Young Entrepreneur on How He Built A Multimillion-Dollar Business | Steven Bartlett on Impact Theory | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "Young Entrepreneur on How He Built A Multimillion-Dollar Business | Steven Bartlett on Impact Theory".


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Intro (00:00)

Once upon a time, I thought intensity was the answer. I thought, you know, big intense strides forwards was the answer to changing your life. And as I've managed to achieve more things in my life, it's become patently obvious that it's the tiny little seemingly insignificant decisions that I've made that have compounded in my favor of the space of five or 10 years and not any individual decision. And so I would implore people to try and get the tiny, tiniest things in their life, right? And see that as a compounding, a compounding tell-wind. Everybody, welcome to another episode of Impact Theory. I am here with Stephen Bartlett. Stephen, welcome to the show. Thanks for having me, Thomas. Real pleasure. Dude, I'm excited for this one. So you are a crushingly successful entrepreneur at a ridiculously young age. You built social chain from nothing to being valued at half a billion dollars, I think. So pretty extraordinary, extraordinary at any age, but at your age, it's really quite dizzying. Given that context, I want to start with a quote from your new book, "Happy Sexy Millionaire."

Steve'S Life And Perspectives

Stephen's Story (01:01)

And this really jumped out at me, I love this. You are not what happened to you. You are how you choose to handle it. Now, give people a little bit of background. That's easy to say when you are, you know, worth millions and millions of dollars, but give people a little background on where you started and the context for that statement. So I was born in a village in Africa, in Botswana, near South Africa. And I came to the United Kingdom when I was about two years old. And I was raised five days a week by my mother, who can't read all rights until this day. So even up until the age of about 15 or 16, I was trying to help her learn how to read by using the Bible. I went off to university when I got kicked out of school at 16, 17 years old, because I was way too preoccupied with starting businesses. I was running the vending machine deals that we had for all of the vending machines in our schools. I was running all of the events for the sixth film, which was the top level year at school. So school trips, I was doing everything, organizing the venues, doing collecting the money, coming up with the idea, marketing it. And I got to the point where my attendance in school was about 30%. And then they decided that they would kick me out to make a statement, despite the fact I was making the school a lot of money. There was two expulsion attempts. The first was rejected by the head of the school. He took the expulsion letter off me, ripped it up and said, "You're my little Harry Potter. "We keep you under the stairs "because you made the school money." But then later, near the end of the school, they kicked me out. And off I went to university to study business, went to one lecture, walked in, looked around. Everyone else was sleeping on the tables and clearly didn't want to be there to study business in the same way that I did. So I walked out, called my mum, told her I was dropping out of university. She said to me, "I'll never speak to you again "unless you go back to university." And I decided that I was going to do it anyway. So I didn't speak to my mum for, from that point onwards, for the next two or three years. I didn't have any money at this point. And when I say any money, I mean, I had negative money. So I ended up moving into these very derelict houses in this place called Manchester in Mosside. And at my lowest, I was leaving the house and rummaging through takeaways looking for food that someone had left. I was stealing pizzas from corner shops. It was a very dire time, but I was completely convinced that I was going to be a happy, sexy millionaire before the age of 25. And that's once by the title of the book. I wrote it in the first page of my diary, 18 years old after I'm dropping out. I had four goals in life. They were to have a range over sport before I was 25 to become a millionaire, to work on my body image, 'cause I was very, very skinny, and to get a girlfriend. That's what I thought happiness was. So off I went, 18 years old, and yeah, started a company, started another company, and then we had a bit of success. That is, yeah, putting it mildly. So one of the things in there that I found really interesting is that you were so embarrassed by your house that had smashed up front windows, a bunch of refrigerators in the backyard, that you would actually have your friends drop you off at a different house, and then you would walk home, and that if I'm not mistaken, you never had anybody growing up over to your house.

Turning wound into wisdom (03:49)

So that to me is very interesting, given obviously the trajectory of your life. So I have a hypothesis that you don't have to have a wound to be successful, but it really helps. And there is something about, look, poverty breaks most of the people that it touches, and so I'm not a champion of poverty by any stretch of the imagination. But I want people who right now are struggling, who think they're never going to make it, to recognize the gigantic chasm that you had to cross in order to become successful. And in the book, you detail at great length all the different pieces that you had to pull together are sort of beliefs, way that you move through the world. What were some of the key things that, and I know you're not a, you've said that I've always just had the belief I was going to be successful. So we won't waste time with that one. But what was it about the way that you had to learn to move, whether it was first principles thinking, or whether it was recognizing that if it is to be, it is up to me, like what got you doing the right things that allowed you to become successful? - Yeah, I think you're totally right there. There's a quote in the book where I say, the things that invalidated you when you're younger will be the things you seek validation from when you're older. And for me, not being able to have people at my house, not being able to celebrate birthdays and Christmases, these, they carved this insecurity into me that as I get to 16, 17, 18 years old, I just wanna fill. And as you say, like a lot of successful people, if you could dig into their stories, you'll find this moment, this trauma, this event that happened in their early years. And of course, it's then the thing that often makes them successful, but the reason they become successful is because they're in some way unusual, right? They might be obsessive about money or power or control. And that often also comes with an unappreciated downside, which means they might find it really hard to form relationships, which I did. And they might be a little bit too selfish. They might be, they might chase off the material things, thinking it's happiness, get there. It moves away like a mirage and they're left with a lack of fulfillment. To answer your question about what the things were in me that made me move differently, one of them was by the age of 10 years old, my parents were never in the house. And when I said I would wake up, they weren't there. And when I went to bed, they weren't there. So at 10 years old, I have to fend for myself. And you think about the pressures going on in my life at that age, I'm a kid who is feeling like really inadequate and insecure because I have nothing and my parents aren't there. So I'm looking around thinking, how can I fill this void? So I'm thinking I'm gonna do a deal with the local vending machine company to stock our school with vending machines and we're gonna get 20% of the revenue and I'm gonna take a little bit of a cut. And I'm gonna organize all of the events in my school. And this was my way of like, I had independence and I had an insecurity. And when the two came together, I became this young kid who just had no choice but to take on the world on his own. And the other bit that you mentioned was about belief 'cause I think this is so incredibly important. One of the things I hate about like typical cliche poxy Instagram advice is people just say, just believe in yourself. We all know that that's not how belief works, right? Like I use the example in the book. If I held your dearest love one at gunpoint and said, I'm gonna kill them unless you believe that I am Jesus Christ, you could only lie to me because you can't, even if everything's on the line, you can't make yourself believe something that you don't have evidence to believe. And so the way that my belief bill was in that phase where I had radical independence at 10 years old and I had this huge insecurity and it's like building muscle in the gym. You just gradually build these small case studies that compound on top of each other that you know what, I didn't have lunch money today but I left the house, I did this, I told this kid to buy a ticket and now I have lunch money, I can influence my peers. That's an interesting new piece of evidence I've got about myself. And so it was those three things, it was building the case studies, it was just radical independence and it was which, you know, and this insecurity that led me to, yeah, to being a young person who had built a big company, yeah. - All right, I wanna get to the case studies in a second but first I wanna know why you didn't get bitter. So as you know, the child of an African immigrant and a British father in a town where I think you said 1500 kids at your school and they were all white except you.

Dont let circumstance devalue you (08:21)

So there's, and then on top of that, the crushing poverty, the absence of the parents, like you had every reason to get really pissed off. Why didn't you? - I got pissed off when I was, I got, I felt very sorry for myself at the time and it's one of the things that I feel tremendously guilty for now as an adult because if you look at my, so this is the crazy thing that I almost uncover while I'm writing the book, if you look at where I came from in Africa, the village in Africa where I was born and the standard of living there, then you take that same baby and you move him to a better environment where he has this house and he has, you know, public education and he has these things and he's miserable only because the context changed and this is one of the things that I uncover as I'm going through the book is it's actually like much of our, much of how we deem the value of something is based on the context we see it in and it's like when you go to a restaurant, they've done these studies and they show that if there's three stakes on the menu, an expensive one, a median price one and a cheap one, people go for the middle one or the same with my, you know, I talk about my Nokia phone, I used to have this big Nokia phone when I was younger, it was amazing until you put it in a world full of iPhones and then suddenly you feel inferior and it was really the contrast of, you know, seeing my neighbors that had nicer gardens and nicer houses and they had Christmas presents that was making me miserable and I've tried it as I've gotten older to really free myself from allowing contrast in comparison to be, to allow me to determine my intrinsic value and this was one of the real ultimate revelations. I'd gone through life believing this like societal lie that we are intrinsically valued, like Stephen Bartlett's value changes based on what the people around me are wearing or, you know, how they look or how nice their hair is as if my intrinsic value, like there's a number that goes up and down and that lie was ultimately causing me a lot of my misery, so, yeah. - All right, so there's obviously a lot in there and I don't wanna go too far afield before we get back to these case studies because I think that's so important but you talk about self-awareness, you have a great quote, I don't remember the exact quote off the top of my head but basically you're never gonna progress unless you can develop the self-awareness, you're just not gonna learn the lessons.

Developing Self-Awareness (10:34)

So how, like, 'cause the quote that I started with, to me that's the juice of your story, right, is you get to the point where you say, okay, I can sort of reframe everything that's happened to me in a way that disempowers me or I can tell myself the same, like the same events but in a different sort of story context and now I'm empowered and I'm moving forward. One, when did you become aware of that and then how do you think about self-narrative? Is it something that you're shaping every day to make sure what you choose to deal with the situation you're in is always gonna move you to a better place? - Yeah, so one of the decisions I think everyone has to make when they're trying to understand what their true self-narrative is or the direction they should be moving in is like what actually intrinsically matters to you and it's so difficult to know these days, who you actually are and what actually matters to you especially if you're growing up in my generation where you have all of these screens and all of these social networks telling you that being Tom Bill, you the entrepreneur is the thing to do but also you need to be traveling all the time and these contrasting narratives and you kind of lose yourself within that and so by stripping away a lot of the, by understanding these forces that had taken hold of me in my life like insecurity and comparison, I was able to get closer to like listening to that voice within me that was like this is who we are and now I try and make my decisions on that basis which is a real clear understanding of my intrinsic values and I try and place my time against those values so one of them is my health at the moment I went from being a really skinny guy to being in the best shape of my life because I started to understand that one of my intrinsic values was deliver happy, healthy life. Another point which I wanted to touch on which is kind of connected is it's very easy to get caught up in the labels that you or society have given you and these labels can be black, white, poor, dad, mum, social media CEO, impact theory, university host, right? It's funny that we start to follow the implicit instructions of those labels and at one point, when I left social chain in August, it was so incredibly tempting to go and play out that those labels of being a social media CEO for the next five, 10 years of my life and I stopped again and I said, is that who I am and are those labels or am I something else? And it was that revelation for me that allowed me to resist my labels as I call it and since I left social chain, the obvious move is obviously just to start another company or a social media business, I started theatrical production, I'm doing and working at a multi-billion dollar biotech company solving mental health disorders, I'm DJing now and I've got a big show coming up and I'm trying not to be confined by my own self narrative which I think will actually lead me to a less fulfilling life if that makes sense.

Steve Refusing to be Defined by His Labels (13:18)

- All right, so let's dive into the self narrative then. So I would say everyone is going to be confined by their self narrative, but you can tell yourself whatever narrative you want. So your narrative could be I can DJ, I can work for a biomedical company, I can solve mental health crises or it can be man, I am my last success and that's it and fuck, I better outdo what I just did and how do you work with that narrative? Is it conscious? Are you journaling? Do you write it down? Do you just, you're obviously highly verbal? So is it that it's you're telling your friends and sort of shaping it as you go? Like how do you make sure that whatever narrative you are telling is expansive enough to not become the trap? - It's a really good question. I think my self narrative is actually more of a philosophy. It's a set of principles that I make, or like a prism in which I make my decisions through. So for example, if someone comes up to me and says, Steve, we've got this cancer company in the biotech space, do you want to come and work there? I don't sort of use my own self narrative as a way to decide whether that's the right opportunity for me or the right direction. I ask myself, I probably run myself mentally through a certain set of principles, which is, is it challenging? For me, challenge is a really important part of having that sort of feeling of forward motion and challenge my life keeps me stimulated. And I talk about in the book how I used to think chaos was chaos and stability was stability. Now I came to learn, and from studying like Michael Phelps, when he accomplished all of his goals and reached apparent stability, that in fact stability is chaos and chaos is stability. So now I prioritize chaos in the form of challenge.

Why stability is chaos (15:24)

- I've heard you explain this so I know what you mean, but for somebody that doesn't understand why you're saying that stability is actually chaos, why is that true? - So there was a day when I was 24 where someone came along and offered me, I think it was 40 million to buy my company. And 18 year old insecure Steve Bartlett showed up that day in my head and he was like, let's get that Lamborghini, right? And I went home that day and I'm sat in a small dark room and I go on auto trader, which is the site where you buy cars and I go on right me at the same time. And I'm looking at this amazing car, this amazing house. And there's this weird sense of like emptiness growing inside me that I'm about to trade my like purpose for this piece of metal. And I had like a mini existential crisis, which was 18 year old Steve Bartlett told us that we came for this, but 25 year old Steve Bartlett looking at it is thinking, but then what? If it was all about a Lamborghini, and this was the mountaintop or the finish line, and I'm feeling totally unfulfilled by looking at my completed goals, then I must have it all wrong. And the moment where I approached what I thought stability was, it felt like chaos. It was an existential crisis. And in fact, the moments in my life where I've been building something, striving, which you would probably count as chaos, those have been what I've been most stable. And so that's why I've made the sort of distinction between the two and I've swapped them now. So I look for chaos. I think it's a non-negotiable in any, in my sort of decision making prism. I look for a challenge that I'll find intrinsically fulfilling in line with my interests or because it's gonna change the world in some way. And that's probably the third point, which I talk a lot about in the book, is people who do careers that have an impact on others have the most fulfilling careers. It's no surprise that clergy, priests, and people like teachers report to having the most fulfilling careers. They say that the best way to lift yourself up is by reaching down and pulling someone else up. And again, that's proven to be incredibly true in my life. Yeah. - No, that makes a lot of sense. I actually, I really resonated with that flip of when you lose sight of where you're trying to go, you no longer have that clear objective. There's no purpose to what you're doing. There's a sense of being unmoored.

The moment Steve became a millionaire (17:42)

Like you're just, you're a drift and that feeling is deeply uncomfortable. One of the most interesting stories in your book, dude, this is so true. And I want people to know how true this is. That when you were scrounging in the restaurant cushions like the seats and you found your 13 pound 40 and you said you were more excited in that moment than when you realized that you were worth tens of millions of dollars. - Yeah. - Tell people that moment and what you realized then. - So, one of the days when I was exceptionally poor and I'd gone into this chicken shop looking for some food that someone had left and I remember sitting on the back to this chair and I just, I dropped some of like 20 pens down the back of this chair and I put my hands down there, it's filthy and I reached down and I find this big coin and I pull out, it's a pound coin. And I'm like, oh my God. And I'm there for like 10 minutes going down and my hands are full of money, although they're filthy. And I went around all of the chairs in this little chicken shop and managed to find about 13 pounds and 40 pence. Yeah. And I was, that day, it was just like I'd won the lottery. It was like euphoria. And I thought I can eat probably for the next two weeks now with this money and then contrasting that to the day when I'm sat in my hotel room in Manchester and I get the news that social chains now listed on the stock market and I can see it. I can see the ticker symbol and I can see the valuation at the time was like $250 million. And I felt, I would say numb, but it's less than numb. It's like a negative version of numb, like totally anti-climaticle. And the confusion that comes about when you don't feel the way you expect it to feel in those moments can be quite confounding. And I called my business partner Dom and I said, you know, he's my age and we did this all together. I said, you know, hoping that he would give me the energy and the positivity that I was seeking. And I called him and he was worse than me. He was more down than I was. And again, it doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense because 18 year old Steve told me, he made me a promise that when we become our sexy millionaire, then we get everything. We get the marching band, the confetti, we get, you know, I don't know, something goes up, I don't know. So, and it didn't happen. And I felt really down that day because of the anti-climax and it wasn't until I left the hotel room and I thought I'll walk to work today, which I never did. I put my music on, I'm walking down the streets and the money treats by Kendrick Lamar comes on. And it was the song I used to listen to when I lived in the gun crime part of the city. And I was doing a two hour walk at nighttime to go work in a call center. And it was the song I used to dream about being here today while I was listening to. And I was looking around the streets and suddenly all of the memories of that time when I was 19 and I was struggling came back to me. That was the apartment block I used to fantasize about living in. That was the car dealership that I used to say to myself, "One day we'll get one of those." And tears just come down my face. But again, it was a moment of real deep gratitude that was brought about because of contrast. I got to walk in 19 year old Steve Shoe's that day on the way to work, listening to the music he used to listen to, walking past the shops that used to create his dreams. And I was just overcome with gratitude. And I couldn't have been happier. So I called Don back, my business partner, and took him through that journey with me too. And I basically took a trip down memory lane with him. And he felt the same way. And that day I learned a lot about the concept of gratitude. And also one, actually one of the downsides of living in forward motion is you never get, it's so gradual the climb. It's one step at a time. So it's hard to find a moment where you go, "Oh my God, we've done a thousand steps." Because yesterday was just one more step than today. So there isn't that big moment. And your brain doesn't, especially when you're an entrepreneur, that's always a little bit paranoid and slightly scared of being complacent. There isn't a moment where you stop and say, "Well, oh my God, look at what we've done. It just doesn't happen." So yeah, that's what, you know, but I learned a lot that day. And since then, to be honest, I've since about 25, 26 years old, I've had a bit of a sort of existential journey trying to figure out what life was all about.

Taking the first step when you are down and out (21:46)

You're very good at synthesizing insights, which is incredibly powerful. And now one of those things I'm hoping you can articulate for people is how when you feel like a loser, when you have nothing going for you, how do you begin to build those case studies so that you can begin to believe that the things that you're dreaming about can actually be possible for you. - You know what, I'm knocking around on this topic so much at the moment, because I'm trying to understand the amount of sort of self-responsibility and personal discipline is required to start this journey. I've got this friend back home who was my best friend for my whole childhood up until the age of 16. Same street, same school, hang around with each other every day. I've gone on to where I've gone on to. He is still living there. He is marginally suicidal. He is on government support. And we've gone in two completely different directions. And I've always tried to understand, you know, just by all the help and effort that I've tried to give him, I've offered to pay for his accommodation. I've offered to help him get a job. Nothing I've been able to do has been able to move him. Whereas we can all think of people in our lives that just required a little bit of support. And they went and they transformed themselves. And so I reflect and I say, "Okay, so how would you go if you are someone who is down and out? How do you go about making those steps?" You know, part of the issue when we're thinking about making radical change in our lives is we see it as being stood at the foot of like Mount Everest, a huge mountain. We want to change completely change our life. But as is the case in my life and probably yours, for me it starts with like first picking up the smallest pebble, whatever that is. And I've seen this time and time again with my podcast guest as well. He worked down and out. My last guest on the podcast was a guy that was suicidal had just left his house to go and kill himself. He couldn't bring himself to do it. Comes home and he watches a YouTube video just an advert that popped up. And it showed him these military commandos. And that just gave him a sense of something. It gave him a sense of fire here. So that day he put on his shorts and he said, "What I'm gonna do today is gonna put on my shorts and I'm just gonna go for a run." And it was that run which ultimately led to another run and another run and it changed his life. He became an elite military commando. He's now like a mindset coach and he's now, you know, absolutely dominating the world. Sometimes it requires a spark. And that spark for me or for a lot of people is understanding that there is something worth taking the first step for. And for me in terms of like the practical where you start to build those case studies it literally is, it can be the smallest thing. It can be deciding the name of the business. It can be getting out of bed at 7 a.m. that day. It can be the smallest thing. And when you start to look at it like small tiny decisions compounding in your favor versus having to climb Everest, I think that it becomes a little bit more mentally achievable than a lot of sort of Instagram hustle porn stars might wanna make you believe. And I think, yeah, that's, that's, once upon a time I thought intensity was the answer. I thought, you know, big strides for, big intense strides forwards was the answer to changing your life. And as I've managed to achieve more things in my life it's become patently obvious that it's the tiny little seemingly insignificant decisions that I've made that have compounded in my favor of the space of five or 10 years and not any individual decision. And so, yeah, I would implore people to try and get the tini, tiniest things in their life, right? And see that as a compounding tell-wind.

Why is consistency so important? (25:24)

- All right, so you said that every, every self-help book ever written should be titled Be Consistent For A Really Long Time. - Yeah. - And I thought that was so on the money. Why is that how, more importantly, how does one know what to be consistent on in order to have the big impact? - I tend to actually believe that you don't have a huge amount of choice. Now that sounds like a crazy thing to say, but I think life has a really remarkable way of making you inconsistent at things that you absolutely intrinsically, absolutely hate doing. Do you see what I mean? Like the things that I've become most successful at, I got some type of like intrinsic payoff from, just like a little token, one token a day. And that was one of the most important factors that allowed me to be consistent. The thought of having to be consistent at something that you intrinsically hate doing, that often is you know return, I find like, I just, I don't think that's possible. It's why I dropped out of university. It's why I couldn't pay attention in school. Why is consistency so important? I just think it's everything. I think if you understand the laws of compounding returns, and you've read the book The Slite Edge by, I'm gonna say Jeff Olson, you'll probably know, you've read every book ever. You'll understand that again, as I said, like it's the small, seemingly insignificant things that are compounding for or against us in every aspect of our life, whether we know it or not. The old analogy of, you know, if I eat a cookie today, I won't be fat. If I eat a cookie tomorrow, I won't be fat. If I eat a cookie every single day for the next five years, I will be fat. And you look at the way that great things happen, the Grand Canyon, I think I talk about in the book, if you've got 100 million gallons of water and dropped it on a mountain, there would be no impact. It wouldn't change shape. But if you get a trickle of water, and you trickle it through the mountain for 10 years, you all have a Grand Canyon. Like that's how you move huge objects and achieve great things. It's that showing up every single day. And one, the other way that I learned it, and specifically how when you focus on consistency, things go really slow and then fast, was my Instagram following. It took me 800 posts to get 10,000 followers. In my next 800 posts, I got 1.1 million additional followers. In fact, I got 300,000 followers in 10 posts. - Wow. - And it just, yeah, so when the whole carousel thing blew up, I got 300,000 followers by just doing 10 carousels. And I thought myself, you know, I've been doing this Instagram thing for eight years. And if you looked at the graph of how my Instagram has gone, it's exactly like every compounding interest graph ever. If you look at my health, if you look at my brushing my teeth, if you look at anything, my business, it's exactly the same. And that just requires consistency. And I think it's so liberating to say that because again, people think that performing radical change in your life is some like, you know, Pythagoras, quantum physics equation that they've got to solve to move this mountain, but it's not. It's the one thing you can control is your time. You can see it as I get 24 chips every single day.

How To Actually Make Better Decisions On The Daily, With Steve's 24 Chips Metaphor (28:44)

I'm stood in front of this roulette table. My job is to place as many of these chips on things that are in line with my values, because then at the end of the day, the roulette wheel spins and you see what returns you made. And so every single day, I just think about my 24 chips and where I'm going to place them today. And all those decisions in line with my values. And that's how I want to try and simplify my thinking to that level, it feels really achievable and manageable. You know, when I think about trying to change my life, it's daunting and terrifying, but placing my 24 chips better every single day, 16 by the time I've woken up, it feels like something that I can achieve, you know? So. - All right, so how do you pick where you put the chips? - I know there's two questions I ask myself. The first question is, the person I want to be, how would they place their chips? Another way of asking that is like, you know, how would the person I want to be use their time? And I find that as a really useful, distilling question to ask myself, because sometimes you don't know what the right thing to do is, but you know the person you want to be. I feel like we all have an idea of how they behave. And so I can ask myself, even when I'm about to consume, you know, like a big McDonald's burger, would the person I want to be make this decision? And for some reason, that feels like an easier question to answer than is it right right now? Because our present self, as we all know, tends to lean towards seeking comfort and likes to avoid discomfort, whether psychological or physical. I think I wrote on Twitter the other day, comfort is like a short, is a, can't remember my own bloody coat now. Can't get. Basically, comfort is a short timeframe, but a long term enemy. So in the moment, I'm continually not making maybe the best decisions, but yeah, in the long term, that comfort will stab me in the back, whether that's my health, my fitness, or my intrinsic joy. So that's really the most important question I ask myself when I'm thinking about placing my chips. And then it's just a case of what are my values. That's the other question. So, am I clear on my values? Do I want to be, as you'd say, a better husband? Or do I want to be a better uncle to my niece? Do I want to have a greater impact on the world of mental health or change the education system? Is my book important to me? Is that more important than me than watching Netflix for four hours? And that, again, is a really useful prism, which is my clear, intrinsic values of knowing where to place my chips. It sounds like nonsense. It's actually really simple. And I think that's, as I say, is liberating. - Totally agree that you are liberated once you know sort of what the rubric is, by which you're going to evaluate an opportunity. Like you have that filter. It's very powerful. In the book, you actually include one of your decision-making rubrics around quitting. And you said something that I found very useful. It is a very unique frame, which is quitting is a skill. So, you recently left social chain, which had to, anybody else would look at that and say that is a staggeringly large decision. Most people would be trapped, they'd never leave.

The Quitting Framework: "Is it hard?/ Does it suck?" And, "Can I change it and is it worth my time?" (31:46)

And in the book, you just say, here's my matrix. It essentially forces a decision. Walk people through how to think about quitting. - Yeah, so it starts with the question, are you thinking of quitting? If the answer is, no, obviously, you're in the wrong frame. If the answer is yes, it asks you why you're thinking about quitting. Are you thinking about quitting because it's hard? Are you thinking about quitting because it sucks? And what I mean by sucks, as I define it, is like, it's like toxic for your mental health fulfillment intrinsic values, right? So it sucks to find however you will. If I'm thinking of quitting because it's hard, which is the other side of the framework, I'll then say, okay, well, are the rewards on offer? Do they justify how hard this challenge is, right? The potential rewards on offer. And if the answer is yes, then I'll carry on because I don't think we should quit things purely because they're hard, especially if the rewards on offer are equivocal to the challenge. And in fact, as you'll know, and as everyone I think will know, my hardest moments in life have been my most valuable. So moving to the other side of the spectrum, if, well, if the answer is no there, and the rewards on offer aren't worth how hard it is, then I'll quit. So if I'm struggling, but at the end of that struggle is $1 bill, then again, this is probably a pointless effort. Moving to the other side of the framework. So it sucks. The first question, if it sucks, whatever you're doing in your life, a relationship, a job, whatever, ask yourself if you believe you can make it not suck, right? If you believe there's something you can do to make that situation not suck. And then if you say yes, you've got to ask yourself, are the rewards on offer worth the effort it will take to make it not suck? And that could be a toxic boss at work, you know, whatever. And you think, well, do you know, I actually, it would take so much effort, maybe to the point of impossibility to get that person out of my life or to remove that barrier, that it's not worth it anymore. And then going down that side of the framework as well. So if it sucks and you believe you can change it, and it's worth changing, then again, you stick at it. And that in simple is my quitting framework. It's quite simplified and everything has tremendous nuance and we've all got bills to pay. So things aren't always that simple. But that's kind of the prism, and that's why I've been a total piece at times when other people have thought my quitting decisions were courageous or dumb or terrifying. It just doesn't seem to be a decision to me. And that's where I got to the social chain where it sucked and the rewards on offer weren't worth it, weren't worth how much it sucked anymore. And I didn't think I could change it. So I was, I was dumb. - And what changed fundamentally? Was it something in the business or was it something in you? - When you start a company at 21 years old and you dilute yourself tremendously, you also lose a lot of control. And as you'll read about in the book again, but also as most sort of psychologists have determined when they're trying to understand why people love their work, control is a huge, huge part of motivation. Feeling like you have autonomy, what we call self-determination of your work is tremendous. And I diluted myself, but then there was, eight boards of direct, eight people on the board of directors who double my age living in another country, all living in the same country. And I just felt like I didn't have the control I needed anymore to take this company in the direction I wanted to. So for me, the decision was to step out of that. And I almost see it like you reach a ceiling and you've got to like turn right to carry on going up. And that was my decision. It was, this has given me everything it can and now I move on. And I take with me the thing that got me here, so nothing lost. - All right, so obviously I'm pretty sure I know what it is, but what is the thing that got you here that you're taking with you?

Hamilton the young entrepreneur discusses what he would like to achieve at Carrick (35:29)

- It's a perspective on the world. I think it's the way that I see the world and that first principle thinking, which you alluded to at the start of a conversation, being able to look at a situation and hold it out in front of you and question if this is still the correct answer to the problems that we have ahead of us. So, if you look at my decision to drop out of university, I was a business student that sat in the room, looked around and thought, "I'm gonna get the same piece of paper as her "and she's drunk in a sleep "and she definitely doesn't want to be here." So is this a piece of paper of value, this degree? Problem, and if I'm gonna be an entrepreneur, this is all for principle thinking, if I'm gonna be an entrepreneur and run my business, who am I gonna show this piece of paper to anyway? What am I actually going to need to become the entrepreneur I'm probably gonna need experience? And sat here listening to this guy who's never run a business before, trying to tell me to, I think he was trying to tell us to make posters with felt-it pens and things like this is all not. So first principle thinking, and then you're spending huge sums of money to in date yourself for this worthless piece of paper. First principle, it's very simple first principles, we'll tell you that this is a very bad idea. So that's first principle thinking, self-belief. You can't take that from me, in fact, to only compounds in one direction really. I guess it could, if a massive failure might shake that, but myself belief. And now, there's five buckets that I've spent the last, and this is really a point for young people that are listening to this. So if they're thinking, before the age of 30, what should I be doing? I kind of see, there's five buckets that we all should be doing everything we can to fill. The first is like your network, right? So it's like who you know the contacts you have, which proves to be incredibly valuable. The second is your knowledge, which is what you know, you're like knowledge and skills. I'll say your knowledge, and then I'll say the third one is actually your skills. So knowledge and skills, knowledge for me is the information I have. The skills kind of relate to my ability to apply that both skills, public speaking, sales, that kind of thing. The fourth is your resources, so money. You know, money you have at your disposal. And the fifth is your reputation, right? Which is, again, proves to be incredibly valuable. A lot of people call it personal brand now, but your reputation shows up when you need it to most. So when I say to young people a lot of the time, I'm like if you're below the age of 25 and you're trying to optimize your future, remember you're pouring into those five buckets at all times, and to put yourselves in positions, whether that's taking a shitty sales job working on the phones, or you can optimize and increase those five buckets. And yeah, those are the five things I took with me as well. My reputation, my skills, my knowledge, my network, and my resources. - That is a way better answer with far more detail than I was expecting my friend. That is very impressive.

Insights From Hamilton'S Book

What does Hamilton want people to take from his book? (38:20)

Tell me, what do you want people to get out of your book? - I see it as kind of like an intervention, right? So I represent a certain generation, a connected generation that were connected to the internet from my very early adolescence. And we've all gone through a very similar experience. I think my experience is probably slightly exacerbated in some areas because I grew up with social media. And with just this, it's almost like, I grew up in a much bigger room where I could see much more people in comparison with myself to them. And these forces, including some of the more specific personal forces about being a black kid in an all white school, the only kid with curly hair, being a broke kid in a middle class area, all of these forces exacerbated it for me. But I think the principles are fundamentally the same for the vast majority of our generation. In fact, the data says it is, if you look at cosmetic surgery and the way that our generation in particular are going under the knife to change their body more so than anything now because of the like the Kardashians of the world and things like that. I know that the majority of my generation are going in a certain direction. And I also think we've not yet seen the true extent of the results of this experiment we've done, but we decided to give everybody this piece of glass in their hand where they could see a bunch of fake things and they would be reinforced psychologically with likes and followers based on how they behaved and would say that was good, that was bad, that would don't do that again. Look, she's really good, you know. And we had like superficiality and materialism ground into our character. I don't think we've yet seen the results of this experiment. So before we see the results of this experiment fully transpire in our mental health and our happiness as we're seeing now with this like mental health epidemic, I think I have a chance as someone who's like climbed up the ladder that I, that 18 year old Steve wanted to get up to to like look back down and shout, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, don't come up this fucking ladder, do you know what I mean? And I don't, but I hate the cliche of like, oh, money doesn't buy you happiness. Like I'm not giving up my fucking money, you know what I mean? I don't know about you, but I prefer it having money and it's a good thing. But I was just wrong about everything. And I, I, you know, my publisher asked me for years to write a book and I was like, I've got nothing to say. And then it was the day where I looked back at my diary from 18 years old and in the front page, it says like before I'm 25, I wanna be a happy 60 millioner and it lists it, but I thought, how am I encouraging more 18 year old Steve Vollis right now to follow in that same path? And, and what can I do? What would I want to write for 18 year old Steve? He was insecure, he was growing up in this connected world. He was chasing pleasure thinking it was happiness as it moved off into the distance every time I thought I grabbed it like a rainbow or a mirage. And that was, that was it. I thought, you know, I have a chance for my generation to write a bit of an intervention. And hopefully, and I'm not even sure if it's possible if I'm honest with you, to get them to realize something about the true nature of like fulfillment, about love and about success without them having to make the same mistakes that I did because I've got a friend and I've got many friends who have become wildly successful and still haven't figured it out. So, you know, and then, and then some people will spend their whole lives chasing it, the thing that I managed to get, never get it. But get everything, get all of the adverse consequences of the chase, which is like shitty mental health, isolation, loneliness, depression, anxiety. And so, this was my intervention. And that's what it says across the back of the book. It says, this is my intervention for a generation that I think have more information than ever before but a seemingly less informed. And yeah, and that was it.

The Intervention Process

The intervention (42:15)

- Well, I think you nailed it, man. Book is great, very well done. Where can people connect with you? - Anywhere to be honest, you know, it's a social media, I guess. It's just to get to Instagram. My name's Stephen on Instagram. Yeah, that's probably the best place to find me. And you can get the book on Amazon. Yeah, if you're in America or anywhere else, yeah. - Perfect. - Thank you so, honestly, you're such an inspiration and I really, really respect your values. They really come through in everything you do. And also, I've met a lot of people in this game, a lot of people on Instagram, a lot of people have had a producing content. There are almost none with the level of like authentic values that you have. And I've met you in person, I've met you online and I've met you now again. And it really stands out and you can really tell when someone is real, you know what I mean? And you are one of those very, very, I'll be honest, rare, real people. So thank you for that. 'Cause you've helped guide me in a way that I've known is without agenda, if you know what I mean. So. - Wow, thank you, man. No one's not. I really appreciate that. That means a lot and it comes from a place of having been a total mess. And just figuring it out along the way and realizing I actually get anxious when I try to be cool. So if I didn't, I would be a poser like everybody else, but sadly I get way too anxious. So, but thank you, man. No, I really appreciate that. And to everybody watching guys, trust me, this dude, like one, you're gonna want to listen to the interviews that he's done is extraordinary. He has his own podcast, which is also fantastic. And the book is amazing. It will change your life if you let it. And that is the highest praise that I can pay it. Speaking of things that will change your life, if you let it, if you haven't already, be sure to subscribe. And until next time, my friends, be legendary. Take care. - The hardest thing to do is to enable people to see themselves as they are. Not as they hoped they were, not as they've been taught they are, but as they actually are. It's the single hardest thing to do, and I'll tell you why. Because we're all embedded in this construct of a thing called identity.

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