Monthnotes – May 2024

Monthnotes – May 2024

I read a lot of business-ish books, but many of them don’t leave me too many lasting lessons.

Last month I read been Cal Newport’s “​Slow Productivity: The Lost Art of Accomplishment without Burnout“.

I’ve enjoyed a couple of Cal’s previous books, but I have to admit my instinctive reaction to the subtitle of this one was a degree of cynicism.

A month or so on though, many of the arguments he makes in the book are still reverberating around my head.

He proposes that in the post-pandemic era of work, we make our experience of work better and more sustainable by focussing on three areas:

  • do fewer things
  • working at a natural pace
  • obsessing over quality

This philosophy really resonated with me I continue to build and iterate my independent work as a consultant, fractional and advisory Chief Operating Officer.

There’s been a steep but mostly enjoyable learning curve over the past 18 months as I’ve built network, created a client base and devised my own IP and techniques for the work I do.

I’ve been pretty much at capacity since January and am now focussing on the work I do from September 2024 onwards. I’m incorporating many of the lessons from Cal’s book in my planning so it’ll be interesting to see how many I can make stick and the difference they make.

Workwise, May has been busy with two concurrent fractional COO engagements and some consultancy projects too.

One of these businesses is experiencing rapid year-on-year growth, so the challenges are all about establishing the core features of an organisation to build resilience and sustainability – while also keeping dealing with the inevitable bumps in the operational road that fast scaling businesses hit.

The other business has had a successful marketing push in the last few months so we’re onboarding new clients. This helps with the financial stability and confidence to plan longer term growth and bring in new talent to drive things forward.

On the consultancy side, I’m helping a US-based agency with leadership design and succession, as well as finishing off a project leading an OKR deployment across a UK-based publishing business.

Away from work, we enjoyed seeing the Northern Lights at home earlier in the month – although it was interesting that the view through a mobile phone camera was much more dramatic than with the naked eye. I did wonder how I’d feel if I’d travelled to the Arctic Circle for that expeirence.

Jo and I enjoyed a trip to the coast. We wanted to explore somewhere new so we parked up and walked several miles of beach to get to Broadstairs. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon so the beach was busy with tourists and a lot of film crews shooting a mobile phone commercial.

I also got back on a paddleboard last weekend. We’d not used our boards since lockdown, but I fancied a change from cycling so dusted off one of the boards and paddled five miles of the River Stour from Fordwich to Grove Ferry. It was lovely to be out in the sun and enjoying the peace of the river.

It’s our 21st wedding anniversary today. We’ve shared another happy year together, navigating the experience of one son going off to university and one rapidly gaining his independence as a year 12 student with a driving licence!

I’m thankful and pleased to be doing those things with Jo. As I look ahead I know family life will keep on evolving and while I’m sad about some aspects of that, I’m also excited to see what we do together in the future. This week we’ve been away in the motorhome away for a few days. It’s nice to be able to spend some time together after a busy month and enjoy the freedom to roam without any firm commitments or plans.

Music this month…

I found time to get back to playing with my decks, so I recorded a new mix with strong nu-disco vibes. Been enjoying hunting down new music for DJing and planning out several new sets.

Listening-wise, I’m enjoying a retro old school 90s house period I think. This mix from Zoey Poey has been a particular fave for running and cycling.

Podcasts this month…

Been enjoying The Rest is Money with Robert Peston and Steph Mcgovern. This episode with Andy Haldane was particularly interesting, rekindling my interest in economics and theories of economic growth.

Reading this month…

Not much time for reading this month, although I have been dipping in and out of Scott Belsky’s book The Messy Middle and Claire Hughes Johnson’s Scaling People as valuable resources for my work this month.

Running this month…

49.2 miles

Cycling this month…

153.3 miles


I work as a fractional Chief Operating Officer (COO), consultant and advisor. I created the B3 framework® for company building and I also write a newsletter called Build for leaders who care about creating resilient and sustainable businesses.