Tag Archives: books

Learning to Love Constraints, the BrewDog Way


In my ongoing quest to learn from best, I’ve just read ‘Business For Punks’ by James Watt, the co-founder of BrewDog, the poster child for the craft beer revolution that is sweeping the Globe.

It’s an incredible story and it’s a great read. Insightful, clear and written with the same punk attitude as the brand. I heartily recommend it – even if you don’t like beer.

Although they see themselves as true rebels, in many ways they’re deeply conventional. They do the fundamentals really well. They have a forensic attention to detail on cost and finances, – the punk accountants! – an unerring obsession with the quality of their product and a deep sensitivity towards the culture of the business and the role of every individual. All great stuff.

However, what really caught my attention was the fact that as a small business, up against wealthy megabrands, they truly embraced the constraints they operated under and saw them as a springboard for success.

‘When it comes twenty first century marketing, not having a budget is definitely not a problem. In fact, it is a massive advantage masquerading as a thinly veiled constraint’

This ultimately drove them to embark on such ground breaking initiatives as their ‘Equity For Punks’ crowdfunding scheme, which is now extending to the USA. They understood that their constraints were opportunities for innovation.

This is the philosophy that we preach at ‘A Beautiful Constraint’ where we see limitations as advantages and sources of inspiration. Our point of view is that it is by truly embracing your constraint you will be forced to challenge your underlying assumptions, break out of existing modes of thinking and develop new alternative solutions.

We live in constrained times. More limitations are likely to be imposed upon us. In the future, the winners will be those who are able to turn their constraints to their advantage


Why it’s good to be messy


Last year one of my favourite books was Maria Kondo’s ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying‘ It really did change my life. I threw out all the clothes that didn’t give me joy, cleared out all my old work files and visited Wandsworth tip on a regular basis. I recommended it to everyone I know.

However, this year the book I keep banging on about is Tim Harford’s ‘Messy. How to be Creative and Messy in a Tidy Minded World’. It’s the complete opposite of the Magic of Tidying, but is just as compelling and inspiring. This book argues the case for introducing disorder, chaos and randomness into our lives in order to make us more productive and creative. What I love about it is the variety of source material he draws upon – music collaboration, building design, aircraft safety – and it’s relaxed, anecdotal style. Plus for someone, who find’s it easy to be messy, it made me feel less guilty about the state of my office.


Want to learn how to give a great talk? Chris Anderson is writing the official TED guide to public speaking

Can’t wait for this book to come out

TED Blog

In the book, "Talk This Way! The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking," our curator Chris Anderson will gives insights on what makes a talk great. Photo: James Duncan Davidson In the upcoming book “Talk This Way! The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking,” our curator Chris Anderson will give insights on what makes a talk great. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Over and over, you keep asking us: What’s the best way to give a TED Talk? It’s not just that you’re interested in sharing your ideas at a TED or local TEDx event. Short presentations have become a bread-and-butter staple at schools and offices around the world, and you want more guidance on how to give them well.

And so, our curator Chris Anderson is writing a book to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in spring 2016. Titled Talk This Way! The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking, it will be packed with insights on what makes talks work.

“There was no one spark for writing this book—it’s more like a long-smoldering fire that’s now ready to break out,” he…

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My Favourite Books on Creativity

Here they are, in no particular order

1. Ignore Everybody Hugh MacLeod

A concise book of thoughts and ideas on how to unlock your creativity. I like it because it’s very insightful, has a refreshing, cynical perspective and is packed with the author’s amusing cartoons.

2 The Art of Looking Sideways Alan Fletcher

A huge slab of a book, that’s packed full of inspiration. Every page is different and I like to randomly choose a page now and again and have a read. It could a quote, a visual and long narrative. It’s endlessly interesting and inexhaustible.

3 Thinkertoys Michael Michalko

This book is full of creative thinking techniques. It’s a great reference book for when you’re facilitating a creative workshop and need some inspiration on how to get people to think differently

4 The Artist’s Ways  Julia Cameron

This is a classic book on how to overcome your fears and inhibitions and embark on journey of creative enlightenment. Lots of interesting suggestions for new creative habits and behaviours.

5 Steal Like An Artist Austin Kleon

A pocket sized book that you can devour in a couple of hours. It’s simple, contemporary, very concrete with 10 creativity principles based on the author’s life experiences.