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5 things you might have missed this week

1. How to deal with tyre kickers

I'm not sure where the idea started that we're headed for a second Winter of Discontent. But while there may be plenty of trouble ahead, from a cost of living crisis to the on-going logistics issues that threaten shortages of essential supplies, there are also positive signs across the economy. One of these is the notable spike in UK M&A activity in 2021. At a recent Supper Club workshop on Maximising Capital Value, run in association with finnCap Cavendish, participants discussed the impact of this boom. With over 2,700 deals done in the first half of 2021 and valuations at an all-time high, business owners are being approached more often with unsolicited enquiries about buying their company. Peter Gray, a partner at finnCap Cavendish, offered some tips on how to deal with them.

2. The Big return is on

There's no doubt that a major part of the current economic wobbles is related to the pandemic. What's either heartening or alarming, depending on your perspective, is that The Big Return is now in full swing. A recent morning commute to London Bridge was a reminder of the "joys" of the City at full swing in rush hour. I hadn't missed it. And there remains a widespread reluctance to return to the office for a full five days a week. It is a subject that arouses heated debates whenever Supper Club members meet. In researching a post for the Club on the subject, I came across some excellent advice from Dan Ciampa in Harvard Business Review. Despite being published in February it remains worth a read for anyone struggling to arrive at a policy for the inevitably hybrid future.

3. billionaire tech founders

It was fascinating to read a thought-provoking (and at times alarming) cover story in the Newstatesman Magazine last week by Bruno Maçães, on the rise of the billionaire tech founder. He explored the implications of this new breed of super humans, their obsessions with big themes such as space exploration and immortality, and what the fallout might be of them becoming the dominant human archetype of our time (and potentially all time).

4.Off the wall

It was another odd week in British politics, with the sight of a Conservative Prime Minister giving a party leader's speech that went down badly with the business community. In essence they seemed less than pleased with being saddled with the blame for the current logistics and employment pickle, which the government is keen to now present as both part of a necessary transition and also the result of business making poor choices over the last decade. The debates on both sides are brilliantly summed up in this article by Robert Shrimsley in the Financial Times.

5. Book of the week

Companies of all sizes spend lots of hours and plenty of pounds thinking about visual identity, with whole teams fretting over the minor details of brand guidelines, such as secondary colour palettes, logo variations and correct fonts weights. At the same time there's often little spent on verbal identity. Yet what a business says has as much, sometimes more, impact than the design. This is brilliantly argued by author Chris West, whose latest book Strong Language explores a simple framework for creating coherent verbal identity. Chris hosted an online session for Supper Club members this week and explained why this matters. The best example he gave is the comparative valuations of two oat milk brands, Oatly and Rude Health. According to West the main difference between the two is the coherence of their brand voice. And the impact? Rude Health is valued at $70m, while Oatly with arguably a stronger verbal identity is worth $13bn.