Leading up to the 5th anniversary of Brutal Pixie, I found myself feeling all sorts of uncomfortable feelings. Many of them were on the dark side. I’m not sure why; I suspect it’s because birthdays are a bit like that. One’s 29th year of life is much more diabolical, emotionally, than actually turning 30, for example.
In the week prior I had also been facing some really intense personal truths that I had never dealt with. The net result was that I cleared out a lot of baggage, and ended up in intense physical pain. While it was all resolved thanks to an amazing acupuncturist and some kick-ass Chinese herbal medicine, I was feeling washed out and flattened by the time Birthday #5 actually rolled around. Getting to the birthday event was difficult for me, and being social even more difficult.
But I did it, was happy that I did, and then felt a million bucks. Once the birthday passed, I came good - and then started to shine again. Make of that what you will.
So, right now we are restructuring.
Yep, company restructure. Again. Boys and girls, there is a reason why you are better off doing this properly the first time. This is the third time I have done this, and I’m in this place because I relied on someone else instead of asking three smart people for advice before jumping in.
It won’t be my last one, either. At some point, I want to turn Brutal Pixie into a cooperative. But I am not doing that until it’s warranted. By then I might have thought about several other options that might be better. Right now I’m sticking with what is effective.
It helps that I have an amazing team in my corner. The restructure itself is not painful. It’s everything else. New companies, new ABNs, new bank accounts, new charts of accounts… The fiddly bits. The bits that make life beautiful and buttery when they work, and like a stone in your shoe when they’re not quite right.
Of course, getting to set up a new company for the Trust means that I now own a company called Magical Humans Pty Ltd. And that freaking excites me.
First the ship, then the navigation
Alongside the restructure, I am rethinking everything about where we are and where we’re going. I have even seriously considered rebranding away from Brutal Pixie. '
Here’s why: Nobody understands it. I have had people flat-out say to me: That doesn’t even make sense. How is a pixie brutal? In conversation with new people, their faces curl like they’ve smelled a shit someone dropped on the floor, and they ask a second and a third time what the company name is. People don’t hear it properly; they don’t know what it is; by the time they ask a smarter question, they don’t care.
For now, I’m sticking with it - partly because the assets are so goddamned memorable. Once you see the Pixie, you can’t unsee the Pixie, I guess.
Anyway, that’s a conversation for another day.
In a sense the rethinking is a blessing, really. It means reconsidering:
What we’re actually doing and why
What are the key steps to getting there.
At some point in the last two-and-a-half years, I finally accepted that pushing the content strategy barrel is pointless. On the one hand, I don’t have the technical smarts for it (I’m not an information architect, I don’t do databases, I can’t get inside technology); and on the other hand, the market doesn’t give a fuck.
But writing and publishing? Ah, yes, that’s my specialty. Writing, I have in spades: I would write even if I couldn’t work. If that’s the metric, then writing is the game, no question. But it’s the publishing skill that makes writing fly.
If you don’t care about the quality or experience so much, writers are a fucking dime a dozen. But writers who are also qualified editors? Who are also experienced in being edited? Who are also experienced in publishing? In print and online? In editing and workflow? In production and distribution? They are quite rare beasts, and I am one of those magical creatures.
It also turns out that this is what the market needs.
For a long time, I was obsessed by the idea that what you should be doing is whatever is challenging, because the obstacle is what makes you grow. Well, that’s a whole lot of bullshit. If it’s easier to sell one thing, fucking well sell that thing. So, hello writing!
Anyway; here’s our bright and shiny new Hedgehog Concept:
The new concept is much more precise. You’ll note that the top segment is about designing and writing content for new publications. For us, these are publications inside businesses. It might be a website, a blog, a newsletter, a publication like The Next Five Years. It might be a magazine. It might be a journal, or a whitepaper or an ebook. It’s a publication. It’s business oriented because that’s the passion (in the pink segment).
Brutal Pixie is focused on long-term relationships, because that’s the greatest opportunity for the highest profit for us. That may change over time, depending on how the direction works. For example, once I have more ‘business design time’, I will be able to think more closely about the business model. If we design and produce publications, there is the potential for us to earn royalties out of those publications, for example.
The passion segment really talks to the market focus. We’re all about amazing service, great communities, and clarity. Even our clients will testify to that.
The [new] Hedgehog is already in use
Inside Brutal Pixie, I’ve named the Hedgehog Concept as The True North. It guides everything. It is already:
working to guide selection of curated content for The Sunday Letter (itself a publication, and which I am moving over here to Substack in the coming week)
working to guide products in the market and how we decide which clients to take on
working to guide our ongoing content audit ahead of a rebuild of the Pixie web assets.
But wait, there’s more…
Written down, it seems like a lot of work already in just one week. The truth of the matter is that I am also doing 97% of the client work myself. Nobody said moving from Solo Founder to Team was either easy or not-time-consuming.
I know I am spending 97% of my time, because in the past weekI have also been running an Active Time Analysis. How much am I Doing, Deciding, Delegating or Designing? The answer is that I am Doing wayyyyy too much.
Since Mike Michalowicz’s Clockwork hit my desk, I’ve been steadfastly working the recipe. This means that in the coming weeks and months, my Doing:Designing ratio is going to change. Naturally, I anticipate that the impact on the business will be significant.
And then, since reading Gene Simmons’s On Power this week, I’ve realised a whole lot of gaps in my personal branding that need to be rectified. The first step on that journey is to show up properly. Today after ballet (it’s Sunday), I ran an analysis of all of the influential people in my own, and related, industries to find out how they dress.
The results were remarkable to me. Who knew that a particular style of neckline was, well, endemic? No matter the continent or the audience, the synergy about necklines and accessories is incredible. And I am not doing it. Ever the individual, I have hit upon insights about dressing like the herd (yes, at the ripe age of 38) that are obvious to teenagers. It made me feel like I’d gone back to Grade One.
In some ways, this week has been about alignment. In others, it’s been about waking up. Waking up to myself, waking up to what I’m doing, waking up to where I’m going and where I’m taking this business.
The truth of the matter is that Brutal Pixie is now the job I’ve had for the longest in my life. Since it turned 5, I’ve found myself filled with a new sense of vigour and purpose. I know what I want to achieve right now and in the long-term, and I am less fussy about working on it as much as I want. I won’t apologise for that. And I want to work on it a lot.
That is, on it. Not so much in it. It might take me a long time to turn this ship, but turn it and scale it I will.