So you want to run an event? 5 classic pitfalls to avoid

Making money, Scanner resources 2 Comments

I know that lots of scanners have ideas for live events – whether it’s a themed party or a speaking event like Scanners Night. So I invited our resident expert and my co-organisor of Scanners Night, Sarada Chaudhuri of Event Detective to give her most essential tips for beginners:

Many, many years ago, when the world entered a new millennium, Britney had just “Done It Again”, and Facebook and Twitter were yet to take the world by storm, I was learning the ropes on how to organise events, with no idea that I’d love doing it so much, it’d turn into a full-time career. But my journey to becoming confident in working with suppliers, fixing an AV disaster at the last minute, and calming down a nervous speaker was paved with its fair share of mishaps and embarrassments…

These days, when I’m not planning an event, I love to show people how to do them. In particular, I can guide you in how to avoid the most common problems that can happen, especially if you’re organising an event for the first time.

Here, I’ve put together a list of the 5 most common pitfalls – yes, they’ve all happened to me too. But more importantly, I’ll show you how to avoid them, so your first event can go smoothly.

Number 5 – Plan? What plan?

Yes, it’s that old cliché – fail to plan and you plan to fail. Yes, it is possible to ‘wing it’, especially with small events, but the problem is that 99% of the time, something will happen that you didn’t quite expect…

So if you’re putting off getting an event plan together because you think it’s complicated, think again. Even something basic will do e.g. date and time of the event, roughly how many people you expect, whether or not you’re providing catering, whether or not you need any technical equipment etc. The beauty of this is that as long as you have a basic outline, you can add to it as you go along.

This is how many event plans and schedules evolve, even for massive live events involving thousands – the more you do them, the more you see the common things you need to include each time, and less chance of things going wrong!

Number 4 – Help! I’m being attacked by a swarm of suppliers!

The common mistake is that you ‘stick a pin in the Internet’ and Google spews hundreds of caterers, AV technicians, venues etc. and you get so overwhelmed, you just pick the first one you come across for an easy life. The trouble is, though, that you rarely get what you want, and can end up seriously out of pocket.

So, before you reach for the computer, take a moment to think about people you/friends/family may already know who can provide you with a venue, food, PA system for a low cost, and who will listen to what you want. Try Twitter, Facebook and Linked In too – you’ll be surprised how many people are willing to help.

Number 3 – Do I really have to visit all those venues?

Yes, I’m afraid you do.

When planning an event, the venue is generally your biggest expense, so you want to spend a bit of time making sure it’s the right one. Yes, I know that many venues have lovely websites with dazzling photos, but there really is no substitute for visiting the venue, and getting a feel for it yourself. A photo won’t tell you if the AC works, or if the toilets are nearby, or how far the nearest Tube is (trust me).

Again, if you follow the tips in point 4, you won’t be spending time visiting hundreds of venues for weeks – just start by picking your favourite, and go from there.

The added bonus of visiting a venue? You get to sweet talk the manager into giving you a good deal!

Number 2 – People would be crazy to miss this event! So why is no one signing up?

Do people actually know your event’s happening? You know, it’s so easy to get wrapped in the awesomeness of your event, the magic of your sound-and-light show that your technical friend put together, and the wonderful home-made cookies people will get as they walk through the door, that sometimes we (yes, that has included me) forget the very basic things of actually promoting our event.

And now that we’re in the age of social media, there’s no need to spend a lot, or even any, money on this. Set up a Facebook Event and invite all your friends. Or, if you want to be fancy about it, set up a special Facebook Page. Maybe use a free blogging platform like WordPress or Blogger to put together a basic webpage that tells people the key details like when, where, what, how much etc. And, don’t forget Twitter!

And the cherry on top? Make sure to tell people why they should literally drop everything and rush down. If you’re really proud of some aspect of the event (the cookies, the technical extravaganza) then please let people know! This is no time to be shy…

Number 1 – Well, I’ve been super-organised and booked all the suppliers etc. well in advance. That should be it, right?


Sadly, I’ve been on the receiving end of misunderstandings with suppliers as to exactly how high that balloon sculpture should be, or where the loading bay is. I tell you, the no.1 enemy of successful events is miscommunication.

So, once you’ve had your initial meeting/booking with your supplier, check in regularly as the event draws closer, so you both know what’s going on. It’s also the best way to nip any problems in the bud.

So there you have it. Just keep these things in mind, and you’ll be able to handle most of the things that will crop up in your event.

But hang on. What if there’s more problems that freak you out? Well, don’t worry – you can get more help from me below.

– Sarada

Get more of Sarada’s event tips

Go to and signup for regular free tips on how to avoid event nightmares.

Or ‘Like’ the Event Detective Facebook Page and ask Sarada a question.

And of course, say ‘Hi’ when you next come to Scanners Night!

How to be a Super Successful Scanner

Creativity, Making money, Productivity 3 Comments

Watch this video of Suzy Greaves, named as “One of the top 10 gurus to turn your life around” by the Daily Mail as she interviews me, John Williams, about the challenges of being a successful Scanner and the secrets to conquering them.

It’s time Scanners knew how to become that very rare thing – The Super Successful Scanner.

Learn the secrets of the Super Successful Scanner

I’ve spent all my working life searching for the solution to the challenges of being a scanner.

And I reckon I’ve cracked it.

SWLP BookLast year I won an international book deal (without all the usual slog that entails), wrote 70,000 words, and hit my deadline. Screw Work, Let’s Play: How to do what you love & get paid for it is published next month by Pearson.

Screw Work Let’s Play has been selected as a “Buzz Book” in Sunday Times Style Magazine this Sunday and described as:

“A compelling 10-step escape from corporate life that could spell a rash of resignation letters”
Fleur Britten, Sunday Times Style Magazine

Aside from this, I’ve been fortunate to achieve some remarkable things for someone so unfocussed and naturally lazy:

  • I quit my job as Deloitte Consultant to consult independently to blue chip organisations like the BBC, often at a rate of over £1000/day (meaning I only needed to work for 3 months a year)
  • I turned a full-time job offer into a 3-day a week freelance gig that paid me the same income – so I could do whatever I wanted 2 days a week
  • Cold-called the Guardian newspaper to win my first piece of paid writing with no prior experience and had some of my experimental music played on radio stations around the world,
  • I grew a meeting of a handful of people in a bar into the successful Scanners Night event with up to 70 paid attendees
  • I’ve built and managed over a dozen websites and blogs, and used internet marketing to build an audience of 1000s of email subscribers, blog readers, and twitter followers

Now I want to share what I’ve learned in all these adventures to help you become that very rare thing – the Super Successful Scanner.

So you too can enjoy the creativity, variety, and idea generation you love andhave the shear buzz of real world results: seeing your creations out there in the world, reading your words in print, sharing your ideas and expertise on TV, or building a successful business – and finally making great money from it all.

Welcome to Scanner School

For the very first time I am running a Scanner School to show you how to achieve serious success as a Scanner.

It’s a 3 week evening course at a very special price and it starts soon.

Here’s what you’ll learn:


How to choose the right creative or business project to do next – one that you’ll love doing and will actually make some money! How to choose projects that don’t make you feel trapped but instead feed your need for creativity, ideas and self-expression.


How to follow through to get stuff done without making yourself miserable. How to complete important stuff even if you have the attention span and self-discipline of a 2 year old on coca cola.


How to be successful (and even get rich & famous) for something despite the crazy random diversity of your interests and projects. How to attract new opportunities and income without the usual hard slog of relentlessly selling yourself.

Sound good?

Download Scanner School Now

For a limited time, you can download the entire Scanner School lesson series for just £9.97.
Click the button below to find out more.

Book Now

How to have your best Scanner year yet

Creativity, Making money, Productivity, Scanner Nights Comments Off on How to have your best Scanner year yet

John Williams

Listen to the founder of Scanners Night, John Williams and discover how to have your best year yet as a scanner or multi-faceted creative person.

Have a brilliant year as a Scanner without New Year resolutions, career plans, or SMART goals – and make more money than you have before!

Listen to the whole talk and you’ll go away with your own Back Of An Envelope Plan for the year that’s simple, exciting, effective, and doesn’t box you in.

Is this the year you make your own business work?

Do your plans for the year include finally making good money from work you enjoy?

Whether you’re self-employed and want to boost your business, or you’re in a job and looking to launch your own thing, don’t miss the chance to discover John’s Blueprint to do what you love and get paid for it.

Read about this month’s Scanners Night event here

Why we sabotage our projects

Artists, Creativity, Making money, Productivity 1 Comment

Bestselling author and entrepreneur Seth Godin outlines a common creative affliction: sabotaging our projects just before we show them to the world.

Godin targets our “lizard brain” as the source of these primal doubts, and implores us to “thrash at the beginning” of projects so that we can ship on time and on budget.

Make this the year you start turning your ideas into real world projects. Find out how at January Scanners Night

Effortless focus with Nina Grunfeld

Creativity, Making money, Productivity, Scanner Nights Comments Off on Effortless focus with Nina Grunfeld

We Scanners hate to focus on one thing for too long yet if we don’t focus at all, how can we ever bring all our great ideas to fruition?

At October Scanners Night Nina Grunfeld showed us the secret to “Effortless Focus”; how to find your natural way to focus without making yourself crazy with boredom! Nina Grunfeld is a Scanner and yet has created a business, Life Clubs, running weekly workshops in 12 locations around the UK and has still found time to write 3 great books.

Nina is a also an enthusiast of the Enneagram and explains why Scanners are “Epicures” and what that means.

Do have a listen – just click the play button below.

Nina runs an exercise in this recording with the balance chart. You can get your copy to fill on the LifeClubs website here.

Read more about Life clubs and find your nearest one here

NEWSFLASH: Scanners Night is running its first ever one day workshop called “Find your story” – read more here

Barbara Sher: 4 Great Videos for Scanners

Artists, Creativity, Making money, Productivity, Scanner resources 1 Comment

Here are several superb new videos from Barbara Sher who originally coined the term “Scanner”.

These were shot on her recent Scanner Retreat in France which she runs several times a year. The next one is in Corfu.

They’re short and well worth watching.

What you love is what you’re good at

Barbara says, building a successful life begins with seeing the importance of doing everything you love.

Barbara Sher talks about Happiness Levels

H-Levels are one of the many ways to find what you love.

Barbara Sher talks about Resistance

Barbara introduces the theme of Resistance. Getting to know the nature of your inner obstacles is one of the steps to building a life you will love.

Barbara Sher: Do you like to Design, Execute, or Maintain?

Who you are will determine how you do your best work. Are you a designer, or do you love turning plans into reality? Maybe keeping things running is what you do best…

You can follow Barbara on twitter as @barbarasher. And while you’re at it, why not follow me with news of Scanners Night and other creative tidbits – @johnsw.

Find out how you can use the power of youtube and twitter for your projects and businesses at July Scanners Night.

What’s your archetype?

Making money, Scanner Nights 4 Comments

Creative people, particularly Scanners, tend to have a lot of different interests and run multiple projects simultaneously. This keeps life interesting but makes it difficult for us to easily capture what we do in a way that potential contacts, clients or customers can grasp.

At May Scanners Night, John Purkiss showed us how to pull the various strands together, using a simple model based on Jungian archetypes.

Are you the Caregiver, the Creator, the Explorer, the Hero, the Innocent, Jester, the Lover, the Magician, the Ordinary Guy, the Outlaw, the Ruler, or the Sage?

You can listen to his entire talk for free right now – just click the play button below.

Read the archetypes list

Read the complete list of archetypes in an extract from Brand You here.

Get the book

Brand You Book
John Purkiss and David Royston-Lee, a business psychologist, have written a book entitled BRAND YOU – Turn Your Unique Talents into a Winning Formula.

The book will be published on May 18th. Find out more at

John studied economics and has an MBA. He has worked in banking, management consultancy and software. For the past 12 years he has been an executive search consultant or headhunter. He occasionally invests in the companies for which he finds finance directors and other board members. As well as writing books, he takes photographs. See

Come to Scanners Night

Scanners Night is an event for creative people who love to learn new stuff, have many interests and get bored easily.

Scanners Night is on the 2nd Wednesday of every month and each one features a different speaker on a fascinating topic.

Read about June Scanners Night with San Sharma here.

How to turn your wild idea into a business

Making money, Scanner Nights 1 Comment

April Scanners Night was wonderfully inspiring. Our 4 speakers have all created a business and a lifestyle unlike any other in the world and you can listen to the recording of how they did it right here:

Click to listen to April Scanners Night

Sophie Boss, Beyond Chocolate

Sophie Boss created Beyond Chocolate with her sister Audrey. Beyond Chocolate shows women how to ditch diets forever, transform their relationship with food and lose weight in the process. Sophie and Audrey are author of the Beyond Chocolate book published in 2006 and are now recruiting “Chocolate Fairies” to take their mission nationwide of helping women start to enjoy food again.

Petra Barran, ChocStar

Choc Star is Britain’s only touring choc-mobile – converted from an ice cream van. Petra tours the country, making delicious chocolate goodies from local ingredients to sell from the van. She’s just completed a Chocstar Tour of Britain meeting strangers all over the country who invite her in for dinner in return for one of her hand-made chocolate desserts. Her next mission: to take the van acrosss America.

Sam Bompas and Harry Parr of Jellymongers

Jellymongers create fine English jellies, design bespoke jelly moulds and curate spectacular culinary events. Previous projects have included creating the wobbly Millenium bridge in jelly and an entire scale model of Barajas Airport in, you guessed it, jelly. And they’ve only just started. In April, Sam and Harry are creating Alcoholic Architecture with a walk-in breathable cocktail in Central London.

How to make yourself famous

Making money, Scanner Nights, Scanner resources 3 Comments

March Scanners Night was buzzing last night. Joanne Mallon showed us how to get publicity for our projects and businesses without spending £5000 a month on a PR company.

We then did a little bit of Scanner-style networking to help everyone get key contacts and ideas for their current projects. Some of the results were remarkable!

You can listen to the recording of Joanne’s whole talk by clicking the link below:

Joanne Mallon: Scanners Night March 2009

I really recommend signing up to Joanne’s newsletters which are full of interesting tidbits. Joanne’s website is Also check out her blog.

And if you’d like to be interviewed on TV about what you do but don’t know how to make it happen, take a look at this.

The next Scanners Night is planned for Wednesday May 13th – read the full down here.

Be sure to enter your email on the front page to get notified of future Scanner Nights.

Step Off The Hamster Wheel

Making money, Scanner Nights, Uncategorized Comments Off on Step Off The Hamster Wheel

Hamster on a wheelGoing self-employed or starting your own business takes a lot of work in the early stages.

You can start to feel like a hamster on a wheel running faster and faster and not going anywhere.

Before you know it, you’re working all the hours available to you (and a few more) and still not seeing much return.

Part of this is inevitable when first launching something. Ask NASA; the Apollo rockets used the vast majority of their fuel just to lift off and travel the first 20 miles. The rest of the 240,000 miles were a breeze in comparison.

The problem is that it’s easy to get used to working hard and being very very busy – and not checking whether what we’re busy with will actually produce the results we want.

Unfortunately, the way we assume business works when we first try it for ourselves is not always correct. I know I invested considerable effort into projects early on that didn’t pan out the way I expected. That’s why it’s great to get tips from people who have been there before us, because it’s like taking a sneaky shortcut.

On Wednesday November 19th you can come and learn from 3 experts who have tried all the stuff that doesn’t work in launching a business and have then found the stuff that does. Mike, Judith and John of the Creative Entrepreneurs Club will be boiling down all those years of experience into 3 critical things that will help you make twice the money in half the time (and have some fun while you’re doing it).

Come to November Scanners Night and find out how to step off your own hamster wheel.

Book your place for November Scanners Night now.

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