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The Entrepreneur - Laurence Grant
Laurence Grant: It could be seen as a funny story. It could be seen as a traumatic story. I try and see it as a funny story. I used to have to get into the boot of the car every day to go to school. Because there was no space, and if we went on family holidays, I'd be in the boot on the motorway, with the cat. So pretty funny, character building for sure.
Chris O'Hare: I'm Chris, O'Hare your quick-win CEO. And in this show we talk to entrepreneurs and industry experts on different ways to improve your business along with their three quick win recommendations. And this week we talk to investment entrepreneur Laurence Grant. But in this particular episode, we get to look into Laurence's background and see what makes him tick before talking about how to get investment for your startup in the next episode.
But before we get going, just a quick marketing message, if you need an app, but only want to pay an affordable monthly fee, you should definitely check out our new product App 100. Which is limited to the first 100 businesses. Just go to www.App100.club.
Let's go. Laurence, tell me the last thing that you read or watched, or did, that left an impression on you and it could be anything, it could be a Netflix series, a book that you read, or even a funny video.
Laurence Grant: Well obviously, our chat before this, really leaving an impression on me. So, that was good, always good to catch up Chris, and all seriousness, yesterday something popped up, when things pop up a few times and it's maybe not the first, third, fifth time, but, eventually you're like, I've got to watch this.
So I've watched the Steven Bartlett interview with Mo Gawdat yesterday, ‘everything about happiness is wrong’, basically. And the guy's got an amazingly incredible story, and background. He is the ex head of Google X for business. He opened more than half of Google's offices across the world. Just an absolute genius, super, super engineer, and thinker, that went through a massive trauma, lost his son at the age of 21, his son passed away. And his son for him was like this kind of Zen Buddhist entity, right? Just very, very knowledgeable, very wise, always consulted with his dad on very important issues and gave him a very heartfelt answer that seemed to make sense with the universe and he just talks about happiness and, and they made an equation together before his son passed away on, on how to achieve happiness and things like.
But it's really eye-opening. I like when people step beyond, there's a lot of content out there, about how to succeed, in five minutes or how to do this and do that and get things quick. And I think there's quite a lot of toxicity in that. And there's also, Instagram, for example, is not a great place to be, and if you're anyway, self-conscious. But, it talks a lot about happiness and how to minimize expectations and, how to perceive things in a different way. So it's not a very popular opinion, but, happiness is a choice. A lot of people shy away from that because, especially, if life is good for people like you and I, right, we've got very little to complain about easily, top 10, probably top 5% of the world, just by a lot of luck, but happiness is a choice and it's not that life happens to me. It's that my perception of life happens to the world. Right? You can choose how to perceive the good and the bad and things and to manage your expectations so that, expect less, be happy more, basically, I've explained it in a terrible way compared to Mo and Stephen, so I would definitely recommend going and watching that. But yeah, really, really strong start to my weekend. I watched that yesterday.
Chris O'Hare: It's funny, because a lot of, this podcast’s guests quote, Steven Bartlett, so I think that says a lot about the company you keep in terms of, the way you feel about life.
So Steven Bartlett, for some reason, just resonates with me and obviously my guests and my company that I keep. So you're the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. Great quote, and in terms of, the people around me that also follows that, it just shows that there's a growth mindset there, always moving forward, always trying to be better at everything. And that's what Steven Bartlett does, but he does it in such a humble and, almost, I mean, the clues in his name of his podcast, right? The secret diary of a CEO. So he tries to dig into the dark side of being an entrepreneur and the emotional side.
But in terms of happiness, I mean, what is happiness for you?
Laurence Grant: Well, I mean, probably informed by other people that are smarter than me, and kind of borrowing from this equation yesterday. Happiness actually is your perception of reality versus your expectation. And if your expectation is lower than your perception, then you will be happy. Right? And the, one of the examples that Mo uses is rain, right? Rain itself is not something that inherently makes people happy or sad, if you have a garden that needs to be watered and it rains. You all happy about that, right? Because your expectation is all, I really want my plants to be healthy and happy, so they need some rain and then the perception is that, it rained, things have gone my way.
You're happy, if you want to go out and sunbath, rains not going to make me very happy. So it all starts with your expectation of life or the perception of your experience. And if you can minimize your expectations. Then that's a really good way to start with happiness. In terms of- this was also on the podcast, but it's something I've always thought for a very long time, which is gratitude is the most, sustainable version of happiness. In fact, gratitude in terms of the expectation, reality, paradox, or dynamic, always searches for something that is better than your expectation of the situation. If you meet someone for the first time and they say, thank you and smile, you can really dig deep and get a lot of value out of that, because you're grateful for that interaction, some people just very distracted, do more busy people do, checking an email to check to buy the things and, and noises from the phone or, busy trying to get something done. We often think about the future in the past quite a lot. And I think happiness and gratitude is a very present thing. Again, borrowing from knowledge of other people. You look at emotions that are associated with the past and the future, anxiety is a future thing, worry or regret is a past thing. But a lot of things in the present, emotions in the present is where you find a lot of the positive emotion likr peace and gratitude and calm and those types of things.
So it's very interesting to think about that type of thing as being present, we've had, a massive deluge of, Eastern wisdom over the last kind of 10 years, I think, in Western society. And there's a lot to learn from that. So I think that's, my version of happiness is mainly gratitude and keeping your expectations low as low as possible.
Chris O'Hare: So do you, does that translate into a vision? Is there a goal in mind? Is there something tangible that you can say, that's your happiness point? I know, I know. It's very subjective. And I know it's all about your perspective and the kind of the, the moment in time that you are currently living and how different factors can influence happiness scale, depending, if you're having a really crap time, then, happiness could be that, that crap time ends and it's more status quo. Whereas some other people like that, they have this ultra ambitious, mindset, which is kind of what I'm going to dig into next. So I just kind of want to know. If there’s a goalpost there and what the goalposts looks like.
Laurence Grant: Yeah. So again, I did learn a lot from this, podcast yesterday, so that's why I borrowed so much fresh in my mind, but, I think a lot of, a lot of people, especially with growing, we kind of grow up to thinking that, social mobility upwards is, is a positive thing.
And it can be, but only to a certain extent, right, the free Huel t-shirt that I have in my cupboard is good quality as we both kind of agree. Right. And it is free, I didn't pay a million pounds for it. I didn't pay a grand for it. It's not Armani. It's not anything like. But it makes, it makes me happy.
Like, I put it on it makes me feel comfortable, little things, little wins like that. Right. of course on an ambition front, I want to succeed. I want to do really, really well. but ambition is separate to expectation, right? So if my expectation is low, where my ambition is high. If I have a bad day, something goes wrong.
I call someone, They don't want to be called, or we have a dispute or, I step in a puddle, wherever it happens to be that day. If my expectation must meet my ambition. You'll never be satisfied. And a lot of people have that issue, they'll even succeed, per se socially, have a significant amount of money in the bank. Really nice clothes, maybe the other beautiful wife, maybe they have a husband, they have, really flashy car outside or a whole garage of cars, but, They're not that happy. And you say you hear it all the time on these accounts, on podcasts, or would it be blunt saying, , I've got everything, but I'm not that happy.
It just shows you, we don't need that much to be happy. My morning routine makes me happy, if I do that correctly, small things, I've got like a really long, random acronym, but I try and follow every morning, which is when dinosaurs teach melons. Eggs smell super spicy and dogs baked bread well.
And it's just an acronym that I remember to do all those things, in the morning, not to teach melons, but to, to, , get up, to get dressed, to have a cup of tea, to meditate you if possible, to exercise, if possible, , to shower, self care, which could be shaving and stuff like that. And then dogs bake bread well.
With stress again, have breakfast, brush my teeth. Get started on my work and that's pretty much it. If I can do that before 9:00 AM, that's a really good start to the day. And I feel really, really happy if I do 9 out of 15 of those things, I'm not, I'm not unhappy. I just accept that. That's not been the perfect start to the day.
So yeah. I mean, ambition, happiness, gratitude, expectation. They're all very interesting things. If you break them down, , Perfection is the, is the enemy of progress is something that I always like to remember. Don't ask for perfection. , you can, you can, you can have ambitions to do really, really well, but in terms of the expectation, don't expect perfect.
Expect the opposite, expect imperfection, right? , expect problems, issues. , but you can name as, as you want. There's no problem in that. Just don't let ambition be your expectation. I
Chris O'Hare: think something else we were talking about before was consistency and how that's such a important part of happiness, but also as in perfection doesn't exist because as long as you're consistent, And you're always moving towards perfection and growth and you're always moving forwards.
, whereas if you have that way of thinking where you've got to do everything perfect first time round, then you're always going to make yourself feel bad. You're going to get into that spiral of the more you do the worse it gets. , and so. I think consistency. And again, that's something symbolic taught me that, , I could probably quote Steven Bartlett a lot of the time or his guests.
, I think that's really important. I think that word consistency is way more valuable than every other word that I've heard in terms of, , entrepreneurial lifestyle or whatever. It's actually, entrepreneurs are just really good at being consistent and moving forwards all the time. That's what I would say, but, okay.
So in terms of being an entrepreneur, right, would you class yourself as an entrepreneur first? And for me.
Laurence Grant: I'm not picky. I'm not, I'm not like really picky. , I don't mind it. Yeah, it's fine. Yeah.
Chris O'Hare: All right. So what drives you as an entrepreneur? What what's that thing that's made you hungry? That's made you get out of bed in the morning and it can be anything, right?
So it could be something in your childhood. It could be something that inspired you. You can have a chip on your shoulder. You could, , there's definitely every, every entrepreneur I've ever spoken to has something. That seems to push them beyond the day-to-day normal. That may be the other non entrepreneurs.
, wouldn't have, do that?
Laurence Grant: Yeah. Yeah, sure. I mean, it could be quite long, long, so I think maybe in my late teens, early twenties had that kind of crisis. I think a lot of people have. You recognize certain people who just knew what they wanted to do. Right. They knew where they wanted to do. They went and did it, , and life's life seems to be going pretty well.
, and I, I thought that I didn't have that. And actually when I did start to dig into myself and, , as you mentioned, when I was younger, I always had a sense of even as young as seven or eight, , wanting to do something very special, I'm feeling actually like I could do that. , , to give a bit of context, didn't have the easiest upbringing in a, in a top five, 10% context, to be honest.
, I was one of, kind of five kids, single mum, , small, small house, very small house in Westport. And, , for my sins, I must have been pretty bad in a previous life. , but, , , we didn't have much, , my mum was first. With the Baylor, my whole life probably still. , so that's, that's always been a struggle.
, but , I think growing up in cordon in particular, you're very aware of almost every walk of life, , you're, you're only two miles away from the Weber state, , which is one of the richest places, , the, the, the most wealthy, , residential areas in, sorry. , Footballers and massive real estate type Koons living there and web and media kind of gurus and stuff who've done really well and multiple millions.
, and then, , where I lived, you had people being robbed and killed and stabbed them everything on a weekly basis, , on every different color, every different sound like you call them. , any corner of the world that is not represented a good, and to be honest, that's how I feel. And it gave me a very kind of broad mind of what the world is and how fast it is.
It wasn't a bubble that I grew up in. , but again, , being one of five who grew up quite competitive, I think with your, with your kind of siblings and naturally in a small amount of space, you there's a lot of power dynamics there. And I was the fourth youngest out of five and it goes. Brother sister system may sister, but my youngest sister's eight years younger and me and mother three siblings were within four years of each other for five years.
So it was very close and I was the youngest of those guys. So, , Could be, could be seen as a funny story. It could be seen as a traumatic story. I try and see as a funny story, but like I used to have to get into the boot of the car every day to go to school. Right. Cause, cause, , there was no space and if we went on family holidays, I'd be in the boot on the motorway with the cat.
, , like so pretty funny, , character building for sure. , and that's just one example of like being. In a, for a low economic household, , trying to live a normal life, realizing everything, very light makeshift all the time. And I saw my mom struggled a lot and I didn't want to struggle.
I saw people around me struggle quite a lot, especially financially. So it wasn't necessarily that I wanted to be rich, but I wanted to do something profound, , to bring happiness to people who maybe didn't know. A lot of that growing up, , the entrepreneurial side of things was a bit of a, an accident I would say.
So I was very bad in school. , I got expelled just about made it through to college. , just about made it through to uni, studied English lit, cause it kept a lot of doors open and , any questions about the hungry caterpillar you can, you can ask me, , , and, , Then started publishing. I was in editing.
I liked the people, , people skills that I wasn't able to enact at the editing job. , , I knew I was good to a group of people and relationships and communication. So I ended up starting a business with a friend of mine at the time. And we grew that to, , , not, not a massive amount of money.
We weren't paying ourselves a lot at school shaking hands. It was a, , director to director networking events. So we met a lot of influential people in Croydon. , and we overtook like the local chamber of commerce in terms of, excuse me, a membership and stuff like that. So, so we did really well, , made a lot of contacts, but I think during that stage, I had a lot of things going on in my life at that point, , which I probably won't share on the podcast, but it was, it was, , it was a pretty deep dark time, especially for my family and even myself in certain relationships.
And, , Well, I realized I didn't want to live in. I wanted to make a choice to get up every day, as much as possible. I make forward steps in my life. I became quite obsessed with analystics and being clinical and being organized and things like that. To break out of quite a sticky. , trapping, , environment divers in, right.
, according to the whole place to get away from, I personally think, , unless you apply yourself and you have the right guidance and my guidance came from friends, but also from, , people I consider to be friends, I've never met like people on podcasts, , the David Goggins of the world, , the, , not so much Steven Bartlett necessarily, but people who have been through.
Serious struggle. And they're kind of like the other side and they can show you that despite the fluidity of the whole universe and the fact that you can't control anything, you can, you can't control the ocean, but you can control which direction your sale is pointed in, essentially. , and then that's already, yeah, I like that.
So I try and direct myself as best as possible, but , the winds is unpredictable too. So, , yeah, , that, that's kind of what gave me my drive. I think having a purpose bigger than yourself, as important as a second point, a short point, which is, , for me, , I would like to create more than I consume before I kick the bucket.
, and I'd also like to as much as possible bring lightness or balance, , Too, dark places in the world. So that that's probably going to be my next 10 years. My next chapter, if I'm able to, , , the moment I'm working remotely, I afforded myself the luxury of freedom to work, where I want on my own company.
, which is huge for me. I've always loved to travel. So I'm in Mexico at the moment. , , for me, , I'd like to discover places and people who need support, , or would benefit from seeing that there's another way to live. , and maybe some darker places. It doesn't have to be somewhere foreign.
It could be, it could be in the UK. Right? , plenty of problems in the UK. And to show them yeah. That there is a different way to live. I've got a whole nother concept that I call the sphere. I'm not sure we're going to cover that in this conversation, but it seems to be something that I can't get out of my brain.
, so, , I'm trying to follow that as much as possible, and it's a lot to do with the dynamic between finding balance in a very colorful world with a lot of Linus and a lot of, a lot of darkness, but yeah, that's. That's a different sound state.
Chris O'Hare: I love how raw you were in terms of the kind of dynamics you had with your, your siblings in terms of how you said she had this competition with them, , almost to kind of almost get your attention of your, , almost of your mom as well.
And, and. Show how you are this a cohesive team, but also individuals as a whole. And obviously you being, feeling like you are the youngest, obviously, cause you were at that point, , you probably tried a lot harder. Would you say that any of these qualities have rubbed off these entrepreneurial qualities or rubbed off onto your, your, your brothers and sisters?
Laurence Grant: , so my entrepreneurial qualities. Yeah.
Chris O'Hare: So, so like in terms of the, the family dynamic has how's, they. Become quite normalized in your family or is it just mainly around? , is it just you, ,
Laurence Grant: , I'd say the male. , so I may have my older brother. , my older brother did extremely well. , going into kind of city route.
So you started out as a recruiter, , after graduating to English lit as well. And he spent probably eight, nine years in recruitment, became the vice president of Moody's analytics, which is like huge, , and then set up his own company. But I do, , I, I, I did recognize when I, cause I was one of my own company pretty much the whole time, four years behind him.
, I didn't really work for anybody else. And I think, I think there might be an element of. Being quite useful to him to see that, that the, that was that streak. And certainly in my family, not my immediate family, my sisters are much more. , I'd say I'm like a motive then they're more to do with, , having a good day every day, doing the best they can every day, whether that's going to work or, , one of my sisters has two, two girls to look after.
, and my youngest sister's going through university, who knows. She, she seems like she's got a bit of a streak. I wouldn't say it's entrepreneurial, but , she's very creative. She's very good at producing things. And she's super intelligent. This. , but yeah, I think that, , , in terms of the entrepreneurial side of things, we definitely have, the resilience is probably the main characteristic I'd say that makes us, , or, or could be comparable to entrepreneurial-ism, but I'd say, , yeah, for me personally is something that, yeah.
I just found myself very comfortable. There it's an uncomfortable place. I'm pretty comfortable in uncomfortable situations. Other people might think is ridiculous or crazy, quite enjoy seeing how life goes when you make a jump. And you're not sure what was on the health.
Chris O'Hare: Well, that isn't, isn't this what life's about challenging yourself and seeing how you react and how you can adapt.
And Steven Bartlett talks about this. I mean, it might as well call this the Steven Bartlett, but he talks about, , how he finds his happiness in chaos. , and it's, it's really good point. It's like once he feels like he's too complacent and he's making decisions out of fear, he needs to almost jump in the deep end and make sure that he instills that chaos in his life to.
, making sure that it's not a complacency that he's living for instead of, , actually moving forwards and growing. But in terms of you as an entrepreneur, , what, describe what it is that you are and what it is that you do?
Laurence Grant: So, , my name is Lawrence Grant. , I R. , self made. Am I allowed to say self maiden these days?
I don't think I have. , so, , insure I'm the founder of a company that raises investment for at this point, startups that are seed and pre series a, , Simon investment broker. If you like, , completely. Blindsided myself. We've with this move, this kind of career move. It wasn't something that was ever on the horizon for me.
But as you mentioned, , what some opportunities learnt a fair bit through throwing myself in the deep end of business and starting a few different businesses. , and then of course, setting up, , Sussex university's first ever investment brokerage from absolute scratch. And that went pretty well raised.
, just shy of a million pounds in. , 11 months now. So I'm actually on 950 K. , and I really want to get 50 K in before the, let's say that kind of 1 million milestone was achieved within 12 months. Pretty vacuous, pretty vain, but, , that's what I'm going for. So yeah, that's what we're doing now. And the company I run is called foundation.
I have a kind of semi-passive, , business partner. We have a lot of contacts called, , Nick and, , yeah, we're doing well. It's two months in, , we're picking probably one out of a hundred companies who are raising to represent. We take successfully, which is pretty standard in the industry. It's 5% of whatever money you raise.
, so whatever money you can get to be given from an investor or a fund into that, , company's bank account, you take 5%. The thing that is uncharacteristic of other investment brokers is that we always reinvest all of our feedback into the company, investors like that founders, obviously like that. , and the benefit of that is that we have a vested interest in the companies we work with and they are quite willing to help out other founders that we introduced to the platform, , as we grow.
Right. So we're only two months in that there's a group of four or five founders that have already. , on valuations that surpass 5 million, 6 million pounds of valuation is how much your company is, where, , or how much you say it's worth and how much an investor can believe that. And then put money in at that valuation.
Right? Same way. When you bet on a horse, it has also like the same as evaluation pretty much. So, yeah, that's what we do now. And it's going really well. I need to do a lot of work on operations structures, finances, , all the things that come with starting a new business. I feel like I'm a little bit a.
, scarred veteran in that sense, , I've done it a few times now, so, , it feels good. It feels good. It's going well, we landed off first couple of deals already. , and, , fingers crossed for a big deal next week, but we shall see I'll keep my expectations low on that one.
Chris O'Hare: Yeah, exactly. Right. It's all about the happiness.
, but, , really appreciate that. And so what about, , kind of roundabout. Particularly episode, what's your main piece of advice, , for other entrepreneurs? , especially maybe around what we've been talking about today. Just one piece, give us a golden nugget.
Laurence Grant: It's a, is that more about happiness or investment or fundraising or
Chris O'Hare: just as being an entrepreneur?
I was piece of advice for being an entrepreneur in your realm of, of your life and the experiences that you've lived.
Laurence Grant: Don't underestimate relationships is my key thing. , always seek to learn from everybody around you. , and be very clear about where you are trying to get to, , have a clear goal of what you're trying to get to. It helps. , , everyone's probably heard that phrase. You can have a dream, but to make a dream a reality, you need to create a.
, a destination, a plan, and then small steps together. , but yeah, certainly I think that the key thing that helps you get there is relationships. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Don't be afraid to accept that you don't know things, , , to, to throw out and maybe one other nugget is embrace the fact that you don't know things.
And be honest, if you don't know things, , cause people will give you the answer. Then pretend, , everything really stupid.
Chris O'Hare: It's true. It's an ego thing though. Isn't it? It's it's people don't like to show weakness when actually it's probably one of the best things you can do because you can actually get help to deal with that problem.
So, yeah, I appreciate that.
Laurence Grant: no worries. Yeah. Thanks so much for the invitation. I appreciate that.
Chris O'Hare: I hope you enjoyed that guys have, make be sure you're subscribed for the next episode where we talk about how to get investment in a startup. I’m your Quick Win CEO, signing out.
Contact details for Laurence is [email protected] or on Linkedin.