I recently listened to the interview with Ben Francis, founder and CEO of Gymshark, on “The High- Performance Podcast” hosted by Jake Humphrey and Professor Damian Hughes (https://www.thehighperformancepodcast.com/episodes/benfrancis). A truly insightful conversation brought about by the unabashed transparency of the CEO of this £Billion company. I find most of the interviews with successful people on The High-Performance Podcast” interesting, but this is a stand-out, an absolute “must-listen” for any aspiring 21st -century leader.
Ben’s thoughts, reflections and stories resonated with much of what I believe are the essential drivers of successful entrepreneurs in the modern era. I would highlight the following points that stood out for me:-
Ben is clearly a passionate entrepreneur with a powerful desire for self-development and natural humility. However, what stands out is his exceptionally high level of self-awareness, particularly in someone so young (28yrs). He describes the tipping point for his self-awareness, a moment that he refers to as his “ego death”. He went through a 360-feedback exercise and discovered a significant gap between the self-perception of his leadership behaviours and the perception of his peers. Ben admits his first reaction was to dismiss the feedback as wrong, but he quickly let go of his ego and accepted his peers’ sincere and valuable insight. Unfortunately, many senior executives struggle to achieve this level of personal honesty and thus fail to gain the self-awareness required to develop their leadership potential fully.
No longer burdened by the need to project an infallible image, Ben was free to move forward. He describes how taking ownership of his faults gave him absolute clarity on his goals for self-improvement. Once he had taken responsibility for what he describes as his “re-invention”, it was a natural progression to plan his self-improvement. He proactively sought out opportunities to work with experts to improve his skills and behaviours.
When asked about his motivation, he talks about putting pressure on himself, citing his mentor’s mantra “pressure is a privilege”. His dream goal of building a major British brand and positively society fuel his passion and shape his vision. He clearly loves what he does and draws excellent support, guidance and energy from the powerfully transparent connections he has with his team.
As the founder of a unicorn company (a privately held company worth over $1billion), Ben has had the opportunity to rub shoulders with several billionaire entrepreneurs and CEOs. His most prominent takeout from these conversations is hugely relevant to all budding business executives; they all suffer from insecurities just like the rest of us. It’s how they recognise, own and address their weaknesses that make the high performers stand out.
Rounding up the conversation, the show hosts ask Ben firstly for his three “non-negotiables” when he’s recruiting:
- have an open mind
- be capable of self-development
- be humble
then they ask him for three pieces of advice he would give to other entrepreneurs:
- Trust your gut (intuition)
- Understand yourself (self-awareness) and understand what you want (your vision)
- Learn from everyone you meet (self-development)
Sound advice indeed.
If you would like some help expanding your self-awareness, defining your goals and supporting you on your self-development journey, please get in touch.