First world problems…

“We don’t have enough space for any new art or furniture” they moaned.

Seriously? I thought.

Is that a real problem?

You see, we don’t know how lucky we are in the first world.

I hired virtual assistant in Egypt. He helps me with admin tasks.

By day he works as an engineer. A skilled job.

He slogs his guts out with that.

Then in evenings and weekends he worked on spreadsheets online for me.

Guess how much his day job pays him?

About 4000 Egyptian pounds a month.

That’s about ~£350 a month. For a highly skilled job.

There are people who are less qualified that survive on much much less.

The only problems most of us have are first world problems.

But they seem dreadful and insurmountable.

In reality we’ve never known real struggles.

Problems are all a matter of perspective.

Do they really exist, or are they in your head?

Spaces influence you


The Victorians knew how to build.

Houses were created with bricks, and high ceilings and elegance.

Along with parks and squares.

There’s none of that grandeur anymore.

New homes are built on the basis of “what can we cram on this plot?” And everywhere is tarmacked over.


It’s grim. There was an estate near us in Whitstable.

These places have no amenities. No parks. No places for people to go.

People just live insular lives in their cardboard homes and watch cardboard TV.

They don’t go out.

There is no outdoor space for them to go.

Everything about these estates is that cardboard sense of mediocrity.

Don’t question things. Do your job, watch TV, get a mortgage, get a spouse, get 2.4 children, make them do their homework, get them to go to uni, retire, do some gardening… Then die.

That’s what these estates make me think of.

Most people happily live like that. I don’t object.

But for me that’s boring.

I want to be a Victorian.

Recruiting teachers

He’d asked for my help.

He’d had 8 interviews and there were 2 jobs.

Their CVs were all the same.

They were all “passionate” about history. They wrote copious amounts about their qualifications.

If you’d have changed the names, nobody could tell the difference.

So it came down to the interview.

He ruled out 5 because he didn’t really like them.

That’s what most recruitment decisions come down to really

…Whether you like the person.

On reasons for rejection, he wrote “needs more experience in schools”. Which was a copout answer.

He had 1 definite yes.

And there were 2 left over who both deserved it.

I suggested flipping a coin.

But he had to think about himself.

One of the girls was very streetwise.

And he suspected that she’d probably hound him for feedback and appeal the rejection.

So he gave her the job.

On the basis that rejecting the other person would be less hassle.

I think that’s a perfect example of how we all think.

We pick people we like and who make our lives easier.


There’s two types of motivation that drive us.

Intrinsic and extrinsic

Most people do what they do because of extrinsic motivation. They’re motivated by factors outside themselves. They worry about what other people think.

Teachers. Parents. Society.

I had a horrible time of that… I used to anyway. It’s what drives a lot of school children. They don’t want to fail and let people down. So they work themselves into misery.

I remember my AS-exams results day. I’d got AAB grades, I think. Most people would be happy with that. But I was really disappointed because I wanted to apply to Cambridge. I knew my grades wouldn’t be good enough. I was so so low.

Thankfully, moving off that path opened up a lot more exciting doors.

But most people are extrinsically motivated their entire lives. They go on the conveyor belt of school – > uni -> job, without ever questioning it. They do what other people expect of them.

Intrinsic motivation is the opposite.

It comes from within.

It’s that drive, that spark, that ooomph which puts the fire in people’s eyes.

You can often read the difference.

And the world needs more intrinsically motivated people.

Trying standup comedy

I’ll be honest with you.

I feel like I’m far too serious all the time.

I take myself too seriously.

I take my work too seriously.

For most of my time at school I was a straight A, stick to the rules student.

But I’m bored of that. I want to lighten up.

You need more fun and mischief in life.

I want to be funner. So I’ve signed up to a standup comedy for beginners course.

We had a first session on Thursday. I really enjoyed it, so I signed up for more.


I want to make you feel like this

I’ve also signed up for an open mic standup night in Camden next Thursday.

So I’ll get a terrifying 5 minutes in front of an audience.

I’ve been writing some material. Some mediocre. Some good. And now I’m going to test what I think are the best.

And hopefully I won’t get rotten fruit thrown at me like they did in mediaeval times. 😛

Writing a job description which doesn’t suck

This is possibly the best job description in the world.

Top London PR agency, Just In Time PR, is recruiting.

We’re looking for a ‘Senior Account Manager’, whatever the hell that is.

So if you’d like to work for a company run by a fat bloke with a drink problem and a moral compass that only ever points south, you can apply here today.

Well, not all of you.

If you have principles and take offence easily, then this role categorically won’t be for you.

Guardian readers, teetotallers and anyone who believes in the afterlife almost certainly won’t fit in.

Not that we’d give them the time of day anyway.

OK, so here we go. Your chances of landing the job will rise with each box below that you tick.

My perfect CV

You’ll be on anti-depressants, and probably will have been for a number of years. People who need drugs to keep them going are generally the most interesting.

You couldn’t care less about global warming. In fact, if a meteorite the size of Mexico slammed into our planet tomorrow, you’d rejoice.

You’ve got panache. Frankly, I couldn’t care less if you have a first class degree from Cambridge or a Grade 4 CSE in pottery: a bit of swagger and a disturbed sense of humour are all we’re looking for. In 30 years’ time I’ll be as dead as the stars so I need to get my laughs in now.

You’ll have an alcohol problem.

How amazing is that?

So down to earth and so very British.

It gets rid of all the barriers and formality and replaces it with honesty.

Can you be more like that? More honest and human with yourself and your business.

Because at the end of the day, what have you got to lose?

Moving to London


House prices have increased quite significantly since...

I just moved to London.

I live near Old Kent Road.

That’s the brown one at the start of the monopoly board which you trade for a “get out of jail free” card.

It’s exciting.

You can meet so many people when you’re in the big city.

Work, friends, whatever.

You have the world within walking distance

…And I don’t mean that there’s lots of foreigners.

But cities are where things happen and ideas come together.

How to really understand people

Last week I went to Dublin with my friend Lewis.

Whilst there, I went to one of Hubspot’s talks from their top sales guy.


You know what Hubspot do to get their salespeople in their customer’s heads?

They get them to do their customer’s jobs for a month.

For one month they have to create a blog and content that gets them ranking in Google.

They feel that pain. They know the concerns of the people they sell to.

And if you put yourself in someone’s shoes, you understand them.

10 things I’m most afraid of


1. Running out of money (although I’d hopefully find a job in the worst case scenario)

2. Negative feedback from my copywriting clients. I tend to get too attached to my work and it feels like I’m Dracula with a stake through my heart when I hear bad news.

3. Becoming lonely. I was quite a loner at school because I didn’t really find anyone I connected with. Now it’s got better but I’m still worried about that.

4. Managing to mess things up somehow and burn bridges. Whenever something goes really well, sometimes somehow it doesn’t work out afterwards.

5. Public speaking… Like I’ve done it before to small groups. But I want to get over that fear with big groups.

6. Being boring… I don’t know, but with some of my writing I become a bit robotic and emotionless. I wrote about pensions for goodness sake… How dry is that?

7. Feeling like a fraud. Some days I just feel like “what right do I have to do this?”

8. Not having the balls to set up a proper business. I want to set up a scalable business… But I’m afraid of not having the confidence to do it.

9. Not being able to connect with people who are more influential than me. I’m afraid that won’t reply or won’t want to help.

10. Feeling powerless to change things. There’s lots of things I’d like to improve especially education… But it’s a big big mountain to climb and I’m worried that I won’t be able to persuade people.

Hey ho… I hope I’ll be fine.