This is a conversation with Rik Turner and Henrietta Jadin aka Rik and Hen. Rik and Hen lived in Brighton, which is regularly crowned as the UK's 'happiest place to live'. Rik worked for Propellernet, which for at least 5 years running, has quite rightly been recognised as one of the UK's best places to work and Hen had some purpose in her role as a Mental Health patient adviser. But something was wrong. Hard working weeks were mostly followed by hard-drinking weekends and so it continued. When Rik and Hen got together, things started to change. They packed in their jobs and travelled through Asia where their mutual support allowed them to explore a life that was slower, a life where 'time' not 'money' was the currency of choice. This is the story of their journey and how they ended up living in Arrabida Natural Park, 45 minutes south of Lisbon in Portugal, where they've built SlowCowork, a co-working retreat for entrepreneurs and creatives which focuses on work, life and balance. Rik and Hen provide genuine inspiration. They were unprepared to go with the flow and created time to discover the crucial difference between knowing what to do and actually doing it. I'm pretty sure their philosophy of slowing down is one we can all benefit from and I'm pretty sure they'll add to it over the next few years
This is Part 2 of our conversation with Liam and starts with Liam auditioning for Big Brother and takes us up to the present day and a bit beyond. For Part 1 see the previous episode.
Liam McGough is a polite Tree Surgeon and Storyteller who grew up in Durham in the North-East of England. His mum's impression of a peacock was the only thing that would get him out of the local woods. Liam could climb all trees and most garage roofs which allowed him to reacquaint balls with their owners. Liam is a good friend to have. A career with trees was a given, but his consummate ability to 'be himself' allowed him to experience something different when he landed himself a spot in Channel 4's Big Brother 8 where he spent 77 days with up to 22 other housemates. He earned £30 per day, podiumed, won £100k and met some people that are still good friends today. Life in the 5 years that followed Big Brother was spent making personal appearances where his only rider was his own Instant Ready vodka and red wine cocktail. When Liam woke up he went back to his trees and now he's going to combine his experience of Trees and Documentaries and make documentaries about trees. It makes good sense to me. I liked Liam. I just spoke to him whilst writing this. He's in Cornwall with his brother and his Dad. l like Liam's confidence and his consideration. I hope you do too.
The adventurer and author, Alastair Humphreys could have accepted the offer of a job as a Science Teacher. He enjoyed his training and was a good teacher. Alastair wrote a letter to Mr Walker thanking him for the job offer but explained he was off to cycle around the world instead. It was more of a letter to himself. A written statement of intent which lead to four years sleeping in a tent. Many adventures followed including a row across the Atlantic and walks across Iceland and India. The South Pole almost made it onto the list but the next adventure turned out to be the adventure of a family, responsibility and being needed. Alastair's travel adventures weren't over, they just became much smaller. These days Alastair designs his micro adventures for himself and others. He's looking to make them short, simple, local, cheap, fun, exciting, challenging, refreshing and rewarding. If you want to understand where Alastair's adventure philosophy is going it's worth listening all the way to the end of the episode when he plays his violin. This is his philosophy of adventure going beyond travel. Travel is what used to take him outside his comfort zone but do it as much as he did and you lose your fear because you're confident you can handle whatever travel has to throw at you. But busking in Spain without money or credit cards as backup. Sticking to his self imposed rule that he'd spend everything he'd earned before the day was out. That means waking up with no money every morning for a month. That's quite an adventure when you've been learning the violin for just 7 months and on a good day have got as far as Grade 1. Alastair is a man who understands that the ordinary needs to be balanced with the extraordinary. That fear is the adventure. He doesn't seem to think of terms of success and failure. This is a man for whom sharing his warts and all experience is what's it's all about. Now that's what I call a Teacher.
Hamish McKenzie lives and works on the highly unique houseboats he designs and builds. Think Mad Max more than the quaint canals of Amsterdam. Hamish is as an engineer by trade and an artist by nature. The first thing you notice when you meet Hamish is his stripey beard and the words fate, hope and clarity tattooed across his face (he traded the tattoo for a raptor skull). Then, as soon as you start talking to him, the tattoo and the stripes disappear. We only thought to ask about his tattoo as we stepped off the boat. He's a frugal doer. When he has an idea he gets stuck in and then works out how to fill the spaces that remain. They might be gaps in the structure he's building or gaps in his knowledge, either way, he works out how to fill them. He's a natural recycler which explains why so many gaps need to be filled and how he's developed the knack of seeing beyond an object's current form. When we see a bus for sale. Hamish sees all the windows he needs for £200. He sees money as fuel. When he's running low he'll work for others to refill the tank but he has no interest in money unless he knows exactly what he's going to use it for.
Laurence McCahill is a co-founder of The Happy Startup School, an antidote to business as usual. The Happy Startup School provides an online school and off-grid gatherings for purpose-driven entrepreneurs and leaders seeking to balance money with meaning. Laurence's story is particularly inspiring for anyone who's struggling to find their purpose. Anyone who finds themselves with the feeling that this is not as good as it gets. We talk about his time travelling the world, the period he spent temping, a spell working for a financial corporate, self-employment, the trials and tribulations of building an agency and beyond. Laurence has spent 20 years or so as a business sculptor, chipping away at the things that don't allow him to align what he thinks, says and does. When something doesn't feel right he doesn't ignore the feeling, he changes something, he removes some rock and slowly the image or vision that he has is revealing itself. At the moment it looks like The Happy Startup School but that's evolving too. Laurence founded The Happy Startup School with Carlos Saba, his mate from school and they have spent much of their working life together which says a lot about the way they see and do business.
Bruce is European Vice President Twitter and was UK Managing Director of YouTube in its infancy. His book: "The Joy of Work", is a Sunday Times bestseller, and “Eat Sleep, Work Repeat”, has been the UK most listened to business podcast. Bruce grew up on a council estate in Birmingham. He started his working career in fast food restaurants to help him pay to become the first member of his family to ever go to university. After dozens of rejections, Bruce landed his first career role by taking a gamble and drawing a cartoon CV of his life. 20 years on, having worked in radio and magazines, he’s made his way to work in technology firms like YouTube/Google and Twitter. Today now runs Twitter’s business in Europe. Bruce is passionate about happiness at work and workplace culture (and runs a podcast on this very subject: eatsleepworkrepeat.fm).
It is very easy to hear the story of multiple world record holding, vegan since 6 years old, one kneecap only, endurance athlete Fiona Oakes and think she's crazy or superhuman. Watch Keegan Kuhn's 'Running for Good' or listen carefully to this podcast and you'll discover a shy, honest woman who simply wants to end suffering for humans and animals alike. Fiona has a very straightforward, old-fashioned, action-orientated approach that we can all learn from.
This is an experiment. This episode follows the Oliver Daley, episode #5. If you haven't already listened to that, we'd suggest listening to it first, and then coming back to listen to this wrap-up conversation. After we've recorded an episode Ray and I always tend to chat through how we think it went, what we picked up on and what we learnt. We're wondering whether it would be useful to record these conversations as 'wrap-up' episodes. So we've tried it here. Please tell us what you think.
Oliver is the Harry Potter obsessive behind Oliver’s Brighton, the award-winning Wizarding Shop. Still in his 20’s Oliver has managed to create a magical environment that JK herself would be proud of. His story is also fairly magical. He started out selling mobile phones and then became an estate agent. When he set off for a trade-show in China he did so expecting to find the next big technology. It didn’t work out that way. Sitting in a bar wondering why he thought it was such a good idea to come all this way looking for ideas he stopped thinking about his next big step and picked up his favourite Harry Potter book. Then it hit him.
In this episode, we spoke with a school friend of mine who set out to live a Miami Vice lifestyle and through his own hard work achieved it. These days he introduces me and other school friends to people like Anthony Joshua and Shane Warne who count him amongst their friends. Private jets and glamorous locations around the world are now the norm. Professionally he’s known as Hong Kong Tom. He’s an Asian online gambling pioneer known best for brands like Dafabet, sponsors of Fulham and Celtic. When we were teenagers Tom frustrated the hell out of the teachers because he was bright but not particularly motivated by school. He left school in the UK with one A-Level. A spell in London and then Hong Kong provided him with an opportunity to experiment with entrepreneurship. A lifestyle of risk followed. Tom’s ability to withstand the losses that come with taking risk is why his story stands out. Three weeks after getting married, and well before any significant wealth, he was sued and had to borrow $3.5m from a friend to avoid going bankrupt. So motivated was he to repay the debt, he risked his marriage by working 24/7 for two years. It showed him what he could do when he put his mind to it. What I like most about Tom is his ability to focus but never lose sight of the bigger picture including a super-skill in bringing his wide circle of friends and colleagues together.