Interestingly, both this week’s ‘Broadcast’ and ‘Campaign’ magazines have articles on their front pages about the startling lack of BME staff in the creative and media industries in the UK.
Whereas 44% of London’s population consists of people from black and minority ethnic groups, only around 12% of those working in fields such as television production and advertising agencies are from these minorities – and the percentage plummets when it comes to the top roles.
The lead article in ‘Broadcast’ quotes Lucy Pilkington, the factual creative director of Sugar Films, who “was ‘fed up’ of being handed an approved list of male, white directors to oversee a show”.
I have been working in publishing and marketing in London for more than a quarter of a century and, despite reading and hearing platitudes from the powers that be time and again about the need for more diversity, do not fail to notice that, even in CE 2017, when I am sitting in senior-level industry meetings, out of 12 or 14 people I will often be the only non-white person. And the only one from a working-class background.
Enough is enough. As these veritable industry publications highlight, the white, middle-class and male stranglehold on the creative industries in the UK, particularly when it comes to management level roles, must finally end. Urgently.
Please share this article to highlight this issue.
I was blessed to have been able to drive many hundreds of millions worth of sales via affiliate marketing in the noughties. My company, Azam Marketing, was one of the top ten affiliates on several networks.
I have often been asked over the last year “is affiliate marketing dead?” and it’s also a regular feature on affiliate discussion forums and conferences. The question has prompted me to script my two pennies worth.
Being an affiliate often feels like you’re being attacked on all fronts like ISIS
ISIS have created so many enemies with their barbarism combined with political naïvity that – after many years of dithering – the most powerful stakeholders in the Middle East have joined forces to try to eliminate them. A case in point is the battle to liberate the city of Mosul in Iraq from ISIS which commenced in 2016. It led to an enviable coalition lauching an assault on the terrorist forces which had captured the city a couple of years earlier, consisting of the government of Iraq; the government of Iraqi Kurdistan; local Assyrian Christian, Yezidi, Turcoman and Armenian militias; the US; the UK; France; Turkey; Iran; Russia, and a few other entities.
In the last few years it has certainly become harder to be an affiliate, as affiliates’ businesses have also been attacked by all and sundry, on almost every front imaginable:
The affiliate ship is being abandoned faster than you can yell “Titanic”!
Almost all the “super affiliates” who I knew from the late nineties and early noughties have long since left HM Affiliate Marketing and jumped ship to either becoming retailers themselves, now run digital marketing agencies, or have simply retired.
Of those figures still engaged in the cut-and-thrust of cybermarketing, many have migrated their businesses, conferences and ebooks away from using the “affiliate marketing” brand to the term “performance marketing”, often because the former has a negative association and is deemed to be restricted within an arena that is not as profitable as it once was.
A development that highlights the lack of interest in affiliate marketing is that the majority of affiliate marketing discussion forums have long since closed down; this is in large part due to the rise of social media, but is also a result of most affiliates giving up on the game. Both the biggest affiliate forums in the USA and UK, respectively ABestWeb and PeformanceIN, have died a death.
Yesterday I was updating my training presentation for my staff and of six of the affiliate marketing forums my slides encouraged them to join and participate in, four have shut down in the last three years.
So what is the besieged affiliate to do?
There’s a lot that can be said in terms of stratagem to deal with the decline of mainstream affiliate marketing, but our agency has largely moved away from the vagaries of CPA and CPL to far more robust, profitable and stable income streams, aka CPM, CPC and tenancy fees and consultancy charges for our work. We have the likes of Dell, Disney, HP and Google biting our hands off to book CPM campaigns.
To be in such a position means building a brand, a reputation and utilisation of technologies that is on a completely different level to how the average affiliate runs their business, and I would encourage my affiliate friends to consider doing the same.
It takes time, it takes patience, it takes diligence and it takes financial investment. 99% of online marketers are not willing to make those sacrifices . . . which creates a splendid barrier to entry. It means entrepreneurs with the appropriate fortitude, aptitude and attitude have significantly higher chances of succeeding than slugging it out in the cesspit of low-grade grey-hat-style affiliate marketing for a few scraps here and there. No more partnering with advertisers who often, behind-the-scenes, treat affiliates with disdain, perceiving them as a “cheap and cheerful” means to gain customers (the same advertisers who don’t think twice about paying Google AdWords $1.50 a CLICK frown upon paying affiliates $1.50 for a SALE).
Only affiliate with the very best advertisers
If you are not yet in a position to be able to charge CPMs or tenancy fees, affiliate marketing, or to use its more contemporary moniker performance marketing, is far from dead and the CPA route can still be extremely lucrative; Azam Marketing and many others still make a pretty penny from commission-based lead generation.
It’s essential to diligently research each advertiser you’re looking to partner with (I have written a guide for my staff to use when appraising which affiliate programs to consider partnering with and it comes to several thousand words long – without a shadow of doubt it’s the most valuable document in our company as advertising the right / wrong advertiser on a commission-only basis can make / lose us tens of thousands of dollars).
You should try to pick advertisers that pay generous commissions: 75 cents here and $2 there – which is the kind of earnings one makes on the affiliate program of Amazon and many other retailers on an eventual sale (if, indeed, they don’t either legally or illegally try to wriggle out of paying the commission at all) – is not going to earn you enough net profit to even put a smile on your face when sauntering into your local dollar store.
Critically, the tracking must work (which I will emphasise it doesn’t on a regular basis for many advertisers and networks) and the advertiser must have multiple forms of tracking to maximise the chances of your sale being tagged back to you. Ideally they should pay recurring commissions on future sales made by what is your customer.
For much more insight on picking the most lucrative affiliate programs, please read my article here: 10 Hot Tips on Finding the Right Affiliate Program or Business Opportunity.
Rather than just funnelling a customer to an advertiser and losing them forever, it’s essential to add him or her to one’s own database too so that you can market to them again.
After going through quite a few challenging years over the last two decades since we started in affiliate marketing, in recent years Azam Marketing has been more profitable than ever. You should study this blog, where my team and I have scripted many articles revealing how we transformed our business by migrating away from an over-dependence on the affiliate channel.
Affiliate marketing is not going the way of the dodo. Become a more astute marketer and the online world’s your oyster!
P.S. known as the ‘bible’ of Affiliate Marketing, Rosalind Gardner’s Super Affiliate Handbook is a must-read for anyone who wants to become an affiliate marketer and successfully circumvent the hurdles I highlight above.
In a style that is friendly and humorous, the Super Affiliate Handbook is peppered with real examples of what Rosalind did to become one of the most recognizable Super Affiliates in the world. And she doesn’t just tell you what she did right — she exposes the mistakes she made as well — to help you avoid potential problems.
Exceptionally well written, Super Affiliate Handbook covers absolutely everything you need to know about making money as an affiliate marketer.
I HIGHLY recommended it.
We’re delighted to announce that Azam Marketing has officially been awarded Recommended Supplier Status by the Recommended Agencies Register (RAR) following a rigorous review by RAR.
RAR independently interviews clients of digital agencies throughout the UK to get feedback about their experience. Clients review the agencies they use confidentially, allowing them to honestly share their experiences.
The accreditation is based on feedback from our clients against certain criteria: firstly, the clients give a score out of 100 for each service bought from us, secondly they give scores for our service levels including creativity, value for money and the ability to deliver on time, and finally they provide written feedback on how we handled their account.
Only agencies that are highly rated by multiple clients during this process become recommended by the RAR, which is why we are so pleased to be on the register.
The RAR exists to reduce the risks for companies in sourcing, selecting and engaging with suppliers. They state: “We help clients find their perfect agencies. And we help agencies find their perfect clients.”
You may see RAR liking and congratulating Azam on Twitter for being featured in their directory in the screenshot here:
Check out our profile on the Recommended Agency Register here, and to talk to us about how our expertise can help your business to bloom, call our Customer Services Manager John Mitchell on +44 (0) 20 33 55 4334 or email enquiry [at] azam.net .
My Incubator Ventures is a business incubator offering advice and knowledge to the online business community. They recently invited our CEO to be interviewed by them to talk about Azam Marketing and provide tips to enterpreneurs on how to succeed in the cut-and-thrust world of business.
The conversation was conducted as a live Twitter interview. As the necessary relevant ‘at’ and ‘hashtag’ to each response meant the replies had to be even shorter than Twitter’s 140 character limit, the interview we are publishing below is as conducted with My Incubator Ventures along with some additional words from Nadeem to more fully answer some of the questions posed.
Thanks for joining us today Nadeem Azam. For those that don’t know could you just explain to us what it is you do?
Hi! Thanks for having me. I run a digital marketing and design agency which helps businesses get more customers.
What inspired you to start up your business?
I was working as a print journalist and predicted the net would dominate the landscape in the future. So, after a year of research and preparatory work, I started Azam in 1997.
Most people were negative about my decision to jump from print to digital, saying the internet was very niche and would not have much of a future, but I proved them wrong. I had spent an enormous amount of time researching the nascent internet, whereas my critics were, I presume, basing their opinions on their own unwillingness to move with the times and take risks.
What makes your business unique and differentiates you from your competitors?
As probably the oldest established digital agency in the UK our unparalleled expertise means we are much more likely to hit the bullseye. I am obsessed with the concept of “over-delivering” for clients and that enables us to produce spectacular results.
What has been your biggest challenge as a business owner and how have you met that challenge?
There have been numerous challenges from a complete lack of start-up finance to recruiting talented staff with rare technical skills but I am blessed that God has rewarded me for my persistence.
What would you say is your proudest business moment so far?
My biggest delight is when our clients regularly tell me they are thrilled with the results we’ve produced for their businesses.
How many hours a day do you work on average?
It averages at about 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. Estée Lauder said “I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.”
What does success look like to you?
In a service-sector business, client satisfaction is my number one goal. My staff get tired of me saying “The Customer is King!”
How has your business evolved since its launch in 1997?
In digital, unless you are willing to turn aspects of your business upside down every couple of years you will probably not thrive. The reason we still prosper after 19 years is because I obsessively study industry trends and stay 12 steps ahead of others.
Where do you envision your company in 5 or 10 years?
We have got massive plans, which we are currently working on behind the scenes. For instance, I intend to use my journalism background to launch an innovative digital publishing business. There is a relative dearth of quality written material on the web.
Finally what advice would you give to other entrepreneurs looking to start up a business?
I mentor several entrepreneurs and always advise them to constantly study top-line metrics and react accordingly (my nose is stuck in Excel spreadsheets half the day long to scrutinise figures, spot challenges and trends, and consider strategies to improve operations).
One of the biggest reasons I see for business folk not succeeding is they – understandably – veer towards spending too much of their time on the tasks they enjoy doing, rather than what is necessary to do to genuinely satisfy their customers and to grow.
You may find previous radio, television, print and web interviews with Nadeem in this blog and elsewhere online, such as this one in South Korea’s renowed OhMyNews International.
Azam’s award-winning design and development team has finished building a website for a leading law firm in Kensington, London. It has been built to be fully responsive i.e. show on multiple platforms, including PCs, tablets and mobiles, and to rank well in search engines. The website adopts a contemporary minimalist look and you can study it in all its glory at Bromptons.net.
We are delighted to announce this means we have now completed our 400th web build project!
Azim Suleman, the Principal Solicitor of Bromptons Solicitors, states that Azam Marketing offered:
“A thoroughly innovative, refreshing and professional approach to designing our website.
No detail was too small to escape Azam Marketing’s scrutiny. The agency worked to exacting standards to achieve our desired goal.
We are delighted and thrilled with the unique design of our website, which is a testimony to Azam’s dedication, expertise and market-savvy approach.”
Our customers are always thrilled with Team Azam’s twenty hours a day, seven days a week availability to service their needs and the attention to detail we show in our hunger to build the best possible websites for them. You can see an example of what another client says about us here:
“In the last five years Azam Marketing’s Design team has delivered us tons of quality websites that not only look beautiful but more importantly have out-performed the competition with the super smart web technologies delivered to us.
In my opinion it’s highly advantageous for our business to work with Azam Marketing and get constant feedback on the ever changing online trends.”
Malcolm Baxter, CEO, Cyberquest Technologies UK
Azam’s design wizards have a level of experience that is second to none and have been at the cutting edge for so long that we won a Yahoo! Website-of-the-Week award more than a decade ago. Our team of content writers, branding experts, graphic designers, web programmers and project managers collaborate closely with each others and with clients to build websites that not only make use of the latest web technologies but are easy to navigate and aligned to the client’s needs aesthetically, whether it is to be graceful, sleek, effervescent or punchy.
If you’d like to find out more about what our team can do for your business, please take a look at our corporate website’s design section.
For more information you are invited to email us at enquiries [at] azam.net or give us a call anytime on at our UK office on +44 (0) 20 33 55 4334 or our US office on +1 (760) 684-8120 – we are available for our clients 365 days a year.
We’ve been trading domains and websites for over a decade, so selling 50 properties in that time shows how challenging a niche it is and how difficult it can be to find serious buyers. But we’ve been able to generate a steady trickle of sales each and every year, and have obtained some very high value sales, so are thrilled at what we’ve been fortunate enough to have achieved.
Since our inception in the 1990s, Azam has grown an enviable portfolio of domain names. Some of these are undeveloped and others have websites on them, with some of the sites being over a decade old.
Our Management’s direction of business growth for 2017 and beyond means our schedules are likely to be jam-packed with projects that will not allow us time to develop some of the web properties as we were originally intending. Therefore we are willing to sell them.
You can see the prime domain names and established websites we are willing to consider offers for on this page. There is a PDF there with details about the individual domain names and websites. To celebrate our 50th sale, we can’t offer 50% off the prices, but will give a generous reduction of half that, 25% off, until the 30th of this month!
A huge advantage of acquiring Azam Marketing’s domains and websites is many have been running for several years and have dozens of quality, aged inbound links. So rather than slogging away forever to build your online presence and attract traffic to your website, you will take a shortcut to success.
A domain name is not just something one types on a keyboard – it is a brand, printed on letterheads, business cards, advertisements, maybe even company cars, pens, carrier bags etc. A premium domain name is the equivalent of having your business located at a prestigious address in the ‘real world’ and will significantly enhance your reputation in the eyes of others and the resultant income from your venture.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that in this day and age more and more people are accessing websites on mobiles and tablets, so it’s more important than ever to have a short domain name to make it easier for people to type in the name on their mobile devices.
If you’d like to put in an offer for any of our valuable websites or domain names, email us at buy [at] azam.net . You are also welcome to give us a call at our UK office on +44 (0) 20 33 55 4334 or our US office on +1 (760) 684-8120 anytime.
Google has had a generous initiative to provide free advertising for non-profit organisations for many years, but a straw-poll Azam Marketing has conducted over the last month has shown that, even within the online marketing profession, 87% of people have not heard of it. As Hubspot have said, it is the “biggest missed opportunity in non-profit marketing”!
Google’s program is called Ad Grants and is basically a nonprofit edition of AdWords, Google’s online advertising tool. Google Ad Grants enables nonprofit organizations to promote their missions and initiatives on Google search result pages through a whopping $10,000.00 each month in free AdWords advertising spend.
The infographic and video below provide introductions to the program:
Watch Google’s video promoting the program here:
To be eligible for Google Grants an organization must:
With Facebook becoming more and more ruthless clamping down on the exposure it allows businesses to enjoy on the platform without buying pricey paid advertising, it is more vital than ever you are the top of the game in using the opportunities the world’s most dominant social media platform provides to reach your target audiences.
How do you get more Facebook Likes? How do you get more people to engage with your posts? These are the kinds of questions Azam’s social media marketing experts grapple with on a daily basis when managing our clients’ accounts and all businesses are hungry to know.
Ask no longer because below is a handy infographic addressing what you should or shouldn’t do as a business on Facebook.
You can see how we utilise such strategies on Azam Marketing’s Facebook page here.
Would you be interested in hiring our award-winning social media marketing specialists to significantly boost your business’s profile on Facebook? Go here to find out more.
With so many web hosting providers out there, each claiming to the best on the planet, it helps to have a checklist of questions to ask. To set you on the right track, in the next stage of Azam Marketing’s Masterclass Series on creating a successful online business, we have put together a list of tips for choosing the ideal web host for your needs!
1. Where are the web host’s servers based?
Don’t assume that your webhosting provider’s servers will necessarily be based in the same country as the sales people you contact.
For instance, certain UK web hosting providers may appear to have servers within the UK; however, this is not always the case. A case in point is 1&1, who do everything possible to hide the fact that they host many of their UK customers’ websites in Germany.
If your servers are hosted outside the country you would like to attract visitors to your website from, it can be detrimental to your interests: for example, it can negatively affect your chances of ranking highly or at all in search engine results for that country. Furthermore, you may discover you are communicating across different time zones and languages, and are only protected by foreign laws.
2. What package and pricing options are available to you?
With so many web hosting packages to choose from, knowing which option can offer you the best value for your money can be confusing.
Firstly you need to set your budget and then a list of key requirements for your website. For example, is your website going to be a simple blog that you wish to use to keep friends and family updated about your activities or do you want to make money from your online presence? What kind of access to you need to emails sent to your domain name?
The ability to easily compare pricing and packaging and any special features will enable you to make an informed decision without the hassle of having to study every individual product feature.
3. What level of customer service do they offer?
Dedicated customer service is paramount to any successful business relationship.
Many web hosting service providers limit their availability to manage customer queries and contact based on the size of web hosting package their customers purchase.
They may have outsourced their customer service to foreign countries which can lead to huge frustrations.
4. Do they provide 24/7 technical support?
Dedicated technical support is integral to running a successful website. Website owners need to be sure that if they have an issue with any element of their site, they can resolve it in the quickest time possible to avoid losing valuable traffic and sales to their site.
Make sure the web host provides telephone support and the number is not a premium rate one!
5. Does the web host offer an enforceable service level agreement?
Just as you need to ensure you have 24/7 technical support and assistance in relation to your own website, your web host should provide a rock-solid guarantee in relation to their own servers and network availability.
Read the small print, as web hosting providers will usually insert disclaimers to try to avoid having to pay meaningful compensation for down time.
6. Is there a money-back guarantee?
As with most products, you may find out the kinks with any hosting package after you’ve actually started using it.
One indication of how confident a company is in their product is if they are prepared to offer a full money back guarantee on their hosting. If they don’t, you’ve got to wonder if maybe there is a reason.
If they don’t offer a money-back guarantee, make sure you are not locked into a long-term contract from the moment go.
7. Can you go mobile?
Did you know that by 2015 it is expected that 50% of online sales will be conducted via mobile devices?
If you are choosing an e-commerce web hosting package, be sure to make sure you have the option to go mobile if required.
A well designed mobile site not only keeps revenue streams open but also increase brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. A good provider will offer an easy option to convert your site to be mobile friendly at a low cost.
8. How user-friendly are the interfaces the web host utilises?
You will be spending a lot of time utilising your web hosting provider’s web browser interfaces, so it’s essential they are to your liking.
Does your provider use one of the two most popular web hosting interfaces, cPanel or Plesk, to make updates and modifications easier, or do they use some clunky bespoke interface which you would find it a pain in the neck to use?
What is their account administration, billing and support ticket interface like?
9. How long has the web host been in business?
Addendum: as suggested by ‘gingir’ on Webhosting Talk forums, you should investigate how long the web host has been in business. With around 95% of small businesses closing down within five years of opening, you could be taking a risk by using a hosting provider that has not been around for a substantial period of time. It’s also worth investigating how financially stable the business is; in most Western countries you can look up company accounts online.
Support and Customer Service
How many employees do you have?
Where are the staff based? Do you use foreign support staff? How many are abroad?
What hours can the technical support staff be reached?
Do you offer telephone support? If so, what’s the telephone number for support? (And then call the number to test the service, before you sign-up.)
What’s the expected time for initial response on support issues and what’s the average time until final resolution?
Do you have your own data centre?
Where is the data centre based?
Which connection are you using to connect to the internet?
Do you use T3 lines?
How many websites do you put on a shared server?
What are your terms and conditions for the websites you host? Do you actively monitor if customers are violating these terms?
Do you host adult sites? Can I be sure that I will not be sharing a server with an adult site?
Do you offer an uptime guarantee? How will I be compensated if you will fail to meet the level that you guarantee?
Do you have uptime statistics from a third party monitoring service like Alertra or some others? Please give me a link where I can view them easily.
How often do you back up websites hosted with you? How far back to the backups go? Are the backups kept on or off site? Do you charge for accessing the back up files? How much?
Do you filter emails for spam/viruses? Which software do you use? Is this included in the hosting price or do we have to pay extra for such a service? How much?
Can we have multiple domains in one account included within the cost? Will each domain’s email addresses have their own webmail and POP3/IMAP?
Will I have access to a control panel? Which control panel do you offer?
What statistics packages do you offer your clients free of charge? Are other packages available? Can I view some samples of them?
Which webmail services do you provide included in your standard packages? Do you offer Squirrel Mail, Horde, Roundcube?
Do you provide any quick script install services like Fantastico?
Can I change my account passwords myself or must I go through you every time?
Some sites work without the “www.” having to be typed into the browser before the domain name. Do your sites function this way?
Is there a limit to the number of CGI scripts I can install? Can I run them outside the CGI directory? Can I debug any CGIs on the server?
What version of Perl do you use and does it contain a full set of modules?
What are your future plans for your web hosting service?
Asking these questions and thoroughly researching your options, including reading thirty party reviews (though make sure the reviewer is not recommending a host just because he’s earning a fat referral commission) will enable you to make the best decision for which web host is right for you.
Really look through the finer details of what is on offer and ask yourself what problems could arise or what benefits gained by choosing a particular host. Some drawbacks will be easier to live with than others, depending on your own set of circumstances.
Which features do you think are most important to consider when selecting a web host? Leave your comments below.
Recommended Web Host: this is one of the web host providers the techies at Azam Marketing would highly recommend.
Our readers have regularly commented they enjoy the ‘Day In the Life Of…’ features we’ve ran in the past, so, as part of our series of articles to inspire budding entrepreneurs, we will be publishing more such profiles.
Mediolana is a global educational products and services company based in Kensington in London, England. In our latest feature we get an insight into a day of the Creative Director and Chief Strategy Officer, Asad Yawar.
07.30: There is no typical day for a combined creative director and chief strategic officer because the nature of these roles – generating new ideas and constantly, subtly redefining the trajectory of the company as these ideas are implemented – means that every twenty-four hour period brings its new challenges. One day I might be interviewing a Russian model for a role in a video commercial; another day will find me in the depths of the British Library doing product development research. But regardless of my precise schedule – and unless an early start is forced on me by circumstances beyond my control – I try to be asleep and dreaming at this hour.
Before I was an entrepreneur, I spent several years in an insanely busy commercial law practice where the lifestyle significantly cut into, and affected the quality of, my sleep. Sleep is presently deeply unfashionable in our 24-7-52 always-on society, where constructing an image of nocturnal omnipresence is becoming a default lifestyle option. But for me (as well as the somnologist community), sleep is an essential competitive advantage resulting in better decisions, higher performance and improved well-being.
10.30: Something that I do on behalf of the company is curate and update the Mediolana blog. We aim to publish around 350 posts a year – a high total for any blog – but in line with the company’s qualitative principles, we only want to publish what we believe is objectively interesting. This doesn’t necessitate voluminous blogging – some posts are only a tweet or three in length – but the content must be at least gently and originally provocative. This is much more challenging to do than it may sound, because on the Internet factual availability is virtually universal and the corpus of commentators gets larger by the day. But we feel that we are succeeding in this aspect of our mission.
12.05: This particular early afternoon finds me reviewing some of our commercial material. Marketing is something that has fascinated me from a very young age. When I was ten years old and visiting some relatives in some export-oriented Asian metropolis of five million people that even most people in Asia are probably not aware exists, I was walking the dusty streets of the city with my late father; I remember asking him to explain the logic behind a Lifebuoy soap billboard that we were passing en route to our neighbourhood. As a child, I created my own designs for kits for European football clubs such as Sampdoria, Foggia and Austria Vienna. I found the sponsor details particularly compelling. In recent years there has been debate about the appositeness of marketing messages on the shirts of FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao, but to me the presence of such messages was the conference of a tremendous honour: it meant that someone valued you enough that they wanted to pay money to be associated with you.
I’m satisfied with the concept and content of the marketing campaign. We were incredibly lucky to work with a world-class selection of actresses; it’s rare to find people who can communicate naiveté and intelligence so convincingly. It takes a lot of skill.
14.30: While making further revisions to the company’s website design (screenshot below), it occurs to me that we need to create a new page type specific to the promotion of individual products. I make a note to incorporate this request in my next communication to our web development team in Cairo. Web development has been one of our biggest expenditures in the last year, but possessing an outstanding Internet presence has never been more important.
15.26: Lunch is usually a relatively late and unspectacular affair. I generally keep both breakfast and lunch simple and relatively quick, though nothing like as rapid or tense as in the days of commercial law, when chewing my food was all-too-often an unattainable luxury. And the days of surfing the Internet during lunch are over; it’s unhealthy on so many levels. Increasingly, I aim to concentrate on the food that I am eating: the colours, the textures, the fragrances.
But today I am distracted by an advertisement for an upmarket Mayfair-based matchmaking agency in a glossy magazine that has captured my attention. It is a very clever, full-page ad which depicts an avataresque businessman holding a briefcase. He is sitting despondently on one end of a see-saw; on the other end, no one is seated. Later, I find out that this agency typically charges £10,000 for its entry-level services. All kinds of questions start to circulate around my mind. Can money really ‘purchase’ love? Are the customers of this agency – people who are presumably some of the world’s most successful professionals – fully conscious that they are effectively delegating arguably the most important decision in their lives? And in our era of Internet dating, does this type of service represent a rejection of that method as too depersonalised?
18.07: Editing product footage (sample image below) is something that I didn’t envisage being straightforward, but thankfully Mediolana is operating in an era when software suites are exceptionally intuitive and processing power is leaping far beyond the nominal numbers assigned to it. It takes a fair amount of patience – the voice track that I am laying down is drawn from no less than 895 tapes! – but it’s also a genuine thrill when it comes together. The random element – one never precisely knows how sound and pictures are going to synergise – makes it all the more exciting.
This is a process which requires intense concentration – my door is shut and all possible distractions are silenced.
19.50: For most of my stint as a commercial lawyer, my physical condition deteriorated significantly. Coming home late at night, vigorous exercise was the last thing I wanted to contemplate. However, I now incorporate three kettlebell workouts into my weekly routine. At first these were not at all easy, but the benefits – both in terms of my overall shape and stamina – are too obvious for me to stop. The ultimate aim of this training regime is to get fit enough to play tennis to a reasonable level; I already have an idea of where I want to take lessons, and living in south-west London there is no shortage of courts or instructors. Month-by-month, I’m getting there.
22.00: After supper I try and stay away from screens in deference to my circadian rhythms, though it’s not always possible. Tonight I’m offline and revisiting corporate social responsibility doyen Wayne Visser’s remarkable The Age of Responsibility: CSR 2.0 and the New DNA of Business. It’s possibly the best business book I’ve come across since Jonas Ridderstråle and Kjell Nordström’s 1999 classic Funky Business: Talent Makes Capital Dance, and absolutely essential reading.
Anyone running a company needs to ask themselves what the ultimate purpose of their organisation is; in the most successful and sustainable companies, making money is one of many goals embedded in a broader vision. In an epoch of increasing transparency, obfuscation and greenwashing are strategies that can only get an entity so far; it’s much sexier to be looked up to as a model of innovative best practice.
00.00: My bedroom light should be off and my mind commencing the process of dreaming again, but instead I’m tip-tapping away into my smartphone. A promotional idea came to me while I was in the queue for the bathroom, and I cease wielding my electric toothbrush for a moment while I sketch out the details in Apple Notes. When one’s working day stretches to midnight and sometimes beyond, seven or eight hours in bed is the minimum recovery time that the body needs.