Meet Alistair Leathwood. Alistair is the Managing Director of a large research firm. Research is a typically conservative industry, which for good reason is filled with conservative individuals. The type of individuals that are diligent, thoughtful, sedulous, hard working and considered.
Alistair is also one of these people.
The interesting thing about Alistair is that he doesn’t let the reality of hard, thoughtful and considered work get in the way of fun. Alistair knows that it is possible to display personality, have fun and actually still get work done in a professional manner. And when I caught up with Alistair for lunch today he told that he doesn’t just ask his people to have fun in the office, he mandates it.
Just quietly, this is the kind of attitude I can dig. An attitude that knows that a suit and tie are not the basis of diligence or insight.
So here’s little picture of how cool cat Alistair rolls. He’s an everyday colored sock man, regardless of what else he happens to be wearing…. and the bead necklace? Well he’s had it on every time I’ve seen him and he reckons he’s worn it everyday for the past 10 years. He then went on to say, the shirt and pants where for me, while the socks and necklace were for him!
It feels a lot like the industrial revolution and the marketing of widgetry had a subconscious influence on what business people would wear. A specified expectation of limited differentiation which I will be glad to see the end of. I think we should all take a sock out of Alistair’s drawer and ensure we don’t become our own version of Mista Bob Dobalina
And don’t panic, the world is quickly learning that how smart and capable we are is not dependent of our uniform.
If you live in a western urban environs you’ve seen lots of bicycles of the ilk displayed below:
The single speed, fixed gear, mono color racer with white wall tires. Very hip, very now. But why?
It’s classic one downsmanship. In a world where people strive to have more, where increasing wealth has given many of us everything, the trend of tomorrow is diametrically opposed. The more of tomorrow, isn’t stuff, or consumption, rather experience, artistry and simplicity – the luxury of a stripped back existence. We often see these trends early in what may be considered the trivial, like bicycles. The trend will run much deeper than this.
Leading edge urbanites riding such bicycles (they are too cool for me) are showing the world they are more, but publicly displaying they can live with less. It’s a classic display of confidence. By wanting less, they are showing the world that they are more. Conspicuous consumption has been a preferred method for people displaying self worth for most of the Post world war 2 era. But I really think that this is another example we’ve turned the corner.
The question for entrepreneurs is this: What category or business is waiting to be striped back by you?
Sometimes it’s worth being even just a little bit awesome. We don’t need to change the world, maybe just having a little bit of public fun is enough. The usually conservative BBC did that for me today when I realised the following: The BBC video player has a volume which goes to 11.
It’s what I call unexpectedly awesome. I was delighted. So much that I’ve linked here to little video of Warren Buffett being interviewed. Upon which you can learn something and also pump the volume up to 11.
Startups – do something a little bit awesome.
I had the pleasure the other day while in Sydney to be taken to the Deus Ex Machina workshop. For the uninitiated Deus (as the in crowd call them) are re-built old motorbikes – think big 400cc 1970’s Japanese motorcycles, which are re-built with the greatest retro feel ever and style which is all it’s own. Apparently one of the owners is an Ex Mambo founder and you can see that they certainly have a flair for design and all things super cool. As the pics below show – these guys really understand ‘Theatre at Transaction’.
In summary it’s a great ‘Re’ business. A ‘Re’ business is where we take something old / second hand and make it full of awesome. My words – can’t do Deus ex Machina justice. So maybe this photo journal below can – enjoy!
This last one is my personal favourite – I can see myself buying this Deus and strapping my Surfboard in the surfboard carrier and cruising down the Great Ocean Road searching for a few secret tube rides.
Rockstars don’t wear cool clothing. The clothes become cool because the Rockstars happen to be wearing them.
True rockstars are just themselves. What is cool, is their performance and attitude. This is then translated.
Rock star as defined by startup blog only includes people who play in ‘real’ bands and generally rock out. Just like ‘the Clash‘ and Anthony Kiedis below.
If you ever want to have, be or work on a cool brand or startup – this blog entry is worth pondering.