Welcome to episode #137 of Explode Your Expert Biz Show, brought to you by http://gtex.org.uk/,
I am your host, Simone Vincenzi, The Experts Strategist, and this is the podcast for experts who want to become the ultimate authority in their niche while making an impact in the world.
Today I have the pleasure to Interview our GTeX Lifetime Member Simon Jacobs
Simon Jacobs is The Professional Weirdo
Simon started his first company at 16, his second whilst he was at university, his third a few years later helping other start-ups with their marketing challenges and now he’s building his forth which aims to help individuals and companies think differently, be more creative and take chances.
He believes that being weird and just embracing it has been the key to his success, he wants to enable everyone so that they can unleash their Inner Weirdos too.
His new business is called Professional Weirdos, stay tuned.
Things are about to get real weird.
In this episode we talk about
- How to disrupt your industry
- What companies can do to stay ahead
- How to stand out with your marketing material
Connect with Simon Jacobs
To Become a GTeX Member, apply here
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– Hello, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to another episode of Explode, your expert biz show. Today I’m here with the one and only Simon Jacobs. How you doing Simon?
– Very well, thank you, very good, pleased to be on this, nice and bright, early in the morning.
– Nice and bright, early in the morning. I’m really excited about this interview because it’s going to be all about disruption, and I think that’s something that, from the brief conversation that we had before the show, something that not a lot of people really think about, and I think it’s gonna be a great interview for everyone who wants to stand out, and
– want to be the next big thing, instead of being left behind, so make sure that you stay until the end. But before we get into that, Simon, what’s your story? How did you get into disruption?
– So my background, I suppose really, I’ve always been a disrupter, sort of just thought differently. Even when I was in sixth form, for example, where I was at school. I wanted to create sort of a magazine. I’d been looking for a first car and couldn’t find any proper information online, whether it be looking at Top Gear, you should buy a Lamborghini or the really boring stuff. The people who were writing it were 40 plus and didn’t really understand the youth market, so I decided that when I had my, went through the rigamarole to get my first car, I would start a magazine, an online blog, I suppose. And that quickly spiralled and snowballed into a bigger thing for our school. It turned into be a gossip magazine for the school and basically got my name out into the school and actually the week before I left sixth form to go to university, the head master called me and he said, “Son, you gotta shut it down. “There are some less than savoury pieces “of information about the teachers on there.” But I kind of loved that, and so when I went to university, I wanted to sort of carry that on. And when I got there, the magazine that was running at the university shut down, so I thought, okay, well, I’ve got a tiny bit of experience, I’mso don’t really have anything to lose, so I went round the local shops in Nottingham and started selling advertising space for this magazine that I was gonna produce, quickly got enough together to be able to print this magazine, pulled together about 50 students to write it, design it, et cetera, and then put it out. It was a bit controversial. There were some scantily clad students, it was called You Need To Know, and then a week later, when we handed out all the 10,000 copies, I got called into the marketing department of the university again and got told off because I wasn’t allowed to use their name, wasn’t allowed to do this or allowed to do that, and while I was being shouted at, it sort of dawned on me that actually, no. I was in the right. I was being entrepreneurial. I was at a business university, so I told them, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. “You should be encouraging me, not slapping me down.”
– What did they say then?
– Oh, they said a bunch of things like, “You can’t print it, you can’t use our name, “you can’t hand it round on campus without permission.” I just said, “You should be telling me things “that I should be doing and acknowledging the fact “that I’ve been entrepreneurial and got off my ass.” Unlike the rest of the students, who either, yeah, I was going out as well, but the rest of the students went out, had hangovers and then went to lectures, or maybe they didn’t go to lectures. Compared to other people at the university I was being positive and moving and doing stuff. And they just didn’t have that mindset. They were already in a business university, regardless of what you were in, they were in the corporate pigeonhole zone, and that was what triggered my thinking, following on from that. But, the business, I carried on with my course, the business grew, I got an investor and a business partner, and it grew into a fully fledged student service company. I was the chief marketing officer, essentially. We set up the brand, we set up the website, and to get ourselves out there, we did some interesting stunts, some interesting things that caught attention.
– Like what?
– So we bought a classic car, we painted it purple, we drove it round campus and made sure the engine was nice and loud. We got a mascot, we worked on that. We put up some rent signs. We were estate agents so we had some rent signs made, and we put them around famous buildings around Nottingham.
– So those are sort of the ideas, and they just sort of formed in my head.
– I love it, sorry.
– It’s alright.
– So during that period of time, that was when I started to realise I thought differently to other people, especially when I compare myself to people in my course who, best friends I’ve got now on my course, but they would go out, they would get drunk, they would go to lectures, and then they would do their exams. And all of their mindset was, I wanna get a good job, I wanna do this, I wanna do that, it was always sort of the nine to five mindset. And so then when I finished uni, the business took a few turns, and basically I decided to step back from it after about three and half years working on it, let my other two business partners run the day to day, and then I started doing some marketing consultancy. I was doing some startup, medium size firms, based on the knowledge that I’d grown from my own business, basically, helping them avoid the pitfalls that I’d fallen in, and achieved success basically. And then, whilst I was doing some talks on youth marketing, there was someone in the audience of one of my talks who was working with Camelot. And so they were looking for young people to come into the business and help them attack that youth market essentially. Get young people playing the lottery, playin’ their games, et cetera. Quite an exciting idea, never worked with a big corp before, really, so I packed up all my stuff and moved to London and was doing youth marketing with them on various courses and things, and then over the space of about six months, I grew through the business and became brand manager for the scratch card category, which is like a three billion pound industry. And so I’d been looking after TV campaigns, advertising campaigns, the whole marketing department, essentially. And first of all, that was really incredible to be given the opportunity as a 25 year old, amongst other 20 year olds, that I’d basically risen above them, and then I was going to board meetings, but the reality of the job wasn’t what I was told it was going to be. It was a lot more accountancy, it was a lot more corporate stuff. It really just isn’t my bag. And I wasn’t that keen on the culture. That’s not to say that the culture isn’t good, it’s just not my style. And I was fortunate in the sense that at the same time as I was thinking that I didn’t like this job, one of my business partners offered to buy out my shares of my company. And so, at the same time, I sold my shares and handed in my notice for Camelot. And I had a month’s guiding leave, which was cool, and so that month gave me the chance to just do nothing, which is what I needed, cause I hadn’t had a gap year, not that you need a gap year, but I hadn’t given myself any time to think about what I wanted to do. And so then, when I did have some time just to think about what I wanted to do next, I spoke to a few friends, one of which said, “Simon, you’re a bit weird.” And so that created a sort of a lightbulb moment, and they said, “You’re weirdness is probably “the reason you’ve had success to date, “and if you can bottle that in some way, “you can teach people how to do it, “I think you’d be on to something.” So that’s two points. One, definitely she was right. That there is a value in being weird, a value in being different, and two, it’s not necessarily about making this business the next big success, the biggest thing. Actually for me, it’s about, I want people to be more open-minded, challenged, and think differently, because, the moon, being in this world where I’m one of the people who thinks differently, it’s difficult to have these conversations with people, so I wanna be able to open people’s minds and have the same sort of conversations that I’d like.
– Let’s start opening some minds, and let’s start talking about disruption. Now, you’ve mentioned that companies are making a big mistake, during our chat before the interview. What is the mistake that you see them making?
– So it’s that they are currently looking how to be more efficient. How to produce the better version of their current products. So for example, the refrigerator industry, I can’t think of a company right now, Samsung or Whirlpool, for example. They’re all thinking about how can we make more space in our refrigerators for our consumers? How can we make them more efficient, energy efficient? How can we make them look cooler in the kitchen? Whatever it might be, when in reality, the next industry, the next reality of the next 20, 30 years is going to be home delivered food. So I mean, people like Amazon, Just Eat, Delivery Etc., they’re the next industry where people probably won’t be holding stock of food in their fridges, as in when they want a meal, they’ll order it, it’ll be delivered in the next 20 minutes. It’ll be home cooked, it’ll be fresh and it’ll be quick. And it’ll reduce the space that you need in your house. And as space across the world is becoming more and more limited, people are gonna be wanting less and less clutter in the house, and therefore if you were thinking differently and more outside the box, able to step outside of that corporate world, just for a second, you’d realise that the money that you’re putting into this research, this development, is probably better spent, or at least in some regard on the next industry.
– What can a company do, we’re talking about a large company, we’re talking also about the small companies, to be ahead. Because it’s not easy. Just think if I have to think about Gtex, and say no, you got famous doing what you do right now, stop doing it, and start doing something different. I would be like, “Well that’s what got me good so far “and that’s what’s working, so I don’t wanna change.” So what are some things that small or large businesses can do to be ahead and to be different, instead of holding the chair tight and not wanting to move?
– That’s a really good question. The first step, for me, is having an open mindset, and that’s a very difficult thing to get. It takes time. It takes patience. One of my first steps I tell people, there’s actually, there’s a book that I read that, as cliche as it sounds, changed my life. It’s called Yes Man, by Danny Wallace. It’s not meant to be a self-help motivational book, but if you take in what he’s talking about, which is really saying yes to things, your mind starts to open when you realise, when you realise how often you say no. So for business owners, CEOs, whatever level they are, if they take a step back and just look at the times that they say no, or just don’t accept what people are saying, don’t necessarily have to bring it on board, but just listen, you’ll realise how much more information you get. And then, you’ll have the ability to look forward and see what opportunities, what potential, what is the future. And then, it’s very possible that the next thing will excite you. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to completely jump ship. And so in your instance, you’ve been successful in what you’ve done. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to jump onto the next thing, whether that another 3-D model thing, for example. It just means that perhaps, you would consider investing in a 3-D printer, which is a lower form of investment, but it means that you can start working on it, start looking into it. When the next thing comes, you at least know what it’ll be, what it’s about, you have the first version to read.
– That’s a very good point. I’ve actually done something similar recently. It’s something simple. I heard, right now the future of marketing for many companies is going to be voice technology, where you will talk into Alexa, or Google Home or whatever else will come out. In fact, I said Alexa and Alexa is talking to me right now from the other room. She’s always listening, that woman, Jesus. And I knew that, so I decided to buy literally the cheapest of the Alexa, and got myself, got one of my podcasts, I created literally a three-minute podcast that will go on Alexa, just to test how that was going to be and to get myself used to becoming a consumer and see how can I serve that market which is definitely rapidly growing and that’s gonna be the future. I think that it doesn’t have to be a huge thing that you have to do, but it can be some small things. Just say, what else can I do, I have maybe ten percent of my time, or a couple of hours that I can play with this new project. Maybe it’s gonna work, maybe it’s not gonna work.
– Absolutely, and that attitude in itself is somethin’ that I would say to corporates. There’s such a element of fear in the corporate world, that you can’t do anything wrong, we can’t lose any money. So either you need to break away from that completely and you need to change the culture, or perhaps bring in startups or younger people, and it doesn’t have to be necessarily the young people, people who are willing to challenge. And have a separate entity that is associated with a business, have an incubator, whatever, or a company that is willing to test things. And then, either they discover something that’s gonna be amazing and the next thing, or they don’t. And if they do create something successful, that’s great. You own shares in it, or you own it or whatever, you can jump ship, or it’s a loss and you have no association with that business. And that’s how you extrapolate to the bigger world I would say.
– I don’t think there are a lot of corporates that are already adopting this model. Find that they are buying smaller startups just to test that at the end of the day, they got capital, and most of the time it’s not even their own capital. And they’ve got nothing to lose, but they keep things moving. Otherwise they end up being like a Blockbuster. They end up being like Map Link they end up being like House of Fraser, right now you see all these giant companies that are literally falling down like petals and whoa.
– Yep, exactly. House of Fraser or any of the big clothing chains, for example, that have fallen, that’s because they’ve not fought back the next industry. They’ve been followers. They were leaders, and then they became followers, and then when they became followers, they didn’t follow properly. They just said, “Oh, we better do a copy version.” Forgetting that their brand is, were known as the leaders. And if they’d been a bit more innovative, they would have created something completely different to their new competitors and that would have set them apart. House of Fraser, they could have been the people, they had all the money in the world, to invest in drone technology, for example, which could have wiped out the delivery industry. It’s just being open-minded to these possibilities and not being fearful of things failing, because now we’re in a day and age where people sort of accept that everything’s sort of an experiment, it’s an iteration, it’s a beta version, and so long as you’re personable with people and apologise when things go wrong, people are accepting of it.
– And that also applies to a lot of our listeners. They are solopreneurs, they are experts, they are coaches, trainers, speakers, consultants. And that applies also in that industry too. It’s about not be afraid to test something new. If you have an idea, unless it’s breaking the law or you’re doing something illegal, then go for it. What’s the worst that can happen? Of course put in some thoughts, but you can always test something new and then see how it works, because otherwise, you see people doing the same exact things, same exact things, same exact things, and I’m guilty of that. There are some things that I’m testing that I’m doing new, and there are other things that I’m, I know they work and I just do them because they work, but with the awareness, I think that’s what’s important from what I got from our interview, is that having the awareness that it might work now, but it might fade in the future or it will not work in the future, so how are you going to prepare yourself to make sure that you’re still in business.
– Absolutely. Now we’re wrapping up the interview, two more questions. You are one of our lifetime members, which I’m really happy with. A quick thought on why did you join the lifetime membership?
– Sure, so over the three days of the extended weekend, I’ve been gestating about this weirdness stuff. I’ve got a Facebook group, but it didn’t have a real form in terms of the business sense, and so just on the three days alone was sort of a practical, sit me down, shut up time and do this, get this done, and by the end of the three days, I had something that was at the very least the bare bones of the business which set me up to carry on going, which was great, and I needed that, essentially. And I got so much from the three days, both from all the people in the room, but also from yourself and from Ben, et cetera, and so the idea of the concept of the continued support was immensely exciting, and having a group of people I can go back to as and when, but also to give me a kick up the ass when I need it. So that’s essentially why I joined the lifetime membership, and obviously there’s the list of all the features, and I probably try to remember a fifth of them, there are so many. The benefits are endless, but for me more than anything, it’s all the support and also the kick up the ass, which is what I need, a regular check in to see how I’m doing.
– Fantastic, thank you very much for sharing. And now, if some people that are listening, they say “Well, I need some of Simon genius “and some weirdness into my business, “because that definitely can help me stand out.” What’s the best way to reach out to you?
– So the best way to reach out to me would probably be through Linked In. So I’m Simon Jacobs on there, Lord Simon Jacobs, actually. And you’ll see my profile picture
– Of course, of course.
– Of course, you know you’ve gotta do it properly. You’ve gotta do it properly. And you’ll see my profile picture is my tongue, like that. So you don’t see my face. Or you can join the Facebook group, and if you wanted to get involved in the conversation, it’s about being weird, that’s called Professional Weirdos, just type that in and I’ll accept you. And those are the two best ways.
– And the links are going to be in the show notes, so scroll down and click with that thumb those links and make sure that you connect with Simon Jacobs, because there are very few people that I’ve seen with such creative ideas that literally can set you apart from everyone else, because no one else is doing those stuff, and so from the conversation that we had today, and the conversation that we had in the past, the conversation that I heard from you that you had with Jeff as well, I was like, “Man, this man is a genius.” I think we are going to hire you at some point for Gtex, for one of our marketing campaigns. Wait for that call. Simon, it’s been a pleasure being on a call with you, I wish you a fantastic day and I’ll talk to you soon.
– Thank you very much, Simone, have a good week.
– You’re welcome, and ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for listening to the show. If you haven’t subscribed yet, what the heck are you waiting for? Subscribe right now, so that you don’t miss any of these golden nuggets. And also it would mean the world to me if you can leave us a five star review on iTunes or other podcasting platform and let us know, what did you enjoy the most about this episode? What did you enjoy the most about this show? Particularly if you’ve been a loyal listener, cause I know that many of you are. Thank you for listening, and I’ll see you next time. And remember that together we grow, exponentially. Ciao.