Why I Decided To Write A Book

BBOP book

With my book launch date now looming, you may well be wondering how I got here: what gives me any authority to write about ethical business? In this post I break it down into 3 bite-sized chunks:

– A whistle-stop tour of my career to date.

– How I ended up working with my esteemed co-authors.

– Why I believe marketing has a crucial role to play in helping to shape a better world.

Where I came from:

For the first 20 years of my professional life I was what might be regarded as a professional hedonist. I found success in the dance music industry in the 1990s. 

My work as a DJ and music producer took me round the world partying, many times. Most weekends promoters would book me to play and pay me to perform at their event, covering all travel expenses.

I had various managers and booking agents who ensured my calendar was busy and that the destinations were comprehensive – from over night trips to play in European clubs and festivals (from Belgium to Ibiza) to more involved multi-date tours of the USA. I played several times at Fuji Rock (Japan), Glastonbury and Reading festivals (UK).

Touring as a musician, I got a unique perspective on the planet and its people – all through the lens of a club DJ. 

Tim Healey dj

The places I traveled to, and especially the people I met along the way, helped shape my world view – from charming tour managers in Israel and drivers in Bali to party people in Poland and Formula 1 event promoters in Singapore; from heroic underground party organisers trying to run events against all the odds in Moscow to passionate house music lovers in San Francisco. 

Alongside the heroes there was a shadier side: the corrupt policemen in Brazil laundering their money through my events and the sons of government officials who had been granted exclusive permission to put on a raves in Almaty, Kazakhstan or Delhi, India – I met all types – but these varied experiences helped me hone my evaluation, decision making and working relationship skills. 

As the gigs came in, I continued my path as a music producer. I maintained my own recording studio working with artists from across the globe, running my own record labels and managing other electronic musicians. 

On a shoestring, I produced music videos, branding, label artwork and websites armed with a little black book of talented budget creatives.

After a great innings of around 20 years, cult success, a slew of dance music releases, and some reasonably regular BBC Radio 1 airplay, I began to see diminishing financial returns from my first love: music. So I flipped my career in 2011, and became – as comedian Bill Hicks once said – one of “Satan’s little helpers” and moved into advertising. 

At the time, the key words in the ad world were ‘disruption’ and ‘maverick’ – which apparently I represented, having had no formal training in the industry but instead offering all the international experience of a DIY 20 year career at the cutting-edge of entertainment, marketing myself, my labels and my artists. 

Mentioning that I had DJ’d at the infamous Burning Man Festival in Nevada, USA, 3 times managed to get me hired at McCann, London, and I was off.

For a few years bounced around the industry from ad agency to ad agency, working with super-talented teams at Google Creative Labs, YouTube and for brands like Disney and BMW, slowly moving up the chain to Creative Director, before becoming a consultant and moving to a more strategic role as an Outsourced Marketing Director. 

These days I work closely with CMOs and their teams helping to optimise the marketing strategy and tactics for FTSE-listed brands and companies.


Tim Healey Launch Academy

How I Met My Co-Authors:

Having met Neil Witten when we were both guest speakers at a conference, he invited me to join him and Nikki Gatenby in some round-table conversations. Neil, Nikki and I met every Wednesday morning for 9 months. 

Our agenda was to discuss the possibilities around a world that did “better business”. By “better business” we meant business that was optimised on all fronts – operationally and also ethically. 

We all came from slightly different perspectives: Neil from the technology and entrepreneurial side, Nikki from successful agency management with a focus on optimising teams within businesses (having already written a best-seller on this topic) and me, a former music producer/DJ turned outsourced marketing director.

We had a shared vision of a network of like-minded business leaders who would share their knowledge of operating companies successfully in what we perceived of as a modern, future-facing way.

Our weekly (and often very animated) discussions continued as we began to assemble building blocks of what would ultimately be the backbone of our book.

We pooled resources, shared our learnings, and, like sponges, absorbed research, anecdotes and books by authors also exploring this space. 

Neil recommended Yancy Strickler’s inspirational “This Could Be Our Future: A Manifesto For A More Generous World”, which we all found riveting. I then devoured Patagonia’s Yvonne Chounard’s “Let My People Go Surfing”, where he championed an environmental and “people-first” approach to business.

Alongside these seemingly alternative business views, we soaked up writing from authors like John Higgs: “The Future Starts Here: An Optimistic Guide To What comes Next” and agreed that as a race, as a planet, we have everything to play for, and business can help to set the new agenda.

In 2021 we hit upon the idea that a “how to” manual for business leaders who want to do ‘more’ with their businesses. We also established our passionate belief that, if operated in and ethical and considered way, all businesses and the planet would benefit from this approach.

Fundamental to our thinking was the creation of movement for change; a deliberate decision taken by business founders and leaders with soul, to base the way they work on meaningful goals, rather than exclusively pursuing financial success.

At some pace, we collectively established the “7 Ps”. The concept that A ‘better business on purpose’ gives equal weight to: purpose; people; positioning; platforms; product; profit; planet (the 7 Ps).

It was immediately apparent to all of us, as music lovers, and especially to me as a former recording artist and music producer, that a super-simple way to manifest these 7 business levers was for them to be seen as a hi-fi/stereo separate: a graphic equaliser unit. 

Remember those? They still exist in studios, and on old home stereo systems and indeed if you use iTunes, there is one built in to your app.

For the uninitiated, a stereo graphic equaliser allows you to add or subtract specific audio frequencies from the song that you are listening to. Want more bass or “low end sound” on your stereo? No problem, increase the low frequency graphic equaliser above zero. 

Want less treble? Simple pull the relevant high or treble frequency slider down – into the minus – to taste. Want the middle frequencies to stay as they are – fine – leave the equaliser on zero. 

Just as the graphic equaliser allowed you to adjust your audio, via a number of slider knobs, our ‘Pqualiser’ would be a super-simple way to register how a company was performing. 

Profit good? Then adjust the profit slider accordingly. If you felt that your company is doing some work on promotion, but that its approach to its positioning could improve, maybe that might be on zero. 

If your business’ current attention to the environment and local community was non-existent – then pull the Planet slider below zero.

We hoped that passionate business leaders would score their business on the Pqualizer and let the board-room discussions begin.

It was never intended to be scientific – purely a conversational jump-off point for leadership teams to discuss when reviewing company performance. The idea being that this simple graphic representation would promote constructive dialogue within organisations.

The Authors: Neil Witten, Nikki Gattenby, Tim Healey. Photo: James Hole

It was just as these ideas came together that I was driving to visit my mother one Sunday and listening to BBC Radio 4. Being interviewed was the respected academic Baron Peter Hennessy. 

His views chimed with ours: liberal capitalism is the best system that we have available to us in society today – but we all have a duty of care to each other: to end poverty, demand equity and protect the planet.

I was so impressed by his argument, that I contacted him to interview him – and the interview features in our book. Indeed these drivers are shared by our chosen charity Global Citizen (with which 25% of the profit of our book will be shared).

Why Marketing Has It’s Role to Play In Making The World A Better Place:

I passionately believe that we can stop the accelerating climate change, be more human, and give more back, but also simultaneously run businesses that are rewarding and profitable.

To do these things, takes considered, deliberate action and in this book we have done our best to bring these concepts together as a source of inspiration for the socially minded business leader.

May ‘making yours a Better Business On Purpose’ be your next business adventure.

“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered” G.K. Chesterton

Register now to get your ore-release book chapters and access the Pqualizer.