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Achieve Anything



Hi, I'm James. I don't know how to make mobile games. I don't know how to edit videos. I don't know how to design book covers. Whilst we're discussing things I haven't done, I certainly haven't visited any more than a few European countries.

At least that's what I would've told you a couple of months ago.

You see, in the last months I've taken a university exam in London, learnt to write a free mobile game (search JPMarkey on iPhone / Android), written a book and designed the cover (77 Kind Acts, out Friday), learnt to edit and publish videos (check out YouTube) and in the meantime I've also travelled to another 15 European countries (check out The Manager Abroad).

Now, that doesn't make me special. I don't mention it to elicit your envy nor your admiration. Nor, even, to empty your wallet (though remember, 77 Kind Acts is out on Friday!). Heck, I learnt most of this stuff off my under-18 siblings but that's the point. Just because something's a mystery to you, doesn't mean it's unattainable. Just because you have ideas, doesn't mean it has to only be an ideal.

That's the point.

After I posted the new book cover on Facebook someone asked me on DM: "how do you even learn to do these things. I, myself, want to publish a book but I haven't written it because I don't know how I'd even get it published.".

That's when I realised.

How you achieve new things isn't about what you know. It's about how you tackle finding out. It's more a mindset issue.

Let's take the book example.

Do you want to publish a book or do you want to write a book?

Both? Great. That's step one. You've now broken your task into two different tasks.

Step two: Which step do you tackle first? Now you can ask some questions.
Writing the book? Good. Now you know what questions you need to be asking. So stop asking about how to get publishers to publish a book. Why? Because you haven't even written the book yet! Instead, start getting your thoughts together on what type of book you want to write. What experience do you have? Who are you going to aim it at? Have you got good enough writing skills or should you take an evening class? Good. Now you're asking the right questions.

Step Three: Go with masterpiece #2.

Strange advice, right? Well, you asked how to get it published before you even wrote it. So, I'm guessing you're idea for what to write means a lot to you? Yes. That's good. Which is why you need to work on multiple ideas. Put everything into your masterpiece but entertain another idea while you're at it. Maybe a short story. Maybe something you thought you'd work on next. You're ambitious, you can do both. When you get around to it, try to publish masterpiece #2. Use this one to fail but fail trying. Learn how to self-publish with this one. You'll make mistakes in the description, in the price, in your marketing. That's OK. Next time you'll know the ropes. You'll have contacts in the industry. You'll have support around you. You'll be able to advertise. If you get it right the first time then even better. Now you know the secrets. Replicate it for your real masterpiece next time.

Whichever way the dice fall you can move on to step four: use everything you've learnt to publish masterpiece 1. Then, just keep learning, keep trying because you'll automatically hit step 5 you're happy that you did it. Whether fame, fortune and accolades come your way or not. You've done it. You had an idea. You ran with it.

You are my hero.

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My First Open Letter

My first open letter,
R.e. Free tuition fees for past and future students.

Not all of us are suited for university. Those that are shouldn't have (or had!) a heavy, life-long weight placed upon them.

First off, as someone who has never voted before it's good to at least (finally) see real differences between the parties, Jeremy Corbyn & The Labour Party. I still think policy on tuition fees could, and should, go further...

I think it's right that not only students stop paying tuition fees in the future but that past students shouldn't pay back any government-loaned tuition fees from the past either. Otherwise there's a generation that will rightly be annoyed for needlessly 'paying' for tuition.

As someone who has been fortunate enough to pay all my tuition fees so far as I studied (with The Open University) out of my salary from work (hence this wouldn't effect me), it's still the right thing to do. If students were given the choice to have tuition fees wiped but having to pay their living expenses back (as new students would have to do) over the 30 year loan agreement, the majority would see this as fair and this would actually increase government income (not many expect to pay back practically any of their current student loan) but it does give our generation a better attitude towards loans and living within our means.

Technically, it's just a balance sheet issue as opposed to a cash problem. These huge loans count as a Government asset at face value. In time, they will (in part) become a liability (for danger of not being paid back at face value) which will form another black hole 'crisis'. To prevent this, the Government will reasonably sell the assets to private loan companies (plans began this year: https://goo.gl/qr6sAR - The Economist, https://goo.gl/txQns1 - The Guardian - and the last loan book pre-98 was sold at 20% of it's face value: https://goo.gl/RznU5m - This is Money) and these companies will chase as many people to be paid back to make money on the 'assets' they bought (let's be honest, that's their job!). Student loan terms have even been retrospectively changed in the past for more to be paid back (https://goo.gl/frJCgm - Save The Students) so it wouldn't be unreasonable for pressure groups to make that happen again.

So, if we only ever even expect to recover a fraction of the loan(!) from selling the debt on, why bother with the pretense that people are paying for extortionate tuition fees they'll never actually going to pay for?

That's why the current generation should also wave goodbye to their tuition fees.
Just because I have been fortunate enough to pay for all my tuition upfront that shouldn't stop me from wanting a country for the many, not just the few.
Best Regards,

James Paul Markey.

I look forward to being enlightened to where I have misunderstood the issue in doing this.

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Crowdfunding!

Disclaimer: As with most things in life, I don't know a whole lot about this but I've given it a go and it worked out for me!

BrewDog

A while ago I purchased shares in Brew Dog via their crowd funding platform. Thinking it was worth a punt for the rewards alone (investing more than ¿½£2000 sees you basically getting beer as a dividend) I went for it. Not only have I indulged in a range of new beers I would have never experienced it's been by far my biggest return (by money and percentage!) than anything I've held. The business just sold a stake valuing the company at around £1 BILLION. Great news. They also plan to go public in five years which will see further increases.

It's good because you can make money on companies you believe in. With typical shares I would tempted to bet on all sort of things. With seed funding (essentially all of these are relatively new businesses) I find myself putting money on the idea and the person as well as its authenticity.

So, the money is in. Now what?

Let's go for round two.

I found two major platforms to give this another punt: Seedrs (Link) and Crowd Cube (Link) and here's what I believe could be the next big thing.


Ride Link (ridelink.com)

Ride Link is the Air BnB of car rental. There's a few inherent problems with this. First off is insurance, second is convenience and third is the future of automation.

They've already solved the first one and struck a deal with Allianz so that insurance can be incorporated into the price. It supersedes the renter's own insurance, thus keeping their no claims etc if something were to happen and the excess isn't too high (~500-750 mark). The second issue is harder - the convenience of a renters company, like Hertz and the like, is more their network of locations. You can pick it up at one airport, then drop it off at another. Equally, you feel comfortable going on a road trip and still being able to change your plans as you go along. That's what you pay the premium for. Now, ironically, not many people return cars to a different location than the one you pick it up from but the peace of mind is important. The solutions not immediately obvious to me on that one, unless you eliminate the business customer who, unsurprisingly, would give you your biggest margin. So not perfectly convinced on that point yet. Next, automation. This will remove congestion, reduce accidents and kill off the need to rent (when you can get a driverless Uber, why bother?). Here, I think that congestion will ease, but the number of cars and their use won't dramatically reduce. If the law of economy drives this then the actual demand for being driven in a car as opposed to a bus etc will sky rocket. Less accidents means lower insurance premiums, which is a bonus for this business model. Lastly, driverless Ubers. It's not here yet, maybe 5-8 years away but it will affect the business model none the less. But if you own a car and it's automated, then you will be able to lease it out to Uber whilst your sat at work. Then Uber pretty much IS Ridelink. So, I think the business model is definitely going to need to adapt over time but the economies will benefit it and it will certainly have a good run for 10-20 years until enough cars are replaced. At which point, its infrastructure will be valuable to those bigger companies to acquire and incorporate and the technology can be scaled to less developed economies.

The morality of the business certainly drove my investment as well as my own personal situation. I no longer own a car, but every so often want an insured car for a day or two to do things. Traditional renting is a pain and needs shaking up. With cars left idle over 90% of the time, this reuse of an asset is far better than piling more cars up to be driven.

Bijou Commerce UK

Bijou Commerce (bijoucommerce.com)

How mobile shopping should be done, beautifully, with integration to existing systems.

Bijou Commerce is a business that mobile shopping is in desperate need of. I buy most things on my mobile now, maybe you do too. Far too often, I end up giving up on a purchase half way through or just resigning myself to the fate of going to Amazon, because it just works there. Which is fine, Amazon is functional. Yet, Amazon is far from beautiful. Things like fashion items need a much more compelling platform to show the items off. The payment needs to be easy and simple and the interface needs to be clean and designed for mobile in the first place.

There's a lot of competition to achieve this.

The number one reason I invested in Bijou? Integration. This is a huge part of their USP and from previous experience this is what retailers want. Something that plugs into their current portfolio of information systems. If Bijou can pull it off, this will be big.

Hope British Fashion

Hope Fashion (hopefashion.co.uk)

Quality, beautiful British fashion aimed at a mature female market.

This is something I've been waiting to see. M&S had this market down back in the day. The fact that Stuart Rose is an investor and supporter of the brand is the icing on the cake. The biggest pull of this investment though is just how genuine and authentic everything is. The models are ladies are stunning yet normal and just hearing them speak you know how much they care about this and getting it right.

Whether or not this is going to be the biggest return in the bunch, they truly deserve every chance to make it happen.

Juggle Jobs UK

Juggle.Jobs (Juggle.jobs)

Work flexibly without compromising your career.

Although it wasn't until my second interaction with the business that I invested in it, I love just how succinct what they're trying to do is. The business is extremely scalable but more so than that is the actual impact and value it delivers for people. Particularly dedicated, passionate women who may otherwise struggle to get the right balance between work and home life or to reenter the job market after taking time off. The value to the professionals is high and the untapped performance and potential, as well as the longer term planning that it enables, is valuable to businesses.

I admire the goals of the business and their ability to very quickly gain traction with recurring monthly payments is very reassuring.

Time will tell on this one but I really hope they achieve scale because the impact this will have is very positive indeed.

Get Smooth UK Barbers

Get Smooth (Getsmooth.co)

Your personal barber on demand.

Another service that I've just been waiting to discover and use. Get a quality barber come to you or your workplace with none of the hassle of finding a barbers you can trust. What really caught my attention with this one is the quality partners they've already been able to attract: Uber, Paypal etc. and the the fact that the non-executive director is Mark Russell, the managing editor of GQ Style. Now that's a good endorsement right there.

I cannot wait to see this one take off.

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