It was about a year ago that we first started paying attention to the Russian Military’s presence on the Ukraine border.
Military manoeuvres apparently.
Shortly afterwards Russia invaded Ukraine in one of the most disturbing threats to peace and security in Europe since the end of the Cold Car, creating destruction, death, economic shockwaves, and a global cost of living crisis.
In the UK, where by and large we have got off very lightly in comparison with the Ukranians, the cost of living crisis was exacerbated by Liz Truss’ very brief stint as PM and the various short-lived economic measures introduced by Kwasi Kwarteng.
In the digital world, the duopoly of Facebook and Google became threatened as a results of increased privacy regulations. Apple’s iOS update directly led to a $10 billion drop in advertising revenue for Meta and a significant share price reduction (22%).
Chat GPT, or AI in general, looks like its changing the way we use the Internet, or technology in general, for good and with Microsoft having bought a significant stake in the technology, Alphabet is beginning to circle the wagons.
Against this backdrop I found solace, comfort and a heavy sprinkling of inspiration in the words of others.
Naval Ravikant is an Indian American Entrepreneur and investor. As the co founder of AngelList, he has been involved in early investments into companies such as Uber and Twitter resulting in over 70 exits and more than 10 Unicorn companies.
He’s a billionaire so I think its fair to say he hasn’t done too badly (although he certainly doesn’t rate money as the source of happiness – more a source of freedom).
‘The Almanack of Naval Ravikant’, which is available for free, is a curated collection of Naval’s thoughts, social media posts, interviews and reflections. Its not really meant to be read from front to back (I don’t think) but more a cold water immersion pond of learning, to be skinny dipped in and out of (sadly minus the brown fat – see point 5).
I started reading it when going through the horrors with another business and his musings around compound interest in so far as they relate to life, relationships and business led to me shutting the business down.
This was painful and difficult at the time, but one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I’m not sure I would have made it without Naval’s prompts.
At the time of writing this, I’ve been running MLT for about 14 years. During 2022, it dawned on me that before running MLT, which is a digital growth agency focused on the legal profession, I had neither worked in nor been in an agency in any meaningful way. I certainly didn’t know how they were ‘meant to work’.
I don’t want to do myself, or my colleagues a disservice here, as in spite of this we have grown our agency year on year and have a loyal longstanding client base.
That being said, I’m always looking out for more ways to learn and ‘Agencynomics‘ has been important for me from a methodology and benchmarking perspective, with the benchmarking being particularly useful.
I wouldn’t recommend reading this book unless you actually run an agency, but I would heavily recommend that you seek out benchmarking reports from the industry you are in and use them as a way of measuring your own performance.
For the legal sector, in the UK, we routinely use Hazlewoods Financial Benchmarking Survey produced in conjunction with the Law Society’s Law Management Section. It is produced every year and while I wouldn’t put it alongside my next choice in terms of readability it’s certainly much more useful to a law firm owner.
I’ve always been an avid reader and have probably forgotten more books than I can remember reading. Recently I’ve been watching a number of movies for the second time and, as a result of the enjoyment I’ve been getting, I’ve been doing the same with books.
Over the years I’ve referred to a number of things as being ‘a moveable feast’, the notion being that there are some events in life that sustain you in ways you could never have appreciated at the time. Time spent abroad, experiencing different cultures and cities for an elongated period of time is a good example.
Written towards the end of his life, ‘A Moveable Feast’ is essentially a memoir of Hemmingway’s time spent in Paris as an unknown writer with the likes of Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and F Scott Fitzgerald.
Written in his trademark stripped back style it’s a fascinating, atmospheric, evocative read. He would strongly disapprove of my use of adjectives.
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
Sometimes you ask the universe and it delivers, just at the right time. At other times you buy a book, don’t read it because it isn’t relevant to you at that time, and then you find it on your bookshelf when you do need it and think ‘holy sh*t, this book is brilliant.’
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that it’s almost never the case that you’ll be facing a situation that others haven’t faced before. In either the plethora of self help/business books or podcasts, someone, very helpfully, will tell you the answer. (See next recommendation for another example).
I can’t actually remember buying ‘Scaling Up‘ but when we were doing our strategic planning earlier this year to work out how we were going to scale up I lifted it from the shelf and wondered if it was going to be of any use. And is it ever.
It is a brilliantly written book, clearly referencing proven methodology in leadership, hiring, managing, strategy, execution and managing cash. To run alongside it there are a number of downloadable worksheets to help you, and your team, navigate your way through the process.
It, alongside the Agencynomics books, has given us a structure for growth that we have never had before. If you’re planning to grow and need a manual – look no further.
Michelangelo claimed that he was actually doing the most when it looked like he was doing the least. I have tried to suggest the same to my nearest and dearest when slouched dead-eyed on the couch but, for some reason, it just doesn’t seem to cut it.
However, your honour, I would submit that last year I probably learned the most when I was out walking the dog listening to the soft soothing tones of Dr Chatterjee’s ‘Feel Better, Live More‘ as he interviewed yet another fascinating guest.
This year, amongst other things, I’ve learned about unlocking the power of the subconscious mind, how to run without pain, how to sleep better and boost gut health and why brown fat is good for you.
This is a personal favourite I have recommended to friends and family:
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