Monthnotes – October 2023

Monthnotes – October 2023

A good friend once told me that building a portfolio working life was like planting saplings to form a new forest.

He explained that over time some would die and some would grow slowly and steadily, affected by strong winds or soil around their roots.

And others would unexpectedly grow at pace, creating a diverse forest ecosystem.

October was a month when I experienced what he meant.

I started work with several new clients during the month and some of the marketing saplings I planted earlier in the year began to grow.

I really enjoyed getting stuck into new challenges with different teams. It was a good reminder that I really thrive on variety at work.

Being able to bring what I’ve learnt so far in my career to the table to help solve gnarly problems keeps me fresh and interested in my work.

Last month I published a framework that’s helps leaders build companies better. It’s called the B3 framework® and is something I use most days in my consultancy work.

I created it because I wanted the tool I wish I’d had back in 2014 when I first joined a digital agency with growth ambitions.

It captures many of the things I’ve learnt since then about what it takes to build a sustainable and resilient company.

Having published the beta version, I began to get helpful feedback on it this month from founders, investors and operators. This was really useful to help me refine the framework further.

I’m also in the middle of my second round of founder interviews to help further validate the thinking behind the framework.

I’ve really enjoyed meeting nearly 30 founders and hearing about their experiences founding and scaling their companies. It’s been particularly interesting to hear about businesses in some really interesting sectors beyond pure technology.

Too often start-up culture celebrates the “tech SaaS” ways of founding and scaling a business, but ignores the multitude of other routes that founders take to make their ideas into real businesses.

Away from work, I enjoyed completing the 54 mile Lakes in a Day ultra run earlier this month. Having DNFed on a 50 miler last September, I was determined to finish this time.

It was by far the toughest physical challenge I’ve taken on and I really loved it. I finished in just under 18 hours, having climbed more than 4000 metres and waded through a couple of miles of flooded paths next to Lake Windermere.

I’m thinking ahead to physical challenges to keep me motivated during the winter months.

I’m pretty sure I’ll take on the Canterbury 10 mile road race in January to see how my pace fares against this year’s PB.

I’m also hoping to get over to Belgium in April to ride the Liège–Bastogne–Liège classic sportive. It’s been a while since we did any cycling adventures and I’d love to ride one of the iconic spring classics.

And on the ultra running front, the 100Km distance feels like an achievable step up from this month’s 50 miler, so I’m still looking for an interesting 100Km event next year in a part of the country where I’ve not run before.

Music this month…

All about the modern disco this month. Leeds promoters Downtown Disco have provided many of the soundtracks to my runs and my work this month. This is a particular fave with Mousse T, Michael Gray, Ian Ossia and Lisa Jane.

Reading this month…

I’ve been wading my way through Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson. An interesting read about someone with whom I share very few beliefs about building businesses. I’ve got a nice newsletter sitting in my drafts about some valuable lessons that I took from the book about process development and automation.

Cycling this month…

72.4 miles

Running this month…

82.8 miles


I work with technology-centric businesses as an interim Chief Operating Officer (COO), consultant and advisor. I created the B3 framework® for scaling technology businesses and I write a newsletter called Build for leaders who are building brilliant companies.