5 Minutes With... Dani Hall

Who are you and what do you do?


My name's Dani Hall and I'm the owner and founder of The Literary Gift Company. which specializes in book-related gifts and its spin-off sister site Present Indicative, which sells academically themed gifts.  We buy some of our products in, but we also produce quite a lot of them ourselves. We often use work by local artists and designers - including my husband, Geoff, who's worked on quite a few of our literary products. I met him while I was working on the till at Waterstones, and now we work together on looking after our 3 children and running the business.


What makes you different?

I’m not sure how different this makes me, but I seem to be good at seeing the big picture and making connections. I have a hyperactive brain and a lot of notebooks full of ideas for products, websites, and DIY projects. I’m currently finishing an M.Ed. for fun, too, although I’m still not sure how I managed to carve out time to do that.


If you could visit any time and place in history, where/when would you go?

I definitely wouldn’t want to back to any time prior to the invention of anaesthetic; that would be crazy. I'm not sure about the exact place but It would have to be a long sandy beach with the right sort of waves, at the right sort of temperature with just enough infrastructure to provide a regular supply of good friends and chilled wine. I’d want something to do though; I couldn’t just sit around... although that does actually sound tempting for a while.


What's your superpower?

That's a hard question. I think I'm good at creative problem solving, but there are still loads of unsolved problems so I can’t be that super at it. I do have the ability to cook the best cheese straws on Earth, so maybe that could be my superpower.


What's the best piece of advice you've been given?

Quiet leadership can be powerful. The focus is on action instead of words, which can generate excitement, encourage ownership and develop loyalty in unique ways. Quiet leaders lack something that is stereotypically present in good leaders – an exaggerated ego. When you think “leader,” you may think “loud,” but those two words are certainly not synonymous. Many times the volume comes from overconfidence, a competitive nature and an inherent need to feed the ego.


What book would you recommend and why?

I’d recommend Not Now Bernard by David McKee, just because it's bloody brilliant. There are only a handful of words in the whole book, and yet it manages to question everything you ever thought about anything. It's profound, informative and darkly funny.