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

5CT March 2015

A brilliant new podcast steps up. Drones are now making haunting films. These cave paintings sent an art critic into paroxyms of joy. David Carr’s course syllabus is a trove. And, a buzzy new entry into the music streaming world. “And all of us laughed as we walked and drove and rode our way back to our lonely, lonely houses.” ― Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

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When writers speak | A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment

Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter have launched a podcast, "A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment." (Anthony Pidgeon/Redferns, Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter have launched a podcast, “A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment.” (Anthony Pidgeon/Redferns, Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

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5CT February 2015

The internet is one dark field of battle. The pictures out of Paris bewitch, bother and bewilder. A smart storytelling publisher chases commercial storytelling gigs. As you document the world, your smart phone camera goes wide and long. Alexey, with love for photography, from Russia. “The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh.” ― Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

Instagram photo by andri_benec

Instagram photo by @andri_benec

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5CT January 2015

O ne fine writer says a pen might change the world. The Guardian celebrates the birthday of a fine jazz label.  An English filmmaker films an America that’s a little off — and a little other. In tech, there is a nice clean way to write on your iPhone or Mac and sync your work to everywhere. And still another publisher is kicking out stories in a gorgeous mode. Happy 2015, I wish you wisdom and prosperity. “Do not read,” said Gustave Flaubert, “as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.” Make sure to scroll down to the end. A small treat awaits.

The world’s most famous jazz label – celebrated for its striking use of design as much as for its groundbreaking recordings – is 75 this year. John Fordham tells the story of Blue Note through a selection of its famous album covers. - The Guardian

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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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