Knowing how when you haven’t quite done it before

Seth Godin talks about the skill of knowing how to do something you haven’t quite done before (you can read about it here).

This is a useful reminder for what we’re doing at Twelve Scholars. Whilst we’ve got experience in professional development, working in world-class companies… and editing a high-school newsletter (some 25 years ago!)… what we’re doing here is different.

It’s also difficult because it hasn’t quite been done before… anywhere.

The act of combining print and podcast in such a way that accelerates learning is a new concept. And sometimes it’s bloody hard to explain.

No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference

How can a 16-year old school girl from Sweden spark a global movement for action against climate change and inspire millions of students to go on strike?

No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference is Greta Thunberg’s first book in English. It’s a collection of her speeches from climate rallies across Europe to audiences at the UN, the World Economic Forum (Davos), and the British Parliament. Published by Penguin Books, it’s a 68-page easy read that packs a powerful punch.

It was only 12 months ago that Greta decided not to go to school one day, starting a strike for the climate outside the Swedish Parliament. Greta has Asperger’s, and considers it a gift which has enabled her to see the climate crisis ‘black and white’.

Personally, I think we can all learn something from Greta and start to make a difference.

Hitting RESET to achieve goals

September always feels special. For many, it’s the start of a new academic year, a return from summer holiday, or the start of a new TV series. For me, it’s always been my birthday! :-)

September is also the perfect time to review your goals. If you find yourself falling behind, you still have time to hit RESET and achieve extraordinary results for the year!

Here’s a simple method I’m using this year:

  • Reflect on everything that’s happened this year

  • Evaluate what’s working and where you can improve

  • Simplify everything on your plate to what matters most

  • Establish a simple plan to move forward with confidence

  • Time block what matters most so that you achieve your goals by the end of the year.

So hitting RESET and focusing on what matters most is what I’’ll be doing. And that first printed edition is the ONE thing that matters most to me.

ps a big thanks to The ONE Thing podcast episode #193 for highlighting the above!

John "Hannibal" Smith

Every loves a a good plan. However, one thing I’ve learned at Twelve Scholars, it that interviewing is not as simple or straightforward as I first thought.

When you’re the BBC, The Daily Telegraph, Monocle or Tim Ferriss… I can imagine it’s pretty easy to reach out to people. However, when you’re a new business without a product, trying to do something that hasn’t been done before, it can be really difficult.

It’s a risk. I get it. Nobody wants to waste their time or be associated with something that doesn’t succeed. So, a big thank you to the early adopters who’ve taken a leap of faith with us. You’ve been amazing!

We don’t like to make it easy on ourselves either. We’re big on process and have implemented an internal checklist to ensure quality assurance of our guests… we don’t just want anyone! We want to ensure our readers and listeners can learn something and be inspired.

And so this week, we’re really pleased to announce that our final guest has confirmed for Issue 1. And we’ve also got two more interviews lined up for Issue 2. Can’t wait!

In the words of John "Hannibal" Smith… “I love it when a plan comes together.” :-)

Must pay more attention to Moscow

Here's a simple tool that I’ve been using (and preaching) for some years. It’s a great way to prioritise your work, keep things on track, and communicate what needs to be done.

The acronym is MoSCoW. It stands for must do, should do, could do, and won’t do (for now). It’s a really useful tool that helps explain in layman’s terms what needs to be done. For example…

  • Must do this week

  • Should do this week

  • Could do this week

  • Won’t do this week

Whilst it’s sometimes obvious what needs to be done, it’s useful to prioritise these activities into critical (must do), best intentions (should do) and nice to haves (could do). The won’t do’s are equally important as it recognises work that needs to be done, but acknowledges it’s not for now… you have other priorities.

So… the week is now planned, all we need to do now is stick to our plan. How hard can it be!

Squeaky bum time

For the past 6 months, I’ve been working from WeWork, Manchester. It was a great way to start the New Year, mixing with the hubbub and always looking for new opportunities. I’ve met some amazing people and made some kindred spirits on the same entrepreneurial journey.

However, in the words of Sir Alex Ferguson, “It’s now squeaky bum time”.

The success (or failure) of Twelve Scholars will depend on the next 4 weeks. We have our final two interviews for Issue 1 and we start interviewing for Issue 2. We need to complete the final stages of post-production and finalise the printing and fulfilment process. The next podcast series will go live early-October, and we want to have the printed magazine in everyone’s hand before then!

So for the next month, I’m locking myself away in our small studio in Bolton (aka the spare room in my house). I’ll miss the daily commute to Manchester, the social lunches, and the serendipity of which networking event to attend next… however, for the next 4 weeks, my home office will double up as the Twelve Scholars Editorial Floor.

So, a big thanks to WeWork for supporting Twelve Scholars on this journey, however, we now need to get this project over the line.

Counting down to Paris-Brest-Paris

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Grace Lambert-Smith (one of our editors) has entered one the most famous long-distance cycling events in the world. And it starts this weekend.

The Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP), is a 1,200km randonnée that truly challenges stamina and mental fortitude. Riding such a long distance can be lonely, even when riding with others. You suffer in the saddle. You hurt all over. It’s a mental and physical game. You learn a lot about yourself.

Grace had spent 12 months counting down to this weekend. She’s had to qualify by completing a series of 200km, 300km, 400km and 600km events. Read her blog here.

First ridden in 1891, and held every 4 years, there are over 6,000 cyclists from across the world taking part. Riders have 90 hours to complete the 1,200km course!

Wishing Grace an awesome ride!

Doing today what the world does tomorrow… or maybe 200 years later

The headlines this week have focused on Hong Kong and anti-government protestors. Whilst it’s causing chaos at the airport and sending stocks and shares into a spiral, you can’t knock people for being proactive and standing up for something they believe in.

A similar protest happened in Manchester 200 years ago this week — it became known as the Peterloo Massacre — and fundamentally changed British democracy forever.

“What Manchester does today, the rest of the world does tomorrow.”

— Benjamin Disraeli, 1844

The Peterloo Massacre took place at St Peter's Field, Manchester on 16 August 1819, when cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000–80,000 who had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation. Many regarded Britain's parliamentary system, which was based on property ownership, as unfair and unrepresentative. Most people didn’t have the vote. Factory workers had very few rights. A belief had settled that no parliament that was democratic would have done things like this.

It's difficult to be certain exactly how many people died as a result of the events of 16 August 1819. What we do know is a new memorial will be unveiled in Manchester this week, to commemorate those anti-government protestors who dared to make a difference.

The focusing question

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I’m a firm believer that every podcast episode should have one key message, any more and the message is diluted. Any less, and you’re not adding value.

The key message is a central theme, the storyline, the arc, the editorial brief that you agree with the guest in advance. However, sometimes you find yourself getting lost in conversation and losing sight of the plot.

A useful way to stay focused (in any discussion or any meeting), is to keep in mind this simple question.

What’s the ONE question you want to answer?

— Curtis Cates

By keeping it focused to just ONE question (before the recording), you and the guest share a common thread that helps you stay on track.

ps A big thanks to Curtis for setting up this prompt and Tania for capturing it on a post-it note!