Following The Spark

I’m sitting, this night, to all intents relaxed except I am anything but. For I am possibly about to embark on the most exhilarating journey in my otherwise non-eventful life. Tomorrow I expect to be fired, a first. My life as corporate financial analyst is to be crossed out not, afterall, with a 25-year-service golden pen but with a giant eraser.

I was sat, this morning, across a table from my boss soaking in sounds that came through the ether between us: “This is not working. You may have the technical chops but you don’t have the intuition and that can’t be taught”. Case shut. The next sound I heard were not fireworks but a colossal thud. I was the dumped spouse: abandoned, bereft and in shock. After years of working my precious butt, sometimes to almost midnight, this is how it ends. The door is surely now about to close and, though I don’t believe in fate, destiny or God but, it looks like Alexander Graham Bell was right and another door, a better door, is silently opening. The spark of an idea.

It came to me while sitting (I sit a lot) in a cafe at the weekend; in fact only yesterday. The prospect of reaching middle-age and being let go into a world that doesn’t want old fuddy-duddies had exercised my mind for a mighty long aeon. Still, I couldn’t figure what I could realistically do, entrepreneurially, that hadn’t been done. The one thing I knew was that when I walked the streets of London and observed independent businesses being run and managed by people with dreams, ambition and courage my heart would leap.

This is what I want to do: work for myself doing something that I love and excelling at it. This is how I feel walking into the Apple Store on Regents Street and knowing that “Someone built this and what a beauty it is”. Hate or loathe Apple but those guys raised the bar for computer software, build, design, functionality and service. I want to do something similarly amazing (perhaps, more). It will come at a premium (of course we all want to be paid and paid well) but it will be amazing. I once told a prospective boss who was about to hire me that “I want to change the world”. He laughed and there were times I would think back to then when I was younger and think “How naive”. It looks like life is offering me a chance.

So when my idea came I was awed and my heart leapt. After two hours of excitement the practical diffculties started to hit me: funding? technology? competition? managerial ability? Do all of the people who start a business have all these skills? No, they learnt on the job. Which is why I feel that my upcoming adventure will be less a child Alice through the looking glass and more an adult Jason setting off after the golden fleece. Tonight then as I sit on my sofa life is all surreal; my world is light, atemporal and indistinct; a living impressionist painting. I might fail but at least I’d have tried and what I learn will be invaluable. I don’t want to return to earth and ashes wishing “If only”.

But if it works out …

Culture, Musings

Why I Support My Local Shops

I patronize my local businesses and avoid Amazon whenever I can. The only thing I’ve bought from Amazon in years are mp3 downloads of single songs. My thinking here is: Jefferey Preston Jorgensen (aka Jeff Bezos) doesn’t live round my neighbourhood and doesn’t know or care if my local shops go to the wall and my neighbourhood is gutted. The man is worth north of $20bn and lives in Beverley Hills. Good for him. However I live here and I care about here. I will pay that extra pound to support my neighbourhood.

The excuse I often hear is “But it’s so cheap and so convenient”. It is and also so dreadfully shortsighted. If we want vibrant successful communities we have to pay for it. Everything has a price. If you want to get paid well you must be prepared to pay others who do a good job and who have good skills well. An economy only works when money circulates around as many people as possible and does not accumulate with the top 1%. If we don’t reform we’ll all end up living in Dickens’ Coketown (aka Preston, England), ironically the same name as Mr Bezos.

History makes us aware that societies that end up with the 98/99% enslaved (crap jobs, too much debt, no possibility of social climbing) end up only one way: Revolution – politically or militarily. This revolution will be televised.