Today would have been my grandfather Robert’s 104th birthday. It also marks four years since I leapt out into the venture that I describe as Stamp.
Four years on, and what have I learned so far?
Well, the first thing is that in that 48 months I’ve been able to cultivate a really diverse set of clients, and further diversify my own network. So far I have worked with: a music school, a professional association, a utility company, the UK government, a number of professional services companies, a number of law firms, a couple of pharmaceutical companies, business schools in both Oxford and Cambridge, the UK’s biggest independent radio broadcaster, a telecoms company, marketing agencies, training companies and a few charities.
There’s been probably more of a focus on the ways in which digital is impacting on the internal operations of businesses, but as time as gone on I’ve realised that that’s probably my sweet spot. There is a category of person who works in the digital/marketing/transformation world who talk in impenetrable gobbledegook and I don’t think I have the patience to build such vocabulary in my own professional life. Not everyone, you understand. It just seems more prevalent in the outward-facing digital world.
I still don’t really know what I’m doing from day to day, and work is as much about opportunism as it is about a structured plan. I have a handful of ideas that could turn into that holy grail of “scalable product” but I’m cognisant that I’m probably the product and short of cloning there’s limits to personal scalability. I adopt what I can only describe as the Dirk Gently approach to business development. Randomish events inserted into an otherwise lightweight social calendar, and a willingness to trust in “see what happens”. There’s been some cracking stuff to come out of that approach.
Most importantly of all, how much of my work is “stampable” – the sort of thing that might get commemorated in the way that Robert’s work in Zambia did in the 1970s?
Well, there are definite sparks in there. This was never intended to be a short-term goal – and I wanted something that could last me the whole of the second half of my career. But I’m increasingly feeling now that I’m doing work that is more that just paying the bills. Long may that continue.
Here’s to year five.