Ending and Beginning
Today I am embarking on a new adventure, outside of the music industry. I’ve started a business called Workio with the help of a few friends. We have a big mission and big ambitions for it, but more on that later.
To Begin With, The Ending
Moving on from the music industry leaves me with mixed feelings. My time at Consolidated Independent (CI) for the last seven years has been full of fascinating challenges and huge opportunities to learn and grow. I love and deeply respect the team that we created there, and I trust that they will continue to be the best possible support for independent record labels, distributors and music services to make the most of the opportunities of the digital market in the future.
When I began at CI in 2011 the team was almost all based in London. Today the team is spread across London, Lithuania and Vietnam but still talks together every day and there is a strongly cohesive culture among the team. This global growth of the team has been mirrored by my own personal growth in learning how to support and nurture the team over the years. Along with the amazing record label and distributor clients I have had the privilege to work with at CI, the stewardship of CI’s culture through good times and tougher ones will be a source of great pride for me as I look back on my time there.
In the wider music industry, I am lucky to have come to know some wonderful people over the years — smart, caring, passionate and driven. I have long believed that the strength of many industries, but particularly the independent music sector, is largely down to the attitude and skill of the people involved. I very much hope to stay in touch with those I have met on my travels around the industry.
I will always be grateful to CI’s founder Paul Sanders and CI’s board for giving me the opportunity to undertake the Executive MBA at the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School. It was a transformative experience, full of new ideas, new friends, late nights studying while working full time and trying to be a dad to my young daughter and a husband to my immensely supportive wife.
Alongside these positive memories are of course ones of challenging times in the industry at large and at CI too, from helping team members cope with serious health problems to the ebb and flow of customer wins and losses, and the triumphs and trials of working with a large and sophisticated technology platform.
In my view, the music industry at large also has real challenges around the scarcity of strategic thinking, the general preference for short term wins at the expense of long term success, and the treatment of women and minorities across the industry. I hope those people working in the industry can overcome these challenges in order to continue to be successful and to bring us more great art that, at its best, is the most persuasive argument for the existence of the divine.
And Now, The Beginning
The Cambridge EMBA experience enabled me to think more broadly about the music industry, and business in general, and in a way led me to the founding of Workio by helping me to question assumptions and ‘this is the way it’s always been’ approaches.
Workio’s mission is to make work better. I have seen friends and family members struggle with the problem of working somewhere they don’t fit, and the waste and lack of results in organisations where this happens. A few years ago my wife left a job after just three weeks because of the culture not being right for her.
Workio starts from the radical idea that not all employees want the same things, and neither does every employer. There is no such thing as a “Great Place To Work” as an objective fact. Those “Great Place To Work” lists miss the point. An employer might be right for one worker but not for another, and an employee might be wrong for one employer but right for another.
The aim of an effective employment market should be making the right match between employer and employee. And that can only be done by getting more (and better) information flowing between both sides of the match. Think of online dating — would you move in with someone who told you almost nothing about themselves, and maybe didn’t even post a photo? This is effectively what we’re doing every time we take a new job in a new company.
To address this, Workio has built a data model that finds out what a workplace is like (by asking the employees), and measures candidates’ fit with that workplace.
The same data can be used to improve management in the organisation in general, or to improve due diligence in mergers & acquisitions, where culture mismatch is the cause of many expensive failures in M&A.
We have started Workio because we believe that employees are individuals and should be treated as such, and that by doing so organisations and the wider economy stand to benefit massively thanks to lower costs and being more effective in what organisations are trying to achieve.
If you are interested in what we’re doing, please go to workio.co to find out more. We are on the hunt for those who have been perhaps feeling these issues for a while but did not have a name for them — those managers who want to know how their employees are really feeling; those who want work to be more than a transaction, but instead to be meaningful and vital. If you are one of those people, we want to hear from you. If you know one of those people, let us know who they are. Go to workio.co and get in touch.
With all that, I feel compelled to pursue Workio as an opportunity. If we are successful, we can change the dynamic of employment to the benefit of all sides. This is a huge potential win at a societal scale.
And while I do still love the music industry, I feel a greater pull towards the possibility of making work better on a massive scale. If just one person uses Workio to avoid an ill-suited employer and to join a well-suited one, the amount of human unhappiness avoided, and happiness gained, is huge. If we are successful enough to affect the lives of hundreds, or thousands, or millions of people, well… it will have been well worth moving on.