Table of Contents
Title Page
Copyright Page
A Letter from the Author
What Does Being Switched On Mean?
The 8 Habits of a Switched-On Mindset
Habit 1 - Believing Anyone Can Do It
Mental block 1: I haven’t got it in me
Mental block 2: The com fort zone
Mental block 3: Self-belief
Mental block 4: You can’t change company culture
Practice makes perfect
Your USP: Right-brain thinking
Press the delete/mute button
Habit 2 - Putting Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes
Think back to front: See yourself as the customer, not the “seller”
Think subjectively
Don’t rely on customer surveys
Think of what you’re doing as problem solving – it’s more exciting!
Think of it as removing an irritant
Make it personal
Habit 3 - Getting Out of the Office
Free yourself
Back to the f loor
Don’t outsource research
Impersonate your customer
Royalty only ever smell fresh paint
Become a customer of your competition
Open yourself up to the wider world
Inspiration and creativity will creep up on you
Habit 4 - The Importance of Being Clueless
The power of fresh minds
Avoid the success trap
Defeat routine
Break the silos – bring in outsiders
Don’t obsess about competition
Habit 5 - Prototyping
People “get” prototypes
Anyone can prototype, it’s Blue Peter stuff
New ideas are fragile – prototyping makes them real
Momentum moves ideas forward
Anything worth doing is worth doing badly
Hands-on problem solving
Prototyping makes you more creative
Habit 6 - Notching Up Nos
No one is born persistent - it’s not genetic!
The shock of the new
It’s not failure, it’s trial and error
Mistakes are part and parcel of good business
Habit 7 - Bootstrapping
What is bootstrapping?
You need to “Just Do It”
Sneak under the corporate radar
Bootstrapping bucks convention
Bootstrapping is not beautiful
The devil is in the detail
Money is a poor substitute for creativity
Habit 8 - Taking 100% of Yourself to Work
Myth 1: The work-life balance
Myth 2: All work and no play
Myth 3: They’re not paying you to enjoy yourself
Myth 4: Be “passionate” about your job
Finding 100%
100% me
Becoming Switched On

Praise for Sahar Hashemi
“The impact you had on everyone’s mindset . . . was very visible the next day – the audience had a real ‘can do’ spirit.... I do hope you appreciate what an impact you made and I thank you once again.”
—Karen Middleton
Chief Health Professions Officer
Department of Health
“Sahar’s passion for encouraging innovation energises a room. It’s the verbal equivalent of a double espresso from the Coffee Republic chain she co-founded.”
—London Innovation Conference
“She was like a breath of fresh air”.
—Police Strategic Command Course
“Your presentation hit the mark by encouraging people to push back the boundaries, develop a more entrepreneurial approach and simply make things happen!”
“She took her audience on a 30-minute ride... Her story was a little like the Alchemist, and the audience wouldn’t stop clapping even after Hashemi stepped down from the stage.”
—Exchange4Media, India
I came away with a spring in my step and a smile of my face.”
“Sahar was a great success at our workshop in Stockholm. The result was fantastic and hit all the right notes.”
“You were mindblowingly marvellous.”
—Innotown Norway
“Your energising talk on the necessity of passion to drive business growth was inspiring for everyone... I overheard the audience quoting ‘Leap and the net will appear’ for days afterward! Needless to say, our expectations were surpassed.”

Praise for Anyone Can Do It by Sahar and Bobby Hashemi
“I welcome this refreshingly honest and insightful book which lifts the lid on what it takes to be a successful entreprenuer, and explains what its like to dream a market.”
—Martin Wyn Griffith
Chief Executive BERR Enterprise Directorate
“A great success story and an inspirational role model for entrepreneurs in all business sectors... Books such as this illustrate not only the ‘nuts and bolts’ of entrepreneurialism, but also give invaluable access to the experience of others.”
—Andrew Main Wilson
Chief Operating Officer of Institute of Directors


This book is dedicated to my mother ‘everything I do, is your doing’ ee cummings and to my husband, James

All of us, whether or not we are warriors, have a cubic centimetre of chance that pops out in front of our eyes from time to time. The difference between an average man and a warrior is that the warrior is aware of his, and one of his tasks is to be alert, deliberately waiting, so that when his cubic centimetre of chance pops out he has the necessary speed, the prowess, to pick it up.
—Carlos Castaneda

A Letter from the Author
“I tap dance to work.”
Warren Buffett
Do you?
Or do you read this and think, “No wonder he tap dances to work. He’s Warren Buffett. Everything he touches turns to gold. It’s a no-brainer. So would you if you had that much in the bank.”
But that’s not why he does it. Sure, we all come to work to earn money, but there needs to be something more, much much more.
And that something more is what this book about is. Because being at work is about more than just the pay cheque.
Work is about fulfilment, it’s about engaging your mind and nourishing your soul. Work is an enormous part of your life, so just turning up is no longer an option. The adage that you leave your personality at the door when you go to work is outdated, gone. If work is such a large part of your life, you’ll want to live it well.
Switched On is about being awake to what you do and feeling energized by it. Why? Because it engages your interest and stimulates your creativity. Working in a switched-on way will, by definition, make you great at what you do. It will generate the plaudits and rewards and make you valued and indispensable in the organization you work for.
What Switched On is not about is going to work on autopilot. Ever feel that your mind is so much elsewhere that you barely remember the journey into work? Somehow you just arrived ... Then eight hours later you left again. Nothing revved you up, there was nothing remarkable about your day. I’d say you were living for the weekend, but I’d hardly call it living. You’re merely ticking over.
Living and making a living should be the same thing. That’s what being switched on is all about. It’s about leaving your comfort zone for a more enthralling, fulfilling journey, packed with rich experiences. Leaving your comfort zone is not about quitting your job, it’s about leaving behind the complacency of the comfort zone. It’s about switching on to the potential in front of you and grabbing it with both hands. It’s about using the comfort zone for its comforts, not its straightjacket.
How do I know this? Because I’ve been both “switched on” and “switched off” at work. I’ve been a grey-faced automaton in work mode, where I’ve left my personality at the door as I’ve entered the office every day. I’ve felt the frustration and emptiness of being disconnected from what I do.
But I pushed myself past the threshold of my comfort zone and took a leap into a life where “work” was not the antidote to “life” but a wonderful, expanding, reinforcing part of it. A life where “work” and “fun” are not opposite words.
Switched On is about adopting some habits that will change your life at work. Because, let’s face it, we’re at work for most of our waking hours if we’re honest, so we should be enjoying every minute of it.
I called this book Switched On because there’s a natural tendency within the traditional working environment to accept the status quo. It’s not that you are switched off as such, simply that corporate culture seems to encourage just going with the flow. But why go with the flow when something as simple as switching on to a few easy habits could revive your working life, making it so much more?
This even affects your competitive advantage as an employee. Think about it. Today’s working world has computing technology, international outsourcing and every resource – including human – available faster, cheaper and better somewhere else. What is your point of differentiation? You need to up your game.
And it’s easy to do. You’ve already been using all the skills you need, just not all of them at work. You need to package up everything you do – at home, at work and at play – and bring it all into your life at work. By bringing 100% of yourself, no one else can match it.
I believe anyone can switch on, that is why I have written this book. Switched On isn’t about finding something new. It’s about shaking off old constraints and digging deep within yourself to find resources that you have always had. All you need to do is wake them up and turn them on.
In the words of Joseph Campbell:
You want to put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living now.
—Joseph Campbell, quoted in Joseph Jaworski, Synchronity, 1996
Living the life I ought to be living is something I have always wished for myself – and I wish it for you too.
—Sahar, London, March 2010
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk to blossom.
—Anaïs Nin, Risk

What Does Being Switched On Mean?
Becoming Switched On is a shift
from ... to ...
Doing just enough... giving 100%
Just hanging on to your job... growing and learning every day
Standing still... being on an enthralling journey
Always waiting to be told what to do next... being proactive
Being bored doing meaningless work... feeling fulfilled and inspired
Being complacent in your comfort zone... honing your creative skills
Being seen as just OK... being indispensable

The 8 Habits of a Switched-On Mindset
Switched On is a mindset. A mindset is the by-product of a set of behaviours. And behaviours you can change.
It’s simply a question of adopting new habits. I have learned these habits in my working life. Through starting my own businesses I have developed a mindset typical of entrepreneurs. But this “entrepreneurial mindset” is not limited to entrepreneurs. Certainly, the habits have their roots there, but their application is so much wider.
I have realized that the most productive mindset comes when you are totally switched on to what you do every day. It’s the backbone behind your persistence, the inspiration for your creativity and the motivation always, always to keep moving forwards.
The entrepreneurial mindset becomes the Switched On mindset.
So the eight habits in this book are based on the habits of an entrepreneur. They are about acting small and being nimble, however big the organization is. Companies can give you the freedom you need to unleash your whole being, but you will often need to work at doing so. The strength, resources and security of the corporate umbrella used with the new Switched On mindset brought about by these eight habits can help you to achieve great success.
Habit 1: Believing anyone can do it.
You already have all the tools you need to be switched on. You have probably used them before, but by virtue of the daily grind they’ve become a bit rusty. You need to get them oiled again.
Habit 2: Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes.
To regain a perspective on the true purpose of what you do, you need to look at what you mean to customers. Whoever they may be, reconnecting with the impact of what you do brings your job to life.
Habit 3: Getting out of the office with your light switched on.
Opening yourself up to the world beyond company walls removes any blinkers. With a wider focus you receive so much stimulation it can’t help but boost your motivation and energy.
Habit 4: Being clueless.
If you’re going to get out of the rut, away from the daily grind and turn off the autopilot, you need to make a break with the past. Processes, systems and a “how we’ve always done it” mentality will only hold you back.
Habit 5: Prototyping.
The four steps thus far may have fired you up to great new ideas and creativity, but it’s all for naught if you can’t bring them to life. Before they have a chance to fly away, grab those ideas and make them real. Start small and keep experimenting under the radar until you get it right.
Habit 6: Notching up nos.
Overcome the endemic fear of failure in institutions. Resistance is an integral part of trial and error, and trial and error are key parts of seizing opportunities.
Habit 7: Bootstrapping.
Bureaucracy creates bottlenecks for implementing new ideas. They can’t go down conventional channels. You need to be creative in making them happen. This chapter helps you break down the corporate barriers and execute your ideas, however limited your resources.
Habit 8: Take 100% of yourself to work.
You don’t need to suppress part of yourself to be professional at work. The barriers between work and play are imaginary. You can’t afford to leave part of yourself behind when you’re in “work” mode. The new era demands you take your heart as well as your head to work.
As with any habit, your effectiveness at being switched on develops over time. The more you get into the habits of switched-on behaviour, the more you reinforce it and strengthen it so it becomes second nature, a natural and intuitive part of everything you do.
And, like laughter and enthusiasm, it’s infectious. By becoming Switched On you inspire all those around you – colleagues, partners, friends – and they can’t help but join in. So take the leap.
“Leap and the net will appear.”
That’s my motto in life.

Habit 1
Believing Anyone Can Do It
The question is not “Do I have it in me?” but “How do I switch it on?”
It’s about using the fundamental human abilities of everyday life in our life at work
I know what you’re going to say. One of two things. Either:
This isn’t me.
My company won’t go with it.
This chapter is about getting over these two – altogether imaginary – hurdles and changing your frames of reference. But before that, we need to tackle some mental blocks that might be hindering you.

Mental block 1: I haven’t got it in me

The first block is thinking that you haven’t got the ability. That you need some special chromosome or magic dust infused in your DNA. But this kind of behaviour isn’t using anything special. You do already have it in you. The essence of being switched on is opening up your creativity.
What do I mean by creativity? Creativity is not finding the next great idea. It’s not restricted to a marketing department or research and development team. Every element of your working life requires creativity whether you’re aware of it or not. It’s about problem solving, interacting with customers or simply talking to colleagues. You can be a creative accountant, a creative secretary, a creative police officer – when you go beyond your job remit.
Being switched on is about not just doing your job. A lawyer who only drafts documents is just doing a job. A switched-on lawyer suggests creative ways for you to do the deal, making it more advantageous for you.
Creativity is about exploring different ways in which you can do something, however mundane. It’s about making yourself aware of the things around you and what you can be doing to improve them – continually reinventing and renewing.
In essence, creativity is a tool you often use in your everyday life outside work. You just need to learn to use it more in your working life.
All it takes is a bit of rewiring of your brain. You may think that you are past that, and that any change in habit is difficult to achieve after doing something the same way for so long.
In the New York Times bestseller The Plastic Mind, science journalist Sharon Begley explains that contrary to what scientists traditionally thought, the hard-wired brain can be rewired long into adulthood and retains much of the plasticity of the developing brain. She says: “The actions we take can literally expand or contract different regions of the brain, pour more juice into quiet circuits and dampen down activity in buzzing ones.”
So there you have it. It’s never too late to change a habit. Like any muscle you haven’t used in a while, your brain and the creative part of it just need some gentle flexing again. You can become switched on if you really set your mind to it for long enough.

Mental block 2: The com fort zone

By definition, the more comfortable the company is, the more it stifles individuality and creativity. Start-ups and smaller companies are in a healthy state of discomfort. They have nothing to rely on but their people’s gut instinct, energy and creativity. But as a business gets bigger, the discipline and structure it needs put into place a certain amount of routine and complacency, which unfortunately stifle creativity.
This isn’t your fault. It’s a natural by-product of the comfort zone. Historically, small companies started off agile and entrepreneurial – because they had to be. But when they grew to become big and successful they could afford to stay just that – big. And as their success continued they became like huge oil tankers – unable to turn around or change course. This wasn’t a problem when the pace of change was slower, as companies could afford to take time making decisions and doing things in the same way they had always been done. Today, however, the world moves much faster and simply maintaining the status quo isn’t good enough.
In this world of huge uncertainty, no company can survive by relying on what it ’s done before. What makes money now isn’t necessarily going to continue to make money in the future. Therefore every company needs to explore new possibilities on a continual basis. And they need the ideas and opportunity spotting to come from you. It’s no longer enough for you to churn out yet another standardized product. The future belongs to companies that, while being well established, are very, very agile. They need a constant flow of new ideas about different ways of doing things. They need small, incremental innovations all the time.
You need to see the comfort zone as an illusion – it no longer exists. By moving out of the comfort zone you’re helping your company to continually renew and reinvent itself and you’re helping yourself become part of the new world.
If I stand in the sand and draw a circle around myself I am in my comfort zone. Now I step outside and I feel fear, and today I know that that is a good place to be. When I stay there for a while I become familiar and the fear subsides. Now I can draw a wider circle around myself and my comfort zone gets larger.
—Simon Woodroffe, The Book of Yo! 2000

Mental block 3: Self-belief

To go on the journey, you need self-belief. That’s a frightening concept for some people, who believe that self-belief is something you either have or haven’t got. That you’re either 100% confident or not at all. Thankfully, this isn’t the case.