Established: Lessons from the world’s oldest companies

 

Help us publish Established at Unbound, a crowd-funded publisher in London.

Established: 1198, 1498, 1515, 1519, 1534, 1570, 1698, 1705, 1715, 1759, 1824, 1891. An inn, a removals company, a butchers, a ferry, a printing press, a bell foundry, a wine merchants, a stone carvers, a scale makers, a brewers, an agricultural company, a gum manufacturer. How on earth have they managed that? And what are their secrets of survival?

In Established, twelve business writers set out to find the answers to these questions and to tell the stories of these companies that have survived scores of booms and busts, black sheep in the family and strange twists of fate.

But they’re not your typical team of business writers. The twelve are from the Dark Angels stable, the brand that since 2004 has been encouraging authentic voices in business writers through its residential courses and workshops. Storytelling is at the heart of the Dark Angels approach. In Established you will find that each of these enduring businesses has a great story, each of which is told in an individual voice that brings range and freshness to the book and makes it quite unlike the mainstream ‘how to’ hardback.

But the lessons the stories contain are every bit as instructive, from the eschewal of nepotism to the generational mantra of ‘humility and rebellion’. The reader will find contradictions, on questions like world domination or keeping it to the one shop. And that’s the joy of this book, that readers looking for insight as well as good old entertainment will gravitate towards the business that most resembles theirs in spirit and set-up if not in actual trade.

The lesson in every instance that is closest to the writers’ hearts is that the story itself is one of the greatest assets of every business – and when you’ve got over 500 years of records it’s quite a challenge to tell it, especially in a couple of thousand words. Established does just that.

I want to supp

Poets and maps, power and language

His name is Mr. Wendell Berry and we need his voice now more than ever. One startup, 57 trillion squares. This subversive intellect from Atlantic City has thought deeply about you, your country, your children, and your calling. A near perfect film about journalism and power. A beautiful writer leaves home for another language. “Without imagination, love stales into sentiment, duty, boredom. Relationships fail not because we have stopped loving but because we first stopped imagining.” – James Hillman

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Wendell Berry, the essential voice

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5CT November 2014

Escape from Microsoft Word

Escape from Microsoft Word

In this season of thanks, dear readers, I send you mine. This issue — a big heart tackles big injustices, a brilliant take down of a “church”, Greek philosophers and Microsoft Word, and I sign up for a handwritten note from Joan Didion. Plus, an amazing Seattle bookstore/cafe. Lastly, 5 cool keepsakes to revisit, and introducing The LIST. “I can, with one eye squinted, take it all as a blessing,” said Flannery O’Connor. If you like 5CT, squint one eye and share.

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5CT October 2014

PHOTOGRAPH BY STEPHEN WEISS / COURTESY BRIGHTON PHOTO BIENNIAL

PHOTOGRAPH BY STEPHEN WEISS / COURTESY BRIGHTON PHOTO BIENNIAL

Greetings from the north coast of California where they are literally running out of water. Day after day — the sun shines on. There are cruel intermissions, clouds gather, fog rolls in, a shower floats by. But the real thing is hard to come by. In this issue, Zadie Smith unpacks a beer ad, tools for writers and creatives, a trip around the literary Northwest and…a quirky tour of England. Enjoy, and pray for rain.

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5CT september 2014

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Well that was fascinating, Scotland. A great drama was made all the better by my friend, novelist-blogger-archangel-copywriter-musician and lover of independence, Jamie Jauncey. Jamie blogs over at A Few Kind Words. He’s a founder at Dark Angels Writers and is a writer of the first rank. His passionate yes dispatches and thoughtful posts are beautiful. Sign up, you’ll be better for it. This issue is packed…

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