Woody Allen settles $68m lawsuit with Amazon over movie deal

Woody Allen has reached a legal settlement with Amazon Studios after it abandoned a four-film deal.

Allen initially filed a $68m (£52m) lawsuit in February amid resurfaced allegations that he molested his adopted daughter.

Amazon argued that his comments about the #MeToo movement “sabotaged” its attempts to promote his new movies.

The film director denies sexually assaulting Dylan Farrow, who lost a court case against him in 1992.

Under the movie deal, signed in 2016, Allen received a $10m advance payment. But two years later, the release of his first film, “A Rainy Day in New York,” was shelved and plans for three other movies were cancelled.

#MeToo ‘poster boy’

Shortly before Amazon withdraw from the agreement, Allen reportedly expressed sympathy for movie producer Harvey Weinstein, who was accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women.

Mr Weinstein denied the accusations against him, but has since reached a $44m settlement with some of the alleged victims.

Months after these initial comments, Allen accused Dylan Farrow of “cynically using the #MeToo movement” after she repeated allegations that he assaulted her when she was seven years old.

In an interview with Argentinean broadcaster Eltrece, Allen said he “should be the poster boy for the Me Too movement” since he had worked with “hundreds of actresses” and was “only accused by one woman in a child custody case”.

Amazon Studios said its decision to terminate the deal was justified because Allen’s comments undermined its financial security.

It also pointed out that “scores of actors and actresses expressed profound regret for having worked with Allen in the past, and many declared publicly that they would never work with him in the future”.

In response, Allen said Amazon was fully aware of Dylan Farrow’s accusation when the deal was signed.

His company, Gravier Productions, secured an international release for “A Rainy Day in New York” this year, but US distribution has not been secured.

Timothee Chalamet and Rebecca Hall, who star in the film, said last year that they would donate their wages to charity.

Don’t Learn More, Learn Smarter. A Quick Guide to Agile Learning.

Learning agility is a more dynamic and smarter approach, trimming the fat and leaving the most valuable information. So when I forget for the umpteenth time where I left my keys, perhaps that’s not a bad thing. Maybe I’m just making room for more useful data.

To be competitive, entrepreneurs must be able to learn with agility so they can adapt and advance in an ever-changing marketplace. Studies have found that learning agility is even more important than job performance. Here, six strategies for developing your capacity for agile learning.

1. Make reading your default mode.

As Harry Truman once said:

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

A pillar of learning agility is continually consuming information, and there’s no better way to do that than reading. Not only does it expand my vocabulary and introduce me to new subject matter, reading also helps me discover new ways of thinking. I read to learn about new mental models, for example, which give me tools for processing and organizing the world of information around me.

For a long time, I made excuses for not reading more material that didn’t pertain directly to my work. I was trying to scale my startup and still spend time with my family. Who can find the time? But at a certain point, I started reading during the “between” times: between meetings, on the train, over breakfast or even listening to audiobooks during my lunchtime walk. That way, there was no need to find the time — I already had it.

Everyone is busy. But if Mark Cuban reads three hours a day and Bill Gates finishes one book a week, then I can, too.

2. Learn deliberately.

There are three types of learning: accidental, conscious and deliberate. The first kind happens to us, e.g. you’re walking down the street and see a sign for a new streaming service. The second kind is when we learn but not necessarily purposefully, like via reading the paper or watching the evening news.

The third kind, deliberate learning, is when we’re actively trying to acquire new information. Our attention is focused and thinking is sharp. And ultimately, we intend to incorporate this material into our existing framework and be able to access it later. To become an agile learner, it’s important to make a habit of learning deliberately. And because only you know which lessons are most relevant to your work and your future, each individual’s autodidactic path will be unique.

3. Learn in short, regular intervals.

It’s crucial to set aside time for that deliberate learning every day, and a little bit goes a long way, especially if you stick to a regular habit. Though on average, knowledge workers spends just five minutes on learning each day, experts recommend dedicating between 30 minutes and an hour per day.

To make the most of your study session, entrepreneurs and Harvard Business Review contributors Josh Bersin and Marc Zao-Sanders recommend maintaining a to-learn list, advising: “Write down a list of concepts, thoughts, practices and vocabulary you want to explore, book mark them in your browser and add them to your list. You can later explore them when you have a few moments to reflect.”

Learning in small but regular time allotments is effective because they are brief, and therefore sustainable, but also consistent, helping to continually cement recently acquired information.

Benedict Carey, author of How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens, is also a proponent of the idea that knowledge should be consumed in bite-sized quantities.

As he writes:

“You can water a lawn once a week for 90 minutes or three times a week for 30 minute. Spacing out the watering during the week will keep the lawn greener over time.”

4. Learn from others with experience.

If you want to learn anything faster, start by tapping someone who has personal experience with that subject. And if they’ve mastered it, even better. Entrepreneur and author Tony Robbins captured this idea perfectly:

“The fastest way to master any skill, strategy or goal in life is to model those who have already forged the path ahead. If you can find someone who is already getting the results that you want and take the same actions they are taking, you can get the same results. It doesn’t matter what your age, gender or background is. Modeling gives you the capacity to fast track your dreams and achieve more in a much shorter period of time.”

This “modeling” technique, as Robbins calls it, enables us to learn from the experience of others, including any mistakes, and save time in our own journey. Not to mention, it’s more fun and energizing than learning alone.

5. Cross-train between subjects.

In the past, people thought success came through specialization, or achieving mastery in a single subject. As the saying goes: Jack of all trades, master of none. That way of thinking is antiquated at best and self-defeating at worst. As Vikram Mansharamani wrote for Harvard Business Review:

“Corporations around the world have come to value expertise, and in so doing, have created a collection of individuals studying bark. There are many who have deeply studied its nooks, grooves, coloration and texture. Few have developed the understanding that the bark is merely the outermost layer of a tree. Fewer still understand the tree is embedded in a forest.”

Today, people are increasingly recognizing the value of becoming “expert generalists” — understanding the forest. Because, as Vikram writes, “our highly interconnected and global economy means that seemingly unrelated developments can affect each other.”

What’s more, we learn better and with more agility when we can forge connections across boundaries and transfer knowledge from subject matter to another.

6. Practice.

Finally, like any skill, your capacity for agile learning will improve with practice. Forget the notion that some people are born better learners. As Dr. K. Anders Ericsson, an expert on expert performance, explains: “People believe that because expert performance is qualitatively different from normal performance, the expert performer must be endowed with characteristics qualitatively different from those of normal adults. This view has discouraged scientists from systematically examining expert performers and accounting for their performance in terms of the laws and principles of general psychology.”

With few exceptions (e.g. height and the ability to play basketball), most factors that determine our performance aren’t genetically prescribed. Ericsson and colleagues argue that “the differences between expert performers and normal adults reflect a life-long period of deliberate effort to improve performance in a specific domain.”

Similarly, your effort vis-a-vis learning should be deliberate. But don’t consider it another task to add to your routine. Instead, think of agile learning as a lifestyle, one that will improve your business and hopefully enrich your life.

Book of the Week: ‘Driven’

Behind every entrepreneur’s success story, there’s a never-ending list of gut-wrenching failures, missed opportunities and jaw-dropping setbacks. Real estate mogul and serial entrepreneur Manny Khoshbin is one of those entrepreneurs with a story of perseverance that will make you believe in the American Dream all over again.

Driven goes beyond Manny’s personal ride through the entrepreneurial journey to deliver the habits, mindset and insights aspiring entrepreneurs need to turn dreams into reality. Buckle up and join Manny as he shares his experiences and teaches you how to:

  • Beat the odds and become a successful entrepreneur in your own right.
  • Challenge yourself, study your failures and pivot your plans.
  • Double down on projects, ideas and investments you’re passionate about.
  • Spot and surround yourself with positive, successful and like-minded people.
  • Change your mindset to achieve what you think is impossible

The man who gambled his firm on a £50,000 sword

This week we speak to London-based silversmith Grant Macdonald.

When Grant Macdonald walked out of the Middle Eastern royal palace he says his shoes “hardly touched the carpet”.

He had just secured a giant order that would transform his business. And almost 40 years later, the memory still gives him goosebumps.

“It was an amazing feeling… just telling you this now gives me the greatest feeling of achievement, exactly as it did on that day in the early ’80s,” says the 71-year-old.

A silversmith who first set up his business in the 1960s, the UK’s economic downturn of the late 1970s had made him increasingly seek overseas commissions.

From 1979 he started to get some small orders from a country in the Gulf, which for confidentiality reasons he declines to name.

A couple of years later, during one of his regular visits to the nation, Grant was asked if he would like to see the finest gift that its royal family gives out to visiting dignitaries – a ceremonial sword.

He said “yes”, and while he extolled its virtues out of politeness, he was not particularly impressed with the workmanship. So Grant suggested that he could perhaps make something even better.

Going back to his hotel room, he drew up a design on paper, and from that he was commissioned to make one example. The only problem was the cost of the materials, which could have wiped out his business. Undeterred, Grant took the gamble and bought all the gold, diamonds and rubies he needed, and he and his team set to work.

Thankfully the royal family liked the £50,000 sword (£190,000 at today’s prices) so much that they ordered 15 more.

“The workshop had put every ounce of skill into making that sample sword perfect, our reward was a massive order that set the company off in a different trajectory,” says Grant.

Today his multimillion pound annual turnover company – Grant Macdonald London – still gets much of its business from the Middle East, with Grant having flown to the region almost every month for more than 30 years. “The Middle East has been very good to us,” he says.

The business does, however, have a royal warrant from the Prince of Wales, who has bought commissions in the past.

The son of a doctor, Grant was born and raised in north London. He says he first became interested in working with silver and other precious metals when he was a teenager. “It all started when one of dad’s patients showed me how to make a silver spoon when I was 14.”

A young Grant would then tinker on his designs in a workshop underneath his father’s consulting room. He says his dad would stamp on the floor when he wanted him to stop hammering.

After five years at London’s Central School of Art, he first worked in a jewellery shop, repairing rings. Private commissions soon followed, and he formed his company Silverform in the mid-60s. The name change to Grant Macdonald London came in 1971.

The business today has 18 employees, who make everything from £200 silver cufflinks to large bespoke commissions costing up to £250,000. The biggest items can take many months to complete.

While the company does now utilise technology, such as 3D design and printing, Grant says that the skill of the human workforce is still central. “Today we’re hugely reliant on tech, but without the people in the workshop we’d be lost – they’d just be a pile of machines.”

Peter Taylor, director of the Goldsmiths Centre, a UK charity that trains jewellers and goldsmiths, says that Grant is “one of the foremost silversmiths and designers of this generation”.

He adds: “Grant is well-known and respected throughout the industry, and has grown a business that operates successfully here in the UK and overseas.”

With Grant now in his 70s, he is readying the business for its next chapter, which will see the reins being handed over to his son George. George has been with the company since 2003, after being lured away from a career in publishing, where he was a graphic designer and photographer.

Grant says that having his son on board is a great comfort, as it will mean the business continues. “To have worked all my life, and then had to sell up, pay everyone off, and walk off into the horizon is a terrible thought.”

He isn’t out of the door yet though, and still works three days a week at the company’s office and workshop in Blackfriars, in the City of London. He also has a workshop at home, where he intends to teach the next generation.

“Teaching my grandchildren how to make a silver spoon is definitely on my list of things to do,” he says.

How To Keep Productivity High When Motivation Is Low

The first time I experienced this motivation-deprivation was after I quit my job to start my own venture. After the initial excitement of the start, fear and self-doubt started to sink in. I had no idea how to structure my day, hold myself accountable or revive the productivity that was so familiar to me for so many years. Here are four pieces of advice I learned along the way on keeping productivity high when motivation is low.

1. Create to-do lists when energized.

Even in periods of low motivation, energy continues to ebb and flow. I took advantage of the times I felt the most energized to create weekly and monthly to-do lists. As Akshay Gupta writes for the site Fearless Motivation, “Giving [your to-do list] an emotional touch will make sure that you take it seriously. To do this, you can write a note at the top of your list.” 

Perhaps your note will be about a vision you have for yourself and your career goals. My notes were about the energy I wanted to feel when I was completing the task, a piece of advice I took from Brendon Burchard’s book, High Performance Habits. Instead of, “I have to get X done,” the energy of the list became, “I get to do this for my career and my career dreams,” and I instantly felt better about every item.

2. Work with a coach or accountability partner. 

If you can’t hold yourself accountable, it’s a good idea to bring in an outside influence. I spoke with some coaches to see if one would be a good fit, but ultimately decided to make a pact with a friend as “accountability partners.” The premise was simple: We’d touch base every Thursday, set three action items that needed to be achieved by the next Thursday, then touch base again the following week to make sure they’d be done. And we’d heighten the stakes, agreeing to Venmo the other person a certain amount if we failed to achieve our action items. It worked.

A recent article for Develop Good Habits reminded that it’s often easier to blame other people (or circumstances) than take personal responsibility when we don’t achieve our goals or get our work done, noting, “Playing the blame game can derail your efforts at accountability because you’ll struggle in understanding the relationship between taking massive action and getting results.” An accountability partner forces you to acknowledge the ways you’re sabotaging yourself, take personal responsibility and complete that to-do list. 

3. Eliminate distractions.

Far easier said than done, but eliminating distractions is the best way to keep your productivity high. To do this, though, it’s important to understand the cause behind your distractions. Behavioral-design expert Nir Eyal shares in his new book, Indistractable, that we often blame our smartphones for distractionsm but that without them, we’d find another way to distract ourselves because of an emotional need for distraction. This need is usually discomfort. 

A fix: timeboxing. Eyal asks in the book, “Does your calendar reflect your values?” By eliminating white space in your calendar and planning your productivity ahead of time (using the energetic and vision-board method for to-do lists), you’re more likely to stay on task and be less vulnerable to the usual distraction suspects. 

4. Switch up workspaces.

If you’re going back to the same workspace every single day and trying to feel different about your productivity, it may be hard without a spruce-up. So, if you work from a home office, move your desk to the other side of the room and add a plant. If you always work from the same coffee shop, try a day at a nearby co-working space. As David Spencer astutely blogged for OfficeSpace, “A drab, static office hurts both morale and productivity. Experimenting with new layouts can help keep employees from getting tired of their surroundings.”

A trick I learned in college was that once you find a place that works for you, return as often as it serves you. One corner on the fourth floor of the library always fueled my best focus and work. Accordingly, everytime I went back to that lucky corner, I acted in accordance with my beliefs about that spot and it helped my productivity soar. The same is true with certain coffee shops and offices. 

Motivation is often hard to pin down, everchanging and available at some periods of our lives more than others. Each season of our life serves a purpose. If you need rest and reflection more than you need to be productive, honor yourself. You may return to your work more productive than ever.

Want to Retire Early? Do This One Thing.

Have you ever done the math to see when you can retire? There are many retirement calculators that can help with this eye-opening exercise, but you may find that your income won’t add up as soon as you’d like.

I’m here to give you good news: You don’t have to wait decades for the financial freedom to retire. One way to potentially retire earlier is to start an online business. Doing so can substantially change your income and lifestyle — if you go about it the right way.

For example, Amazon sales are increasing exponentially, and half of them come from small and medium-sized businesses. But for all the successful businesses, there are many that fail.

Here are seven common mistakes I see many online business owners make — and what you should do instead.

Mistake No. 1: Trying to invent a market.

I’ve seen many entrepreneurs jump in feet first with a product idea that’s completely unproven in the market. They spend a lot of time and money developing and launching it because they think it’s a cool idea, only to find that nobody else does.

Unless your goal is to exercise your creativity, the best way to launch a profitable e-commerce business is to find a product category that’s already popular. Even if you aren’t selling on Amazon, take a look at the Best Sellers Rank (BSR) on Amazon product pages to see how a product is performing, with No. 1 being the bestseller in its category. Look for products with a BSR between 100 and 6,000 in the high-level category, which means they’re selling well but aren’t too competitive.

Mistake No. 2: Selling someone else’s brand.

It’s tempting to sell a product with the manufacturer’s branding rather than go through the trouble of creating your own. While that’s easier at first, your competitors are selling the exact same product — which means you’re competing on nothing but price. As a result, your margins are tight at best.

Instead, create your own brand. Many manufacturers on Alibaba.com will let you “private label” their generic products, meaning you can package and sell them under your own name. (To be clear, you should not and legally cannot counterfeit someone else’s unique product. But you certainly can manufacture your own versions of generic products, ranging from basic tools to complex electronics.) This differentiates your business from the competition, even though you’re still selling similar products. When you own the brand, your margins are higher, you have more control, and you’re building a valuable business that you can sell later if you choose.

Mistake No. 3: Choosing the cheapest product.

Many people go with the cheapest version of a product possible. But if you’re selling a low-quality product, you won’t get repeat sales, referrals, or positive reviews that you can use in your marketing, which ultimately means the business won’t be profitable.

Consider a car cell phone mount selling for $30. The difference between the lowest-quality version and the best is often only $1 or $2, especially if it’s coming from China. That doesn’t have a huge impact on your profit margin, but whether you choose to spend it can have a long-term impact on the business. 

However, don’t assume that a product is higher quality just because it costs more. When you’re deciding what to sell, research the reviews of competing products to find out what people like and dislike. To go above and beyond, order a few of the bestsellers that you’d be competing with. Then research suppliers on Alibaba, ask them for product photos, and eventually pay for a few samples before choosing a product that’s as good as or better than what’s out there.

Mistake No. 4: Spending too much money.

I’ve heard horror stories of entrepreneurs who spent $40,000 on a bad product and are stuck in debt with a product that won’t sell. Unless you’re willing to risk that kind of money, you should never order that much inventory — and there’s no reason to.

We coach hundreds of online businesses and found that they spend an average of $1,200 on initial inventory. Once you sell your initial inventory and confirm your idea works, you can use the profits to invest in more. If you can’t get the business off the ground for a few thousand dollars — $10,000 at the most if you have extra money — then you’re probably doing something wrong.

Mistake No. 5: Underestimating the importance of marketing.

Many people spend all their time and effort developing the product, setting up the business, and building their website or Amazon product page; so they lose steam before it’s time for marketing. Then they expect magic to happen, but that’s actually where the realwork begins.

Unless you get lucky, it’s likely going to be a grind. Don’t get discouraged or invest too much right away. First, test different marketing strategies to find out what works for you. Start by advertising on Facebook (and Amazon, if you’re starting an Amazon business), testing on a small scale; you should be able to spend as little as $200 to get a statistical significance. Then expand slowly, doing more of whatever works.

When you’re ready to try new things, what works best will depend on you. If you’re analytical, you might enjoy optimizing your ads more. If you’re creative, you may do well with social media or content marketing. 

Mistake No. 6: Prioritizing incorrectly.

Many entrepreneurs need to get their priorities straight. For example, it doesn’t matter how many people your marketing drives to your website or Amazon page if it isn’t strong enough to convert them into customers. Prioritize finding a quality product, then creating a solid website. Only after you’ve dialed that in and had success with ads should you test other marketing campaigns.

Mistake No. 7: Scaling too quickly.

Once you’re doing well, you might think it’s a good idea to add new products — or worse, new brands. Launching a new brand is almost always a mistake because you have no leverage other than your experience. You can’t sell to your existing customers, so you’re starting from scratch.

It’s human nature to want to expand quickly but go deep before you go wide. Double down on marketing before adding a new product; otherwise you lose focus on your first one, which may not be as stable as you think. If you try to manage too many products at once, the whole business can come crumbling down.

You may be ready to scale when you’ve been producing consistent and predictable results for several consecutive months. What’s most important is that you aren’t constantly putting out fires; so first make sure your business is running smoothly. Even if you plan on scaling, don’t forget to stop and celebrate when you reach that point — because it means you’re on your way to early retirement.

Ecommerce Expert Jay Wright on Why Being ‘Client Obsessed’ is Key to Success

Who are you?
Jay Wright: I’m an e-commerce growth expert and advisor to a community of over 200 e-commerce business founders. I started my career in finance in 2007 and worked in stockbroking before eventually moving to derivatives trading in London. After the global financial crisis, generating leads was critical to survive and prosper in the industry. So, instead of making endless sales calls like everyone else, I turned to online lead generation.

After a long, cold winter in London, I returned home to Australia and decided to explore my interest in digital marketing rather than jump back into finance. I founded my first company in 2012 and grew it into one of Australia’s premier e-commerce marketing agencies, with three locations and a team of over 30 world-class digital marketers.

After I sold the company in 2017, I ran marketing for the cult children’s book, “A B to Jay Z.” My strategy and execution helped take them from an $8,000 Kickstarter campaign to selling over 250,000 copies in their first year. I then co-founded Alphabet Legends, which released another 20 books and reached seven figures within 12 months. I still work on my e-commerce ventures daily while managing my consultancy, the Ecommerce Equation.

Share an interesting fact about yourself that not many people would know.
Jay Wright: My parents relocated to the Pacific Islands for work when I was a kid, so I spent most of my youth growing up in Samoa and the Cook Islands. It was a great experience that taught me to embrace change and see life from different angles. I recently followed in their footsteps and relocated my family to Bali, Indonesia, so my kids can have the same opportunity to experience different cultures and perspectives. When I’m not working, I enjoy exploring Bali, traveling, and raising my kids.

What excites you the most about your business right now?
Jay Wright: Applying a decade’s worth of learning and experience to help other businesses. Seeing our clients’ rapid, transformational results is so rewarding. I’m also excited that I get to choose the projects and people I work with — it’s not about taking anything and everything on board to survive.

What’s your favorite quote?
Jay Wright: Tony Robbins said: “The only way to become wealthy, and stay wealthy, is to find a way to do more for others than anyone else is doing in an area that people really value. If you become a blessing in other people’s lives, you too will be blessed.”

Robbins has been a huge inspiration and part of my self-education over the years. To me, this quote is one of his most profound concepts and has influenced one of my core business principles: being “client obsessed.” I believe what’s right for the client is best for everyone. I’ve made countless decisions based on what’s best for the client, even if that means sacrificing short-term personal or business gain. I believe this strategy returns tenfold in the future and has been a large part of my success — plus, it creates good vibes.

What was your biggest, most painful failure?
Jay Wright: My biggest mistake early in business was underestimating the complexities of running the back end of a physical product business. After years of working on the front end of marketing and sales, the transition to manufacturing and fulfillment was a steep learning curve.

The first 40-foot container of products that we sent from China to the United States was a complete disaster. I didn’t know about quality assurance inspections or container insurance, so we sent an uninsured, uninspected container across the globe. Luckily, it made it to port, but around 14,000 books were unsellable because they were damaged in transit.

Then we tried to fulfill a backlog of 10,000 presale orders ourselves, driving to the post office one Honda Odyssey van load at a time. It was so slow that we had a terrible customer service problem trying to keep everyone happy. Things are smoother now, thanks to freight forwarders and third-party logistics providers, but that nearly put us out of business.

What’s the biggest common leadership mistake?
Jay Wright: Many leaders haven’t walked in the shoes of the people they are leading. To move others to action, you must lead by example to inspire certainty and demonstrate what’s possible. It’s hard to do that if you’ve never been where your client is striving to go. I would never advise a business to do something I haven’t done myself.

Unless you’ve scientifically tested a strategy or tactic, it’s just an opinion, not true leadership. Before advising my clients, I spend my own money on my e-commerce businesses to see what works. My clients want to build e-commerce businesses that reach multiple seven figures. I have created two. They want to crack the elusive million-dollar month. I’ve made that happen.

How do you evaluate a good business deal?
Jay Wright: To me, a good business deal meets three critical criteria. First, I must be able to leverage my skills to make an impact on the business. Second, it must make sense commercially. Business is a numbers game, and even a rough analysis of the numbers can tell you whether it’s a good or bad deal. Rationally reviewing the commercial model, without emotion, can usually tell me a lot.

Finally, it needs to be a “flywheel” opportunity, a concept from the Jim Collins book, “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t.” Good-to-great transformations don’t happen in one fell swoop. Instead, the process resembles relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel until you build momentum and have a breakthrough. E-commerce businesses can be great flywheels if you create enough momentum. Each customer has the potential to buy more or tell their friends to buy from you. Each sale spreads your fixed costs across more customers, so you can spend more to acquire new ones.

Which single habit gives you 80 perecent of your results?
Jay Wright: Being scientific. Numbers don’t lie and can give you superhuman clarity and confidence in the direction you’re going. I analyze the data behind my results and iterate until I find the actions that get the results I want. Then I double down on them with laser focus and ignore everything else, even if that goes against the grain.

What are you working on right now?
Jay Wright: My life’s mission is to help established e-commerce business owners find a clear and compelling path to scale and give them the tools and knowledge to make it a reality. Right now, I’m just helping those in my inner circle. But I’m also creating a forum and community where all e-commerce business founders can connect and access the strategies and tactics that are working.

What is the most exciting question that you spend time thinking about?
Jay Wright: “How can I make it better?” I love this question. It helps me determine how to create a better lifestyle for my family. It also helps me serve e-commerce businesses in their quest to scale by identifying better processes than what’s out there.

Connect with Jay Wright on LinkedInInstagram, and Facebook or visit his website.

Why you should quit the 9 to 5

A bit of history on the 9 to 5

Now, the idea of working 9 to 5 was not a concept created by Dolly Parton but an idea that came about at the turn of the previous century. It was a revolutionary idea, for its time, and involved cutting back on excessive hours at a time when people were working 16-hour days, or 100 hours a week, in factories in the 1890s (the 9 to 5 doesn’t sound so bad now, eh?).

So what’s happened since then?

Well, at least half of managers actually work more than those 40 hours a week, while 4 in 10 say that their hours have increased in the last few years (Source).

There are many more working mums, and many more families with two working parents.

Technology has made it easy to work anytime, anyplace. There are two sides to this: on the one hand, it means that you’re expected to be ‘always on’ and to work into the evenings, weekends and holidays; on the other hand, it means that you don’t need to be in the office all the time and you can work more flexibly. Surveys have found that 4 out of 5 office workers check their work email after leaving the office and 1 in 3 log on before even getting out of bed (Source), while 54% of commuters are sending work emails en route to and from the office (Source).

Bizarrely, this isn’t what we thought would happen. Or, at least, it’s not what John Maynard Keynes thought would happen. In 1930, Keynes predicted that technology would allow us to cut our working week down to just 15 hours as our material needs were satisfied. (Tim Ferriss, of course, would have us work just 4 hours a week.)

So why are we working so hard?

Well, for one thing, there are a lot of good things that come with a corporate job: promotions and salary increases, the prestige of working for a big-name brand, not to mention the office parties and socialising with colleagues.

Another reason is that we’ve been socialised to this way of ‘life’. It’s perfectly normal and expected that people hate Mondays, that they live for weekends and that work is work and it’s not meant to be fun.

Of course, there are also many who have no choice but to work long hours for little pay.

So what’s the problem with the 9 to 5?

Let’s start from the perspective of the company, or even the overall economy: working long hours in an office in no way guarantees productivity. A lot of time is wasted at work with all the distractions that happen in an office environment; we all have different natural rhythms, from early birds to night owls; and, in fact, our brains can’t even focus on tasks for more than a few hours at a time anyway, or maybe even for more than 20 minutes. Modern research suggests that the average employee works productively for just two hours and 53 minutes in an eight-hour day. *Ahem!*

Despite those stats, people are ‘working’ longer hours as they’re ‘always on’ and never really taking a proper break. Successful corporate managers and directors have plenty of money but no time to spend it. They’ll buy luxury holidays, snazzy cars and big houses with hefty mortgages to make them feel better. Of course, those same purchases then lock them into this way of life and keep them in their corporate 9 to 5 so that they can afford the lifestyle that they’re so used to by now.

The health risks of working those longer hours have been widely reported. Almost 60 per cent of adults are drinking alcohol to cope with the stresses of everyday life while 38 per cent drink to forget their problems (Source). In the UK, half a million people now suffer from work-related stress (Source). Burnout has become ‘a sinister and insidious epidemic’ and, although it’s a subjective term, it usually manifests as exhaustion and irritability, disinterest, a lack of empathy, poor performance at work, and family issues and relationships problems at home. Medication, vacation – these provide only temporary relief.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are countless lost souls wandering the corridors, people who are “okay”, “fine”. These are the people who are under-challenged, just as there are many who are over-challenged. They spend 10 to 15 years climbing the corporate ladder, reach the top and then ask, “Now what?” They’re surprised and disappointed to find that it doesn’t really bring any meaningful reward and, if anything, simply means working harder for the next step, if there is one.

And yet no one ever says, “I wish I’d spent more time at the office”. Instead of that, the top five regrets of the dying include “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard,” “I wish that I had let myself be happier,” and in the number one spot my personal favourite: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

What’s the alternative?

Working in the “corporate 9 to 5”, for me, involves:

  • working in a private corporation, the primary motivation of which is profit and in which you are a small part of a big machine;
  • working in an office-type environment;
  • reporting to a more senior manager (your boss);
  • working standard hours of Monday to Friday, the so-called ‘9 to 5’; and
  • receiving a regular monthly salary and other benefits such as insurance and a pension.

So alternatives to this type of job could include working in a different type of company or organisation, with different motivations; working at home or in a different environment; working for yourself or for a number of different clients; working more flexible hours; and no longer receiving a regular salary and benefits.

Of course, there’s no one alternative, no single schedule or set-up, that works for everyone – but that’s the whole point! You can create your own schedule, based on your own definition of success, your most important values, and your personal situation.

Having said that, most of us – no, not just those pesky Millennials! – want flexibility; we want to be able to manage work alongside our family priorities; and we want to feel like we’re doing something meaningful, that’s making a difference in the world. Running your own business allows you to do all those things (and more).

And the good news is that there are more opportunities than ever to work flexibly and remotely; there are more tools and resources available than ever before to allow you to start and grow a business without a massive investment; and there is more information and support available than ever too, in the form of online courses, business coaches and programmes to guide you through the process.

In fact, the reasons that a lot of people will cite for staying in their corporate 9 to 5 – perceived job security in a large company, a comfortable retirement and generous pension, and so on – no longer really apply. There’s no such thing anymore as a job or even a career for life; even the most established companies have had to let people go; and the way in which our parents and grandparents structured their lives and careers just isn’t going to work anymore.

Leaving the corporate 9 to 5

So, what’s next? If all this resonates with you, if you agree with me and you decide that your corporate 9 to 5 is no longer where you want to be; if you’re open to considering the alternatives; and if you’re willing to put in the hard work to make your alternative happen – then I have three invitations to extend to you!

First, you can join the waiting list for my book, Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5: Stories from people who’ve done it (and how you can too), which is coming out very, very soon. My hope is that it will serve as an inspiration as you explore 50 different stories of career transitions with all their challenges and invaluable advice that they want to extend to you, along with concrete steps that you can take to create your own career transition story.

Second, and in the meantime, I’d love to have you join the One Step Outside Facebook group, where you’ll find like-minded people who are looking to redefine what ‘success’ means and get access to free training sessions, Q&As and all sorts of resources and tips to help you through the transition.

And, third, If you’re serious about embarking on this transition yourself, then book a discovery call with me to discuss how I can support you, either individually or in a group setting, to transition out of your 9 to 5 and into your ideal business.

Of course, quitting your job is no panacea, and starting your own business will be hard work (not to mention working out what it is that you really want to do in the first place – that’s actually the hardest part!). However, this one decision has the potential to put you on a steeper learning curve; to reignite your passion for your work; and, ultimately, bring you everything you’ve ever truly wanted. Now doesn’t that sound like it’s worth a shot?