Ten years into my career at Pearson Education and I was ready for a change.
I had managed difficult government contracts, built online ventures from the ground up, and led global transformation projects. I found co-conspirators, faced off with arch-nemeses, and made plenty of mistakes.
I also learned the following about success:
* You must understand your customers – but getting to know them is hard
* Plans are useless – but planning is essential for good decision-making
* If you can tell a good story you’ll always find open ears – but earning trust is key to getting commitment for your ideas
The financial crisis of 2008 inspired me to do an MBA, so I could understand how companies work and why they go wrong. It helped me with the former and led me to realise that the latter is a question of metaphysics, the answer to which is the holy grail in the great game of business. The only way to counter the possibility of things going wrong is to be constantly creative, which is a form of spreading your bets.
I briefly considered converting to the cult of design thinking, but as with all religious doctrine I liked its intentions but couldn’t grasp the strictures. Nevertheless, its emphasis on iteration and experimentation struck a chord with the musician in me, and one foggy evening on a business trip to San Francisco I found myself resolving to quit my job when I got home.
My resolve held, and I founded Scandinavia Stories in 2013.
I named the company because I’ve long written, recorded and performed music with a band called Scandinavia. In fact, I’ve been a musician since punk rock and the do-it-yourself ethos changed my life when I was 15 years old. It occurred to me that it would be useful and rewarding if I could teach others a combination of what I’d learned about entrepreneurial collaboration from playing music and what I’d learned about business and leadership from my corporate career. This is what I’m doing today with Scandinavia Stories.