Discipline makes Daring possible.

Shopping around

Shopping around

Marketing a ‘brand’ is all about getting customers to stop looking elsewhere.  To shrink each individual’s market down to a single option.

Once a customer trusts what the name stands for, the Promise it makes, that brand becomes their go-to purchase, saving them the time and effort of shopping around.

The temptation for the brand is to take that trust for granted, and chip away at the Promise that’s actually delivered, hoping that the customer won’t notice.

Properly functioning markets are better for customers, better for innovation, better for small players.

It’s part of our duty as good consumers to keep them functioning well.

That means shopping around.

Try it.

You might be surprised by what you find.  You might find you’re being taken for granted.  You might find a much better value option where you least expected it.  The least that will happen is that your favourite brands are kept on their toes.


Discipline makes markets possible.

Express yourself

Express yourself

Starting a business is largely about you.  Expressing your passions, your purpose, your vision.

But it can’t be only about you.

The secret is to express yourself in a way that resonates with other people.   That allows them to express something about themselves too.

Some will want to be customers, others will want to help you do more of it, still others will want to bask in the glow of your success.

Your business starts with you.  But it mustn’t end there.

Building it as a system for making and keeping promises is an excellent way to remind yourself of this.


Discipline makes daring Possible

Is this wording better?

Is this wording better?

Yesterday, I listened to Wendell Pierce talking about jazz with James O’Brien.

He came up with a phrase that struck me:  ‘Freedom within Form’.

And I wondered, is that a better description for what I help small businesses achieve, than ‘Discipline makes Daring possible’?

I know some people have a problem with the word ‘Discipline’.

What do you think?


What does ‘Freedom within Form’ mean to you?


What does ‘Discipline makes Daring possible’, mean to you?


Tell me, I’d love to know.


Thank you!


A recommendation

A recommendation

If you’re interested in both what it means to be human, and how even in the sciences, we are trapped by our biases, I highly recommend the Radical Anthopology Group at UCL.

They run ‘London’s longest running evening class‘, for free.  You won’t always agree with them, but you’ll certainly learn something interesting and new.

Sign up on eventbrite for upcoming talks, and watch previous ones on their Vimeo page.

I’m going for this one next.



Throughout our time on earth, far more often than we realise, people have self-consciously created societies defined not according to some positive criteria, but by negatives.  Not who they wanted to be, but who they didn’t.

Protestants defined themselves by the beliefs they rejected.

Pirates organised their own ships in direct contradiction to the way things worked in the navy.

My friend Carl French created The Endless Bookcase to be everything a traditional publisher isn’t.

Sometimes it’s easier to describe what you’re not than what you are.

It has the added advantage that it allows you to envisage possibilities that are truly new.

Discipline makes Daring possible.

What are you not?

An injection of capital

An injection of capital

In looking for an injection of money capital that would break their employee-owned business model, John Lewis Partnership is in danger of squandering a far more precious form of capital – the goodwill invested by partners and customers over decades.

Goodwill that other department stores  and supermarkets just don’t have.

Goodwill that could help them out right now, if they had the courage to ask.

Once you decide to be like every other player in the market, there’s no reason to for anyone to invest in you rather than anyone else for the long term.  And every incentive to join in a short-lived asset-strip.

Hold firm John Lewis and Partners.

Discipline makes Daring possible.

Two thoughts on business success

Two thoughts on business success

“Stories are beliefs made manifest.” 

“What you do is who you are.”  


Share your true, unique Promise.

Then make sure you Keep it.

Otherwise you’re a liar.

‘Sorry’ is never enough

‘Sorry’ is never enough

Corporations, being founded on a theory of Homo Economicus, naturally believe that when someone complains, they are merely seeking personal redress.

That’s true, but it isn’t the whole story.

Most often people want recognition of their own case AND to make sure it doesn’t happen to someone else.   Sometimes people just want to make sure the mistake isn’t repeated.

That means “Sorry” is never enough, even when accompanied by compensation.   What people really want to see is evidence that the mistake is being rectified.  That systems and process are changed to ensure it can’t be repeated.

Otherwise, the only conclusion to be drawn is that it wasn’t a mistake, but policy.   And compensation a bribe to keep your mouth shut.


Check out this Twitter thread from George Monbiot to see what I mean.

And this thread for the complaint that started it.

A category of 1

A category of 1

Here’s a good question from Alan Wick:

What do you want your business to be known for?

It’s a hard one to answer, because there’s a second unspoken part to it:

That nobody else is known for?

To put you in a category of 1.

Our best selves

Our best selves

Being ‘all of yourself, to everyone, all of the time‘ is what we might call being our ‘best selves’, our ‘whole selves’.

If you want your people to bring that ‘whole self’ to work, you have to make sure the work feeds it properly:

  • logical and creative,
  • thinking and feeling,
  • independent and communal,
  • autonomous and collaborative,
  • leading and following,
  • familiar and innovative,
  • left brain and right brain,
  • etcetera,
  • etcetera,

If you only use half the person, you’ll only get half the job.

In other words, the work needs to empower them to be fully human.

The investment pays off.   Handsomely.