Author: Oli Barrett

The Online Business Embassy

The Online Business Embassy

Here’s an idea;

The UK should open an Online Business Embassy as soon as possible.

Here’s what it should have;

1) A regular showcases of British companies looking to go global.

2) A warm welcome for international business visitors including an embassy concierge service making introductions.

3) Plenty of opportunities to connect British companies with global partners and investors, and international companies with British partners and investors.

4) Spaces to learn about international markets.

5) Regular virtual events to share market insights and inspiring stories.

6) A special focus on health, cleantech and education in the wake of COVID-19.

7) The full support of HM Government and significant backing from the private sector.

What do you think? What do you like? What’s missing?

The Online Business Embassy. Created by the UK to connect the world of business.




Remember restaurants? Here’s a tip. Instead of asking the waiting staff “what do you recommend?”, try asking “what do you recommend, for someone who eats everything and is fairly hungry”. I guarantee the answers will be better.

Too often, the simple “what do you recommend?” gets the answer “it depends what you like” or “it depends how hungry you are”.

I’ve been thinking about questions because recently I’ve been kicking myself. For weeks, I’ve been asking people “what are the changes you’ve seen during the pandemic which you think are worth keeping?”. Time after time, I’ve heard an interesting but limited reflection around flexible or home working.

Instead, I should have asked this; “APART from more flexible and home working, what are the changes you’ve seen during the pandemic which are worth keeping? And HOW do we keep them”

This is a time when so many changes are worth exploring, and preserving.

  • How can funders remain this dynamic?
  • How can skills-based volunteering support people & places left behind?
  • How can some education programmes remain virtual
  • How do we “follow the science” on climate change?
  • How can we maintain this rise in community spirit?
  • How can a renewed belief in what’s possible be captured?

What about YOU? What’s your answer to my NEW question?

Questions and Answers

Questions and Answers

As I boarded the train at Paddington, I suspected that I would be leaving London for some time. After four days of chairing two events, I put brochures, scripts and business cards into my backpack, and headed for home.

That evening, I said over dinner that I thought that we should prepare for six months without any live events. Unusually pessimistic. But, I was right.

I also confided that my hosting days were on hold, at least for now. I was wrong.

In the past seven days, I have hosted seven episodes of two different podcasts, filmed interviews with guests from Europe to the US, and chaired roundtables with contributors from London to Melbourne.

There have been wobbles, making things up, distractions. Wobbles, as a producer wondered why my camera kept moving. I didn’t like to admit that it was resting on the ironing board.

Making things up, as my shining forehead caused a colleague to request an urgent delivery of makeup.

Distractions, as the neighbours received a delivery on a recording day – of a small, shiny digger.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and I’m fortunate to work with some incredibly inventive people.

Who knows what will happen next. I don’t have the answers.

I’m just lucky to be asking some of the questions.

Seeing The World Again

Seeing The World Again

“The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” Eden Phillpotts

Perhaps that is one of the things that has been happening over the past few months. A sharpening of wits. A heightening of the senses.

If so, then we now have an opportunity to do much more than simply preserve the changes worth keeping.

We have an opportunity to see the world again.

To acknowledge the many organisations which were always there, but hidden. The people we too often passed on the street. The opportunities which we didn’t stop to consider.

What an opportunity we now have for a new kind of social orienteering. Exploring for ways to fulfil our increased desires to help other people, to connect with different generations, to support those in need.

In the months to come, there will be many things to repair and rebuild. There will be new things to create.

So let’s not miss the chance to discover the “old” things too. The things that were there all along. To see them for the first time – and again, with fresh eyes.

The Reframery

The Reframery

Note To Self.

The framing shop in the shire is closed. Now is the time to think differently.

Now is the time to start a “reframery”.

As Aragorn (played by Viggo Mortensen) in the Lord of the Rings says, “there is always hope”. Or, to quote another great Dane, “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

So I see your 6 months of cancelled work. You, and thousands of others. And I raise you these 6 choices from your newly opened reframing shop;

1) You are a resting actor. Think Midsomer Murders. Mustard chords. Dies before the second ad break. Work on your health, rest, call your agent. Hell, get an agent. Know that the phone will ring again.

2) This is a dry spell. The rain will be back. In the meantime, conserve water.

3) You didn’t ask for a sabbatical. But here it is. Enjoy it.

4) This is a drought. You must find new ways to survive. Prepare to leave the shire. This is more than a dry spell- you need to do different things.

5) You are Tom Good (played by Richard Briers) in the Good Life. Embrace this new life. Don’t look back. Plant some radishes.

6) This is a blank sheet. Begin again. Think about all of the new things you can create and do.

The shops will open again. In the meantime, open your mind and get reframing.