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What makes a doer?

Is it the initial idea?

Or is the drive to make it succeed?

Or maybe it's the rare combination of both.

A while back I was asked to write a brand book for Dyson.

I was skint at the time but I was saying no to any other work so I could focus on doing howies. 

But when Nick, who designs our catalogue, showed me a board with the 5,126 iterations that James Dyson did to get to the one that worked, it just stopped me in my tracks. I was interested just so I could meet him and find out what made him tick. I would have done it for no money, just so I could learn.

But what I learnt, I already knew.

Doers do things. They make things. They think things up. They dream. They ponder. They wonder. They scribble things down. They iterate. And when they hit a low point, they read about other people like them to help spur them on. But most of all, they keep going. They are just born stubborn.

I wonder how many of us would have kept going?

I wonder could you have spent 5 years in a shed? One iteration after another. After another. After another.

I am still amazed by that.

And yet we give little praise to the inventors in Britain. Celeb's who are famous for doing very little seem to get most of our kids attention.

And kids attention is important. They 'is' the future.

Somehow we have make them less into Hanna Montana and more into Buckminster Fuller.

We need to show the kids that inventing something is cool.

And that's why we need more James Dyson's.

We need more inventors.

We need to get the kids interested in making things.

No offence, Hanna

marks out of ten

  • Posted by howies
  • 29 April 2009

its interesting times for howies.

unless we get better at being howies, we will die.

the good thing is that will always be the truth.

unless a company improves, it will slowly crumble.

we should always be hard on ourselves, and i think we are.

but we do need our customers to challenge us to get better.

so tell us how it is, what you really think, where we are missing the mark.

 mark us out of ten for the following. 

1, product

2, catalogue

3, shops

4, website

5, transparency

6, inventiveness

7, functionality 

8, customer service

9, quality

10, make you think

don't be polite

New Business Model

  • Posted by howies
  • 24 April 2009

you will have heard us mention TeePay. 

www.teepay.com will have a quiet launch on May 1st.

by quiet launch, I mean we will just tell our t-shirt of the week customers.

And get them to help find any niggles.

the interest in the idea has taken us by surprise.

quite simply, you can earn money by selling your t-shirt designs.

you upload your t-shirt designs up onto the site.

if your design proves to be popular, it goes to print.

it is very much a meritocracy.

the cream rises to the top of the site.

but you can help your design to sell more.

the more you tell people about your design, the more you will sell.

we do everything else.

then we pay you on the 10th of each month.

for example, a man's t-shirt costs £25. You royaltee per shirt would be £2.50.

if you sold 100 t-shirts, you would earn £250.

recently, matt jones did a t-shirt of the week for us. It sold over 400 shirts in less than a week.

he donated his design fee to the Do Lectures.

So matt (big thanks by the way), raised over £1000 in a week.

So you can see how you could use your T-shirt designs to earn money for yourself or for your cause. (you can donate your royaltee to a charitee)

It's a new business model.

It will be interesting to see how it works in the real world.

The customer always decide.

I love new business models

  • Posted by howies
  • 8 April 2009


Here's one.

Instead of borrowing from banks borrow from people.

It's known as peer to peer lending.

One company doing that is called Zopa. (Zone for Possible Agreement)

I have been watching them for a while.

So for example, I lend them £10.

They pay me a higher rate of interest than the bank would.

They may lend a pound to 10 people.

Matching is done on a many-to-one basis, so that each Lender's loan is spread across many Borrowers, thus reducing the effect of any defaults.

Both lender and borrower are charged a fee.

Right now they are providing a better rate of return than a bank.


The Do Word

  • Posted by howies
  • 7 April 2009

The Do Word

It’s short.

To the point.

Quick to say.

All its letters do something.

It loves a deadline.

Despises procrastination.

It’s the rapids of a river.

The bubbles in a lemonade.

The kick in caffeine.

It’ s a small word but does more than almost any other .

It means the same thing all over the world.

It’s most effective when its got a plan.

It’s a word for getting things done.

It means action.

It’s all verb.

Doers inspire.The Do Lectures. Sept 3-7th 09.


Once a year, the doers of the world come together to share their stories. To inspire the rest of us to go and do something positive.

Tickets go on sale May 1st

Getting buy…

  • Posted by howies
  • 6 April 2009



with a little help from our friends, yeah....

a big thanks to those guys at Thoughtful.

and all their helpers.

I know you made ade and the teams life a little easier at the Manchester sample sale which finished yesterday.

thanks. again.

I want to tell you why I think The Do Lectures are important.

And I want to tell you how over the next decade they will become one of the most important set of talks in the world. And yet there’s little evidence to suggest that’s possible right now.

To that end I want to tell you about a book that I have never read.

And the two things it taught me.

(Bare with me, the dots will connect.)

The book was called What Make’s Sammy Run.

It’s about the drive of someone who started at the bottom.

And how he worked his way up to the top.

And although a fictional character, I always wondered what drove him.

What made him run? Something had set him off. But what exactly? This ‘Something’ had always interested me.

Just by being told the story of the book had inspired me without ever reading it. But the idea that you could start at the bottom and work your way up just through hard-work, never left me.

This was my first learning. I had discovered the power of story telling. And how people’s stories can release the handbrake in our minds.

This was the reason Clare and myself started The Do lectures. To bring these remarkable storytellers together in one place to inspire the rest of us. To release lots of handbrakes.

But going back to the book for a minute, I don’t think he was about just hard-work and persistence. I think there was a little more to it.

My take on it is this, I don’t think he ever dreamt of just being a runner. I believe as he ran, he took his dream of running the whole thing along with him.

Indeed it was this dream that made him run. And this brings me to my second piece of learning from the book that I never read: The power of dreams.

What makes some people change things? What makes some people start something when the odds are so stacked against them? What keeps them going when others fall by the wayside? Well, my answer is because these people are dreamers. They have made it exist in their own head long before it exists in real life.

They use their vision of things to take them forward. Just like cats eyes in the road, their dream slowly guides them along the way.

And right now that is where we are at with The Do Lectures. We got the dream in our heads. And we are running.

We are going to create a set of talks over the next decade that will change things, create national debate on issues that are important to all of us from the environment to business to technology to design to education to food to play.

It will become an amazing resource for the Doers of the world both in terms of inspiration and, just as importantly, the plain nuts and bolts practical stuff of how to do this or that.

The first Do Lectures felt like being at the start of something. Like being at the first Glastonbury. But a Glastonbury for talks rather than music.

And now before this September’s talks start, the website should have received over 100,000 visits from over 3000 cities in over 100 countries. It’s still small in comparison to some. But all great things start out small.

So right now we are busy trying to find a sponsor and trying to raise donations too. We are doing that thing of jumping off the edge of the cliff and building our wings on the way down. But that’s what Doers do.

They tell stories. They dream a lot. But at the end of the day, they make things happen.

If you would like to make a small Do-nation, please Do.

Help us run.

David Hieatt

Co-founder of the Do lectures.


Noam Chomsky on Barak Obama and his team

  • Posted by tim
  • 27 February 2009

There are some more parts of this interview up on youtube but his one below also hints at some of the key events that made it possible for Barak to come to power. 


here's to the tortoise

  • Posted by howies
  • 26 February 2009


Much is being written about the banks at moment.


But there are some unsung heroes out there.

Triodos and Co-op.

They didn't get themselves in a pickle.

They did not forget basic banking principles.

And for a time, they were considered unfashionable and lacking ambition.

While the other banks raced off to buy this and that.

They slowly slowly went about their business of lending money from savings they received.

It was a slow way to build a business but a sure way.

And now they are the safest most solid banks around. And their business is booming.

Embrace slow.

The tortoise beats the hare.

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