Category Archives: Uncategorized

April 27th

Business Ethics: A Personal Journey

When it comes to customer relationships, I find myself grappling with the complex interplay of ethics, integrity, and respect. This becomes particularly poignant as I reflect on my ongoing experience with an organisation for which I’ve been providing free website services for several years. It’s a commitment rooted not just in generosity, but in a belief in the organisation’s mission and the value of our partnership.

Recently, this relationship took an unexpected turn. I discovered that the organisation had opted to secure similar services from another provider, a decision made without my involvement or even a heads-up. As someone deeply invested in the ethics of business practices, this move struck a chord. It wasn’t the loss of business that stung—rather, it was the absence of communication that left me pondering the values we uphold in our professional exchanges.

In the thick of my disappointment, a broader question looms: What does this say about the ethical fiber of our business interactions? Integrity, a cornerstone of any relationship, business or personal, demands transparency and honesty. Moreover, respect—another key pillar—necessitates acknowledging the contributions of those who have been part of our journey, especially when they have offered their services not for profit, but to genuinely support the organisational mission.

This experience, while disheartening, offers rich soil for reflection on how we treat each other in business. Should not the same principles that guide our personal lives hold sway in our professional dealings? The lesson here is clear: ethical business practices transcend mere transactions. They are about nurturing relationships, honoring commitments, and communicating openly. As we navigate our paths in business, let us strive to imbue every interaction with these timeless values, ensuring that our professional lives are as richly guided by ethics as our personal ones.

Navigating the delivery of challenging news to suppliers, partners, and customers also warrants careful consideration—a lesson sharply brought into focus by my own experience. Effective communication is not just about relaying information; it’s about fostering understanding and maintaining trust even when the news isn’t favorable. Future engagements could benefit significantly from adopting a policy of open and timely communication. It’s crucial to inform partners of major decisions that affect them as early as possible, providing context and reasoning behind such decisions. This approach doesn’t just soften the blow of unfavorable news; it also reinforces a commitment to transparency and respect in the relationship. Moreover, allowing space for dialogue gives the other party a chance to express concerns and feedback, which can lead to constructive resolutions and possibly even strengthen the relationship. These practices are not just about maintaining professionalism; they’re about nurturing a business culture that values and respects all contributors, thereby setting a standard for ethical conduct that inspires loyalty and trust.

Empowering Communities with Social Podcasting

Social podcasting is a new approach to podcasting that shifts the focus from a traditional model of an interviewer and interviewee or an anchor host and panel of guests, to one where the listeners and fans are transformed into creators and contributors. It allows for a more inclusive and diverse experience, where multiple voices are heard and perspectives are shared.

With social podcasting, the focus is less on the host as the central figure, and more on allowing everyone to have a voice and participate in the conversation. This helps to keep the audience engaged, as the change in voices and outlook can bring fresh perspectives and keep the content interesting.

In this model, the listeners and fans are encouraged to contribute to the podcast by offering their opinions, experiences, and perspectives, by posting voice notes added to playlists to create podcast episodes. This creates a sense of community and collaboration, where the listeners feel more invested and connected to the podcast.

Social podcasting also has the potential to increase the exposure and reach of the podcast, as it allows for a more diverse and inclusive approach that can attract a wider audience. The multiple perspectives and voices can also provide a fresh outlook and keep the content interesting, which can help to retain listeners and keep them engaged.

Traditional PodcastSocial Podcast
Production/DirectionTop Down Podcast ProducerBottom Up Audience are Creators
HostNeeded Not Needed
FlowLinear Non Linear
RecordingSynchronous (LIVE)Asynchronous (OnDemand)
Production SpeedAt least 1 hour delayImmediate
InterruptionsSpontaneous Interruptions No interruptions 
HostingApple Podcasts, Spotify, Google PodcastsApple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts & Sound Branch

Sound Branch is a social podcasting platform that aims to revolutionize the traditional podcasting experience. It combines the best features of traditional podcasting and social media to create a unique, interactive experience for both listeners and podcasters. By offering the ability to post voice notes and record podcasts asynchronously rather than live, Sound Branch provides more flexibility and convenience for both the listeners and the hosts.

One of the key features of Sound Branch is the ability for listeners to interact with the podcast in real-time. This can be achieved through live Q&A sessions, comments, or other means, which allows for greater audience engagement and interaction. This opens up new opportunities for community building and networking, where listeners can connect with each other and with the podcast hosts. This can help to create a more invested and connected community, which can result in increased exposure and reach for the podcast.

Another advantage of Sound Branch is the way it provides podcasters with insights and analytics on their listeners and the podcast. This allows them to better understand their audience and make data-driven decisions about their podcasting strategy. For example, Sound Branch provides insights into the demographics of the listeners, their engagement levels, and the times when they are most active. This information can be extremely valuable for podcasters looking to grow their audience and reach, as it helps them to make informed decisions about the content they create and the way they interact with their listeners.

Traditional podcasting platforms provide a basic framework for podcast distribution, but they are limited in terms of audience engagement and interaction. These platforms typically allow podcasters to upload their content and provide listeners with a centralized place to access and subscribe to those podcasts. They may also include basic features such as episode downloads and show notes, but they do not offer many opportunities for interaction and engagement between listeners and podcasters.

One of the biggest limitations of traditional podcasting platforms is their lack of real-time interaction. For example, listeners cannot participate in live Q&A sessions with the podcast host or leave comments on individual episodes. This can result in a one-way communication experience, where the listener is simply consuming the content, but is not able to engage with the podcast host or other listeners.

Another limitation of traditional podcasting platforms is their lack of community building features. For example, there are no opportunities for listeners to connect with one another or with the podcast host, which can limit the potential for community building and networking. In addition, traditional podcasting platforms do not provide any social media integration, which can limit the podcast’s exposure and reach. As a result, traditional podcasting platforms can be limiting for podcasters who are looking to build a more engaged and interactive audience.

Sound Branch is a cutting-edge platform designed for voice note recording and podcast creation. With its versatile features, users can record, organize and publish their voice notes and podcasts with ease. Sound Branch provides a public timeline where users can curate their voice notes and add them to playlists. Additionally, they can create groups and invite others to participate in podcast creation. The platform makes it easy for users to publish their podcasts on popular platforms like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts.

Sound Branch is designed to make the podcast production process streamlined and efficient. All voice notes are transcribed and searchable, allowing for easy access to the content. This makes it possible for users to find what they’re looking for in a matter of seconds. The platform also provides a chat and messaging system, making it possible for groups to communicate and collaborate during the production process.

The safety of the Sound Branch community is a top priority. The platform has safeguards in place to ensure that inappropriate content is not published. If any such content is detected, there are options for reporting by the community or deletion by administrators. Additionally, Sound Branch offers insights into the number of plays and likes for voice notes, allowing users to track their success and see how their podcast is resonating with the audience.

Sound Branch provides free hosting for podcasts and offers recording from iOS and Android devices or from the Sound Branch website on desktop computers. With its user-friendly interface, Sound Branch is perfect for anyone looking to get started in podcasting. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced podcaster, Sound Branch has everything you need to bring your voice notes and podcasts to life.

Benefits of Using Sound Branch for Social Podcasting

One of the key benefits of Sound Branch is its ability to significantly reduce the time it takes to produce a podcast episode. With traditional podcasting, there is often a need for scheduling and post-recording editing, which can add a lot of time to the production process. 

Scheduling and recording a traditional podcast can be challenging because it often involves coordinating the schedules of multiple individuals, who may have different availability and time zones. This can lead to difficulties finding mutually convenient times to record. Editing a traditional podcast can also be time-consuming and require specialized technical skills. The process often involves removing unwanted sounds, adjusting audio levels, and splicing together different segments of the recording. This can be a labor-intensive process and can take several hours to complete for just one episode.

Additionally, traditional podcasting may also require specialized equipment, such as microphones and audio recording software, which can be expensive and require regular maintenance. The editing process may also require the use of additional software and tools, further increasing the time and resources required to produce a single episode. These challenges can make the process of scheduling, recording, and editing a traditional podcast time-consuming, complex, and costly, potentially limiting its reach and impact.

However, with Sound Branch, the process is much simpler and faster. Instead of having to schedule interviews and then edit the audio, users can simply record voice notes and add them to a public timeline or group. If someone is not happy with their voice note recording, they can simply delete it and record it again, without having to waste time on editing.

Sound Branch also opens up podcasting to the masses, as it doesn’t require expensive equipment or technical skills. All that’s needed is a smartphone or a computer and an internet connection, making it accessible to anyone looking to get into podcasting. The platform’s user-friendly interface makes it easy to create and share voice notes, without the need for any technical expertise.

In addition to making podcasting accessible to everyone, Sound Branch provides a new way of curating and producing content. By allowing many voices to contribute, it creates a more democratic and inclusive form of content creation. This opens up new opportunities for people to share their ideas and perspectives on a wide range of topics, without having to worry about the technical or logistical barriers that often come with traditional podcasting.

Improved Audience Engagement and Interaction

Having a large number of people appear in a podcast can have a big impact on its success and reach. This is because the more people who are involved in a podcast, the more likely they are to tell their friends and family about it. When listeners become the stars of the show, they are more invested in the content and are more likely to share it with others. This creates a network effect, where each new person who joins the podcast helps to expand its reach and bring in even more listeners.

Turning your podcast into a social podcast is a great way to build a sustainable and long-term following. By involving a large number of voices, you can create a more diverse and engaging podcast that appeals to a wider audience. With traditional podcasts, the audience is limited to the listeners of the show, but with a social podcast, the audience can be expanded to include everyone in the network of contributors and listeners.

Moreover, social podcasts offer a more interactive and dynamic experience for listeners. With traditional podcasts, listeners are passively consuming content, but with social podcasts, listeners can participate and share their own perspectives, leading to a more engaging and immersive experience. This can help to foster a sense of community around the podcast and increase the likelihood of listeners becoming repeat listeners and advocates for the show.

Turning your podcast into a social podcast, you can tap into the power of network effects and expand your audience, building a more sustainable and long-term following. By involving a large number of voices, you can create a more diverse and engaging podcast that appeals to a wider audience and provides a more interactive experience for listeners.

Increased Exposure and Reach for Podcasters

Having a strong community around your podcast can be a powerful tool for growing your audience and recruiting new creators. By fostering a sense of community among your listeners, you can encourage them to become more involved with the podcast and share it with others. For example, you could encourage your listeners to share their own perspectives and experiences through social media, email, or other channels, which can help to spread the word about your podcast and bring in new listeners.

In addition, by involving your listeners in the creation process, you can also recruit new podcast creators from your existing audience. For instance, you could invite listeners to contribute voice notes or other content to your podcast, or even invite them to start an episode. This not only helps to create a more diverse and engaging podcast, but it also provides opportunities for your listeners to showcase their own skills and perspectives, which can help to build their confidence and increase their involvement with the podcast. By doing so, you can create a virtuous cycle of growth and engagement, where your listeners become active participants in the podcast, which in turn attracts even more listeners and new creators.

Audio Profiles and Testimonials

Sound Branch allows you to create audio profiles with testimonials. This is a useful tool for podcasters who are looking to invite guests to their show or better understand their audience. With Sound Branch, you can see and listen to the profiles of other podcasters or listeners, giving you an idea of their skills, expertise, and overall appeal.

By using Sound Branch to create an audio profile, you can showcase your skills and expertise to potential guests, collaborators, and listeners. This can help you attract more attention and opportunities in the podcasting industry. Your profile can include testimonials from other podcasters, listeners, and industry experts, which can help build your credibility and reputation.

Creating an audio profile on Sound Branch can also help you better understand your audience. By listening to the profiles of other listeners, you can gain insight into their interests, preferences, and what they value in a podcast. This information can help you tailor your content and marketing strategies to better engage and connect with your target audience.

Sound Branch provides a unique and valuable opportunity for podcasters and listeners to showcase their skills, connect with others in the industry, and better understand their audience. By creating an audio profile and taking advantage of the testimonials feature, you can build your credibility, attract more opportunities, and make meaningful connections with others in the podcasting world.

Sound Branch is a unique platform that combines the traditional podcasting format with the social engagement and community building aspects of social media. The key benefits of using Sound Branch for social podcasting include a more comprehensive and interactive experience for both listeners and podcasters, faster production times, and the ability to open up podcasting to a wider audience. Sound Branch also allows for a more diverse range of voices to be heard, as it invites listeners to become contributors to the podcast rather than relying on a panel of experts. Additionally, Sound Branch enables podcasters to build a community and network with other podcasters, maximizing audience interaction and engagement. This creates a bottom-up approach to podcast production that allows for a more organic and sustainable podcasting experience.

Useful Resources & Links

Office Not Required?

Looking for an office for Webanywhere in Katowice, Poland, 2012
Office Not Require – Sean Gilligan Podcast

Webanywhere was established in Keighley in the North of England in 2003. My business was started from home in my back bedroom. After one year of working from home and taking Over two rooms at my parents house, we established our first office at the Aire Valley Business Centre. We soon outgrew the first office taking over a second office before expanding to 10,000 square feet of space. The new office accommodated 150 staff in a single site open-plan office.

International Offices

As a bootstrapped business and self-funded we decided to establish a development centre in Poland in 2011.

We went to Poland because of the highly skilled technical staff and competitive pricing. Not doing this would have meant the business would have needed to take out a loan to support our growth. 

One of my developers in my UK office was Polish and following the birth of Adrian’s twins and he decided to return to Poland to be closer to family.  We didn’t follow Adrian to Poznan a city in the west of Poland but we did establish an office in Poland nonetheless.

I had visited Poland whilst interrailing in my 20s so I was familiar with Warsaw the capital and Krakow in the south of the country. I decided to advertise for project managers in Poland on LinkedIn. I mistakenly missed our preferred location when posting the job advert so I received candidates nationwide. One essential skill required by candidates was excellent Business English. Screening candidates by video not only explained their skills and experiences but also demonstrated their communication skills.

My shortlist of candidates lead me to select a General Manager called Michal Klaja. Michal persuaded me to select Katowice over Krakow as an office location. Both cities were located in the south of Poland and were close by to airports. Krakow was better known due to its tourist attractions but Katowice was lower cost and had a larger population with its satellite cluster of cities.

Webanywhere Office, Katowice, Silisia, Poland, 2016

Following the 2011 office opening of our Polish office we opened offices in the USA in Chicago and Philadelphia. This brought us closer to customers and tapped into new talent pools. Our companies international reach helped with our diversity and inclusion policies and brought new ideas to the business.

Webanywhere’s first office in Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Office for Attracting Talent

Little did I realise that the opening of the Polish office would lead to the closure of our UK office in Keighley. Moving from our Keighley office we went to plush new offices in the centre of Leeds. One of the key objectives was to have a swanky office to attract talent. Whilst we did have customers in Leeds most of our customers were in the United States. The office was smaller than our prior office in Keighley and was open plan. I regret making the office so open because counterintuitively I think it hindered collaboration. The office was conveniently situated near the train station with bars, restaurants and cafes in close proximity.

Fitting out the new Webanywhere Leeds office in 2015
A Group of Leeds Beckett University Students on work experience at Webanywhere HQ

Work from Home in 2022

Fast forward to 2022 and where and how work gets done has changed. An office is no longer as important. Talent can be hired anywhere and to work at any time. The expensive office, the headquarters of the business at it’s focal point has now shifted. Just as shopping has gone online offices are now in the cloud and digital headquarters are the new normal.

In some ways this is sad because there is less in person social contact with employees. In other ways people are given greater flexibility, there is less pollution due to reduced commuting times and work-life balance has been re-calibrated.

Work is no longer about the hours committed but the outputs and achievements made. Flexible work means you can work on the weekend, and an evening or very early in the morning outside of the normal working hours. This means you can adapt to your lifestyle but also focus on work when you’re in the flow of work and you have momentum.

It’s no longer about location and office it’s about which time zone do you want to play in? There are legal and tax constraints when hiring people in different countries but platforms such as UpWork allows you to hire people in the cloud with digital contracts. 

Asynchronous Communication

Asynchronous work means that it’s no longer about presentism and it’s more about better documentation, working on your terms and working when and where you choose. 

There are constraints such as scheduled customer calls where you need to be available but the whole notion of going to the office has been put into question. You might want to meet for onboarding, team meetings and other types of activities but this could be hosted at a hotel venue rather than the traditional office.

Traditional businesses that are lagging behind on the digital transformation curve will continue to encourage attendance at the office. Other businesses who adapt to modern technology can realise the cost savings made by not having to pay rent and rates. 

Having run several surveys with my staff asking how many days they would like to come to the office each week the verdict is loud and clear. I and the management team thought two days per week. Staff wanted to attend just one day a week and some people would rather not attend at all. Extrapolating employee expectation on office attendance into the future and all of a sudden you need less Real Estate, less square footage and the viability of current bricks and mortar office space has to be revisited.

Getting rid of your office and simply having a virtual PO Box for mail is an option. We haven’t gone that far. What has changed is when, where and how we work has become remote first. We are now hiring people across five countries not just three. The entire game of retaining and growing your staff and retaining and growing up customers has been disrupted. 

You can now start your business globally not locally. In this brave new world your office location says less about your reputation. Greater credibility is seen by how many countries you are trading in and your international presence.

Do you need an office? Many people think the modern office will adapt for greater collaboration. Others think a remote-first approach where perhaps teams meet once a quarter is a way forward. Hybrid work is being coined at the popular choice for this new normal. Should companies build talent around hubs or just do away with the need for hubs in the first place? There is less office politics when you are not in the office but relationships at work changed and perhaps there is less attachment to a company or brand? 

There are more questions than answers. Not having to pay for an office means more money for staff socials, travel, technology kit and perhaps profits. However, is doing away with office putting more of the risk on the employee? Staff pay for their own heating, broadband and electricity but they don’t want to pay for their commute to work. Perhaps we have reached an equilibrium that will reduce our carbon footprint and balance the work-life divide. A new era where work fits around life rather than life around work. 

The Metaverse

Offices are going online. Cities will need to reimagine office properties to attract people back. In London, for example, people are working from home Monday and Fridays. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are reserved for visiting the office. The question remains why go to the office in the first place when the office has become the home office?

Webanywhere still have several offices after 18 years of trading. I see a future of smaller offices as talent hubs in a greater number of locations. These offices will be places to meet in person to support hybrid work. Geographically offices will be dispersed across more countries and use time zones as an advantage, not a disadvantage when it comes to asynchronous work. Global teams working on one project across multiple timezones can accelerate productivity. Teams across timezones means you have more communication overheads but you have 24 hours in the day instead of 8 and that is a 3 fold improvement. 

The days of one open plan office and everyone under one roof have gone! It was nice to be able to walk over to someone’s desk and go for a coffee. I guess we will have to be satisfied with virtual coffees. The will of most people not returning to the office means going back to full-time office-based work would substantially increase staff churn. Without your staff you can’t service your customers so we would never do that. Therefore, we need to move toward this metaverse and more digital first collaboration. When we do meet in the office this time needs to be spent wisely. It shouldn’t be spent jumping on video calls. It should be for strategic planning, onboarding and building relationships.

Our work patterns and routines have changed. The clock is now broken. We meet in video rooms instead of the corridor. All hands meetings are streamed with video. We video call colleagues or send instant messages instead of tapping a colleague on the shoulder. Lunchtimes are in the kitchen not the cafe. Perhaps people are not eating together like they once did?

Working from my garden shed during the pandemic in 2020

The pandemic has disrupted the way we work. There is no going back to the 5 days a week traditional office. Are we now going full circle with the prevalence of working from home? I started my business in my back bedroom in 2003. Having opened offices in Keighley, Leeds, Philadelphia, Chicago and Katowice I’m now mostly working from my garden shed!

Video Call Sean

I always like talking to new and different people. If you would like to speak just click the video call button below and if I am online I will answer. So if you know me or you would like to talk do reach out.

Many thanks

Web Summit 2020
December 7th

Web Summit 2020 Review

A few years ago I attended TechCrunch Disrupt a technology conference in Berlin. It was thoroughly enjoyable to travel to Germany and soak up the atmosphere for one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Europe. The impact of the pandemic lead us to attend Web Summit 2020 virtually.

Usually, Web Summit is held in Lisbon Portugal this year the event was held online. It’s the largest Tech conference in Europe with over 100,000 people attending including corporates, venture capitalists, start-ups and other attendees.

This wasn’t my first virtual conference because I’d recently attended Brits in the Bay online. Again, Brits in the Bay is usually held in person by GBx in San Francisco. It is fair to say that I probably wouldn’t have attended both Web Summit and Brits in the Bay had it not been a virtual event. Virtual events allow for bigger audiences because you don’t have to travel and pay for expensive hotels. Of course, because it’s virtual it’s not as personable and it’s harder to read the room. This makes it difficult when you are meetings someone for the first time.

I was particularly impressed with the Mingle feature on the Web Summit event platform. This allowed you to network with other conference attendees with random video calls limited to 3 minutes in duration. After each networking session feedback was given helping the algorithm provide better matching for the future. Whilst the matching wasn’t brilliant it was very exciting waiting to see who you would meet next. I did meet one person I know out of about 50 networking sessions. Virtual networking is fantastic for business development and building partnerships.

In a 3 minute dialogue, you’ve got to decide who goes first and how to use your 1 and a half minutes. I think early on you get to understand whether there is common ground. In cases where a partnership isn’t possible, you get to learn lots of interesting information and how people are trying to take their ideas into reality.

In addition to the ability to conduct virtual networking, there was the main stage with five main tracks. Attendees could choose from channel 1 which was for “General Key Notes”, channel 2 which was for “Creators”, channel 3 for “Society”, channel 4 for “Builders” and channel 5 for “Portugal”. Whilst the event was largely online it was good to see some footage from Lisbon Portugal where the annual event usually takes place. Talks tended to be shorter than their in-person equivalents due to the online nature of the summit.  

Main stage key notes would often be attended by over 1 thousand people. If you wanted interactive experiences you could join smaller Q&A sessions or masterclasses. I joined one masterclass held by AWS where instead of joining a text-based live chat I was able to join the video conference. I generally preferred the more interactive sessions making connections rather than consuming content. One of the frustrations of the show is posting questions which don’t see the light of day. Perhaps I need to ask better questions or get them in earlier! This could represent a big opportunity for future online events?

Virtual events have fixed start and end dates but should they be allowed to run on? Some trade shows have pre and post-conference sessions and perhaps online events can be expanded beyond their predetermined dates? On the third and final day of the event the conference continued on into the evening. Web Summit started each day at 12 noon to 8 pm to accommodate both European and American time zones. Many of the guest speakers joined from the United States including Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow and top tier venture capital firms such as Sequoia, Klein Perkins and Index Ventures. Whilst Web Summit claims to be the pre-eminent European tech conference there was a big US influence on the show.

When you are at a trade show the last day often involves a rush to the airport to get home. Virtual conferences don’t have the packing up of bags and stands before the show has even finished. Web Summit gave all participants both a password-protected website to access information and a companion mobile app. Long after the conference had finished I continued to receive messages and connections from participants. It makes you wonder when the actual conference ends? Perhaps there is a missed opportunity from the conference organisers not to extend the event? 

There is no question the amount of data created on both the Web Summit web app and mobile apps will be astonishing. It will be interesting to see how the event organisers use the data for next years event? Perhaps they will compare the data for 2020 with 2021 in sophisticated ways to make for an even better event experience for returning participants.

In a traditional tradeshow, your badge is scanned and there are technologies for geographical understanding such as footfall. However, in comparison, an online event generates a much deeper understanding of speakers, sponsors and attendees which in theory should lead to greater personalisation.

Web Summit has announced that they will be back in Lisbon in 2021. It will be interesting to see how they balance the needs of in-person attendees versus online participants? Personally, I love attending live events but given the economics, environmental impact and travel times it is tempting to stay at home.

Face-to-face communication is best especially when you’re meeting people for the first time. However, video calls offering sophisticated matching might surpass the effectiveness of in-person exhibition shows. Ultimately I think hybrid events will be the way forward.

Event organisers will have to strike a careful balance between the offer for in-person attendees versus online participants. Organisers will need to think about the price of an online ticket versus being in person. Sponsorship is key to events. How and where sponsors spend their money will be interesting for the future. Perhaps smaller in-person trade shows will be complemented by online participants?

If you want to learn more about virtual events please visit Event Anywhere: