Impossible Things with David Terrar S1 E10
DAVID TERRAR [00:00:27] Hi, this is David Terrar for Impossible Things with David Terrar. And today we’ve got a very good guest on but just to explain the impossible things business. We’re into third law where he says that any sufficiently advanced technology actually seems like magic. And we also like the queen in Alice in the looking glass, who does six impossible things for work before breakfast. And the person who does the most impossible things is my guest on the show. He’s the person responsible for making all this happen. And that’s Andy McLean. Andy.
ANDY MCLEAN [00:01:04] Hello there. I am feeling quite strange being the person being interviewed and not the interviewer.
DAVID TERRAR [00:01:12] See, Andy turned the tables on me recently, so I thought I’d do the same on him and put him in front instead of behind the camera. So, Andy, tell us who you are or what you do for Disruptive Live. For those that don’t know about it.
ANDY MCLEAN [00:01:25] Yeah, sure. So, my name is Andy McLean. I’m the MD for Disruptive Live, which is part of Compare the Cloud. We’ve been around for several years. But the Disruptive Live brand, it’s interesting. So we’ve got studios down in London and we create content and push it out to all over the place, to LinkedIn and Twitter and mail and so on. Most of it live, though we do some recordings of different things. And we cover all sorts of events, particularly in the tech space. So if you’ve ever seen broadcast from Cloud Expo or if you’ve ever seen some of the big names doing live broadcasts, there’s a chance that we were behind IBM and the like, yes.
DAVID TERRAR [00:02:12] Brilliant. And you’ve grown, so now you’ve got three full-time studios, although you can’t really get it out much to them at the moment.
ANDY MCLEAN [00:02:22] Yeah. Funny, I was there yesterday. Yes. So we have these three studios and we’re making changes to them in order to make them COVID compliant, social distancing compliant. So we start to use a lot more technology in order to do broadcasts which are less hands on. So things like TZ head” cameras in one of the studios for remote filming and just the third studio where we’re building this entire mural, which will publish soon. But it’s gonna look very stylish.
DAVID TERRAR [00:02:59] And you’ve always got great ideas for the studios that sounds really interesting. Did you think it was gonna, you know, take off the way it has when you started back a few years ago? Because it was a real success story.
ANDY MCLEAN [00:03:12] It’s interesting. The live element I will say when we were a little star up, came around by accident, we got given a stand an event, I think, 2015. And at that time it was like your stand at an event, put your magazines and your t shirts and things like that, and stand at two days. And we just thought, well, yeah, we were doing podcasts at that point. I thought we were thinking of maybe doing a podcast there, a podcast studio. But actually we thought, why don’t we we live stream. Now, this was back in the day when livestreaming wasn’t quite a thing. It worked on YouTube. I don’t think it worked on Twitter, certainly wasn’t up and running. And Facebook. I don’t think was up and running then. But we cobbled together a lot of iPhones and some kit and some sand and took the elements of podcasting and put it onto a live stream. And it was really successful. So we thought, oh, we like this. Let’s do this some works.
DAVID TERRAR [00:04:11] And you’ve always set up, whereas other people doing video and the like kind of think of it more like a TV show. You’re more like a live news broadcaster. You do everything live stream even when you’re recording.
ANDY MCLEAN [00:04:25] Yeah. So I mean, some there are exceptions. Sometimes people want things and they want to film the more traditional stuff. But generally, yeah. We what we do is we film everything. You know, we kind of got the idea from the 60s Doctor Who and that’s how they used to film their episodes. They used to film them as if they were live and then broadcast them on a later time. And it’s a very different experience. It’s a lot more lively and a lot more energy comes from it.
DAVID TERRAR [00:04:54] It’s much more authentic. It always feels more authentic by watching it and doing it.
ANDY MCLEAN [00:04:59] Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, we get good traction. And when we put things outlive, we get good traction. We get people commenting. So, hello, everybody that’s out there watching now. And yeah, it’s just such a different vibe. It’s cool.
DAVID TERRAR [00:05:13] Now, a big component of it is storytelling. So tell us a bit about the importance of storytelling.
ANDY MCLEAN [00:05:19] Well, this year. So this is it. I mean, for some people. Let’s talk about business. For some people. Corporate video can be quite dull and, well, they can, and that’s not a bad thing in some, there is horses for courses. But in some instances, these videos they don’t get watch. They don’t get you know, they just don’t get the traction that they probably deserve because a lot work goes into them. So we’re very much about telling the stories. If it’s a live thing, we try to break things down. So there’s a story. It’s a start middle and an end was the point of this thing. Why does it exist? When we’re making videos, we tell stories. We have this thing that we do on a glass board, which is essentially using video to tell a story. Writing on the front of it. And, you know, we’ve had some fantastic bestselling authors also doing that. And the whole idea is that they’ve got the concept, which is from their books. And they’re telling it. And in a few minutes on this kind of board and they just run through the story. And we’ve now started using more storyboards and things like that for productions that we put out there. And it’s great because people get involved. It’s less random. People get involved and they can kind of build up the story and oh let’s add more of this, let’s take this and things like that. So, yeah, it’s cool.
DAVID TERRAR [00:06:45] It’s a good way of doing it. And actually, I think it’s kind of an essential ingredient that we need to bring in, particularly for tech vendors. I mean, I don’t know if you had the same experience as me, but talking to a lot of tech vendors today, it’s kind of like within the tech industry, we get big disruptions that happen every so often. And we forget about storytelling. We get so wound up with the kind of like the insides of the technology that we’re selling. We’re actually all down in the bits and bytes detail instead of actually talking about what business outcomes the product’s all about. Do you find that a lot?
ANDY MCLEAN [00:07:20] Oh I, I find that immensely, I mean particularly during this current long term thing, I’ve found that I noticed a lot of things suddenly crop up, particularly regarding quite a well-known video conferencing sites. And yeah, you’re right, there is a bit of a tendency for things to just pop out there, just bluh particularly in video. What is this content? It just is it just exists for the sake of existing. So, yeah I think through the board, I think whether it be content on even the social media and things like that, the people go out, it’s good when it’s a story. It’s good when it’s part of something. It’s not just a random thing. So, yeah, absolutely. And yeah, I mean, a lot of people talk to me about the art of the storytelling. And, you know, it is a great thing. It’s I mean, it takes a little time. It takes some thought, it takes some planning, but the end results are always worth it.
DAVID TERRAR [00:08:23] Excellent stuff. How different as you’ve been coming into lockdown and to doing things everyone, working from home? How quickly did you guys adapt and how are you doing anything differently now?
ANDY MCLEAN [00:08:37] Well, I’m sitting here in my bedroom at the moment broadcasting. So it’s interesting because we have studios and we’re used to filming people in studios. But we did do remote interviews. Now, in terms of the technology that we used. Yes. Some of it, we had to get together a very short notice because we couldn’t necessarily get access to every single piece of equipment we wanted because we were in a lockdown, which was problematic. But, you know, it was it’s weird. We actually increased our daily output. So I have the Andy Show every day now. Which goes out and it’s a good reminder that things are there. And we speak to so many fantastic guests. But what’s also interesting is one of the things we always struggled with and I don’t think a lot of people struggle with, is getting new people on camera can be very difficult to get new people on camera. And, you know, just get them get to talk, like we’re talking now. And I think the forcing that to work from home and this thing but Zoom in there. No, just do it on a daily basis. I have no problem getting people now, there is yeah, I’ll do that. I’ll do that. I’ll do that. And yeah. No, it’s great so there have been some differences as a result. And certainly in terms of technology, we’ve, had to improvise in some ways, but I think we’ve come out of it. Yeah, I think we’ve come over quite well.
DAVID TERRAR [00:10:02] Excellent. And and so you’re actually, I totally get this kind of scheduling thing in that, you know, it’s it’s more of a big deal if I’ve got to allocate, you know, a day to come visit you on the South Bank if you want to interview me for half an hour and I can do it anywhere at any time. Suddenly, suddenly you get access to a high level of people. It sounds good.
ANDY MCLEAN [00:10:23] Yeah. No. Absolutely. And. Yeah, I don’t use the line because it’s so opportunist, the phone ringing off the hook, but yet we put “our thing for guests” and everyday we get guests, we we haven’t struggled to get guests. It’s been good. And so many different people that we wouldn’t be able to do. And part of that might not be shyness. Part of that might be scheduling because, you know, historically, people are busy and they’ve been going to meetings and travelling and so on. And at the moment they’re not. So we’ve had the opportunity to speak some amazing people in this environment.
DAVID TERRAR [00:10:58] Isn’t it episode 43 that you just did today?
ANDY MCLEAN [00:11:04] Episode 43, yes I. had Jeff Mills from WordPress VIP who actually very interestingly, they all work, they all work from home. That’s, that’s been their thing when they set up the original WordPress team, set up that everybody works from home. They don’t call it remote working because it sounds as if they’re not part of the team. But certainly that all over the world they had 1200 employees or something like that. That’s been the norm for them. And that was really interesting to hear, because obviously we’ve heard people say, well, you know, after this is over, we might continue to do this working from home thing. So that was was pretty cool. But, yeah, we’ve had so many different guests, so many different areas, everything from data centres to cybersecurity to authors. The list goes on.
DAVID TERRAR [00:11:57] Tell me about the book Authors. What good book authors have you had on the show?
ANDY MCLEAN [00:12:02] You know what, you put me on the spot now because I have to remember everyone. But.. we’ve got Dr. Audrey Tan. Who’s actually going to do an episode with us. She’s a psychologists, it’s all about the well-being. She had some on my team doing various poses on camera live, which was a really unique opportunity for us. We’ve had, of course, the fantastic Campbell McPherson and Jonathan McDonald. But there are so many and they all experts in their area. They’ve all written very well constructed books and those well-constructed books which have all been top of the charts. This chart for business, all best selling authors. You can tell the stories come out when you speak to them.
DAVID TERRAR [00:12:50] Excellent. You give some ideas there because I think. I mean, the show you guys do for me is only weekly, but I think I might actually aim higher and actually ask some some people I wouldn’t normally ask them. See if I get Krishna, the new CEO of IBM…
ANDY MCLEAN [00:13:08] This is it man. Just say it out there. You’ll be surprised. You’d be surprised to you get to speak. As I say, we still get people that I would have struggled before to get in touch with just purely because of their calendars, and now they’re at home and they want to beat the drum and. No, it’s great.
DAVID TERRAR [00:13:25] Tell me a bit about, I mean, obviously, one of the things that you’ve obviously been asking on the Andy Show is how people are dealing with the crisis and the change to working from home. Are there any kind of like common themes for you know, what the vendors are saying about how they dealing with it that have come out?
ANDY MCLEAN [00:13:44] I think psychologically, people have been having different journeys here. Some people are struggling. And I think there are a lot. One thing I’ve heard, particularly from vendors and things, that that is they put strategies in place for well-being, whether it be the pop quizzes or pop meets or Friday night gatherings or, you know, more flexibility on working because, of course, people have children who are running around under their feet. That been that’s been quite interesting. A lot of companies, particularly in the tech sector, have done remarkably well. I think it’s to do with the ability to, I think is to do with the ability to kind of… What am I trying to say?I think it’s with the ability to tell the… to do remote work. I mean, they’re used to dialling it to data centres and doing X, Y and Z. They are used to that. And one of the things that they seem to be doing very well, it’s just keeping going. And of course, they’ve got customers that are coming along and saying we’re doing, we want to do this now. We’ve accelerated our plan to the next level. And we’ve, you know, our clients want to do this and they want to put a content platform out and they want to to suddenly ramp this up. And it’s been full speed ahead for them. But now most of them have adapted very, very, very quickly. How much of that is planned? And how much of that is just good process? I don’t know but yeah. There certainly is that reoccurring theme.
DAVID TERRAR [00:15:27] Interesting. All things considered, you know, considering most organisation, I mean, most organisations doing this kind of shift to working from home. You know, it’s a project that would have been kind of like months in the planning and it would have had a long term, suddenly everyone’s got to do it like in three days. You know, when you think about it, it’s remarkable how the technology has held up. I mean, your parent company is all about Cloud technology and talking about that as an enabler for what’s going on. All things considered, over the last three months, they’ve been very few outages, very few issues. People are just gone and done it.
ANDY MCLEAN [00:16:06] Yeah, exactly. I mean, there was a bit of a rise of shadow I.T. at the star. I think people grabbed things and put things together and tried and tried the best. But I think a lot of companies, particularly those that are using technology, they have adapted and they’ve adapted well and they’re keeping going.
DAVID TERRAR [00:16:25] This very important thing that you mentioned about the kind of the mental health side and the wellbeing side of things, I think in the first month or so, that was kind of ignored. And I think a lot of people will get sick of waterwall you know, Zoom, and Microsoft teams meetings. And then kind of like they came into another phase where that people started to think about think things through in terms of everything, not having to be a Zoom meeting or a Team’s meeting and actually the needs to be other interactions going on.
ANDY MCLEAN [00:16:57] Yeah, I mean, that’s exactly, that is exactly the case. But yeah, to say it’s been a seismic shift. And to say that the move to digital transformation and that’s the word you like has been rapid is an understatement. I think projects have moved on years. They were gonna get to them and now they’ve done them.
DAVID TERRAR [00:17:17] Now, I mean, yeah, it’s. So, yeah. So you agree with me that this has kind of kicked forward collaboration and transformation in ways that we just didn’t expect. And it’s a permanent change. I mean, there had been probably some recent research that said, you know, three quarters of businesses are thinking about, you know, continuing remote working after. Although, it’s going to be a long time till after. But it’s a permanent change, isn’t it?
ANDY MCLEAN [00:17:46] Yeah. No, absolutely. It’s I don’t know what’s gonna happen. A lot people are saying, you know, after this, we’re gonna just continue to to work for more. We’re gonna have more of a distant workforce. We’re not gonna renew the lease or whatever it may be. It’ll be interesting what events companies do as well will be another thing, but yeah, there’s so many different directions it can go.
DAVID TERRAR [00:18:10] And I think it’s interesting with events, I mean, obviously all events companies have to suddenly get, you know, get digital and digitalised very, very quickly. And obviously we know several that have struggled to do that. But I think this kind of content and this kind of style, I mean, you guys are really well-placed to capitalise on this, but everyone’s got to create more content like this, more shows like this, and I think going forwards.
ANDY MCLEAN [00:18:40] Yeah, absolutely, David. Absolutely. And yeah, anybody out there that wants to get in touch. Please let us know.
DAVID TERRAR [00:18:48] Excellent. So what, as we kind of begin to I mean, we’re all getting frustrated with we locked down and we’re all kind of just beginning to feel like we’re gonna you know, the pubs are gonna open on July the 1st or whatever it is, that kind of thing, which hopefully we’re gonna move on to a next phase of stuff. Is there anything you’ve got in planning for how that’s gonna work when we move into this next phase?
ANDY MCLEAN [00:19:14] In terms of broadcast, reopening the studios. We’ve also put in the sort of distance and stuff that we spoke about. We’re going to use a lot more technology in order to deliver that. But, yeah, we have some exciting things in the pipeline. So stay tuned.
DAVID TERRAR [00:19:30] Very good. Now, just out of the blue question, why are you so obsessed with The Goonies?
ANDY MCLEAN [00:19:36] Because I love The Goonies. It’s such a great film. First of all, it’s great thing to do is a sound test because no one seems to remember it. You never see it because you’re too young or they just…
DAVID TERRAR [00:19:46] You always asks us that and I can never remember the plot.
ANDY MCLEAN [00:19:51] Exactly. No, I. Yeah, I just love The Goonies. I think it’s a great little show. Great little film. I wanted to make a sequel. They were hinting at something recently. But unfortunately, it is not to be, David. It’s not to be.
DAVID TERRAR [00:20:08] Excellent stuff. Now when you turn the tables on me. Because I’ve got CDs behind me. You insisted I grab one and tell about it. So if you’re gonna figure to go grab one of your desert island discs from wherever they are…
ANDY MCLEAN [00:20:26] I don’t own a CD player, this is all digital. I mean, it’s all set on there. I’ll tell you, I’ll give you a little bit behind the scenes because everybody asked me this, you’ve got a table here. With the clamp and everything like that. But this is not a table. This, I actually have two Great Danes. And this is one of the crates for the Great Dane in which I’ve covered over to look like a thing. So there you go. There’s an exclusive just for you..
DAVID TERRAR [00:20:52] But I still want some music. So you know, what will come up first on Spotify?
ANDY MCLEAN [00:20:56] Oh, let’s have a look. So I’ll tell you what the last song I played was. It was Erasure, the last song I played was Sometimes by a Erasure so there you go. Some 80s stuff there going back to the game. Not quite Cyndi Lauper
DAVID TERRAR [00:21:13] We can start an 80s meme? I like it.
ANDY MCLEAN [00:21:16] Yeah, exactly.
DAVID TERRAR [00:21:19] So tell us about shows you’ve got coming up. What you’re doing tomorrow. What you doing next week?
ANDY MCLEAN [00:21:25] So we’re doing a broadcast with Palo Alto tomorrow, which I’m hosting, which is going to be fantastic. We have the Audrey Tang Show. We’ll continue with The Andy Show. We’ve obviously got our MSP Show was looking for new MSPs. We have, we’re working with Closer Still to do the Cybersecurity Expo in July. So that’s going to be fantastic. And we’ve got so many events that are coming up at the moment for all different types of groups, particularly in the technology space that we’re gonna be kept very busy.
DAVID TERRAR [00:22:01] Another question. In terms of the actual Disruptive and Compare the Cloud team. Is there anything you guys are doing to kind of keep your sane and get together as a team and any kind of regular zoom quiz every Friday or something like that?
ANDY MCLEAN [00:22:17] I tried that. It was a disaster. Yeah, we do calls every day, so we have a catch-up call in the mornings and in the evenings and we just see how people are getting on and what they’re doing. We were quite close knit. So it’s not been. I mean, we have offices in two parts of the country, in London and in Romsey. So we were kind of used to having that daily catch up and debriefs and things like that. So that’s helped a lot. That’s helped a lot.
DAVID TERRAR [00:22:44] Excellent stuff. Final question for you, Andy. Give us some advice going forwards, what do you think organisation should be thinking about next?
ANDY MCLEAN [00:22:57] Oh, what should you be thinking about next? I think I don’t want to be doom. So let’s just assume everything’s gonna be rose in a month or so. But I think get the message out there. I think, you know, video is a good medium. Social media is a great medium. I think remote working or whatever you want to phrase it. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think people are now looking at that and thinking this is actually quite good. I embrace the technology. So much great technology out there that, you know, you can do so much. And sometimes the you know what you’ve previously done. There’s always room for improvement. Through all companies.
DAVID TERRAR [00:23:41] That’s a great way to end, Andy. Thanks for being on the show. It’s been great fun. You can do something cruel to me next time and it will be all good fun.
ANDY MCLEAN [00:23:49] No problem at all. Thank you, David.
DAVID TERRAR [00:23:53] So if you want some more fun and banter and content like this, check back to @DT on Twitter at Disruptive Live for their stream and impossiblethings.fyi and you’ll get more shows like this. It’s been great. Looking forward to episode 11. Thanks very much.