(Transcript LCC Talk – Jan 14th 2011)
Good morning, thank you for asking me to come and speak. I would like to talk to you today about a two words. They are ‘Love’ and ‘Purpose’.
I believe if you can bring these two things together into your work, they will help to bring you success and happiness. Together they are a much more of a powerful motivation for you than either one is on its own.
Firstly, I want talk about ‘Love.’ I want to start by showing you a film by Mickey Smith. He is a surfer, photographer, and filmmaker. I am hoping he will be speaking at this year’s Do Lectures. It’s a beautiful film, both in how it looks and what it has to say.
I could be wrong, but I think Mickey has found something he loves doing.
If I can only scrape a living, at least it’s a living worth scraping. — Mickey Smith
If you are lucky enough to find something you love doing, you are at an incredible advantage in life.
For you, work will never feel like work, no matter how hard you work at it. You will never look at your watch, and think ‘not long now to home time’. You’ll never have a Sunday where you dread the Monday. And all those hours and hours you’ll put in will come from a hunger to learn and you won’t begrudge a single second of it.
Without wishing to be too morbid, it’s good to remind ourselves that we will all be much longer dead than we are alive. And if we could choose, it would be better to do all the boring things when we are dead. And keep those things that we love for the short time when we are alive on this mortal coil. The choice of what we do is indeed ours to make. But sometimes we forget that.
I think you owe it to yourself to, by hook or by crook, to make sure that you do ‘Your Love’ for a living. There’s always a way. Don’t listen to the excuses that you give yourself. Start at the bottom. But start at the bottom of something that is related to your dream. In the beginning it won’t make you rich, but it will always make you happy.
Here are a couple of role models of mine. I recommend you find one or two of your own to help motivate/lead you/to show you the way.
Jake Burton runs one of the most creative snowboard companies in the world. His mission statement to himself is to spend 100 days a year snowboarding.
Yvon Chournard, founder of Patagonia. I recommend everyone to go and read this man’s book. It’s called ‘Let my people go surfing’. He has made a business and life out of bringing his love and purpose together.
Talent is the desire to practice – Malcolm Gladwell
This quote is from Malcolm Gladwell who believes it takes 10,000 hours to become good at something. 10,000 hours is a short time to spend at something you enjoy, but an eternity if it’s something you have no love for.
Two Kinds of Passion: Hot Passion. And Cold Passion
I think it’s helpful to understand passion. I believe passion can both help you enormously and hinder you too. I believe there are two types of passion. One is ‘hot passion’. It is all heart; the head is not being called upon to think. And that means sometimes things can go wrong. Hot passion is a bit like infatuation; it burns brightly, but fades quickly.
Whereas ‘cold passion’ is calm, considered and long lasting. Both the brain and the heart are working together. Emotions have been taken out of decisions. And decisions are given time. And looked at from all angles. Cold passion is much more effective at getting results. Cold passion is like a lifelong love. Once decided upon, it’s almost impossible to stop loving.
It’s good to be aware of the difference between the two.
Find something you can’t live without.
I was lucky, I discovered what I wanted to do for a living early on. I wanted to have my own business: A sports brand.
At 16 I quit school and with £500, which was all of my dad’s savings, I started a market stall selling sportswear in what was then the coal mining towns of South Wales. It was a tough place to learn about business, but a great place.
There would be days that I would spend all day on the market stall and sell nothing. And because I hadn’t sold anything, I wouldn’t have any money for petrol. And because my car’s petrol gauge was broken, I knew I would run out petrol, I just didn’t know when.
That car taught me more about the importance of sales than anything else.
Just 6 months after starting I had to close the business and put my dream on hold. I had too many days on the market stall without selling anything. I had lost all my Dad’s money.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but failure was a good teacher. I didn’t have the skills I needed to run a business. I would have to go and learn them. I spent the next 15 years working in advertising. I learnt about ideas, brands and how to tell a story. I also learnt I still wanted to do my own thing. The dream had not gone away.
So we (Clare and I) started howies in 1995. Of course, my first shareholder was my dad. Along with his money he told me this: ‘wherever you go, go with all your heart. With that advice ringing in my ear, we wrapped our whole philosophy and values about life into it. For 6 years we did not pay ourselves. The love of it kept us going.
We got banned from The Mountain Bike Show, we got banned from The Malvern’s Bike event, we got sued by Levis, we saw our favourite band wear our t-shirts, we argued with Banksy, we won awards, we got voted one of the best brands in the UK.
It wasn’t always fun. But it was never work.
(The audience are asked what their love is, and then one by one they stand up and tell everyone.)
I now want to talk to you about purpose.
In 2006, howies was growing too fast, and we needed some more investment. We were lucky in as much as we had two companies who wanted to invest. In the end, we decided to sell to the ‘current owners’ as they understood the importance of Wales. The other deal was much more lucrative to Clare and myself but was more focused on California than Wales.
A year or so after selling to the ‘current owners’ I was in a meeting in Boulder, Colorado. I was told that I had to move ‘this bit’ of the business to this country and ‘this bit’ of the business to this country, or they would ‘spin us off’. I had to ask what ‘spin you off’ meant. (It means to sell you.)
Those kind of meetings are called ‘Dream Breakers’ for good reason. I emotionally left the company at that meeting.
On my return, I tried to buy the company back, but it wasn’t to be.
I will keep my thoughts about the current owners to myself, but I also had to look at myself and ask some tough old questions. And the uncomfortable truth was if I had been smarter at running a business, I would never have had to sell it to anybody. The mirror is a hard place to stand in front of sometimes.
Looking back, I could see that I had learnt how to build a brand, but not how to run a business.
So in October 2009, I left howies. The pain of leaving something I loved was less than the pain of staying and watch it turn into something I didn’t love.
For 3 months, I wrote a business plan for a jeans company. I felt it was a good idea. I knew I could fall in love with it. I had plenty of investors wanting to invest in it. But something was stopping me from doing it.
There was an element I didn’t want to run around the same track again. I was tired. And I was a little bit heart broken, if truth be known. So I just shelved the idea.
Instead, I put all my efforts into The Do Lectures. I had always wanted to do something world class, and there it was and right under my nose all along. It had a magical setting in fforest. (I will speak more about the importance of luck later.)
The Do Lectures was getting millions and millions of views. It was attracting great speakers, more than we could possibly cope with. And its reputation was quickly spreading. It was voted one of the top ten contemporary events in the world. It was a remarkable event for remarkable people and I was very proud to be a part of it.
All the time I would go running with my dog. Not really to get fit, but more just to try and forget about everything. A year later, with many miles run, I re-read the business plan for the jeans company. I loved it, still.
Then one day, after a conversation with the old designer from howies, I worked out what was stopping me starting the new company: I hadn’t worked out its purpose.
You see, as well as love, you need a purpose to really motivate yourself, and therefore succeed. You need to understand the ‘why’ you are doing something.
This video is of a company over in America called Raleigh denim. They are a good example of a company that has a purpose. They wanted to make things where they lived. They wanted to revive an old industry. I wish them the best of luck.
It was the same for me. I wanted to bring jobs to this small town called Cardigan. I wanted to make stuff here. That was the purpose I was missing. Lucky for me, Cardigan was a small town but it had an odd thing going for it.
Luck can only get you so far – JK Rowling
You can’t just rely on luck, but oh boy, sometimes luck falls into your lap. And when it does it makes life an awful lot easier, I can tell you. Having a World Class venue like fforest on our doorstep, well, that suddenly makes The Do Lectures exceptional.
If you were going to start a jeans factory in Britain, then Cardigan would probably have to be top of your list. That’s because it used to have the biggest jeans factory in Britain. Right here. Slap bang in the centre of Cardigan.
And most of that highly trained, highly skilled workforce were still in the town. That’s just down to luck.
So this Spring I am going to offer some of those people their jobs back. We are going to set up a jeans factory and then start making jeans overlooking Cardigan Bay.
I hope we can bring together those two words of ‘Love’ and ‘Purpose’. I hope I can make this town proud of revitalizing the jeans industry here. And I hope I have learnt all the lessons of the past. I can’t wait to get making again. Wish me luck.
For you, sitting in your seats right now, I have just this last piece of advice. Don’t worry about how many followers you have on Twitter or Facebook, but the thing to really follow is your heart.
Try and find something you love, and do it.
It will reward you in so many ways.
(The audience are asked what their purpose is, and then one by one they stand up and tell everyone.)