Gerard Doyle’s interview on Be the Push

I had the pleasure of being interview by Jack Ferguson on his show Be The Push recently.

If you have the stamina it is a 1:45 long interview which you can hear below. It covers most of my professional career which includes lots of downs with the ups.

Jack interviews great business people and his relaxed style produces honest storytelling by his interviewees.

You can subscribe and listen to other interviews via iTunes here

cheers,
Gerard

4 Reasons why Founding a Startup is like ‘The Lego Movie’

(I have this face 50% of the time running my startup…)

I found myself watching ‘The Lego Movie’ with my kids on the holidays and couldn’t help but notice some key similarities in the storyline with my experience founding my startup, BenchOn. Here are my 4 reasons why:

 

  1. Everything is Awesome! You know the song. The song your kids sing until you lose your sanity… To me, that is the anthem promoted by corporations to remind all of the workers how happy they are following the status quo. I can just see an HR Manager getting staff to sing that in the annual employee engagement seminar before they tick off the box saying that all employees love their job.

    To get back to the story though, our hero, Emmett, tries everything he can to be happy in this status quo world yet no matter how hard he tries, he just doesn’t fit in. He does everything by the book but he just can’t make it work. He intuitively knows something is off about his world yet can’t quite put his finger on it. Until one day he stumbles onto something that breaks all of the rules and he can’t help but go down the rabbit hole to find out where it leads.

    All entrepreneurs will be familiar with this in their lives. We do the right things, go to university, get a job yet we intuitively know there is something else out there for us. Then it hits us, the idea, the holy grail of ideas, the one thing that we have to have a go at otherwise we would never forgive ourselves – and so it begins.

 

  1. Building by instructions VS the Master Builders. In the Lego world that Emmett belongs to, everything is built using instructions (think Processes and Procedures). No deviations from the plan – it must be perfect (Bureaucracy doesn’t support agility or out of the box thinking. Even when they do set up another ‘Innovation Department’). This perfect world is constructed by our villain – the evil Lord Business (they are making this really easy for me!). But Emmett soon learns there is another way – The Master Builder way where you make it up as you go along and build something with nothing else but your imagination and hard work (Let’s call this the ‘Innovation Boom’).

    It sounds easy enough – if you can think it, you can build it. And that is what many of us as entrepreneurs are trying to do. We have lived for so long in the comfort of our employer’s set processes and procedures where all we had to do was follow the bouncing ball, but with a startup, none of that exists! You make it up as you go along and with unlimited configurations and options, it can become extremely overwhelming to deal with (which Emmett found out very quickly). This can lead to conflict, anxiety, feeling lost or not feeling like you are good enough and it was as scary a realisation for me as it was for Emmett.

 

  1. Under constant attack by Big Business. Throughout the movie, Emmett is continually chased, harassed and attacked by Lord Business and his evil Business Bots (Side note: I thought the ‘Good Cop/Bad Cop’ character was the perfect example of an Executive Assistant – the gatekeeper to Lord Business who can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. Ha!). Surely this point doesn’t need much explanation. As a startup, you are constantly looking for competitors and you are continually asked by investors what your plan is to stop other businesses doing what you do. It is a constant battle that plagues you most days and is one of the big reasons why you find yourself awake at 3 am. Unless Batman works for you…

 

  1. Surround yourself with a team who have done this before. Emmett survives the ordeal and achieves ultimate success because he found people along the journey with a variety of skills that helped him through his trials (Batman, Wyldfire, the Wizard etc). Without them, he would have failed or if he chose the wrong companions, he would have failed. He survived because he was mentored, trained, guided and supported by those that know the Master Builder life.

    This too is an obvious comparison to the advisors, mentors and employees that you collect along the way. Choose wisely and use their experience at every opportunity. Choose superstars that believe what you believe and can open your eyes to things you may not have thought of. And trust them! Just because you didn’t think of it yourself, take the time to understand their advice and make your decisions based on all the facts.

 

Never fear though – if Emmett can do it, then there is hope for all of us! Trust your idea, trust your team, work hard and watch the credits roll after you have changed the world.

 

Written by: Tim Walmsley, CEO and Founder of BenchOn

The Introvert’s conference Cheat Sheet

I’m in Startcon.com in Sydney (I live in Brisbane ) and I’ve been really excited.

So what? I hear you say… We’ll I’m an introvert. I work from home and love it. I recharge my batteries in my own head, and the idea of being in a group of five or more people without a structure or discussion topic genuinely strikes fear into my heart.

But Startcon is different. Startcon has structure. Startcon has deliberate topics. And at Startcon, we’re all there for the same reason, more or less. We share a common interest and want to learn.

So as an introvert, I’m going to share a few tips that I’ve found work well for me at large scale networking events where you don’t know many people.

1) Know at least one person. I call my person my conference buddy and I’m pretty upfront. I need this person as my fall back. I might find myself two or three people deep into networking, but when the anxiety strikes, I’m heading back. (Jen- I’m looking at you here).

2) Ask questions and talk about the other person. You’ve got two ears and one mouth, as I often stay to my eight-year-old daughter – or as she has put it ‘smart people ask questions and dumb people talk’. OK, so that overly simplistic but the basic concept holders true, you’ll learn a lot more if you’re listening than talking. As an introvert, this also means you do less of the talking and more of the listening. So when you’re introduced to someone, ask questions, keep them coming and work out what this new person’s interests are and get them talking.

3) Offer to help. When you’re inevitably asked what you do, keep your story short on succinct and then turn it around quickly. For me, I’m a marketing expert so I might say. I’m a marketing consultant with 20 years online marketing experience and three start-ups of my own….. how could I help you with your business?

The trick here is that I’ve now aligned my credentials with the answer to their business issues. If the conversation flows then everyone wins.

4) Oh s&*! , I’m struggling. That moment you realise this networking movement has moved into an awkward position. Enter the business card. When I realise that the conversation has moved into small talk and I’m struggling, I go for the business card ‘get out’. “I’ve actually got to go now but here’s my business card, let’s connect on Linkedin and keep this conversation going.” This isn’t me being rude I swear! I’m just well outside my comfort zone and really need to leave.

5) Self-deprecating humour. I try not to take my self too seriously and find that if you want to break down the communication barriers, removing yours first is a strong first step.

I can talk about my upside down head (my beard stubble compensates for the thinning hear on my head) or that I’m really not in shape. It’s amazing how revealing a vulnerability can be a powerful disarming strategy.

6) Don’t over expend, making one solid connection is worth 10 passing connections. Don’t stress about the number of business cards or LinkedIn connections you make, focus on the quality of those connections.

7) Smartphone crutch – there is always something to do on your phone. You might be in the real world, but when you’re stuck it’s OK to report to the online world and tweet. Taking a break and writing down your thoughts not only gives you a free pass but could potentially lead to new connections.

 

So there are my seven tips for an introvert and a conference. So if you’re reading this, and you meet me this week you might recognise me using one of these seven techniques. It’s not you; it’s me. I’m not trying anything deceptive or calculating; I’m just dealing with a few thousand people and a billion different potential social situations. And, I honestly do want to help you.

Snapchat I just can’t want to

The older I get, the more I fear ‘new’ things, is this why I struggle with Snapchat?

During my first year of University, I’d listen to every new song and laugh at how the older generations had to have radio stations locked into an era long gone, unable to digest any new music.

Now I’m 39-years-old, and while I have heard Tay Tay’s new snake-themed album and I know more than one word in ‘despacito’, this has been driven mostly by my eight-year-old daughter. If left alone, I’d quite happily go back to my musical comfort window of 1994-2004. Grinspoon is still a thing, yeah?

So this brings me to the onslaught of new technologies, I’m well ahead of the curve on most technology, it is my job to be, but…..

“I just can’t want to snapchat.”

Let me explain what I mean.When my son was a little younger he had this great phrase he would use to describe his emotions when faced with a task that he not only didn’t want to do but one that he couldn’t even think about wanting to do… “I just can’t want to”.

Me: “Will, pick up your toys”

Will: “I just can’t want to!”

Cut to the scene of a 3-year-old boy on the ground in floods of tears.

It was a brilliant turn of phrase in its honest and descriptive power. My son wasn’t saying he couldn’t. Just like me, of course I ‘could’ Snapchat, if I wanted to. But I don’t. And I can’t even find a reason to want to.

This is a terrible position for me to take professionally. I’ve been in digital marketing for 20 years now, as in the entire time digital marketing has been a thing – I’ve been there.

I’m across Twitter, I love Linkedin and I obviously blog, but when it comes to Snapchat I just can’t. Or to use or a more grown-up phrase ‘I can’t find a f**k to give’.

And this is why I don’t think Snapchat will win the social communication market. You see, when Facebook launched it was our (the Xennial Generation’s) job to train up our baby boomer parents. But now us Xennials are getting older, we fear the unknown, and so we’re not going to train up our parents on how to ‘snap their chats’.

Snapchat has no onboarding experience. They figure ‘your young, you’ll figure it out’. But I don’t want to. I have other ways of expressing myself in my digital world. Or maybe I’m just bitter cos my stories would all be parenting fails and the confused stare of a balding old man.

Is it that we fear the unknown or do we as humans (just like startups) have a finite number of pivots in our lives? I think there is probably some truth in the latter option but for now, I’m happy just to work with fear.

So I’m calling it – Snapchat will lose out to Facebook, Twitter and the other channels. In tech land, you can’t maintain your bubble like valuations waiting for the millennials to age 50 years and hope that every newborn generation continues to snapchat. You need intergenerational adoption, you need it to happen quickly and you need your early adopters to education the older generation.

So Facebook wins. Facebook is a known entity, and for everyone who was born before 1980 and who is increasingly scared of the unknown, embrace your age and all the rights that brings you and proudly announce to the digital world that you “just can’t want to snapchat !”