As someone who doesn’t regularly write blogs (and isn’t particularly great at writing blogs), I knew I needed a little inspiration to get me going. So, I had a flick back through my recent podcast history in a quest to get some juices flowing and to clear a path from my writers block.
That’s when I revisited ‘The Diary of a CEO’ a show hosted by Steven Bartlett, a British entrepreneur in the media space. This series was completely new to me at the time but a particular episode came highly recommended and featured Jimmy Carr (And who doesn’t love Jimmy Carr… right?), so I got stuck in.
It was pretty clear after just a few minutes that this podcast exposed a very different Jimmy to the one we know from TV. He was a very serious, deeply philosophical Jimmy who digs deep into topics that were personal to him such as fatherhood, loss of faith and happiness.
One particular aspect really stuck with me. Finding your edge. Find out what you have a natural ability for. What you do absolutely best, and lean into that.
“School teaches us the wrong lesson. School teaches us a lesson about mediocracy and all-rounders. Yet we live in a world that does not reward all rounders.
Who gives a f*** about all rounders?
If you get a D in Physics, and you get an A in English… I say, just go to English lessons. But teachers want to focus on getting you up to a C in Physics.
I tell you what the world doesn’t need — it’s someone who is shit at Physics”
With business, it’s pretty obvious to most that you need to carve out and market your niche.
At Aphex, our team are entirely focused on one aspect of construction, short term planning. To outsiders, this may seem a tiny cog in a monster machine. And yes, the machine is a monster… but this cog is one which is not fully understood by big tech. They have tried and failed to successfully incorporate this core process of construction into their enterprise offering; most of which promise ‘complete’ end-to-end solutions but fail to live up to expectations.
Why? They don’t really understand construction projects; its nuances, its complexity. It’s a web of deeply embedded problems that you can only really comprehend once you’ve been there and experienced it. I joined this industry an enthusiastic go-getter brimming with optimism, sporting a lush head of hair. I left, well… check out my profile pic.
Okay… sales pitch over. Let’s think about this on a personal level.
As a founder of Aphex, I had to jump into this environment with little experience of running a business but a lot of knowledge from the industry. Imposter Syndrome was and is a real thing. I was surrounded by brilliant people from Tech, Design, Marketing… it was all new, it was all outside of my comfort zone, and unknowns are scary.
But this is normal. This is a challenging environment that pushes us to do more and forces us to grow quickly.
We ALL stress about being good at everything. We are naturally competitive. We want to feel adequate and knowledgeable. We want to actively partake in every conversation without feeling lost.
But that’s rubbish, right? We can’t know it all. Nor should we want to. And as Aristotle once said, “the more you know, the more you realise you don’t know”.
So… if you’re to take anything from this blog, it’s to think about what you really want to do. Have the confidence to go out and find that thing that you want to throw the kitchen sink at. We spend an inordinate amount of time at work, far too much time to waste at something uninspiring.
So GO. Punch above your weight. Be the best at what you do. Find your edge and make it your own.