Welcome to our conversation with Ben Ivey. Ben is a coach to Entrepreneurs but what makes Ben interesting is his attention to the Entrepreneur as a person, the whole person not just as a business person. He's as happy talking about love as he is margins. He wants you to live the best life you can, one where regrets are minimised and magic moments are maximised.
Ben's awareness of business was there from an early age. Both his Grandad and Dad were property entrepreneurs and this feeling that he needed to take personal responsibility or control of his life seemed to be a reaction to his parent's separation.
He was good at numbers and so business or banking seemed a natural option but he realised early on that he didn't want to go down the corporate consultancy route and so, like many of us do, he followed a friend - in Ben's case on to the start-up bus where he started his own entrepreneurial journey in the form of One Pink Elephant which took him to China and then Los Angeles.
Ben was telling himself the 'Let's make loads of money' story and then at 21, Ben lost his 53-year-old father to suicide. Ben had spoken to his father the previous day and it was a shock like no other. Ben had always seen his father as a man full of fun, charm and character and seems to have been the moment Ben realised that what you see is nothing like the full story.
Ben describes his feeling of being utterly lost, having no idea how to deal with it himself and so he spent time being there for other people. Then he spoke to counsellors, then he started to understand the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and then acceptance)
During this Ben went to China. He'd always wanted to go there because he'd studied Mandarin at school and what Ben noticed was that China and the Chinese culture is sooo different. Not better or worse just very very different - the way things are done is different at a fundamental level - it's China's differentness that inspires (check out Episode 5 with Oliver Dall for another example of how China inspires).
Ben has a mindset that if someone else can do something, he can do it too. Ben seems to follow through on most of what he says he's going to do because he perseveres. A good example of this is Ben's Ted Talk in Mandarin.
He talks about a fulfilled life being one with gratitude, purpose and meaning. He talks about happiness as love.
It's hard to imagine listening to Ben's story that his father's suicide wasn't the single biggest moment to date but like many other people we've spoken to on this podcast, Ben has reacted to this rock-bottom moment and created a turning point. Somehow, he's managed to, eventually create something positive out of the chaos.
Ben has worked in suicide prevention and has overcome what he describes as his biggest challenge and that's his 'When I have this' addiction. He says "I believed I had to be successful myself before I could help people - if that's the way one thinks you'll never be qualified because there's always something more to be achieved - if that's the attitude you will never get there because there's so much to learn you'll never be qualified"
Like me, Ben is inspired by Bronnie Ware's 'Five Regrets of the Dying'. What is it that really matters in life?
He talks about the benefits of noticing what's actually happening and the need to balance a 'gratitude for what you have' with 'the wonder of what could be'.
We talk about Goals as Direction - he says "don't become too attached to the result you're looking for because the result you have in mind is there to provide you direction and rarely something to be achieved".
He's spot on. If any of you have achieved those goals you set out to achieve you'll know that the moment of achievement is there only briefly - before you know it gone, replaced by another mountain to climb.
The bit I personally found most enlightening was Ben's take on relationships. He talks about the six expressions of love being; food, gifts, positive words, acts of service, physical touch and quality time. This insight that we all value different things is gold-dust and as awkward as it may feel, regularly asking the questions.
What can I do this week to make you feel loved? & When did you feel most loved?
This something I'm going to try.
At one point Ben says "Doing something different enables me to notice what's happening. It slows life down so I can enjoy it".
Enjoy Ben Ivey - when did you feel most loved?