Extremely Honest Q&A | The Diary Of A CEO | E70 | Transcription
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And one of the thoughts that continually gets me to the gym and continually makes me show up and work hard is, and if you're good at it, if you're great at it, then you might just be great at everything. But for me, that really is the meaning of life. On this week's podcast, we're gonna do something very different, something I've never done before, but something that you've requested time and time again. This week I posted online asking you to ask me any question about me, my life, my business, whatever you wanna ask me. And I promised that in return, I would give very brutally honest answers. My team went through all of the questions that were submitted, and they went through and picked the ones that they thought were most interesting. They've written them in my diary here, so I'm gonna start from the top and answer these questions with the objective of giving you the most valuable, honest advice that I possibly can. So without further ado, I'm Stephen Bartlett, and this is the diary of the CEO. I hope nobody's listening, but if you are, then please keep this to yourself. Okay, so the first question is, what is the most important lesson that this pandemic has taught you or reconfirmed for you?
Key Personal Reflections & Questions
What is the most important lesson this pandemic has tough or re confirmed for you? (01:10)
And for me, that relates back to a podcast I did at the start of the year, and it's that uncertainty is not predictable, but it's preparerable. And I don't actually think that's a word, but here's what I mean. What I know for sure, and this relates to everybody, is that your life is of course gonna be full of a lot of joy and amazing things, and breathtaking moments and rapturous moments of ecstasy, right? But it's also gonna be riddled with moments of unexpected uncertainty and chaos. Joy is much easier to handle. You just kinda let go and go with it, right? The good times, not a lot of action or thought required, but uncertainty and chaos require a real rigid set of principles. And for me, those principles over the last 12 months have become acceptance, optimism, and action. And these three principles have a real linear connection to the outcome you're seeking. Without acceptance, when bad things happen, there's no optimism. And without optimism, there's no action. And without action, there's often no victory, or at least victory is delayed, and hard times are elongated. So when bad news visits, whether that's being unexpectedly fired from your job, or dumped by your partner, or evicted by your landlord, or losing a loved one in the case of a pandemic, you have to do everything you can to stick to these principles despite the intense cloud of natural emotions that will try to convince you and me otherwise. And you know, like I do a lot of sort of introspective thinking for a living, and even I am not immune from letting emotion get the best of me in times of intense chaos. I like no matter how much I've read or written in my diary or how many podcasts I've done, even I fall victim, especially in the short term, to all of those emotions, and sometimes to the instructions those emotions give you, which will lead you to pretty dire outcomes. So you get dumped by your partner, you immediately think revenge, right? You get fired by your boss, you think, yeah, I'm gonna sue them, right? I fall for those traps too. And I don't think, I don't necessarily think it's, the aim of all humans should be to try and avoid those emotions in that thinking, 'cause I think it's quite impossible. But it's to be better at the response, right? To shorten the time that those emotions sit with you and to be better in your reaction. I wanna clarify that acceptance, when I talk about acceptance, it doesn't mean being emotionless. It can often mean the exact opposite. You have to accept how you're feeling, accept what's happened, and importantly, retire from trying to change the unchangeable, or from wallowing in regret, and you have to do everything you can to get yourself to a place of optimism. I see that as your responsibility. People won't like me saying that, right? People typically, especially in hard times, don't like to delegate responsibility to themselves. So as hard as it can be, you have to find and create hope for yourself, and have faith, just like everything else has in your life, that this too shall pass. And then, you have to use that optimism to drive you into action, which is for me, the third principle that I've learned over the last 12 months. If your partner's dumped you, it's time to dust yourself off and get yourself into the gym to fight back. And I don't mean fight back as in bomb their house. I mean, fight back in a mental capacity to stop stalking their Instagram, to triple down on your friendships and your meaningful relationships, to stand tall in whether the unavoidable emotional storm and have faith and acceptance sit by your side. The opposite of these principles, of course, is like denial, is pessimism, and is inaction. And these are the principles of a baby gazelle that's decided to fall asleep with its toes dipped into a crocodile infested waters. This is a decision to lose twice. And when I say L, right, I mean loss. And when unexpected chaos happens like this pandemic, which smashes our businesses and destroys our social lives and apparently steals a year from our youth, the first L we take is involuntary. Shit happened and you didn't choose it. Totally out of your control, I get that. But the fateful decision to choose denial, pessimism and inaction as our response is a voluntary second L. When you're choosing to increase the chances that bad times will become even worse times, you can make the choice not to lose twice. The first L wasn't your choice. The second L, well, that's a by-product of how you choose to respond. Acceptance, optimism and action. And I guess the second lesson I've learned this year is a lesson in the importance of prioritization. You know, this advice of which people often give and I've often given of protecting your time and saving your time really feels somewhat incomplete to me now because it's like the first half of the sentence. You've got to then ask yourself, saving time to do what? Saving time just to spend more of it doing the wrong things. Saving time to spend more of it being more productive just so you can get more work done. I guess better advice is to prioritize better. If you told 19 year old Stephen Bartlett just to save more time, he probably would have said no to a couple of things and then just spent that saved time working alone in his office all weekend or weekend. And that advice would therefore lead him to a less joyful, more depressive existence. And if you told 19 year old Stephen Bartlett to prioritize better, the first question that comes to mind is, what are my priorities? And my long-term priorities, as I think is the case for all of us, are ultimately linked to the things that make our life meaningful, which are friends, the joy of work, our relationships, the satisfaction of pursuing our goals, the challenge, achieving greater freedom, knowledge, the pursuit of knowledge, health and fitness. And I guess I would have reviewed the allocation of my time through that lens. I would have saved time only on the things that aren't connected to my macro priorities and reinvested it in better places. And this year, because we've been forced to realize what matters in many cases, I guess now I'm not trying to save time just for the sake of spending it more on optimizing my productivity, I realize that that's an incomplete sentence and really the most important thing is just to prioritize all of my time better and allocate it to those things that ultimately will matter the most. Okay, so the next question in my diary is, how do I maximize my earning potential?
How do i maximise my earning potential (07:15)
Let me tell you a little bit of a story based on a friend of mine and his company. My friend has a business, which is listed on the stock exchange in Germany, one of the very small stock exchanges in Germany. And having spoken to banks and from my own knowledge of how the stock market and the public markets work, him and me both know that right now, his business is worth $1 billion because of the stock exchange he's on. If he moves his business to the New York Stock Exchange, the banks and everybody knows that the valuation will be $4 billion. It's the exact same company, the exact same team, the exact same products, the exact same mission, everything's exactly the same. But because he's on the wrong stock market, because he's on the wrong stock exchange, the value is 25% of what it would be if he just took that same business, the same people in the same products, the same skills, the same experiences and just moved it to a different stock market. And I reflect on this analogy as a wider, broader sort of life analogy, because if I look at my career decisions over the last, I'd say 10 years, I remember working in one call center in Plymouth in Devon, where I was getting paid about four pounds per hour. And for whatever reason, I decided to move to a different call center with the exact same skills, the exact same experience. And I got paid 10 times when I was getting paid at that call center. And this is what I've started to notice in my own life is, I've had this particular set of skills, whether it's social media, storytelling, marketing brands, whatever you wanna call it, for the last, I don't know, maybe six, seven years. And as I've moved into different rooms and different markets and different companies and different industries, I've noticed that that exact same set of skills is valued completely differently. And this made me reflect with that story of my friend's business in mind, that one of the questions you have to ask yourself sometimes in life isn't just, you know, how do I improve my skills? But it's like, how do I maximize the earning potential for my skills and where are my skills going to give me the greatest reward? Let me give you another analogy just to cement the point. My ex-girlfriend, my ex-ex-girlfriend is a flight attendant and she currently flies for Emirates, right? And Emirates pay, they pay okay, right? A lot of lifestyle perks there, but they pay okay. She's told me that she'll get paid up to 10 times more if she manages to get a job flying on private jets because of tips and things like that. The same set of skills, 10 times the return for the same set of skills, if she can move her skills to a different theoretical stock exchange, if you get what I'm saying. And this is just like one of the principles I've learned about life over the last, really over the last year. Because skills I was paid, you know, X amount for, a couple of years ago, I'm getting paid 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 times for the same set of skills just because I found a market where those skills are more in demand, they're higher valued and they're probably more rare. And so that's something I think we can all ponder, which is asking yourself where your skills will reap the greatest return. Okay, the next question is, do you have Imposter Syndrome?
Do you have imposter syndrome? (10:30)
Have you ever had it and can you relate? And then there's a little question underneath, which is, and how do I shake this off? Here's the thing, whenever somebody does something that's outside of their zone of comfort and that they don't have a ton of experience in doing, we all feel the same thing, right? We all feel that sort of low-key inadequacy or that slight fear, but the reaction that everybody feels and the way that we label that feeling is completely different. And I actually think it's how you label that feeling that determines how you perform in that scenario. So some people will say, okay, this is an exciting challenge, I'm gonna learn, I'm gonna throw myself at it, I'm gonna use that energy that I'm feeling, those nerves or whatever it might be, to focus. Some people will say, oh my God, and they'll implode and they'll try and retreat back into their zone of comfort, right? And so the response to that, the feeling is human. The response to it is optional. If you go through your life avoiding situations that give you that feeling of imposter syndrome, then I would bet everything that I have that you aren't going to reach your full potential. I genuinely believe the feeling of imposter syndrome is both healthy, natural, and a sign that you're putting yourself in a position where there's pressure which will make you grow. And I've literally, I can't think of a moment in my life, if you look at any sort of two-year period of my life, where I didn't feel out of my depth. However, that feeling of being out of my depth never meant that I retracted from the challenge, it meant the exact opposite, it meant that I attacked the challenge, I put more hours in, I focused on it. That reaction is ultimately the reason why you can hear my voice now. It's the reason I have this podcast. I very, very unfundly remember the first day ever where I tried to make a video down the lens of a camera and in the microphone, and oh my fucking God, what's that shit show? My friend tells me we should make a YouTube video, it's about something political, so I sit in his house, he turns the cameras on, puts a microphone on me, and I sit there and try and get just two minutes of spoken word out down this camera of the lens, and I sit there for seven hours, so much so that the start of this two-minute video, it's like outside in its sun, it's like the morning. By the end of this two-minute video, if you were to watch on YouTube, it's dark outside and you can see stars. It took me that long, right? That long, 'cause I was sat there feeling like an imposter, people aren't gonna give a fuck what I think. I'm an idiot, I'm the sat there sweating, and ultimately it was my decision not to let that sort of knock me back and to swerve that being in that uncomfortable situation ever again, that's taken me to this place today where I'm doing this podcast and there's all these people that listen to it and we've got this YouTube channel and all of these wonderful things, and that is the defining thing. It's not about avoiding imposter syndrome, that's a very human thing. It's learning the art of embracing it. Quick one, starting from the minute the lockdown is lifted, we're gonna start bringing in some of our subscribers to watch how this podcast is produced behind the scenes. Means you get to meet the guests, meet myself, and see how we put all of this together. If you want that to be you, all you've gotta do is hit the subscribe button. Okay, so next question is, how do you do things you don't want to do?
How do you do things you don't want to do? (13:21)
I've had this cross my mind a lot lately, and I'll tell you why, because I've committed myself to working out in the gym downstairs every single day, and I have been going every single day for many, many months now. I think the first time I started going to gym consistently was actually March last year when all of this craziness was thrusted upon us. But some days, as I've talked about this podcast, and I know people get tired of me talking about the gym, but it's just a place where you learn so much about yourself and discipline and your body and your brain and all of that. So I always refer back to it. But some days, I just can't be bothered. I can't be bothered to go. I can't be bothered to train hard when I'm there. And in many ways, that's kind of like synonymous of life. There's so many things in life that I just don't want to do. And one of the thoughts that continually gets me to the gym and continually makes me show up and work hard is this principle I live by, which is comfortable, and easy are like really short-term friends, but they're long-term enemies. And here's what I mean by that. Comfort in the short-term makes me feel warm and fuzzy, but then it might lead me to being obese and having arthritis and having high blood pressure and having a heart attack in the long-term. So like comfort and easy. I just view, so anything that's comfortable and easy, like super comfortable and is inherently avoiding hard work or discomfort, I kind of view that decision or that thing with skepticism. I think you're trying to fuck me in the long-term, aren't you? And I genuinely cognitively have that thought process sometimes when my brain flutters and flirts with the idea of, oh, just skip it, Steve, you know, you don't really want to do that. Just, you know, get an early night and swerve that thing. I think that's going to stab me in the back one day. In 12 months' time or 10 years' time, that decision to choose comfortable and easy as my friends, well, they're going to become enemies. And they're actually not on my side. If you're looking for growth, my general principle is to choose the challenge. I'm not saying choose the thing that you fucking hate. I'm not saying choose the toxic thing that's going to destroy your mental health. I'm saying if you're looking for growth and you're looking to achieve the future that you envisage in your mind, your ambitions, then you should choose the challenge. And that's the thing that I continually come back to every time Steve hits 6.30, and I know I've got to go to the gym in half an hour, and I'm manically busy. And everything in my head is saying, "Make an excuse. "No one will know. "Go tomorrow. "Just tell yourself you'll go tomorrow. "You'll do it another time. "Percrastinate." Or when I get to the gym and I don't really want to show up and I don't want to work hard, the same little thoughts whisper in my brain. But then I think maybe that's the enemy. Has those thoughts really got my long-term ambitions and my values in mind? They nearly always haven't. And that goes back to the podcast I did with near I.L. where he says that, you know, when we try and procrastinate or we convince ourselves to do the things we don't want to do, it's because of some kind of psychological discomfort. It's because I know that these weights are heavy and I know that it's uncomfortable and I know that I'm tired. And those are, if you are able to overcome those moments where it's easier to quit, those are your growth moments. Those are, in fact, the most valuable moments. And this again comes to another point which I always think, which is the moments where I want to quit, right? The days that another hardest to get myself up and going are probably by definition the most valuable moments to overcome. Because that's probably, again, thinking logically, where most people decide to stop. So, you know, that's where the greatest returns are. It sounds like fluffy bullshit and hindsight. No, I think this, I think that in the moment. I think it before I go to the gym, I think, yeah, this is the day where most people wouldn't go, you know, after the week you've had, right? So hopefully that helps. And the conclusive point here is like you're connecting yourself to who you want to be in those moments. You're reminding yourself of the person you want to become. And this, you know, I read this on Twitter. I think nine months ago, but it stayed with me ever since, which is how would the person you want to become behave right now? And if you ask yourself in those moments, how would the person I want to become behave right now? What are the decisions the person I want to be would be making? That's usually a good way to decide what the best answer is, right? Hope that helps.
What is the meaning of life? (17:33)
Okay, so the next question's a very deep question. It's what is the meaning of life? Very good question. Something I've actually pondered a little bit over the last year or so, as I've got more into Elon Musk's work and space and his motivations for wanting to understand meaning, he actually says that when he was really, really young, he started pondering the meaning of life and actually made him depressed. And I wasn't until he read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that he found some meaning and optimism. But to answer that question myself, I would say the meaning of life is to create and live a meaningful life. I know that sounds like a bit of a cop out, right? But in what you consider meaningful is totally subjective and nobody can tell you what that is or what it isn't. But I think you can spot it when you get that feeling inside yourself that your efforts are resulting in progress or outcomes that feel deeply worthwhile and fulfilling to you in any facet of your life, whether it's raising your dog or whether it's your relationships or your work or whatever it might be. And some people find that sort of connection and meaning in building their businesses, in writing, in hobbies or training their body through exercise or raising kids or practicing their religion. One of the most important things I've learned on this podcast from interviewing guests and asking them about the toughest moments in their life, specifically guests that suffered with depression. I remember we had Dan Murray on the podcast who had lost his father and talked about how it wasn't until he did Iowaska and saw that the world was interconnected, that he refound his meaning. And we also had Ben Williams on the podcast who said he was suicidal and considering taking his own life until he saw an advert to be a military commando and went off on that journey to pursue his intrinsic career ambition of becoming a commando that he found meaning in his life and stability. And also from writing my book, there are some just crazy mind-bending studies that I read about in the preparation for my book that totally changed my thought process on this. One of them is studying Johann Hari's work and the work he's done to understand the true causes of depression and anxiety. And his work continually points to the fact that depression and these depressive feelings and this sort of lack of orientation in life comes from people who have had something happen to them, often who have lost a sense of meaning through trauma in their life, not what's wrong with them, not because of some sort of chemical imbalance in their brain. The other really sort of example that I just can't shake that's in my book as well is this study they call Rat Park. Very, very simple. They took a group of rats, they put them in cages and they took all meaning from their life, literally just a white cage on their own. And they gave them a choice. Do you wanna drink heroin, water, or do you wanna drink normal water? The rats that are stuck in a white cage alone become drug addicts, right? Then they have Rat Park, which is this rat utopia where there's female and male rats, there's a little running machine where you can exercise, there's food, there's space to roam around and to explore, there's toys for stimulation. And those rats don't become drug addicts when they're offered either heroin or normal water. They avoid the heroin. If you zoom out a little bit and apply the same thinking to humans, the science says that over the last two years the life expectancy had dropped between, I think it's 2018 and 2019, because of opioid-related deaths, because people are getting addicted to opioids and that's resulting in their death. And again, that is because we have an epidemic of meaninglessness, of purposelessness. That's what my podcast has taught me and that's what my research and my book has taught me as well. Commonly prescribed antidepressants do work for some people. I think it's important to sort of caveat my points with that. But adding additional meaning and connection to your life does seem to be one of the most powerful antidotes for those feeling lost, depressed, and unhappy and lacking that orientation. And just to relate it to what we're going through now with this pandemic, you know, a lot of my friends have been calling me and telling me that they're feeling down, right? They can't particularly describe what exactly is causing them to feel down. But over the last three months in particular, as the UK has gone into this, I think third lockdown, I've really grown concerned about some of my friends and the advice that I continually give them centers around the point I've just made, which is to find things that will give them meaning. Life before, pre-lockdown, gave you meaning. You wake up in the morning, you go to the office, you've got colleagues and friends, and then you go to the club, you go to watch your favorite football team play, you go and see your mum and your dad, your grandparents. Life was full of meaning before. Now it's been pulled from you, so now it becomes your responsibility if you wanna, you know, maintain those good feelings to go and get that meaning, right? To go and create that meaning in your life. You can't assume that it's just gonna show up like it used to. So we, and this goes back to one of my points, which is you really have to fight back, you have to go and get it. And you know, I'll give you an example that relates to me personally, the weekends, right? So my team and me, we work, you know, in this building through the week. The weekends come around, I have fucking nothing to do, I'm a single guy. I have nothing to do, it's me and my dog, right? And he's not a baller laughs, to be honest, he's a very simple guy, so he doesn't do an awful lot. And so what I've started to do on the weekends is to really take time to pursue some of my hobbies, which I would never normally do. I've started to DJ all the time. I'm now learning to DJ. I do a DJ lesson every single weekend via Zoom. I'm reading books that I used to love reading, philosophy books, and I'm doing this, actually not because I want to, but because I know I have to keep my life full of like intrinsic passions and meaning, especially at a time when so much of that has been robbed by this pandemic. So that's the long way around the houses, but for me that really is the meaning of life. To create a meaningful life. And as I say it, in these times, it's more important than ever that you fight for that meaning. Okay, so the next question is a really, really great question, which is what is something you miss about being poor that you think you'll never get back?
What do you miss about being poor that you'll never get back? (23:32)
The Stoic people used to talk about this concept of hedonistic adaptation and a hedonistic treadmill. And I'll give you an example that's really easy to understand. I remember at 23 years old when I took my first flight to Ty, I think it was 21 years old, to Thailand with my business partner Dom. And I remember getting on that plane and just like, because I'd never really been on a plane before, other than when I was a baby coming over from Africa. I remember like being so in awe of the fact that we were on this like metal ship that was flying across the ocean. And they were like giving me snacks and free water and do I want to cope? And I'm sat there in the economy section just like, Oh my God, right? Totally like full of like joy and appreciation for everything. And the principles of like head inistic adaptation say that once you've been exposed to a certain level of joy or a certain level of like, I don't know, gluttony or like, you know, material possessions, your satisfaction book starts to decay over time. And obviously as I got, you know, more and more money and I got on flights every week and then eventually upgraded to business class and then like first class and, you know, even got myself on a private jet a couple of times, your appreciation for the small things, wanes, the stoic people would take the good things out of their life as a practice just so that they would appreciate them again. And I think that's one of the things that I definitely miss. I've got nice things all the time. And that is a blessing and a curse. Imagine some rich guy talking about, he's sick of nice things, but there's truth to that. Like you lose appreciation for things that used to mean so much to you. And when you look at head inistic adaptation and the head inistic treadmill, you now require even more to give you that same level of thrill and joy and satisfaction. That's a really sad thing. It's kind of an unavoidable thing to some degree, but with all things in life, you can really make conscious effort to be grateful and to take moments not to let life pass you by, all these wonderful things pass you by. So the other point is, you know, there's that phrase, ignorance as bliss. And it totally applies to this question as well. When I was 18 years old and I thought the meaning and point of life was to buy fast cars and to have a million quit in the bank account and to pursue those kinds of things, there was some bliss to that. I thought I had it figured out. I thought I understood that the pursuit of greater happiness was just more stuff, more money. And that was quite blissful. I didn't have it now at 18. I didn't have it. So I thought, okay, that creates real meaning in my life. All I have to do is get more money and then my life will be more meaningful and, you know, full of joy. And then upon getting the money, I realized that that's not the case. And I remember watching an interview by the founder of Spotify, Daniel Eck, where he says the exact same thing. He's an insecure kid growing up, bit of a geek. And then he gets all this money, not from Spotify, but from the business before. And he has this deep existential crisis where he's like, oh my God, this wasn't it. And he had to then go on the journey of finding out exactly what mattered to him. And I'm still on that journey. Like I still, this is why I talk so much about meaning and purpose in his podcast because I'm still figuring out like where I should be prioritizing my time in order to reap the greatest returns as it relates to fulfillment. And I think, I didn't think about those things when I was 18 and I was broke. But getting what you aim for is the best way to find out if it's actually what you wanted. And I was this young kid chasing material things and probably passion mistaking it for happiness. As I got closer to it, it moved off into the distance like a like a mirage or something or a rainbow. We all know that guy who like, you know, has a two bedroom house in a small area, married to his wife, one kid, two kids, looks forward to, you know, going to the pub of the weekends and supporting his favorite team. Those individuals who live the most simple lives and who are happier with less, to me, from my experience generally, seem to be much more fulfilled than my friends that are successful billionaires. And my friends that are billionaires, but also intellectuals and sort of like low key philosophers are the most fucked, right? Because they really have got pretty existential in ask themselves, what is the purpose of life? That's what I mean by ignorance is bliss. And my third point in answering this question relates to challenge. When I was 18 years old, starting out in business, living in Moss Side in Manchester, I had absolutely nothing. I just dropped out of university and I'm basically stood at the bottom of this big ambitious mountain that I've told myself, I'm going to climb and I've told myself I'm going to accomplish. And I'm looking up at it, excited, terrified, but hopeful and yeah, excited. That's the key feeling. And then you climb the mountain, right? The mountain for me was like financial freedom. It was accomplishment. Maybe from my ego, it was like recognition to some degree. I have all of those things now. And so when you get to this point where you've accomplished many of your goals, you have to make a very conscious active effort to create new, even bigger goals. Goals that will match the same level of excitement and challenge that you had when you're 18. And it's not easy because you don't become financially free twice unless you lose it all, right? So my goals have to be way bigger to give me that same level of like hunger and grit and determination that I need to stay stabilized and to be happy. And I guess it's a crazy thing to say, but to some degree, I miss like not being at the bottom. I miss not having those massive, this just Mount Everest in front of me. And this is what I've seen in many of my friends who are entrepreneurs and even some of my idols is when they get to that point, when Elon sold PayPal or when Bill Gates sold Microsoft, they then go and take on some of these tremendous, you know, philanthropic challenges. It's no surprise that every billionaire becomes this crazy massive philanthropist and tries to take on some of the world's most existential problems, right? It's no surprise that Elon is doing, you know, trying to save the planet and take us to a new one because he will not be able to find a sense of fulfillment and happiness in doing another PayPal. He just won't find it. And in many respects, this is why I think people who are tremendously ambitious have a bit of a curse. I've spoken to a lot of my friends that run businesses, you are obsessive about progress and challenge. And ambition, reaching the next milestone. And I think a lot of them would actually, if they could just press a button and trade their life for a much simpler life, someone who doesn't wake up every single day and check their WhatsApp for 30 different messages about their business on fire in five different countries, if they could press a button and live a simple life and be content in that life, I think most of them probably would. Many of them would. If they wouldn't, maybe they're twisted enough not to realize that the meaning of life is to be happy. So if I gave them a happiness button, maybe some of the psychopaths would still opt for their current life. I've got one particular friend in mind, who I won't name, who sat me down about two years ago and he's very, very successful. He's probably a billionaire by now. And he confided in me that he wished his life could be simpler. He wished he didn't have the level of ambition he had. He told me this one story about going around to someone's house and they were a very, very normal family with not very much at all. And they just sat there drinking tea and he said, "I was sat there thinking, "I wish this was my life. This is a billionaire "with more sports cars than I've ever seen in my entire life "in one driveway wishing he had a simpler life." But realizing that he is infected with this virus, which many of us have, the most ambitious amongst us, which stops you from being happy with out pursuit and without climbing that mountain. Breaking news, I have a new favorite flavor of fuel. About a month and a half ago, they sent me in the post, this white bottle with this sort of sharpy red pen on it that said, "Top secret." And I took it out, I sipped it, probably shouldn't have, 'cause if people send you things in the post like that, you probably shouldn't drink it as your first reaction. You should confirm that they sent it. But I took it out, I drank it and it tasted amazing. And now I'm very happy to announce that my new favorite flavor of the fuel ready to drink, slow release carbs, 20 grams of protein, vitamins, minerals, 27 essential vitamins, seven grams of fiber per bottle, is banana, which is just gone live on fuel. And my friends know that I'm a massive fuel again, so they've been messaging me all this week saying, "Steve, how good is it? Is it good?" And I've been telling them, this is my new favorite flavor, which I think says a lot. So, Berry is now number two, and the new banana flavor ready to drink fuel is my number one. So yeah, give it a taste. It kind of tastes like banana milkshake, but banana milkshake isn't usually as nutritionally complete. So that's win, win, win. Try it. Fiverr, Fiverr.com. I've talked about this a lot on this podcast, and I just wanted to give you a bit of an update. I've really, really got into using Fiverr over the last couple of weeks. And I think if I was to estimate, I've now had six different tasks completed on Fiverr. In the last four weeks, I've had two website builds. I've had two decks made from designers that are all around the world.
What is the most valuable skill you've learnt and how does that serve you now? (32:34)
One is in Venezuela, the one is in Iceland. I've had one logo made and one video made. And to be honest, I just wish I knew about Fiverr sooner in my career because I think I would have been able to accomplish more in a much more cost-effective way. Okay, the next question I have here is, what is the most valuable skill you've learned and how does that serve you now? My mind bounced around to a few different things when I read that question, but it came back to this one answer, which kind of summarizes all the other little points, which is sales. And I genuinely believe sales, however you kind of want to define that, is the single most important skill in the world. I don't mean like selling Rolexes at your coat or selling double glazing to a grandmother on the phone. I mean, the art of being able to persuade other people to take an action, right? And this is a skill that you will deploy in a nightclub when you meet someone you fancy with your teams, when you're trying to build businesses, with investors. Every time you communicate, in some respect, if you're trying to achieve a certain outcome, you are a sales man or woman. And the art of being a good sales person is broken down into a bunch of different factors. There's an understanding of having the self awareness to understand how you're coming across, having the awareness to understand what the person you're speaking to is after. It's how you carry yourself, it's your body language, it's the way you speak, it's the energy you bring when you're talking. It's all of these small things, which are very hard to train into somebody, but without shadow of a doubt, sales is the most important thing, because it's the skill that I use every day the most, right? And I want to answer the question, how did I learn how to sell things? I've raised investment maybe 20 times, maybe more, probably more if you consider some of the road shows I did when we took our company public. One of the most important experiences I had in my whole life was I started working in a call center, implement when I was 16 years old, selling double glazing at Everest call center. And then I did that job until I was about 18 and then moved to Manchester, dropped out of university, and then my next 10 to 12 jobs were all in call centers, whether it's because of my voice, or because of my skills with selling, I was just so good at that job. And I genuinely believe that that's how the sales experience I've had, and I genuinely would work in a tele sales call center for three months, make so much of the bonuses that I'd quit. This is why I've had 12 tele sales jobs. I'd quit, I'd spend the next two months trying to build my business, I'd then go back to another call center, make huge bonuses, then I'd quit, and I'd keep doing that. But I genuinely believe that that experience working in call centers, where you're honing this particular skill, which is calling someone, usually completely cold out of the blue, and having to persuade them in less than a minute to give you a chance, or to buy immediately, but to give you a chance to sell them something that they didn't need. We all have hate to tell these sales people, including me, I just hang up immediately these days because I'm so time poor. But if you got a chance to do one job in order to improve your sales skills, I would highly, highly recommend you do either that, or even better, which I did again when I was in Plymouth, door-to-door sales, because that introduces body language and other more physical communication skills, which are even more relevant to the world we live in today. So, yeah, sales is definitely the most important thing, and I often say to people, when they tell me that they've got an offer to take one of two jobs, I'll often always prefer the sales role, especially if they're young, and they need to develop in that area, because I think it will yield the greatest returns over the long time. I think getting good at selling stuff when you're young will yield tremendous returns as a skill as you get older. And as I said at the start, sales applies to everything, everything. And if you're good at it, if you're great at it, then you might just be great at everything, or at least be able to convince people you are. Okay, so the next question is, what is my greatest weakness?
What is your greatest weakness? (36:19)
Am I first read this question, a bunch of different things came to mind and different sort of parts and areas of my life? So I'm just gonna share as many of them with you as I possibly can. The first thing that comes to mind is I'm really bad at prioritizing against the things that really matter to me, and I know that will matter long term. I've talked about this a lot in this podcast. I don't call my parents enough. I don't see my family enough. I probably don't give enough time in person to like meaningful friendships and connections and those kinds of things. And I know I'm completely totally convinced that those things are really, really important. It's not that I don't understand the importance of them. It's that like my work priorities always seem to be just one step higher on the to-do list. My work has urgency to it. There's no urgency with calling my mum, right? And that's kind of one of the things that I know is a weakness in myself that I continue to strive to be better at is trying to prioritize things that aren't urgent, but in the long term are really, really important. The next thing is in relationships. I'm like really self-centered. I just want to do what I want to do. And I'm generally like really unwilling to compromise. And that's an awful thing because relationships are all about compromise apparently, so I've been told many times. But I know it's a weakness of mine. I kind of like, I kind of live the world in my own head. And if I want to just get up and go in DJ or walk down the street or go in my room and just look at my laptop and watch YouTube videos, doing that is quite hard when you're in a relationship and you've got someone else to consider. You have to consider what they want. And the things that they want to do that day. And also in relationships generally, I don't want to do much because nine to five, like throughout the week, my brain is fucking chaos. So on the weekend, I'm not really all up for doing much. That's my downtime. And that's become a real weakness of mine. And it's made forming romantic relationships harder because on the weekend I don't want to get out of bed. And if I do, I just want to do something, I just want to do nothing or something very, very simple. But the problem I have there is through Monday to Friday, I've spent all my time on my work. So Saturday and Sunday, by definition, like logically have to be the time that I commit to you as my partner. So this is why I continually struggle in relationships because Monday to Friday, it's not about you. And on the weekend, it's about me. It's about me and my downtime watching Manchester United play. And I have to learn to compromise. I'm sure a lot of people can relate to that. The last thing would be because I'm so mentally bombarded with a billion things they have to do at all times, over the years, the one thing that I've definitely noticed in myself is I get more and more, arguably rude. And to the point, which is like, when at the start of my career, I was very, I had more time and there were less things like, less tabs open in my brain. So I could take more time about how I responded things and I could be a little bit more fluffy and soft and whatever. But when you have tons of urgent priorities, your brain is so funny, I was talking to a friend about this this morning, in fact. And I was just giving some feedback to one of the teams I'm working with at another company 'cause the CEO had basically got in touch and requested that all coms become much more streamlined because when the team were using extra words, he basically, to some degree, gets a little bit frustrated with that because we're trying to move fast as an organization. And I totally related to that. I noticed myself getting annoyed when anything takes longer than it should. And this is something that's really changed, like totally changed in the last couple of years. So I guess the thing that has to be aware of is that even in the situations where I'm just desperately trying to save time is that I don't compromise on being a decent human being. And I can't explain to you how hard this is because we tend to have a philosophy for how we act and how we behave and that philosophy sits deep within us. And whether it's a landlord showing me round a new apartment or a new office or whether it's an email or whether it's a phone call, the philosophy tends to be the same, right? It's hard to switch between different philosophies. So I tend to treat very personal things sometimes in my personal life, whether it's a landlord showing me round an office with the same rapid urgency or my mum having a conversation with me with the same rapid urgency that I might treat business things. And I need to get better at switching between the context and behaving differently in each scenario and realizing that in some scenarios, the saving of the time is not more beneficial than the just remaining a decent person like engaging in the situation. It's hard. And I say it's hard, not just because of my own experiences, but I've seen pretty much, pretty much, I'd say over 70% of the highly successful people I know become so incredibly impatient that it almost verges on looking like rudeness, like they don't care about you and like they are not present when you're with them. Now, this is a really hard point to explain, but I think people who are incredibly busy will understand this. Over the last couple of years, I've noticed that I've got incredibly impatient with any requests I get. And it's something I've noticed, not just to myself, but in some of my friends who run very, very big, really, really sort of ambitious global businesses who are constantly bombarded with stuff, they are some of the most like anti-social, slightly rude people I've met. You just can't get 10 seconds of their attention. And like, just to give you context of what's going on in my head now, right now as I'm making this podcast, I know that I'm missing this phone call with this PR firm. I know that I've got this major IPO coming up with this one company. I know I've got this board meeting coming up with this company. I've got this IPO coming up. I've got this other conversation about joining this board and this other IPO coming up. And I've got all of these other personal things going on in my life, and I've got to record this podcast. My brain has just got all these tabs open. So when my PA walks up to me and she goes, "Hi, Steve, how's your day going? "Would you?" You know, shall I buy Pablo some dog food? It's almost, the only way to describe it is the question is like an irritant. And what I've got, what I've learned over the years is like, "I have to understand that people don't understand." And I have to try and respond on that basis, which sometimes, especially when I'm like really tired, can be a challenge. Something that I've really tried hard to work on, but I'm still like really not that great at, is remembering to be like gracious and just a decent person, irrespective of what's going on in my head, and treating people and being super polite and trying to be my best self every single day in every interaction. You know, I talked on this podcast once upon a time about the day I got on a plane, I sat in business class and I look up and it's that guy from Man vs. Food. And we were running at the time one of the biggest food publishers in the world, love food. And so I messaged the love food team. There was about 150 people that got this message in the social chain chat at the time. I said, "Oh my God, that guy from Man vs. Food "is on the plane." And they all said, "Okay, go up to him and ask him." This like famous social chain question we have, which is what's your favorite sandwich? Long story short, when you join social chain, you get asked the question, "What's your favorite sandwich?" So I jump up and I walk over to his seat in business class and I say, "Hey, I got quite, "boom, shuts me down." Not right now, like shouts in my face. So I like slowly tiptoe back to my seat in business class, I'm like slouch down. And then I have the message, 150 people saying, "Oh, by the way, that guy we already like is an asshole." And he would have had no idea that he was speaking to somebody who ran at the time the biggest food publisher in the world and had hundreds of employees. And at some point in the future, might have wanted to do some business with him or work with him, and now thinks he's a total asshole. And this for me, that moment, I'll always remember as teaching me how important every interaction is, even the ones that don't seem that important. And I try and bear that in mind. If you've ever come and watched me speak anywhere in the world, which I'm sure a lot of you have, 'cause I was a bit of a speaking ho over the last couple of years, then you would have known that I never, ever would leave a venue before everybody's got a chance to like, take a photo or meet me or ask me a question. I would be the last one to leave my own talks because that's the way that I would want someone to treat me, someone that I followed and admired. That's how I would want them to treat me. And I'm scared of being an asshole. Yeah, and it's much easier to be an asshole when you've achieved some level of success, right? Powerful people find it the easiest to be an asshole. They can therefore also probably do the most damage by being an asshole, but also get away with it a lot of the time. I believe in being a good person as much as I possibly can be. And I'm like clearly imperfect in many, many ways. And I still struggle with this, but I'm doing my very best to be a good person and to be kind and to, you know, to never forget who I am and where I come from. Okay, so the next question is, I'm scared to post my business online at the risk of failure or humiliation.
Concerns About Online Exposure
I'm scared to post my business or myself online at risk of humiliation or failure (44:45)
Do you have any advice? This is a very interesting thing that I don't think people talk about enough, especially when they're starting out in business, which is how do you overcome the sort of public transition from just being Steve to now being this entrepreneur who's running this business and raising money and giving people advice and has a podcast? How do you like square that with, especially in your friendships and your personal circles, with the person that they knew first, right? And when we started the business, when we started Social Chain, my business partner, Dom, who's come on this podcast to talk about it, was ridiculed by his friends privately. Like, you know, those kinds of jokes that people do where it's like a joke, but it's also not a joke. So he would post on his Facebook page saying, "We've just started Social Chain, "just out this business, it's going really well," or whatever he'd say. And like five or 10 of his best friends in the world from his hometown would jump on there with these kind of snide, jokey, like patronizing, bantery comments, but they were like inherently mean comments. And I remember back in the day, continually jumping into his comment section and trying to defend him. And I'd get some of my other friends to jump in there and just be a bit nicer. He was posting his achievements and being like ridiculed with like, not funny, kind of funny banter. And for me, as I reflect on what that actually was and the psychology behind his friends and knowing his friendship group back home, I'll be completely honest. I think his friends saw him changing and somewhat didn't like who he was becoming because his success kind of alienated them. And nobody, this is just a principle of psychology that I've actually written a little bit about in my book, people are most envious of people who they can relate to. So if your colleague at work or your friend or someone your age is achieving huge amounts of success and they look like you and went to the same school and came from where you come from, that inadvertently shines a mirror on you. It means you've got no excuse. And that your success or lack thereof is probably a consequence of your own actions. And as humans, we just don't like that thought. And so my business partner, Dom's social circle back home, many of them, not all of them, there was one or two key exceptions, we're trying to rein them in and saying, you're one of us, stay here, don't become something that we can't resonate with. And if you find yourself in the scenario that Dom did, you basically have a really simple choice to make. It feels complicated and it feels like a bit of a minefield but it's not. The central question and the most important question you have to ask yourself is who do I want to be and what makes me happy? And this is a point you can extrapolate to any sort of area of your life, even those outside of your career. Who do I want to be and what makes me happy? And decide what that is and pursue that thing. Anybody that you lose in the pursuit of your happiness isn't probably not someone you needed or wanted in your life anyway. They're probably not someone that had your best interests, which by definition, are you being happy? At heart, they're probably someone who was riddled with a little bit of jealousy, who didn't want you to become everything you could become. So that's the framework in which you make your decision, which is who do I want to be and what makes me happy? Pushing that and be open to losing people who no longer resonate with you pursuing your happiness along the way. And I distinctly remember going through this myself, which is facing really cool and banter and little snide comments behind the scenes. I remember a day where I posted something on Facebook, like one of my quotes, whatever it was, or some of my content on my daily vlog. And a friend of a friend had made some snide, a little comment about like who the fuck does he think he is. The friend had told me and it's those moments where you can make that decision to like fall back in line and conform and to avoid criticism. Can you imagine my life if I'd done that? If I'd let a couple of comments stop me from pursuing my career and producing all this content, which gives me so much intrinsic joy and fulfillment, can you imagine if I'd let the fear of a few comments hold me back from my potential and the things that make me happy? I'm so glad I didn't. And in that particular case, where that guy was ridiculing me behind my back, that same person four years later, when he went through some troubles in his life and some mental health issues reached out to me because he was in love with my podcast now and met me in a sushi bar in London and just sat there and asked me advice because of something I'd said on the podcast that he initially ridiculed. And that kind of shows that that teaches me a lesson, that even some of the people that ridicule you at the start, you've kind of got to forgive whatever it is in their nature, that's making them try and hold you back. But you've also got to understand that it's not a you problem. It's not your responsibility to control what people think of you in their head or the image that they've created of you in their mind. That's not your responsibility. Your central responsibility as a human being is to pursue your happiness, your truth and the things that give you the most intrinsic joy. That's your responsibility. And one of the things I've come to learn about success generally in life is that it's the small, seemingly invisible, seemingly insignificant decisions, piling up over time that have the greatest impact on you. It's not our big life choices, it's the small ones, the ones that are easiest to do or not to do. And it's the same with bending under public pressure or criticism. It's easy if you see a friend of a friend's lagging, you're off just to stop doing that thing. If you allow these small, seemingly insignificant comments to nudge you one day at a time away from the person you wanna be and the person you wanna become, can you imagine how far you're gonna be from that person in 10 years time? It doesn't bear to think about. People ask me for book recommendations all the time. And I finally got one for you. It's a book called Happy Sexy Millionaire, which is authored by me. There's this crazy thing when you write a book because you spend so much time pouring your heart and soul into it and everything you know and all of the revelations you've had in your life. And then there's this barrier, which is that people have to buy the thing in order for them to get that thing. That means so much to you. I wish that wasn't the case. It's just the way the industry is. And in order to get that distribution and to get it on shelves, you need a publisher. So please, please, please, if you can. If you've ever liked anything I've ever produced, this podcast, my Instagrams, anything I've ever said, read this book. There was no ghost writer. I wrote every single word myself. There's some real surprises in there. It's an honest, sometimes hilarious, incredibly vulnerable, hopefully valuable, recount of my life, my journey, everything I've learned across the way and really the answer to being fulfilled, to being happy and to achieving success. It is the most important thing I've ever created. So I implore you to go to Amazon now or wherever you get your books and get that pre-order. If you get that pre-order, I'm gonna put you into a group with everybody that's pre-ordered it. And I'm gonna send you some exclusive stuff. So the first things I'm gonna do is a series of voice notes, which I think are gonna be pretty powerful. I'm gonna give you access to some tickets, which nobody else will have. And I'm gonna do everything I can to thank you for giving me that sort of nine quid of your money or whatever it is. Happy sexy millionaire. You can pre-order it everywhere now. And if you do get that pre-order, please do DM me 'cause I'd love to thank you myself. - Thank you so much for listening. I feel like I don't say that enough to all of you guys. It means a ton to me. And honestly, there'll be little moments where I'm in the street or in the gym or someone will say something about the podcast. And it just puts this tremendous fire under my belly to continue to do it. It requires a huge commitment and the driving force behind that commitment is all of your feedback. If you're listening on YouTube, hit the subscribe button. If you're listening on the Spotify or the podcast or hit the subscribe button, it means a ton to me. And it's more fuel for this movement. And yeah, it's the reason why we can keep bringing you these episodes. And I'll see you again next week for another installment of the "Dive A Sea."