Not many of you might remember the information superhighway. I do, this is how I found my way around business.
From the information superhighway to Visionary Marketing
From a business perspective, 2016 has been an eventful year, to say the least. In fact, the past few years have been very busy. Three years to the day I was working on my computer and on my blog preparing to launch my new company. New isn’t the right term. Visionary Marketing was created in 1995. Out of frustration and seeing how managers were being downsized regardless of their abilities. I then decided to use this new tool one called the Internet (in those days people referred to it as the information superhighway) to sell my wares.
As I tried to post my CV online and quickly realised that nothing good would happen if I continued to do that, I turned the website around, changed its content and theme to match that of a 100 page report I had written and rebranded it to match the name of the report. Half a year later, I bought a domain name and attached it to the Website.
The site may have changed platforms a few times but it has always been there to support my work. I used it to do research, to publish my work, to network, and evangelise. Eventually, I never had to search for a job anymore. People started to call me. I wasn’t fired from Unisys. In actual fact it went the other round, I resigned twice. Once to leave France and get back to Britain. But they wouldn’t let me go and I got an expat package instead. Even though that was deemed impossible at the time. The Website had made me visible and desirable. I went on updating it. And I resigned a second time to join Capgemini for whom I worked in Lebanon and China and France.
I went on updating my website. It got me another job outside of Capgemini and I joined Orange (France Telecom as it was called at the time). The Website got me that job and I never ceased to update it. In 2004 an Orange colleague advised me to move to blogs. I didn’t suppress the Website but went on to build blogs – this blog is one of them – on top of the Website. I was right not to do away with the site, that was visionary too.
For decades I worked for free on the Web, publishing content and networking and teaching for years. Until I made my decision to turn Visionary Marketing into a full fledged company.
Three years to the day I was leaving Orange and contemplating the future ahead of me. A fortnight later I would be thrown into the world of business, all on my own. That was something to think about. Not an easy decision to make I must admit. I went on updating my Website for 2 weeks. Turning a personal Website into a fully functional business Website isn’t obvious. The look and feel wasn’t quite right but mostly, the tone of voice had to be changed. It was no longer a matter of projecting my own views and visions. It was a question of designing an offer, making it desirable, selling stuff.
I decided to do it completely differently. I believe in the power of stories, so I began telling stories. My vision for the world ahead, the way that I saw digital playing a role in changing organisations. The way that I thought people needed to be taught different things. I scribbled a few words on the back of of a pack of cigarettes and used this as a blueprint for chasing new customers. I had one, I needed more if I wanted to build a business.
Two weeks later I was in the field chasing deals and clients. I signed one more, then two. After barely 2 months I was so busy I had to fetch other people to support me. I hired my first intern less than 6 months later. Now we can – notice the “we” – claim having worked for 60 customers in various fields and all areas of what I had described on the back of that pack of cigarettes a few years ago.
I’m quite happy I made that change. I’m still – happily – working for Orange and I’m very pleased to be able to. On top of that I have been able to broaden my horizon. There is nothing I like more than jumping from one customer to another. One vertical to another. One customer pain point to another. It’s varied and exciting. You never get bored. I love it. And I love coming to work in the wee hours of the morning and drink my morning coffee at the bar writing a blog piece on my smartphone before I go to work and meet with my boss. He’s a nice chap. I can tell you.
A lot of what has happened I owe to my readers and it’s only natural that I reach out to you today to thank you and wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.