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Business Rhythm and Blues


I’ve been spending a fair bit of time back in Soho recently. Not to move back in to our offices of 14 years. But to move out. 14 years, it’s a long time in one place. And it would be cheaper for us to stay in Archer Street, but we’ve decided that post Brexit and the current Covid crisis, we all need a ‘sense of new’; a modern fresh start, mentally and physically – in new, very Covid-friendly offices (balanced with WFH, of course). It’s a well-being decision.

It’s a wrench for me and others though, but it’s the right decision for the welfare of the business. Our building was originally the home of the National Orchestral Association where musicians rehearsed, including the eight who lost their lives on the Titanic: Wallace Hartley, Theodore Brailey, Roger Bricoux, John Clarke, John Hume, George Krins, Percy Taylor and John Woodward. The boardroom still hosts the Titanic Memorial Fireplace in honour of the musicians, built from funds raised at a concert of over 470 musicians at the Royal Albert Hall in May 1912. So, as you can imagine, memories will last a lifetime from Archer Street, for me and hundreds of Launchers. I’ll never forget the time we turned the boardroom into a church (stained glass windows and all) to pitch for Virgin Money. I was a priest. Christ! Or when we staged the world’s longest brainstorm … 48 hours, and still a world record.

As I’ve been packing up and going through all the sane and bonkers stuff we’ve done, it’s made me reflect a lot about starting and running businesses (I’ve started and run three). So, here are my 14 reflections to mark 14 years in Soho’s coolest street.

  1. Any business is about people. It’s ALL that matters. The people in the business. And the people you do business with. Looking back at all the photos of early Launchers and clients on colour print outs and CDs, and looking at their words in momentous anniversary or birthday cards, it’s brought that home more than ever. It’s made me feel very humble

  2. Never say or put your name to any work that’s ‘fine’. Every single piece of creative or activation that’s gone out of Archer Street that I’ve overseen, I can honestly say is the best it could have been. Even though my name isn’t above the door, in reality it is – along with everyone else’s. A good business should feel collective pride – and responsibility

  3. Be good to everyone you meet

  4. Find a rhythm that works for the business. You know, a routine, a pattern. Then review it regularly

  5. Find a routine for you – physical, mental, emotional – and tinker with it often

  6. You’re nothing without clients. And fessing up, I’ve never really got the ‘clients are always right’ thing. Rather more, clients must get what’s right (and the best) from you - always

  7. Be generous. Always when you can financially, but equally, with time

  8. Reputation is all you have, so don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with – or isn’t done with complete integrity

  9. Ask when you need help. I’ve never been great, but I’m a smidge better now

  10. Bad days are good days too, as long as you reflect (and learn from them)

  11. Former colleagues are still ‘the business’, too. Your relationship doesn’t stop with them the moment they’ve left the building, it continues indefinitely (as long as they don’t put you down as a referee without asking!). A good business should have an incredible alumni network

  12. It’s not life or death. The business that is. But, do view the work as such. Restless and indefinite craft, care and consistency is what it’s all about

  13. Remember Rome wasn’t really wasn’t built in a day (more like 870 years)

  14. Be kind, and smile as much as you can, even when you don’t feel like it. After all, kindness is the best workplace currency there is

See you, Archer Street. And keep up the tempo.

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