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How the Dynamite Circle has helped me in business and life

These days my office looks like this some days, thanks in part to the DCI am not a natural participator.

I’m an introvert* and my personality type means I prefer just focusing in and doing something myself rather than collaborating with others… Fortunately I grew up with two older sisters who made sure I didn’t turn out entirely asocial.

Put me in a team for a project and I’ll be comfortable working together. I’ll even happily take the lead—though mostly out of impatience for action to be taken!

When it comes to online communities, I’m not a big contributor.

I don’t post YouTube comments, I barely interact with friends and family on Facebook, and though I’m technically a member of dozens of online communities, there are only two or three which I would say I’m an “active member” of.

Since joining the Dynamite Circle three years ago I have posted over 1,000 replies in the forums and started almost 100 discussions myself. I am not just an active member, but actually help out on a voluntary basis as part of the “leadership team”. This month I travelled internationally to attend one of their in-person events.

And here I am, writing a blog post—my first in years**—simply because I love and value this community and want to do whatever I can to help it continue to grow and maintain its incredibly high quality.

So why has the DC had such an impact on my life, when I’m not a natural participator and all those other sites I’m a “member” of have failed to draw me in?

At the DC event in Barcelona this summer

At the DC event in Barcelona this summer

Before we get into that, I should explain how I came to join the DC in the first place…


An (Official) Introduction to Marc with a C

Recently I wrote about how an artist called Marc with a C was crowd-sourcing the track list for his new album, an album intended as an introduction to his music for newcomers.

Go Download it on Bandcamp!

Go Download it on Bandcamp!

The day has finally come. The crowd has spoken and the album is released today—titled, fittingly enough, “An Introduction to Marc with a C”.

I’m not bitter that the final track choices do not match my own. As usual, the crowd has produced finer results than any one of its members. Here are a few highlights—some I chose, and a few unexpected gems…


A Brief Introduction to Marc With a C

There are only a few artists I totally fanboy out for, and Marc With a C is one of them.

He recently solicited suggestions for a new “Meet Marc” song compilation and I threw together a playlist and decided what my top tracks would be…

1. Motherfuckers Be Bullshittin’

I love to play this one for the opening line:

“When it all gets too much that’s when I need a reminder that it’s all a test
(if it’s all a test).”

… and all the other tinfoil-hat skeptic lyrics which follow.

Surely you will be saved one day

I wrote this post at the end of 2012, and then hesitated over whether to publish it. It felt too honest and raw and I don’t normally blog about my business or entrepreneurship. But I’ve drawn strength from other startup founders sharing their experiences fighting depression (e.g. 1 2 3 4) so I’m sharing the following in case it might help someone else.

Yesterday’s return of Hyperbole and a Half prompted me to finally hit publish.

Nutshell background: I run a small music education tech startup. I’m not sure you need to know much more than that.

This year has been tough. Good, awesome, exciting, and in many ways successful… But not easy.

Huge ups and downs in my work sending me emotionally to my lowest points ever, but also some of my highest, and some interesting diversions along the way. (more…)

The Little Things

Ever since joining the Accelerator Academy programme, my life has been a bit of a whirlwind.

So while I have a chance, here’s a celebration of the little things.

New Oats Day!

New oats day! Groats and steel-cut, via Amazon Prime.

Groats and steel-cut oats, via Amazon Prime.

When 5kg of steel-cut oats and 5kg of groats arrive in the mail, you know you’re well prepared for the coming winter.

Secret Pianos

A secret piano among the rooftops

A secret piano among the rooftops

Along with the awesome Street Pianos at St. Pancras (which I played each time I passed through this summer) this was an extra special secret keyboard which someone painted among the rooftops at Loughborough Junction.

How great is The Current?

Answer: Totally.

The Current: Excellent music on internet radio
I forget how I found The Current. It was 3 or 4 years ago I think, possibly just in a random directory of internet radio, possibly built into my Squeezebox. And for a long time you would have seen it show up in my online listening profile as I played it through the squeezebox and it scrobbled.

But I realised recently that since I now listen through a non-scrobbling device, The Current is one part of my listening habits which just isn’t reflected in my online music profile these days. So here’s a quick post to reflect my love of this quirky, independent-minded, great-music-playing station.

What is the Current and why should I care?


Celebrating USB Discographies

Just a short post to celebrate the notion of USB Stick Discographies.

We live in an always-online world where increasingly we prefer downloadables and streaming media over physical products. And that’s certainly the case in the world of music (…with the possible exception of vinyl junkies).

One special case for me is the trend of artists releasing most or all of their back catalogue on a USB stick. Rather than leave fans to trawl around gathering the various tracks and releases and special editions and so on, some artists make an all-in-one bundle that saves you the hassle and bandwidth.

Here are three I’ve bought:

(Jonathan Coulton + Creative Commons) <3 USB Sticks

Jonathan Coulton Creative Commons USB Stick

Who: Jonathan Coulton

What: A 1GB green USB stick containing the JoCo Looks Back album and all the source tracks for it.

Awesome because: A fund-raising release for Creative Commons to celebrate the release of the ‘best of’ album “JoCo Looks Back”, this stick highlighted the power of the CC licenses to encourage remixes and derivatives.

What else: I already owned all this music, but getting at the multi-track source material was was a great bonus. I’m not into remixing, myself, but in my last job having high quality multi-track data proved very useful for building fun in-house tech demos.

Wheatus’ Brendan is a USB Stick

Brendan B. Brown of Wheatus is a USB Stick

Who: Wheatus

What: (more…)