Still Figuring It Out

Yesterday I drew six years of trading as What Goes Around to a close in readiness for the seventh, which starts today. In the past few days I’ve also accepted my first artistic commission. I’m very excited about this. When I started out on my own I never imagined the range of possibilities and opportunities that would come my way, many of which have been delightful, all of which I’ve learned from.

A Brief Reflection

Trying to make your own way in the world is simultaneously exciting, scary, joyful and desperate, satisfying and frustrating. Working in this way is not for everyone, though I’d encourage everyone to try it at some time. It’s also not for me to say that working for yourself is somehow better than working in a bigger business, but it is different, and it is that difference between big and small, which I experience and apply, and my inherent curiosity, that have become some of the greatest ways I can now contribute usefully.

If I’ve learned anything more it’s that gentle persistence matters, doing the work on yourself first is vital, trying to be kind to yourself and others helps enormously, and being curious and invitational is a great way to approach pretty much anything. Give generously, trust first, be thankful – thank you Carole, and thank you everyone who has given me work, supported me, encouraged me, let me down, and screwed me over. I’ve learned something from all of you.

A Brief Look Forward

I’m not so hot when it comes to predicting the future, but I do know I’m about to launch a new business designed to help develop the more artistic side of my work, and bring it to many more people. I’ve also recently agreed to join the LPI consultancy team – early days and this feels like a lovely place to make another home. I will continue to offer facilitation and consulting work through What Goes Around, as well as writing and some public speaking too. Lastly for now, many of you will have noticed over the years I enjoy giving stuff away. With this in mind I’m formulating a way to establish a stronger more intentional volunteer element to my work and I’m finding a way to make a regular financial contribution to some good causes too. More news soon.

Last year was a good one, and I feel like I’m due something better than good, something great. If you can help me make it great through us working together, please let me know – I’d love to explore that with you.

Thank you again. Love – Doug.

Lust for Life

A few thoughts and ideas on life, the little guy and getting paid – from Iggy Pop.

Iggy Pop

The radio was tuned to BBC 6 Music a few nights ago and so I was fortunate to hear Iggy Pop deliver the 2014 John Peel lecture, he chose to speak about ‘Free Music in a Capitalist Society’. His talk is an engaging interesting piece of work and it’s available to replay and download here for a short while yet. I also recorded the session on TV and sat down to watch it yesterday. Although Mr Pop (we are not on first name terms yet) was addressing the music/entertainment industry – I got a lot from what he said and wanted to share a few things with you. These aren’t direct quotes as such – I was just enjoying watching the talk and at the same time, trying to pick up a few interesting threads.

On being yourself: If you are who you are, that is really hard to steal, and being you takes you in interesting directions when the road gets blocked, and it will. You are better off with your own identity.

On getting ripped off: I loved my vinyl bootlegs – they did a lot for me. The packaging was often way more creative than the official stuff. Bootlegs moved beyond both the industry and the artist. But now – everyone’s a bootlegger – we are swapping the corporate ripoff for a public ripoff. Devices estrange people from their morals. Thieving is bad, but so many people are broke and abandoned, who am I to say you can’t watch some shitty movie for free after you’ve worked yourself hard all day for almost no money?

On not getting stuck: Diversify – streams dry up. Don’t complain about it, survive it.

On getting paid: So how do you engage society as an artist and get paid? It’s a matter of art, endurance and study. Be curious, find smarter people to learn from. I don’t worry too much about what I get paid for any given thing – I never expected much in the first place.

On the little guy: Youtube, Spotify, they have the numbers. And the indies have the guns.

On giving: Give freely, not in the hope of reciprocal profit, but out of self respect.

On life: Dream – be generous, pursuit is better than arrival. Diversify, stay away from drugs (pause for laughs) and talent judges. Get organised, do better than me. Hang on to hopes, hang on to who you are.

If you can find the time – please check the talk out and let me know what you think, and what you take away from it too.

photo credit

You Won’t Succeed – Unless You Try


If my earlier post this week is the A side of the single, then I guess this is the double A side (remember those?). The title of this post is taken from the end of verse two of Clash City Rockers. Even if you read no further I urge you – click the link back there and go watch The Clash doing what they do best, better than all the rest.

I’ve been humbly motivated by the feedback and comments my ‘You Will Fail’ tale brought forth. A number of people spoke about our potential for failure and whether we might reframe failure in order to alleviate the fear around it. David Goddin summed it up, ‘do we really know ourselves if we will fail or succeed? The reality is we just don’t know unless we are given the opportunity and try to succeed.’

Let’s wind the turntable back a bit…

When I was employed as a business leader I made a point of not asking people to do things I wasn’t willing to do myself. I’m not talking skills here, but attitude. The kind of attitude which in my case brings you into disagreement with the group CEO. In my experience most CEOs get told what people think they want to hear and either through arrogance, ignorance or both they end up believing the hype. My good fortune is I’ve never been a yes man, other than when yes is the right answer, and it often isn’t. Now I run my own business and help people in other companies to make work better. The essence of that for me is authenticity, and an ability to create an encouraging environment within which to experiment.

Three weeks ago I spotted a fun opportunity to be a part of an interesting art and music exhibit. In years gone by I would have read about this opportunity and probably gone to see it, once it was completed by others. It was so far out of my zone I don’t think I would have dreamt of participating. Things are different now.

I contacted the exhibitors with a simple and passionate request to be involved and moved on. Future focus is important. I’d decided to engage, I’d written, now get on with the next thing. A few days later I got a reply inviting me into the South London studio to record a song on good old fashioned vinyl with Ted Riederer as the producer. I grinned. For several days I grinned. Here is a picture of me in the studio grinning. The recording went well, one take, a few tiny mistakes – just how I like it!


I’ve gone on enough already and yet there’s so much more to tell. What happened thereafter involved me painting the record cover, getting my record played at a few gigs, being part of a real life London art exhibition, meeting Arturo Vega, watching him screen print a shirt for my daughter and a jacket for me and a little something for someone else. In my own small way I’ve become a recording artist and an artist artist! I’m still grinning.

I love creating an environment where people feel willing, even comfortable to try new things. And I love being in that environment myself. Authenticity rocks. I’d like to highlight another experiment in the blogosphere (do folk still call it that?) going on right now. The very fabulous Alison Chisnell is in the home straight of a very engaging blog experiment over here. Alison put a few subject ideas up to the vote and has blogged every day this week covering the most popular items. It’s been a very engaging week over at Alison’s place.

Joe Strummer is right; you won’t succeed unless you try.

What are you going to try next?