4 August 2019

Lawrence Jones MBE and Dame Stephanie Shirley

With the remarkable sDame Stephanie Shirley, Steve, after recording the podcast a few months ago. I recommend her book Let It Go for an eye-opening, inspirational read.

For the past few weeks, I’ve written my Sunday post looking back on the past two years, podcasting with some of the world’s most inspirational people.

One of the greatest lessons that I have ever learned in my personal and professional life is the value of knowing why you do what you do. By that I don’t mean the result, the million pounds or the luxury lifestyle, that’s not enough; I mean the ultimate reason. The motivator that gets you out of bed, the pleasure/pain reason of the consequences if you didn’t do what you do.

That could be your family, or it could be to make a greater difference in the world. Two of my podcasts guests stand out in my mind because they perfectly exemplify doing something for a greater purpose.

The first is one of the most remarkable people I have ever met.

Leading the way

Dame Stephanie Shirley, known as Steve, founded software company, Freelance Programmers, in 1962. Sexism throughout her career in STEM led to her to create the firm to enable women to work in tech, with flexible hours, from home. This meant that women with dependents were able to build careers when jobs for women were scarce, and certainly not always careers. The company went on to be instrumental in coding the black box recorders for Concorde, as well as projects for the MoD

Richard Walker and Lawrence Jones MBE chat for the Mind Your Own Business podcast talking about why Iceland is so focussed on having a positive impact on the environment.

Richard recording the podcast. His approach to business is inspirational to say the least.

and NATO.

When she floated the company in 1993, she created 70 millionaires among her team, and became the 11th wealthiest woman in Britain. She knew why she was creating this business, and that became her driver.

This is just one facet of her absolutely fascinating life, which you can hear all about in her episode.

A force for good

Along that vein, it is incredible to realise how one person can make a huge difference to the environment when they build momentum with the people around them. More than 70 million people viewed Iceland’s Christmas ad, which reshaped a Greenpeace video to show the consequences of the palm-oil industry. The man behind the supermarket’s environmental focus is its MD, Richard Walker.

When we caught up for an episode of the podcast, Richard shared everything from filling the enormous shoes of his father when stepping into the business, to why it is important to disrupt the status quo.

For me, what stood out the most from this chat was not just his focus on growing the business to make money and have commercial success, but his focus on making a positive difference on the world. One point which we are both passionate about is tax, and paying your fair share.

He said: “I talk a lot about business as a force for good and doing good along the way, so yeah, we are growing the top line but we’ve paid £1.4 billion in tax over the last 13 years and that builds schools and hospitals. And we have a charitable foundation which does a lot of good and has given tens of millions to charity.

“This is where for too long there has been negative sentiment about business and there have been too many business crises that only give business a bad name, but actually business should be the opposite, it should be a force for good for society, for environmental causes, whatever it is where you think you can make a difference.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Doing more

Aaron Saxton UKFast director of training with one of UKFast's apprentices volunteering to support The Seashell Trust.

Aaron Saxton UKFast director of training with one of UKFast’s apprentices volunteering to support The Seashell Trust as part of our 5,000 Hours volunteering commitment.

Listen to Richard’s episode on your podcast platform, in it we talk about everything from the nitty-gritty of business to F1 cars made out of trees!

Both Steve and Richard have experienced phenomenal success, and are in positions that many people can only dream of. Whilst on paper they are two very different people, there is one clear commonality: they have a greater reason why.

When you set a goal, a huge life-changing goal, the level of commitment it takes to achieve it is outrageous. Making money isn’t enough. Rather than monetary rewards, all of the great motivational speakers talk about purpose. The ultimate reason why you do what you do. It’s the fire in your belly; the reason you get out of bed on those cold, rainy mornings. When you tap into this, you are unstoppable.

 

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