19th May 2021
NATIONAL VEGETARIAN WEEK: OUR THREE FAVOURITE WFH LUNCHES.
In honour of National Vegetarian Week we are sharing with you three of our favourite veggie meals, that are perfect for those lunches while you work from home. I know, we are nice.
According to Medical News Today ( and they ought to know), being veggie can do wonders for you and your body. It can help with things like: weight, cholesterol, cancer, heart health, and diabetes.
Are you wanting to go veggie, but aren’t sure how to do it? Try these tops from BBC Good Food–
“How to eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet
First up on the recipe front is this Stir-fried Tofu Bento Box with Sesame Soba Noodles and Ginger-Carrot Broccoli. I know, I am also now very hungry. Super easy to make the night before and leave in the fridge, ready for a quick lunch in between meetings.
Secondly, with have this great Vegan Falafel Buddha Bowl with Creamy Avocado Dressing. We know, the falafel is the most basic of veggie food (so much so that it should really should have it’s own food group for the new vegetarian), but in this fun buddha bowl? Amazing. And the dressing? Iconic. 10/10 would eat with a spoon.
And finally, but by NO means least. We have the humble pasta dish. You might be thinking, ‘wow, a pasta dish for vegetarians… groundbreaking.’, but let me throw you this culinary curveball. FAJITA. PASTA. I know. Don’t even talk to me right now, the tastebuds are vibing.
14th May 2021
MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK: IN CONVERSATION WITH SUKI THOMPSON.
To celebrate this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, we had the honour of sitting down with Suki Thompson. Suki is not only a pillar of the media and communications industry, a ‘serial-entrepreneur, a co-founder of the award-winning marketing consultancy Oystercatchers, a mother and a cancer survivor, but she has also co-founded Let’s Reset, a business transformation company, that focuses on the wellbeing and energy of people, and puts outstanding business performance at the heart of what it does. Suki also has written a wellbeing book, titled Let’s Reset, which features photographs by Rankin.
We were lucky enough to ask Suki some questions regarding mental health during the pandemic, wellbeing in the workplace and to ask her what her own top wellbeing tips are.
It’s Mental Health Week this week- do you think we need a mental health week, or should we be thinking about mental health on a more day-to-day basis?
We should have ‘Mental Health Action Week’, not Awareness Week. Particularly in the last year, everyone is aware of mental health, and its importance. The benefit of having a week is that it kick starts the conversation and gives some focus to people and businesses in particular to do something. Just having the conversation is important but actually putting in programmes is more important.
Mental health is not something that you can just think about or even action for one week of the year. The way that everyone can perform better at work and can look after their mental health and wellbeing in general is by having something in place on an ongoing basis.
Young people and graduates going into work this year have had an understandably unusual time, going into work without an office, without face-to-face contact with colleagues, sometimes working with people they’ve never met. How do you think Mental Health has impacted these graduates and young people embarking on their careers?
We know that the people who have been impacted mentally most significantly in the last year have been young people, particularly women and particularly anyone who has had an issue and has had some need for support with their mental health before. But it’s not surprising! At the beginning of your career, you are full of hopes and dreams, and nobody has said ‘so I’m going to have my brilliant start my career, I’ve just come out of university or I’m just finishing university and I’ve got to go into the workplace and then… I’m not! I’m going to be at home!”. For the ones who have had to go back to live with their parents, it’s really hard. You’re not meant to be back living with your parents, necessarily, when you’re in your early 20s. If people are living in apartments and flats, the spaces may be very small, a lot of the internet has not been great, I’ve met people who haven’t been out of their apartments, I have met someone else who is sitting, working on the stairs, people are working on their beds and that’s not just for a week or two. That’s months of people working on their own.
I certainly have got a couple of people who work for me who have never worked in an office before and at the moment they’re not sitting next to us, we can’t just show them what to do. They don’t have the opportunity of meeting other people, of having fun in the office and learning from each other. The bit that then worries me is that some of those young people don’t think they want to be in an office, they don’t believe they can work there effectively, they are scared and actually, they just don’t know how great the office can be.
What would you say to businesses, to help them better accommodate both new remote workers & current remote workers from a mental health perspective?
I think putting a well-being program into the workplace and making wellbeing a strategic priority is the most important way to help employees. You can’t learn some of the skills of well-being by osmosis, they are taught. How to have a well-being conversation is a taught skill just the same way that the other skills are, like writing a brief, creating a spreadsheet. One of the ways of getting new and young people involved in a wellbeing programme, which has to be part of cultural change, is by having an Ambassador Group- which would look at all aspects of well-being and inclusion and they can be the people who are the cheerleaders for the programme. They are the people that can change that culture by living it and creating new ways of working. But they also feedback, in real-time, to the senior management about what is working, what isn’t working, and what could be better.
If you could give advice to your former self earlier in your career? How would you have kickstarted your own mental health conversation?
When I grew up in business, leaders were invincible. They were perfect, you were meant to be faster, better, bigger, stronger than anyone else. You didn’t talk about your vulnerability.
I love working, I really love my job, I loved being in advertising, I love running my own company but just because you love something doesn’t mean you should do it all the time. So, looking back, certainly before I had cancer, understanding that it’s okay to take time to rest and not always win, would be what I would say to myself. It’s okay to not constantly be improving and getting there faster; you can go at the right pace, and you can take some time for yourself. Being ‘selfish’ is not being selfish and thinking just about yourself. Put your own oxygen mask on first before you look after everyone else. I think since I had cancer for the first time 12 years ago, I have been much better, I’ve been much more aware of my own well-being. I eat well, I sleep well (ish) and I’m definitely better now at taking time to relax and breathe!
When I had my children Jaz and Sam, to get my daughter Jaz to sleep through the night she had a very, very strict sleep regime. Because that’s what you do with babies, you do all the right things, you have a nice bathroom routine, and you put them to bed, and they then sleep through the night. Somehow when we become an adult, we think it’s okay to do emails right up until the minute you go to bed; to watch Netflix late into the night, to take your phone into the bedroom and listen to audiobooks during the night. I did all these things that over-stimulated my brain and meant that instead of sleeping I was awake worrying or writing lists or just lying awake!
Now I have a strict regime, I go to bed at roughly the same time every night and have NO screens in the bedroom. It has revolutionised my sleep and my life.
You were crowned “A Champion of Wellness” by The Times – What are your three tips regarding personal mental wellness for those working in the current climate?
I think from a physical well-being point of view work out what you really love doing, whether that is running or surfing or walking or whatever and make sure that you make time throughout your week for it. Put it into your diary to make sure it happens. There are 1440 minutes in the day, you only need to take 60 to look after your physical and mental well-being.
Take a break from your screens during the day: You need to regain control over your cortisol levels and autonomic nervous system. Dr. Julia Jones calls this practicing your peripheral gaze. To stop the screen draining your energy, stand up, and look forwards so you can see everything around you. By doing that, your brain goes “oh that’s good I can see everything around me and there is nothing that is going to hurt me” This is a fast and swift technique that you can do anywhere to help you relax and get ready to focus again.
Measure your own wellbeing and performance. Ask yourself and others every day on a scale of 1-10 ‘how energised do you feel today.’ If your score is low, show yourself some compassion, take some time off to relax, and have a coffee or phone a friend for a chat. Notice how your colleagues and employees are feeling and talk to them, if you think they might not be ok. Ask twice how they are and really listen to the answer.
If I’m allowed one more, I do think that our ways of working are
something we need to look at. Loads and loads of high achieving, high performing teams are frazzled, The leaders say “we get that well-being is really important, but in order of priority, profit is the most important thing, then probably the planet (if we think about the environmental impact what we’re doing) and then our people (or they’ll say our people are really very important, but they don’t have a wellbeing programme that really supports them). So, we’re still going to be sending emails very late at night expecting responses, we’re still going to get people working over the weekend, we are still getting people to go to meetings that frankly they shouldn’t be at and we’re going to have meetings where we don’t have an agenda”. So, I think really looking at how you can make more time to focus on the things that matter most is the key to making the best change at work to create a culture of wellbeing and performance.
Part two of our conversation with Suki, where Suki outlines her thoughts on the wellbeing of freelancers, will be released soon.
1st February 2021
We wanted to take this opportunity to share with you our Salary Survey for 2021. To take a look please click here.
You’ll see that the last page has all the relevant contact information for each of our consultants and their specialist areas should you wish to get in touch.
We would love to support you with any new hires you have currently or coming up this year. We can also help to bench build for freelance requirements, or maybe you know of someone in the market that might be out of work currently and needs some help in finding a new home.
We have worked extremely hard to keep our full team in the business ready to provide recruitment support, guidance or market insight.
Please feel free to get in touch for anything you may need.
22nd September 2020
I have been lucky enough for work for a “modern” employer. For the last 10 years I have worked remotely with trust and respect – that the work will be done…and it is…even to the extent where the whole finance function is run remotely and (fingers crossed) efficiently.
Before this I worked part-time with younger children, well 4 days….and endured years of telling people – yes I do work part-time and no I am not lucky compared to you working full time. As I also received part-time pay. So hey I am no different than you!
I am hoping this sad pandemic will bring new working practises for other people too, especially the bigger corporates! Working remotely at the best of times…is refreshing, thought provoking, more balanced. I still need people to talk to – whether strictly business or a bit of a gossip / banter and get that in bundles with all the other teams in the company, sometimes on my terms, sometimes on theirs. But I am not stressed that the kids are home alone or the train is delayed. Yes I pay more for electricity but less for travel.
I have loved people telling me, what it has meant for them to work remotely and for some how the office is actually that much needed sanctuary. There has been a simplicity about this time, people have more energy and are kinder.
It has been easier dealing with the big suppliers – as you talk to one person who just really does want to help you, they are not watching the clock, thinking I have to leave in 10 mins to catch that train / bus / nursery. They have listened and actually sorted the issue first time.
So my message to the bigger companies is……Listen….
Written by Bev Heckels
19th August 2020
“Seinfeld” is a ‘90s sitcom that became a huge hit in the States.
Confusingly Jerry Seinfeld himself is a pretty lame stand-up, but just ignore that.
Anyways, it’s back on Amazon Prime so here’s a shortlist of the funniest episodes and some of the most famous comedy episodes of any US TV.
Written by Larry David who moved on to write and star in “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, Seinfeld is pretty much “Curb Your Enthusiasm: Lighter, Funnier, Better”.
Actually, Seinfeld might as well be called “The Elaine, George and Kramer Show” as Jerry Seinfeld is the weakest link:
Elaine – Jerry’s ex-. Played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus from VEEP. No 1 funny person on the show.
George and his Italian American parents – dad Frank played by Ben Stiller’s dad, Jerry Stiller.
Kramer – the kooky neighbour.
The following episodes are the classics. I watched these during lockdown and they’re still fresh. Most episodes throughout series 4-7 are decent but really you only need to watch these 12 episodes and then move on.
The 12 funniest episodes are:
Perhaps finish up with “Highlights of a Hundred” (season 6’s clip highlights episode).
Written by Richard Maddox
19th June 2020
Recently, I’ve read a few accounts concerning frustrations around receiving ‘automated responses’, in particular rejection emails for jobs applied for.
In these unprecedented times, many people who are not so lucky to be working deserve a dignified response with a human feel. Rejection is painful enough, so let’s not under-estimate the impact this can have on morale.
That said, we also have to appreciate that, given the volume of applications for some companies, it’s not always possible to give personalised feedback. However, we could do well to find a balance and where possible promote a mindful and individual approach.
Right now, it’s a complex picture out there, notwithstanding the uncertainty concerning how and when markets will recover.
A little empathy goes a long way, as does a personal human touch!
WRITTEN BY ALEX COLLINS
19th June 2020
There is a racial problem within the inherited imperial system. The brutal murder of George Floyd was recorded and posted on social media. This moment seems to be the catalyst to spark a revolution with a purpose.
As a white male with a distant yet proud Black West African heritage (an ancestor captured as a slave and released to marry one of my forebears), I asked myself ‘what I could do to help?’.
Growing up in predominantly white Chelmsford, Essex, it was unusual to see many black people. I made friends with a black guy who fled with his family from Sudan to the UK in 1997. Omar Al Bashir’s brutal 30 year dictatorial regime was overthrown on 3rd June 2019, by the very type of direct action, protests and activism we are seeing today. The overthrow of the Sudanese regime is a potent example of how sustained political protest can make generation defining change. Incidentally, those protests in Sudan were led by women and young people – those who are often not heard by those in power.
For the purpose of this blog post I’m going to refer to the black guy as “Magic”, because to me, that’s what he was, a magic friend who understood me, behaved like me and emotionally evolved like me despite the fact we have different quantities of melanin in our skin.
I was invited around for dinner frequently and was ALWAYS welcomed with an open heart; the food was so different from what I was familiar with but I liked it, “I like it alot”, (to quote Lloyd Christmas).
I’d sit and chill with Magic’s Dad, the well educated accountant in his late 60’s, dressed in the relatively traditional Jellabiya, as we watch the PGA golf together and he asks “What’s the point of this?”, to which I just laughed as in ‘I don’t really get golf either, mate’. But then he persists “Can you explain it to me?”. And after I explained golf is about getting it in the hole with as fewer shots possible, he sat back with a sense of achievement. He paused for a moment, and then asked “What about Cricket?” ~ Cue both of us crease with laughter.
I will never be able to comprehend the systematic racial disparity that happens on a daily basis. I make mistakes, we all make mistakes, but we have to try to unlearn the inherited traditional systems and build new habits to sustain a new type of system that is always incrementally improving upon the last.
And that is why I feel compelled to say “BLACK LIVES MATTER”.
It is not saying that “Only Black Lives Matter.” We all know “All Lives Matter”. We just need everyone’s help with #blacklivesmatter because black lives are in danger.
Just as an example, I changed my profile picture to the black power fist sign, and within half a day I had to have awkward, emotionally draining conversations with some of my family and friends, to explain why. It begs the question, what must it be like for Magic every single day?!
Examples of racial micro-aggression Magic regularly experiences include; getting into a lift and a lady clutching her hand bag tighter as if she was about to be robbed; a person getting out of a lift as he gets in; and people crossing the street as he is walking towards them. I’ve witnessed first hand the gawking in Magic’s direction, as we would walk into various venues like a pub, sports facility or restaurant where we grew up in Chelmsford City centre.
To reference the great Ian Wright, Wright, Wright, (begrudgingly as a Chelsea fan) “We’ve got a generation of players and people now – not just black players – who won’t tolerate this anymore. My generation was the ‘turn the other cheek’ generation, the Martin Luther King generation. But now this is the ‘by all means necessary’ generation, the Malcolm X generation.”
The reason I am taking a stand to put some words out there is because I asked my friend, Magic, “What can I do to help?”. His response “Thanks man, quickest and most impactful thing to do is to call people out. And by listening.”
Here’s the crux of what I believe to be my responsibility…
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
Education is key. Accepting that I do not know everything and that I have in fact behaved inappropriately in the past, but I am willing to learn.
Reach out to people and ask, “What can I do to help?”, and listen.
Call out people and make them accountable. Be patient with them and confront the problem. Accept that they got it wrong and then forgive them when they change. Acknowledge their progress in influencing others to male positive change.
The point I’m trying to make is that Black Lives Matter and this is an attempt to spread that message. I would appreciate any help towards positive action and change.
Below are resources I found helpful for taking action. The document below has names and links to funding pages for organisations on the front line, petitions, books, articles and UK black-owned small business:
WRITTEN BY DANNY STEWART
5th June 2020
…now there’s a prospect for all of us to consider. It’s certainly a challenging time for employers and employees alike. Whether operating at home or in the office, staying focused on the task at hand may seem daunting at times. Noticing this with a measure of understanding can help.
Meeting clients online requires familiarisation with various technologies, whilst getting to grips with working in a disembodied way. But it also provides an opportunity to improve skills and become more agile online to help clients even more.
Many of us working from home might be feeling a sense of displacement, whilst others may be reluctant to venture into the office in person. Whatever the situation, keeping connected to one another is key as is maintaining the healthiest of work relationships.
WRITTEN BY ALEX COLLINS
1st June 2020
29th May 2020
have you gone to sleep
my gin bottle says…
my weighing scales say…
no idea who this is
my mirror says…
hi bat wings, long time no see
my book shelf says…
what delight can I serve you with today
my mind says…
calm, content, rested
WRITTEN BY BEV HECKLES
26th May 2020
22nd May 2020
Never before has the immediate work future looked so unclear for this year’s graduates. Indeed, the challenges afoot pose an overwhelming prospect for many. How do we tackle an unknown employment landscape in a way that is constructive and offers hope?
Qualities graduates may need in ample and equal supplies are resilience, determination, sure footedness and flexibility. The ‘preferred choice’ role may not be immediately available, however considering second and even third choice positions can open up the prospect of paid work, whilst gaining invaluable industry experience.
Keeping an open mind, practising mindfulness and staying emotionally strong can also create a solid platform from which to search for that opportunity with your name on it.
Positivity is key. If you don’t land the perfect role straight away, don’t worry, it’s not your fault. Hang on in there. The market will rise again. Don’t lose hope.
Talk to us.
The RedSofa Team
WRITTEN BY ALEX COLLINS
21st May 2020
Eaten too much homemade sourdough or banana bread since going into quarantine? Need to get yourself moving and active again? If you think you might have over done it just a little bit in lockdown, then look no further than this list of RedSofa approved lockdown workouts. (Best of all, they are all free to access!)
• Tyson Fury’s Instagram Workouts
Every 9am during lockdown, The Gypsy King has been going live and giving his followers a hardcore workout on his Instagram page. It’s not for the faint-hearted, however, there’s plenty of loud music to keep you going for the half an hour session. It will certainly leave you feeling ready to start your day and there are often some very funny cameos from his children halfway through.
• Yoga With Adriene
If Tyson’s high-intensity workouts are a bit too much, why not try Yoga With Adriene? Her incredibly popular 30 Days of Yoga challenge has been a huge hit with people who want to get fit but also relax and unwind at the same time during lockdown. All of her videos are available on Youtube and it is great for newbies who are just getting started.
• Joe Wicks
No roundup of the best lockdown workouts would be complete without mentioning the midget, tree eating Body Coach himself, Joe Wicks. If you’re entertaining kids at home, his daily PE sessions are the perfect choice to get them moving. If you are worried about elderly relatives not getting enough exercise during lockdown, he’s even got custom-made videos that suit their needs. Then there’s the Seven Days of Sweat Challenge, which is ideal for home environments that don’t have very much equipment.
• Amanda Bisk
Australian exercise physiologist Amanda Bisk is the perfect choice if you have any ongoing injuries but you still want to maintain some physical activity during lockdown. She has specific videos targeting wrist pain, knee pain, and back pain, and what exercise you can be doing to alleviate some of those symptoms. She also has videos on how to avoid those injuries by working on your form when you are exercising away from the gym. These videos are perfect for beginners who are missing the expertise of a PT right now and who could use some assistance with their form. After all, now is not a good time to get injured and end up in A&E!
Stay fit – Stay well!
Love from the RedSofa Team x
WRITTEN BY RICHARD FIELDEN
2nd April 2020
Having recently joined Red Sofa London, I am getting to see more and more of Shoreditch each day I’m in the office. It was not an area I visited much in the past, usually gravitating around Covent Garden or South London but what an eye opener our neighbourhood really is.
One of the great aspects of Shoreditch’s ever changing landscape is the amazing collection of Street Art / Graffiti. Not only is it for the most part of very high quality – real art on the walls – but it changes on an almost daily basis.
From the photo-realistic (top of pic) to paid for advertising created by hand in a matter of a few days (middle right) to more intricate B&W art (bottom left) – examples of startling colour and intricate work are all around.
The Spenser Netflix Ad (middle right) is almost next door to the Red Sofa offices and was hand painted by two artists in late Feb/early March – I wish I had taken pics on the days before it was finished to really show it in progress. Also not sure it shows the scale of the thing – it’s huge!
I’ve posted photos of Graffiti before in the tunnel at Leake St SE1 (link below) but somehow the street art in Shoreditch is more exciting. You can turn a street corner to be confronted by a new piece of art on any given day. The walk past Shoreditch High St. station almost has a gallery feel to it – the Einstein-esque pic at the top was there before we adopted remote working – I don’t expect to see it again but am looking forward to seeing what will replace it.
Of course Street Art is not restricted to Shoreditch but it certainly has an abundance of it – you can even take a free tour of the ”best” spots (link below).
Keep your eyes open people, when you take your one walk for exercise a day, look out for what has been created wherever you are. There could be a masterpiece hidden just around the corner.
Here’s a list of links to a few Street Art related sites:
Shoreditch 10 best streets – Click here
2019 A year in street art London – Click here
Shoreditch street tour (closed at mo) – Click here
Visit London Street Art – Click here
graffiti_life – insta – Click here
Leake Street SE1 – Click here
WRITTEN BY MARTIN KING
30th March 2020
So we’re all on lockdown and The Boredom Gremlin has been hitting us all over the head with his anxiety mallet for the last couple of weeks. No one knows what’s going on, how long we’ll be stuck cleaning out the same closet for the fourteenth time in two weeks or waiting until we can once again sample the sweet nectar of the local public house. Oh please lord, what I wouldn’t give to listen to the drunken ramblings of Dodgy Ken sat cracking-wise about how things were so much better in his day. Anything would be better than the constant hum of my own refrigerator slowly trying to drive me insane.
But fear not friends, this is time that can be put to good use. Sadly I can’t advise on the most recent mindfulness app or give you recipes to make your own soda bread. I can however point you in the direction of a few places you can look to drain a few hours practicing some new software and sharpening your creative skills so when the glorious day of release arrives you’ll be ready to tackle all the projects that come flooding in like a boss.
Most of these you will get an introductory course or two for free but will then have to pay a subscription fee which, understandably, may not be the most appealing thing right now given we don’t know how long this work drought will continue so there’s a smattering of freebies and video blogs you can learn along with thrown in there as well.
Let’s start with the most obvious ones. Adobe and LinkedIn both run various online training courses with an abundance of different software to spruce up on. If you have an Adobe CC license you can access all of their training courses for no extra charge.
LinkedIn Learning has a vast array of assets you can learn from and you get the first month for free.
The Futur is a US based educational site for all things creative. They can teach you everything from software skills to tips on billing clients and how best to run your independent business. There’s a whole host of free tutorials and videos on the site and some more deep-dive courses that do cost, one-off fees rather than subscription though.
Bring Your Own Laptop is a site with all kinds of software training. Subscriptions can be paid for monthly or annually. They cover the whole Adobe Suite and also have some specialist courses in different fundamentals of digital design, UX and programming.
Skillshare is an amazing platform, this one is not just for career advancement, this is a blast if you’re looking for something just to pass the time. You can learn anything from Photoshop to knitting and everything in between. Go on, why not knit yourself a scarf or a new housecoat, you’ve got the time.
Udemy comes highly recommended from multiple sources and is another amazing platform that offers education on all software, skillsets, and just general tips and tricks in managing a business. This is another that costs but they run various Flash Sales so if you keep a sharp eye you can land yourself a really good deal.
Motion Design School is certainly worth your time if animation is something you’re looking to get in to or just fine tune those skills. Software tutorials as well as specialist courses on kinetic type, logo animation, creating AR. This list goes on. Not the cheapest courses in the world but there are some free introductory lessons and they do keep an updated “offers” page it’s worth keeping an eye on.
Hello Luxx is another one in the animation space but these guys focus on 3D and visualization. A huge catalogue of facilities for you to choose from covering 3D texturing, compositing etc and covering all kinds of different software. They also do Friday Freebies with links to free video tutorials.
Super Hi is a very handy place to start if you’re looking for some interesting courses, particularly on the coding side of things. They do offer various modules on design, branding, project management and so on but their digital courses seem to be something of a specialism. Some introductory packages and freebies but these will be longer term courses that come at a cost.
Learn Squared have some exceptional courses to wet your whistle if you’re into illustration either with a pencil / pen or a Wacom tablet. They also offer courses on design and animation but the real selling point here appears to be the illustration aside of things. Until May 30th 2020 they’re offering the first class of each course for free and there’s over 300 to choose from.
So there you have it, a few places to help you learn a little something and offer a little light in an otherwise dark time. This list was curated through recommendations from our expansive network of freelancers and creatives and we would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who offered up suggestions, your help is hugely appreciated.
Finally, before I dash off, if you get tired of self-improvement and just want ideas on how to kill a few hours from the comfort of your couch why not check some of these out… thanks Keith!
http://socratic.org – Learn chemistry and physics.
http://favoriteandforget.com – A curation of useful links.
http://duolingo.com – App which really makes studying new languages fun.
http://codecademy.com – Learn to code interactively, for free.
http://chesscademy.com – Free videos and interactive exercises helping you to learn playing chess well.
http://justinguitar.com – Over 850 completely free guitar lessons.
http://freerice.com – Learn vocabulary while you feed the hungry.
http://instructables.com – Makes, How To, and DIY
http://producthunt.com – An aggregator for creators.
You can have fun:
http://spruuce.com – Fun and interesting products and websites.
http://sporcle.com – Trivia quizzes.
http://www.snesfun.com/ – Play old Nintendo games.
http://www.getworkdonemusic.com/ – Pretty much in the title.
http://thenicestplaceontheinter.net/ – Really nice!
http://tastekid.com – Find movies to match your tastes.
http://lang-8.com – You correct entries written by foreigners learning English, and you can also write your own entries (it could be about anything) in a language you’re studying, and speakers of whatever language you’re learning correct it for you. You make tons of friends too
BY ALISTAIR KIRKBY
30th March 2020
Here’s my top 3 app recommendations, to keep you from going a bit Jack Torrance over the coming weeks…
Two weeks ago, nobody had ever heard of it, now I’m getting invites from my Mum’s 87 year old neighbour to join him and his family in a game of virtual Pictionary. Houseparty offers you a way to connect with a group of friends (or complete strangers, if that’s your thing), without actually having to be in a room with the grubby little beggers. Get the beers in, and self isolate in company, with a round or two of Chips and Guac.
Google Arts and Culture
It’s an absolute masterpiece of an App (pun fully intended). Take virtual tours of some of the most famous museums in the world. Create your own personal collection, and share with friends. You can even find your art doppelganger, with the Art Selfie feature – Mine’s Benet Mercadé’s “Waitress” (I shaved my beard in a moment of isolation madness, and am apparently very feminine now)
This one is hardly going under the radar, but it still deserves a mention. Disney’s answer to Netflix; featuring titles from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic’s back catalogue, as well as some excellent originals like The Mandalorian and The World According to Jeff Goldblum. It’s already kept me and my boy occupied for a number of hours, since it’s launch on Tuesday. Worth every penny of the £5.99 monthly subscription.
So that’s it, 3 apps to keep you occupied until June, and not a fitness tracker or meditation mentor in sight. Enjoy, stay safe, and I’ll see you on the other side!
BY TOM EDWARDS
3rd March 2020
The success behind Amazon is the driving passion of Jeff but at what price?
Interesting article by the BBC – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/extra/CLQYZENMBI/amazon-data
3rd March 2020
…The similarities between parenting and recruiting
I have been working in recruitment for over 7 years. It was my first job after graduating, working with the same company for 6 years as the business scaled from 6 employee’s to 30. During this time I was fortunate to be able to build and manage a team of consultants. I became a Father in June 2018 when my partner gave birth to our son, which eventually led to move companies in order to have a more flexible work-life balance and to relinquish management responsibilities. So in October 2019, I joined RedSofa to run my own desk in the Pay-Tv / OTT video market.
Being a parent can be chaotic, it feels as if you are constantly on the go. If I’m not chasing my son around to get him ready for his bath then I’m racing to catch his plate of food before it falls off his high chair, or to intercept him from the range of our cats claw after he’s had a good yank of her tail. A career in recruitment has its comparisons; it’s a constant chase. Chasing for candidate feedback, chasing for client feedback, and occasionally chasing my own tail.
As it would appear I spend most of my life in a state of pursuit (no wonder I’m tired), but the biggest challenge is that so much of what I chase is ultimately out of my control. So rather than try to control the uncontrollable, I prefer to try and manage the manageable. I can’t control whether my son wants to play tug of war with the cat’s tail, just like I can’t control how long a client decides to take to call me about a CV. But, whenever I enter into an agreement I try to apply the ‘What, Who & When’ technique to help manage expectations. For example:
What – Ensure the cat’s tail does not get pulled.
Who – By you, son.
When – Ever.
OR a recruitment example:
What – Review and feedback of cv’s
Who – By the Hiring Manager
When – Within 48 hours of receipt
Now this isn’t fool proof, as it’s dependant on people being true to their word. Ultimately in any successful partnership, you need cooperation from both sides to work effectively. This process may initially be a one-sided effort, much like with my son and I. But as you gradually develop trust, through displaying consistency, clear communication and the occasional trip to the naughty step, it becomes much less cat & mouse and could even evolve to a place where you are the one being chased. Although that’s not always a good thing… Just ask my cat.
Disclaimer – No animals were harmed in the making of this blog post.
By Stuart Meaney
27th February 2020
Who wouldn’t LOVE to bring their dog to work with them…?
Who wouldn’t like to be around dogs 24/7…?
Well…here at RedSofa London, we LOVE dogs and are fortunate that we can bring our dogs to work with us.
Here are a few that come and visit us at the RedSofa finance office in Rugby!!
They brighten up our day and we LOVE having them here….
First up is our DAISY!! Daisy spends every day at the finance office in rugby. Daisy is so chilled, LOVES her treat after a lunch time walk and loves getting muddy with any opportunity.
Next up is our two smaller dogs Medusa and Zeus that come to visit us once a week in Rugby! Don’t be fooled though by their size…these dogs have a big bark to them and are great protective dogs. They love sitting on our laps whilst we work, and they are like little hot water bottles which are great for us in the winter.
“Whoever said diamonds are a girl’s best friend never owned a dog.”
26th February 2020
What is IR35?
IR35 is a set of tax laws designed to figure out whether a self-employed worker is genuine or cheating the system. It has been around since the year 2000 and is designed to tackle tax dodgers.
For example, let’s say someone works for an organisation as a freelancer but has the same hours and duties as a full-time employee. IR35 may class them as a “disguised employee” and launch an investigation. They will do this to determine whether the freelancer is paying the correct amount of tax or breaking the rules.
What is a disguised employee?
A self-employed worker who has the same responsibilities as a current employee but is not making the same income tax contributions or reaping the rewards of permanent employment.
In this situation, the organisation is also at fault as the disguised employee wouldn’t be receiving the usual benefits such as national insurance, pension contributions, holiday or sick pay. The organisation would essentially have all the benefits of a full-time employee, but no monetary responsibilities aside from paying the workers wage. Naturally HRMC doesn’t like this.
If both the organisation and disguised employee are found to be breaking the rules, each party will have to make amends. The organisation would have to deduct national insurance and income tax from the disguised employee and the disguised employee would have to pay higher amounts of tax. That’s assuming there won’t be penalties on top for breaking the rules.
Who is responsible for deciding IR35 status?
In the private sector, it’s currently up to the self-employed worker to determine whether or not they are IR35 compliant, but the rules are changing. As of April 2020, the responsibility will shift to the private sector company to determine the IR35 status of those who work for them but are not ’employed’.
This means that organisations will have to dedicate time, resources and money towards ensuring they are compliant.
Why is IR35 important?
It’s important to understand IR35 so that you stay on the right side of the law and don’t fall foul of a complicated IR35 investigation.
If HMRC has a reason to suspect that you are paying the wrong amount of tax, they can launch an investigation. This could result in hefty fines and stress. HMRC expect to lose £1.2 billion by 2023 to disguised employment, so they are on a mission to crack down.
A common concern for organisations is that if they decide their self-employed worker is actually an employee, they are worried HMRC may come after them. Suddenly, all those past tax and national insurance contributions may come under fire. This of course is dependent on the individual situation and will be judged on a case by case basis.
How do you find out if you fall inside or outside IR35?
IR35 can apply to anybody who works via a limited or personal service company to provide a client or organisation with a service.
If the worker is deemed to be self-employed, they will fall outside of IR35 requirements. However, if they are deemed to be a more permanent fixture, they will have to pay the same taxes as a regular employee.
Now here comes the tricky part; deciding whether or not the worker is an employee or a self-employed worker. This is where the lines get blurred as there are lots of factors and the answer isn’t always black and white. Here are some things to consider:
Does the worker have control over where they do their work, how they do it and when they do it? If the answer is yes then they are generally considered a self-employed contractor, not an employee.
One of the deciding factors on whether or not a worker is a self-employed contractor or an employee is substitution. For instance, if they aren’t available to do the work, can it be done by someone else? If it is only the self-employed contractor who can do the work then IR35 might argue that they’re an employee.
Essentially, how involved is the worker in the business? For instance, do they have a picture and biography of them under the Meet the Team section? For an IR35 inspector this would suggest employee status rather than self-employed contractor.
The nature of being self-employed means you can pick and choose which hours you do. However, if a worker is putting in the same amount of hours for a company each week and receiving regular pay then HMRC may deem them an employee.
What are the penalties of not complying with IR35?
HMRC take non-compliance very seriously and could hit workers with a huge tax bill. For instance, they are entitled to request 100% of unpaid taxes in this situation. They can also charge interest on top of the taxes to make an example of the worker.
If the worker is a genuine freelancer or self-employed contractor, there’s nothing to worry about. Determining this is not always crystal clear.
How common are IR35 investigations?
An article published by IT Contractor in 2015 joked that contractors are more likely to win the lottery than be investigated by IR35. Thus, suggesting that it is not impossible, but very unlikely. Back in 2014, just 23 freelancers were being investigated for IR35 misconduct.
Fast forward 4 years and we’re guessing HMRC have stepped up their game. Former UK Chancellor, Phillip Hammond announced in 2018 that the Autumn Budget would be used to clamp down on workers who claim to be self-employed but are really full-time employees. This announcement followed suspicion from The Treasury that 1/3 of contractors using personal service companies are disguised employees.
BUT, ask yourself the question: is it worth risking it?
When does the new IR35 legislation take effect?
The new IR35 legislation will take effect in April 2020.
By Nish Lad
24th February 2020
The events industry in Italy has been growing pretty consistently over the last few years. With both Italian and international business contributing to its growth, along with professional associations and, particularly, advertising and marketing agencies.
RedSofa London met up with the owners of Suite 961 this week to discuss the exciting new start up agency specialising in corporate and private events. The Italian company based near the famous Lake Maggiore just outside Milan, are in London on a business trip meeting with new clients.
Suite 961 offers something truly different to the usual event companies you might come across, they approach every project with the same enthusiasm, precision and passion with everything they do being completely bespoke and unique to each client. By embracing their Italian heritage they’ve forged incredible relationships with stunning venues and unique suppliers all over Italy. They’re dedication to finding innovative solutions for their clients needs is second to none.
Marta Rogna the companies CEO said “Suite961 was born out of a need for something different in the events industry, clients want more value for money, they want access to unique spaces and most of all they want to make a lasting impression and make their partners feel special. Our motto is simple – Work hard and Play hard, well it’s certainly what we’re doing at Suite961 anyway!”
Good luck Suite961, RedSofa is very much looking forward to working with you!
12th June 2019
It started in the states, it could soon spread here.
30 days become 60 days become 120 days, and now, shock horror, some major clients in the US are demanding 365 day payment terms. Imagine invoicing out on July 1st 2019 and finally getting paid July 1st 2020! Outrageous.
Why should the creative, media and recruitment industries be picked on? Can you see HMRC waiting a year for payment, or your local council or your local builder, of course not.
If these payment terms spread over here and become the norm many brilliant well run businesses will go down, and guess what the cost of marketing and creative services will go up.
How ironic, how stupid.
Supreme Leader RedSofa
23rd May 2019
After much success with our first tattoo party we have decided to run it again. It will be on Thursday 11th July 2019 from 5.30pm. Invite only.
Check out the video from our 1st tattoo party: RedSofa tattoo party video
We invite our clients and candidates to get their creative juices flowing and submit a tattoo drawing/design in the hope of it turning into a REAL tattoo on the night of the party. The winning designs, picked by RedSofa, will be tattooed for FREE by one of the following super talented artists:
Nikole Lowe: https://www.instagram.com/nikole_lowe/?hl=en
Piotrek Taton: https://www.instagram.com/piotrek_taton_tattoo/?hl=en
Hannah Keuls: https://www.instagram.com/hannahkeuls/
Jon Peeler: https://www.instagram.com/peelertattoo/
If you would like a free tattoo on the evening please email over your design to: firstname.lastname@example.org by 30th June 2019. Please note the designs will need to be completed in under an hour.
11th April 2019
YSL Beauty announces a one-of-a-kind pop-up experience appearing on Route 111 this week for Coachella. Located in the heart of Palm Springs, the YSL Beauty Station mimics a gas station, offering much more than fuel and your typical road snacks.
Prior to walking into the space, you won’t be able to miss the towering lipstick sign, vintage convertibles, a tours bus and bright pink gas pumps located outside the station. Furthermore, decorative heart-shaped balloons reference YLS Beauty’s Volupte Plump-In-Colour.
The brands first-ever beauty station, pop-up shop and content creation set will be open to the public. Stop by on your Palm Springs journey for the ultimate YSL Beauty experience: discover the latest YSL Beauty Looks, receive make-up services, customise your very own YSL lipstick and be the first to see their next launches.
The pop-up store sits behind the YSL Beauty Station, as it coincides with the launch of the label’s newest makeup essentials. The space houses four areas: one dedicated to the Touche Eclat Radiant Touch pen and the Touche Eclat High Cover Radiant Concealer, one to the Rogue Volupte Shine moisturizing lipstick and Volupte Plump-In-Colour lipstick, one to Tom Pecheux’s Palm Springs makeup looks, and finally one to the Make It Yours station where you can customise your favorite YSL lipstick.
Attendees will also have the opportunity to play with an exclusive makeup vending machine and a virtual mirror that allows you to try on over 50 shades.
So if you’re heading to Coachella this year and need a refresh on your beauty look on your way out to the desert. Then pull off the road at this YSL installation pop-up, stocked with favourite beauty items from the luxury line!
29th March 2019
25th March 2019
After the fallow year in 2018, the wait for the 49th Glastonbury line up to be announced has been a long one. Ed Sheeran was the last to grace the Pyramid stage and the rumour mill has been in full churn ever since.
The line up was released last week and the most exciting part is that almost half of the line up is made up of women. 42% to be precise.
About bloody time.
Female power is coming from all angles to Worthy Farm this year, with a brilliant mixture of both new and iconic names in the form of Kylie Minogue, Lauryn Hill, Sheryl Crow, Miley Cyrus, Lizzo and Christine and the Queens (to name only a few) set to peform. I personally can’t wait to spin around in my gold hotpants.
Now, whilst this is a huge step in the right direction, it’s worth noting that there are still no women actually headlining the festival. In fact, only Beyonce and Adele have been booked to do so in recent years. With Florence + The Machine making the coveted spot only thanks to Dave Grohl breaking his leg.
This year, that honour has been bestowed on Stormzy, The Killers and The Cure. Well that’s unless you’re Janet Jackson. Who clearly wasn’t impressed and proceeded to just bump herself up the bill when announcing to her fans on Twitter. That’s one way to do it, I guess.
What I want to know is did the team at Glastonbury send her this version? Or was it someone of Jackson’s team? Perhaps even Janet herself? My bet is definitely on the latter.
Naturally, the eagle-eyed internet latched on to her post and some Photoshop pros produced a number of brilliant edits. So if you’re after some ace retouching work, look no further…
18th March 2019
Since the 2012 London Olympics I’ve been a casual student of ‘Elite Performance’ strategies. The phrase that grabbed my attention was ‘the aggregation of small gains’. Summarised, Sir Dave Brailsford coined the philosophy to do 100 things 1% better, which led to enough of an advantage for the British Cycling team to smash all their previous medal records.
Now, I am a Tech Recruiter not an Olympic athlete/coach, for me this topic is fascinating because part of my role is to help companies build teams of people that perform at their optimum levels. Any lessons or tips I can pass on to the candidates I partner with have the potential to boost their career options and improve satisfaction in a role.
There are a huge amount of transferable lessons from the world of sport into business, so I continued to pull at the threads of Elite Performance…
Simon Hartley, author of ‘Two Lengths Of The Pool’, was doing a talk at a FinTech recruitment event in 2013, he was discussing the psychology of performance to hundreds of C-Level professionals from the London FinTech market. In a nutshell, his patient, an Olympic level swimmer, would race to Olympic standards in practice, but freeze with ‘competition anxiety’ when it came to race day. After a couple of years of trying to solve the race-day problem, the solution was to focus on the actions the swimmer could control and forget about the result. Do the basics well, and the results take care of themselves.
Ben Hunt-Davis is a former British Olympic rower, Gold Medal winner and author of ‘Will It Make the Boat Go Faster?’, also did a similar talk to hundreds of C-level professionals seeking lessons to take to their businesses about high performance cultures, and similar lessons could be taken away. Ben’s story describes that traditionally, the British Men’s rowing strategy was to use their ‘best’ rowers in the smaller teams, but the Men’s VIII’s were no match for the other rowing power nations as they had the opposing strategy. They recognised they would have to implement a drastic philosophy to get anywhere close to being competitive and that’s where they devise a simple question that became the compass for every action “Will it make the boat go faster?”. This question put everything under the microscope, from diet, to sleep, to team disputes, to training, even the way they walked up the stairs. They focused on the basics and let the results happen, fortunately the result was a Gold medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics.
Taking it back to the real world, most people don’t have the resources to approach work like an Olympic or professional athlete, but from continued studies there seems to be a 4 pillars that are absolutely universal to under pin consistent levels of high performance; Diet, Exercise, Sleep and Meditation.
It’s not uncommon for people to think of the word ‘Diet’ and think ‘losing weight’ or ‘gains, bro’ or some sort of temporary goal. In my opinion, diet and food should be something everyone learns about in pre-school. Imagine if kids were taught about nutrition and things like the impact a can of fizzy drink could make to their studies or their sleep patterns.
If you get your diet right to match your unique DNA and behavioural needs, your mood will improve, cognitive function will improve, performance and endurance will improve, there are also hundreds of studies that claim to prove a healthy diet will prevent diseases such as cancer, heart disease and many other diseases.
We all have our guilty food pleasures, I still love a Big Mac (I know, gross), but since reading ‘The Optimum Nutrition Bible’ by Patrick Holford it’s completely changed the way I look at food and recognise how my diet affects me. If you can improve your diet at least 50% of the time, it will be enough to notice vast improvements. It’s all about getting progress with a diet, it’s not about being perfect.
Keeping active can be really hard for the busy professional, especially for those with young families, or commitments outside of a 40+ hours per week career. Exercise doesn’t need to be preparing for a marathon or cross fit 5 days per week, but exercise as simple as raising the heart rate through exercise over 140 bpm at least 3 times a week for 15 minutes can have incredible effects on physical & mental health.
The Health Apps are great for tracking progress. The Nike Running app works a treat for comparing yourself to yesterday’s results. Signing up to exercise classes can give people the motivation to do more exercise. The trick is to find something fun. I get so bored just ‘pumping iron’ but I get my kicks from team sports and running, so find whatever works enough for a routine to develop.
Sleep, seems obvious. I mean, when have you ever just gone without sleep and not felt the consequences. It’s not something you can just forget to do, right.
If you’re like me though, I’ve always struggled to ‘get to sleep’, I have no problem staying asleep, but just switching off is a challenge. There are loads of little tricks that I’ve been testing and here are a few that have helped me.
8 hours is the obvious recommendation, most people can cope with 6 hours, some people say they can function normally on 4 hours but anything less than 7.5 hours have negative impacts on cognitive function, mood and can lead to stamina crashes during the day. For those doing heavy physical training, aim for 10 hours minimum to avoid grogginess the following day.
Meditation, it seems to divide people; love it or think it’s a fictional pursuit of enlightenment. Regardless of where one stands on the subject, the scientific studies show outstanding positive results for those who meditate for just 15 minutes every few days.
I’ve recently returned from a Muay Thai retreat in rural Thailand, as part of the retreat we met Buddhist Monks and did some meditation under their guidance. The thing that hit it home for me was the analogy the Monk gave, which went something like this; ‘Our brains never switch off, even when we sleep, our brains are active. Imagine if you’re in a rush and have to button up your shirt, have you ever started doing buttons up, arrived to do the top button and realise the buttons weren’t aligned? Meditation helps prevent this misalignment’. Taking 10 or 15 minutes in the morning to completely clear your mind is like rebooting your computer.
The Monk went on to say that it took him about 8 years of practicing every day to have complete control over his mind, to clear all thoughts. The aim isn’t to stop all thoughts completely or to transcend to a higher dimension. The aim is to focus on being rather than thinking, allowing thoughts to come and seeing them go, focus on deep breathing and relax in a comfortable position.
Summary – Humans are capable of incredible feats. I truly believe that everyone has potential beyond their dreams, but being habitual and emotional creatures, we are often lead into routines that prevent us from reaching our goals. Whether you’re a software engineer, a project manager, a business director, in the C-suite or recent graduate, if you’re able to improve these four basic pillars for a consistent period, you’ll experience marginal gains in your professional and personal life leading to substantial progress.
Author: Danny Stewart
11th March 2019
Little Simz, Islington’s homegrown princess of rap has been performing 15 years.
She’s just turned 25 and this summer she’ll be everywhere and not before time.
After countless mixtapes, live streams, soundcloud posts, guest appearances, features, 2 albums, mobo nominations, a Worldwide award, a DICE award, plaudits from US rap soul stars and tours with Anderson .Paak and Lauryn Hill last year’s single ‘Selfish’ finally crossed over into the mainstream.
Her brand new album, GREY Area is an absolute blinder and what’s great is it’s not pop and it’s not trap, it’s rap. It’s as true to rap as when she first performed age 10 in Angel with her mum and dad cheering from the balcony. As true to rap as anyone British since our late 80s heyday of London Posse and Derek B.
See here, Simzy‘s as charming as they come and yet the fiercest fastest rapper since Roxanne Shante circa 1985.
And did we mention, she’s from North London.
fierce rap skills https://youtu.be/Kh8Q2iytzns
charm skills https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiugSRlxLZ0
pop skills https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSSKDIcpdSE
So, give Simzy a go if you’ve yet to try. She deserves all the love we gave Dizzee, Stormzy, Skepta and Wiley – and much much more.
She is after all, ‘a boss in a fucking dress’.
A wee Little Simz spotify playlist https://open.spotify.com/user/sheepdj/playlist/4LR1oJG20bMQqNjETnsfsv?si=imZBdjmkQ2qQ6FG2pfBkHg
1st March 2019
We were reading an interesting article from The Network Fairy who in conjunction with a range of contributors from their network, have put together some observation predictions for the future of influencer marketing.
See what The Network Fairy say here:
27th February 2019
When it comes to the BAFTA’S I think everyone is mainly talking about the celebrities that bag a gong and who was wearing what.
My interest lies in the design related awards from costumes to animation, these people who produce this work are an integral part of making the production an experience and I think they get glossed over for the amazing work they do.
Below you can read who won what in the design awards –
Costume Design & Production Design
The Favourite took away the BAFTA for costume design, with its elaborate Georgian clothing such as women’s ornate gowns and men’s flamboyant suits. The costumes for the film were designed by Sandy Powell, a designer who has previously worked with other period films including Shakespeare in Love and The Young Victoria.
They also landed a gong for production design, designer Fiona Crombie and set designer Alice Felton are behind the look and feel of the Georgian era, helping to curate and make the sets, locations, graphics, props, lighting and camera angles.
One of the latest in the Marvel collection, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a fully animated film. Screenplay writer Phil Lord and producer Christopher Miller ended up compiling a team of 142 animators to create the film in a way that combined both traditional comic book illustration techniques and modern visual effects (VFX). The animation team overlaid hand painting, dots, lines and other classic comic book illustration techniques over the top of rendered frames created by CGI, to make the frames look like comic panels.
British Short Animation
Roughhouse, a 15-minute-long animated film directed by graphic designer and university professor, Jonathan Hodgson, took the prize for best British short animation. The animation style is hand-drawn and 2D, with layered illustrations to create a more 3D feel, such as that of buildings drawn on top of each other in different shades.
Special Visual Effects
Another Marvel hit Black panther, won the award for Special Visual Effects. The visual effects (VFX) for the film were produced by several studios, including Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Method Studios, Rise Visual Effects Studios, Cantina Creative and more. Those working on VFX had to create a science-fiction-inspired world that also incorporated more traditional elements such as African landscape, culture and tribal costumes.
Bohemian Rhapsody tells the life story of late rock star Freddie Mercury, who headed up the band Queen. The film won the BAFTA for best sound, while Rami Malek, who plays Mercury, also won for best actor in a leading role. The film’s team of sound designers, sound editors, sound engineers and sound mixers scoured the real archives of Queen to mix original studio live recordings in with new ones.
15th January 2019
THESE PEOPLE DID, AND THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED.
Jonny Trunk was a talented copywriter at a top West End agency. This was fantastic for him, not the job itself… but the offices proximity to a myriad of record shops. An obsession was born and after a few months copywriting was out and the Trunk record label was born. The label proved to be an instant hit with serious music fans, releasing everything from early electronics and exotics to pure retro nostalgics.
A certain account director didn’t take his enforced change of direction sitting down. He became a professional dog sitter. You can just see them all curled up on the sofa watching Scooby Doo!
While on the subject of dogs one young lady graphic designer recently threw in the towel after having a run in with a client. She literally did go to the dogs. She full-filled her dream and went to work for Battersea Dogs Home.
A few years ago three young Cambridge graduates were starting out in the advertising business. Richard Reed, Adam Balon and Jon Wright had shared an ambition to produce a healthy drink that would appeal to both adults and children. Over the next six months they spent most evenings and weekends working on ‘smoothie’ recipes and £500 on fruit. Finally they decided to let people try their new drink from a stall at a music festival. People were asked to put their empty bottles in a “yes” or “no” bin depending on whether they thought the three should quit their jobs to make smoothies. At the end of the festival the “yes” bin was full with only three bottles in the “no” bin. They quit their jobs the next day, Innocent drinks were born, and the rest is history.
Of course career changes don’t have to be permanent. A certain Jonathan Durdan was working for a leading advertising agency when a twelve-week change of direction propelled him to fame and fortune, well certainly fame. He appeared as a housemate on Big Brother!
From Big Brother to a career that is far more down to earth, literally. Landscape Gardening. This was the new career a rather ‘mature’ account director chose after he felt he had outgrown the hustle and bustle of the advertising business.
It’s good to see that when people leave a creative industry their choice of a new career rarely lacks creativity. I’m always amazed at what weird and wonderful jobs these people move to. Body painting, Feng Shui consulting, Veterinary Acupuncture, Funeral Service Management, Robotics Engineering, Video Game Testing, Online reviewing, Personal Style Consulting…and of course Landscape Gardening. In other words just the jobs you’d expect creative people to move too.
15th December 2018
The Internet of things (IoT) is the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances,
and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and
connectivity which enables these things to connect, collect and exchange data.
Internet of things – Wikipedia
The IoT was initially most interesting to business and manufacturing, where its
application is sometimes known as machine-to-machine (M2M), but the emphasis is
now on filling our homes and offices with smart devices, transforming it into something
that's relevant to almost everyone.
Pretty much any physical object can be transformed into an IoT device if it can be
connected to the internet and controlled that way.
What are the benefits of the Internet of Things?
The IoT promises to make our environment — our homes and offices and vehicles —
smarter, more measurable, and chattier. Smart speakers like Amazon's Echo and Google
Home make it easier to play music, set timers, or get information. Home security
systems make it easier to monitor what's going on inside and outside, or to see and talk
to visitors. Meanwhile, smart thermostats can help us heat our homes before we arrive
back, and smart lightbulbs can make it look like we're home even when we're out.
IoT evolution: Where does the Internet of Things go next?
The cost of sensors and communications continue to fall, its becoming easier to add
more devices to the IoT. As the number of connected devices continues to rise, our
living and working environments will become filled with smart products. Some welcome
the new era of smart things. Others will feel its an infringement to their personal lives.
How do you feel?
1st August 2018
Madonna Louise Ciccone turns 60 this year, a “big birthday” by anybody’s reckoning. I remember her at the time of her breakthrough 1983 single Holiday – a mischievous mess of bangles and swinging crucifixes, boasting that she was so hot that you could fry an egg on her belly button. From that point on, Madonna was omnipresent – confrontational, audacious, occasionally annoying and weirdly vulnerable (brought up in a strict Italian-American Catholic family, Madonna’s mother died when she was a child).
She pounded through personas (boy toy, material girl, Hollywood royalty, dancefloor vixen, gangsta momma,), like an all-singing all-dancing one-woman variety show. It was never just about the music Madonna embodied the devilish voice in your ear, saying: “Why not?” A pop queen with a big dirty rock mouth, she was one of the first great influencers, daring at least a couple of generations of girls and young women (not to mention all her loyal gay fans) to be bolder, stronger and, crucially, a lot less humble and apologetic.
No surprise, then, that witch-burners have long been out in force against Madonna. She’s been called everything: ball-breaker, whore, user, crone, narcissist, talent-vampire. Vulgar taste-free zone. While taking criticism is part of the fame gig, it was as though Madonna served as a cautionary tale for women who get too uppity.
In recent years, Madonna, also mother to Lourdes (by Carlos Leon) and Rocco (by Guy Ritchie) has been criticised for adopting (perfectly legally) four orphans, having “work done” (such a shock in celeb circles) and having much younger partners (you mean, like 99% of famous older men?). Every time she tours, there’s gnashing of teeth about her “inappropriate” stage outfits – euphemisms for “too young for her”, as if someone of Madonna’s vintage should crawl on stage in a candlewick dressing gown, begging for forgiveness for not being 25 any more. Burn the witch, not that it’s all been gravy. It’s probably best to politely ignore all the Kaballah nonsense. Her acting has been patchy at best and as for snogging Britney and Christina Aguilera on stage, let’s not go there…
Most of the things people criticise Madonna for, I tend to find funny, including that gigantic, nuclear-strength ego. At some point, we have to ask ourselves: what do we want from our stars – humility and jogging bottoms or magic and dynamite? I know which way I’d usually go.
At this stage, perhaps Madonna’s greatest achievement is that she’s a survivor. Of her era of superstars (Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince), she’s the last one left standing, living proof that maturing in music doesn’t just mean the Rolling Stones – it can be a wild, untamed feminine energy too.
Nor has she done it via endless comebacks and the nostalgia trail. Sure, she’d be idiotic (and ungenerous) not to perform songs from her extensive back catalogue, but Madonna has been genuinely active and creative all the way through, always with a new project on the horizon.
So, happy birthday to Madonna. She’s sung, danced, acted, yapped, provoked, riled, worked her butt off, kept a sense of humour and taken all the sexist slurs with her head held high. Here’s to an artist who can’t come back because she never went away.
19th June 2018
Leo Burnett has been predicting who will be taking home Cannes Lions for the past 31 years with last year’s predictions being 100% accurate .
Only 3 per cent of the tens of thousands of marketing campaigns submitted will be taking home a gong.
See below for the work Leo Burnett is predicting will receive a trophy this week:
P&G Tide “It’s a Tide Ad” // P&G (USA)
Nike “Breaking2” // Wieden + Kennedy (Portland USA)
Orange Telecom “Now or Never” // FP7/CAI (Cairo, Egypt)
KFC “FCK” // Mother (London, UK)
Palau Legacy Project “Palau Pledge” // Host/Havas (Sydney, Australia)
National Safety Council “Prescribed to Death” // Energy BBDO (Chicago, USA)
EDEKA “The Most German Supermarket” // Jung von Matt (Hamburg, Germany)
Downtown Records “Live Looper” // BBDO (New York, USA)
Audi “Clowns” // Audi (UK)
The Times “JFK – Unsilenced” // Rothco – Accenture Interactive (Dublin, Ireland)
Mars Wrigley Confectionary – Skittles “Exclusive the Rainbow” // DDB (Chicago, USA)
Cadbury “Mum’s Birthday” // VCCP (London, UK)
IKEA “The Human Catalogue” // IKEA (Singapore, Singapore)
Snaptivity “Snaptivity App” // R/GA (London, UK)
Apple HomePod “Welcome Home” // TBWA/Media Arts Lab (Los Angeles, USA)
Burger King “Scary Clown Night” // LOLA MullenLowe (Madrid, Spain)
LADBible & Plastic Oceans “Trash Isles” // AMV BBDO (London, UK)
Mars NZ – Pedigree “Pedigree SelfieSTIX” // Colenso BBDO (Auckland, New Zealand)
P&G “The Talk” // BBDO (New York, USA)
Nike “Nothing Beats a Londoner” // Wieden + Kennedy (London, UK)
4th June 2018
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is finally with us.
Its purpose is to provide a standard for data protection laws across Europe.
It will deliver some of the strongest privacy and data protection legislation in the world.
So far so good, few would argue that this is anything but good news for the general public, especially those in the EU.
For me and our RedSofa business it may well bring up some unexpected consequences, so here we go, the good, the bad and the weird.
My data is well and truly my data. It will now be clear that I am only lending it to organisations I approve of and they have a legal obligation to take care of it. This is not just about confidentially; it’s about integrity, accuracy and availability
Overall, we live in a world where key aspects of our lives will be ever more determined by data held about us. This data is more at risk and open to compromise than ever. You could say GDPR is your personal protector.
Good news for women. Females across Europe will no longer be destined to watch the infamous Clear Blue advert every time they go on YouTube. Even men will no longer have erectile issues thrust in their faces!
More good news, the cookie jar will be empty. This new law is likely to wipe out cookies, and their ability to follow users across their devises constantly serving unwanted ads to them.
Another interesting aspect of the law is the right to be forgotten. Upon request you now have the right to have all your data deleted. In other words you really can become the invisible man, or woman.
Bad News, Blackmail
Criminals will probably find it relatively easy to hack into even the smallest amount of data held by a company. In this case the criminals will use a ransom ware –like pop up saying you have violated GDPR and are liable to a fine of 4% of annual revenues. The ransom (to keep quiet) would be 25% of this payable in the in the next 7days!! Of course the same principal could be used by disgruntled individuals. Fortunately no one in RedSofa matches this description!!
There are other dodgy practices that can be used involving the new law but it’s probably not wise to advertise them.
PIA, A Privacy impact Assessment must be completed before any high risk data processing is undertaken. I’ll leave it to your imagination to define what’s high risk.
For example our cars are now producing masses of their own data. Does this belong to the car, the dealers, or the car manufacturers?
This new law clearly says it belongs to the car owner. As connected car eco systems mature, cars will increasingly communicate with other cars pedestrians and public infrastructure. Enforcing GDPR to this vast number of interconnections will keep lawyers busy for years.
Dating sites, you’re an impossibly attractive person and you want to meet an equally impossibly attractive person, under the new law you have to agree, in detail, exactly who will see your fabulous profile!!
Before I delved into GDPR I felt it was a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
Now I see it as a sledgehammer to crack down on scammers and other criminals and a sledgehammer to keep grubby hands off what’s mine, my data.
In a world where data is expanding at the rate of 40% per year, that’s 24 gigabytes of data being used daily for every man, woman and child on earth.
GDPR might seem a pain at the moment but in future it will be seen as an even greater pain if it didn’t exist. I’ve always said no one takes more care of your data than RedSofa, now this promise has the backing of a powerful new law.
17th April 2018
We can all learn something from Roger Federer.
There are a number of people that I look up to and aspire to be more like, too many to mention on this forum. Oprah Winfrey, Colonel Sanders and Hilda Ogden have all touched my life for one reason or another but Roger Federer stands out for me and I’m more than happy to serve up some thoughts on the Fed.
The guy’s a class act from start to finish: Gracious, humble, considerate and the best EVER at what he does. Applauding those around him, never talking negatively about his competitors, never making excuses, the first to congratulate his competition on their success, constantly striving to be better and still on top of his game in the twilight of his playing career.
We can all learn something from Roger Federer.
Being an avid tennis fan, I’ve followed Federer since his colossal victory dethroning the previous King, Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001, and his meteoric rise to World No.1, winning almost every competition he played in. Confidence was high for so long and with that, everything seemed easy.
When he finally hit hard times with a resurgent Nadal, Djokovic and Murray, Federer dropped down the pecking order and everyone thought that was the last of Roger. He’d had a young family, achieved monumental success in the Grand Slam era and we all thought he’d just fade into the background.
Federer was having none of it. Back to the practice courts and with excellent
conditioning, selective tournament matches and Grand Slam preparation he proved what a 20 Grand Slam Champion can do to come back and win the Australian Open / Wimbledon in 2017 and Australian Open in 2018 and there’s still three slams to go. He’s achieved this up against some of the very best professional tennis players that ever graced planet Earth.
So where am I going with this? I think the point I’m trying to make is that if you’re going through a bad patch in your career and it seems like you’re fading into the background then make yourself relevant again, train, learn a new skill, develop on your existing skills and get out there and prove you’ve still got what it takes.
It’s all gone a bit cheesy now. I can only apologise.
But that’s ok. I know I can turn this round and so can you the next time you’re looking for inspiration. Just look in the mirror and repeat after me:
We can all learn something from Roger Federer!
2nd April 2018
In a world that increasingly looks like some weird scary game show, one could be forgiven for wondering where the hell all the happiness has gone.
But I believe human happiness is surprisingly simple and portable. Once you get the hang of it.
There are equally small and wonderous things that make me super happy. When I climb into my marshmallow bed each night I am overwhelmed by feelings of gratitude. My grandaughter’s beautiful innocent face. My roast chicken dinners.
Coming home to a warm home on a freezing night after a 12 hr day. Hot beach, cold sangria…watching and listening to the genius of Prince. I could go on.
To go much deeper, the Three A’s I learnt over several years doing spiritual courses… and just living. But one course ( A 7 day NLP + Hypnosis course) taught me that the secret to happiness is having the choice to change the way you feel, and the simple fact that ‘whatever you focus on will grow’ , and there is no better example for this than in human emotions. We can really turn up the emotional dial by endlessly focusing on negativity and hanging on to past sadness and fear. But the wondrous thing is we don’t have to. We can feel our pain and let it go.
So what makes me really really happy is knowing that I have the choice every single day to choose to be happy, no matter what is going on in my life…. even the really hard stuff.. I do not have to live in the emotional quagmire of sadness and negativity…or anger. I can feel these things and let them go. And that is a beautiful thing. And after a while you realise that the sad feelings are the same as the happy feelings, they are just feelings. They are not YOU.
Everyone can do this, like the guy in the Ted talk says, Attitude is everything, our attitude to what happens to us and the people in our life is how we move through the world, and how we attract things. Awareness of all the wondrous things about us and seeing the miracle in things – whatever we focus on will grow.
So always better to look up at the beautiful sky rather than the dogshit on the pavement. Your day will be better.
Authenticity – be true to ourselves, being sincere and caring for others.. there’s a lot to be said for going to bed with a clear conscience. Believe me I’ve been to bed with a very guilty conscience and it’s the worst mental cage. To be free and happy I need to be authentic.
There is another A I would add that makes me happy. Acceptance. I have learnt that to accept the things I cannot change, and to accept people for who they are is one of the greatest gifts in life for making me happy. Because then they are not totally getting on your nerves!!! Took a while though.
So even if the world does look like some weird game show on the outside, well certainly on the news….. there is happiness everywhere. I believe that humans all feel happiness in the same places, through family, friends, love, connectivity and giving.
29th March 2018
I know the names of several bullies at big name agencies. Which is really weird because I don’t actually know them and I’ve never worked in those agencies.
Word gets around. And my assumption is that bullying and abuse is endemic. Only recently did I think to ask friends and colleagues about this. And it is.
Those agencies create award-winning work and are an employer of choice: Your career is set if you succeed there. It’s only once you are working there you might witness a variety of abuse – some obvious, some subtle – and wonder, ‘is this normal?’ If everyone else seems to push the issue to one side and deem it par for the course, who are you to say otherwise?
I worked for an award-winning Michelin-starred restaurant once. Run by bullies.
The kitchen and the service were both run on fear: A macho military hierarchy where verbal and physical abuse in the kitchen was to be expected. Joked about. I found it completely bemusing that people just shrugged and put up with it all. ‘Put up or get out if you’re not tough enough for a career in a restaurant.’ Really? The celebrity owner took pride in his policy of firing one member of staff per week. That was his KPI. The exec head chef was known to brandish a knife at sous chefs and occasionally fire plates at their heads.
I have a friend whose job at a TV production company includes brandishing a waiver to be signed by young guest chefs if they refuse to work with another chef – because they have been abused by that chef earlier in their career.
While I worked at that Michelin restaurant (celebrity diners, glamorous deco, fancy foam) there were some fantastic new London restaurants inspired by The River Café and pioneered by David Eyre’s The Eagle in Farringdon. They did something different, you could tell immediately – and now I can see all it was – these were kitchens of a Michelin standard, minus the bullies. Open-planned kitchens. Service staff without the fear in their eyes. People taking pride in the business and seemingly loving their job, despite long hours and rubbish pay.
So hey, my small obvious point is maybe you can produce quality creative work without bullies, without excusing bullies and without protecting bullies. Recent forced resignations and the timeTo and TIME’S UP™/ADVERTISING initiatives are a fantastic start. Perhaps now more than ever share your own horror stories more openly with friends and colleagues and young people will know for sure it’s not to be put up with. It’s to be called out. Just as now in London restaurants there seem to be a huge array of successful restaurants led by creativity minus the military-esque power structure ethos, perhaps soon we’ll have the client and agency bullying disease in check.
Quality creative work comes out of all kinds of cultures. Life’s far too short to put up with the bullies.
timeTo and TIME’S UP/ADVERTISING
timeTo The Advertising Association (AA), Nabs and Wacl addressing sexual harassment.
TIME’S UP™/ADVERTISING addressing workplace discrimination, harassment, and abuse.
23rd February 2018
For decades, robots have been utilized in several industries, including the automotive and manufacturing sectors, but now we’re walking into an era where robots are edging their way in to every nook and cranny – and I can’t help but wonder – are our jobs safe?
As the world progresses so does technology. I think back to being a teenager when having a phone was a luxury and the computer was locked in my parent’s room, only to be used for homework and the essentials, with the use of the dial up VERY slow internet. Fast forward 20 years and we have it all literally in the palm of our hands. Little mini-robots that we rely on oh-so scarily.
The surge in articles and TV coverage around Robots taking over human jobs or interactions hasn’t passed me. Whether it’s a touch screen kiosk in your local fast-food chain or a 3D receptionist in a hotel lobby – where human faces once existed, robots now reside.
The University of Oxford Department of Engineering, estimated that 47 per cent of current jobs are at risk of falling victim to automation in the next 20yrs. By 2018, the report says, almost one-third of robotic deployments will be smarter, more efficient robots capable of collaborating with other robots and working safely alongside humans. Scary stuff for us mere mortals and it may not stop in the work place! Launched in 2014 by a French robotics company Pepper, the first ‘companion robots’ went on sale in the UK. They are designed to be a ‘companion robots’ and specialise in perceiving emotions. Loneliness of course is a key issue, especially as people get older and more isolated but are robots the answer? Pepper tech is used throughout mobile phone stores in Japan to welcome customers and in their robot café’s (Robotachino anyone?). It’s amazing how advanced technology has become. Sure, it’s impressive, but one thought does spring to mind are we just going to lose that human touch?
I loved a recent feature in Stylist magazine’s 400th issue. They arranged for a team of robots to ‘take over’ their creative team, from Art Directors, to writers to news editors and challenged them to do a better job. The outcome was reassuring – creatively, the robots couldn’t compete. Though it was interesting to read that we are very much heading towards an age where this will be possible.
So, they’ve advancing in tech, developing new skills at a faster rate than humans ever could and we’ve even seen them being granted citizenship. Sophia is the first ever Al to be given citizenship in Saudi Arabia, and while it’s great to hear she’s flying the flag for women’s rights in the middle east (albeit, just repeating some text that a human programmer has input in it), but you can’t help but wonder, is the next step granting artificially intelligent robots rights too?
It’s a lot to digest, and that facts and figures can be a little alarming, but I hold out hope that in the industries that thrive on human touch and creativity will never be replaced by robots, and perhaps in my career lifespan, I don’t need to think about decamping to a desert island and fighting for survival, but perhaps, for the next generation, they need to think about not only what they want to be ‘when they grow up’, but what careers are robot-proof!
1st January 2018
Nightwork Music by Tosh Ohta
Tosh is marketing agency Amplify’s Head of of Client Development. He is responsible for on-boarding new clients and developing existing ones. Amplify is a marketing agency that joins the dots between people, brands and culture. They work with Google, PlayStation, Airbnb, Nike, Netflix and more across strategy, brand activation, influence and amplification. Previous to Amplify he racked up over 20 years working in the technology sector managing marketing campaigns for Cisco, Samsung, Microsoft and EE.
As well as being a b2b marketing and sales strategy expert, Tosh is a DJ, regularly playing festivals, clubs and brand events across the UK and Europe. This summer he has already played at Cannes Film Festival, Gottwood, Love International and next up is a set on the floating Pagoda at the final Secret Garden Party.
Young Wolf – Kabuki (Spiritual version)
Roy of the Ravers – Emotinium
Lusine – Cirrus
Scott Grooves – Detroit 808 (Panther Dub Delay version)
Lobe – Placebo
Lord of the Isles – Ultraviolet
Kinder Atom – Eagle Sprouts (Nuwavedisko mix)
Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve – Diagram Girl (Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve re-imagination)
Go on then, give us your elevator pitch….
Medium sized anglo-japanese person. Husband and cat owner. Clapton resident, currently learning to drive. Head of Client Development at marketing agency Amplify by day, shonky DJ by night.
So what is it about your job that turns you on?
I am particularly proud of Amplify’s creative output. Also our client roster.
What’s the best thing about working at Amplify?
Definitely the people. (I was going to answer that for the previous question but it might be taken the wrong way). As well as having the utmost professional respect for my colleagues they’re good friends.
Any particular thing you’re most proud of?
Work – Helped my previous agency Astute grow from 5 people to nearly 300 over 15 years.
Music – I played all three rooms of Fabric in one night.
If you weren’t in Client Development, what would you be?
I had just dropped out of college when I was 16, I walked through the high street looking for a job. WH Smith said no, McDonalds said no, then a telesales company said yes, that was my first “client development” job. So, I could have ended up at a stationers or a fast food chain in Walton on Thames if my hair cut wasn’t so daft (it was very stupid).
Why do you love RedSofa so much?
Dan Poole obviously.
Do you have a background in music?
Not particularly, I’m just a massive enthusiast.
Tell us about your early rave days?
I had a very stupid haircut.
Top 5 albums of all time?
This will probably be different next time you ask me..
Pixies – Surfer Rosa
Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes
Bauhaus – Crackle
Nitzer Ebb – This Total Age
Metro Area – Metro Area
Best show on Netflix?
Black Mirror, my music and TV tastes are similar – a bit dark and sounds like it’s from the near future
In 40 years, what music will people be nostalgic for?
There will be a massive dubstep re-edit scene and Skrillex will probably make a terrible come back (reference disco re-edits and Moroder’s come back)
If you like what you hear then get yourself over here for some more Tosh
You can find more RedSofa Radio Mixtapes here
6th December 2017
The worlds largest international social media conference will be taking place in Prague this year between the 11th and 14th of March. Last years conference saw more than 1,000 participants from over 70 counties attend, so this year is hoping to be even bigger and better.
The event, Engage Prague 2016 (http://www.engage2016.com/) is three days worth of networking and workshop – based learning about the constantly evolving industry with key-speakers including:
Veronica McGregor: The news and social-media manager for the NASA; she created NASA’s first Twitter account.
Alfie Deyes: An English YouTube star who currently runs the channels PointlessBlog, which has over 4.5 million subscribers, and also PointlessBlogVlogs, and PointlessBlogGames.
Olivier Robert-Murphy: The global head of new business at Universal Music Group.
In addition to the key speakers the event will hold two days of workshops on many industry-focused topics such as using instagram to expand a brand, the importance of visual storytelling and creating effective videos for social channels. The workshops will be led by major brands such as the BBC, L’Oréal, and Microsoft, as well as including social media stars such as photographer Eelco Roos, who has more than half a million Instagram followers. Anyone attending the conference can choose four sessions, which will be divided up into morning and afternoon sessions.
5th December 2017
Do you remember the days of having a printed portfolio of your work, lugging it around to showcase your designs?! Then it was all about the PDF and still is for some clients, although everything is venturing more towards being more digitalised, so now we have websites.
However word on the street is that WeTransfer are launching a new app, so you can share information on the move, in meets without the need of your laptop.
I for one think this should have been done sooner, being a recruiter speed is of the essence especially on freelance so gone are the days of relying on emails, as I find I do more over text and mobile now so having this app surely will make the process simpler.
Its definitely something I’ll be speaking to my clients about and suggesting we give it a try.
2nd December 2017
Halloween is officially done for another year and now is the time when most of us start thinking about the festive season for the first time. However, for those in the advertising industry, planning for Christmas can start all the way back in March!
Over the last few years, the John Lewis advert has become a much-anticipated event. Many people up and down the country see the debut of the John Lewis ad as a sign that the festive season is underway. This year’s ad is based on a ‘cuddly monster’ that has been compared to The Gruffalo. Traditionally the ad is launched onto our TV screens on the first Friday of November. Check out the link below to see it for yourself before it inevitably goes viral in the next few weeks.
29th November 2017
Halloween is just around the corner, and it seems to get bigger and bigger every year. In the US, one quarter of all of the sweets sold annually is purchased for Halloween! But did you know that the history of Halloween actually dates back over 2000 years?
Halloween began as the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. A lot of the Halloween traditions we have today originated with Samhain, including lighting bonfires and wearing costumes. In a bid to ward off evil spirits, people would protect themselves by dressing up as ghosts.
From the eighth century onwards, 1 November became All Saints Day, where saints were celebrated. The Samhain traditions continued to be incorporated into these celebrations. All Hallows Eve, the day before All Saints Day, also became a special event. As the days got shorter and the nights got longer, it was important to commemorate the event and ward off death and demons. Children in particular got involved with dressing up and going out onto the streets.
17th November 2017
South Korea is well known by its locals for its annual monsoon season where it can rain solidly for 3 weeks straight. Now a group of designers have come up with a brilliantly inventive way to try and brighten the streets up and put a smile on the faces of the people who live there. Their project ‘Project Monsoon’ creates huge vibrant painting right on the streets which only will appear when its raining. It uses special hydrochramatic paint, which stays invisible until it gets wet.
16th November 2017
If you’re a foodie you’ll be familiar with that time everyone went crazy over an insane milkshake down under dubbed the ‘freakshakes’. The café in Austrialla selling them, Patissez (http://patissez.com.au/ ) went viral and people all over the world wanted to get their hand on one of their mega milkshakes.
Look at them!
Well now Londoners look no further because ‘Freak Shakes’ have been brought to our very own city. Molly Bakes Café (https://www.mollybakes.co.uk/our-cafe/ ) in Kingsland Road, Dalston has become the first place in the UK to start making these insane milkshakes. “We started making them because last year when I saw them on Instagram I wanted to get on a plane to Australia but didn’t fancy the 24-hour flight for a milkshake!” Maria from Molly Bakes says. The milkshakes are made using fresh ice cream and topped with sauces and brownies, cookies, tartlets, marshmallows, honeycomb and loads more. All are made by the team at Molly Bakes Café and come in four flavours, Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Raspberry and Caramel with more combinations apparently coming soon. We will definitely be making a trip there!
15th November 2017
This will definitely put a smile on your face even if you’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. A guy who was out on a bike ride with his two friends in South Africa managed to capture the moment an ostrich decided he wanted to get in on the fun with them and proceeded to chase after his two friends on their bikes, whilst the whole thing was caught on the guys GoPro and he later uploaded it to the internet where it was a viral hit.
14th November 2017
These amazing wasp nests were a creation of a study from an Italian biology student. Mattia Menchetti cleverly realised he could give coloured construction pieces of paper to a colony of wasps and that by gradually providing different shades of colour, the wasps then turned their intricate homes into an amazing array of rainbow colours.
13th November 2017
Scott Kelly is an astronaut who is aboard the international space station and he recently has been releasing breath-taking images of the Australian landscape from 400km above on his twitter page. The images reveal a very different landscape from the Australia we all think we know. Check out more of Scotts picture from space on his twitter feed. (https://twitter.com/StationCDRKelly)
12th November 2017
There are always some ads that manage to do more than just sell the product, some achieve to be able to convey emotions for their audience, making the ad much more memorable in peoples minds. Extra Gum’s latest ad has done just that. The company have released their latest ad named “The story of Sarah and Juan” and takes us on a journey of the pairs relationship; from the first time they catch eyes and meet to the day he proposes. It’s all linked with the gum being present at important chapters in the couples life, and links into Juan’s’ proposal at the end.
9th November 2017
Sweden has become the first country in the world to launch its very own phone number. The more than unusual idea was thought up from the Swedish Tourism Authority and is a part of their campaign to celebrate the country’s 250 year anniversary of abolishing censorship. If you call the number you will be put through to a random Swedish person who you can then talk to quite literally about anything and everything. Apparently more than 11,000 calls have been made since the 6th of April when it was first set up. If you fancy giving a random Swedish person a call today then dial +46 771 793 336.
7th November 2017
Two guys latest project in Iceland has taken the Internet by storm. Jin Choi and Thomas Shine are both architects and had a unique idea to make normal everyday industrial structures more interesting and appealing. Their idea was for electric pylons to be built as human-shaped statues walking across the Icelandic countryside. In 2008 their “Land of Giants” project was proposed to the local authorities. The design has recently been accepted and now the statues have been assembled and put in place. And it’s safe to say they look extremely impressive!
5th November 2017
It’s safe to say we all love Sir David Attenborough and his iconic voiceovers for his much loved BBC documentaries. And when he recently joined Greg James on the BBC Radio 1 show he was kindly asked if he would narrate the opening part to Adele’s latest new music video for ‘Hello’. Of course the result was amazing and he gave the narration for it in the same style as one of his BBC documentaries. It makes for a brilliant watch!
29th October 2017
It’s been nearly two decades since I was tripping over my own kids’ Lego, but the little plastic bricks are still ubiquitous. Today’s children might seem to be smartphone obsessed, however, the popularity of Lego shows no sign of waning. In fact, in 2015 Lego was named the most powerful brand in the world, knocking none other than Ferrari off the top spot. So how has it managed to stay so popular?
Lego famously hails from humble beginnings in Denmark. Despite the fact that Lego is now an enormous company, it’s original motto ‘det bedstead ikke for godt’ (or ‘only the best is the best’), is still at the heart of the company. Parents know that Lego bricks are hard-wearing and therefore they are a better investment than cheaper imitators. Lego has managed to make its name synonymous with quality, and this goes a long way in explaining why it continues to be so popular.
Astonishingly, The University of Copenhagen discovered that a modest pack of six standard Lego bricks can be combined in 915,103,765 different ways. This incredible versatility allows a kid’s imagination to run wild, and parents love it too because it can keep them busy for several hours at a time!
The very first version of Lego was first released in 1947, so it’s now seen as a traditional toy. However, Lego is surprisingly in tune with the sensibilities of modern parents. Today’s parents tend to avoid heavily gendered toys, and Lego has always been ahead of the game on that front. Lego has markets itself towards both boys and girls equally. The bright primary colours and diverse characters are appealing to parents who want to avoid princess pink or toy guns.
The secret of Lego’s success seems to be that it is such a simple, almost quaint product, that also appeals to modern tastes and values. This winning combination shows no time of decreasing in popularity any time soon.
18th October 2017
The annual Great British Tattoo Festival (http://www.greatbritishtattooshow.com/) is being held at Alexandra Palace on the 28th and 29th of May this year and will attract many talented tattooists from all over the world. This will be the 5th year the festival will have been running and it’s set to be an amazing one with a vast gathering of creativity to be shown. Over 300 artists will be at the show along with live music, seminars where you can go along and try something new or improve on what you can already do and more. One of the artists Manda Ashby, who will be attending her 4th Great British Tattoo Festival, gave some insight as to why she returns every year This will be the 4th time I’ve been at the Great British Tattoo Show – it’s exciting! The tattooing talent and the venue make for a beautiful and pretty inspiring place. It gets busy but not over-crowded so you get to see everything, a really brilliant atmosphere.” Click here (http://www.greatbritishtattooshow.com/tickets) to get your tickets.
Pictures Via MadeInShoreditch http://madeinshoreditch.co.uk/2016/03/14/great-british-tattoo-festival-2016/
27th September 2017
The Top 100 Digital Agencies report is the definitive listing of the UK’s largest digital agencies. The guide features in-depth analysis and commentary on the state of the industry, along with information on each agency to help client-side professionals choose the right partner to help achieve their business goals.
26th September 2017
25th September 2017
How is it that major companies can spend millions on developing and launching new products and the results are enough to make even a five-year-old cry foul?
I don’t know the answer, what I do know is that the results can be hilarious. Here are some of my favourites, so bad they’re good.
COLGATE’S RANGE OF ‘KITCHEN ENTREEES’ READY MEALS
Someone here obviously thought the appealing combination of toothpaste and ready meals would be a culinary hit. It was NOT.
Colgate launched their range of ‘kitchen entrees’ in 1992. Not surprisingly buyers rejected the idea of tucking into that exciting looking dish of rice and veg while thinking of toothpaste. After five weeks the range was gone.
A spokesman at the time said (through gritted teeth) “ I think we might have stretched the brand a little far”. Something of an understatement.
HEINZ ‘SPECIAL’ GREEN TOMATO KETCHUP
Heinz Tomato Ketchup has to be red, what other colour could it possibly be?
How about green?
In 2000 Heinz launched their special green ketchup under the slogan ‘Heinz’s 420th variety. It seemed to turn consumers even greener than the ketchup,
After two months it went down the pan!
BIC DISPOSABLE PANTYHOSE
You can just hear the new product development meeting discussing this idea.
“So what should we develop to go alongside our best-selling pens and disposable razors?” “Err…underwear?” “YES!”
Bic decided to launch ‘disposable’ pantyhose to go alongside its other disposable lines.
Apart from production problems, you can’t make pantyhose in an injection mould like you can with cigarette lighters or razors.
Despite this, the product was finally launched, and, surprise, surprise, was quickly disposed of by consumers. Didn’t they realise underwear and pens don’t mix.
DASANI FROM COKE!
In February 2004 Coke launched their new bottled water brand Dasani.
It started with the marketing slogans “bottled spunk” and “can’t live without spunk” To the Americans spunk was meant to imply spirit, energy, pizazz….
To the British it meant something else!!
Worse was to come though, Dasani’s “pure” water was found to be no more than tap water, from Sidcup in Kent. Then even worse was to come when Trading Standards investigated whether was any purer than tap water, or in fact different at all.
It certainly was different. Bromate was discovered in the water, which is a suspected carcinogenic!! This was a truly spectacular failure of a product.
CLAIROL TOUCH OF YOGERT SHAMPOO
Proctor & Gamble launched this product in 1995.
No doubt Yogurt and other cultured dairy products may actually be beneficial for your hair. Customers, to put it mildly, did not take to associating dairy with a hair product. There were even some cases of people mistakenly eating it and getting sick as a result!
This hair-brained product soon flew off the shelves into the bin of history.
Harley-Davidson values are strong, masculine, very rugged values. So what could they add to the brand to reinforce these values? How about perfume? What, I hear you cry! Yes that’s what they did.
In 2001 they launched the ‘Legendary Harley-Davidson Eau De Toilette’ range. They didn’t make you smell like a Hells Angel and what Harley rider wants to smell like a girl on a motorbike. Not surprisingly the range crashed!
I hope these brought a smile to your face, there really is nothing like the sweet smell of failure!
22nd September 2017
Our tech division is booming. Our years of investment and nurturing in this sector is rapidly paying off.
You can’t have amazing tech expertise without amazing people. Check out RedSofa’s latest additions:
Alex Foreman – working as a senior consultant in London at a number of top agencies before crossing the channel to join us in Berlin. email@example.com
Jörn Vater – Enjoying Berlin since 1997 and having a background in marketing and communications, Jörn decided both by logic and heart to join RedSofa to help to deliver an outstanding recruiting service for tech and digital roles. firstname.lastname@example.org
15th September 2017
Social media has given many young people from normal, ordinary backgrounds the platform to join the rich and famous, and most of them from the comfort of their own home. We now live in an age where you can be ‘Twitter Famous’ and YouTube sensations can get as much of a following as some famous artists and actors. One girl who has seen it all is 18-year-old Australian, Essena O’Neill. She gained 800,000 followers on Instagram and even landed herself a modelling contract with one of Australia’s biggest agencies. She was paid money to advertise clothes on her Instagram page and she had what looked like the lifestyle every 18-year-old dreams off. But now she reveals that it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and in a YouTube video she talks about how she is now shutting down all her social media accounts. In the video she explains how damaging it is for young people especially girls to feel the need for followers and likes from people who don’t even know them. O’Neill deleted over 2,000 photos from her instagram and then edited the captions on the few remaining photos she left up to spread the real truth behind the pictures.
“Without realising, I’ve spent the majority of my teenage life being addicted to social media, social approval, social status and my physical appearance,” Wrote O’Neill wrote on her latest Instagram post. “Social media, especially how I used it, isn’t real. It’s a system based on social approval, likes, validation in views, success in followers. It’s perfectly orchestrated, self-absorbed judgement.”
Picture Via BoredPanda
2nd September 2017
Enjoying Berlin since 1997 and having a background in marketing and communications, Jörn has been into e-commerce, retail, wholesale and publishing after being involved in an art gallery, a record distribution and, of course, Berlin’s club scene. He is a self starting creative mind with a passion for design, culture and technology. Ever since getting his hands on an 286 PC on which he hacked DOS games with a hex editor and taught himself basic programming back in the days he’s been nurturing his secret inner geek and eventually decided both by logic and heart to join RedSofa to help to deliver an outstanding recruiting service for tech and digital roles. Email him email@example.com
27th August 2017
Blue Island will be a cluster of hot desks based in the RedSofa Shoreditch offices. They will provide space, facilities and mentoring for fresh talent, in an atmosphere that’s creative and different.
“We wanted to give something back to an industry that has been very good to us. We’ve discovered and promoted some exceptional talent over the years so we see Blue Island as a practical extension of this. In other words it will give talent the leg up it deserves,” says Steve Buss RedSofas founder director.
The first occupants of Blue Island will be Tim Nelson and Donna McLean who are creating an exciting new community and storage business.