For, those of you that are regular subscribers, you’ll know that we ask every podcast guest five questions, and these are bonus episodes for subscribers only.
One of the questions we ask is “What is your favourite piece of advice that you’ve received of like to give to others”
In this episode, we have spliced together all of the different pieces of advice our guests have given us.
For those of you that want to skim through and read the advice, here’s the list:
So I used to procrastinate quite a bit, and then once since I’ve worked with my partner, he always used to say, always tick boxes. And it’s something I now even give as a tip to other people. So often you have a lot of things to do, your inbox is full and you’re like, okay, I’m going to do that later. I come back to that after my holiday. But if you don’t tick your boxes and finish something up, you can’t really start something new without already always thinking back to that.
I think this one is both. I can’t even remember who told me it, to be honest. But whenever I’m asked, when I’m delivering any sort of teaching specifically around entrepreneurship, what’s the best piece of advice? I say start, don’t stop.
And it just sort of is at the heart of pivot and iterate, agile, et cetera. And you’ve got to motivate yourself to start and keep yourself motivated.
My favourite saying is people will steal your idea, but they can’t steal your execution. It’s relevant to my work with startups.
It’s relevant to my work in music. It’s relevant to so many things people get so caught up in. Like, so and so stole my idea. So and so stole my idea. But ideas are cheap.
In my line of work, I encounter probably ten solid ideas a day. They are almost valueless. What makes a billion dollar company or a Taylor swift like musical career is entirely dependent on how you execute those ideas. I am a decent musician. I produce a new track every couple days.
I’m good. One of them could be something as good as, like, shake it off. I mean, that’s saying something like, maybe I’m not that good, but I make good songs. Problem? I don’t have the execution right.
It’s a concerted effort. The idea almost doesn’t matter.
It’s something my dad said to me many, many years ago. And that is as simple as you have two ears and one mouth for a reason.
I think in a busy, busy world that we live in today, we can sometimes forget that. I read yesterday that typically an attention span now is no longer 12 seconds. It’s now 9 seconds, and that’s reduced in about the last eight to ten years. So, yeah, I think it’s really important to do as much as you can to attentively listen to people. And I think that we do have two ears and a mouth for a reason.
Essentially, it is to try to listen twice as much as you use your own mouth and speak. Really. You can learn a lot from just listening to people. If you can be present and make time to do that, which is, I think, is something that we all strive, or want to strive to do more of.
So I would say that is, be the person that you answer your phone to. Whatever’s going on. Don’t be that person that declines.
Be someone who’s cheerful, reliable, just all around good person. That when you see that name in your phone, you’re always going to be answering. Be that person. Because there are a few people who you might not answer to straight away.
Or, you know, I have a quote from Nelson Mandela for this, and it’s actually plastered on my wall and it says that may your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears.
And the reason it is my favourite is because as leaders, the most critical piece that we do every day is to take decisions. And there is always a little bit of ifs and buts that is behind all those decisions. But I always remind myself that my decisions should be reflective of where we want to be rather than what problems do we have today.
Stay curious, just always be curious. I think that that for me is like the biggest piece of advice, and for me that means always going after knowledge as much as you can. The favorite piece of advice I give to people is increase your network or increase your lock surface area, as I like to call it, by networking a lot more people. That’s my own favorite piece of advice for others.
I received a bit of advice about ten years ago from a very prominent VC, and he said it’s better to go out in a ball of flames than a puff of smoke.
My girlfriend has a tattoo on her hand which says “it will pass”.
So that I think that this is one of the best advice. Try to remember when I have bad days and also really good ones, so you need to be prepared for the next day. And don’t get too excited or too sad about anything.
Frankly speaking, I can name the source. I’m not much of a reader, but I read very different books, and one of them that I read, it was actually a book that 50 Cent wrote. And it kind of sounds dumb, but it works for me and it works for my line of work being a sales manager, account manager. It sounds like. Let me remember. Yeah, it sounds like “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”
And it just makes a lot of sense for me that does actually. Basically you do the work. The more work you do, the better results you get. You can also get results just sitting and waiting, but not that good results.
One thing that I learned is that you cannot control the people, you can only control yourself. And from there I kept that type of the mindset always kind of active somewhere and it kind of helped me through life. I know it’s a cliche in a way, but it’s really like a true thing. If you don’t try to control the people, it’s going to be much easier for you throughout the life. Abilities.
Yeah. So piece of, I wouldn’t say advice. I heard one saying, somebody said to me, in software development, usually clients says that, yeah, let’s put more people in, let’s do faster. So I got one saying, nine ladies cannot deliver a baby in one month. So I love to say that to the clients and the people around me.
So I think that’s true, because if you add people, it doesn’t mean that it will be done somewhere that it was supposed to be.
Tomorrow is another day.
My favorite advice that I’ve actually received has been don’t be afraid of failure. And that’s very, very important to me.
But the advice I also give to people is being creative doesn’t mean that you have to do it on your own. Make sure you surround yourself with great team of people, with diverse thinking to bring diverse cultures and thinkings to bring a solution to a table.
Well, to take some advice from Monty Python, always look on the bright side of life. I think it’s always good to have a positive view on anything and everything, really.
Long ago I was given the advice that perception is reality and that you have to deal with perception, not necessarily what you think is real. Can explain that later on. And I think in terms of what I try to tell people is I use something which I think truth is a function of time. I see a lot of people worrying about whether something was true or not and who told the truth and whatever else.
And actually my simple point is truth is a function of time. What was true yesterday may not be true today. What’s true today may not be true tomorrow doesn’t mean to say it wasn’t true when it was true.
All right. I don’t know where to place this, whether it’s something that was given to me or something that I give, because it has evolved over many iterations, but it goes simply like this. Failure at the end of the day, is not something to be afraid of or to fear, because failure is a data point. Okay? At the end of the day, if we as human beings learn to detach failure, the event, from all of the stigma that we’ve attached to it, we all grew up with programming from our childhood that tells us to avoid failure.
But actually, it’s a really big topic that we can spend a lot of time on. But just in summary, failure is not something to run away from. Failure is a data point in the larger graph of one’s life. So it’s just one event, one dot on that big XY coordinate graph. The beautiful thing, the most beautiful thing, the most mind-blowing thing about this is that the same thing applies to success.
Success is also just a data point at the end of the day. So if one learns to live without attaching stigma or heirs or perceptions of self-worth to either failure or success, most likely you’ll be a trailblazer.
The best piece of advice I was ever given, and I still think back to it today, and I mentioned it as part of my morning routine is that you can only make the best choices at the time with the information you have available. So, essentially, if you were to put it into stoic terms, you can only control your choices and how you feel about them.
Everything else is outside of your control. And once you accept that, you have less expectations and you can make choices purely based on what you can deal with them at the moment. And if you don’t have enough information, you can go out there and get that and come back and hopefully make a better-informed choice. And that has helped me to make decisions throughout my career and even in my personal life, and has reduced a lot of emotional tax on my body and my mind by basically saying, I can only do my best.
I think the favorite piece of advice that I give is that no one is going to do it for you. So that’s usually in the environment of having a new employee or especially when I used to work back at Accenture in a big kind of global consulting company and used to kind of support and coach people through their early careers. In a company like that and in the big bad world, you have to do it for yourself. You can’t expect anyone else to do it for you. That requires hard work.
It requires you kind of turning up, being your best self. But you have to have your own initiative and definitely get people to help you along the way. But ultimately, it has to be you that leads your own path and directs your own travels. And I guess related to that, the good bit of advice I’ve been given, or that I’ve read, actually probably comes and derives from kind of the ancient Greeks and Seneca and Epictetus and the kind of ancient stoics. But really just focusing on the things that you can control in life and not getting caught up on things that are outside of your control, just do everything you can to maximize the things you can.
And ultimately, don’t worry about the rest because you can’t do anything about it anyway.
I think there’s a brilliant clip that saw Steve Jobs where he goes, most people just don’t ask. And sometimes you just got to pick the phone up or send an email or send that LinkedIn message, or just get out of your comfort zone and ask instead of staying in that safe area where you’re not risking reaching out to someone and potentially making a game changing difference to your life or their life. So just having the guts to ask and speak your mind, I think that’s a brilliant piece of advice.
So I, long time ago, when I was on a project, I was getting very stressed. Someone said to me, Tim, what’s the worst that can happen? Or, Tim, is anyone going to die here? And it just was a, I know it’s not huge, maybe it’s quite obvious, but I don’t remember that point, just pausing and thinking, and I have said that to so many people since, and I’ve reminded myself of it, that sometimes we just get overwhelmed and overstressed about something and you think, well, what is the worst that’s going to happen here?
And yeah, okay, it might not be very nice, and yes, we might have to do some stuff to fix it, but come on, let’s put it into perspective. And it’s just something I’ve repeated to lots of people and it’s been appreciated as well.
I’d agree with Tim. That’s an amazing bit of advice. The second thing I’d probably jump on is whenever you’ve got a semi difficult through to nuclear difficult decision to make, look into the future and then look back. Imagine yourself 510 years from now, and then look back and think about what you’d say to yourself and try and go for a no regrets. Would you regret it if you didn’t do this?
And that’s led to some monumental decisions. For example, resigning from Google, starting a company with Tim Beattie. But that idea that you can’t just play it safe all the time, you’ve got to take those chances when they come applying what’s the worst that can happen principle but try and do things that you won’t regret later or do the things that you know you’ll regret if you didn’t do them.
That’s a great one. And a while ago, I was with a friend in Venezuela, and I was dealing with a lot of things at the same time. And he mentioned this story about a town in Europe in which during the war, the second war, they had to make two choices. They had to either make butter to eat or train their soldiers to defend themselves in the war. And the thing is that making butter, if they decided to make butter and not train soldiers when the war came, they would lose against the war and lose their town.
But if they trained their soldiers and they were going to defend the town, they didn’t make butter, so they didn’t have to eat, so they would die anyways of starving. So I was seeing this as entrepreneurship and live so much like that. You have a lot of things to do. You have 1 million things that are urgent, and how do you choose the right one? And the answer is always the balance.
How much butter and how much soldiers do you create? And I think that’s a very good piece of advice that I have gotten.
I had to think about this now. I started in business 21 years ago, but actually tried even before that through some failed and successful business ventures, small ones. And one of the advice I’d say is especially to new startups.
When I was 32 years old, I left my job because I had the burning desire to go into business. At the age of 35. I was completely wiped out and had lost everything for years after that. I always wished that I just carried on with my working career where I was doing quite well, but obviously now I’m glad I succeeded and done quite well. But the thing is, unless you are the right, the person that can take knocks again and again and again and can still get up and brush herself off sometimes, because most businesses do fail.
So if that is the case and you haven’t got really it’s within you, then to be honest, I would advise that you do well in your work career as opposed to going for a startup business that will probably take a lot out of many people who start up.
Yeah, I’m going to have to go two again here, but the one is just I was at a graduation and William Kendrick, the artist, sort of gave a talk and he started by saying, well, what advice to give? And he ended up saying the only advice he could give was don’t listen to people who give advice. Which I found really helpful.
But in fact, I think from a practical perspective, one of the most useful bits of advice I’ve got is to celebrate success, because a lot of our industry involves where success is not failing.
So the good times are things to celebrate and very often you’re more known for the fact that you didn’t break something than that you did something wonderful.
Yes, true. And unfortunately, I have a few of these. Right. Because it’s hard to distil it down to one. Right.
But the first thing is, you should not be defined by your failures. Right. I know people hear this a lot. And the other part of this is, if you’re not failing, you’re not trying. Okay.
That’s a fact. Okay. The second part is be self aware, which is really hard for folks sometimes, and then hire to your weaknesses. Okay. And build a good team around you.
The third thing is to be humble. We all need help in this world. You never know where it’s going to come from. One could argue that Christianity was the greatest startup of all time. Even Jesus had to recruit twelve disciples to get him to his first million after subscribers.
Okay. And then the last thing is advice I recently gave to my son, and it’s kind of simplistic. Okay, say your prayers, do the work. Say your prayers, do the work. At some point, for all of us, it distils down to that.
I think the, well, the advice that I give to others, generally speaking, in the context of what I do, is put your prices up. How you do that is another matter. My favourite piece of advice, I think, that somebody said to me a few years ago, is take more risks. I think in my life I’ve been erring on the side of caution too often. And now that I’ve made the leap into running my own business, which has been going out for five years and is doing all right, I kind of wish I’d done it sooner.
So, yeah, take more risks, I think.
I think, unfortunately, a lot of the advice I’ve received has been since I had a business. So that’s probably only advice I can pass on that the advice I tend to give is constantly, be authentic. Be yourself, follow your own heart, because I think that’s so important in business or not in business. But we struggle on sometimes in businesses where our heart’s not in it anymore and life is too damn short.
Probably a little bit in the same context of what annoys me, but that seek a lot of advice, but build up your own opinion, as if some of these advice, don’t follow any one guru, but listen to all of them and then carve your own path.
In the beginning, it was very easy to, if someone that you thought was very knowledgeable said something, to just go 100% with that. And then over time, you kind of learned that it’s good to listen to everybody, but not everybody knows everything.
Well, one of my friends, who’s also my mentor, but don’t tell him, once said to me that my caring was not helping him, as in, I was caring too much about performing at the task that he had set me to do, which was getting in the way of me doing it well. And so it’s always kind of stuck with me as your caring is not helping me.
That’s a tough one, I would say. Know that you’re capable of doing more than you think.
Andre de Wet:
This one I’ve heard or been asked a few times, and the one that I really like is the one that says, if you’re in a place, be there.
Let me explain that. It’s a guy called Jim Rowan that taught it to me. And it means if you’re at someplace, give all your attention to where you are at that point in time. So many times nowadays, we sit with a phone and you’re sitting talking to somebody, and then they go away and they’re going to talk to somebody else, or you’re double focusing and you’re talking to somebody and you get distracted by phone.
That black mirror of ours is the big problem is that you’re not at a place.
You and I could sit here and suddenly my phone could beep, and then my attention goes to that. And the advice itself is, if you’re at a place, be there because life’s short. Enjoy the experiences and the stuff that you go through every day as much as you can.
Given or received? Yeah, one of two or both if you’re feeling generous. Yeah. I think the best advice that I have learned to give to myself would be, is just don’t be scared to do anything new, because creativity, like true creativity, gets born when you’re made to do something uncomfortable. But in that moment, every single person, including me, has a moment of what’s called impostor syndrome.
So, like, oh, really? You want me to do this? You want me to do this podcast or this talk or et cetera? So I think get out of your own way is the best advice that I can give to myself.
The best advice that I’ve been given, I guess it’s not advice, but it’s a line by.
It’s a saying by a monk. So when I did a spiritual course in 2018, and it’s one of my favourite mantras, which is life is a dance between free will and destiny, meaning that there’s elements that are massively in your control and there’s elements that come under destiny, for example. But the actual challenge is to dance between the two and not blame one or the other for wherever you are in life.
My favourite piece of advice is that my husband always tells me this, the pie is always big enough, and there’s always a place for every person in this world. Just know where your purpose lies and try and solve that while you’re on the planet.