My bag for all seasons – @Buffalo_Jackson

Choosing the perfect bag for work is a no easy task. Unless you want to manage a fleet of bags and cases for every occasion, you need to find that elusive bag for all seasons.

Personally, I’d relied for much too long on the sheer convenience of my Timberland back-pack. It was well-padded, had pockets and places for just about everything and seemed to be indestructible. On top of that, after a few years’  constant use, it had developed its own little ecosystem of “essential stuff”: memory sticks, iPhone cables, hotel pens, painkillers, business cards, you name it.

But, it didn’t really support a professional image. It worked in the more casual, everyday setting of my mostly tech-industry clients, but in a boardroom, suit-wearing scenario, it just didn’t cut it.

I wanted a good quality, last-for-ever leather case that would develop its own patina with age. However, a highly-burnished Italian leather attache case would be overkill for less formal environments.

Also, I found that I really, really, really hated fake buckles. What is the point of putting a pointless buckle on the front and hiding a spring-clip behind it? If you don’t believe in buckles, at least have the courage of your convictions. It transpired that finding real, working buckles is a challenge. And, along the way, I learned a lot about the grading of leather and the weasel words sellers use to distract.

Eventually though, I found what I wanted in the US with this Dark Walnut, Denver Briefcase from Buffalo Jackson:

Denver Leather Briefcase – Dark Walnut from Buffalo Jackson (Image: Buffalo Jackson)

It’s constructed in thick, top-grain leather with sturdy, real, working buckles. It’s spacious with a good mix of versatile spaces and pockets for the vital small stuff.

Now, after 10 months’ use, it’s settled into a working routine. The front right pocket is home to my Moleskine and Lamy fountain pen, while the inside holds all the usual project papers,spare pens, iPads, recorders, water bottles and so on.

My 13″ laptop felt a bit loose inside, but I solved that with one of these fantastic sleeves from Lihit Lab, which adds a bit of extra padding, along with extra pockets.

My verdict: this is a great case to straddle from boardroom to skunk-works, with plenty of stop-offs for coffee along the way. It’s sturdy and versatile, it works well well with suit or jeans, and collects admiring comments as a bonus.

 

Songs for Sovereign Professionals: Don’t Stop Believin’ @JourneyOfficial

Sometimes you just need a little lift and Journey’s anthemic Don’t Stop Believin’ just hits the spot: the insistent keyboard intro, the soaring guitar and, of course, Steve Perry’s incredible vocal.

This live video’s a little faster than the album version…

The track is the opener on Journey’s 1981 album Journey, which took them to megastar status and cemented them in place as the very definition of slick and smooth, radio-friendly AOR.

T.Boone Pickens on optimism

Inspiring attitude from the 88-year old oilman:

Be the eternal optimist who is excited to see what the next decade will bring. I remain excited every day, engaged and thrilled in the office and on the road. I thrive on that activity, and I’m going to stick to it, no matter the setback.

His 1987 book, Boone, was an early influence.

Image credit: David Shankbone

Albrecht Dürer – hero of the sovereign professional

The 15th / 16th century German artist was a pioneer and a role model for today’s sovereign professional.

Back in 2011, The Economist published this article in their Christmas edition: Portrait of the Artist as an Entrepreneur, the Economist. I wrote about it at the time, over on the Burning Pine blog. 

Albrecht Dürer was a sovereign professional in so many ways. He was proudly independent. In an age when artists so often depended on patronage, he considered court painters to be parasites…

hanging round great men, waiting for a commission to fall from the lordly lips. He, by contrast, was an independent businessman. He made his money not by grovelling, but by selling copies of the woodcuts and engravings printed, since 1495, at his workshop in the centre of Nuremberg. He was not even a member of a guild, for there were no artists’ guilds in the city: he was a free individual, unaffiliated, making money and a reputation purely for himself.

Dürer was also keenly aware of his cost base (both the materials used and his limited time) and of the return on investment from various projects.  Of his “Madonna of the Rose Garlands”, he wrote: “My picture … is well finished and finely coloured [but] I have got … little profit by it.  I could easily have earned 200 ducats in the time.”

To a customer, he wrote, “I shall stick to my engravings, and if I had done so before I should be a richer man by 1,000 florins.”

By investing in his own printing press, Dürer was able to produce copies of his works and leverage his creative work more effectively whilst also maintaining control by producing the prints himself.

He also understood how to market his services. He understood the value of his brand, going to court in Nuremberg and in Venice to defend his trademark monogram.

Dürer took a strategic approach to levering his talent, he developed re-usable intellectual property and he built his own brand. He understood his business – his P&L – and his marketing. In every way, we have much to learn from Albrecht Dürer.

There’s a spin-off benefit, too. Even 500 years later, original Dürer prints are available on sites like Artsy for just a few thousand dollars. Not pocket-money, but not the mega-millions of original works either.

 

Image, presence and the sovereign professional #workstyle

How you dress, groom and present yourself is important in a business environment. It’s even more important for the sovereign professional who interacts with different clients, always an outsider but needing to fit in.

You need to convey a degree of authority and gravitas without being aloof. You need to blend in, but be discreetly different enough to convey success and credibility.

Prospero’s World has sound baseline advice, here.

  • The younger you are the more appearance will contribute to your credibility (or not). The older you get the more licence you obtain in being individual or weird, depending on taste.

Read the rest, here.

 

Image credit: https://unsplash.com/@mariyageorgieva 

Happy birthday, Adam Smith – @ASI

Eamonn Butler at the Adam Smith Institute celebrates Smith’s birthday with a summary of his work and influence, including the following quote:

Every individual… neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it… he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.

The invisible hand, the benefits of free trade (instead of the then prevalent mercantilism) and the Theory of Moral Sentiments. A remarkable legacy.

 

The true doctrine of self-reliance, self-help and self-mastery

The ever rich and varied Hammock Papers has this great quotation from Theodore Roosevelt:

Something can be done by good laws; more can be done by honest administration of the laws; but most of all can be done by frowning resolutely upon the preachers of vague discontent; and by upholding the true doctrine of self-reliance, self-help, and self-mastery. This doctrine sets forth many things. Among them is the fact that though a man can occasionally be helped when he stumbles, yet that it is useless to try to carry him when he will not or cannot walk; and worse than useless to try to bring down the work and reward of the thrifty and intelligent to the level of the capacity of the weak, the shiftless, and the idle.

The doctrine of self-reliance, self-help and self-mastery. Something of a credo for the sovereign professional.

I find that, as a Brit, I know very little about Roosevelt. Need to read more.

Image: http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/