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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?

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.

 

 

 

Review

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Ducks on the Pill Brook at the end of my street.

This morning, I was watching a very brave journalist broadcasting from Aleppo in Syria.

I do not claim to have any real handle on the rights and wrongs of that terrible conflict. I watched in horror and shame. Will we ever stop being a cruel and murderous, species I wonder?

I am fairly certain that the involvement of this joker hasn’t helped.

It is difficult to maintain any sort of perspective in relation to the events that I mention above, but I thought I might provide a review on a variety of things.

IT. I posted here about moving away from Apple, and here about moving to Google. My Pixel XL phone is great. Reliable, efficient and fast-charging. I can say the same for the Chromebook. The biggest change though works regardless of hardware. Turn notifications off. All except phone. This one simple step puts you in charge of your apps, rather than they in charge of you.

Politics. A lot of nonsense continues to be talked about Brexit. A favourite is the clamour for the government to publish a plan. A plan for a negotiation. A chocolate teapot. Eventually, the PM realised that all she had to do was agree. She will soon publish a plan saying – “We want free trade, and control of our borders.” Remainers will cry foul and demand to know what is going to happen. The government will respond – “Don’t know. It’s a negotiation.” Still. It keeps them busy.

US Politics. From a field of two, one candidate won. He is certainly a departure from the usual. There is a lot of noise about the inherent unfairness of the electoral system, and at the moment, outrage that a foreign power is alleged to have attempted to influence the outcome of the election. Apparently such claims made with no trace of irony. How will ‘The Donald’ work out? I really don’t know. I suspect he will continue to delight in upsetting any apple-cart that he can find.

The CaminoThe word alone brings a smile to my face. Somehow we managed to ensure that the pilgrim with the photos is the one least able to share them, so I have not written or posted as much about that week as I had planned. Walking twenty miles or more each day certainly simplifies life and I can’t wait for the second instalment next year.

Journals, organisers and stationery. I have chopped and changed through a myriad of schemes to organise myself. Both digital and analogue. My preference is analogue, yet digital is far better for sharing. Thus, I use a hybrid. My calendar, shared with Mrs L, is kept on Google; accessible from multiple electronic devices. Many events, I also transfer to my Economist desk diary. Here, I get some perspective on how my week looks. I find this more attractive than an electronic output and better for my weekly review. On the move though, the diary has too much heft. I now carry a simple paper A6 notebook with a Fischer space pen. I would rather use a fountain pen, but I often dress casual – and ink and jeans can be uncomfortable companions. Here, I employ parts of the #BuJo system to run my daily tasks. Of late, I have even developed a double page system to prioritise. I also have a reflective journal – which I would like to keep daily, but often is neglected. Joyfully, the journal has no notifications function, and therefore does not berate me for missing a day.

Corporate. I have a couple of clients for whom I provide support in anti-money laundering systems. I have also been reviewing a multitude of potential acquisitions. Both of those things are, by their very nature, confidential, but hopefully the work done this year will lead to good outcomes.

Writing. The last few months I have done no work at all on Sean. I have been perpetually busy on everything above. Now, given that I am largely (when Mrs L lets me) master of my own time, I have to ask myself why it is that I can find time for anything, anything at all, except writing.

That’s probably another post all on its own.

 

 

A great read.

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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.

Ink, Ink and more Ink

 

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I recently rediscovered the pleasure of real pens, using real ink on real paper.

This was as a result of considering techniques for writing, and I was led into a new world of stationery by writing-buddy Amanda Fleet, who blogs about writing here and about stationery here.

It was Amanda who introduced me to Bureau Direct.

Now – be warned. The link above takes you to Aladdin’s stationery cupboard.

I recently had a look for ‘lined envelopes’. One hundred and forty choices. (All of which I could find a use for.)

Need a notebook? Four hundred and ninety eight options. (Not counting colour choices.)

Amanda and I correspond by letter. Yes. Really. Hand-written, on paper, in an envelope, with a stamp. (Any younger readers – ask your parents.) She has lovely hand-writing, and always has several fountain pens inked up and ready to go. Her letters are always an explosion of bright ink.

I have horrible handwriting, but am quickly catching up on the pen front. So it was time for me to start experimenting with some more coloured inks.

 

I had ordered the J Herbin Ten Inks Set. (£26.95 after my special discount.) OK, anyone can get the discount – sign up for their newsletter; but I still prefer to believe it’s just for me.

Inside the beautifully presented ‘coffret’ (just sounds better than box) are ten bottles of ink, each of 10ml. In order to test them out, I used a J Herbin glass pen that I had bought from Bureau Direct a few weeks ago. The paper is an Age Bag notebook, by Clairefontaine, available at, you guessed it, Bureau Direct.

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Check out Amanda’s excellent review of the paper here. I can only imagine that when naming the range, the Clairfontaine marketing team had risked the second bottle at lunch.

The ink is lovely to write with, even as this left-hander wrestled with the glass pen. In truth, the glass pen is not hard to master – as soon as you discover that rotating it will alter the breadth of ‘the nib’.

Colours – entirely subjective. I like them all, but I am particularly taken by the Gris Nuage. I suspect that tomorrow, I may have a different favourite.

The team at Bureau Direct are knowledgeable and charming. Delivery is fast and efficient.

Just be careful. I’m now mainlining stationery…

 

Distraction

Don’t get me wrong. I am extremely lucky to have so many distractions.

I write this post from a beautiful spot in Cyprus, where I have been swimming every day and playing golf, watching my wife get better and better at the game. It’s only a matter of time until she beats me.

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This photo was taken on a rare dry moment in a practice walk around Howth, near Dublin.

At sensibleshoescamino.comI have been posting about another distraction. I’m looking forward to a week walking in some gorgeous countryside with friends old and new. We are hoping to raise some money for a hospice. If you can spare a couple of euro, then please donatePlaces like Our Lady’s Hospice are very special. As my friend and co-walker, Stuart Smith (in the featured photo) wrote “he passed away in a loving, caring, pain-free environment.” Read the rest of his post here.

In order to bring some sort of order to my days, I am experimenting with both the Best Self Journal and Bullet Journal, two systems that I will write posts on soon.

Writing is getting done around all these brilliant distractions. It’s all about editing at the moment, getting feedback from my writing buddy and tightening the prose. Methodical, detailed work…all the things that do not come naturally to me. So, short concentrated bursts work well.

My long-suffering Writing Buddy is doing her level-best to keep me on task, but frankly, it’s a bit like herding cats.

Nevertheless – I’m confident that a book will get published.

 

Samuel. Fraudster.

Fraud

First – a writing update.

I finally plucked up the courage to let someone read a draft. My writing buddy, Amanda Fleet, published author, soon appearing at Bloody Scotland has looked at Act I of my novel.

She was, of course, blinded by its brilliance. There may have been one or two tiny constructive criticisms.

Oh alright, there were lots of criticisms and her eyesight remains fine – but they were all really helpful and she didn’t tell me to give up; so I’m calling it a win. 😉

Today though, I’m going to share with you a brief email exchange that I had with a Samuel Barton. Please take this as a cautionary tale, although it did give me a laugh too. His proof-reading is worse than mine.

Samuel is a terribly nice chap, who placed the winning bid on my old laptop, which I was selling on eBay. Concurrent with this email exchange, a fake Paypal email address was sending me entirely fictitious confirmations of payment.

Hello Seller,
It is my pleasure to inform you that I have carried out the payment via PayPal to your PayPal id. kindly check your PayPal email address (inbox,spam or junk mail) for the confirmation email of my Payment from PayPal.I also have the email receipt of the payment from PayPal with me.I want the item sent to my Nephew’s address who is living and working in West Africa.I would have asked you to post it to my eBay address in UK but I am presently going to Spain for a business trip. I sincerely hope you could assist me in shipping the item over there so it would be convenient for him to pick it up when it gets there.i also want to use the item as a surprise birthday Gift for his Cousin who is having his birthday next week.Here is the delivering address of my Nephew confirmed with pay pal.

ADDRESS;
JERRY DAMMY
109, Adefemi Street,
Abesan Ipaja,
Lagos,23401
Nigeria.

I want you to ship the item tomorrow via Royal Mail Airmail International 1st Class Delivery, so that the item will get there ASAP. I’ve added you £130 which should cover for the postage cost. Please get back to me with the shipment details (shipping Bar code) after shipping to the address above.

NOTE: Please wrap the item carefully, write GIFT on the paper. Please don’t use any other postage service except Royal Mail.

Am sorry for the inconvenience,please bear with me
Regards

Hi Samuel,
My apologies, but I will only send the item, as advertised, to a UK address.
Best Regards

Thanks for your swift response lennon,Am sorry about the address,like have said in my first email that am on a business trip which was an emergency for,I wasn’t xpeceting the item go be posted off the UK and I don’t have any body to receive it for me in the UK,pls for God sake,assist me post it to the address which is also confirmed by paypal,have added £130 also which will cover for the postage cost to the address,I will forever great full if you and leave you a positive feedback if you grant my wish..thanks

Hi Samuel
I am sorry to hear of your emergency. It sounds terrible.
I regret that I will only send the item to the UK address.
I’ll see if I can live with feedback.
Perhaps you should withdraw your bid.
Good luck with your business trip.

Best Regards

Lennon you not getting me right..I have nobody to receive it for me in the UK,don’t worry about the item going international as it will get to its destination un damage,pls give this issue a very good consideration…also I can no longer remove my bid again.

NEW MAIL

Pls.

Hi Samuel
I will not send the item outside of the UK.
You can retract the bid very simply, click on the following link
http://offer.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?RetractBidShow
Best Regards

cannot do that as i no longer have acess to my money again,and paypal said they cannot refund me as its already in your account,waiting for a proof of postage from you to complete it,pls lennon just do this for me for God’s sake.

Hi Samuel
How very unusual. Paypal won’t refund your money? Just go to their Buyer Protection section. They will help you out.
Best Regards

I can wait for 21days mate…you not even given me a second think…

Hi Samuel
I’m sure you’ll manage OK.
Best Regards

Am disappointed in you lennon..thought u said u a writer??a writer doesn’t seem to be this rigid..I read little of your writes and you seem very loyal and cool but you’ve just proof me wrong..its bad ..I though the word says “customer are always right”??,am really unhappy with this and you’ve just embarrassed me in front of my nephew as have told him his package is on the way which he will so anxious to receive soonest,now you’ve got my paypal empty to the extent that I can’t even purchase another as I don’t have enough funds left..its very bad lenno.

New Mail

Better still can you dispatch it to my wife in USA???

Another New Mail

Pls lennon

Ah Samuel, the only reason I’m still talking to you is because I’m a writer.
Your ineffective attempts to defraud me are, in their own way, fascinating.
Stealing is not a way of life Samuel. You are a fraud. You are not even very good at it.
So – no I can’t dispatch it to your wife in the USA. Not even if you say pretty please.
Go get a life Samuel.
Best Regards

I have not had a response to this last one yet, nor has Samuel signed up to receive my monthly newsletter. C’mon Sam. You know you want to.

 

Writing

writing image

Most of you have forgotten, but I am writing a book.

I’ve forgotten from time to time.

Fortunately, I somehow snared a writing buddy (Amanda Fleet), who reminds me.

Amanda and I have been discussing a character in my novel. We’ll call her Natalya. As her name is Natalya that seems the simplest thing to call her.

She is quite a looker and smarter than the average bear. Amanda wanted to know what made this woman tick. Had I worked out where she was from? Did I know her backstory?

I began typing an answer to the question. I stopped for a cup of tea. Then I typed some more. And more. Yes, I did know where she was from, what made her tick. To my own great surprise, I know a hell of a lot about her.

This taught me two things, which I now share with you for free. (Don’t forget to buy the book when I publish it)

  1. When I’m not sure about a character, or a plot, I’m going to write down the question, and then start writing the answer out. It’s amazing what’s in the head, waiting to come out.
  2. You do not need a writing buddy to write a book. But having one makes it a hell of a lot easier.

Amanda has not mucked about as much as me – you can buy her book here.

When not toiling away at the book, I have been preparing for my wee walk which is a scant six weeks away now. Stu and I are, in turns, terrified and excited. How bad could it be?

Right. Off to polish Natalya. (Ahem…)

 

Winner!

The Wrong Kind of Clouds cover

We have a Winner, Ladies and Gentlemen.

In my post here, where I interviewed debut novelist Amanda Fleet, I promised that one subscriber would win a copy of ‘The Wrong Kind of Clouds’, which is available here or at your local Amazon store.

It is a great read and now available both on paper and your favourite e-reader. I urge you to go and check it out. I am lobbying hard for some more adventures for the lead characters, but Amanda is being stubborn. (Yorkshire-born, you know.)

Read it!

While I am being bossy, once you have read it, review it. Ultimately, us poor new writers have you guys as our marketing team. The more you review it and recommend it, then the more people get to hear about it and hopefully, buy it. Go on, give a new writer a hand.

The draw was made yesterday and the first name out of the hat was Jack Dowd. Jack blogs, writes, self-publishes and tweets. Track him down here on his blogJack – you are a winner!

Right – I have to get back to writing, working and all sorts of other w’s (No dirty comments please!)