Archives for posts with tag: escape the city

I spoke at the Escape School event this week and shared some of these insights that have helped me over the years stick to work I want to be doing (almost) everyday. Let me know what else guides you.

1. Think in 3 Horizons – but only execute on 1st and 3rd. 

Horizon 1: What are you doing now / this week / month to set you on the path you want to go on? Act. Do. Make something happen.

Horizon 2: What’s going to happen between now and the long-term? You don’t know. Things change. A lot. So, don’t waste time planning too much.

Horizon 3: Where do you want to be in 5 years? What values will underpin this lifestyle? Who will you be working with? Always keep this in mind.


2. Write a letter to yourself from the future

It’s 2019. Write a letter to yourself saying what you’ve achieved over the last 5 years and how you’ve done it. This may sound stupid but it’s a great way to visualize where you want to go and what really matters. Exchange letters with a friend or mentor if it seems weird doing it by yourself.


3. Less is More. 

Simplify everything. This isn’t just about great UX. It can be about a lot of your life.


4. Master the most important venn diagram in the world


5. Write an Escape List and pin it on your wall (fridge. facebook. bathroom)


6. Don’t let being comfortable kill your ambition, because it will. 


7. Bin the CV. Build a Story. 

I might be wrong but I think CVs won’t be around forever. What matters when I meet someone is whether they’re doing something they really want to be doing and have gone out and built the skills and experience necessary to do that thing better. There are SO many good web tools for sharing your story, there’s no excuse.


8. Do one thing exceptionally well rather than everything just well. 


9. Always try and escape the ‘vicious circle of badness’ @davecorn


10. Use stimulants! Coffee for productivity. Beer for creativity. Water for life.




This has been on my mind for a while. Jo Confino’s blog today about communicating the reality of climate change might be best done not through facts and figures but by telling people – as artist Stephen Fairey suggests – ‘to stop being dicks.’ In other words if you don’t connect with people emotionally they won’t pay any attention. Or as Fairey says: “Sometimes the most powerful weapon against propaganda is absurdity, creating images that are funny.”

Looking from a start-up point-of-view it seems to me that there is some truth in this, not so much in ‘selling climate change’, but in getting people engaged in tackling abstract, distant (for most us) problems, the best approach is to try and get authentic emotional buy-in.

Thinking about the projects I’ve worked on over the last few years reflects this and why I continue to drawn to the storytelling, positive visioning, what-makes-me-care, approach to insurmountable problems over the ‘I’m going to drown you in a tsunami of data and then tell you buying a different detergent will solve the problem.’ No it won’t.

THNK: Creative Leadership school in Amsterdam. After being given a challenge (what do we do with big data, solve climate change, provide clean water for everyone etc…?) participants are encouraged to go on a ‘wild safari’ to gather inspiration, stories and facts about the subject before a ‘visioning’ phase of generating ideas concludes with the sentence: ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if…(big data ended malaria etc…)?’ before prototyping these ideas. By reframing a huge challenge as an amazing opportunity that matters personally a whole new raft of ideas surface.

Tribewanted: eco-tourism and community experiences. We’ve learnt by going slowly the ups and downs of building ‘sustainable’ communities. The open-minded spaces at Tribewanted projects free people up to think differently and creatively about big issues. The solar panels are really just the backdrop to what really matters: the cross-cultural living experience.

Escape the City: Inspiring frustrated corporates to ‘do something different’ is a brilliant way to get a talented resource (clever graduates) to move into careers they really care about. No wonder the community is 100,000 strong already. 

Right to Dream: Africa needs more role models. A sporting leadership academy in Ghana recruits talented, young people and gives them a world-class education. The graduates with a golden ticket then spend their next 15 years ‘giving back’ credits to their community and country in the form of fundraising, business start-ups, and international representation. The future Black Stars (Ghana’s national team) will likely be loaded with talented, smart, leaders.

Projects I’m a fan of that aren’t writing strategies but doing…

Hunter Gather Cook: Adventures in Wild Food. I took my brother on this for his stag do. Going wild in the woods topped any embarrassing night out on the town.

Project Wild Thing: Taking on the small challenge of getting kids off their iPads and into nature because it’s more fun. See also Camp Kernow

Jamie’s Farm: (Not *that* Jamie) Sharing wonders like where the ‘egg’ comes from by getting city kids down on the farm, often for the first time.

Roost: on a mission to get people into trees by showcasing the amazing treehouses of the world.

Microadventures: No more time-money excuses for going on adventures – you can have one between 5pm and 9am. I tried this.


I’ll be speaking alongside around the world cycling hero Al Humphreys on the night at Guanabara. Should be a great night. Book tickets

see you there!



Launching WEDNESDAY 27th JANUARY 2010 at GUANABARA bar in LONDON

ESCAPE THE CITY provides exciting options for YOUNG PROFESSIONALS who want to leave their mainstream corporate jobs and ‘do something different’

Escape the City, ‘Esc’ for short, is launching with a party at GUANABARA, HOLBORN, in CENTRAL LONDON on WEDNESDAY 27TH JANUARY 2010.  The evening will consist of inspirational talks from AL HUMPHREYS (Adventurer and Writer who cycled around the world on his student loans) and BEN KEENE (Social Entrepreneur, Founder of Tribewanted) and a gig from THE CORRESPONDENTS (one of London’s hottest new live music acts).

Esc was started by two EX-MANAGEMENT CONSULTANTS, DOM JACKMAN (27) and ROB SYMINGTON (26), who are convinced that there is more to life than working in a job that doesn’t make you leap out of bed in the morning.  They are building this platform because they believe that thousands of young city workers feel exactly the same.

Esc is aimed at ambitious, talented young people who aren’t catered to by traditional job sites and recruitment services.  Esc’s goal is to connect them with exciting, innovative, non-mainstream organisations where they can use their skills to make a difference, have an impact, and be genuinely fulfilled by their work.