Social Media : Community introductions at The Skiff
and Future Foundations : What do you do?

For years I’ve been attending conferences and networking events but still I find it hard to convey exactly what I do because my time, projects and mindset can’t be filed in a box or under a single job title/description. If I mention I have a background in graphic design for…

For years I’ve been attending conferences and networking events but still I find it hard to convey exactly what I do because my time, projects and mindset can’t be filed in a box or under a single job title/description. If I mention I have a background in graphic design for print and web I usually find myself pigeon-holed and ‘ability stereotyped’, and on the other hand I’ve experienced looks of disgust from corporate folk when I’ve used the title ‘Creative Midwife & Joiner-of-Dots’ (even once I’ve provided a little more insight).

The plain fact is I find it hard to convey exactly what I do, and because I’m not sales driven I’ve never developed or used an elevator pitch – I’m more interested in conversation and learning about the values and goals of others before I even make a decision about working with or for them (I prefer long-term client relationships over short-term sales) and as much as it seems to confuse my bank manager, I only ever work with people I can have coffee and conversation with because it builds two way understanding of values and trust – I haven’t experienced client invoice/payment problems for over three years. With this in mind I thought I’d share the following:

Friends are Fertilizer – invite friends to prolong the life of your roses!
Original photo taken and licensed under creative commons by John Manoogian III

Over recent months Jack Butler, Founder and CEO of the wonderful Future Foundations (FF) has been sending out ‘almost’ weekly emails to clients and supporters informing them not of what Future Foundations can do for them in terms their business (Eg. the traditionally formatted sales pitch or eNewsletter) but a more social email about what the FF team members have done during that week. The personable emails usually include a list of delivered achievements such as “Olivia – well done for getting the first draft of NESTA report done, it’s really coming together nicely!” but I think more importantly they provide an extremely social side to the business by highlighting day-to-day scenarios that have occurred such as “Sarah – for attempting not to make the team ill with flu by avoiding the main office – thank you!, and for introducing us to some amazing American comedians on Friday night…didn’t know Americans could be that funny!!”.

Now, Future Foundations are a young business with a vibrant team focused on developing the potential of young people, so of course they are in a better position that most to use such personable and funny communications but I can’t help but believe that we should all be using a more ‘Social Medium’ of information. To me this is the power of Social Media, and on almost all levels I believe that top down one-way communication (such as advertising) is dead (and I’m not the only one). I truly believe a more ‘Social Medium’ of information is to be the foundation and future of government, business and brand development. I only hope that the politicians, brands, businesses, freelancers and society as a whole learn how to use it – I’m convinced it will bring greater transparency, understanding, bottom up democracy and collaboration for innovation.

In addition to this, I thought I’d share the following email – it was sent to me (and the rest of the community at by @JonMarkwell on 06/05/09 – I’d suggest sending out a similar email to all the people you know and work with, I promise it’ll give you a better understanding of people and their work (something which goes much deeper than their job title).

Hi All,

I thought it would be good to kick things off here (at The Skiff) with a short introduction from each of us. Lets try to answer the following questions with just one(ish) line for each one:

1) What skills do you have?
2) What projects are you working on?
3) What do you like most about The Skiff?
4) What do you like least about The Skiff and how could we fix that?
5) What do you need?
6) What website or Twitter account would you like us to take a look at?

The weeks that followed presented emails from almost all the Skiff Mates and the answers and introductions were truly varied. Although I won’t paste everyone’s responses into this post you should be able to get a sense of the diverse community given my intro replies (please note that my reply was within three days, before any of the female Skiff Mates had had chance to respond). Here is my reply:

Well hello to all my fellow Skiff Mates, some of you I know, others I’m yet to meet =)  Since Jon’s original introduction email on Wednesday I’ve been reading everyone’s replies with great interest.

Charlie Davies we need to talk – I’m up for attending one of your money workshops and I love your writing style sir =)

Nathaniel White we should have coffee/beer and debate Capitalism and Feudalism, and the misuse of the words ‘Eco’ and ‘Sustainability’ =) (and out of interest… you’re not the Nathaniel White I went to Balfour Junior school with are you?)

Dan Garland and Rob Watson – do you guys know each other? if not you should talk ‘audio and tech’ together.

Ian Ozsvald and Leif Kendall – do you guys know each other? Leif may have contacts for Screencast clients, and Ian may need ShowMeDo copywriting and SEO. (Ian you should also talk to Steve Purkiss about ScreenCasts for his Phreadz channel)

Alan Offord and Michel (Madhava) – you guys should have a chat, a skills swap may be useful.

Chris Williams, Greg Lloyd, Dan Garland – do any of you do WordPress Plugin development? If yes please let me know.

Steve Purkiss – you sir are a legend and networking god so I’m guessing you already know Chris Williams, Greg Lloyd and Dan Garland, if not I’m sure you soon will =)

Who am I?

I’m Carl, the founder of Fellow Creative, and the guy behind ideas like, and a full-time Skiff Crew Member since it opened in 2008. Sadly I’m not yet a full-time Brightonian, I live in Rochester Kent and share my time between Kent, London and Brighton – I’m hoping to be in Brighton full-time very shortly =)

1) What skills do you have?

My childhood was focused on drawing, creating, and tinkering with shiny things (these are still my passions).
I’m a visual thinker, I use the right hemisphere of my brain more than the left but I’m organized.
I’m a fan of Dr Edward de Bono and his concept of PO, I’m not a yes man.
My professional background is Graphic Design, Project Management and Brand Strategy (online & offline).
Many people can be forgiven for thinking that I’m a freelance designer, but I sell myself (and clients pay me) as a Creative Midwife™ & Joiner-of-Dots.
I pride myself on supporting sustainable enterprise through ideas, design and innovation, delivering value focused on ‘what can be’ rather than ‘what is’.
My skillset is diverse and constantly developing because I’ll take on most challenges. I list my key attributes as approachable, helpful, polite, open-minded and I come armed with a blackbook of contacts and a can do attitude!

2) What projects are you working on?

In November 2008 I launched the worlds first ‘Threaded Multimedia Conversation Platform’ within education; the Open University now use the same system, and last month it was used by Paramount to launch the new Star Trek film – I’m still working within these realms of social media technologies and mobile – more news when I can talk openly =)
Last Thursday I delivered a keynote on Sustainable Creative Practice at University for the Arts London (they plan to release it as a podcast later this month – now here).
I’m in the middle of a project which includes brand design, website built on wordpress, office signage, software interfaces and print collateral etc.
Tomorrow I’m running a Blogging and Social Media session for a client.
On Wednesday I’m meeting the Director of Entrepreneurship at Canterbury Christ Church University to talk about potential Creative Mentoring and Entrepreneurship Training opportunities.
I’m in the process of writing the content for my new Credentials document and website (which I hope to launch later this week).
And towards the end of this week I hope to sit down and write my first ever business plan for an OpenSource Widget venture that aims to further my endeavors with
I may find myself in Brighton later this week to do some work for Nixon McInnes.

3) What do you like most about The Skiff?

Without any doubt: the people and the atmosphere – I have headphones if I want to kill the noise =)

4) What do you like least about The Skiff and how could we fix that?

I’d like ‘whats on’ and ‘who’s in’ updates via twitter – we should set up a #hastag and encourage it.

5) What do you need?

I’m on the lookout for a cheap room or Sofa in Central Brighton.
I’m always open to opportunities and challenges, I do need to attend one of Charlie’s Money workshops to explore my own understanding of value but ‘I ballpark between £380 and £500 per day +VAT (negotiable dependent on project type, duration and expenses)’.

6) What website or Twitter account would you like us to take a look at?

I’m on twitter as @fellowcreative. My old credential document can be found here:
My new website will launch shortly at  – if you are interested I’m happy to give you a sneak peak behind the scenes – I’d love your feedback on things in terms of design and usability but please remember none of the final text is written or in place.

I think that’s about it. If anyone has any questions please don’t hesitate to email or call.

Positive thoughts and Paulo Coelho proverbs,


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