Meet Alistair

Meet Alistair Leathwood. Alistair is the Managing Director of a large research firm. Research is a typically conservative industry, which for good reason is filled with conservative individuals. The type of individuals that are diligent, thoughtful, sedulous, hard working and considered.

Alistair is also one of these people.

The interesting thing about Alistair is that he doesn’t let the reality of hard, thoughtful and considered work get in the way of fun. Alistair knows that it is possible to display personality, have fun and actually still get work done in a professional manner. And when I caught up with Alistair for lunch today he told that he doesn’t just ask his people to have fun in the office, he mandates it.

Just quietly, this is the kind of attitude I can dig. An attitude that knows that a suit and tie are not the basis of diligence or insight.

So here’s little picture of how cool cat Alistair rolls. He’s an everyday colored sock man, regardless of what else he happens to be wearing…. and the bead necklace? Well he’s had it on every time I’ve seen him and he reckons he’s worn it everyday for the past 10 years. He then went on to say, the shirt and pants where for me, while the socks and necklace were for him!

It feels a lot like the industrial revolution and the marketing of widgetry had a subconscious influence on what business people would wear. A specified expectation of limited differentiation which I will be glad to see the end of. I think we should all take a sock out of Alistair’s drawer and ensure we don’t become our own version of Mista Bob Dobalina

And don’t panic, the world is quickly learning that how smart and capable we are is not dependent of our uniform.


Stripped back

If you live in a western urban environs you’ve seen lots of bicycles of the ilk displayed below:

The single speed, fixed gear, mono color racer with white wall tires. Very hip, very now. But why?

It’s classic one downsmanship. In a world where people strive to have more, where increasing wealth has given many of us everything, the trend of tomorrow is diametrically opposed. The more of tomorrow, isn’t stuff, or consumption, rather experience, artistry and simplicity – the luxury of a stripped back existence. We often see these trends early in what may be considered the trivial, like bicycles. The trend will run much deeper than this.

Leading edge urbanites riding such bicycles (they are too cool for me) are showing the world they are more, but publicly displaying they can live with less. It’s a classic display of confidence.  By wanting less, they are showing the world that they are more. Conspicuous consumption has been a preferred method for people displaying self worth for most of the Post world war 2 era. But I really think that this is another example we’ve turned the corner.

The question for entrepreneurs is this: What category or business is waiting to be striped back by you?


Notes Page – Make it rad

As you know I’m running my startup school in Melbourne this weekend. we all know that boring stuff really sucks, so why do ‘note’s pages’ have to be boring as well. No reason. But every time I see a great presentation with excellent stimulous, there’s usually a blank page with no stimulous to write on. Not at startup school. Here’s our rad notes page below….

Cool notes page

It’s not too late to join us if you’re not doing anything this weekend and are in Melbourne – come along.



Unexpectedly Awesome – BBC

Sometimes it’s worth being even just a little bit awesome. We don’t need to change the world, maybe just having a little bit of public fun is enough. The usually conservative BBC did that for me today when I realised the following: The BBC video player has a volume which goes to 11.

It’s what I call unexpectedly awesome. I was delighted. So much that I’ve linked here to little video of Warren Buffett being interviewed. Upon which you can learn something and also pump the volume up to 11.

Startups – do something a little bit awesome.


Deus Ex Machina

I had the pleasure the other day while in Sydney to be taken to the Deus Ex Machina workshop. For the uninitiated Deus (as the in crowd call them) are re-built old motorbikes – think big 400cc 1970’s Japanese motorcycles, which are re-built with the greatest retro feel ever and style which is all it’s own. Apparently one of the owners is an Ex Mambo founder and you can see that they certainly have a flair for design and all things super cool. As the pics below show – these guys really understand ‘Theatre at Transaction’.

In summary it’s a great ‘Re’ business. A ‘Re’ business is where we take something old / second hand and make it full of awesome. My words – can’t do Deus ex Machina justice. So maybe this photo journal below can – enjoy!













This last one is my personal favourite – I can see myself buying this Deus and strapping my Surfboard in the surfboard carrier and cruising down the Great Ocean Road searching for a few secret tube rides.


Southwest Airlines – customer service

Here’s a nice piece of personal input from a staff member at Southwest Airlines. Although they do have a reputation of doing things a little different, the thing that really matters is the fact that they let staff ‘add value’ and be real people.

I like it…. I’d be interested to know if you do, or if you’d find it annoying?


For startups, simple service innovations and staff input cost almost nothing. If you’re lucky, 25,000 people will see it on the internet!


How to advertise for free

The next post on startup blog will talk more about this whole ‘free advertising’ on the internet stuff: In the interim, here’s the latest episode in free advertising. Which is pretty funny.

By the way, it took 15 minutes and zero dollars and was a great deal of fun after lunch. (and yes, I am on the bike)