Prince, you died today: 21 April 2016 aged only 57

Prince21st of April 2016. The day that Prince died. Bad day. Really bad. Tomorrow will be no better because he’ll still be dead. I am in mourning, and this will never end.

This site was never intended for this sort of thing. But, Prince died. Prince!!

Why do I care so much? If you don’t know the answer, you don’t know me. Which is about right because this isn’t Facebook. And I don’t want to write about this on Facebook because I don’t want 500+ likes and 100+ comments for it. I prefer the relative solitude of my own site. My outlet.

I heard about it a few hours ago, second-hand, so I had to drop everything to search for no truth, surely. It wasn’t trending on Twitter which was a good sign. But my own Tweet, a question asking for truth, was failing to post – a bad sign. So I searched news stories and found truth, published only half an hour earlier. I felt sad and empty. So I knew it obviously hadn’t sunk in yet.

I’ve had to attend an important event this evening, but now, I feel it. It’s real. And I can’t describe the feeling.

So why does this matters to me? I grew up not liking Prince, like when watching Top Of The Pops or other music shows. I thought he was weird, produced music that wasn’t like anything else, dressed weird, and made strange facial expressions. He was abnormal. And I later realised that the problem was me.

But this guy wasn’t going away. I was exposed to more of his music, and then suddenly realised I was admitting to myself, that there’s actually something very, very interesting about his music. In basic terms, I was wondering why other artists can’t create and perform like Prince. Over time, I realised that most of what I thought I didn’t like, was exactly what was to like. Before long I came to understand the real meaning of the word ‘genius’.

And on this day, in some poetic and ironic way, the ‘Queen’ celebrates 90th birthday today, whilst we mourn the death of Prince.

Going back to watching Top Of The Pops, the first creation I remember was Alphabet Street. Weird song. Before long, I heard Kiss, largely due to everyone else’ love for it. Not a weird song, but a bit different to ‘normal’ music from normal artists. Clearly by this point, I still didn’t have enough understanding. Over the following months I somehow, I don’t know quite how, heard more of his stuff, and was really, REALLY liking it. When I mentioned it, I found others who felt the same way.

So I had to buy my own equipment to hear more, and hear it my way. My speakers had to be Tannoy, because that’s what was used in reputable recording studios in that musical era. I was 16. I believed my kit made his music sound like the recordings. I still have them 26 years on. I’ll keep them forever, for my future den. But slowly, clearly, I was getting more and more hooked on Prince.

Other big creations that cemented it for me were the entire Purple Rain album especially Purple Rain, When Doves Cry, The Beautiful Ones and Let’s Go Crazy, but also 1999, Sometimes It Snows In April, Partyman, I Feel For You, Nothing Compares to You, Starfish And Coffee, If I Was Your Girlfriend, The Question of U, When 2 R in Love, Scandalous, The Most Beautiful Girl In The World, Guitar, and I have to mention it again….Kiss (my ultimate).

Prince was unique and untouchable. He copied noone, and noone had a chance of copying Prince.

Concerts. I attended nowhere near as many as I would have liked to. But every minute at every concert was unreal. Worst case, I was really impressed. The rest of the time, I was blown away. Best devotion was attending 3 concerts from the same set of dates, at the O2 in London.

But I’m not a listener fan. I’m a musician, albeit unprofessional, and I firmly believe that if you can make or play music, then your connection to music goes far deeper than if you don’t. The attachment and the emotion cut far, far deeper. It means that the music you love becomes a part of you from the inside. Sounds really weird, and most won’t understand. Musicians will relate.

I need to stop writing. I want to have a few more glasses of wine whilst mourning his death whilst celebrating wht he gave to us. I’m thankful for what I have heard, what I’ve experienced, and how I’ve felt, how my musical side has been most deeply influenced, and the feelings that all of this has created over the years.

One thing is for sure… the death of Prince means that every other musician on earth is now a million steps closer to being musical geniuses (but are still nowhere near to it, and never will be).

Prince…1958 to 2016, died at only 57. There’s so much you said, meant, sang, and gran slammed. Your departure will never be right. Like what you said in Starfish and Coffee, maybe I just haven’t set my mind free. But for now, on you understand.

Thank you Prince aka The Kid, for what you have given. You may be gone, but you’ll never be gone, and you’ll always remain number one.

RIP, dear Prince.

Tech-Treat for the Taste Buds: Delipair

Delipair wine matching pairingWhen deciding on a wine with food, most people go through some form of a selection process. They try to somehow match the wine to their personal preference (white vs. red), their mood, and their food.

The latter is known as ‘food-wine matching’ (or ‘pairing’).

A well-paired meal can improve the dining experience whereas the opposite is true for a poorly paired meal. This is fact.

Many approaches are attempted, like sticking to your comfort zone (e.g. Rioja, Chardonnay), asking the waiter or sommelier, tasting what’s open or accessible, delegating the responsibility, selecting on price, and my least favourite of all, choosing by food colour (white wine with chicken or fish, red wine with meat).

Wrong, wrong, wrong! But I didn’t realise how wrong this was either until recently when I began talks with a startup called Delipair, who claimed to have solved this age-old problem of matching food and wine.

The founder and CEO, Konrad Jagodzinski is a wine enthusiast turned tech startup entrepreneur. Through tonnes of research and laboratory work, Konrad developed a science-based solution for matching wines, and made it accessible to anyone at (currently free).

The basics of how it works: The aroma compounds of food ingredients and the cooking method are matched to aromatic fingerprints developed in their lab, resulting in the right recommendations based on the pairing points that have the strongest aromatic bond.

Generating wine recommendations is much easier, though. Just paste a link to any recipe from the web into the search tool, and Delipair’s algorithm will simplify your predicament by recommending just three of the best options – based on science.

I began working with Konrad to help grow his business, so I naturally wanted to know just how much impact a good pairing can have. We arranged dinner at The Golden Hind (a 100+ year old Fish & Chips restaurant on Marylebone Lane, London). They let you bring your own booze (BYOB).

For the wine recommendation, we pasted a link to one of Jamie Oliver’s fish & chips recipes into Delipair’s search tool, and the middle recommendation was a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (here’s how the recommendations are displayed).

Before dinner, I chose the wine off the shelf at Marks & Spencer, Oxford Street. A short walk later we were seated at the Golden Hind with the wine on ice. After a sip, I was done – I didn’t like the wine. But I was there to test the effectiveness of Delipair. After a bite of fish, the next sip tasted different – not unpleasant. After another bite and sip, I was enjoying my best Fish & Chips experience, ever.

I like that I’ve discovered something that will improve my meals with wine. But what I love about this tech startup is how it addresses an old, everyday, ongoing problem experienced by most of us. We fumble, gamble, fluke and blag our way through the wine selection. No more.

Delipair has delivered a simple way for you to solve that problem with a click, and solve it well. So why not upgrade our experiences?

Try pairing any recipe. Better still, experience the real thing by making a meal out of it.

What do you want to eat?

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1 Unconventional Solution for Startup Founders to Hire a CMO.


Startups and SMEs typically begin their journeys with an idea, some sense of direction, and form a basic team to develop and monetise their products.

However during my discussions with several startup founders about marketing talent, most were struggling with one common problem: insufficient budget to hire an ‘experienced’ marketer.

To make things worse, startups handle their hiring contradictorily. I’ve repeatedly seen startups attracting marketers towards leadership roles (e.g. Chief Marketing Officer, VP Marketing, Marketing Director, Head of Marketing) with job descriptions that can be met only by someone with 15+ years’ track record.

There’s nothing seemingly wrong with that, other than the accompanying packages, which would attract someone with only 3-5 years’ (plus equity shares, but everyone knows that 9 out of 10 startups fail, and future funding rounds dilute your equity, so these are unsurprisingly evaluated in that context).

Startups who lack an overall marketing leader e.g. CMO have also advertised for specialist marketers (single discipline) e.g. Growth Hacker, Digital Marketer. However. the decision to hire for a given discipline might be bad timing or the wrong decision in the long run.

Key issues with hiring inexperienced marketers at startups and SMEs.

This budget limitation leads startups founders and SMEs to eventually hire inexperienced marketers, with shorter career histories and limited exposure (no fault of their own). They lack expertise across a wide array of marketing disciplines which will mostly be needed at some point during the ever-changing landscape at these companies.

They don’t instinctively know where to begin, what to do, how much time and effort to dedicate to marketing projects, etc. With little or no expertise in developing effective marketing and digital strategy, let alone executing, the result is poor utilisation of precious time and marketing funds.

The founders end up guiding their marketers as far as they can. However, all founders I spoke with honestly admitted they weren’t qualified to guide on marketing matters. Doing so partially distracted them from the wider business. They all much preferred to have an experienced leader they could rely on.

The problem with hiring specialists.

Effective marketing happens when you start at a strategic level before delving into the various areas of problem-solving in the form of a multi-discipline integrated marketing plan. It isn’t a science or linear set of decisions and activities. At startups and SMEs, the requirements and priorities can rapidly change – different expertise is needed from one period to the next.

In the absence of a marketing leader, all too often founders make a decision to hire specialists e.g. Performance Marketing Manager, Growth Hacker, etc. However, marketing requirements at startups and SMEs are ever-changing. Therefore, only a true multi-disciplinary marketing leader is the best person to gradually build the right team whilst the organisation grows.

Hiring either type of marketer at the wrong time is short-sighted, and adds unquantified costs to the business, incremental to marketing salaries and campaign costs.

The type of marketer needed at a startup or SME.

It may seem obvious that the person leading all marketing efforts to have experienced a wide array of marketing disciplines, however, it’s especially important at a startup due to the pace of growth and change during various growth stages.

It takes years for marketers to gain the breadth and depth of experience to lay down the right strategy and handle change confidently, whilst having an ongoing commitment to business growth through experimentation, discovery, learning, and optimisation. However cost is a big barrier, so isn’t this a catch-22?

I thought so too until a solution came to mind which I discussed with several startup founders and CEOs. It means startups shouldn’t believe their hands are tied with it comes to accessing experienced marketers during their crucial growth phases.

The unconventional solution.

So how can a #startup #hire a #CMO before they can really afford one? They share one! Click To Tweet I’m naming it ‘shared-CMO’, and the person would be a full-time resource at 2-3 startups or SMEs simultaneously. Each organisation would benefit from a highly experienced, true marketing leader.

Operationally the shared-CMO would join each business, integrate, establish relationships, etc. in exactly the same manner as the normal approach to hiring a CMO. The shared-CMO would perform their role for all startups throughout the week, rather than blocking days for each one. It definitely takes a certain type of person to fill these shoes, especially in the tech and/or startup space. However, I’ll expand on these thoughts in a later post.

The reasons for naming it with ‘shared’ are many. First and foremost, it sends a clear signal to founders (and employees) of each organisations concerned that they’re sharing a CMO for the fundamental reasons described in this post. Similarly, the shared-CMO would positively see themselves as being fully integrated into each organisation, which differs greatly to other concepts I found whilst researching, such as virtual-CMO, rent-a-CMO, freelance-CMO, etc. All of these latter descriptions denote ‘outsider’ and ‘temporary’, which is a lot like hiring a senior-level marketing consultant.

9 out of 10 startup founders agree…

I put the validation to the stage a few weeks ago, when I had a spontaneous opportunity to talk about the shared-CMO concept at Google’s Campus London, whilst attending a Meetup event organised by Silicon Roundabout. After the talk, I was approached by several startup founders who agreed this was exactly the problem and thought a shared-CMO would be a great solution.

It wouldn’t be the first time the sharing economy has come to the rescue of businesses. Most of us are aware of the scale of businesses like Uber, whereby the sharing economy approach has been a fundamental part of their business model and scaling ability. So why can’t this be applied at a qualitative level whereby the shared-CMO would be deeply integrated into very few businesses?

Startups, scale-ups and SMEs should begin their marketing hires at the top end first, seeking an all-rounder with integrated marketing experience.

A CMO can set overall marketing, brand and digital strategies, execute according to marketing priorities and growth stage, set performance metrics, slice up the media mix, integrate social, use PR (most underutilised within startups) as part of the overall mix, handle media relations, and grow the team with the right type of talent over time.

A shared-CMO can help a startup get onto the right track instinctively, saving valuable time – and time is money.

Are you a CEO, founder or MD of a startup, space-up or SME? What’s your approach to solving this problem?

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