“Ignore Feedback” & Other 8 Pieces of Unconventional Career Advice

I have been living my life intentionally and happily ignoring the world of podcasts.
It has always been my belief that ears are made either to listen to music or to do not listen to unwanted life advice from your family.
I’ve always seen no point in listening to unseen individuals lecturing you on how to improve obscure technical skills.
Period.

I was confirmed as a stubborn moron last week, as the following happened:
1) I was actually interviewed for a podcast on how to run an online magazine from business and life coach Dominika Miernik
2) I bumped into Dan Murray-Serter and Rich Martell – founders of Secret Leaders, one of the UK’s top business podcasts and I decided to interview them, and I also collected a series of tips from their guests, all famous UK and international entrepreneurs and start-up founders.

But because this is not a business publication and because I’m here just to make things more complicated, I insisted on gathering tips that can be applied to work and career as well, not only to business. I honestly didn’t expect much more than “hard work pays off”, and I was surprised by just what clever career and life advice entrepreneurs are able to give you.
This let me wonder why, once they need to recruit people, they end up trusting recruiters.
But this is another story.

Career Tips from 9 Famous Business Owners at Secret Leaders Podcast

* Thanks to Jenni Lai at MunchPR for the help in collecting the stories

1: It’s about how clever you work – from Nick Jenkins, founder of Moonpig and Dragons’ Den star

It isn’t about how hard you work, it’s about how clever you work… I’ve always believed that it’s much, much more about the quality of the decisions you make rather than the number of hours you put in.

2: The ability to ignore feedback – from Tim Brown, co-founder of Allbirds

Less often talked about is the ability to ignore feedback, and to go do what you want to do just because you want to do it. You don’t want to do that every day because that’s not a good way to live, but having the courage to do it at times is very, very important.

3: Get off your ass and build your network – from Damian Bradfield, co-founder of WeTransfer

People spend way too much time behind a screen… and I just fundamentally don’t believe that you can. You’ve got to get off your ass. You’ve got to go and meet people. You’ve got to really be prepared to take time to get to know people and actually build up a relationship with someone who’s going to really support you later.

4: Play to your strengths – from Anne Boden, founder of Starling Bank

You need to be in an environment that actually supports your strengths – avoid the boss that tells you to fix your weaknesses. Great things are done when individuals work to their strengths and the advice I give people that are doing entrepreneurial things is to never give up!

5: Be a superhero – from Tim Draper, founder of Draper University

The world needs more heroes. It needs more people who are willing to try new things, become entrepreneurs, take that step and also that risk. We’re all better off when they do, because then they use all their innovation, creativity and drive to make the world a better place.

6: Don’t be toxic – from Jed McCaleb, founder of Ripple and Stellar

You want someone who’s like super smart, super driven, they can get things done and they’re ethical. You want someone with integrity, someone that is not toxic to work with. You want people that you can get along with.

7: Look at your business like a child – from Holly Tucker, co-founder of Not On The High Street

Just keep going and look at your business like a child. Would you ever give up on it? No, you wouldn’t. Are they going to scream all night maybe for months on end? Yes, they are. Accept it!

8 & 9: Full interview with Dan Murray-Serter founder and Rich Martell, founders at Secret Leaders Podcast

Dan Murray-Serter founder and Rich Martell founders Secret Leaders Podcast

Here comes the smile.

What was your dream job as a child?

Dan (on the top-left corner): I actually wanted to be a screenwriter for movies, I had two weird ambitions, one was that I wanted to write horror films, like thrillers, intelligent thrillers, and the other is that I quite wanted to be a comedy sitcom writer; so, very different.

Rich: I actually wanted to be a Formula One engineer. It was either machinery or computer, and basically, this is what I’ve always wanted to do, and I turned out to kind of going more down to the computer root, other than the car root.

How did you decide that you wanted to be in business and not just a regular employee?

Dan: For me, the journey started when I was like 25 and my boss was leaving to start his own advertisement company and he wanted me to leave and to join him. I hadn’t previously considered doing it, I never considered this as a career or anything, but that was the first time somebody gave me that confidence to do it on my own. And then, after that now I like the freedom to make my own mistakes. My background was advertising as I started as a screenwriter, so I was for a while doing my dream job, but then my boss died very suddenly and the whole studio had to shut down as he was the one to produce, it was his studio. So I didn’t know what I was meant to do be doing then, there wasn’t any other easy job there, it had taken me enough to get a really good screenwriting job at that studio… so I ended up doing advertising which is kind of similar. The job was writing ads, writing copy and stuff, so it felt OK, and I ended up doing advertising for five years.

Rich: I got into this because when I was at the Uni here in London, I started a dating website that students could use – you know, a little bit like Facebook, but it was like that they could meet up in the library and things like that, and it kind of got me going. Then I got a job at a bank, but I decided to leave and to raise investment for the dating app. This was back in 2011.

Dan: Rich was the one called the UK’s answer to Mark Zuckerberg.

Rich: Haha

Haha. Now, what would you suggest to somebody struggling between employment, self-employment and business?

Rich: I think you can do both… I think to get going, if you are in full-time employment and you want to kind of start your own thing, the less risky thing is usually creating more time. You know, most people work full-time and have a 2-day weekend, so if you work for 8 hours, you put another 8 hours when you could be doing something, so even if you take like 2 hours in the evening over 5 days, you’ve got like 10 hours plus the weekend, so you’ve actually got 30 hours a week outside of your full-time job…

You are good at maths, are you?

Rich: Ahaha, well, yeah…

Dan, what about you?

Dan: Yeah, I was also impressed with Dan’s ability to calculate! I actually think the same as Rich, meaning that every time I wanted to do something entrepreneurial, I found the time by doing – I mean – even down to sleeping less, which isn’t the most healthy way, but if I really want to do something, then sleeping for 6 hours and getting off earlier, makes sure that I make the time to do the things that set me on my goals… for me being focussed on achieving a goal would make me feel much better than sleeping more. That’s why most people that strive to build something are like that, I mean you’re happy when you move towards that, so carving more hours out of a day or a week, definitely is going to give you more energy than sleeping… but the downside of that is that you look older!

What star signs are you, guys?

Dan: Taurus.

Rich: I don’t know… how do I find out? It’s that on the internet? Oh OK, I’m a Zodiac.

You’re a what? Are you taking the piss?

Dan: He must be Aquarius

I’m shocked – how can people ignore what their zodiac sign is?!

Dan: You know, I’m Taurus… I’m Taurus and I’ve got my star sign tattooed on my back, so we are very different from each other.

Ok wow, like the Queen logo. You know, the Queen crest was designed by Freddie Mercury featuring the zodiac signs of all four members. You know, I’m really into the Bohemian Rhapsody movie these days. Rich, you are disappointing me.

Rich: I don’t believe in that – I mean… he says he’s got a tattoo of his star sign…

Dan: OK, you’ve taken the piss enough our of us!

Fair enough. A serious question now: do you think you could ever go back to employment after having been in business?

Dan: yes, I think yes is the answer, I think yes has to be the answer for most people, because if you think about it, for most people the logical conclusion when you sell your company to another company, is that you’re working for someone else. So if you think about that in a very realistic point of view, yes, I definitely think I could work for someone else, I would actually enjoy working for someone else and not having to do everything by myself… but not at the moment.

Rich: I think that your business can fail, so in this case, you’ll have to start working for someone else again, and so I don’t think you should be afraid of that.

How do you choose the entrepreneurs you want to interview?

Dan: It’s hard, we started off with the really high-bar and then we never compromised, so we try very hard to find out what the listeners want, and what they will get out of a business podcast. We have two things that differentiate us specifically: one is that most business podcasts are really stuffy, so boring, and we wanted to be fun, we wanted to have laughts and some jokes, but we still wanted people to have the valuable business learning you get out of a business podcast. The second thing is just the agenda balance, so we get as many male guests as female guests. These are two things that make a completely different podcast than anyone else, which is surprising but true. You know, there are a couple of people – I’m not going to make any names – but that we have interviewed and then we haven’t put their podcast out because they wouldn’t open up – where we were very clear about the fact that this is not a PR exercise. This is not the kind of thing when you talk about how great you are, so there are people who said yes to this and then when we interviewed them they just wanted to talk about their new thing or whatever – so we just didn’t put the podcast out. We’re very focussed on the value for our audience. And just to say, we haven’t taken any money out of it, we both have full-time jobs at our start-ups, we run Secret Leaders as an non-profit. So we have finished recording Series 3 and it will run until June, and then we will start recording for Series 4 like in May.

Anything else at all you want to add?

Rich: Yes, that our series are available on all the good platforms such as Spotify and iTunes, and if people want to know more about our guests, then our website has sections detailing the guest for all the series.

Dan: And the other thing that is different in our podcast is that we also run live events. We sold out a live event with 200 people in Holborn, London, three weeks ago, and we have another one in a month – and we already sold out 155 tickets for the next one. These events are really high-quality, like talks and networking, I have been compared to Graham Norton… but you know, well, less charismatic!

Haha, thank you for your time guys, and keep on the great work!

The Shortlisted Career Guidance Secret Leaders Podcast

© The Shortlisted – 2019

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