BG.png
Podcast.png

In this bonus AfterCast™ episode Samuel Monnie and Chris Lawson reflect on, recap and remix the topics covered in last week’s interview with Nick Bradley - Host of "Scale Up Your Business" podcast. We discuss why 50 is the new 30, storytelling, your personal brand, how to become a successful entrepreneur and whether burning the boat really is a good method to follow. 

Nick_.png
Sam.png

Episode 61
Nick Bradley AfterCast™ Bonus Episode. Burning the boat and self reinvention

Chris.png
  • Burning the boat - origin of that expression

  • Inspiration via Susan Foley (Corporate Entrepreneurs) - selling her own idea to her former employer for seven figures!

  • Storytellers: Carla Harris (Morgan Stanley), Jennifer Holland (Google)

  • At what age should you start a business? Proof that age 50 is the new 40, 30, 20! 

  • Sam shares a story about a 7 hour conversation with his fellow seatmate John Geraci (CI Squared) on a UK flight to the US

Transcript:


CHRIS:

Welcome to Across the Pond. My name's Chris Lawson and I'm joined from Philadelphia by Samuel Monnie, say hello Sam. 

 

SAM:

Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening to the audience. Obviously, Chris, we know what the real time is, but we're not gonna reveal that to our audience. Are we? 

 

CHRIS:

Yeah. So how are you, Sam? 

 

SAM:

Yep. Doing well. Energized looking forward to this week's episode. I think we've got a good momentum behind this season. 


 

George Michael, Pharell Williams or Beyonce?

CHRIS:

It's really good reflecting on the interviews, thinking where does it take us? This week we're going to talk about freedom and that's not the George Michael song, but the ability to focus on what you want to achieve. And what you want to do to achieve your dreams. Also just reflect on is that possible in normal careers these days, and how brave do you have to be to get to what you want and what shapes you to give you that confidence in order to do that? So lots of questions there. 

 

SAM:

I think that whole piece about freedom took you to George Michael but probably takes me more to Pharell Williams or Beyonce.

 

CHRIS:

I don't want that to be any reflection on my music choice, by the way, 

 

SAM:

Their songs and both being sort of black musicians, their song lyrics sentiment things probably going slightly different directly to George Michael. All huge pop stars on their own, right?

 

CHRIS:

Indeed Bringing it back to topic anyway, but the obvious one is that as you're reflecting on your career choices and where you want to get to, do you need to think about yourself as a personal marketing campaign in order to get there and what is at the heart of that? Well, as we talk about a lot of the time, the heart of good marketing is storytelling and telling a good story and running that through your personal campaign. 

 

Last week we had Nick Bradley on the show. Definitely an interesting one, definitely a story there, I think. He’s not someone who's taken a tentative approach to a new career. That's for certain it's someone who's gone in both feet first, almost a reinvention in a way. We'll take some of those things coming out of it and dissect it.

 

SAM:

I think Nick gave us a lot of food for thought. We had some good discussion and just opened our eyes to the journey he had and the journey that we can all have if we really listen to the signals and take action. 

 

CHRIS:

Yeah, exactly. All about breaking through to the other side, we're not dissecting songs today. What we're going to do is look at that concept. Nick Bradley is someone I've known since the early two thousands when we were both in, I suppose you could say, almost conventional marketing director careers, at a company called Bowa which owns a lot of radio stations and magazines and TV stations. At that time it was almost considered the cutting edge of marketing, but it was a traditional career. To paraphrase Nick's career from then on was that he carved out a niche, working in or on private equity before he decided that it wasn't really fulfilling him and he set up on his own. Now he's got a hugely successful business podcast called 'Scale up your Business', where he looks at that  startup and scale-up journey and what it takes to be successful. Alongside that he runs a business accelerator, which is a complete difference from his previous career. 

 

SAM:

Can I just give us a shameless plug and shout out to the episode of scale up your business, featuring the wonderful Chris Lawson and another guy called Samuel Monnie. Check that episode out. It's another Stormer. It's a great episode. 

 

CHRIS:

Absolutely. Yeah. Two, two brilliant guests. It took a while for him to get them, I seem to remember. 

 

SAM:

Yeah, apparently they are highly sought after. 

 

CHRIS:

So, Nick's approach, as he talks about, was to dive in with both feet as he put it. He told a story about when he was being asked by his bosses about commitment to the role and getting the right focus. He said “Thank you. But I'm off.” That was after a lot of soul searching and some fundamental and ultimately tragic events led him to question what he was doing. What Nick did was that he burned the boat. He talks powerfully and openly about how his dad entered his life, about this time and sadly that his died a few years later, but he did get to know him and his entrepreneurial paths and the highs and lows that accompanied his stories. It's a tough one, but it's also brutally honest and uplifting. So well worth the listen. 

 

Burning the Boat

CHRIS:

The fascinating thing, when you look at Nick's story and the decision making that he got to in a certain part of his career before he decided to go deep feet first  in a different direction, was he also spent some time on Tony Robbins course, which focused on really stripping back and understanding what motivates you. It's immensely popular. It's meant to make you incredibly vulnerable and it's not without its criticism actually. It focuses on banishing that fear and the need to shift your mindset, to make any real change and really work out what is. Right in the deep heart of you before you sort of move forward. There's hundreds of gurus out there and self-help books but often it does seem like it takes a big event to consider what you want to change and then to change your behavior.

 

So Nick in his podcast talks about burning the boat. That concept, I think is an interesting one. That means that you give yourself no other option, but to succeed, to go forward with whatever that chosen plan is. It can be seen to bring the best out of you and you essentially destroy all ways of going back on yourself. I thought, what was fascinating, Sam is we traced the  roots of that phrase and whether it's burned the bridges or burned the boat. In 1519 captain Hernan Cortez landed in Vera Cruz at the beginning of his conquest. Upon arriving, he gave the order to his men to burn the ships in which they've arrived, in essence he gave them no other option that they had to succeed in their conquest or there was no way back now, obviously that's an extreme approach. It forces one way forward. It did get me thinking is that the only new way to really affect change and how do we use transformative events to do something different, to do something positive and how do we get those good intentions to last? 

 

SAM:

Great questions there, Chris.  I have to be honest, I'm torn by the burn the boat idiom. I'm not a huge fan of it. Especially when a lot of these idioms or stories come from sort of conquests where bad things happen to the people being conquested right. So kind of implies, you're committed to a cause irrespective of new information coming in when you're kind of single-minded and blinkers on and you're not going to consider anything else. We absolutely know that from the growth mindset work from Carol Dweck that being open to new information and new ideas and entrepreneurs, especially being open to new information and ideas, learning from others, considering new information are all characteristics of actually doing it well. So I just think there's a contrarian view and contrarian data points. I think it was in the context of one of our early episodes in, I think the first season, episode nine, creating an optimum growth plan. We talked about the ability to think ahead, especially regarding culture and where it is today and where it's going, because it's moving so rapidly. We've got to look three to five years ahead, seven years ahead. There's an area called foresight where you're looking so far ahead to build for that future. How do you take advantage of that? So I'm not necessarily invested in being single-minded in one direction because the ability to shift and pivot has to be something that you're able to do.

 

CHRIS:

Absolutely. I think all of the other things that we talk about about being flexible, being agile, being observant to your surroundings is a key part of that. That concept of actually doubling down on something and diving into something with no thoughts of turning back. I think it's an interesting one and it's fascinating to think whether it works for everyone or whether it works for some people. 

 

SAM:

The way to think about it, and the audience can think about it. Think about it  from a personal perspective and build your story into your own brand - what value do you create? As much as what do I bring? What do I stand for? I love taking the perspective from Carla Harris, who I met years ago and a story she told at a conference I was at, about how she evolved her personal brand. She's now vice chairman, managing director and senior advisor at Morgan Stanley. She's got several senior roles, probably been promoted since last time I kind of read her bio. When she started the career, she was told these stories of being a young, black woman in the financial world and really just trying to fit in. Part of who she is is a really expressive creative person. She's a singer. She loves to sing. She's a highly accomplished singer; sang at some of the biggest forums in the world, concerts, made Music and recorded albums and CDs, but she kept that hidden at the start of her career through fear of detracting from her personal corporate career. 

 

Over time she got more confident and realized, wow, actually singing wasn't a distraction. It was actually a point of difference. People remember her and they say, “oh, Carla, the singer.” Now, if you go to her website, you'll see three sections of the website. She's a leader; she'll talk about Morgan Stanley. She's an author of books; she'll talk about books and she's got a section for being a singer and she's performed all these sold out concerts. I just think that's awesome when you become the person who you really are and you share that with the world. 

 

CHRIS:

That's a great and powerful example, that one Sam, and it comes back to freedom. Freedom of expression and the podcast and that personal brand that Nick has created with Scale up your Business is about that, as is your story about Carla. So can you do that effectively in your own careers or do you have to carve out a new career or get yourself to a point that someone can't tell you what to do.

 

SAM:

So that's a really good question. I think the episode with Nick and I think amongst ourselves, Chris, you and I, we talked about, I was gonna call it a dance, but this wrestling with, can you do it? Can you not? Have we had successes? We talked about that throughout these episodes and I think it's possible, yet darn hard if you're in a corporate environment to really thrive as an entrepreneur, create entrepreneurial opportunities and make them happen. Few years ago, I attended a conference and there's a series of them that go around the world. Now it was on corporate entrepreneurship, or it's also known as  intrapreneurship, and I've not just made that word up. If you go online, you'll find a whole area of intrapreneurship, corporate entrepreneurship. Bit of a buzzword, and there's more data behind that and how to make that happen and companies are really trying to cultivate that. 

 

A Million Dollar Idea

SAM:

There's a wonderful lady called Susan Foley, and you'll find her as managing partner at corporate entrepreneurs. So look her up on the corporate entrepreneurs.com website. There's a bunch of resources and great blog posts there. If you look at the site, you'll start to learn how to think about it. If you want to make this happen for yourself. I saw her speak a few years ago at a conference and she was remarkable and she told the story of having developed a solution . It was basically blocked and ignored by the internal leadership for years. So she proposed these ideas and went to a senior boss. Basically got so sick and tired of being blocked by these ideas. She left the company.  She managed to then get back to the organization, came through externally and got a connection and managed to  present to the C-suite and they thought, ‘oh, wow, those are great ideas you're sharing.’ And she sold them for a few million dollars. I said “wait, you sold the same idea they would have got for free? If they'd listened to you. You got to the CEO and the CEO loved it and then bought it off you?” My jaw was like hitting the floor -  I thought what the hell?!’ She said “ These are great ideas and I'm not going to give up because they weren't listening to me. I'm just going to leave and then sell it to them.” That was a wow moment, that's how an entrepreneur thinks it was a great idea. She's an entrepreneur. She used her independent thinking to try different ways to make her idea happen. 

 

That resonated with me because I thought ‘I know how it feels; idea after idea proposal, after proposal that falls on deaf ears or is being blocked or ignored.’ In former roles I've stayed and kind of just carried on. But for me, it was kind of a signal a few years ago, maybe I need to do something differently. When you look at the data, especially corporate leaders, especially C-suite as Susan, again, from Susan Foley, some research she's been doing for a number of years is they actually actively under index the entrepreneurial competencies. 

 

So versus entrepreneurs, if you study those people vs c-suite leaders you'll find they actually scored 10 to 40% lower in the key competencies. So if it's independent thinking  they're kind of lower by 11%, if you're a C-suite versus entrepreneur, if your ability to build things openly, question authority, thirst for knowledge of driving change, there's a huge gap. C-suite leaders like 40% lower scores versus entrepreneurs or navigating uncertainty, or even execution where entrepreneurs score much higher. So ultimately the data shows that if you're in a C-suite in a corporate environment leader, you simply don't get it. But the smart ones know how to support the entrepreneurial with resources and support and infrastructure and get out of their way. So say yes to something you don't understand or something you don't get because those folks will make it happen. 

 

CHRIS:

That brings us to when Nick was telling us about his conversation he had with his boss, when he was talking about resigning and the conversation basically went that the boss felt that he was spending too much time on the podcast, too much time promoting himself rather than the  company. You're almost encouraging him or asking him not to show that self-expression. Then obviously after everything came to a head and he was put on gardening leave, being told that you can't work, but you can podcast.

 

SAM:

Exactly, they're looking at the wrong things or measuring the wrong things. It's literally because it's  an ability that isn't as strong versus the entrepreneurs and it reminds me of another lady called Jennifer Holland again, a conference I was at and she used to lead an area of Google. She was a program manager in finance and she was a really strong performing corporate entrepreneur there, where she's actually brought a number of innovations to life in Google expeditions and other areas of digital literacy. She's a finance person who managed to come up with these ideas and execute them in the organization, which clearly proves it's about the competencies, not the job title. So don't  look at people's titles and roles, actually understand who they are and understand what they bring versus just pigeonholing people. Again, there's a lot of data out there in terms of what are the competencies and skills, and what's  an assessment you can take to understand if you have  those skills or those tendencies. I took the assessment. I scored 10 out of 10 on the entrepreneurial side, which shocked me because I just thought, ‘Hey, these are the obvious answers that make the most sense’, but actually, no, they're not conventional. When you look at the makeup of most traditional corporations, 70 to 73% are managers, only 4% are entrepreneurs. So of a hundred percent of people, really only three or 4% are really more entrepreneurial on the corporate entrepreneurial side or scale. So these are skills you can develop in tendencies, but the important thing is to support and build around those people.  

 

I'm a huge fan of Brene Brown . I know I've talked about a bunch of times and you talked about courage and burning the boat earlier, she really frames it as being courageous is also being vulnerable. That's clearly what we heard from Nick and I'm sure you can relate to that. So, then how your personal brand comes to life but it doesn't have to be a resume. So for me, that's that idea of being courageous, which requires that vulnerability to actually drive you to taking that step.

 

CHRIS:

The interesting thing is that I think it's not only individuals that are struggling with this. It is companies, too. So waking up to the complexity of this is understanding that, in corporate lives, we haven't got back a clear role or clear understanding of what personal branding and how it fits in. Media still struggles with it; are their roles representing their brand of themselves on Twitter? By not talking about bringing the brand into disrepute here but what we're talking about is, which brand are you actually enhancing? I think there's still a command and control mentality in companies, which doesn't allow you as an entity to say, “how do we get the best out of people?” I think the individuals are struggling with how to show a bit more of an emotional and vulnerable side, and self-expression. Definitely a bit of a conundrum.  Interestingly, I think as always, it comes down to the fact that when we look at episode 20, where we were talking about storytelling, it doesn't really matter what that story is. The principles are the same, it's the need to be able to capture your audience. Captivate their attention and make sure that they're left, inspired to do something. Whether that's you working for yourself or whether you're working within a company, that's what you're trying to do. So the same principles apply.


 

50 is the new 40. Or 20?

SAM:

So we're kind of bringing things together about personal brand storytelling, fear, courage. And what entrepreneurial nature or opportunities look like whether you're in a corporate environment and stepping out on your own. You talked about image and what's being reflected and we are certainly bombarded with media images and stories of 30, under 30 and 40, under 40 and 15 under 15. Listen, this is not to denigrate folks who are younger early in their career, but that's the perception. And actually it's refreshing to know that there might actually be a bias in society and culture where we're kind of looking at youth and  young as being where it all starts, but simply put when it comes to this space, Chris, the fact is 50 is the new 40 or 30 or even 20 for that matter right now. 

 

You're probably thinking 'hey Sam, he's spreading some positive vibes for everyone who's older', but it's actually true. There's a lot of data and evidence there that a lot of people, as they get further in their career, they think 'it's too late now, or I'm too old or I'm not ready to be an entrepreneur.' Well, actually I say challenge yourself, challenge your mindset because that story you're telling yourself is actually not right. A study of over 2.7 million startups found that the ideal way to start a business is actually much older. It's more in your 50s, the data says that you're actually better to start and be more successful. It's basically because you've got some great experience, your leadership lessons  you've learned throughout, and it's been put through its paces and also most likely you've got a really long and deep connection to people and ideas that the world actually needs. So if you follow the data, you can actually see that it's the right time to make it happen. That's what I can say about myself and my appiphony after I talked about this conference I went to two years ago. Probably didn't do anything about it at the time. Slowly over time I realized, ‘wow, you know, setting off on my own is the right thing to do, the podcast, consulting work.’ 


 

A 7 hour Interview on a Plane

SAM:

The third tier to this is the work I'm doing at CI squared, which we're using communication through storytelling all started flying  to the US from the UK seat buddy was a guy who was also coming back to the U S. He was actually American and he'd just done some training in the UK on storytelling. I said, “That's interesting. The episode of ‘Across the Pond’ that week is all about storytelling”, and we've chatted, chatted, chatted, actually chatted for seven hours. Didn't stop talking. 

 

CHRIS:

Poor bloke, Sam, you know, I have warned you about this before. Just because they're locked next to you on a plane, doesn't mean you have to talk to them. 

 

SAM:

Normally on a plane, you're fighting for elbow space, putting your headphones on and you want the chicken before they get it. So then you get the last chicken and then they have to eat the vegetarian, but this turned into a seven hour conversation and actually we annoyed everyone around us. Cause we initially wouldn't shut up. But that's the point of how that conversation on storytelling led to me joining the organization, and really bringing that to life. So entrepreneurial endeavors sort of co-founding that business came through this chance occurrence, but was it a chance knowing that we actually were talking about storytelling and I was podcasting and talking about that very topic at the same time. So acting on that coincidence is really what the message is there is versus seeing that as an opportunity versus seeing that funny thing that happened.

 

CHRIS:

These days you have to be prepared to tell your own personal story and you have to do it in a way of consistency, authenticity using the media channels that feel relevant to you. It's good to be back doing these podcasts. Again, we recorded 53 episodes flat out without a break, even at Christmas and new year's time, then we thought we needed a bit of a breather. It’s like a band going off and doing some solo work. You set up CI squared and I concentrated on a few things. I've been working on IVFDAD, which has really stripped me back roar actually, it's another podcast tracking those highs and lows of a six year fertility journey from a male perspective. It really made me appreciate one of those core premises of storytelling and marketing. Which is, you have to know your audience, you have to understand what they want. One of the things that I discovered as I was preparing the IVFDAD podcast, and I'm working out really what I wanted to get across, which was to help male partners  through the process, which can be incredibly challenging at times and share some of my experiences before, thankfully Rosie was born last year after 18 embryos and sort of six years of trying was the fact that everyone has a story and there's a certain amount of empathy. We can all get out of listening to those stories. I've been humbled by the response, Sam, it's been absolutely phenomenal.

 

 It was on the front page of Apple. Again, it's interesting, isn't it? That now I am getting asked to do a lot of press interviews about it, but the thing that makes the most difference to me is the personal replies that I get from people going through fertility journeys and  understanding that I've made a difference to someone else's life, which is just really so gratifying. For me, it's interesting that I've had to carve out space to create time, to tell that personal story alongside the work that I do on Moreno Marketing, alongside the work that I do here on Across the Pond but it's now an important part of our overall brand, it's what I do; I'm author of IVFDAD, as well as Across the Pond, as well as Moreno Marketing. You've got to find a way that releases your own creative expression. You've got to find your way to create that freedom in your life, to actually be bold and do what you want to do. Maybe the approach that some people took is too extreme and maybe the right approach is to do it within a corporation but I think the most important thing to do is to make sure you do it. 

 

Time has gone on again, as always. So why don't you give us the three key takeouts and reflections?


 

Three Key Takeaways:

SAM:

  1. So, firstly, Chris, I'd say that we talked a lot about how the role of the personal brand matters and how that helps you to drive to action and that the whole idea of burning the boat. 

  2. Then as we think about burning the boat, your mindset really does matter. Cause there's  definitely a lot of evidence of being able to pivot and evolve as you bring your entrepreneurial ideas and spirit to life. 

  3. Thirdly, we definitely talked a lot about storytelling. What stories are you telling yourself? Is it true? Are you ready? Are you not ready? Or actually, is this a perfect time to step out and make it happen? So what's the story you're telling yourself? And what's the story that you're telling to the world? Those are the three critical parts to take away. 

 

CHRIS:

Next week we have a double bill, another interview two, for the price of one. We've got Amanda Fone and Adrian Walcott. Who've been striving to raise the diversity and representation within marketing communications. Both from very different backgrounds who've come together to create something immensely powerful. Very exciting what we've achieved so far and what they're planning to do. Lots to talk about off  the back of it. So looking forward to that one Sam. 

 

SAM:

It’s a great show. There's a lot of meaningful work coming out of this episode and it's a nice segue to the work that Amanda and Adrian are doing as well. So really looking forward to sharing that with the audience. As always, on a weekly basis without further ado, have a great week across the pond...