Public relations entrepreneur Chris Ward is speaking to me over an internet connection from a McDonald's somewhere in central France.
He's not quite sure where because he's just completed another stage of this year's Tour de France route in aid of charity. Names and places have become a little fuzzy after the 200km (124 miles). He's exhausted. But at least Ward, 50, is practising what he preaches. His book, Out of Office, is a hymn to coffee-shop creativity and the myriad advantages of ditching the deadening confines of the office and working where you like.
"It's the way I've lived my life for 10 years," he says. "I started hanging out in coffee shops, and found I was being far more creative and productive. I do so many different things and people wanted to know how I managed it, so I wrote the
It wasn't always like this. From a young age Ward was a driven businessman, "brought up to believe that owning possessions was what you were worth". He managed bands in his 20s, then set up PR company Beatwax in 1992 to help brands target the newly burgeoning student population.
"My original ambition was to be a boss and get a gold watch at 65," he says.
High-profile clients included social networking pioneers Julie and Steve Pankhurst, founders of Friends Reunited, and various beer companies. Another project was First Movies, a research firm offering members free movies and other incentives to provide feedback to Hollywood film studios.
However, despite the success, his busy working life began to pall. "I marketed too many beers," explains Ward. "I had to decide the personality of a beer when it was exactly the same as supermarket own-label stuff. I was living a lie."
"You should be measured by your productivity, not your presence. Bosses need to be educated about
He sold his companies to Miracle Media Group in 2002 for an undisclosed sum, although he admits the amount was close to seven figures.
"I then went out and bought £200 worth of Lycra, went cycling and ran 10 marathons," he says, in what sounds
dangerously like a mid-life crisis. He kept himself busy with various charity fund-raising projects and the years rolled by. Then he saw an advert for creative director of UK charity Comic Relief.
"I hadn't worked for five years but I still got the job, because doing marathons and cycling was seen as a positive. Yet people worry about having gaps in their CVs, they shouldn't!!
Cynics might suggest that such Damascene conversions to a new way of life are a lot easier when you've got a big chunk of cash in your pocket. While that is undoubtedly true, there's no denying Ward's genuine enthusiasm for "out of office" working.
"The great thing about the internet is that it's freed people from the office. We don't have to be tied to our desks anymore. We can work when and where we like."
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