#9 – 10 courses I would enrol on

  1. Handbag/fashion accessory design
  2. Fix my gadget
  3. Sweet/chocolate making
  4. Butchery
  5. Printmaking
  6. Lean startup bootcamp
  7. Build your own bicycle
  8. Make your own gin/vodka
  9. Project-based Photoshop/Illustrator training
  10. How to make perfume

#8 – 10 apps I would like

  1. “Fancy a coffee” – lets people know when you’re off for a coffee so they can join you.
  2. “Give up” – You can only smoke/play online poker/watch TV etc. when the alarm goes off.  The time between each alarm increases gradually over time until, eventually, you wean yourself off the bad habit.
  3. Anonymous Compliments – lets other people with the app send anonymous compliments to each other.
  4. Habit reward – lets people set goals and rewards them with related incentives when they reach milestones.
  5. “Join me” – connects you with people who want to do the same thing
  6. Rent Want – potential renters let the market know what they are looking for, landlords reply.
  7. Crowdsourced betting – the wisdom of the crowds should, in theory, give a better idea of which horse to back/lay.
  8. Actor Search – with the prohibitive cost of acting training, create an app which allows aspiring actors in the street to be discovered.
  9. Create Collab – lets artists showcase collaborate on creative projects
  10. Different Weekend – lets people get together for short breaks away and have something different/unusual to talk about on Monday morning.

#6 – 10 ways big companies lose customers

  1. Forcing customer service employees to adhere to strict rules at the expense of good customer experience.  Customer service workers should be given an element of autonomy to make decisions, e.g. issue refunds up to a certain amount.
  2. Passing customers from pillar to post.  Customers should be allocated one person to deal with the lifetime of their complaint, not just be handled by whoever picks up the phone.
  3. Get rid of automated help lines.  My call is “important to you” but not important enough to be answered by a real person?
  4. Agents should give customers their full name.  Don’t hide behind first names.  It is faceless and encourages the abdication of responsibility. Every other part of a business divulges the full names of its employees, why not customer service?
  5. Taking profit-maximisation too far.  Stop tracking every single sale and gradually increasing the price of popular items.  Tesco, I’m talking to you.  You may think it’s smart but it just makes me resent you and take my business elsewhere.
  6. Massive, sudden price increases. Amazon Prime use to cost £50 per annum.  Then it jumped to £100, now it’s £80 (because, I guess, many customers like me decided not to renew).  Oh, and offering videos that few people want to watch won’t mask the increase.
  7. Only caring about customers when you’re in danger of losing them.  A car insurance company offered to halve my premium in order to keep me as a customer.  So, if I hadn’t said anything, you would have happily continued gouging me?  No thanks.
  8. Stop employing incompetent people who don’t care.  They’re hurting your business.
  9. Being rigid in your rules.  Seeing the price, not the value, of good customer service.
  10. Not talking to your customers enough to find out what can be improved.

#5 – 10 ways to make life go your way

  1. Take more action.
  2. Be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.  Get out of your comfort zone – and stay out.
  3. Be focused. Try not to flit from one thing to the next. Give all your projects a fair chance. Concentrate on one thing. Identify that one thing that will change your life for the better.  We all have it. Focus on achieving that.
  4. You always have the option to focus on the positive, the stuff that helps you or makes you feel better or happier.  Do that.
  5. Meet more new people.  Every person is a doorway to a different world. Invite someone to lunch once a week.  Pick their brain, make connections.
  6. Fully develop a skill.  Be great at something.  Being great makes the world your oyster.  But make sure it’s something you want to be great at.  My friend is one of the best corporate lawyers I know.  Only problem is, he hates law and is unhappy much of the time.
  7. Create things.  We are born to be creators.  Make stuff.  Make art, take photos, write books, cook meals, design furniture, make fashion accessories… What you do can catch the attention of others.
  8. Don’t build a case against yourself.  Try before quitting.
  9. Be personable.  What success I have had in life is as much because of who I am as it is what I know or can do.  Nice people can finish first.
  10. Quit quitting. If you’re in a perpetual state of starting over, you won’t get far. Choose one goal and stick with it.

#4 – 10 ways to be a better entrepreneur

  1. Ask more.  Asking makes things happen.  I never ran an event in my life, had no connections in the industry, but by asking and reaching out, I secured speakers from 12 of the world’s biggest brands.  It’s amazing how things start to come together when you just ask.
  2. Look for problems to solve.  Approach different industries and ask them what their biggest headache is.  Some will talk to you, others won’t.
  3. Before you invest time, money and effort, approach your intended target market and ask them if it’s something they would be interested in buying.
  4. Build a minimum viable product.  You don’t have to build the final thing, just build the minimal product/service that demonstrates its value to your prospective customers.  If they like it (i.e. pay for it), then you can flesh it out.
  5. If you’re a startup, forget about “building a brand”.  No one cares.  Concentrate on delivering great service, delighting customers and making sales.  Do that and the business will grow itself; the brand is organic and comes with time.
  6. Identify the 80:20.  Work on what really matters, what will have the greatest positive impact.
  7. Take action.  Anyone – and everyone – has ideas.  What’s rare is to take action on those ideas and create something tangible with them.  In fact, entrepreneurship can be summed up as “bringing good ideas to reality”.
  8. If you’re not a natural salesperson or you see sales as sleazy, reframe it as having a conversation to work out if you can help the other person.  Listen to their problems and say to them, “If we could solve that for you, would you be interested?” If you’ve done #2 and #3 above, you should have something that your target market would be interested in from the start.
  9. Break bigger goals into smaller ones and take the next step.  Forget about finishing, just keep starting the next step and finishing will take care of itself.
  10. If you’re not feeling it, if you don’t believe in what you are doing, if your heart is not in it, your customers will sense it and everything will be an uphill struggle.  Try to find something that you are enthusiastic about. There’s countless ways to make a lot of money.

#3 – 10 ways to cook better

  1. Get three pots of varying sizes and one large frying pan.  Make sure they’re thick-based – it will stop you burning your food.
  2. Invest in a large cook’s knife, a small vegetable knife and a flexible fish knife.  Keep them sharp with a decent sharpener and a steel.  (Steels only keep sharp knives sharp, they can’t sharpen dull blades).  Dull knives are dangerous (you start forcing the blade and then slip…) and makes cooking extremely frustrating.
  3. Don’t be afraid to salt (season) your food adequately.  Salt has a bad press and, yes, hidden salt is problematic.  Hidden salt is what manufacturers addwithout you realising (in sauces, cereals, salads, ready-meals etc.  If you don’t know the salt is there, you can easily have too much in your diet that leads to health problems).  If you’re cooking from scratch, you know how much salt is going in and you can control it.  Without salt, food is bland.  Bland food discourages a lot of beginners from cooking for themselves.
  4. Keep a tidy workspace.  Beginners’ kitchens look like a bomb has gone off when they cook.  Wash as you go.  Use fewer containers and utensils – ask yourself, “What can I safely reuse without having to wash another bowl?”. Prepare all your vegetables first before prepping meat (you will reduce contamination and save having to wash your chopping board twice).  A tidy work surface reduces stress.  It will come with practice.
  5. People’s fear of food poisoning means they overcook everything.  Most things take less time to cook than you think.  Beef and lamb can be served pink (it tastes better that way, too); chicken and pork must be cooked more thoroughly (not pink); fish requires minimal cooking.  If you’re not sure something’s cooked, stick a fork in it, hold the fork to your bottom lip.  If it’s too hot to hold there, it’s done.
  6. Let meat rest a third to half its cooking time.  This lets it relax and reabsorb its juices, making it more succulent.
  7. Onions are a wonder ingredient.  They’re versatile, add complex flavours depending on how long they’re cooked and go with most savoury dishes.
  8. Explore the world of herbs and spices.  Rosemary, thyme, sage, coriander, cumin, fennel, chilli powder – a few great ones to start you off with.
  9. Let flavours develop.  Brown meats, fry vegetables to soften them.  This promotes the Maillard reaction – it’s a cooking chemical reaction that helps develop complex flavour compounds and improves the taste of your food.  It’s why roasted tastes better than boiled.
  10. Practice cooking new dishes.  They’re are thousands of recipes out there.  It will make you a better cook.

#2 – 10 easy-ish ways to lose weight

  1. Cycle to work.
  2. Practise intermittent fasting.  Divide the day into three eight-hour sections.  Only eat in one of those sections – you choose which one.  Eat as normal in the other two sections.  Hey presto, you’ll lose weight.
  3. Reduce carbs (bread, pasta, potatoes, pastry, biscuits/cookies).
  4. Reduce sugar intake (that includes fruit and fruit juice).
  5. Hunger pangs are withdrawal symptoms.  Your body has been use to getting the food it wants, when it wants.  When you experience hunger pangs, practise willpower.  Remind yourself you can eat within a few hours.  In the meantime, drink water or tea.
  6. Do squats.  Lots of ass-to-the-grass squats.
  7. This is hard but it works.  Just four minutes a day. Check with your doctor before trying it.
  8. Learn how to cook five different meals from scratch.  You can control the fat, sugar and salt that goes into your food.
  9. Eat more slowly.  Put down your cutlery between bites, chew your food.  It will take practice to eat like this, it may not be satisfying at first but it will feel natural after a couple of weeks.  You will end up eating less as your brain has a chance to catch up with your stomach to tell it it’s full.
  10. Cut back on the wine/beer.

#1 – 10 ways to be happier

  1. Stop comparing your life to others: stop caring about what other people have or what they are doing.
  2. Strive to make daily progress towards a goal that matters to you.
  3. Stop believing everything you think.  You are not your brain.
  4. Learn and practise mindfulness meditation. It will get you through the greatest challenges in your life.
  5. Stop ruminating.  It’s a precursor to depression.  Instead, get up and get busy doing something.
  6. Being happy is… a skill; a choice; a decision; a way of travel, not a destination.  Happy people have problems too, they just choose to be happy despite of them.
  7. Keep in touch with people who matter to you.  Don’t withdraw into your own world however tempting that may be.
  8. Maintain hope.  You never know when the tide will turn in your favour.
  9. Be positive, persistent and patient.
  10. Learn new skills – it gives you a sense of reward and achievement; reminds you that you’re capable; and can change your world.