Measuring Worth?

16 April 2009


A long time ago, a clever man once said, “A man’s worth is no greater than his ambitions” (the Roman Emperor Philosopher, Marcus Aurelius).

This may have been true in AD150 but is it still relevant in the always-on world of AD2009? These days a more common measure of worth is your connectivity. Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn co-founder) summed this up nicely when he said, “Your network your net worth.” One of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Top Life Tips is to, “go to more parties”. The express reason for this is to expand your network and expose yourself to more positive Black Swans.

A couple of weeks back we received an invite to a London networking event. The speakers were sold on the basis of the number of Twitter followers they had. This made me smile as it reminded me of recent conversations about the pressures and politics of maintaining relationships online.

Is the number of followers a true proxy for how valuable someone’s opinion is? I give you Britney Spears (903,274 followers).

My stepson Newton (694 Facebook friends) loves the fact he’s “more popular” than his younger brother Richard (389 Facebook friends). Phil (646 Facebook friends, 433 LinkedIn connections, 244 Twitter followers) and I (232 Facebook friends, 431 LinkedIn connections, 251 Twitter followers) regularly pull each other’s legs about how ‘popular’ we think we are.

To finish off this post, here’s a list of people we’ve either met or hear about regularly who are attached to the Internet scene here in London. We’ve used Twitter followers to help us measure their worth. Not sure old Marcus would agree with our methods but here you go anyway:

London’s 50 Most Networked Internet People by Twitter followers (As of 14th April 2009)

1. Jemima Kiss


2. Mike Butcher


3. Nick Donnelly


4. Paul Walsh

4,094 follower

5. Paul Carr


6. Amanda Rose


7. Michelle Dewberry


8. Hermoine Way


9. Sam Sethi


10. Nick Halstead


11. Michael Acton Smith


12. Richard Morross


13. Mat Morrison


14. Nathan McDonald


15. Joff Arnold


16. Joshua March


17. Stewart Townsend


18. Basheera Khan


19. Andy McLoughlin


20. Benjamin Ellis


21. Sam Michel


22. Ben Way


23. Sophie Cox


24. David Terrar


25. Bindi Karia


26. Alex Hoye


27. Stephanie Robesky


28. Luke Razzell


29. Bastian Lehmann


30. Elizabeth Varley


31. Robert Loch


32. Sokratis Papafloratos


33. Nic Brisbourne


34. Mario Cacciottolo


35. Andrew Scott


36. Danvers Baillieu


37. David Langer


38. James Cherkoff


39. Nick Bell


40. Barry Vitou


41. Steve Kennedy


42. Chris Osborne


43. Emma Haslett


44. Fabio De Bernardi


45. Meriem Aissaoui


46. Robin Klein


47. Dug Falby


48. Nikhil Shah


49. Stephanie Bouchet


50. Paul Mackenzie Ross


The master version of  this list appears on the Snagsta website. View it here to share it with your nearest and dearest.

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Jaw-dropping Innovation?

23 May 2008

I attended NESTA’s Innovation Edge conference this week. Despite the title apparently the only thing jaw-dropping about it was Gordon Brown (who was doing that thing with his chin so quickly even Rory Bremner would have been impressed).

As with all such events it’s a bit hit & miss and one has to make a cost-benefit call. Can an entrepreneur trying to launch his site afford to spend the day nodding sagely in agreement with keynote speakers, nancying around making small talk and drinking lukewarm coffee? Well, the answer is ‘sort of’. At my decisive best I elected to attend the more targeted afternoon sessions and so unfortunately missed Gordon Brown, Bob Geldof & Tim Berners-Lee. But I have it on good authority from the effervescent Meriem Aissaoui from Smarta that they were in fine form.

By the way, Smarta is a fantastic business resource and social networking site for entrepreneurs and small businesses that launches officially in November.

The first seminar I attended was called ‘Are online social networks the new cities?’ Unfortunately the topic was too high level to get the crux of matters the same way blog conversations do but at least it was fairly entertaining. Here’s an extract of the dialogue between the facilitator and Michael Birch (founder of Bebo):

Facilitator: So Michael – why did you move to San Francisco? Was it Silicon Valley?
Michael Birch: Because of my wife – she’s from San Francisco. There just happened to be a small thriving internet community there too.
Facilitator: Lucky she wasn’t in Utah. That would have been interesting.
Michael Birch: Probably not that interesting.

The second seminar, ‘Entrepreneurs v Investors: Can the relationship ever really work?’, was better. Saul Klein (The Accelerator Group) highlighted honesty, self-awareness and the ability to face issues sooner rather than later as critical ingredients for an effective relationship and Jon Moulton (Alchemy) provided a list of habits that help you spot Bad Managers & Entrepreneurs that I have paraphrased below:

  1. They don’t know the numbers, don’t care about them
  2. They don’t have any customer interaction
  3. They are often arrogant and dismiss questions from their staff
  4. They are little too focused on the material things (talk about pay & bonus schemes in the first meeting)
  5. They don’t have a TO DO list – no signs of structured organisational skills
  6. They don’t visit their businesses
  7. They make stupid acquisitions (double or quits)
  8. They isolate themselves
  9. They work 9 to 5 – lacking passion for their business

Investors – if you’re reading this – it’s midnight and I’m still in the office testing the site. This post only took a few minutes. PS: did you get my email about a payrise?

Another interesting point from Jon was that good presenters aren’t necessarily good managers, but people always make this assumption. But on the contrary: good managers are very often good presenters.

The lesson I draw from this is: if you know you’re a crap manager take a course in presentation skills.

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Trust me I’m a blogger

18 April 2008

After Phil’s underwear post last week I thought I would try to drag our beloved blog out of the gutter and back up on to the pavement where it belongs.

We were lucky enough to snag another excellent list from marketing guru Seth Godin this week (with his permission of course). We like Seth over here at Snagstaville, because he:

1. Likes lists and likes sharing them with us;
2. Sports a stylin’ shiny bald look;
3. Has his own plastic doll forged in his image; and
4. Knows an awful lot about viral marketing

He recently wrote an excellent list about how to improve your writing skills by thinking like a blogger (more about that later).

The list fits nicely next to a post he made a few days later about how blogs can help you build trust. You can read it here but if you want the 5 second summary here’s what he had to say.

Building a foundation for whatever you want to do next in books, blogs or “twits” on Twitter is the way to go. It must be done with patience and over time. He goes on to say that the best time to look for a job next year or a sale in three years time is right now. And that:

“…you must build trust before you need it”.

Smart guy that Seth.

Here’s his list about how you can improve your writing if you start thinking like a blogger:

1. Use headlines. I use them all the time now. Not just boring ones that announce your purpose but interesting or puzzling or engaging headlines. Headlines are perfect for engaging busy readers.

2. Realize that people have choices. With 80 million other blogs to choose from, I know you could leave at any moment (see, there goes someone now). So that makes blog writing shorter and faster and more exciting.

3. Drip, drip, drip. Bloggers don’t have to say everything at once. We can add a new idea every day, piling on a thesis over time.

4. It’s okay if you leave. Bloggers aren’t afraid to include links or distractions in their writing, because we know you’ll come back if what we had to say was interesting.

5. Interactivity is a great shortcut. Your readers care about someone’s opinion even more than yours… their own. So reading your email or your comments or your trackbacks (your choice) makes it easy to stay relevant.

6. Gimmicks aren’t as useful as insight. If you’re going to blog successfully for months or years, sooner or later you need to actually say something. Same goes for your writing.

7. Don’t be afraid of lists. People like lists.

8. Show up. Not writing is not a useful way of expressing your ideas. Waiting for perfect is a lousy strategy.

9. Say it. Don’t hide, don’t embellish.

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Favourite blogs of 2007

19 December 2007

The Blackboard’s favourite blogs

Under the bridge here in London we
usually start our day with a nice
cup of tea and a Skype call with
Alex G in Bangkok. We then usually
have a look at various blogs to
find out what’s happening online.

So we thought that one of our last posts of 2007 should pay tribute to one of these morning institutions – our favourite: blogs, teas or parts of Alex G.

We decided on blogs because we don’t know that much about tea and couldn’t agree on a favourite part of Alex G.

So here are 7 to kick off with:

1. The Equity Kicker – This is one of my favourites and is run by an insightful VC chap named Nic Brisbourne. Nic has kindly sent us a few of his lists to use as start up content.

2. TechCrunch – this is a very difficult blog to keep up with due to its huge number of daily posts. But it helps us keep up to date with new online developments and is a must read for all internet startups. Thanks to Monu for telling us about it.

3. How to Change the World – This is Guy Kawasaki’s excellent “practical blog for impractical people”. Guy has kindly allowed us to re-publish his lists on the various lies people tell each other in business. Compelling and useful stuff.

4. Bokardo – Social Design by Joshua Porter is an excellent resource for thought-provoking conversation about social web design. What Joshua doesn’t know about this topic isn’t worth knowing.

5. A Donkey on the Edge is the brainchild of Dug Falby an old colleague of mine from TMW. As Dug puts it, his blog contains the content’s of Dug’s head, in no particular order. This was one of the first blogs I started reading and have found it a great resource for usability, information architecture and much more.

6. Modern Marketing – Blog by Collaborate PR & Marketing and run by James Cherkoff. Don’t be put off by the name, this is a cracker of a blog and is full of wisdom and useful insights. I saw James speak at a chinwag event earlier this year and he was so impressive I decided to check out his blog. I’m very glad I did.

7. Iain Tait’s crackunit blog is also well worth subscribing to. Iain’s tag line for it is random nuggets of things and stuff. This sums it up pretty well. Can’t remember where I found it but have been a regular reader for a while now.

The last blog I was going to tell you about today was Blognation – however they unfortunately went under earlier today – sad as it was an excellent site.

Til the next post.