Have you ever had one of those ideas that you know could be game changing and add value to people, but you are scared of putting yourself out there? That’s where I was when I came up with Humans of Business. I’d spent years being around some of the most successful, incredible, brave entrepreneurs in the world, and what shocked me the most was how down to earth, human and kind they were.
That wasn’t the image I had in my head, and I wanted to change that for people. From this Humans of Business was born. I had the idea to do an interview series that wasn’t focusing on their business but on them as a person, I wanted to shine a light on the humans behind these businesses. They are in fact just like you or I and the view of the superhuman, emotionless, business-person is far from the truth. The issue I had personally, at the time of this series, was being caught up in the unrealistic expectation of perfection. The irony. I knew lots of young business-people had the same feelings, expecting themselves to be able to shut out their humanity when they arrived at work. This series aimed to change that.
After an awe-inspiring conversation with the legend that is Jen @ Octopus group, we had a sponsor and we were ready to get Humans of Business started. I can honestly say those few days on set were up there with some of the best of my life. Being given a free pass into the lives of eight incredible people was remarkable. They gave me a set of binoculars right into the centre of their worlds, their families and their most vulnerable moments. I know that I and lots of our listeners/readers will be eternally grateful.
Here are my five key takeaways.
1. If it has the potential to change even one life – do it.
My first takeaway actually comes from getting over my own vulnerability, I knew this series would add value, but a part of me nearly didn’t go with it for fear of putting myself out there. I’m so glad I did, and now over 40,000 people have interacted with the series. That’s 40,000 that may have gained one life changing nugget of insight. So, just think, could your idea impact even one person, if the answer is yes, do it.
2. Financial success is nothing if it’s all you have.
Even though some of these entrepreneurs have millions and have achieved what many would define as “success.” When asked their biggest successes, their happiest and proudest moments were all with family, a memory with loved ones or a personal achievement. We’ve all heard that the biggest regret on deathbeds is not spending time with loved ones, and it was clear to see the most successful entrepreneurs valued that time and those moments more highly than any financial success.
3. We all have vulnerabilities and insecurities, whether it is fitting in, or anxiety, or imposter syndrome. Whatever it may be, they exist in everyone and it does not need to stop you from doing anything. Dropping our metaphorical armour/shield as Simon Rogerson so beautifully put it, removes a whole lot of weight, and allows us to connect and be more vulnerable. You can relate to people and make a difference by having an understanding of human vulnerability and you will be a better business leader.
4. Caring about people is non-negotiable. Your relationships with people are what matter most. There has been a notion that you must step on people to build a successful business and thank goodness this is fading. Business isn’t harsh and ruthless; it is compassionate and caring. We saw this through our conversations with entrepreneurs that have some of the biggest hearts I have ever seen.
Nearly every single person interviewed said the thing that made them happiest was spending time with their family. We also heard stories about colleagues and employees who really made a difference, such as the man who recorded himself reading the brochure to give to a blind customer. Each interviewee also mentioned the support from people around them as being crucial to their success. All of this boils down to humanity. Family, friends & colleagues are the people who will bring happiness to your life. Happiness is a pretty good measure of success in my opinion. What do friends, colleagues and family all have in common? They are all humans. Humans are at the centre of our worlds, and therefore they are at the centre of business.
5. It’s the hard times that make us and these hard times can happen at different stages of life for everyone. Our early experiences can shape who we are but it is up to us as adults, how. Everyone of our guests mentioned something about their childhood but they also discussed how they reshaped a lot of things that felt like weaknesses into strengths moving forwards, allowing the past to be something to be learnt from, not defined by.
Equally, meaningful events that happen when we are older change our outlook on life and many of the people I spoke to mentioned these difficult things explaining that changed how they behave and look at the world. From Gina’s experience with domestic violence, to Susie’s battle with identity to Lucy suffering with anxiety. We will be shaped the most by the difficult things that happen to us, so as much as it might be hard, riding the wave is what we need to do, and we will learn to become pretty good surfers of life and business, along the way.
It was such an honour to talk to these people, to get an insight into their family, friends and their struggles, so my one final take away is exactly what I set out to achieve: Entrepreneurs, who on the outside may look super successful, rich, impactful and maybe even emotionless, are in fact just like you or I. They value love, family and learn from experiences. However, what makes them unique is their attitude, their drive and their passion to go out there and create; to build and to inspire others.
I was left not only inspired but humbled and felt safe in the knowledge that the business world is changing and being led by humans who I can only aspire to be like. Each day, month and year, more bold yet vulnerable entrepreneurs are creating things to better our lives.
Let’s keep having open conversations about the human side of business. The world is changing and humanity unites us all, whether that be professional or personal. Embrace your humanity, all the good and bad parts of it. Entrepreneurs and business people are not super human at all, because they are in fact – human.
Charlotte Pearce & The Inkpact Team
P.S Kindness is contagious, pass it forward and if you have any stories to share with us please do, we would love to hear from you.