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All Posts in Learning

29th March 2020

Why ‘Start with why’?!

Around October last year, a few colleagues and I started our own book club. Recommendations are fairly common but it’s hard to find the time to read them all, let alone choose a good one. So to make things easy, we collected everybody’s suggestions and sorted out who wanted to get involved. I was a little quiet initially but by the time the second book assignment came around I warmed to the idea and signed up. The book was “Start with why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action.” written by Simon Sinek. Here’s my write-up about how it went and what I learnt.


Coming into this, I was a bit overwhelmed that I’d have to read a book on something I wouldn’t normally buy and reflect on. It was branded as a Marketing book which I would usually avoid at all costs. The biggest challenge I found was keeping my notes concise, as I nearly ended up copying the whole book. However, there were a few things that really resonated with me in this.

The first was the line ‘everyday is like choosing toothpaste.” I’ve been there plenty of times. It talks about the noise we experience with certain products that don’t have a clear sense of why they exist in the first place. Next time you go buy toothpaste, just look at the abundance of different Colgate toothpastes. I’ll be honest I don’t think I’ve bought the same type twice unless it’s on offer. And its because to get sales, they take up most of the shelf, there’s one for everyone (32 variations to be precise), there’s at least one that’s always on offer, in order to manipulate you. A short term fix for a long term issue.

‘If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they would have asked for a faster horse’ - Henry Ford

I’d heard this quote before. It tells us not to rely on data, things we can quantify and put into words all the time. This was a real interesting thing to learn. You know that feeling when something feels right but you can't quite put your finger on why it does. This is actually down to our biology not our inability to articulate. Mind BLOWN!

Had you heard of the golden circle ahead of reading?

Nope, never, only the golden ratio but that’s quite different. The golden circle is a very simple representation of how people should communicate their offering to the outside world. It can be applied to many things like how to rally people together, sell things or inspire your employees. The circle is made up of 3 rings. The outer ring is what you do, the middle ring is how you do what you do and lastly the inner ring is why you do what you do. You follow it by working from the inside out. From why to how to what. Throughout the book, Simon reminds us it’s not what you do it’s why you do what you do. And makes a good case of it by applying the golden circle to pivotal stories like the Wright Brothers first flight, the downfall of the American motor industry and how Apple continues to innovate.

“Start with why is repetitive. Although Sinek makes a strong point, he repeats this for the entirety of the book rather than developing the idea and giving more examples. You only need to watch the ted talk to understand the method.”

It’s very repetitive! Whilst I was a little put off by all the remarks to Apple - after all they seem to be used as an example for most things, it really helped to tie the whole thing together and made it easy to follow. The other bit I thought was really clever, is because he uses a handful of examples they became like characters of a novel as you learnt more and more about them, just when you thought you knew everything, the author reveals another reason why they make a great example. It definitely helped me absorb what I was reading. I do now feel the words ‘it’s not what you do, it’s why you do what you do’ etched on my eyeballs. The ted talk is really useful but I feel like it only scratches the surface. Even though what he’s talking about is eyewateringly simple, only with the book will you have those silly moments when you realise JUST how simple it is.

Sinek defines people as WHY-types or HOW-types. Do you think you’re a why or how person? How did you come to this conclusion?

Basically in the book, he explains how Martin Luther King was a why person but every why person needs a how person. A why is just a belief. How’s are the actions we take to realise that belief. Early on I thought of myself as a how type because I dislike standing up in front of people and projecting what I believe in - heck I’ve never done that! Design wise, I can be conceptual but enjoy the roll out of things more. For instance designing a website involves many different parts, but I feel most comfortable doing one thing well. So if someone does the branding, or has an idea of how it should feel I can run with it.

But then the more I thought about it, maybe I’m half how, half why. Yes I can make things happen but I do rather love to dream. The one thing this book really does is sit at the forefront of anything you work on once you’ve read it. Throughout, you’re like ‘What is MY why”.

Why are some people and organisations more inventive, pioneering and successful than others? And why are they able to repeat their success again and again?

I think you need to be open minded, a good listener and not have the answer for everything. It definitely felt that great collaboration and trust is at the heart of all those examples. The ability to keep on doing it, is no matter how big or successful you get, you never lose those traits.

Score: ????

28th January 2020

Blue Monday

In light of Blue Monday last week - considered the most depressing day of the year by those heads of consumerism - I thought I'd inject a little fun into my day. I've been obsessed with watching tutorials on how to dance the Lindyhop recently (a late 20's swing type dance that was huge in America). It's such a joyful thing to watch and listen to. Wish me luck with the dancing!


It was refreshing to draw people like this. I'd usually stay clear of anything that involves people. I found some great imagery online to use as reference - otherwise the people would have looked a little more blob like.

16th October 2019

Olympus OM2n doodle


Last night, I managed to set aside some time to do some drawing. It's been a little while so I felt a bit rusty using layers and choosing which brushes to shade with but I got there in the end. This is a very loose drawing (with no true perspective or source of lighting) of my Olympus film camera - I particularly like the subtle texture I've managed to create on the lens ring. It's deliberately made to look strange, creating a 3d shape in 2d form is where the fun bit comes in.

7th October 2019

Saving Svanskär

Save Svanskar boat towed out of the water at Underfall Yard in Bristol

Following a sad break-up early this year, I found myself with all this new time to spare. I'm not one to complain about having free time but it doesn't necessarily make you more productive unfortunately. Keeping busy did help take my mind off things and now I'm more motivated than ever to travel and experience new things. One thing I had always been interested in but never pursued was volunteering. Not sure where or when but if i could lend some spare time helping others then I could see the value in that - I've always been passionate about working on things. Also I didn't fancy taking up the gym or paying for some other hobby just for the sake of it.

So I entertained the idea for a little while, looking at ads on Reed, talking to friends and having a general scout for anything of interest. The National Autistic Society needed a buddy for 1-2 evenings a week for a couple hours so I applied. Disappointingly I never heard anything back and reflecting on it now, I should have fished for a proper response. It would have been really useful and rewarding working with youngsters on the autistic spectrum.

At some point along the line, I installed an app called HelpfulPeeps. A free place to post any favours or offer help to others. There's some incredibly humbling things happening on it, where total strangers impart knowledge, advice or offer help where they can. It's all self regulated and you're encouraged to swap skills instead of money.

"Painters needed to restore our boat" the ad read or something along these lines. When you clicked through to read more, it gave an account of how Greg and Tash came to own Svanskär, an old Swedish fishing vessel which had fell into disrepair. They described how much of a challenge it is and will continue to be but wanted to give it a new lease of life. There was no sign up to be a volunteer, more "any help is welcome". So that Saturday, I nipped over to Underfall Yard - where Svanskär had been towed out of the water in order to work on it's hull. Ultimately to protect it and keep it water tight.


Reusing some leftover wood, I created this A-frame sign for Greg and Tash to signpost their fundraising goal and encourage more people to get involved.

Since that first day, I've really enjoyed being part of something bigger. And whilst I have no clue about Boats, they've been really supportive and I've got to learn about knots, woodwork and Fenders (not the guitar). Everyone I've met has a wealth of different skills and ideas which brings so much to the experience. We also have a good laugh! There's no getting rid of me yet and I hope to continue helping them where and when I can.

If you want to know more or fancy getting involved, please send me a message or visit the links below.

For updates and a record of the work we've been doing, go here. If you're able to help us fundraise, you can donate here or help spread the word by sharing the same link.


27th July 2019

Happy Go Skate Day

To help celebrate Happy Go Skate Day last month I put this jolly little animation together for it. My workplace, Six shared it on Instagram as quite a few of us either grew up skating or still do it to this day so it seemed like a fitting tribute. Fortunately, I managed to finish the whole thing in just one sitting (which is unusual for me!). That said if I took any longer, I would have missed putting it out on the day so having tight deadlines are good because you are realistic with what you can do and commit to.

With that in mind, the simpler the better. Most importantly it had have soul and capture some aspect of skateboarding. I used the half pipe shape to draw a big smiley on the page, then thought about how the skateboarder should skate. One aspect I thought of was based on something I've recently been learning which is to go up and back down the ramp effortlessly and let gravity do the hard work for you. It sounds so basic and easy when you talk through it and technically it is really. All it involves is a little trust in how you're moving and patience. So when you go up a ramp, naturally you'll get to a point where you've stopped propelling and gravity will help bring you back down to Earth (excuse my very basic Science lingo), at this point you want to relax and turn your head back down the ramp to turn your board and ride away clean. Here's a much better way to explain what I just mentioned along with a video.

It was that smooth, gradual and floaty movement that I wanted to mimic in my animation. When the character races across the bottom of the ramp, I stretched his body to exaggerate his movement which is a technique I've wanted to toy with for a while.

All in all, I'm really happy with how this turned out!