So often you hear of new leaders joining an organisation and laying out their 100 day plan. New impetus and drive, a renewed focus on key initiatives, a ruthless prioritisation of effort, a to do list on steroids.
It’s often hot air, and merely designed to get people off their backs and give them time to take stock. But it can also be hugely self-fulfilling, and enable them to get an awful lot done in no time at all.
As a former head of PR with the journalistic trait of needing a hard deadline to focus my mind, it’s truly amazing what can be achieved in just 100 days.
In late March my business partner John and I met with a couple of event agencies. One we knew from our Asda days, another recommended by a former colleague.
Those meetings set in place a timetable that seemed ambitious to say the least.
Could we create a pop-up retail format from scratch for a new entrant to the UK market, secure prominent pitches at six key events and festivals this summer, help curate 50 products from a range of more than 5000, import all the necessary stock in all the right sizes, and get it through customs, recruit social media influencers and engage them in the brand, employ an entirely new field sales team, train them, clothe them, and gee them up, map out all the logistics for each deployment, and, bring the entire project in under budget?
99 days to go. Let’s see.
Our first stroke of good fortune was partnering with CPM, a company we knew well from our collective years at Asda. Part of the Omnicom group they introduced us to sister boutique agency and experiential events specialist Hyphen.
Something clicked. The ideas flowed and the fun began. Meetings were laughter filled, but fiercely focused on the art of the possible. Egos were left at the door, and suddenly the prospect of landing a programme of activity this summer started looking more than just doable, it became an exciting opportunity not to be missed.
Skip on a month and we’d settled on our event stand. Two PODs (think rectangle metal boxes, about a third bigger in all dimensions than a shipping container), a climbing wall (having dismissed axe throwing as only being fun once, but not a repeat activity), a pimp your laces bar (idea stolen from the brand’s own US event activity programme), and New England’s equivalent to welly wanging, the L.L.Bean boot toss.
Hyphen struck fantastic deals with festivals, CPM started recruiting brand ambassadors for its field sales team, and we settled in on three tiers of social influencers.
By June our factory in Wales was in full swing turning two metal boxes into wooden clad shops, with a living wall, impactful back lit vinyls and decking out front, and traversing climbing wall on one side. All fully transportable on one low loader lorry, and craned into place and assembled in a matter of hours.
21 days to go, and our first visit as a team to the factory to see the final set up. No product to merchandise at this stage, what with it still being picked and packed on the other side of the Atlantic. And by the way, still no business bank account, EORI import licence, shipping insurance, or final legal agreement signed. All mere formalities (we reassured ourselves).
As with any large scale event with multiple moving parts, by the middle of the final week, everything started slotting into place.
Our holding depot in Yorkshire processed our very first order of stock, the Land Rover Defender was branded up, the fire pit on loan was delivered, the social influencers got their samples, the climbing wall’s engineering challenge was solved, the bank account was opened and linked to our PayPal terminals, the PR coverage landed, and we made our way to Timber Festival in The National Forest.
100 days from start to finish. A triumph of team work, hard graft, sheer determination and tenacity.
As I watched the final headline act (my favourite band Hope and Social) as the sun set behind the stage, our shop packed up and closed for the night, I felt the proudest I’ve ever felt in my career.
Just imagine what can be achieved 100 days from now. You never know, it may just happen.