Never Too Late to Change Your Focus

Believe it or not, we didn’t start Suits and Books to promote woolen blazers.

We started it as we were on a challenging journey of chasing our dreams nearly 3 years ago and we wanted to share this journey with you. Perhaps, we fell into the big consumerism trap, bombarded by the same media images that we have all been surrounded by. We felt that we stopped creating and only started consuming (Great article by The Minimalists, worth your attention) and we have never felt more ready to change that focus. On a quiet Sunday where making a list with ‘what are we truly passionate about’ seemed like the obvious choice of activity, everything we wrote linked to social change, social mobility, equality, financial education, empowerment, art, mentoring, progression. There were no cute dresses or even obscurely expensive lunches.

We always wanted Suits and Books to be the shortcut for the ambitious, driven, passionate people who were keen to enter the business world. And as we just, ignorantly, found out that ‘Life is short, and Art long.’ was actually a philosophy concept from the Ancient Greek times, it would feel inadequate to continue this journey in the same way.

We have been very fortunate and privileged and for most of the last few years, consciously aware of it. And what we would find truly rewarding is creating value for others.

While we’re figuring out what would be the shape and form of our next project, you can enjoy another moderately exquisite brunch at the Bluebird Chelsea in London from the beginning of this summer.

Suits and Books. Our Pleasure.

Women Who Can – When Self-Doubt is the Odd One Out

We live in a world of so much self doubt. Whether it’s career, personal life or the generic decision making, the intelligent, curious and more than able ‘you’ easily falls into the trap of asking the ‘what if’ questions. Often your inquisitive nature turns into an even stronger critic of its own – questioning abilities, ambitions, goals, when all is needed is that little extra self belief. That’s why we found refreshing to have the opportunity to feature an exciting campaign, focusing on that essential empowering element that can boost your resilience – discover the Women Who Can campaign. 

As we try to be true advocates for the very able, strong, independent women we really want to be, we are pleased to give our own perspective on the Women Who Can campaign.

  1. Who is your Woman Who Can?

    I’m very lucky to be surrounded by amazing women who all fall within the Women Who Can category. Whether they run their own side projects, exceed in their careers, manage to sustain a fantastic social life, have healthy personal lives, travel the world, inspire others and share knowledge – the collective character certainly has some common traits. They are bold, fearless, emotionally intelligent, curious and always eager to learn.

  2. I could not succeeded without…

    The self belief that I can do better. I certainly wasn’t an overachiever at school nor at university, I wouldn’t say I’m one now too. But I have always had that sometimes bold self belief that if I really want to achieve something and dedicate time and effort into it, I can make it possible. I got the best student job I can imagine simply because I applied to it without too much self-doubt. I also got accepted in a number of top-tier universities requiring immaculate academic performance – places which I didn’t even dream being part of but thought they were exactly what I needed for the boost of my career opportunities. And I just changed jobs, ‘upgrading’ into a boutique asset and wealth management consulting firm after spending a few years in a large consulting firm. It’s all possible if you want to make it a priority.

  3. What advice would you give your younger self?

    Don’t try to have all the answers and be comfortable with that. We all have dynamic lives with so much surrounding ambiguity that getting content with the idea you wouldn’t always know what’s next from a young age, can only be beneficial for your resilience. I have chosen a career that requires a full spectrum of skills – from the ‘soft’ people side of dealing with demanding clients, often changing teams and locations to the pretty ‘hard’ technical side of quick 0-100 learning, late night presentation preparations, tight deadlines and often pretty complex problems to be resolved. It’s certainly challenging to have a clear vision of what you’d like you life to be from a young age but focus on skills and develop your curiosity – everything else will follow.

  4. What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

    Perhaps the first big brave thing I did was moving to study and live abroad but that was just a catalyst. Saying ‘no’ in a couple of critical moments in my life is something I’m genuinely proud of. Still at university and actively looking for graduate jobs with a number of rejections behind me, I was offered work opportunities which were fantastic but they were in strong contrast with the location I really desired at the time. It meant I had to say no to security,  but I couldn’t have taken a better decision.

  5. If I had a mathematical work style formula, it would read:

    Work smart (not just hard) + have fun along the way = Take a step back to enjoy the results

  6. Success is…

    Your happiness. Your ability to step back and feel satisfied with what you have achieved.  Being content with the direction you’re going. Realising you’re failing and taking an action.

7. My choice for ‘take on the world’ Karen Millen outfit – The Pencil Dresswomen who can

  1. What’s your motivational mantra?

    ‘If something feels too difficult, you’re doing it the wrong way’. It’s easy to fall into the trap of discouragement when you don’t see immediate results. Nothing should feel like lifting mountains by yourself – be creative and persistent until you find the right angle – whether it’s your approach, your support group or your attitude.

And as we know, a blog post isn’t complete without the opportunity to win a competition! As part of the Women Who Can campaign, Karen Millen and the Step Up Club are giving you the chance to win £2000 for an upgraded wardrobe and a career coaching session with the experts from the Step Up Club.

Now put that strong critic of yours aside and get yourself writing down the next big goal.

Suits and Books. Our Pleasure.

This is a sponsored post by Karen Millen and this affects in no way how we feel about confidence, self belief or motivation – now stay true to yourself and be your best version at any given time.

 

Hello Karen Millen Holiday Season – Island Hopping Unleashed

Corporate warriors, entrepreneurial wizards, social enterprise adventurists  – we know you have had enough. You have been craving sunshine, light fabrics, heat, cold drinks, late dinners and we wouldn’t blame you. That’s why we partnered up yet again with one of our favorite brands to deliver for you the Karen Millen Holiday Season (and unleash that island hopper you have always been hiding).

karen millen holiday

The Holiday Destination

Whether you’re a city lover, countryside fan, seaside enthusiast or enjoy the perfect balance, picking that summer destination is an escape worth planning for. In the last couple of years, we have been fortunate enough to explore various locations and discover our adventurous side through:

  • Thailand island snorkeling
  • Croatia boat sailing
  • Italian Riviera browsing
  • Greek islands hopping
  • Hong Kong rooftops exploring
  • Avignon hills climbing
  • Bulgarian coast wakeboarding
  • Cambodia tuk-tuk riding
  • Even Newquay scone hunting

So in case your busy minds are still requiring any help with picking this summer’s getaway destination, you can count on us.

karen millen holiday karen millen holiday

Not everyone has officially opened the sea, sand and sun season,  but Karen Millen has and it is running a #HolidayCompetition for a three night stay for two at a luxury hotel in Mykonos,  plus another treat: your Karen Millen Holiday wardrobe sorted with a £500 gift card (which you can enter here).

So hidden adventurers, your time has come.

karen millen holiday

karen millen holiday

 

The Holiday Outfit

As time is precious and planning holiday outfits may not be on your priority list, we put together our favorite looks from Karen Millen’s latest collection – the Holiday Shop.

#1: The White Dress

Nothing says holiday like a Midi white dress with a ladylike cut and a beautiful texture ( On sale and yours for £120!)

karen millen holiday karen millen holiday

#2: The Lace Dress

Think late nights, warm summer evenings, strong wine and a stunning  embroidered lace – Yours for £225.

karen millen holiday karen millen holiday

Suits and Books. Our Pleasure.

This is a sponsored post by Karen Millen and this affects in no way how we feel about holidays, long summer evenings, lace dresses or island hopping. Now explore your inner adventurer with the Holiday Shop

 

Utopia for Realists Review – Bolder, Better, Brighter

As 2016 received the rubber stamp for the ‘worst year ever’ due to political disasters, rise of populism, ever wider inequality, many of you might be searching for an alternative offering a positive, better and brighter vision for our working lives, economic status and overall future. Utopia for Realists
can certainly cover that need for you.

Utopia for Realists by Rutger Bregman will attract your eye if you’ve recently walked past a bookshop. Its bold orange colour sets the tone for the book: a set of non-conformist ideas based on hard evidence. It offers a visionary but practical approach to utopian concepts such as Universal Basic Income (UBI), a 15-hour working week and free-movement world and asks the bigger question of ‘Can we build a better society by painting a picture of the kind of world we want to live in?’

utopia for realists

Bregman is a young (28!) journalist and historian with a particular interest in economics and a flare for creating page turning bestsellers. For any avid Freakonomics followers enjoying a good economic case study, his book outlines the specific policies that constitute a utopia:

  • UBI: Bregman argues that the cost of poverty is excruciating for government budgets and UBI is economically a rational thing to do. As he outlines study after study proving hard evidence that giving money with no strings attached does lead to significant improvements to poverty levels and unemployment, one may ask why the UK government hasn’t run a trial run (Political storms aside).
  • The working week: In the spirit of the good old utility of happiness argument, Bregman suggests that in the advent of robots and artificial intelligence ‘taking our jobs’, it only make sense for us to be working fewer hours and spend more time proactively seeking leisure. With 37% of respondents in a UK study admitting that their job was meaningless, Bregman’s argument for a 15-hour working week challenges many traditional views on workers bargaining power, the work life balance and indirectly, the consumerism model we have been working towards in the last century or two.
  • Free borders is probably the most utopian concept from Bregman’s realism. He argues that borders create exorbitantly greater inequality compared to any inequalities created by gender, race or socio-economic status inside one country and they hinder our common economic progress. As international trade has pushed many underdeveloped countries beyond the poverty level, Bregman argues that the net benefit of a borderless world is worth $65 trillion and we’re yet to tap into it.

But what about politics?

Even if you do not follow the UK political scene closely, you might be able to relate to Bregman’s argument that the Left has spent decades focusing on being ‘against’, whether that’s against war, capitalism, homophobia, climate change, but without offering a viable or convincing alternative. Bregman has drawn evidence from liberal thinkers, yet he seems to promote ideas of what we would traditionally call socialist. Bregman believes that the successful formula for a stronger Left is applying neoliberal rhetoric to a pragmatic social structure.

For an inspiration on implementing utopian ideas into practice, Bregman’s arguments are convincing and show a breadth of knowledge, research and evidence. Yet, none of what Bregman says has to be utopian, if realists become truly inspired to make a change.

Get a copy of Utopia for Realists: And How We Can Get There, £11.89

Suits and Books. Our Pleasure.

Co-author Chantal Foyer – Read her Q&A to find out more.

Time for a re(v/s)olution: Poverty, Tax and Robots

In case you don’t follow the idea that we live in one big computer simulation, you probably should care about the possible solutions of the issues arising from inequality, poverty, tax and robots.

As far as confessions go, we are Guardian readers and we’re somehow proud of it. Perhaps triggered by our recent visit to the ‘Robots’ exhibition in the London Science Museum, perhaps by the increasing number of publications on technology and AI taking over jobs, coupled with the boom of bestsellers such as ‘Utopia for realists’, we have been rethinking the shape and form of work, labour, productivity and tax and we’d love to share our perspectives.

Can we solve poverty for once and for all? 

‘Keeping people poor is a political choice we can no longer afford, with so much human potential wasted’.

If you haven’t come across Rutger Bregman and his work, you’re almost late to the party but you can still catch up . His latest piece ‘Utopia for realists’ touches upon some of our favourite topics – universal basic income (UBI), behavioural economics and inequality. As he attempts to bring utopian concepts to the most sceptical minds with a strongly pragmatic approach (a good intro to his ideas can be seen here), we’re definitely hyping on the ideas that somewhere somehow the 9 to 6 work life has a better alternative.

WIth a strong critique on the lack of progressive politics and too much safe netting of the status quo, Bregman sees the solution in a much more ambitious, visionary approach where UBI is central to tackling poverty. He acknowledges that this would result in an overhaul of our tax system and that it would require an enormous amount of public and political support. But there is a need for a starting point and a good one is redefining what we mean by work.

Today’s world of work – The State, the People and the Tax agent

A couple of years ago, we got into a heated argument with a policy advisor who was trying to convince us that there isn’t a more efficient way of making social change than the government collecting tax. As we continue to find this perspective amusing, let’s ignore our preconceptions and explore a little more.

In a perfect and very simplified world (according to policy makers), employers, employees and self-employed will make sufficient contributions to the national pot by paying tax so that public services can provide us all with the bare necessities.

Now add to that perfect world the effects of robotisation and increased productivity, technology advancements and decreased demand for low and mid level skilled workers, aging population with more healthcare needs and all those digital nomads who mess up even the most creative bureaucrats. Then simplicity is challenged.

In a world where robotisation increases across various skill sectors, more and more employers will contribute less to the national pension and national health budgets. Wealthy self-employed individuals will continue to pay their way through, setting up the most tax effective structures in offshore locations for their business ventures. Developed economies will continue to struggle with the challenges presented by labour abundance and insufficient public services coverage. International conglomerates will continue exploiting the obsolete loopholes in a single tax state-based systems. For businesses paying tax on a simple measurement such as profit regardless of the mix its labour force or the productivity levels achieved, the real game they will be joining would be ‘survival of the most automised’. Not the best prospects you might think.

tax and robots

The Solutions

Taxing robots is unsustainable and at this point a little mad too – an idea explored by Bill Gates, he has suggested that by taxing the profits of firms using them or by introducing an installation fee as tax, governments will be able to operate with additional cash that can feed into healthcare, workers training or education. As handy as it may sound, the issue here is far from the myopic concept of employees versus robots. Suppressing automation today (and treating it as a negative externality worth being taxed) brings a strong analogue from the 1800s fears that trains will transport people too quickly.

The post-knowledge economy and post-profit making society

Taking a step back from the debate on the roles of the State, market, firm and individual, it’s easy to miss a central point, namely what has been driving all these forces of increased productivity, automation and superstar companies creation – the good old profit making and wealth creation. The neoliberal model has been a politically comfortable and business friendly for centuries and the only resolution of the labour, public services or tax problems we have been discussing, is an appetite for a progressive change of the system.

UBI will only work in practice if there is a societal shift in the way we treat work, leisure time and the utility of success which will also mean turning our backs to the current model of capitalism. Unless of course, you’re a firm believer that our computer modelled world can spin as quickly as someone is fixing the bugs.

Suits and Books. Our Pleasure.

Why Busy isn’t the new Stupid

London folks, we don’t have it easy and we’re somehow proud of it. Within an environment, where a filled up social and work calendar is almost a social status on its own, you may ask yourself ‘Is this vanity, lack of focus or plain stupidity?’. Our view is it’s none of that.

Perhaps triggered by Ed Baldwin’s popular article suggesting that ‘Busy is the new Stupid’, our own hectic lives and the occasional comment of ‘But how do you manage it all?!’, we wanted to share our perspective on being busy, handling multitasking, finding focus and getting that satisfactory feeling of self-fulfillment at the end of the day.

The key to balance is in your pocket. Just unzip it.

The 50-hour work weeks, the early weekend brunches, the late networking sessions, the conflicting calendar entries, the late night gallery visits, the long commutes, the demanding clients, the demanding partners – may all sound way too familiar, but you must have that little smirk on your face, because you manage all that and so much more .

busy is the new stupid

If you spent as much time contemplating your life choices this January, as did the 41% of Americans who set a New Year resolution,  then certainly the thought of self improvement tricks, making your life more exciting, finding love or finally getting fit, crossed your mind (and the pages of your newly bought 2017 notebook).

While we don’t believe in the effectiveness of New Year resolutions, we are firm believers of goal setting and keeping track of our progress. As such, balance has been an absolute priority for the last year and humbly, we think we’re doing something right.

In a previous article exploring what is it like to work in management consulting, we highlighted that regardless how junior you’re in your career, having a say in your work routine is vital for progression, productivity and to be honest, sanity too.  Whether this is saying ‘no’ to work which will overstretch your capacity and make you sacrifice your weekend or being firm about taking enough holiday, training days or regular breaks, directing the balance in your work life is a prerequisite for finding balance elsewhere.

While some may find happiness in putting all their efforts into a single activity, we find self-fulfillment in everything from investing time in our hobbies, reading on the topics we’re passionate about, spending time amongst inspirational people, taking ‘me time’ to reflect, being focused at work and the impact we have.  Does this make us busy? Of course, but we choose what to be busy with.

Beat the comfort routine – make it happen.

We have all been guilty of procrastination whether it’s that side project you had in mind for over 15 months and never started,  the temporary exhibition you were meaning to visit or that conference you wanted to submit a paper to and just missed the deadline.

Blame it on comfort zone and inertia, there are still a number of solutions that can help you avoid the trap.  Here are our top 3 tips.

  • The calendar entry

You can never be too organised, someone important once said. Creating the tangible 2-hour slot entry to explore a topic in your diary or ‘booking’ a Saturday morning just for yourself with no distractions can make the difference between having a good idea and writing a business plan. Or finally booking that holiday in the Italian Riviera.

  • Being surrounded by people who ‘make it happen’

We recently went to a fantastic talk by Eileen Burbidge, a lady who not only is the UK FinTech ambassador,  but also a world-renowned venture capitalist, board member of 20 startups, a mother of 4 and overall, an inspiration for anyone who has questioned if you can have it all. While she felt strongly that the 50 – 50 work life split is never possible, she was a prominent example that making conscious choices how to structure your daily routine, makes a difference.

  • Hold yourself responsible

You would often expect a personal commitment from the colleague you work on a joint project with, so why would you treat yourself any different? Holding yourself to a higher standard is the best attitude you can project and you might even set an example for others to follow. It also helps getting shit done.

We all wear the hats of life and often switch between being good employees, husbands, daughters, friends, girlfriends, entrepreneurs, art lovers or avid travellers. It will be a pity to leave any hat behind.

busy is the new stupid

Be busy. Be stupid.

Suits and Books. Our pleasure.

Gifts for Him – The Ultimate Shortlist

Dear hardworking fashionistas, we have gathered for you a special selection of gift ideas that we trust will match your taste for Father’s day or any other occasion where ‘Gifts for him’ raise your stress levels. Also, preventing you from rushing to the high street – double stress releaved.

Fathers Day Gift Ideas: #1: The Classic Wallet
We love everything about this smooth and versatile leather case wallet. With six slots for your cards and one for cash, your pocket is just asking for this Italian beauty. On sale for a great Father’s day deal from Bloomingdales for £39.55.

Fathers Day Gift Ideas: #2: The Classic Shirt

fathers day gift ideas

We have said it before, once you go tailored, you can’t go back. This Mereen white shirt beats the price of many high street City Professional equivalents while offering high long lasting quality and ostentatious customization options (Did you say embroidery?).

For a great deal of £55.30, these iron-free shirts are a classy option for any of your favorite men.

Fathers Day Gift Ideas: #3: The Classic Parfume

As we like to keep up with the current trends of our favorite brands, we bring to you the new fruity-spicy freshness to complement the sexy, woody notes of Dior Homme’s identity in the Dior Homme Sport. An effortlessly chic and long lasting scent: it can be yours for £78.10 today.

Fathers Day Gift Ideas: #4: The Classic Watch

fathers day gift ideas
This Tommy Hilfiger beauty shouts style and luxurious finish with its gorgeous iconic rose gold plated steel case and brown crocodile embossed leather strap. £147 on MenKind from Tommy Hilfiger.

Fathers Day Gift Ideas: #5: The Classic Bag

If you go on as many holidays and business trips as we do, you’d know the importance of comfort and practicality. This Barbour Leather Travel Explorer Bag from Harrods costing £295 explores the style and panache of the leather as well as the space for some shirts and books, just the right size for the overhead compartments.

Next time, you need a little guide for the gifts shopping for your favourite men, we’ve got your covered.

Suits and Books. Our Pleasure. 

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