Inspiring Great Leaders - Julie Perkins Transcript
3:48PM Sep 5, 2023
There's nothing worse than a process that can make you feel like a part of something not as an individual. And I suppose it always comes down to what the restaurant in that case wants to achieve. But what do you miss out on because fuel buddy got a process? And as much as the efficiencies of this, what do you sacrifice? What? Where does the efficiencies come from? Staff training. So you get asked high staff turnover, the value of somebody contributing, you still need that intermittently. In any process? So are you getting somebody who is just ritually ticking the boxes? I think, you know, the answer is probably yes. And what do you miss out on? And is there longevity? And do we meet that longevity anymore? In terms of that customer service alignment? Like we do? I think people are really seeking that.
How do you get 10,000 people to take a step to the left? What's behind the relentless mindset of a world champion? Why do teams have exceptional talent? Fail? How do you manage the pressure to perform? These are some of the curious questions we will attempt to answer as we bring you world leaders, curious minds, exceptional talent, successful CEOs, and incredible human beings who know how to inspire great leaders, and are inspiring great leaders themselves. I'm Craig Jon's high performance leadership expert, international speaker and CEO of speakers Institute, corporate and world Sport Coach. This is the inspiring great leaders podcast with ordinary don't belong.
Welcome to the inspiring great leaders podcast. Our guest today is the founder of wise minds, is passionate about decluttering minds and is dedicated to empowering female entrepreneurs by helping them unlock their potential. Behind her vibrant energy. Julie carries a wealth of life experiences that have shaped him both in and out of the boardroom, from her spirited childhood in Bristol to embarking on an entrepreneurial journey driven by her love for animals, and countless fundraising endeavors. Her career has included more than 20 years working at Specsavers including Country Manager for the Netherlands. Today I'm armed with invaluable knowledge gained from her leadership role she comes a dedicated business mentor applying her wisdom and guiding those who embark on the wise man's journey toward clarity and triumph. She's a woman of many dimensions from studying at INSEAD and London Business School to conquering the slopes on skis and diving into wild water adventures. Julie Perkins Julie, welcome to the show.
Well, thank you very much for having me, Craig, I'll take you on my next sales pitch. That sounded really, really great. So I'm just getting into the story. And then I realized it was me.
Beautiful anytime anytime. You can fly me over to Europe more than happy to help you. Now, Bristol and Netherlands are quite opposites in themselves. But I'd love to know what was it like growing up as a spirited child in Bristol, Bristol, and what was the big dream when you are running around the playground with your friends?
But yeah, so it's a great starting point, I'll have to add a bit of Guernsey in there. I come from a very sort of highly paced entrepreneurial family. And that has been part of my life from child in Bristol to when we moved to Guernsey and then onwards when I moved into Europe, and running around with friends. I remember from a very early age, that entrepreneurial spirit and you touched on the animal front and I was known in the street but always having little street sales, where I'd gather all these little items and sell them to raise money for the RSPCA. I'm not sure that's cool down in Australia, but you know, protection for animals. Oh, same one. And, and that whole beautiful outdoors and in the gathering of people. And I think that was the thing from coming from an entrepreneurial family always had a lot of people around. And I think I always enjoyed that with friends and you know, taking those little stalls on the street and being a part of the sort of the culture of the streets. And I loved it. So I suppose when I was little, I'd be lying to say it was horses and animals. And if I could have been a vet, or somewhere out in the sea loader be more than happy. And I lived my life like that. And I still reflect it, you know, the mountains, the sea, is definitely my favorite places to be for sure.
So I'm curious, then, obviously, that was the dream, your being a marine biologist, or a vet or something similar. But what allowed you to shift to go into more of a corporate life? What, what was the decision around that?
Well, I think, really born of curiosity. And when you're in an entrepreneurial family, you're sort of being you hear you're part of that curiosity all the time. And I think with the expansion of Specsavers, it really caught that imagination, and that want to go in and take a concept and make that happen. In terms of curiosity. Before that, I think I nearly did become a teacher. Because I worked out in the United States for a couple of years. And that, that wanted to be able to pass on different ideas to kids, I was working out in a summer camp. And always remember this kid I've never forgotten. And he came back for the second year. And he said, I've named my hamster after you, Jules. And I've never forgotten that, though, for years. And I just thought, that's when you've touched someone's life in a way that something stays. And I've always enjoyed that. And perhaps, as they say, or dots are connected. Perhaps that's one of the big reasons of why I've ended up with wise minds, and also taking the new concept into Northern Europe and the Netherlands. Because there's that joy of passing on, and seeing how you can get other people together to unite. And I think that or to learn something, and I think that is definitely the basis of me, for sure. That's been a very interesting part of my life.
The influence of your parents, you talk about being entrepreneurs, you know, what sort of things were they focused on, in regards to being an entrepreneur? And, and what did you I suppose, what rubbed off on you in regards to the way they approached the entrepreneurial journey themselves?
Yeah, well, first of all, no one ever complains about work. No one ever walks in and say they had a bad day. You know, because everything's challenges. You know, there isn't failure, there's just how can we do better? And I think that's where this curiosity comes from. I think also that style of leadership in a very early startup in very early sort of challenges. You have this knowledge, really, that it's about gathering people. And, you know, not formally, but how do you gather the right people that are similar, that felt energy that are the people that are going to help you on your journey. And I think that's what I grew up with, you know, we, me and my mates, or was used to earn all of, you know, the massive sum of two pounds an hour to serve drinks at at house functions. I mean, there's something back child labor or serving alcohol under 18. But I think we got away with it in those days. So we always had a job, which was, which was interesting, we always earn money do and then whether you met amazing people, and you hear and you see what's be subconsciously, because when you're 1314, it's not on top of your agenda. Something captures that beautiful thing when you gather people together. And you see people having fun, and they're there for a reason to grow a company. And I think that gathering of people is something that very much has stuck with me. And how do you unite I'm not a particularly structured person. But in terms of gathering and unifying people, I think that's something that was passed to me for sure. And I see that as such an important part of getting it right. Today, but it did start from two pounds an hour. We were big earners in that in our school group.
I bet. Now we, you know, for you, you've traveled around a little bit and you've you've lived in Europe for quite a long time. Now. What of those? I mean, Europe is a great place, right? Every country has got its own culture, even though it's so close to each other very, very different. How has that served you in regards to the way you look at leadership and the way you look at even business? Because of that IX? OSHA has so many different places and cultures.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think the Netherlands taught me incredible amount about collaboration. You know, they've got a collaborative gun, government, coalition government, they've got many parties in that. And I think that is very much reflective of how the Dutch people work. And they very much work on getting people involved, it doesn't really matter about hierarchical level. And that was something that I learned bringing Specsavers into the Netherlands, the importance of getting people around the table. And I think there was a difference between me three, Netherlands, and post. And I think I was taught very much by everybody about the openness of how to make a team. And I think I've come from this sort of very more traditional sort of hierarchical this position, etc, etc. And I think the Netherlands has got a beautiful way of collaborating. And then I think that's why it's so strong today for its startup for gathering people in this hubs. They've got a good way of working together and thinking open minded, and the outcome of that is listening to others, listening to other people's ideas, and being open to it, rather than it being on that old fashioned more seniority, which is honestly I'm talking a long time ago, but I think the Netherlands taught me that. And, you know, that journey of opening up a startup and one of the most competitive marketplaces that still Specsavers is in, you know, taught me the power of getting the right people around the table, and leading them. I mean, I've sound like an angel now. Trust me, my greatest learnings came from, you know, learning that no sound like it was like, oh, right, thank you. I'll start on that tomorrow. But of course, you know, I was in my late 20s. And that journey of moving with united people and how you can make them, you know, move in that same direction, as you say, 10,000 people move to the left, you know, in terms of that, how do you get that to move and I think that's such a learning thing and leadership, especially at a young age, and learning from failure. And what works I think that's very important, but I think I love the way the Netherlands works. That collaboration is incredibly strong. And and my experiences here taught me that for sure.
So talking about you know, Specsavers. You mentioned there about setting up Specsavers in a country where you working for Specsavers prior to going into Netherlands and and how did the opportunity come about to go? Hey, you know what, let's let's create Specsavers in a brand new country. And you know what, I'm going to go into Netherlands and do this for you?
Well, I was working perspective as previous to that. And it was a new opportunity. It was one of exploring, it was a big opportunity. And we started investigating it. And I think that was the beginning of discovering that people weren't waiting for us to arrive. And I think when you're a market leader in the UK, and then suddenly taking it into a new country, that's when it's your first you know, sort of journey out of the mothership. Yeah, there is a level of learning as well. And I think I definitely wanted to be a part of that. I'm generation two for Specsavers, my parents, Generation One founders. So I think myself and Doug began that journey together with a few other people. And that learning that sort of that curiosity, and I think really taught us a lot about how to open up in a new country. And of course, people would argue it's at a startup. And I think it is your first point you might as well count for nothing, you know, that first lesson, people weren't waiting for, you know, being saved. So, you know, they were quite happy with what was here. So how we learned about that. And how we sort of investigated how to open up into a new country, and how to lead a new brand that was unknown, I think was some of the greatest learnings of leadership at the time for me personally, and now has shaped my future for sure. Because it's really raw. You know, when you're in a startup, it's raw, and you have to draw on everything. Yeah. And you have to be very quick to accept failure and go right what I've done what I've done and what I've done, so I learned a lot there for sure. Have
you full of surprises? So your parents started Specsavers? Did I catch that? That's right.
So they started back in the sort of late 80s. And then I went on and worked within the company. I, you know, after teaching out in the States, that part of being it was rapidly growing. I love the excitement I, you know, opening up stores and being there at the cliff face. There's no more exciting way to spend, you know, job. A very, very few people say that I've got nothing to whinge about in my career. I've loved every moment of it. And it wasn't always easy, but the experience was just a lot of fun and a lot of learning. And I think that really reflects who I was, as you asked the beginning, that child running around the playground was the curious, you know, the, who was there? Who would I be friends with? Who will I not? What will I do what there was just, you know, ever investigated the part of me, and I think it just suited me doing that and and then taking it forward into a new country and being a part of its growth. It was absolutely fantastic.
From an entrepreneurial point of view that is quite fascinating. We're talking to someone the other day around franchising, and when you look at franchising, say you're in one country and you start to franchise out like in some what I'm not sure if Specsavers back then for your parents was around franchising in the UK, or they just owned all the stores. But there's one thing doing it in a country where you pretty much understand how that country works and what your competitors, what the dynamics are, what are the behaviors of your clients and customers to then move into another country? It is like you say pretty much a startup, although you do have a playbook. And and some some role models or guides and leaders in a way, but you're somewhat running into a whole new territory that normally requires someone who understands the how things work in that country. And so for you to come in, I don't know. Did you have any background in Netherlands before you bought Specsavers? Or are you just like totally blind, so to speak?
Well, we did have we did have a fellow Dutch man who we're working with and guided but it is about exploring. And I think it is about understanding that local strength and every single one of our Specsavers stores even down in, in Australia and New Zealand is owned by local Australian in your case optometrist. So of course, in every town, every community, you overcome that because everybody's owned by a local person. And I think that's a very beautiful way of doing it with more also joint venture partnership than franchising, because that locality you're building, you know, it's like, you've got that global force, but you've got that local touch. But that requires a very important way of leading as well. Because if you want that partnership to be strong and take into account that locality, as well as the global, you've got to find that balance and leading partnership, I think is something that is really interesting. And also in, in corporate in the support offices as well, is that, you know, Specsavers grew with three and a half 1000 partners all over the world, and it continues to, but that's its power. And I think there's a lot of learning from that balance in support offices, and also in corporately ship, definitely in startup leadership, which is what I teach today. So I think there's a lot to be learned for sure.
So if I think back to when you would have started Specsavers Netherlands So 20 years ago, approximately maybe a little bit longer. It was kind of the early phase of online shopping so to speak, you know, very, very early and I suppose, as you're navigating, launching in a country, how did both yourself and the company navigate the changing consumer behaviors when it came to how they order stuff, how they buy things? Did that have an effect on Specsavers? Or is it something that really needs you to go into the actual shop or the actual clinical whatever it may be? Because you need to figure out what your prescription is?
Yeah, you asked me earlier what did I learn from from the role models? Well, my father was taught me said, always look to the customer. Five years in advance. And I think that's such an interesting concept. He said, I always carried around an a4 sheet of paper with what I assumed would be five years. And, you know, in terms of how he set up that future, he's always looking towards that technology for the future. So in terms of thinking, I think Specsavers was very much ahead and trying to balance that need, because of course, is huge age range, trying to balance what personal service what face to face service is required, as well as how can we make that journey as as efficient and as effective for the customer as we possibly could? What's going to be the needs of the on the future journey. And that's very much in terms of the health care of an aging population. And but interestingly, he taught me always to go into suppliers, which we were doing here. And not only to when you're trying to find the right suppliers to suit you, and of course, years on, we've now have various leverage suppliers, right, the beginning, always asked to see the successor, always asked to see the successes so that you know that your balance of partnership and your longevity and your commitment is equal to those that you're gathering. And I think that was one of the big lessons of leading an ecosystem in a new country, because when leadership today, it's not just the direct team, as we know, it's how do you lead the next level? The indirect teams, the suppliers, the alliances and how do you align, especially in today's world where digitalization is so rapid? How do you decide what to digitalize? And how do you unite people that you're not sat in an office with anymore? Whether the hybrid working etcetera, or big suppliers? And I think that's something you learn very rapidly when you go into a new country, is how do you unite people that you don't forget expression own as such, you don't own anyone, but you know, the directness in terms of the people you see every day. And I think that leadership is very important in the startup world. And today, for sure. So I think that prediction, how did it affect? I think it's almost trying to find the balance of customer first, what do they need? What are they going to need in five years time. But as with all countries around the world, that's accelerated during COVID. And I think now the local supply of products, the local supply of manufacturing to high quality is very, very important. That quick reaction that being able to dance with what the customers need at every stage, not obviously just through a pandemic, but why not do translate what your learnings were then time to maintain that dance with the customer every day. Again, very important, what I do now with the leadership, young people love leading their ecosystems, which, you know, a very complex and these high startups How do you unite that's that's an interesting one, especially learn from from early Specsavers days for me for sure.
I when I think about the name of your company wise minds, it reflects a well on your dad and you're thinking five years in advance. I'm kind of curious and maybe if you put your about your Specsavers head on, you're in five years time are we going to be at a point where we can look at the phone, it can scan our eyes, it sends it off to a 3d printer. Everything's automated and there's no need for humans anymore. In stores, it literally happens from anywhere on the train plane bus bedroom. Beach, we can actually create our Specsavers, and it flies in by a drone and drops it off after it's been printed.
It sounds amazing.
Like it can't be too far away. It's five years possible, you know, things are moving so fast.
I think the most important thing is saying is find the balance of people. And a lot of the way the customer decides what the innovation is coming back from that in five years time. Technology is huge. And that will be very different for different people about what their needs are, you know, with the young people being open to technology, etc. And in terms of an aging population of what they need. And it's very much the sided by what that customer needs. How do we support an aging population. And this is where Specsavers has a huge role not just in digitalization and accessibility, but also in understanding what the care needs are for an aging population. And that's in terms of extension as the AI is an incredible thing. Of course we do hearing as well. So that definitely always begins to move. What the role of humans are? Well, that's always up to, up to the balance of and I think with humans that advice, that necessity is a very important thing about how do we gain the knowledge to make the best decisions for ourselves. And I think that role of how does that human interact, but technology is incredible. And it's going to always be the balance of both for sure. And not everything suits every age group. And I think it's trying to find that balance in terms of the leadership, I'm not so much in the boardroom respect to David's anymore. But I know that that's their philosophy and trying to still work with a very, very widespread customer to understand what their needs are. And they are the decision makers ultimately, for what that digitalization is in the future. But the one thing we know is how can we become part of the primary health in order to be able to keep health also on the agenda and play our role in that? So it's interesting times for sure. Drones, I quite like the idea of sorts of having that delivered after battle through traffic. I'll take that one, for sure. But of course, efficiency of delivery and logistics is key in all areas right now. So it's definitely a, an area and industry to watch. For sure.
Yeah, I find this fascinating, I managed to actually I just, I was at a set of lights back in February. Yeah, it was in February, I picked up my glasses, and I had a little wipe, like a cleaning wipe, I went to clean my glasses, and they snapped in the middle. I was then on stage for three days, and had to travel as well. And I did not have a backup here with me. So I was literally going Sydney and then I was flying to another location. And so I was out without glasses for a week before I could get access to wine, etc. So I had to go blind. And I was fascinated, it still took two weeks to get a set of prescription glasses because of my my eyes the prescription I have. And I just find it fascinating with all the technology and development we've had, that it still takes that long to get a pair of glasses, I am fascinated. So I feel there's a lot of scope in the world of glasses, and we'll move on from this in a second. To speed this up. Like to me the process is still involved in getting a pair of glasses is very long. In many cases, I'm looking forward to seeing how technology can speed that up over the next five years.
And I think the logistics has got a big part of that. And the more that we can put in terms of local supply, and keep that obviously the price to the customer. You know, fordable two pairs. And you know, my mum savers was born out of my mum saying I want everybody to have as many pairs of glasses as an opticians partner is a pair of shoes. And in terms of that bringing down the cost giving people that choice and accessibility, they haven't got to rely on it becoming quickly to you. But also in terms of how do we shorten that time because they are bespoke, you know, there's only one person that suits those wonderful glasses you're wearing today. Great. And that's you. So, you know, they are bespoke. You know, trying to shorten that and make it effective is absolutely key for sure.
God bless anyone who tries to wear these glasses because it would be it's not going to look that good. Thinking, you know, you're talking about working with a lot of people under the age of 30 in a way who pretty much grew up their entire life with electronics and digital devices etc. I'm curious if you put your your head on and you think forward five years? Is there a potential where we're going to see the the generations that are currently 30 years and younger craving, craving human and reducing the amount of technology in the world? Like I see it coming? I'm you know, there's so much talk about artificial intelligence and technology. I think human intelligence is going to kick in, I really do. I see a shift where we're going to be craving the human. So what do you think?
I definitely would agree and I, you know, said in terms of that we do sort of repeat myself on the balance of it, for example, and when I'm working with under 30s. And last night had this conversation with two women highly, you know, intelligent on engineering, a one mathematics, you know, if you wanted to list qualifications, you know, you'd still We five minutes into your show, Craig with listing, there's one thing about the balances, they've got an incredible product. And this product is unbelievable. Like, oh my gosh, that's That's amazing. But that intertwining with human reaction and understanding human behavior takes an app. And if you can intertwine it with human behavior, it makes it even more useful. Or perhaps their block was themselves is that their qualification, their want to create this incredibly useful thing is only useful, if it fits in with how humans are. And, you know, technology is moving quicker than our human brain, and how we work. So you might have the greatest thing that will save, you know, 40 hours a week for the average health provider. But in terms of how do you integrate that into an existing platform and a way of doing things, and I think with young people working with them, and you know, as the wise nurse, it's not telling them, but understanding how their technology needs to work in with human behavior and how they can lead that I think opens up the fact that it's not one thing can't just be the digital, it can't just be the option. And this is where I come back to purpose. And this is where I very much work with young people saying, as long as your app or your technology or product has an interaction with humans today, you have to be able to lead it through humans, you have to be able to understand what that need and that purposes, otherwise, you could be having an amazing app. But it's not useful. Because it's not sort of suddenly people I was sort of say that, you know, electricity, everyone thinks it's amazing. But the I one of my favorite books, digital darwinism, or Darwinian, it says that actually electricity took three decades to come into play. And it was used for so long on people's rich people's candles on the Christmas tree. Because the space for it the way we thought about electricity. And I think that's the balance. And I think that that's why we can never be one or the other. And I think understanding how technology and digitalization opens up different ways of thinking. And I think that young people need to swim back into that, and if they've ever left it, but I think they need to understand how the balance needs to be achieved for both so that they can make their amazing things really work.
And be useful. Yeah, interesting, you know, and, you know, thinking about entrepreneurs in a way. Especially if you're looking at kind of that, that digital tech startup kind of space, unless you're actually solving a human problem. Or you are able to be relevant from an entertainment point of view, it is very difficult to survive, you've got to have, you can't just be a bit of piece of candy that kind of, you know, lights up our hormones for a little bit. And when we feel alive for a little bit, it actually needs to solve a problem for it to have longevity. So are we seeing with, you know, entrepreneurs that you're working with, or even an entrepreneurial, entrepreneurial movement around the world, that people are really looking to solve proper human problems, or they are, they just got these bright ideas, and they're just giving it a crack.
Because obviously, Haskell thing is a mixture of both. And, you know, there is an incredible amount of social responsibility, I think, in young people. And I work with people who are looking at the circular economy, to keep jeans and clothes in play, but in a, in a sort of financially beneficial way as well. But not stopping sort of the use of a lot of materials to more accessible education in the MENA region, in poorer countries. And, and I think that there is amazing things going on there, as well as the apps in the software that are going to make people more productive, but they all involve humans. So as much as we want to say that, you know, our eyes are going to be tested with the iPhone or, you know, the, our, our productivity issues is going to be solved for the software button. You've got to understand the human behavior you're trying to solve. Humans will always be a part of it. And if you don't know how to interact with humans, and why that balances that behavior and makes us more so it's very misaligned. And there's some great ideas which hopefully Touchwood And I'll save a little bit that, you know, when you look at it in a different way from your customers point of view, it actually go, all right, that's the problem, because you're looking at it for what you think is the problem. And if you put the customer in front of the customer in five years time, or in the case of technology, it's probably five minutes time that says of driving that forward. It's a massive part of of the leading change, and leading change in in, in organizations, as well as in startups, which is, obviously, the greatest fun for me, is being able to support them that I think you've got the greatest thing in the world. And you can't think why is it not going anywhere? Because we've forgotten the human problem, perhaps big statements, but in a lot of cases,
interesting. I'm watching a lot of people who have an entrepreneurial mindset, but sometimes, you know, they're looking at efficiencies in the world and using or let's say, well, using technology, not specifically always artificial intelligence, but we're looking at technology to what they think is making things more efficient. And quite often they will look to the efficiencies from a business point of view. But forget the people on the other side, you know, I'll take a point in case QR codes at restaurants. So QR codes at restaurants, in most cases, is the most, it extends our time as a customer, especially if we've got a big group, you know, how do we take this order with a big group and get it done fast? Does everyone open up their phones and order themselves? Or do we pass around the phone? Everyone's gonna look through the menu, select which one? So? And to me, I think those kinds of things they've maybe got it wrong, like, like, to me, they've got it wrong? Because, yes, you need to make businesses more efficient. But we need to think about the whole ecosystem in a way. The same is, I'm not sure if it's the same over there. But definitely here, banks think it's more efficient to take the humans out of customer service. And have you sit on a answering message, dial this four or 510, whatever number it is, and you do that five times, and then you sit waiting for an hour before you talk to a human. Yeah, I think they've lost the plot, personally, I really do that is the total opposite of customer service, all you've done is save some money off the bottom line. But indirectly, where are you losing money? And how much money are you losing, because you're not actually solving a customer human problem, you're just solving a business efficiency problem, or,
I mean, it is where companies, if you hadn't read restaurants, I was going to come up with banks, because that's my book, really. It's where process has overtaken sets, it's all in the terms of, of the customer. And you know, where it becomes a you're passing through a lot of people, and there's nothing worse than a process that can make you feel like a heart of something, not as an individual. And I suppose it always comes down to what the restaurant in that case wants to achieve. But what do you miss out on? Because Kilbirnie got a process? And as much as the efficiencies of this, what do you sacrifice? What where does the efficiencies come from? Staff training, so you get asked high staff turnover, the value of somebody contributing, you still need that intermittently in any process? So are you getting somebody who is just richly ticking the boxes? I think, you know, the answer is probably yes. And what do you miss out on? And is there longevity? And do we need that longevity anymore? In terms of that customer service alignment? Like we do, I think people are really seeking that. And when you are part of the process, it's take the QR code. And what do you miss out on what's good today? What's local, you know, what's changes if everything's the QR code, when it's the same? The same product. Now that's great if you're going into a company that represents that, I think that's brilliant, because it was what it says on the tin. But all these restaurants where QR codes is, it's so annoying, because you've got to scroll down if it was at the top and all this stuff. So it suits where the product says that's what it's going to do. I like going in and doing my own barcoding and especially in closed shops where you do your own does wait you pay yourself a lead. I like that. But I go to buy a specific thing. I think as long as it is that's what the customer wants. They want On efficiencies, but it doesn't fit all. That would be my viewpoint it certainly. And I think that's the leadership element of, I don't know what sector in Australia but, you know, decide what that customers decide what your business model is. And most important question, decide what you're going to digitalize decide where it does fit in, because it doesn't fit in everywhere. And I think with COVID, and pandemic, you know, digitalization is huge part that gets people into panic. But where do you ask yourself the question, what is that customer journey? What are they feeling? What do they want? And where does digitalization really matter? You because I think if you take the account with bank, sometimes it does payments, brilliant. But if I've got advice, or I want advice on whether take a mortgage, and I've done four presses of a button and gone round everywhere, it's gone. So I think it's understanding customer first. And I think that's really where we can't ever become one way of doing it. I think that it really is that way of, of innovation, I think it will innovate back. I think as all these things, the pendulum swings. And agility is as important as resilient companies and finding a process. But as soon as you start living your process by a story, living your growth by process, you write the stories of, you know, Kodak blockbusters and the rest of the graveyard, you know, and I think that's an important aspect in terms of of leading concept, as well as people. So yeah, it's the balance.
All right, I think your your answer there has created a new word in my mind for the Oxford dictionary in the next five years. And it's called Pro sense. So the mixture of process and common sense. There we go, and it kind of rolls off the tongue fairly well. procent. So there we go. If anyone else out there wants to get that in the dictionary. I don't care if you credit me or not, or this conversation. Yeah, let's get it in the dictionary, let's get in the vocabulary of
it's got to be used as five times. If it's going to be addiction, it's got to be in print, I think it's five times it's got to be in five different concepts, and then it will be considered. I think that's the rolling
five times. All right. That's very good. I I'll work on that. We were a lot of speakers and thought leaders. So I'll, I'll delve a little bit into how you do get into the dictionary because I think it's fascinating. All right, let's, let's say you were talking a lot about entrepreneurs here. I think over the last couple of years, we've seen quite a rise in people delving into or dabbling into or diving headfirst into entrepreneurship with, you know, how do I want to live? Do I want to be working for someone else? Do I want to have the entrepreneurial journey? I? Is that what you're saying? Is there been quite an influx in it over the last couple of years? And what are we seeing? And potentially the shift and dynamic or in the in the type of people that are becoming entrepreneurs? What are you seeing?
Well, I think obviously, working with young people, there's definitely a favorable journey, they have such a passion to make change for the better. And how they see life is very, very strong, their, you know, their sort of the way that they've been brought up in that generation of pretty much suits challenged, being curious, taking, taking risks, you know, whereas, you know, back in our day, it was right in terms of the career and being a little bit more rest assured. But I think this way of looking at the world, and wanting to be a part of its change, opens up entrepreneurship and starting up companies in a very strong way. And especially here in the Netherlands, which is very much suited towards entrepreneurship, with hubs with or freelance, it's very much encouraged. But first sort of say very politely, it is coaching way about being an entrepreneur, people normally find me when they've lost the fun and love and what they're doing is that it's not all about choice. And and we spend a lot of time looking at the origin of why you're taking those choices, to make it more realistic about what freedom truly means. And what joy Grow Your Own Business is because it's very important because if you think it's about sort of going to the sauna when you want, which I don't think many people do but if that's not the freedom it brings, it's a roller coaster. But the beautiful thing is once they define what freedom is to them, and their values and who they are. That roller coaster is a lot easier to be on because, you know, as we know, entrepreneurs got to wear a lot of hats, but I always say, Put your hat on first. And that helps you be able to lead all these different case scenarios that are happening in your day. But they often arrive with, oh my gosh, why don't I love what I loved so much two years ago, that's a really hard thing to say, to break that down and put it back in and different way. But think I see a lot of that. Freedom doesn't mean, you've got time freedom means you have choice on how you spend that time fit. That's very important definition for entrepreneurs.
Yeah, but a tongue in cheek, you know, we talk about that they have the saying, do what you love, and you'll never work a day in your life. And, you know, I can add another one to this that own your own business and never work harder. You'll work harder, you'll never work a more harder day in your life as an entrepreneur, because it is it's you cannot stop it is relentless, unless you are very savvy and clever at being able to build a business fast and empower people to take over the reins. And that is there are not too many Richard Branson's in. And there are not too many people that are successful working four hours a week either. And by the way, not
that great for that correct title, exactly. But it's very interesting. There's a lot I've learned from young people. And I've worked something I keep going back to the young people, because that's who's in my life at the moment a lot. And what I love about their efficiency, is that once they get their values, and they get that sort of grounding part is what they can achieve in a short amount of time. And it's taught me that perhaps I overthink chaps that in my past I over thought on certain case scenarios. And that beautiful trial and error, I'm never going to fall, once sort of guided going or perhaps you may, it is actually this beautiful speed and efficiency that they can get things done. And then networks are huge. You know, I can I can you know, for a week and I say what you need is this, they come back and go, these are my choices. And I go, Oh my goodness, you know, you know, they have this incredible drive, and energy to make things better than I think they've taught me a lot on that, but not not overthinking, perfectionism and actually trial and error of what it should really be like it was a leader in a startup. And then sort of hopefully guiding a little bit by a few guardrails would help but you know, ultimately, that power and that drive is is a wonderful thing to work with.
You know, there's a lot of people who talk about, you know, the the world of instant gratification. And it seems to be a little bit contradictory in a way to you know, what you're talking about here for these young entrepreneurs it is they they're looking at something bigger. And so it's quite an interesting balance between where the world is at and and it's not just the like, to me, everyone's into instant gratification now. It is what technology has enabled for us. And so yeah, I really love when I hear that people want to make a difference and, and things like that, but they have this instant gratification other parts of their life. I'm curious that how these young entrepreneurs are going to be able to sustain the highs and lows, the resilience that they're going to need. Because for many of them, they've grown up in a pretty easy world. No world these days are generally a lot easier than what they were when say we grew up in a way or our parents, etc. I'm fascinated. How do you think the sustainability and longevity of the young entrepreneurs are going to go? Do you kind of have any insights? Or do you feel like it's no different to what we've had in the past? What are you sensing?
Well, we've always new shiny things. It's going to be a part of every entrepreneur. But what we do and what I think is very, very important is that you need that drive as an entrepreneur. And I sort of what I think sometimes used to annoy me, I celebrate, you know, that want to keep driving through. But the challenge is, is to take your purpose and values with you as a person. And that's the grounding sword is not to change the character of somebody or whatever age it's to say, GROUNDED GROUNDED with your values on who you are. We do a lot of work on what your voice and your voice is, because that's your stable or stable situation. Whether you've come from an easier life with you work on Europe don't forget the Netherlands big melting pot. So we're often do people that haven't had the easiest start to life. But how do you take that and make that powerful for the future? Whether it's been easy or not easy? How do you power that into what you decide to do. And I will say, that's like your guiding rod, when you're going on that roller coaster, and you don't know how to make that choice, you don't know how to make the decisions going forward, and the whole world seems to be spinning, go back. And we very, very carefully define purpose. And the main core values the lens through which you see life, and use that as your partner. Use your definition of who you are, because that's your stabilizing rod really on that journey. And that's really the basis of it. I'm often asked by young people, which book should I read to be a leader, and I first go, Well, you decide what you're going to be a leader off first. So you've got the vision. But also start revealing yourself. So you can read every book, which is normally based a lot on club see behavior, but you've got to decide who you are first, otherwise, you'll just be spinning around on that, you'll be adding another thing to the to do list, decide what you want to be leader off, and then decide who you are first. And I think that that's the most wonderful thing about my job. And they realize they can read as many books as they want, which we actively encourage, of course, but when they actually realize they go, yeah, the thought much clearer about who I am now. And they start speaking a lot clearer about what they want, just by that one exercise alone. So that would be my greatest piece of advice. someone telling me that in my 20s would have been like, really, is that really the truly defining purpose and values of yourself the main core values, which you look like, you make decisions by your lens, what rolls you what makes you happy? Is the beginning of I think creating young leaders of today that will have an influence for sure.
Okay, are there any rules in entrepreneurship? And if there are, what would your top three be?
Rules, and I think well describe the first one, I think, decide who you are, and try and be consistent with it. Because it's very much spinning around, and you are leading every day, a melting pot, you know, a whole sort of galaxy of problems. And I think people even when they're excited about bootstrapping, and stuff wants stability, and that's you, they don't need you going with the latest phase or stuff they need to know is this person in it for the long term. Number two, we find the purpose and vision of that organization, fine, nothing new there. But don't own the vision don't own the picture of that vision. Your job, as a leader of a young startup or a beginning company, is to make people curious to go on a journey towards that vision. Because what often happens is that you think you've got to own the picture. So you're putting yourself in the way, that would be my number two, rule. Number three would be make yourself redundant on a regular basis. Because it's so quick moving. And I made that mistake. And I learned by that failure to hold on too tight growth is a series of waves. And if you hold on to, you are slowly drowning in the middle, what everyone calls sort of early maturity. So looking at it yourself saying what am I doing? I don't want to do where should I be? Where should I position myself? And I think in early startup, I would be doing that on a quarterly basis. Those are really my three rules.
Right? Make yourself redundant. That is something that that I said before the first day. We created speakers and Stu corporate with my business partner, and it is the reason why we were able to scale really, really fast. And I know if you a lot of people go into entrepreneurship, because they're passionate about something and want to do something because they're good at it. If you That's okay, if it just if you want it to just be you and keep it a small business, that's absolutely fine. But if you want to scale, you've got to adopt a completely different approach. And about making it not about you at all. Otherwise it becomes very difficult. Yesco very difficult.
What was your What was your first redundancy moment then, in terms of for your business that had the greatest growth for you?
Yep. So we did this by x. This was somewhat of an accident. I didn't make a decision but didn't realize the ramification of how good the decision was at the beginning. And that was in the first year of business. I did delivered zero services, zero and my business partner delivered one a quarter. Now, when you're thinking about a corporate training or thought leadership company, I don't know anyone else that's done that I don't. And if you can find one great because I'd love to speak with them about how they did it as well. So it's kind of by accident, but it meant that I there is no face to the organization, and my business partner was a top 20 keynote speaker in the world. And I've had a background and doing lots of things as well. It is, it meant we could unleash the power of possibility with the organization. So that was, that was number one, the most difficult thing that we haven't, that I haven't been able to release myself from this one, apart from, I suppose key leadership areas and business things that you've still got to look after, is business development. Because we're so bespoke, we are cure co creating all the time. It's so complex, we if you are in business development of a bespoke service organization, you have to understand what are your all the curriculum and products you already have, you've also got to understand the capability of the people that work with you and what the possibilities are, when you combine those capabilities into what the what it could look like. And you've also got to understand how program design works and be able to articulate from there to there. And then make it relevant to the people you're dealing with. So it's quite complex in a way. And it's trainable. But it's, it's not easy to find the right person to do it. And then maybe when you find them, they're that damn good. They had to keep a hold of as well. So that's a challenge we're facing. We've tried a couple of times to be able to release that I think we're getting close to now. But that is that that is not it's probably a reason why most in our, in our industry, end up pulling stuff off the shelf, because it's so much easier. So so much easier to deal with and scale. And that's it. Yeah, but it's not as fun.
Now, where they say you know, love what you do and do what you love. And as long as you're actually answering that as an entrepreneur, it's the greatest question you should ask before making yourself redundant. And sometimes you just want to do it, you started it because you love it. And that's your part of doing it.
I can't wait to speak with Richard Branson. I do have a couple of friends who are very, very close to him. In in regards to how does he make himself redundant? So damn fast? And how has he been able to do that for for a long time. And obviously, once you get to a certain size, you've got the capability of great people around you to be able to do that for you. But early on, I'm really fascinated to dive deep into that side of things. Now, we all know, smart people have great answers. But the most successful people ask great questions. So when was the last time you did something for the first time?
Well, yeah, that's that's a that's a very, very good question. I would have to go to social media, I have to go in terms of the business when I actually have to do stuff, my own Instagram account, and actually make that because you know what our perspective, it's not a big company. And actually, when you become an entrepreneur, you suddenly realize going, Yeah, I'm not surrounded by 98 great people in company. And I think that opens up a lot of things, I think, opened up things I love, which is obviously podcasting. But also things that I'm not keen on, which is social media. not keen on I don't know. So I think for business, actually trying to understand what interests people on social media was a really big one that comes comes through that. And I think personally, that the one that's put the greatest pressure was when I took my 10 year old godson diving, and I think that took every leadership patient moment that I could possibly have ever done. I think I used up the tank in the first five minutes of breathing. So from a personal perspective, my challenge in terms of the tried to bring adventure to hear in terms of diving, I think personally, how you learn to be patient, and step by step and be wanting to explode with fear inside. Having to portray that in a way that you can take people with you was my greatest leadership challenge on a personal basis. For sure, but these things, sometimes these challenges of life come in forms where it's not directly in business, but how to portray in a calm manner, which you're not feeling inside. Very important. Yes, my
greatest leadership journey has just begun with a five month old baby who is a delight baby. But
you, you learn a lot about leadership. Which is great. What is one question that you would love to solve?
Okay, my question I think from the business that I want, would love to solve is, how can we put a monetary value on purpose? And I think with COVID, I think purpose and living purpose and all this stuff really did come to the highlight, I like to have companies just talked about it, like it was a new thing or purpose has been around for a long period of time. But of course, rest COVID. How does everyone keep that purpose? What does it mean? And I believe that purpose is embedded in organization, it's aligned with who you are, who you work with how you work, as well as keeping your picture on the change that you want to make. And I believe that's got a monetary value. And I think that it's important that companies measure it. And obviously, when you sell a company, you get goodwill, you get the value of your people the value of knowledge, etc. But is that value and how you live on purpose? If it's so valuable today by who've joined, you don't forget people are now choosing their job roles by the purpose of your company. If that's so valuable to our customer by choice, why have we not put a monetary value on it in the pay in the p&l or the accounts? And should it be time that we calculate a value on how embedded purpose and doing the right thing is? But that's a personal project of me and financial consultant and a behavioral consultant of putting a value on purpose. And I think that there are many studies with Harvard and Boston Consulting Group that say there is a monetary value. And so during COVID, in our little attics of choice, wherever we were in the world, we started this project on putting a value on purpose. And can we look at the value of doing the right thing? And I think the answer is yes. And I'd love that answer.
Nice. Well, we've got goodwill in in the balance sheet. So if we can get purpose into the p&l, we're moving in the right direction. For you what is an inspiring, great leader? And who is a great example of this for you
this? Well, I mean, I must admit, what are the example of great leaders for me is, I have to say I'm bit biased is the young people I work with today on making that change. And I think that we should really embrace these young leaders that are trying to find new solutions for the future, be it in their own community at this moment, and support them to be able to take those great ideas on opening up doors, especially for women in terms of future investments that they need. And if we can get them off on that right foot. I think that we are making big changes on making the world better and more sustainable and doing the right thing. So I have to have it up to a lot of the young female leaders that I work with at the moment, I must admit, rather than one individual. I think young leaders of today are good, for sure. And I embrace that one.
We've had some fascinating insights in this great conversation today. I'm curious, Julie, how can people learn more about what you do? And what is the best way for people to connect with you?
Well, I've got a website on LinkedIn websites wise minds.com. And it's wise with a why? Because the young person told me I sounded too much like an old owl with an eye. So I changed it to a why it's wise, minds.com or LinkedIn. And there's loads of free stuff in there are loads of stories for entrepreneurs to get inspired from. So I'd say that was a great starting point.
Brian, well, we'll pop those links in the show notes. It's been an absolute pleasure speaking with you today, delving into the family business of Specsavers and seeing how you took on and somewhat conquered a new country in a new I suppose market in regards to setting up their business in the Netherlands. Getting an insight into your entrepreneurial mindset in a way that you are passionate about the emerging entrepreneurs of this world. And I can really feel a sense of why young people are attracted to you for help, and can see that they're getting great benefit from you. i Your dad's insight into you writing down, what do you see in five years time, I think is a great outlook on the way we should be considering both our life. And you know, for those as entrepreneurial, how can you be that step ahead. And, you know, for all the successful businesses and sports teams out there, they've remained relevant because they're predicting, and have a very good sense of what is coming. They're not waiting to be reactive. And if you're an entrepreneur out there, think about how you can be proactive in the way that you see the world moving, and understanding problems rather than being reactive, because if you're reactive, you're a step behind your competition. And you'll become irrelevant very, very fast. So Julie, thank you very, very much for your time. I've truly enjoyed this conversation and when an areas I wasn't expecting so thank you very much.
Thank you for having me, Greg. Thank you very much.
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