Episode 194 – Starting Up with Richard Hall and Rachel Bell

Start-ups, Pivots and Pop-ups

There’s never been a more entrepreneurial age. The barriers to entry for setting up a business have crumbled over the last decades while our sense of purpose and desire to be in control of our lives have sky-rocketed. 

But what does it take to be successful in this new world? Richard Hall and Rachel Bell interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs and discovered that those who succeed aren’t afraid to experiment in small ways, learn, adapt, trial and rethink where necessary. 

In this conversation they also share how they set the pace for each other as they wrote the book and why their complementary skill-sets helped when it came to marketing. 


Richard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richard8/

Richard’s site: https://www.colourfulthinkers.com/

Rachel on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rachel-bell-56030a6/

Alison on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alison-jones-9b09893/

Alison on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bookstothesky

The Extraordinary Business Book Club on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1447064765612358/

This Book Means Business – the mentorship programme: https://alisonjones.lpages.co/this-book-means-business-mentorship/

The 10-day Business Book Proposal Challenge January 2020: https://alisonjones.leadpages.co/proposal-challenge/

Gift the 10-day Business Book Proposal Challenge! https://alisonjones.com/christmas-offer/

Alison:                                      I’m here today with Richard Hall and Rachel Bell. Now, Richard Hall is an author of many business books. After a career in marketing, advertising and consulting he now coaches senior executives in how to communicate, innovate, understand, and implement change. And Rachel Bell is a serial entrepreneur and founder of six successful and award-winning PR companies. As well as chairman of the Academy Media Limited she is an active NED, non-executive director, on separate boards, and she’s also a visitor in entrepreneurship at the London Business School. With entrepreneurship on the rise and the uncertain nature of business survival, the book that they had just written together, Start-Ups, Pivots and Pop-Ups, provides a detailed roadmap of how to plan a business startup and a checklist of do’s and don’ts. So welcome to the show, Richard and Rachel.

Rachel Bell:                           Hi.

Richard Hall:                        Hello.

Alison:                                      Really good to have you here. Now, it’s a great alliterative title. Tell me a little bit about the difference between startups, pivots and popups. And, actually a few people will be going, “Pop-ups? Isn’t that just like food stores?”

Richard Hall:                        No. It’s mostly about startups, but it also is about pivots, in a variety of ways. Because, unless you learn to pivot, in other words, change your mind about what you’re doing, you’ll never be able to do a successful startup. And there’s one person in the book called Lisa Matthews, who’s invented a product called Our Canary, and she’s a terrific character who said how she disliked the bro culture in the startup world. But she says if you have done something wrong, or gone in the wrong direction, simply change it. Pivot. And the other part of pivoting is that anybody who starts up a business, as, Alison, you’ve done, has had to pivot from what they were doing, presumably as an employee, into doing something else. The popup part of it is simply the experimental phase of any startup when you’re trying things out to see whether they work.

Alison:                                      Fantastic. It’s a perfect storm, really, of entrepreneurship at the moment, isn’t it? You’ve got a very changeable environment, which is where pivoting becomes kind of an art form, which is an absolute necessity. And also this whole new class of people who are almost leaving education with the expectation that they will become entrepreneurs. I thought that was really striking, looking at the people in your book.

Richard Hall:                        70% of millennials want to start their own business.

Alison:                                      Which is amazing.

Richard Hall:                        It’s a huge number. Interestingly, on the continent, it’s about half that number, in continental Europe.

Alison:                                      Why do you think that is?

Richard Hall:                        Why do you think that is, Rachel? Because you’ve got all these people working for you.

Rachel Bell:                           Yes. I think actually it’s because we have a generation coming through of young people who have either followed their parents’ fortunes of working for big corporate conglomerates, which they have to sort of sail in the changes of the tide and changes the wind with those companies, which can be quite a perilous existence. But they’ve also, particularly if they’re kids of entrepreneurs, experienced a world where actually they love the idea of the freedom, and the choice, and they’re a generation of consumers that are being brought up with purpose very much at their hearts. And all of these things, I think, are colliding to build a workforce of people that want to have more of a vested interest and stake in their futures, and they want to feel like they’ve got more control over how and where they spend their time.

Alison:                                      It’s interesting how many of those words are sort of value-based, isn’t it? About purpose and mission, and so on, Yes. Really interesting.

Rachel Bell:                           Yes.

Richard Hall:                        There’s a whole bunch of people I know, in their twenties, who don’t know how to drive and don’t think it’s relevant. Have no interest in buying a car. Of course not, don’t drive, but probably never will. Don’t own the house, own very few things. Not materialistic. Travel a lot. Highly mobile and do a lot of freelance work, and double up with other people. I think there’s something echoing in the back of my head, this has nothing to do with Brexit, incidentally, but echoing in the back of my head, which is about taking back control. On a personal level, people want to be in control of their own destiny or their own life, and if somebody phones up and says, “Hey, there’s something fun going on in Mexico. We’re putting on a conference. Do you want to be involved in it?” They go, “Sure,” get on the plane the next day and be there. And I don’t think we were like that.

Alison:                                      No.

Richard Hall:                        I wasn’t like that…

Alison:                                      And you say it’s nothing to do with Brexit, but I think actually, at some level, it is something to do with a lack of trust in establishment structures. It’s something to do with, with … Well my sense is it’s that sense of, Yes, I want to control my own life because frankly I don’t trust anybody else to do it. I don’t know if you get that sense from them.

Rachel Bell:                           I was going to come in on that point, actually, because that was something Richard and I spoke quite a bit about, didn’t we, Richard? Of this reality that over the last 10 years we’ve seen a major fall in the value of institutions, whether it’s the extent to which you trust or can get advice from your doctor, or can go to your doctor and have a sort of trusted family friend in your doctor in the way they used to be. Bank managers are no longer there. Banks aren’t trusted in the way that they used to be. And I think the sort of institutional England has become very fractured, and people are no longer able to trust and rely on the institutions that really our parents’ generations would never have questioned.

Alison:                                      Yes. It is fascinating, isn’t it? But it’s not just … I mean a lot of the examples, and I want to talk about the way that you treat examples, because I think it’s really fascinating, but it’s more diverse in that as well, because at the other end you’ve got a generation of people who are kind of finding themselves out of work, perhaps redundant, or empty-nesters, and they’re coming in on it as well. So it is, it’s really interesting and diverse, isn’t it?

Richard Hall:                        It’s a pincer movement.

Alison:                                      Pincer movement. The middle has no chance.

Richard Hall:                        The young and the old. Absolutely. Corporations beware. The older ones, I’m coming across a whole bunch of 50 year olds who are seizing the opportunity of voluntary redundancy because that gives them a pot of money, which means that they can launch a business, and if they do anything half right, they’ve got a few months of grace before the problems might start. They’ve got a cushion, a financial cushion.

Alison:                                      Before they have to release the equity.

Richard Hall:                        Yes, absolutely. But it’s fascinating that they tend to succeed. I mean the success rate in our country, and in America, with 50 plus startups is three times greater, two times greater than the rest.

Alison:                                      Yes, which is really heartening.

Richard Hall:                        Because they’re experienced. In all the interviews, the question I had is have they got the energy and the appetite that the millennials have. I think you found the same thing, Rachel, didn’t you? Because the younger people have enormous energy, less experience, more likely to make mistakes than older people, but older people, they’ve been there, done that, so a little bit wary of error.

Alison:                                      But it’s interesting because you say they’ve got experience, but in a sense a lot of the experience that people in their late forties, early fifties might have come the end of their career is almost completely irrelevant now because the world has changed that much. So I’m guessing that’s life experience, and experience of managing themselves as much as anything.

Richard Hall:                        Yes.

Rachel Bell:                           Yes. Just to come on that point, the real revelation, I think, that’s happening, or a revolution even, which has been a revelation for us, is that people are really following their passion points. There’s a real turn from people just feeling like they need to go and do a job anymore just to earn money, but actually following a passion, and collaborating around a passion point. So a big sort of strand of collaboration, particularly with the millennials, who are great at sharing ideas and collaborating around ideas, and they’re less likely to have their arms around their work saying, “I’m not prepared to share this.” They’re very good at co-creating opportunities together. And the 50 pluses are people where they may have had a lifelong passion around fishing for example. There was a great case study that Richard wrote up around a guy that has got a passion for fishing, and he’s set out a business where he can spot an opportunity in the market that isn’t servicing him and has gone out to fix that. And he’s set up a really, really amazing business. And that seemed to be a story that typified quite a lot of the businesses that made the book.

Alison:                                      Yes. And actually let’s come onto that, because the way that you have done this, and it’s come out already, it’s very much about finding the stories, and showing examples of how people are doing it, and then drawing the lessons from that. Was that a very deliberate choice when you came to write the book together?

Richard Hall:                        Yes, absolutely. There were a number of things. The first thing is I have a problem with a lot of business books, which is that they tell you what to do, and they either do it from a position of an academic learning, or from experience, but very seldom using the number of examples that we’ve done. And when the examples are used, they’re very often role models who are, in my mind, irrelevant. I am not going to be Steve Jobs. I am not going to be Richard Branson. I am not going to be a unicorn. Most of us are going to be quite happy to run a business and make a decent living out of it. What we discovered by doing all these interviews, which was absolutely deliberate, and it’s a curious process because sometimes one interview led to another because you met somebody else through somebody else, is that money was not top of anyone’s agenda bar one person in the States.

                                                      What was top of their agenda was feeling fulfilled, leaving a legacy of some kind. I’m sorry about this, making the world a better place, but it was coming across. Generally doing something which was, you’ve said it Addison, value-driven. That’s what they wanted to do. They wanted to do something that was worth doing. Rachel’s done fantastic job launching a whole series of PR companies. But you talk to her about it, she doesn’t talk about how much money she’s made from that, which is lots, she talks about the values of it, the awards they’ve won, the satisfaction of seeing people grow and burgeon.

Alison:                                      And did you have that hypothesis? When you made your list of people to contact, and you set up those conversations, were you leading them in a direction that you had your thesis, and you were just trying to get the evidence for it, or did you go in just to find what you could find? I mean, I’m always fascinated by how people go into … Because you need to know something, don’t you? You need to have a direction of travel, but you also need to be open to what comes out of the conversation.

Richard Hall:                        Every person you speak to tells you something slightly different. There’s a nuance that happens. The thesis we had, both of us having spent a lot of time, before we did anything else, talking about sort of the direction this might take, was that there was a revolution. Where 630,000, 640,000 new businesses start every year in the UK. It’s a growing number. But our view was that’s probably going to crash through a million quite soon, because that was the sense that we had on a day-to-day basis. So we just talked to, whatever it was, 60, 80, 100 people, and we learned a lot from them, some of which was completely surprising. And I can say this without, in any sense, trying to sort of sound … Talking to two women. If I’m investing my money in a business, I would be very much keen on investing it in a company run by women.

Alison:                                      Which is interesting because the facts supports you, but the fact remains that they don’t do so well in funding. It is fascinating isn’t it?

Richard Hall:                        They don’t do so well in funding because … I was going to be very rude just then about bankers and so on. I won’t.

Alison:                                      Oh, feel free. It’s fine.

Richard Hall:                        No. But I’ll tell you what the problem is. The problem is they’re stupid. Women are much more important than they’ve ever been. They’ve crashed through the glass ceiling. As beautifully expressed by Rachel, they swerved it. And the men are still acting as though it’s 1980. The VCs are very old fashioned. The real person to look at, Muhammad Yunus, who got a Nobel Peace Prize, is a Bangladeshi economist and he set up something called the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. And after about two weeks of sending this up, he decided to only lend to women because they took it seriously, they didn’t drink it, they didn’t eat it, they used it to build a business, the money that they borrowed. They paid it back, and then he tried to give them some more and they said, “We don’t need any more, actually, at the moment.” He said it was actually a fascinating experience. Women were just more reliable, more solid, a better investment.

Alison:                                      Rachel, you were going to say something there. What were you going to say?

Rachel Bell:                           I was going to say, actually, I think one of the real testament to the book is actually Richard’s amazing ability to unlock these stories. To be honest with you, what I love about the way the first half of the book is put together is the way that it … as Richard as suggested, it talks very much to everyday businesses, not these kind of untouchable, crazy businesses that no one else can relate to, but it actually draws from it the kind of advice that, if you were really genuinely starting a business, or contemplating starting a business, the sort of stuff that is very helpful to understand and know. And those nuggets come thick and fast because Richard was so great at capturing them and writing them in such a lovely, tight, well-written, humorous kind of a way, but they really are the gems and the gold dust that, if you’re thinking about starting a business, you’d really want to have a mentor telling you that kind of advice. It’s such a rarity.

Alison:                                      It’s interesting, isn’t it? Because everybody says oh, use stories. Stories are the way that you can really make people remember, and stories are the way you can get … Which is dead true, but they’ve got to be well written stories, and people do forget that.

Rachel Bell:                           And pithy and quick.

Alison:                                      Yes, not too long winded or you’ve lost your audience. Actually, I want to dig into this a little bit more because I’m always fascinated, when I’m talking to two people who’ve written a book together, how that worked. And obviously you have had different backgrounds. I know Richard, you’ve written quite a lot of books before. Rachel, I don’t know, have you written before?

Rachel Bell:                           No, and I wouldn’t put myself down as a great writer either.

Alison:                                      So how did that work as a partnership?

Rachel Bell:                           Well, I’m very lucky because Richard is the real genius behind this book, in my opinion.

Richard Hall:                        Oh, come on. Stop it.

Rachel Bell:                           I was very delighted when he asked me to do the book with him, and I’ve enjoyed the process enormously, and I feel that I’ve been incredibly fortunate having someone such as Richard, who has got such a wealth of experience, to help us navigate the right way to tackle this. My interest was obviously more in the how-to end the book, because the first half is very much the stories, anecdotes, learnings, and takeouts from entrepreneurs, and things that you’d want to know if you were about to start a business to watch out for. The second half of the book is about very practical, tactical steps about what do you actually have to do. What are the nuts and bolts of how you go about starting up a business.

                                                      And I think we both found it … Well, I believe Richard found it helpful to have somebody, when we went through the stories, to think about what were the overarching themes that were coming through in the book. And that’s really what drew us to the reality that there were three major groups that either had purpose or flexibility driving them, which were these 50 pluses, the women, and the millennials. And they really, really came out in the book as the area to focus on because that seems to be where the revolution is happening with a whole raft of new businesses coming from those three areas.

Alison:                                      Yes, it is fascinating, isn’t it?

Richard Hall:                        There was something else as well, which is, almost by definition, any book that you write is, in its own right, a startup. And what I discovered, because it was the first time I’d written a book with somebody else, is that I don’t think you should start a business by yourself. That’s one of the things we discovered. And you shouldn’t start a business with somebody who’s very like you, because there’s no point in doing that. What you should do is to start a business with somebody who has complementary talents, or who brings the best out in you, or has the courage to say, “That’s absolutely terrible,” and, That’s wrong.” And it works a treat when you do it like that, because what you do is you carry on focusing on trying to make it a better product, and a more relevant product. And so whilst I was up to my elbows writing, I had Rachel on the outside saying, “Do you think that’s a bit boring?”

Alison:                                      And now we get to it, you see. You’ve been so lovely and supportive of each other, but actually what was happening was you were criticising each other fruitfully during the period of writing, which is great.

Richard Hall:                        Absolutely. And when she said that, I went away and wept, but I tore up what I’d written and started again. No, but the point about is that’s exactly what we need to do. I find it easy to write, but I think I find it really hard to write well. And if you don’t have somebody alongside you, around you, who’s able to nudge you, prod you, then I think it’s going to be less successful.

Alison:                                      I think that’s such a great analogy, because you’re absolutely right. I’ve often thought a book is very like a startup in many ways. And you prototype it, don’t you? That’s your table of contents, and you try it out on people. So Rachel, I want to hear it from you as well. What was the process of working together like? What worked really well? What surprised you about it?

Rachel Bell:                           Do you know what I really loved about it is the pace of it. I do think if there’s two of you, you become pacesetters in the process to each other, because you’re hooking back in at a key date to say, “Right, we need to be getting to this stage, to that stage,” which I’m sure you can … I mean, I can only propose that it must be harder to do on your own when you’re fixing clear dates where you say, “Right, well we’re going to get to this point by then.” I mean, Richard worked at a ferocious pace, but I found the whole process hugely enjoyable, and fascinating.

                                                      And I loved actually … What I felt was that it was really enjoyable for me to tussle with Richard around what really is at the heart of this. What’s really, really important? What’s going to be the game changers? What makes a difference? And what, again, Richard’s talent is, is that he can listen to things that I might be saying but sometimes, to me, seem to be fairly mundane points because they come from a place … I’ve been an entrepreneur for a long time. I’ve worked with myself for a long time. I feel very lucky that I’ve been able to create some real standout businesses, but sometimes what stands out about them seems commonplace if you’re in the midst of it all.

Alison:                                      Yes. You can’t see your own value in a sense.

Rachel Bell:                           Or a method, Yes. And so when we would talk about things, it’s actually a wonderful mirror that Richard would hold up and go, “Well, that’s really interesting. That’s actually super interesting. That’s something that’s very unusual and something that we should be focusing on.” And you don’t always know that when you’re in the midst of things yourself. So I think, as an entrepreneur, I’d have found this very, very hard to have written on my own. I wouldn’t have been able to write this, but I’m only delighted ever to hear from Richard that I added value to the process because he always seems, to me, to be so eminently capable that I can’t ever really imagine it.

Alison:                                      You’re being far too nice about each other. I think I need to get you separately, and a bottle of wine, and just find out the real stuff here.

Richard Hall:                        I think Rachel’s line … I’m still sort of gobsmacked sitting here hating her for the line, which is this revolution is a revelation.

Alison:                                      I know. Why didn’t that go in the book. That’s so annoying.

Richard Hall:                        I know. She’s kept it back. She’s going to do it with somebody else.

Alison:                                      You’re going to have to do some tuning, you realise that? I always ask people what’s the best tip? So there’ll be first time … And it’s interesting because you have a mix here of a very experienced author and a first time author. So I’m going to ask you separately. I’m going to start with you, Rachel, as the first time author. What’s your best tip, now that you’re out the other side, for somebody who’s where you were about a year ago, but perhaps without the benefit of having Richard as a coauthor?

Rachel Bell:                           Well actually, Richard’s not going to like me for saying this, because I’m sure it’s going to be his best tip. So I’ll get in first, which will just show the sort of ruthless woman I am, but which is that Richard had a lot of heavy lifting to do, in terms of producing drafts, and drafts of copy. And what he tells me has been very helpful for him is I was very … I got so excited as the book was coming to a close, and we were homing in on the final product. It was just incredible to be sort of almost conceiving this product, which you think my God, this is now super, super exciting. It’s a really brilliant book, if I say so myself. I just think it is. It was so great to read, and I’m not an avid reader of books at all. I’m somewhat of a dyslexic and I’m not somebody that has ever deemed to read a business book. And that’s perhaps one of the things I love about it most is that it’s so bite size, and it’s so easy to absorb, which for me was very, very exciting.

                                                      But then what’s it allowed me to do is to then pick up and run with the marketing side of things. And I’m very lucky to have a fantastic business called Aduro, which is not just solely mine, it’s with a woman called Natalie Luke, who is managing director at Aduro, and she took on the role of publicist for the book and really gave us momentum at the launch, and sort of the wind in the wings to take the book on from when you sort of … from Richard sort of flagging pass the baton, having really got probably sick to the back teeth of that book by the time we’d finished it. I’m just full of excitement and like wow, this is just blooming brilliant, and now it’s my energy that can take this forward and really push it into the best selling lists. So I feel that’s been a real benefit for us both.

Alison:                                      That is fascinating because I think writing the book, everybody thinks that that’s writing book, that’s the job done. But actually it’s only the first part isn’t it? And the marketing is just as important. A big second part. So having somebody on board, or finding people who can help support you through both, Yes, really important. Thank you. Great tip, Rachel. Richard?

Richard Hall:                        Can I have two?

Alison:                                      Go on.

Richard Hall:                        Two tips. The first is that you’ve got to steep yourself in the subject. Talk, read, listen. That’s what all the interviews do. They give you the fabric which makes a book different from just being a how-to book. So first thing is doing that. And that was about a third of the time, was just talking, and talking, and listening, and listening. Well actually not talking, listening. And the second thing is having a detailed roadmap. I’m horrified by the number of people I talk to who write books in bits and pieces, and try and sort of patchwork work, quilt them together. I think you have to have an absolutely detailed roadmap with the chapters, sub-chapters, themes, examples, before you write a word. You actually have to look at it and say, “Is that going to work?”

                                                      There’s a quote, which you will know well, from Alice in Wonderland, which is if you don’t know where you want to go, it doesn’t matter what path you take. And I think the thing is about having that roadmap means you know sort of where you’re trying to get at the end of it. The reality is when you write a book things change a little bit, but that’s exciting. But if you don’t have that roadmap, I think you fall apart, and you write something halfhearted.

Alison:                                      Yes, I couldn’t agree more. Yes, and you’re right, you have to hold it quite lightly because things evolve, and things emerge, and you pivot indeed. There we go, we’re back on the startup metaphor. But if you haven’t got that sense of where you’re going, then you just write yourself into the ground, don’t you?

Richard Hall:                        Can I have a third one as well? Sorry, which is, this is a tribute to my wife, you have to recognise that for three months you’re going to be absolutely horrid whilst you’re at work.

Alison:                                      And everybody around you has to take this on board too, right?

Richard Hall:                        Absolutely. Whilst you’re writing the book, you’re not very nice. You’re very introverted, absolved, boring. I mean imagine coming down to breakfast and going, “Do you know that the number of startups that failed in Wales last year was rather higher than it was in Northern Ireland?” No, I don’t want to know that.

Alison:                                      Yes, there’s a reason why so many books have fulsome acknowledgements to the long-suffering partners.

Richard Hall:                        Without who it could not have been done….

Alison:                                      That’s right. In half the time, yes. And your favourite books? I always ask people for recommendation as well. Now Rachel, again, I’m really interested because you’re not a reader.

Rachel Bell:                           Right.

Alison:                                      Yes, which is why it was, I guess, really so valuable to have Richard, who is a sort of natural writer, and reader, and so on, but is there a book that you would recommend for people? Is there something that has stood out for you, and I’m particular interested in books that are accessible for people who don’t consider themselves readers, and particularly for dyslexics. I’ve had actually an amazing number of dyslexic authors on this show.

Rachel Bell:                           I have read one business book. Actually, I’ve started many business books, so that’s the full truth of it. I’ve started many business books and I’ve actually only ever managed to read two, in fact. One was called something monkey like The Chimp-

Richard Hall:                        Yes, The Chimp Paradox.

Alison:                                      Chimp Paradox. Steve Peters.

Rachel Bell:                           It wasn’t Chimp Paradox.

Alison:                                      This is like charades, except we’re doing it by audio. This is terrible.

Richard Hall:                        Something monkey.

Rachel Bell:                           Something like tiny monkey. It was fascinating. It was about business behaviour. I found it really interesting.

Alison:                                      Okay. And now I have to go and work out what that was and I’ll put it on the show notes.

Rachel Bell:                           I’ll have to find it for you. But the other one was a little book called Fish, which I’m sure you-

Alison:                                      Oh, I love that.

Rachel Bell:                           And yes, it’s almost akin to a child’s book, isn’t it? I absolutely loved it. My first business was built very much with an employee culture at the heart of it. And I’d already started the business, and it was already doing well, and the things I read in that book were alive and happening in my business. But I didn’t realise perhaps that they were a thing. And it really lifts me up in terms of just thinking how amazing one, that this is something that has to be written about as a book. Why is it we need a book like this? Why does this just not happen naturally? And sure enough, we know it doesn’t, but just that energy. How we all form friends. You know how we choose our friend groups, because there’s that quick repartee and energy, and that passing of information, and that speed and agility with which transactions can happen.

Alison:                                      And just the fun of it. The fun is the thing that pervades the whole thing, isn’t it? I love that

Rachel Bell:                           All of it. And the energy, and the momentum that’s created out of that. And it’s quite a simple book, but I loved it.

Alison:                                      Yes. Great recommendation. Thank you. Wonderful. And Richard, what about you?

Richard Hall:                        I sort of worry about the idea of business books, because I think any book which inspires you in business is, in a sense, a business book. I want to talk about one by Malcolm Gladwell who I think is one of the great … He and Michael Lewis are the two best nonfiction writers about issues which relate to business. And Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book which was a collation of essays that he’d written for the New Yorker, called What the Dog Saw.

Alison:                                      I haven’t heard of that.

Richard Hall:                        It’s absolutely fabulous. There are two chapters in there, two essays, in effect. One of them is called The Pitchman, which is about Ronco. It’s about a guy called Ron Popeil, who founded Ronco, and the selling of a rotisserie on television, where he sold $1 million worth of rotisserie in an hour, demonstrating it on television. And the way he writes that is anybody who’s ever wanted to sell or sold, you read that and the hair at the back of your neck goes up. And the second essay in there is the talent myth. There was a company in America that spent more money and more time recruiting the best MBA and graduate talent that was available. Hundreds of very, very bright people. And they worked very closely with McKinsey on this, who were very closely involved in the company, and that company was called Enron.

Alison:                                      Ouch.

Richard Hall:                        And the issue here for me, a learning is it isn’t how clever you are, it’s how smart you are, and how value driven you are, not how transactionally driven you are.

Alison:                                      They could indeed have learned a lot from the Pike Place Fish Market, couldn’t they?

Richard Hall:                        Yes, absolutely. So there you go. I mean, I just thought that was great. And the other one, by the way, because I always get another one in, Antifragile. Have you read this?

Alison:                                      Yes, I have. It’s wonderful. Yes.

Richard Hall:                        It’s such a great story.

Alison:                                      And I love the way it names the concept too. I mean Rachel, you were talking earlier about you didn’t know it was a thing. I think this is one of the great gifts of books like this is that they name things, and once you have circuitry in your brain for it you can understand it better, and you can use it. It’s really powerful.

Richard Hall:                        Do you know the story about Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Alison:                                      His own background is fascinating, isn’t it? Yes.

Richard Hall:                        Yes. He made lots of money trading, and then he’s the professor of engineering I think, or something, at New York University. Anyway, he’s incredibly, highly strung, very, very opinionated. And he was at a presentation one day of somebody doing a PowerPoint presentation. And halfway through, he could take it no more. So he rushed up onto the station, he knocked the guy out.

Alison:                                      No!

Richard Hall:                        Yes. He just, “I can’t bear any more of this rubbish.” Bang!

Alison:                                      Now that’s what you call robust criticism, isn’t it?

Richard Hall:                        I think that’s great.

Alison:                                      New respect for the man.

Richard Hall:                        And that’s why Rachel’s been so good to work with.

Alison:                                      Brilliant. And if people want to find out more about Start-Ups, Pivots and Pop-Ups, more about each of you, where should they go? Richard, do you want to start that one off?

Richard Hall:                        Yes, well you can find me on LinkedIn. You don’t want the LinkedIn link. I can give that to you separately if you want.

Alison:                                      I can put it up on the show notes at the Extraordinary Business Book Club.

Richard Hall:                        Okay. And I have a website, which is www.colourfulthinkers.com.

Alison:                                      Because you suffer from the same affliction that I do, which is a relatively common name, isn’t it? So it’s really annoying when there’s all these people with just their name, and you can find them everywhere.

Richard Hall:                        Well one of the reasons we wrote this book together is it’s sort of a Rachel Bell and Richard Hall. If you think about them, they’re disyllabic and monosyllabic names. They’re interchangeable.

Alison:                                      There’s a lovely poetry in there. And Rachel, what about you?

Rachel Bell:                           Well, you can find me on LinkedIn under Rachel Bell, and I’m actually very shortly about to put a website out there for the speaker opportunities, and talking about entrepreneurship, and just as a focal point for all that I’m doing around entrepreneurship.

Alison:                                      Absolutely, because now you have a book, that makes all kinds of sense, right?

Rachel Bell:                           Yes. That’ll be rachel-bell.co.uk.

Alison:                                      Fantastic. I should put that up there as well. Wonderful. It was such a pleasure to talk to you both. Thank you so much for your time today.

Rachel Bell:                           Thank you.

Richard Hall:                        Lovely talking to you, Alison. Thank you.


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