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Stuart Lennon

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21st Century Entrepreneur

SL, 21st Century Entrepreneur

I’m collecting business cards. Not other peoples’, just my own. I’m a 21st Century Entrepreneur.

There’s a buttoned-up corporate card for my work in anti money laundering. I have an awesome one for Nero’s Notes, featuring a cartoon of the little man himself. Finally, there is even a cool card that accompanies this site.

Stuart Lennon, business card

Inky!

In reality, a case could be made for a few more cards: I co-host a podcast, 1857, with TJ Cosgrove of Wood & Graphite. Additionally, I record my day on Anchor, making another podcast. I’m experimenting with video, largely for Nero’s Notes, and looking at several other projects.

21st Century Entrepreneur

Apart from being great news for business card printers, this proliferation of roles is increasingly widespread. Everyone has a ‘passion project’, a ‘side-gig’. It’s entirely possible to work for the council by day and be an entrepreneur by night. It has always been possible. Increasingly though, it’s the norm.

This is brilliant. I love the fact that people are finding outlets for their entrepreneurial creativity and making it available for others.

Technology makes this possible and it’s a great way to find balance in life.

Taking on Pocket Notebooks (now Nero’s Notes) has introduced me to a whole new range of activities which intrigue me. I’m learning about digital media, analogue tools, social networks and IT. Customers continue to surprise and delight me, and business partners both drive me mad and make me laugh.

The Novel

There remains, of course, the novel. Two manuscripts have be resting in a drawer for a year now, but they have increasingly been whispering to me as I pass by. I feel certain that I will pull them out for a read some time soon. Does an entrepreneur write, edit and publish a novel? I don’t see why not.

Therapy

This post is my form of therapy.

It’s been a while. I’m having a whale of a time building pocketnotebooks.

The Front Row have scheduled phase 2 of the Camino de Santiago over at Sensible Shoes Camino.

Backpack

Full Back pack for Camino II

I have called this post Therapy, because I’m aiming to get this off my chest, and thereby stop shouting at the TV and radio.

Rant Therapy

Brexit. Hard. Soft. Medium rare. With or without frites. I have just deleted a full page of ranting. Instead, I’ll be concise.

It will be OK.

Humble Pie

Update: I wanted to admit to a certain Mr Thomas that he was absolutely right. I wrote a post on how I was forsaking Apple for Google. Ed predicted I would be back. I am.

To run Pocket Notebooks, I need hardware that can run bonafide programs and apps. So, I work now on a Mac, supported by an iPad Pro and and an iPhone. In a week or two, I’ll almost be certainly handing over a wedge of cash for a new IPhone. I am well and truly back in the world of fruit-based electronics.

I don’t expect to be writing much this year. Business is full pelt. However, as it grows, it will become easier for me to carve out time – and I can feel Sean calling me from his archive file in Scrivener.

Recently, one of fruit-based devices flipped during a power cut. This was a timely reminder of the importance of backing up. Fortunately, I have developed a middle-aged man approach and have more backups than most major insurance companies.

In case you are looking for a setup, read on.

Backup

1. Put your file system on Dropbox. Just doing this means that you will have a copy of everything in the cloud. It’s free for the first chunk and then, if you need to, you can by more storage.

2. Use the ‘standard’ backup. In the fruit world, this means use Time Machine. I have a a drive attached to my Mac where a ‘constant’ back up is made. These backups are not necessarily the best, but they are easy to set up and don’t cost anything beyond the price of the disk.

3. Use a proper, bespoke Backup service. I recommend Backblaze. Easy to setup, not expensive and very high quality. Again, this maintains a constant backup in the cloud.

4. Super-Duper. This is a program that makes a clone of my disk. I have two disks. One attached to the computer, one in my bag. Every morning, I switch disks. If the office burned down over night, I could be up and running again as quickly as I could get hold of another computer. The super duper clone would instantly reboot the new machine and then one of my online backups would update anything from the previous day.

Get on top of your backup. Just imagine you lost all your photos?

Ageing

Why did nobody tell me about ageing?

I walked the dog this morning, and on my way back, paused to admire the lawn. Not only to admire it, but to take a photograph of it.

Why? I have absolutely no idea. Out of nowhere, the state of my lawn has somehow become an issue about which I care. It must be part of the ageing process.

Another one. This weekend, we had a wonderful blast of weather. You know the type, a gorgeous, sunny couple of days which promises a long glorious summer, only to be followed by a ten degree drop in temperature and sideways rain. Anyway – in an unexpected, and unusual moment of good sense, I liberally applied sun cream before heading off to play golf on Saturday morning. I toyed with the idea of putting on a hat – but look, it’s April.

I returned home bronzed and revitalised. The vitamin D had not seen off the man-flu, but I certainly felt a bit better.

“You look a bit crispy.”

Not quite the adjective I was looking for, but I decided it was a compliment. Sunday brought another day of golf. This time with a hat.

On Monday, I awoke feeling a little flat. The day was frankly a struggle. Shortly before eight pm, I was being barked at for snoring loudly on the sofa. I muttered something about a shower before creeping up the stairs and under the covers. Where I stayed, unmoving, until gone six this morning.

Where did that come from? In bed by eight? I am claiming a touch of sun-stroke, but I suspect that actually, I’m just ageing.

One last one. As you know, I love a bit of golf. This weekend, the Masters was on. Going into the last day, Justin Rose (from a club just up the M3) and Sergio Garcia from Spain were joint leaders. Sergio arrived on the golfing scene in the 90’s. An eager puppy with a winning smile and twinkly eyes. The next big thing. The new ‘Seve’. Talent tumbling out of his ears. For the best part of twenty years he charged about, winning some tournaments, making buckets of money, and gradually earning the tag ‘best-player-not-to-win-a-major”.

This Masters was his 74th Major. The last day, Sunday, would have been the 60th birthday of the great Seve Ballesteros, Sergio’s golfing hero, hell, the golfing hero of an entire generation of European golfers.

Could he do it this time? Could he win? Of course he couldn’t. The Masters requires a whole load of things, but it definitely requires nerveless putting. Years of struggles have made Sergio a nervy, fidgety man with the flat-stick. Watching him putt can be painful.

As the last day unfolded, the challengers fell away. It became simply Justin against Sergio. The Spaniard eased ahead over the front nine. The metronomic Rose kept in touch though, reeling him back in. As they walked off twelve, the momentum was with Englishman. It was clear to me, that the pressure on Sergio would increase shot by shot, until he cracked under the relentless competence of Rose’s game.

Sergio took on the riskiest line for his tee-shot on 13. He didn’t quite catch it right and the ball settled at the bottom of a bush. Rose was in great shape in the middle of the fairway. Sergio needed to take a penalty drop for an unplayable lie. Wherever he dropped it, he would have an iffy lie, with trees and water between him and the green.

Time for bed, I thought. Nice work Rosie.

In fairness to Sergio, he salvaged a par 5, but Rosie was 2 ahead walking onto 14.

Hang on, look at Sergio. Bouncing along, a smile on his face. Not dropping a shot has given him a little shot of something.

One more hole, I thought. on 14, Sergio made his putt, Rose’s grazed the hole. Only one in it.

On 15, under enormous pressure, Sergio hit an 8 iron that will be on highlight reels for years to come. A gem. He eagles the hole. Rose birdies. All square, three to play.

Lest this become the longest post in history, I’ll spare you the blow by blow account of the remaining three holes. They could not be separated. They moved onto a sudden-death playoff.

Sergio was left with two putts down a slope to win. He did it in one.

The partisan American crowd around the 18th green leaped into the air as one. Pretty much every golfer in the world cheered. The Americans began chanting ‘Ser-gi-o’. Me? Inexplicably, I had got dust in both eyes and tears were tumbling onto my cheeks.

Must be part of the ageing process.

AUGUSTA, GA – APRIL 09: Sergio Garcia of Spain celebrates after defeating Justin Rose (not pictured) of England on the first playoff hole during the final round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 9, 2017 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 692254095 ORIG FILE ID: 666619486

In a time warp

 

What Ho!

It has been almost a full month since I last wrote.

An exciting and exhausting month in the new business @ pocketnotebooks 

Even Nero is feeling the pace.

Mags has had carpal tunnel surgery on her right hand. In true Margaret style, she has twice had to return to A&E, but we think all is well now. It will still be several weeks until she has use of the hand.

Anyone who has been involved in a new business (new to me at least) will have experienced time-warp. All of my focus has been on getting the webshop stocked and reassuring the very loyal customer-base that it’s business as usual. Days have been long, and to-do lists longer. I have found myself chasing people up:

“Have you completed that task yet? I asked you ages ago.”

“Umm…you sent me an email at 2120 last night. I’m just reading it with my first coffee.”

“Ah. Right. Sorry.”

As the month draws to an end, I have become marginally less unreasonable, although the to-do list shows no signs of getting any shorter and I still never have enough time.

Talking of which…

Keep smiling!

Pocket Notebooks

 

Sorry I’m late.

I promised to update you yesterday.

I am now the proud owner of Pocket Notebooks

I completed the transaction yesterday and spent the day doing all of the things that you have to do on day one of a new business. I believe that I managed to get through the entire day without breaking anything.

The website was setup by two cracking guys from the North East. They have another business, and as it took off, by their own admission, Pocket Notebooks suffered a little.

The site sells Notebooks. No, not powerful, miniaturised computers, but paper notebooks. I never go anywhere without a notebook, and I don’t always have a briefcase with me. So, I’m a big user of pocket-sized ones.

There is a renaissance of pen and paper. It is not a rejection of technology, but rather a recognition that for some things, technology is brilliant, but that for others, the analogue way still works best.

So, my new company, Loggedoff Ltd, will be offering a place to come and buy some old fashioned technology; Pocket Notebooks. You can even subscribe for a regular delivery of a curated collection of notebooks.

It will take me a few weeks to get everything stocked up and firing, but as I write I have two new lines in transit and some old favourites on their way down from the North East.

P.S. Forget the App, there’s a Pocket Notebook for that…

Progress Report

 

Glass of Sherry

Much underestimated; sherry.

I have been quiet recently. Progress has been slow. Unusually for me, I have been working.

I wrote before about setting simple goals this year. As January draws to a close, this is a progress report.

Progress

I haven’t lost two stone, or published a novel. I have bought a company though. Look at that. January not yet finished, and I have one of the year’s three goals in the bag. How’s that for progress?

I have signed the contract for the deal, but I can’t reveal what it is for a couple of days yet, not until I have paid for it. They can be funny like that; vendors.

My last venture was in partnership with a great friend, and this one is no different. However, this time, I am the senior partner. Allow me to introduce my Chief Operations Officer, Tamodan Midnight Sun, or Nero as he is more commonly known.

Nero, COO of pocketnotebooks

Nero Assessing Progress

CV

This is his first real management position, but he is off to a flying start. We have had several management meetings, and he is never short of an apposite bark or dismissive sniff.

We have secured ourselves a very desirable office on the Castledown Business Park, and tomorrow we collect the keys.

Exciting times.

A word from King Barry

Stuart is away this week.

I, King Barry, Snow White’s father, will provide you with an update.

Stuart is, thus far, doing OK on all goals for 2017:

  1. Talks continue with a few potential business acquisitions.
  2. The fitbit indicates that he is keeping his nose ahead of his friends group. (Just. That Ger woman is pushing hard.)
  3. A whole kilogram has been lost, no seriously, a whole kilo.
  4. Every day has been a writing day.

Naturally, the highlight of the winter for Stuart has been the opportunity to play me, King Barry, in the Abbotts Ann village pantomime. The production was a roaring success, playing four sold-out performances in early-December. The show was put on by the Abbotts Ann players, a group with sufficient talent to produce a good show, even when hampered by novices like the big boy.

A friend attended the opening night, and did not go to the pub until AFTER the show had ended. His comment was telling;

“I think that it’s great you live in a village that still does things like this. It’s brilliant.”

It’s unusual for any acquaintance of Stuart to utter anything halfway sensible, but I suppose the exception proves the rule.  People are quick to rue the loss of their local pub, or corner shop, and they moan about how the street, estate, neighbourhood, ‘never does anything’ any more. Yet, it is this very same people that drove past their village shop to get to the supermarket. The same people who don’t attend the fireworks night, because they are busy. The same people who don’t use the pub, don’t attend community meetings etc…

I, King Barry of the Kingdom of Elate (on the nice side of the A38), leave you with this, my regal thought. YOU are your community. YOU can make it thrive. Stuart tells me that it’s also, really good fun.

And remember…

“You are my first, my last, my everything…”  Barry White, the Walrus of Love. 1974.

English Humour. Drier than gin.

Many will be delighted to see the back of 2016.

We might be better to look forward to what exciting things are coming in 2017.

Watching “The Dambusters” on television today, I was reminded how dry the English sense of humour can be.

It’s a brilliant movie; if you haven’t seen it, look it out.

Throughout the film, humour is used by the airmen as a coping strategy for the very real peril that they faced. (Of the 133 that took off, 53 were killed that night.)

Early in the piece there is a wonderful example of dry english wit at its withering best, as designer Barnes Wallis attempts to get resources to develop his bouncing bomb.

Official, Ministry of Aircraft Production: You say you need a Wellington Bomber for test drops. They’re worth their weight in gold. Do you really think the authorities will lend you one? What possible argument could I put forward to get you a Wellington?

Doctor B. N. Wallis, C.B.E., F.R.S.: Well, if you told them I designed it, do you think that might help?”

(From “The Dambusters”, a movie based on Chastise, a real operation carried out by the RAF in 1943.)

I don’t know whether the line was genuine, or a bit of artistic licence. Either way it’s genius.

 

 

 

Christmas Time

Merry Christmas!

I’m looking forward to some tasty food, some classy grape based beverages and the company of friends and family – including the little fellow above, Nero the dog.

The world’s media and thousands of talented bloggers will produce long, detailed and weighty reviews of 2016. I daresay there will be much talk of war, terrorism, politics and death. It really has been quite some year.

Nero’s year has been altogether simpler.

Food has been plentiful. Walks too. He has been particularly pleased with the variety of armchairs, couches and beds provided for his comfort. Most satisfactory.

Every time Margaret and I return, Nero jumps up and down at the back door, waiting to hear the key in the lock. When he does, he speeds across the room to his toys, selecting one as a welcome home present. Whether we have been gone five minutes or a few hours, his enthusiasm is entire and unlimited.

He loves curling up on a couch in front of the fire, even more if he can share the couch with us.

Each morning, I awake to Nero tip-tapping across the wooden floor in the bedroom. In between long yoga-like stretches, he has taken to ‘huffing’, ensuring that I’m awake.

Together we head out in the early light for a walk around the village. We take the same route each morning, yet every day is a brand new adventure, full of exciting scents, animals to chase and people to deafen with barks.

We make the world very complicated.

Be more Nero.

Merry Christmas everyone!

A great read.

img_20161209_102312

What Ho everybody!

Gratuitous photo of the Christmas tree and Nero the Schnauzer at his devastating cutest.

Mrs L has decided that the tree should be in a new spot this year. Mostly, I think that she enjoys watching me move furniture about. In fairness, the tree does look great next to the fireplace and the move has created a little nook, ideal for my armchair.

This morning I sat in that chair and read. A book. A real one. You know, with pages and everything.

I spent three hours finishing off an excellent novel with the dog at my feet. I suspect it is only a matter of time before Radio 4 becomes the soundtrack to my life.

The novel was ‘Rather be the Devil’ by Ian Rankin. It is the latest in the immensely successful Rebus series. I should disclose that I am a massive Rankin fan. I’m not quite stalking the man, but I did attend a book signing in Guildford recently and whenever in Edinburgh I accidentally fall into a pub from one of the stories.

In this latest instalment, Rebus and his old adversary Cafferty prove useless at being retired and skirmish again across Edinburgh.

For hardcore fans like me, this novel is bittersweet. Rebus is showing signs of mortality, reminding me that he is getting a bit long in the tooth and has not exactly lived ‘clean’. Still, he’s off the cigarettes and has cut down the booze and takeaways, so perhaps he is going to get a second wind. Gloriously, he remains maverick with a determined, pathological distaste for authority.

A great read.

I know that I have read a great novel when I feel sad that I must leave the world of the book. In my head, the last few days I have been hanging out in Edinburgh pubs, trying to piece together clues to the mystery. Now, the mystery is solved and I must return to the real world with sulky regret.