It seems only yesterday that I was posting here about my new and very exciting job at Lonely Planet. The Innovation Ecosystem Manager (no, I never stopped having to explain to people what that meant – in the end I went with ‘do cool shit’).
In fact it’s been nearly two years since I left the BBC (kind of) to head to Australia, then head back to the UK and try to broaden the horizons of a company with pretty broad horizons. It felt like the perfect mesh of cool and tech, the chance to explore the world I’d been looking for in combination with the opportunity to do great things with a great company.
Leaving Lonely Planet was not as hard as I expected, mainly because I’d felt for a little while that LP had to concentrate on it’s bottom line during an extremely difficult time and doing outlandish cool stuff – or R&D as I like to call it – was simply not the best thing to be doing. The fact is that’s the right decision – if you are not able to follow through on a project you should have the intellectual honesty (thanks Matt G) to say so. Of course R&D is the very life-blood of any company looking to inhabit the digital sphere, but sometimes, just sometimes, you need to take a step back and make sure what you’re doing day-to-day is the right thing.
Lonely Planet has some inspirational and truly talented people working for it – to call out a few – I’ll start at the top – Matt Goldberg is simply one of the finest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work for. A keen eye for what really matters and enough ‘down with the kids’ cool to be approachable and engaging – when it comes to learning how to be a Leader, he’s at the top of my list along with Richard Titus and Ashley Highfield.
It’ll also come as no surprise that I hold Ken Hoetmer, Johnny Cussen and Julian Doherty personally responsible for all the greatest things that have come out of LP digital in the recent past – of course there’s a whole army of talented people behind them – but it’s these guys that are forging the path inside the organisation and these guys that are having a real impact on what the traveller gets when they engage with LP digitally – and bluntly – that’s all that really matters.
Finally I have to mention Vivek Wagle and Venessa Peach – both of them struggle with technology that feels as if it’s actively trying to stop you doing your job rather than helping you – to maintain an editorial digital presence that both inspires and engages – without them (and their cool teams – Andy, Lewti, Ali & Tom Hall I’m looking at you) – lonelyplanet.com would be a much poorer place.
So what now? Well as of about a month ago I’m the new Digital Director at Hachette UK – they’re a pretty big publishing company you may have heard of 😉 At some point down the line I’ll post more on my day-to-day role here, but for now – it’s a heady mix of new product development, and operational management – and what an exciting time to be at the very heart of publishing!