world economy is in shambles and yet I find if shocking that what politicians are doing about it is virtually all wrong.  No one is really taking a long term view and interest in fixing the problems that got us here…instead we are massaging the truth and giving people false hope. And as much as I am critical of the banking system and its failure to serve society I think our economies were troubled before the banking crisis. Bankers did what they do best – get greedy, put their self interest above all else and by virtue of their misdoing magnify the problem. But they weren’t necessarily the root cause. continue reading »

My Top 10 learnings from 2011

I write this from a snowy and beautiful Zermatt, Switzerland on (appropriately) the last day of the year. The snowfall is too heavy for skiing and alas a perfect opportunity for me to compose the thoughts and reflections on 2011 that have been circling my mind for weeks now and finally crystallized in the crisp air of the mountains.

 And I start with this: wow, what a year! Naturally as an entrepreneur the dominant story of my last 12 months is my company that consumes so much of it. What am I saying – hell – PeoplePerHour IS my life.continue reading »

Think Different

Steve Jobs words for the Think Different ad are just pure perfection

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

And the Ad itself (which in the end was never aired) is probably the best ever.. i would rate it higher than the 1984 which has been dubbed the best Ad of all time

Anyone wondering whether its worth reading Steve Job’s 600 page biography that came out all i have to say is that when i started reading it i literally couldn’t put it down. Simply amazing. Funnily enough i think the text above is just a perfect summary of his life. Which was why he chose to not air it in the end as it was in his words ‘too much about me’

Things that don’t matter

I look back at my life sometimes and can’t help thinking: there’s so much energy we spend on things that ultimately don’t really matter. The small talk, the fluff, the event you ‘have to’ go to and pretend you are interested. The long meetings and dragging relationships with people you know will end. Yet we put up with it every day.

I wonder sometimes if I could go back in time and erase all of that and refocus my energy on the things that really mattered how things would have been different today. Or maybe in some paradoxical way those things do play a part by preparing you for the things that do matter, loss leaders in a way.

This thought in itself may arguably not matter either. After all we can’t go back in time to change it. So does it really matter?continue reading »

Growing me, Growing You

I recently wrote a Blog post on my Company Blog which reflects a lot on the Journey of building out PPH. I still cant believe what a Journey it has been.. a year ago we were 9 people; now we are over 50, in 2 locations and launching in another one. We have a vibrant team full of passion and energy, a community that’s vocal, demanding and tenacious that keeps us on our feet; a market thats buzzing and craving for innovation and best of all we actually serve a great cause. We help people get on their feet and find work by utilising their skills, living their dream of having their own business, being in charge of their own destiny. Its fun, its challenging, its exciting. I feel privileged and lucky to be be able to help people on that journey, achieve their dream whilst living out my very own. There isn’t a week that goes past when i don’t reflect back on that summer day in 2003 when i was depressed, sad and unhappy with my life and my job. And i decided to change it. I decided to do something foolish and crazy – start my own business at the age of 23. I accepted that people would call me nuts – most of all my parents – that i may lose money and that of others, that I would probably become a workaholic, split up with my girlfriend at the time (which i did), stay lonely for quite some time… but that i would go with it all the same. I did. Its been a roller coaster journey thats kept me on the seat of my pants, but the best decision I have ever made. I now cant imagine life without that passion, adrenalin, the challenge, the fear of the unknown; the loneliness of being an entrepreneur, the eerie feeling of going down a dark tunnel and the emotional exuberance that you feel when you see the light at the end. It makes life worth living.

Anyone thinking about doing it here my advice: stop thinking. Just do it.

And here’s the blog post: http://blog.peopleperhour.com/blogroll/growing-me-growing-you/

Why Culture Matters

Ask ten managers what their company culture is and they’ll probably send you to the HR department. Frankly, I used to be one of them. Recently, I went through a turning point following which I now consider culture building my No1 priority as a leader. Here’s why.

To set the setting: my company has grown almost three-fold in headcount in the last six months. We went from just over 15 people to now about 50. Naturally what happens at this pace of growth is the controls and processes you had in place are no longer able to give you the same level of grasp on the business as before. There’s just too much going on.

The natural inclination of most managers in this situation is to inject more process, more rules and manuals, more middle layers of management to delegate to so as to ensure that things run as efficiently as they used to. Whilst some of this is necessary, if this is the only thing you do you will – at best – have an efficient machine that simply ticks on. If you’re lucky you’ll stay in business. You wont game-change.continue reading »

Bubble or paradigm shift?

I’ve finally decided to write my two pence on what’s become quite a bubbly discussion in itself: are we in another tech bubble?

Let me start by saying rather controversially that first I think this is the wrong question to be asking. Great companies have emerged out of bubbles as we’ve seen in the Web 1.0 phase. Yes there were a lot of failures, busts and losses in early 2000’s; but what we forget is that there have also been big winners whose collective gain outstrips those losses. Companies like eBay, Amazon and Cisco all came out of the first tech bubble and have proven to have strong and sustainable businesses which are still growing. So focus on what YOU are doing not what the herd is doing I say.

And what is a bubble anyway? There are tonnes of text book definitions which ultimately focus on technical definitions like valuation. Are things over-priced and is there too much liquidity being pumped in a sector or asset class? To me these are the wrong definitions. We are at the onset of a paradigm shift (which I explain below) so almost by definition existing valuation models will be wrong, So for me multiples being high means very little. What it comes down to is people getting ahead of themselves and investing in things they don’t fully understand or appreciate – and why? Because someone else is. “Oh I have to jump on this bandwagon…everyone’s doing it” That’s what leads to irrational exuberance . continue reading »

Why startups fail – Part 2

A while ago I wrote a post called ‘Why Start-Ups fail ” and kept it to Part 1 for two reasons. Frist, for the sake of keeping it short, but secondly, I was keen to see how the craze that we are seeing in the startup world evolves. Are we in a bubble again? What’s driving it and when will it burst? And what will drive failure and success this time around? These are questions that every VC and entrepreneur are – or should be – asking themselves.

So here’s my ‘Part 2’ with what i think are reasons to failure/success that are – in times like these – especially more relevant.continue reading »

The amazing journey of building a startup

Building a startup is an amazing journey. You get to innovate, see your baby go from infancy to walking, talking and – in time – jumping through hoops. It’s an experience that opens yours eyes, teaches you a tonne about yourself and others and rewards you more than anything through the people your product touches and changes their lives.

But its tough work. Its tough and lonely. You have no one to turn to other than your co-founders (which is why its key to have one at least). You need to be a loner of sorts, have nerves of steel and the stamina of a bull.

There’s much talk and fluff around the phases a startup goes to become successful. I’ve read a lot of them and in my view they miss the best bits. So here’s my two pence from my experience in the journey:continue reading »