David Gilbertson's Wine Bar Theory

Want to shorten your working day? Of course you do, so read this piece of sound advice from our new book
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Wine Bar Theory - illustration by Bill Butcher
Wine Bar Theory - illustration by Bill Butcher

All this week we’ll be bringing you one key piece of business advice as outlined in our new book, Wine Bar Theory by David Gilbertson.  

As CEO of media company Informa, David built the oldest newspaper in the world, Lloyd’s List, from a loss-maker into one of the world’s largest business media groups, with annual sales of more than a billion dollars. On that journey he launched, acquired and ran businesses of all shapes and sizes. He lives in a nice house in a very nice part of London with some even nicer cars in the drive. Jealous? Whatever gave you that impression?He currently works as an independent advisor to media companies and institutional investors - so he's pretty much best-placed to deliver the kind of insight you need to get ahead in work - and, as importantly, life. 

The book itself is a handy primer for those starting business and a great recap on how to keep life and work in balance all in 28 conveniently short, punchy illuminating chapters (with some very cool illustrations from Bill Butcher). 

 

Wine Bar Theory - illustration by Bill Butcher
Wine Bar Theory - illustration by Bill Butcher

Wine Bar Theory takes its name from David’s main tenet in life - which is that you shouldn’t need to get up at 4am or work until midnight to get where you want to be (which obviously doesn't have to be the winebar). You just need to work smarter because busy is not the same as effective and if people are always busy doing urgent things they might never get round to what's important. Makes sense, right?

You can read a bit more about this next week when we run the first of our recent chats with David. For now though we're going to kick off with what else but the first piece of advice in the book: Make your business sustainable. Once you've read it, check out Wine Bar Theory in the store

 

Wine Bar Theory - illustration by Bill Butcher
Wine Bar Theory - illustration by Bill Butcher

"Now, before you start thinking about wind farms, climate change and the future of the planet, I don’t mean that. That’s a recent kidnapping of the word ‘sustainable’, which was around doing a perfectly good job for years before anyone thought of installing a solar panel or growing themselves a turf roof.

Let’s set ‘sustainable’ free again. It simply means ‘can keep going’. People who run businesses are often encouraged by people who don’t (usually called advisers) to write lots of documents and presentations about the strategic vision and mission of their business. This is great for the advisers because it gives them something to talk about, for months, sometimes years. Because advisers want to be sustainable too they tend to prolong this as long as they can, and create wealth for themselves while they do.Trouble is, it’s usually a waste of time for the business they are advising.

 

Wine Bar Theory - illustration by Bill Butcher
Wine Bar Theory - illustration by Bill Butcher

Every business can come up with its mission in one minute, and write it on a piece of paper you could stick on a fridge. Here, for example, is a mission statement for a business that makes cakes: 'We make cakes. We want to keep going.’ OK, just to be clear, that only works as a mission statement if you are a cake business. Using those exact words would worry people if you were a mountain guide business.

To write the mission statement for the business you work in, tune the first sentence a bit to make it say what you do. The second sentence should work just fine, whatever business you are. Leave it be. ‘We want to keep going.’ Then tell the advisers they can go and keep going, too. Hooray! You’ve already saved some time and money. Now you’re in business. Simple."

Like what you've read? Let us know below or just check out Wine Bar Theory in the store.


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Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
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