Unknown Origins

David Hieatt on Entrepreneurship

July 16, 2021 Attitude. Imagination. Execution. Season 1 Episode 60
Unknown Origins
David Hieatt on Entrepreneurship
Show Notes Transcript

Bankrupt at 16. Thrown out of college at 18. Joined Saatchi and Saatchi at 21. Had a ball. Left advertising to go back to Wales. Started Howies in 1995. Sold it to Timberland. Left. Started The Do Lectures, which was voted one of the top 10 ideas festivals globally by the Guardian.

And in 2012 started a company making jeans called The Hiut Denim Co in his hometown of Cardigan. A town that used to have Britain’s biggest jeans factory. Its purpose is to get 400 people their jobs back. As of today, it now employs 24 people.

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Music by Iain Mutch 

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Roy Sharples:

Hello, I'm Roy Sharples, and welcome to the unknown origins podcast. Why are you listening to this podcast? Are you an industry expert looking for insights? are you growing your career? Or are you a dear friend helping to spur your old power on? I created the unknown origins podcast, to have the most inspiring conversations with creative industry personalities and experts about entrepreneurship, pop culture, art, music, film and fashion. bankrupt at 16 thrown out of college at 18. Join Saatchi and Saatchi at 21 had a ball left advertising to go back to Wales started hobbies in 1995. sold it at Timberline weft, started at the do lectures, which was voted one of the top 10 ideas of festivals in the world by The Guardian. And in 2012 started a company making jeans called the high end denim company and his hometown of cardigan. A town that used to have Britain's biggest jeans factory, its purpose is to get 400 people their jobs back. As of today, it now employs 24 people. welcome David Hyatt, what inspired and attracted you to become an entrepreneur in the first place.

David Hieatt:

I didn't do that good at school. So I didn't have like a big set of qualifications I said I was going to do pretty well. But I always had this belief in the power of ideas and creativity. And I was always trying things at school. So I mean, one of my big first adventures into entrepreneurship was in the summer, my school was like two miles away from the nearest shop. And so I would go up at night and Buy Wholesale lollipops, freeze them in my mom and dad's freezer. And I would sneak them into the school in my whole little bag. And then I was had a monopoly. And I had a high demand, especially in sunny times. And then I was so popular. None other kids put their lollipop packages in the bin. So I was at an early age very conscious of plastic waste. And, and then of course, the plastic trail led back to me and I got banned from selling lollipops at schools.

Roy Sharples:

Words are energy and when they're applied properly, they connect the chords of our soul. And that absolutely rings true. When I first came across you, David, you produce the poster manifesto of a Dewar. And you could totally detect that the word choice used in that poster had really been carefully thought through and crafted where every single word mattered. And it's a telling sign that when you can read something once, you can pretty much memorize it, and go away and it stays with you over time. And it becomes a reference point. And when I've led teams on also, when I've kind of given gifts at various birthdays, and other occasions, I've given it as a signpost and a signal to help motivate and drive people. And to really drive that ethos of people of action, who move the world kind of forward and do things and help inspire others to do it, too.

David Hieatt:

I mean, that's really nice that you say that. And I mean, a lot of the times I kind of write to myself to remember, yeah, the things that are important to me. And so I stay in my lane, stay on track stay true. And, and so when it resonates with our people, I mean, that's just like, that's just a happy, that's a happy place. Then

Roy Sharples:

you're clearly a polymath, David. And someone that's clearly applied to do it yourself sensibility to find in the future, and being adaptive, persistent, and resilient, by bringing new ideas to market successfully.

David Hieatt:

If I talk about how it then is, we live in a town that we want to live in is a beautiful place to live in. And it just happens to have had Britain's biggest jeans factory and it was making 35,000 pairs of jeans a week for nearly 40 years. And then in 2002 that factory closed and at the time we were just embroiled in you know building houses and then eventually selling it. But we started higher than him in 2012 to see if we could get 400 people that jobs back. I don't actually know truly, if it is possible, but I do know it's not impossible. Yeah. And so, right now we employ 27 people, we make one of the best jeans on the planet. And we make for creative people. And that's who I want to make jeans for. Because I love those people. That's, that's my, you know, those are my friends. Those are my people who inspire me. And they change this world, I think for the better. And so we've been doing that now nearly 10 years. And it's, you know, it's a beautiful labor of love to win. Imagine the push of jeans. And, you know, we're kind of, we're up there with the best makers in the world, because we have the skill sets, yeah, in, in this town, which are unlike any other town. And then we run an events company called the do lectures, and some of the talks have been watched 150 million times, it's run from a cow shed. And really, that came from me being invited to a sort of tools camp, run by Patagonia clothing company. And I couldn't go and I said to them, well, don't worry, I'll watch the stuff online. And they said, Oh, we don't record it. I'm going, Wow, that's a such a. That's so sad doing and I'm going because I would love to learn a lot of that stuff. And so we started to do lectures, he was only ever supposed to happen for you know, as a one off, and he got so good. And now 10 years or 12 years in it's it's one of the best smallest events in the world that tickets sell out in an hour round. And, and the talks are given away for free, and there's no advertising, you know, it's pretty poor. Like, it's pretty pure in his intention, he wants to find another way. He wants to help you take that next step. Yeah. And, and it's, you know, can you can you as a human being achieve your potential if you do that. That's one of the most remarkable journeys a human being will ever go on. And nevermind, oh, let's go and let's go to Mars, you go, like, let's try and conquer Planet Earth first, because, you know, so the book company, is run by Miranda and set up by Miranda, but the initial idea came from the zoo. And she went and run it. And she's done an absolutely brilliant job. And they're the kind of books that I would read. And I do read, because they get to the point real quick. And, and they want you to help, you know, help you take that next step. And so, the books are available all around the world now. And so she's done that. And you know, we get paid a royalty, because everybody who's written a book has to speak at the zoo. So it's kind of like a beautiful universe. Yeah, absolutely. And actually, they do lectures is planet Earth. And there's all these nice planets. Yeah. So it kind of works. And Miranda is just an amazing person to work with. So we're very lucky.

Roy Sharples:

What is your creative process? In terms of how do you make the invisible visible by dreaming up ideas, developing them into concepts, and then bringing them to actualization,

David Hieatt:

I always kind of listen to my curiosity. And if I have an idea, and maybe I put it in a notebook, and if that idea doesn't tend to go away, then what I go and do is try and research it. And I think actually, they say the best writers or the best researchers, I think, actually the best entrepreneurs, they kind of go and I think there might be something here. And the they should really, truly go and look for an insight where you go, Oh, my God, I think this means something. I think what this means is x, I think something is about to change and for an entrepreneur, is you have to try and see things or sense things that sometimes aren't there, but you just have a feeling that it's about to make a shift, something is coming. And there's the old metaphor that actually if you want to see on a train and get to the train station early,

Roy Sharples:

what are the key skills needed to be an entrepreneur

David Hieatt:

The strengths o an entrepreneur is really grit. And my mom used to say like, you are the most stubborn meal in the history, and what I di n't realize at the time was that was going to see me you know, hat was going to be my friend. ike the fact that I was so stub orn because a lo of entrepreneurship, a lo of anything. is actually not quitting. And you need to fi d a way. And even if the first way doesn't work, or the second way doesn't work, there is a way and and i think perhaps one of the most untalked about skills f a entrepreneur is that resili nce when things go a different way to the the original plan It could be the original plan was rubbish. Yeah. And an it deserved to fail. And in a ay, if you think a out entrepreneurship is singul rly the most best pers nal development school in hist ry. Yeah. Because every day is a new series of questions, which, you know, and there's, there's not always a manual for each day So you have to improvise, you ave to come at things in a diffe ent way. You know, you can't, you know, if you get angry on st ff, getting angry and stuff i n't helping you solve a problem. And so, so, you know, the resili nce and the grit and the stubbornness are this, ike secret sauce of lot of entrepreneurs, because they eep going, even when some data ays that they should s

Roy Sharples:

what are your lessons learned, in terms of the pitfalls to avoid, and the keys to success that you can share with aspiring entrepreneurs?

David Hieatt:

Like I said, it's kind of like a personal development program, and you're learning some aspects where you go, Oh, this is my blind spot. Oh, I'm not very good at difficult conversations, I need to get better at this. Because guess what, that thing that I ignored and put off, got a lot worse, six months down the line. So I think entrepreneurs always have their blind spots. And so you've got to keep working on your particular bet. You might be really strong on ideas, but not really strong on execution of the idea. And by the way, the idea is 50%. But the other 50% is the execution. So you go well, okay, I had a really good idea. I had a really good insight. But I didn't nail the execution. Maybe that was the prototype, or the photographs of the product, there was something missing, and you go, Oh, the only thing that matters truly is everything. When you're doing creativity, because you got are, you know, does it matter, the execution is off, yes, it does matter. Because you can take a really good idea and have insane, like execution and support, just go oh my god, I love that. And you can have a great idea with poor execution and pure Scala. Now, for me, sometimes when you've had a little bit of success, you think, you know, if you go and do something else, you're going to have similar success. And you start believing your own hype. And that's quite a dangerous place for any entrepreneur. And, you know, we did a local restaurant in the town here. And it was in between times, I just sold How is to Timberland. So I had a little bit of money, and a little bit of time. And it was a failure. And it had a really good idea, but it was too early. And so. So one of the things I would say to myself is to stick to what you know, stay in your particular lane. And actually just get really good at that. And just because you have been successful in this one area, doesn't mean you're going to be successful everywhere. And And so you've got to be respectful of your skill sets. You know, try and do one thing, well, that that's an extraordinary ambitious target. And don't spread yourself too thinly. And these old sayings, these old like metaphors, or analogies or fables. There's a truth in each and every one of them. Don't spread yourself too thin. Why? Because you can't do everything well.

Roy Sharples:

Creativity is the most distinguishable quality for every leader in every domain. Creative leaders display distinctly different behaviors, values and characteristics from traditional management. And they get exponential results inspire creativity and others, build productive teams and drive successful businesses. Yet while many organizations claim that they value Creative Leadership, most of them pay lip service to the idea to rev up the past by promoting leaders who do not espouse Creative Leadership and instead are perceived as safer, risk averse and more likely to maintain the status quo, which is diametrically opposed to the necessary leadership needed to move the waddled forward creative leaders possess a distinctly engaging and inspirational leadership style, because they truly put people first are perceptive about their needs are inclusive of an empathetic toward different cultures promote diversity and difference and have a purpose LED, mission driven approach to making people's lives better, and advancing society toward the greater good. They hold themselves accountable for their actions and have a social conscience and empathy for the environment by continuously managing innovation that powers the products they design, make and sell. And the businesses they run. They have the intuition skills, and ability to see the unseen, and make the invisible visible by lighting the way to the future, and separating what is from what is not. They connect past and present to create something new, they manifest what is inside and around them in everyday life, transcending the ordinary and routine into something that has societal value. By putting things together in a way that has never been done before creative leaders have confidence and their ideas and never give up on bringing them to fruition. It means leading without frontiers. By seeing around the corners, and fearlessly navigating into the future. They inspire, empower, and stimulate people and teams to achieve the unexpected and exceed normal performance levels. They have the charisma that engages and excites and inspires and motivates people, by having and living a compelling vision that provides clarity generates enthusiasm, and deliver success, always. They are genuinely empathetic towards people's needs and feelings, and help them grow and become self actualized, which, along with their transparency, and honesty, solidifies trust, and confidence in them. What's your vision for the future of entrepreneurship?

David Hieatt:

For me, I have n ver been truly comfortable ith being the boss. And the fu ure for me and like, in term of entrepreneurship, I think i if you come in each day, and you want to be the coach of our people, and you want to crea e a space for them to the best ork they've ever done. And crea ing an environment of fear is not going to let that happen So flowers bloom in the sunsh ne. And so I'm going right, how can I help people do the best ork they've ever done? I hav to hire people with hunger, 've never been able to teach pe ple hunger, I've been able to t ach them skill sets, I've be n a give them some new learners, but I've never, if they don't ave the fire in the belly, 've never been able to pull it t eir motivation is last for a out five minutes, like a sho er, your house your shower was ive minutes ago, I can't remem er. And the motivation is the s me. And so so for me, the futur of being entrepreneur is going How can I be a better coach, bec use if I can take this raw tal nt, and allow them to go an do things that perhaps they di n't even dream that they could, hen that would be an ama ing learning environment. An if they then want to go off and start their own companies, ood for them. Because like, you know, then we'll get some ore hungry people in and we'll t ain them. But to create the a afe space, Brett challenging s ace to do the best work you've ver done. That is a tough, t ugh thing. I mean, that's why yo go to most companies, and they ire you because you're so goo at something. And then they lip your wings, they say they ant you to fly and the first t ing they do is stop you d ing things. Creativity is put in one thing from one place that you noticed with another plac or another thing that yo 've noticed from elsewhere and put them into a very diffe ent place. And so sometimes i eas have very awkward at the beginning. And sometimes hey have like difficult purse. But if you can give patients to our idea, and because people run out of patience, and it's a s ame because they're probably re lly good ideas, but they they ex ect a quick win. Yeah, unles we judge in a con, you know, oh, this thing's got a you know, low performance next three mon hs, we're probably going t be pretty disappoin

Roy Sharples:

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