Hey Alex! How are you? You having a fab week so far? Hell yes. I’m starting fires, watching teams smash it, and spending time with clients helping them digitise the products and services at the core of their business.
Fab to hear! So, for those Gluggers who’ve never heard of you... who are you? I run Friday. We help our clients digitally transform their core business, from the ground up. We use a mix of service design and modern engineering techniques to digitise the core products and services through which they deliver value to their customers.
Nice one. So, how did you end up running Friday then, what’s the story here? I got fascinated by “the network” as a transformative force in the very early nineties – as a means to distribute power, agency and knowledge; to “give the ants megaphones”. I built my first website in 1992. I built my first one for money in 1994. I’ve worked in digital agencies ever since – mostly Onlinemagic and Agency.com. I got very frustrated with the amount of empty and intrusive claim-making advertising/comms work digital agencies ended up doing. So, with my business partner, I started Friday – to make useful services that people want, and improve organisations on the way..
What a trajectory! So, on a daily basis what does your job entail? Do you have anything along the lines of a ‘standard day’, or would you say most of your days are varied? All my days involve three things. And luckily I love all of them.
— The clients: Uncovering and solving their challenges, building the digital products and services at the core of their business, managing complex change across silos inside their organisation, etc.
— The people: Understanding the skills and aspirations of everyone at Friday, casting and coaching high-performing teams facing really tough problems, maintaining a steep learning curve for me and everyone else at Friday.
— The work: I’m in the work, as a contributor to projects and a member of teams. Friday is a maker’s place. So I’m still very much in the making.
All of my days are a rapid series of context-shifts.
The magic is always in the mix, eh? If you had to choose... What would you say is the best part of your job? What is it that really makes you tick? I’m very lucky. I love people, and I get to collaborate with some fine minds and beautiful souls. And I love the power of “the network”. I get to use and apply that power to make organisations work brilliantly for people by digitally transforming them from the ground up.
If you’d have to name someone who’ve had a significant influence on yourself and your life, who would this be and how? I had a girlfriend when I was 17. Her dad was the head of Crisis Management at Shell, globally. I had facial piercings, visible tattoos, and lived in a squat. He was a pin-striped, port-loving freemason. Chalk and cheese. But he offered me many pearls of wisdom (and great kindness). One of those pearls was a maxim: “If you always know who you want to be in ten years, you will always be king”. Years later I realised that the operative word was “always”. I’ve made ten-year plans ever since.
Normally, they get accomplished or replaced within a much shorter timeframe. But the constant (“always”) sense of purpose and direction is powerfully motivating and exciting.
His name was Howard Rance. Thanks Howard.
That's amazing! Speaking about 10 year plans then... In 10 years time, where do you see yourself in the industry and what have you hopefully accomplished in the next decade? Friday occupies a middle ground between the management consultancies, the systems integrators and the digital agencies. Hopefully we’ve kept the best bits of each (so we’re customer centric and design led, with the engineering depth and muscle to really deliver at scale, and the strategic skills to be board-room counsel). In ten years, I’d like to have established Friday as a global consulting brand – known for having the talent, presence and connections to help the worlds largest organisations go fast enough to delight their customers.
On the notion of ‘the future’... What is the one area in technology and science that you’re most excited about and why? Human ingenuity is a fabulous force. I’m not so much excited by the tech, as by the impact of the tech on people. And especially on the “leapfrog” opportunities for nations and regions with underdeveloped infrastructure - to apply emerging tech in multiple fields to feed populations, distribute water, knowledge and political agency, and create the conditions for that ingenuity to be applied.
Totally agree with you, it's in underdeveloped infrastructure that emerging tech will have the largest impact over the next decade for sure. Say you’re having a bad day, or running low on inspiration, what would be your number 1 tip to back into the swing of things again?
Yoga. Just breathe.
Ok, so... Let’s end with a dreamy question, shall we? If you could swap job with –anyone- in the world, who would this be and why?
LEGO model designer. There’s a delight in assembling LEGO models – a kind of shared ingenuity. Sometimes the models contain elements that are only knowable if you assembled them. It implies a communicative intent on the part of the designer - a nod from the designer to the assembler, to make a shared experience.
It reminds me of cave art. We might not know what it means, but there’s a visceral connection with the person-just-like-us who designed this artefact, and that connection touches a very basic thing about what it is to be human. And it’s a shared experience across generations, ages, cultures. Which is pretty impressive for some plastic bricks. So, yes, that.
Ah, I love your choice and the reasoning! Ok, and last but not least... Please fill in the below:
Best book on career/personal development:
Gah! I’ve not read any!
Best book on business:
Sun Tzu’s The Art of War
Best website for inspiration:
I love people so, even though it’s cheesy, the answer is Instagram. It’s where all the messy humans share their mess (even the posing ones are transparently revealing their mess by it’s very exclusion from the stream of falsely better life their stream implies they have…)
Best podcast I’ve listened to recently:
The Infinite Monkey Cage.
Best piece of advice I’ve ever been given:
My dad used to say “everyone screws up. It’s what you do afterwards that counts.”
I’d like to see a profile on:
This articles is part of our Glug Profiles series – a series of interviews aiming to highlight journeys and insights from creatives, makers, doers and cool cats from all walks of life in the creative industry, and the world. Get in touch with Malin if you'd like to take part: firstname.lastname@example.org