It was a pleasure to be a guest last week on the “Join Up Dots” podcast. David Ralph and I had a great time discussing all things business along with some timely experiences comparing the molt of a lobster described in “Grow Like a Lobster” to the impact of today’s COVID-19 lockdown on businesses around the world. You can find the link to the show here. If you’d like to read the transcript of the show, it is also pasted below.
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK. David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:25]
Yes, have a good morning everybody. Good morning and welcome to a Join Up Dots. Yes, the motivational, conversational inspirational podcast that literally can go in any direction. And today’s guest has, he certainly got enough experience to go in any direction because over 15 years, he transformed a small family business into a global market leader in the coffee industry with customers in over 70 countries and distribution facilities on three continents and in the process, his sales grew more than 25 times while earnings multiplied over 275 times. Now, after the sale of the business, he moved to Florence, Italy, where he now lives with his wife and his three daughters. Now that’s not a bad start to a show. But of course, we need to know more about today’s guests and of course you’re going to get it. His approach to business has always been about creating an organisation that is strong, secure, and able to avoid distraction and throughout his career in the coffee industry, he relied on the unusual metaphor of the lobster to unite the team and prepare the organisation. Awareness that lobsters never stop growing and of the trauma they experience during molt can remind any business to enjoy the ups while preparing for the downs that always come. “Grow Like a Lobster” was motivated by his sincere desire to help others who seek to build extraordinary businesses and through sharing his personal experiences and insight. He offers a new way to confront challenges and simple approaches to building special and lasting organisation. He has a BA in political science from Yale College. He’s a brainy guy, and an MBA in marketing and finance from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. University. Along the way to building brands within the world of coffee machine cleaning products. He’s worked in investment banking for Salomon Brothers, and in marketing for Unilever Home and Personal Care. And now he wrote “Grow Like a Lobster: How to Plan and Prepare for Extraordinary Business Results.” It’s quite simply it seems when he wants to be in life and in business. So do businesses need the ups and downs that come to truly strengthen their foundations and, and grow like a lobster and now with the issues across the world due to Covid 19. As he has given him a business back component, its corner and survive? Well, let’s find out as we bring them to the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr. Joshua Dick. Good morning Joshua, how are you?
Joshua Dick [2:57]
I am great, David. Thanks so much for having me here. It’s really a pleasure. I’m excited to chat with you
David Ralph [3:03]
Well I’m excited because we’ve, you know, time stamping it. This is a very sort of generic show I try to make it but somebody can come to it 20 years later and still get the same kind of value. At the moment you are living in Florence, Italy, and of course we have got the coronavirus, running riot across the world has that caused your business to expand like some people. like zoom, if you’d bought shares in zoom, six weeks ago, you’d be a millionaire. How’s your business doing because of the issues?
Joshua Dick [3:34]
Well, I’m fortunate to say that I actually no longer have involvement with that business that I created over the years. So I’m somewhat insulated and protected from all that’s going on. But I do get updates from the team and my friends and the people that I worked with really closely and I will admit that it’s been hard. It’s been hard for them and the businesses is struggling but it’s a very strong team with great people. And it looks like they’ll the Come through this just fine. And
David Ralph [4:02]
Is it one of these troops? Right? all businesses have to have ups and downs because I know that so many people that I speak to, they think that is going to be a natural curve, they’re going to work. The early days are going to be a bit of a struggle, and then success just naturally comes. Do you think that businesses really do need for dips to keep on strengthening their, their foundations as they move forward?
Joshua Dick [4:27]
Well, I’m not sure they need them. But I think they’re inevitable. I think that business and life and living in organisations, they come they always come. We may not even notice them sometime. They may be small and minor, but they’re, they’re there. And I think the most important thing that I tried to convey in in the book is that if we’re aware that they’re going to come, we’re going to be way better prepared to deal with them when they arrive.
David Ralph [4:54]
Now, watch out something like this spin at the moment because you know, January, we wouldn’t have had a clue. Governments aren’t prepared. So how do sort of industries really get themselves prepared for things that, you know, just come come at them?
Joshua Dick [5:09]
Well, this one, I think we missed. I mean, so many of us missed it businesses, leaders, governments, and, and even hospital. So, you know, maybe we can’t be prepared for everything. But we can really take a disciplined approach to thinking about and imagining the things that could go wrong. This is a big outlier for me. And you know, I’m kicking myself, I wish I had seen it coming. Yeah,
David Ralph [5:33]
yeah, I think we all do. Now, let’s take you back to the early days was the young Mr. Joshua Dick, was he always on this path? Or were you like so many of us back in a day, going to university getting a job and not really thinking about the entrepreneurial spirit or was it always in you?
Joshua Dick [5:52]
Well, it’s interesting, I don’t think I was thinking about entrepreneurial spirit, but I did have pretty high aspirations for what I hoped to achieve. I had this sort of innate aversion to the idea of complacency or being satisfied with where I was and it caused me to keep pushing and looking and trying things and asking a lot of questions. And for that, I think that fit very well with entrepreneurship when I eventually got to it after leaving, sort of the corporate world.
David Ralph [6:21]
Now, let’s delve into that because I know exactly what you mean. My wife always says to me, you’re never settled. You’re always looking at something. And I say, Yeah, but it’s, it’s something that’s interesting. It’s something that drives me forward. And at the moment, she’s sort of walking around the house because we’re in lockdown going, Oh my god, I’m so bored. I should do some cleaning, but I can’t even be bothered to do the cleaning. And I’m saying you need something you need at home but you need something to drive you forward. Now, why do you think Ben but you will never satisfied when so many people are so many people are just going through the motions and now suddenly having a way Kept Cova actually, the motions don’t give you the control in your life but other people have.
Joshua Dick [7:06]
Yeah, I mean, the control thing that’s going on right now with this situation of lockdown is definitely difficult for me. I’m one of those people that really enjoys fixing his own mistakes. I don’t like relying on I don’t mind making mistakes. I never minded when anyone in my organisation made mistakes. But for me, it’s really important that if I mess something up, I have the power to figure out how to fix it. And that’s sort of a puzzle and a challenge. That’s always been important to me.
David Ralph [7:33]
I’m exactly the same as that and through through the show, people will know that my mum’s had a stroke. And I find it very difficult when something comes at me, but I can’t do anything about I’m the kind of fixer. I’m the person that says, like, come on, like there’s always a way around this. Let’s think about it. And when it’s totally out of my control, I have a huge wobble I there’s something in me that needs to be in control over time. Is that in your view, Joshua, is that a super talent that people have? Or is that the kryptonite?
Joshua Dick [8:08]
I think there are definitely people that are well, it’s definitely I don’t think it’s kryptonite. I think some people take it to an extreme where it can destroy them. I think it’s finding the balance between what you need to do what you need to control. But also at some point in my career, I recognised that I couldn’t control and I couldn’t do everything, and I couldn’t do everything perfectly. And it was at that point in my business when I recognised that I needed to trust other people and build a team that I could rely on, that my business really exploded that he really saw the greatest growth and in in top line sales as well as profitability, and I was happier. We were doing better and I was working less. And that was the point when I really found that that balance and things clicked.
David Ralph [8:55]
And did your wife see a difference in you because this is something that interest Maybe there’s normally one party that’s driven and the other party sort of says, We will as we are, why don’t you keep on doing it? Why are you working so hard? So when you sort of sat back a bit, was it an improvement? Or did she actually sort of say, I think I actually liked it when he was going out to work all the time. This is this is a bit more difficult.
Joshua Dick [9:20]
Now, you know, I think my wife is pretty driven on her own and you know, has a lot of great accomplishments of her own and she’s pursuing all the time. So we I really one of the interesting things, your question kind of took me a little bit off guard because I never really involved my family where I could with the business, it was a business it was the place I went and did stuff so that I could come home and focus on my family. And I tried really hard to separate those two things. Of course, you know, your emotions are influenced by what’s going on and the stresses you’re under in business but for me, business was business even though you know their family elements of it and relationship elements. It wasn’t what I wanted to deal with when I got home and I tried my best to shield my wife from it, as I hope she shielded me from, from other things. We could spend our energies together on more positive things.
David Ralph [10:13]
Because I always wonder how people do operate. I’ve got a business, as it says at the beginning of the intro live from the back of his garden is absolutely true. I’ve got an office at the back of the garden, I walk up here. I think I could count on two fingers. Basically, the last time that somebody come up to here, in the last seven years from my family, they just don’t they know it’s where I go. And then I go back at home, and I never asked you about it. I just sort of get on with my life. I always wonder how people operate when their business partner is their spouse, and whether it’s, it’s just all consuming all the time.
Joshua Dick [10:49]
Yeah, that is not the place that I would want to go. It’s gotta be quite a complicated dynamic to interject into a business when you know, to me the business. His objective is, in its raw sense, to make money. And when you have to have those you have to make decisions sometimes that are, are separating your emotions from what’s right for the business. You have, to me the idea. One of the things I talk about in the book also is the idea of non emotional decision making. You have to separate sort of your personal feelings for an employee. If it’s time for them to go, you have to figure out how to make a decision that’s right for the organisation. Even if it if it hurts, and for that reason, if your spouse were also your business partner, I have incredible respect for those people that are successful at it. It’s not even a place that I would ever choose to go if I could avoid it.
David Ralph [11:44]
Right now, man Oh, I really think that mentor I can’t think of anything worse been been working with my wife. It would just drive me drive me mental is Oprah
Oprah Winfrey [11:54]
The way through the challenge is to get still and ask yourself, what is the next right move, not think about, Oh, I got all of this too. But what is the next right move? And then from that space, make the next right move, and the next right move, and not to be overwhelmed by it. Because, you know, your life is bigger than that one moment, you know, you’re not defined by what somebody says, is a failure for you, because failure is just there to point you in a different direction.
David Ralph [12:26]
Right. Okay, so we’re gonna spin off our conversation, through the words of Oprah Ben, because back in the day, you transformed a small family business into a global market leader in the coffee industry. Now, I’m interested in that. Tell me the thought process as Oprah saying, It’s decision after decision after decision. Nothing is life changing. Nothing is defining but you’ve got to make those decisions. Why did you go into the small family business in the birthplace?
Joshua Dick [12:55]
Well, it’s interesting. I went there when it was in distress. So the business was having trouble. And it was at the point being run by my dad and my brother was involved as well. And they had lost 10 customers 10 of the biggest customers and really hadn’t noticed, until they started to realise that the orders were not recurring. And I went from my position at Unilever spent a little time kind of looking at the business trying to understand what happened, and try to help. And it was at that point that I had this this idea, this vision that if I was ever going to get involved with the family business, now might be the time while it was having a hard time because who knew if it would still be there when I decided I was finally ready. So that was that was a big turning point. For me taking that leap of faith and deciding this was something I was going to do when for a significant portion of my life. I had a total aversion to the idea of ever getting involved with that business
David Ralph [13:54]
Is a strange thing because I’m involved I sort of bought my mum and dad split business, I had a car spares business, and I bought it as an investment. And I was so naive, there’s so many issues not least taking over a business that was under the control of your parents. And even though they sell it, I still feel very in control. It’s very difficult when there’s, there’s personal relationships involved, and you come in and you make decisions which are contrary to what they’ve done, but you know that they’re right to move it forward. How did you deal with that? How did you do the hard stuff when your brothers and your father would have thought they were doing the right stuff anyway?
Joshua Dick [14:39]
Yeah, you know, it’s interesting. So it was my dad and my brother, and my dad eventually sold us the business. So it was my brother and I involved and he and I worked together quite well for a number of years. And then there was a point in time where he decided he wanted to do other things. So from that point forward, it was me alone where we We also worked A family buyout transaction. So it stopped being a family business after a period of time. And it became a business that had been started within my family. But we had the freedom now to become this organisation that moved beyond what it might have been. And you know, it’s something that Oprah said that in your in the little passage from Oprah about it to the next decision, the next decision. I agree with that, but only partially, I think one of the ways that my business was able to achieve great success was that Yeah, we did work on each next decision in succession, one upon the other. But we started with a very clear and well articulated target of where we were trying to go. And that was very important to me. So I had to make all those decisions. But those decisions were so much easier than they might have been because I knew where I was going. I had decided it and I had committed to it
David Ralph [15:59]
Now I agree with that totally, because I do a lot of business coaching now. And one of the things that blows me away, when people come to me, they’ve normally tried online businesses beforehand. And it’s very much a case, but they have created a website, and they just have a scattered approach to what they’re targeting. And I always say to them, let’s look at the age of the customer, the location of the customer, let’s drill down all the data is there, and then create something that fulfils their need, and it normally blows their mind. But I think that’s obvious, isn’t it, you find out what the market is asking for you find your ideal customer. And then you don’t just put your finger up in the air and create something that you think would be good. You create what the data is telling you.
Joshua Dick [16:46]
Without any question, I also think that the data is one thing but you need to define articulate and write the the mission of the company and that mission of the company. It shouldn’t only be driven by the numbers because that might not make you happy. For me the mission of the of the company had obvious financial and political objectives and goals and deceit and criteria that it was meeting. But it also had parts of the business that made me happy. Because who wants to work in a business that’s hugely successful if it doesn’t make you happy. And having that balance really helped me, I think ,achieve good things because it kept me motivated all the time.
David Ralph [17:28]
Because I love creating businesses that are not my passion, but they bring money in so that I can then work on things that is my passion. I remember talking to a guy many, many years ago, and he said, a friend of mine now and he was really, really good on computers. Brilliant. And if your computer had gone wrong, you take it to him, and he would just log on he would do it. And I said, Why don’t you do this as a business fail? I said, you know, you’ll make a fortune. You really know your stuff. And he said, I don’t want to do it. As a business, because then it will take the enjoyment away from me. And I thought to myself while I do old rubbish days that I didn’t agree with it at that time, but I now know. But if I was totally focused on building a passion based business, Ben, I think he’s right. I think the passion would go out of it, all the eggs would be in one basket. I like creating multiple streams of income, which I can just play around with every now and again, I can have a week doing one business and then walk away from it because it’s operating and then move into something else. How do you keep the passion about the business? Or are you the same as me, Joshua? It’s not really a passion. It’s just a means to an end.
Joshua Dick [18:42]
Well, I mean, for me, the business is being very, very focused on one thing, and I don’t like to have a lot of different things to work on and a lot of different businesses. I like to be excellent. At one thing. I like to be the best if I can at one thing, and avoid distractions or diversification in any way. I believe that diversification is for the stock market or other investment strategies. And that, for me, the business got easier and simpler and clear, when I wiped away all the distractions and just figured out the one thing I wanted to be really good at. And it was my only way of getting there because I realised I had limited resources, both financially and time and energy and all of those things. And if I could simplify it in a way that that really helped, helped make it efficient, then I might get somewhere so I think they’re they’re slightly different ways of getting there. And for me, that was that was the way that made sense because I came into a business that had many different business lines. In fact, it had seven product lines, and my first decision was to close six of them.
David Ralph [19:59]
So you did a Steve Jobs you you went in there exactly like he did.
Joshua Dick [20:04]
Yeah, I mean, I never really thought about that way, because we were, you know, basically, I didn’t have the energy to try and be great at all seven. I wanted to do one that made me happy that I thought I could really take somewhere special. I thought I could probably get by and survive with any one of the seven or perhaps all seven together. But it wasn’t where I wanted to go. I wanted to hit something that I considered sort of beyond beyond conventional measures.
David Ralph [20:34]
And so what was the thing that you decided you were going to be great at?
Joshua Dick [20:37]
So the thing that we decided, I decided that we were going to be great at was, believe it or not cleaning products for coffee machines. So these were detergents, powders, liquids, tablets, and it was all wrapped up behind the idea of helping people make better tasting coffee. That was it. From there, we were able to dedicate all of our energy and resources on the product line, the distribution, the ease of use to get the product to customers to help their coffee tastes better. That was it.
David Ralph [21:15]
That’s that sort of blew me away because on one side is so obvious. But on the other side, it’s not sexy. But ultimately, it solves a problem. It solves a problem for people, doesn’t it?
Joshua Dick [21:27]
It absolutely does. And I love an unsexy business I think that’s the best place to be much less competition many fewer people they’re trying to scrap for the same piece of cheese.
David Ralph [21:38]
Well, there’s there’s a point to it and I want the audience to understand that but you are so with the old metaphor about the blue oceans and the red oceans and creating your own niche. So many people go to the first level don’t play and where the competition is greater without pepper ting and going depot and looking at the numbers. I’m finding that non sexy business. You know, I’m a great believer in local businesses. I’m a great believer in providing traffic and lead generation to Emergency Plumbers and electrical people and people that are out there that are good at what they’re doing, but they’re not good at getting customers. And I like these kind of very small, niche based location based businesses. They’re not sexy at all. But they work they work. And everybody out there can dominate their niche really, really quickly. Kobe if I really drill down deep enough,
Joshua Dick [22:35]
Absolutely. And I think if you if you get the niche, right, you can take that niche to other markets without really changing it too much. You know, you can you can really for us, we were very fortunate in that. We figured out how to serve the coffee community in a small geographic area. And we quickly recognise that coffee is coffee everywhere you go in the world, probably like plumbers are plumbers, everywhere you go in the world. And if you can tell the story in the message to the coffee community for me at that point it was in New York, the New York area, you could probably take the same story and we started telling it in Seoul, South Korea and in Moscow and you know, all around the world, but it was the same story. We had to play with our languages and regulatory things and whatnot but, but the focus was the same message and really simple as I said, Just wanted to help people make better tasting coffee.
David Ralph [23:31]
Now we’re going to be back with Joshua dick after these words.
Joshua Dick [25:57]
Yeah, so you know, since selling the business that was really the primary motivation for the ability to move to Florence, Italy and spend more time with my family. I’ve taken it upon myself to actually stay involved with the coffee industry. So I’m an investor and some something of an advisor to businesses in the coffee industry, anyone from coffee shop change to Coffee Roasters, equipment manufacturers, and usually they’re a very select group of companies. So it’s sort of my own private equity investment type model, where I’m working working on that. And I wrote the book after reflecting back on my experiences in business. And throughout my business career, over 15 years, I kept a diary. And the diary was the place that I sort of vented about things that were bothering me and frustrating me. And when I sold the business, I sat down and I read nearly 350 pages of diary entries and said, Wow, there is so there are so many things in here that I learned That I wish someone had told me when I was getting started. And that was the motivation to sit down and write grow like a lobster. And from there I’ve taken “Grow Like a Lobster” kind of around the world, sharing the ideas and the lessons at business schools with MBA students, and trying to really help, help and really that’s it. That’s my way of giving back if I say anything more than that, and another things that I find definitely entertaining and keeping me busy in Italy are language studies, you know, learning this amazingly beautiful language and focusing and I’m fortunate enough to have the time and energy and resources to spend a lot more time with my kids. And that was something that I really aspired to the entire time I was building my business.
David Ralph [27:45]
So let’s have a summary of it. Oh, let’s do a little mastermind for for the listeners out there so vast in Bear Bear in their cubicle, or maybe they’re not in their cubicle at the moment. Maybe they’re there on their sofa with their laptop. Apart aside from self isolating, like most of us, how do you plan and prepare for extraordinary business results? If I find a lot of people like the idea, but they can’t get the idea, they struggle with the idea? What would be your advice?
Joshua Dick [28:16]
Yeah, you know, I have kind of a process that I think through that really starts with figuring out that one thing that you want to be very good at, and then taking it and defining what you want the business to be through sort of a mission and value statement exploration. And I go, I like to go from there and incorporate all of that with the effort to understand who the audience is, and to remember that it’s super important to separate yourself from who your customer is. So these three things like trying to figure out what you want to do, articulating it, writing it down, putting it on paper, and doing all of those things with an overlaying view of who your audience is that you want to Serve. And that that’s easier said than done. But it can be done. I think it takes a lot of time. My biggest idea or biggest sort of success of a experiment was going when I knew I wanted to get into the coffee industry. I went out to the Pacific Northwest of the United States, which was at that point, the heart and the growth of the coffee industry where Starbucks is and the like. And I basically immersed myself in that community for a few weeks. I just kind of hung out there hung out in coffee shops, talk to be able to learn how to be a barista did some hiking and just got a sense of who I was talking to, as a way to use that to shape my idea of how I might provide a product and value and benefit to them.
David Ralph [29:47]
That is really easy, but a lot of people would think that that was effort when a lot of people I know just like to sit behind the laptop and sort of bashing out theoretically without actually getting into the into real life.
Joshua Dick [30:01]
You know, I often say I say to my kids, I used to say to my team, you know, very easy everyone would do it. You know, we don’t want to do stuff that easy. You got to put the work in.
David Ralph [30:12]
Now, when you did that, how much of it was obvious to you? And how much of it was an eye opener when you were submerging yourself? I would imagine there was a certain percentage that you felt Yeah. Okay. This is exactly what I was thinking. This confirms it. And then a percent of I had no idea this, this is totally new to me.
Joshua Dick [30:33]
It was totally new to me. I was sort of this New York kid, this guy from New York that had worked on Wall Street and had this fast pace, where a suit and tie every day and I end up in Seattle and Portland and Victoria, British Columbia, and I’m out there, Vancouver, and I’m like, wow, this is a totally different way of life in a completely different level of passion. For a product than I had been exposed to at that point. And that’s what I came to love about the coffee industry, a number, just a collection of great, dedicated, hard working people who love this product and want to bring it to others. So I was inspired, and I didn’t actually think that I wanted to or could do what they were doing, because I didn’t know much about coffee at the time. I’m fortunate enough to have learned quite a bit. But I was like, What can I do to help them? Because here’s an amazing collection of people and I don’t think it’s just coffee. I see the same idea in let’s say, the independent pet store business. These are people that love pets, or grooming, you know, these are people that love being around animals, incredible passion, hard work, dedication, what are the things that could go to that industry and I’m sure there’s the same in the brew home brewing industry or micro brewery and you could probably go out You can find a group of people or an organisation that loves something and then figure out what it is that you like about it or you can provide to them.
David Ralph [32:09]
I used to work with a girl I was thinking about her the other day. And when I worked for an insurance company many years ago, and I said to her, Hannah, you don’t seem like you really want to be here. And she said, No, no, it’s alright. It’s alright. But I’d really like to work with animals. You know, my passion is animals. And I said to her, you know, what are you doing for it? She said, Well, I work in a pet shop on Saturday, and she had this plan. Well, she wrote to me the other day, and she said, I’m now but lion keeper at Colchester zoo, which is a big zoo in, in where I live, and she is the big cat’s keeper. And I thought to myself, Isn’t that fascinating and isn’t amazing, but she could have just gone. This is a pet shop. I love dealing with pets, but she just took it to bigger and bigger. And I think most people can do bad karma. As you were saying earlier, we can find something that we really need. Enjoy. And although it might just seem like a throwaway thing, how can we actually build that to the biggest level possible, just like Hannah did?
Joshua Dick [33:09]
I think I think when we we start to you know, I talked earlier about the idea of understanding the customer and understanding the audience. I think there’s something to be said for trying to understand yourself, this level of self awareness and understanding and knowing who we are and what motivates us. When we take that, and Hannah, you know, the story is perfect. She knew that she enjoyed being around animals and try and found a way to incorporate that into a professional career. I knew that I really enjoyed machines, and production and factory type stuff. And when I made decisions about the businesses that I was going to keep or close, the ones that I really wanted to focus on this coffee cleaning product. It was because we could make all the things that we were going to say So that that was what made it for me. So I think that if we spend some time and maybe during this sort of locked down self isolation period, we can. Those of us starting to think about new business ventures and ideas, can maybe spend some time jotting down on paper, what makes us happy? What are the thing is what are the passions that we have? And is there a way that those can be turned into something that we can also do from a business sense?
David Ralph [34:28]
Because I always say to people, when they start working with me, I say, right, you might be struggling with an idea. But once you start going into the process, you can’t stop thinking of ideas as they’re everywhere. But there are absolutely limitless business ideas out there, isn’t it? Joshua?
Joshua Dick [34:44]
There is no question that it’s limitless. The key is finding the really good one, the one that you can own, the one that you can own and the one that you can scale or grow because, you know, we have loads of different ideas and we need to sometimes sort of continue rollers are measured ourselves to make sure that we don’t try to do them all. I think that if we try and touch all of them, we spread our energy and our resources too thin. So once we get when we have to commit to it, and I say, don’t let yourself have a chance to fail, you know, if you’re going to do it, do it and really go all in once you’ve made the analytical decision that it is possible.
David Ralph [35:25]
Let’s talk about your failures, because obviously, we all have failures. Sometimes a failure is only a failure at that time. And then it’s like you’ve almost tried something too early, but your markets not ready for it or maybe you’re not ready for it. What would come to mind when you look back over everything?
Joshua Dick [35:41]
I think for me, the failure was trying to hold on to control for too long trying to do everything. And it was only you know, trying to sort of have my finger in every part of the puzzle or the stew. When I started to recognise what I could do when I brought in more people and I added great people, not only did they challenge me and stimulate me, but they relieved me of all of these things that I was trying to do. And then let me sort of supercharge my energies and it took me a while to get there. So I would say sort of my my pace of growth and my pace of profitability was was slowed by my sort of hesitation to trust or to let go of things early on.
David Ralph [36:26]
Now, when you do let go, how do you not micro-manage? Because we see that people go, Okay, I’m gonna get this person in place I’m going to get and I’m talking from my last employment 10 years ago, where people would bring people in and then not allow them to do the work anyway, because they just can’t let go.
Joshua Dick [36:44]
Yeah, I think one of the most important things how to avoid micromanaging whether it be an employee in your organisation, or maybe an outsource project, or creative design agency is to do the work up front to right some form of a project brief to articulate clearly, what is the objective of what you’re seeking to achieve? And you’re asking someone to do? And what are the steps that you hope and expect to be followed to get there. And I’m not saying to prescribe what they should be doing, well, what are the parts of that objective that you’re looking for. And if you do that, in the beginning, whether it be writing down a project brief for a designer for one of your team, one of your employees or team members, everything is much easier for everyone. Because we don’t all always understand what’s in each other’s minds. When we put things down on paper, and we write down and we hash out collectively, what our goals and what our objectives are. When we go to see the finished product or we check in on things along the process. If things are deviating from what we articulated in the first place. It’s either because we didn’t articulate it clearly, or because we just had some form of miscellaneous And I say that if I don’t do a good enough job explaining to my team or my employees or my outside resources, what to expect to them, and they come back with something I’m not happy with, that’s on me. I failed to give them the clarity of what I was looking for.
David Ralph [38:17]
This is one of my issues, and I’m aware of this, but I can’t seem to get past it really, is the fact that I’m quite good at most things. You know, I’m not brilliant at everything. But I’m, I’m quite good at most things. And I can, I can turn my hand at most things. And so more often than not, I think I can just do it, I just do it. And the biggest issue, Joshua is actually quite enjoy doing it as well. So it’s like a kind of hobby thing where if I left it behind, I wouldn’t really know what to fill my time up with. So it’s a kind of enjoyment of actually doing the process.
Joshua Dick [38:50]
Yeah, you know, I see that I see a lot of times when there are things that we can all do, or we can all get done or we can get done better than the person we asked to do it. I think The The really important thing is to try and balance and understand and ask yourself, Is that the best use of your time for the business? Do you enjoy doing that more than you would enjoy kicking a soccer ball or football with your kid and if there’s someone else that can do that, and you can spend your time doing something else for the business, and also be able to get out of there and do something with your family, then the business is really going to benefit because if we hire someone we ask someone to do something and you we do it ourselves. What was the point didn’t the business waste a whole bunch of value resources money and time and that’s really important.
David Ralph [39:48]
Well, let’s listen to the words of Steve Jobs. He created Apple but he also kind of created Join Up Dots as well. Here we go
Steve Jobs [39:54]
Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college, but it was very Very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [40:30]
Those words have resonance to you.
Joshua Dick [40:32]
Fantastically Yeah, you know, it’s funny, I had been thinking and imagining about the ideas of how to how to tell the story and I think it is you have to trust yourself, you have to make decisions. I think you have to have a plan and how the dots get you there. You can guide or help a little bit. But trust in yourself and trust that you’re going to follow things it’s going to work out and that helps you get where you’re going much more successfully and efficiently and positively. But, you know, could we all go into life with a yellow legal pad which is, you know, sort of my always by my side and say this is where I’m gonna be in 30 years. I think that’s pretty hard to say we never know what may come up. We never, we never know about the coronavirus or who knows what else comes in our way
David Ralph [41:21]
is I really looking back on it. I didn’t have a plan, either by global domination. That was the only thing when I launched Join Up Dots. It was I wanted it to be a really big show, but he’s really known out there and provides value. And little by little it’s grown into where it is and I think it’s probably in its its fourth version now. When it’s really becoming a solid structure that has got multiple income streams into it. But I couldn’t have planned it at the beginning. I look at everything that I’m doing now and I think to myself, no, I almost had to try 100 Things to find the thing that really works. He, I don’t think I could have planned it.
Joshua Dick [42:05]
You know, it’s funny, it’s exactly what I was thinking, you know, my, the early part of my career was, you know, I was I studied political science in in college as an undergraduate. And then I went to Wall Street and investment banking, absolutely no connection there. I had never owned a calculator in college. And here I am working with financial models and you know, accounting and all of those things. But each one of those steps I think what I was motivated to do as a as a young man starting out, was to try things, taste things, experienced them and, and put the pieces together and that helped me build a foundation of you know, going from Wall Street to consumer products, marketing and sales and those things. It helped shape who I was so that when I was ready, I could be better at planning a target or planning a goal but it took me a little while to experience different things and test the waters and dip my toe into use all the cliches available.
David Ralph [43:06]
And when you look back on it, I always ask this question so you’re gonna get it as well Joshua, is there a big dot? When you look back on it you Kaka? Yeah, that was that was the moment that was the thing that really sort of took me to where I am.
Joshua Dick [43:21]
I think the thing that took me to where I am was an openness to recognising how important it is to always be looking for new experiences, asking questions, and I think that came pretty quickly somewhere, maybe even leaving leading up to University where I had this sense of challenging myself and trying to explore new things and figure out was out what was out there. I was sort of like a deer looking out in the headlights with this very big ambition to to figure out what the options
David Ralph [43:54]
were. Now, where you are now is it where you you want to Or is this just like a polls? Is this a reset? Are you looking for pastures new?
Joshua Dick [44:08]
I’m extremely happy with the choice for myself and my family to have moved to Italy is where we we say we imagine being in Italy “per sempre” for forever for always. And, you know, I have young kids who are really thriving on learning how to become global citizens, being exposed to people from all over the world dealing with a culture that’s different than the one that their parents were raised in. My wife and I were raised in the US and I’m very proud of that. And I’m very happy with where this living scenario has put me in terms of the options it given me to stay stimulated to keep figuring things out to promote, grow like a lobster and to be involved with other businesses. So for now, I’m quite quite satisfied and quite fortunate that the way the sale of the business worked out, I have a lot of flexibility.
David Ralph [45:07]
Now with that flexibility sometimes comes laziness, where you you, you’re so flexible after a while you can’t be bothered. And the less you do, the less you want to do. How do you find that?
Joshua Dick [45:19]
That’s never been my problem. In fact, that was one of the big things a lot of friends and colleagues and and partners from the business world and from all throughout life said, you’re gonna get so bored, what are you gonna do? And then it’s not been a problem I have not sat around it’s really you know, my wife jokes with me that “I need a full time job to have more free time.” I seemed I seem to always have so many different things I’m pursuing and exploring and trying and coming up with project so to date nearly four years in I’ve I’ve yet to, to lose it.
David Ralph [45:56]
Because I agree with you. We’re in lockdown at the moment as we keep on referencing And I wake up every day with a full day of things ready to do. You know, my son who’s 18 is waking up about three and three, four o’clock in the afternoon. My daughter’s not far beyond my wife would quite happily lay in bed all day and she says, oh, there’s nothing really to do when I get up. And I think to myself, I’ve always got stuff to do. I’ve got a full pie every single day unless I decide not to.
Joshua Dick [46:26]
Yeah, I do the same way. And I have quite a number of things to do. There are different kinds of things that I did, leading a business and running an organisation, but they’re stimulating and they’re exciting and even in lockdown, I sometimes feel like you know, where did the time go? What’s going on? And sometimes I’m trying to I’m exploring new things. learning another language has been a really stimulating and challenging mental exercise, which I’ve enjoyed immensely and talking to really, really smart people like you Bit of an interesting way to, to share and challenging question and hear different perspectives and ideas.
David Ralph [47:07]
Well, this is the end of the show. And this has been that we’ve been building up to code the Sermon on the mic when we’re going to send you back in time to have a one on one with the Joshua. And if you could go back into a room and speak to him, what kind of advice would you give him and what age Joshua Would you like to speak to? Well, we’re gonna find out, because I’m gonna play the music and when it fades, it’s your time. This is the Sermon on the mind.
Unknown Speaker [47:37]
With the best bit of the show,
Unknown Speaker [47:43]
Joshua Dick [47:54]
Well, who would I speak to and what would it be? I think I’d be speaking to myself around 30 years old when I just started getting involved with taking over and running the business that had been started by my great grandfather. And I really didn’t know what I was getting into. But what I think I need to tell myself is to trust myself. Somewhere along the way. I remember spending so much time deliberating and debating each small decision I made, that it killed me. In fact, if you could see me now I have very little hair from that experience. But it really was about trusting myself, because I would say that over 85% of the time, the first inclination on something is right. And you can spend a little time going over and debating it in your mind and asking people about it. But don’t fail to trust yourself. Because the more you trust yourself, the better worthy you become of being trusted.
David Ralph [48:56]
Now, would that young Joshua, listen to you
Joshua Dick [49:01]
I think I think he would I think he would not quite trust me yet. But I think he might try it on a few things, little things. If you make your own travel reservations and plans, not that any of us can be doing that right now, I used to kind of deliberate back and forth which flight I should be on in which connection I should make. And I would spend hours in my mind working it through. And when I finally got to a point and said, You know what, just go with the first one, it’s usually right. And in the worst possible case, if you messed up, you can deal with paying the change fee and move on. And that freed me and relieved me. And there’s so many other ways that we can think about how to trust ourselves a little more, because we’re pretty good as creatures. We generally, generally know what we’re doing and what we’re doing, where we’re going. And if we waste time, it’s time that could be spent doing other things.
David Ralph [49:58]
Yeah, I always say I’m like a troll. On the mighty stream of life, and I just follow along, and the less effort I make in choosing stuff and making decisions generally it’s the right thing. I remember I used to go into really busy airports. And my mates used to say, Oh, you want to get a higher car and I would just get a higher car because I wasn’t bossing it. I wasn’t trying to, you know, make make effort when effort wasn’t required.
Joshua Dick [50:24]
100% Yeah, it’s, it’s if you if you can dedicate your effort to the things that are going to make a difference and find a way to relieve yourself of those other things. You’re going to be a lot happier and your business is probably gonna be a whole lot more successful.
David Ralph [50:40]
Yeah, great stuff. So Joshua, what’s the number one best way that our audience can connect with you?
Joshua Dick [50:45]
So I have a website that is www.joshua-dick.com so www.joshua-dick.com. And on there, you can subscribe to a blog that I write with very short, little two to three minute reads about business ideas and focus. You can also contact me through that with an email contact form that comes straight to me. And I’d be happy to look at that. And then you can find out more about the book “Grow Like a Lobster” at its own website, which is www.growlikealobster.com. And it’s obviously available on Amazon everywhere in the world and amazing system that they have with that.
David Ralph [51:24]
We will have over links on the show notes and the blogs are great read. I was reading the 1% idea the other day, very short. It’s you sometimes you go over to a blog and it says a 15 minute read of it. can’t be bothered 15 minutes, but yours were like two minutes and I thought yeah, okay, that’s for me, just Thimphu, get the idea. And I’ll be on my way. So Joshua, thank you so much for spending time with us today. joining up those dots. Please come back again, when you have more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our paths is the best way to build our futures. Joshua, thank you so much, and thank you, David. We Real pleasure. So Mr. Joshua dick all the way from Florence, Italy. So started off in America created success decided he wanted his life to be different. And he made it happen. And it is a series of dots, you join up the dots and you make things occur. all starts with the first doc. And it doesn’t have to necessarily be the right doc. That’s the key thing. That’s the message. You just have to have trust and know that you’re willing to put the work in because believe me, once the work kicks in, things do become much, much easier. They really do. As people are finding time and time again, through everything that we do with Join Up Dots. It’s very much about getting a plan, know what you’re targeting. I’ve been going off and making it happen. And fortunately, there are tools galore to make that occur so much easier then a few years ago. Now, for everybody out there. Thank you so much for listening. I do want to say and I’m going to keep on saying it on all the shows at the moment. Please be safe. Please listen to what your local communities and your governments and banks are saying is the only way that we can actually beat this thing and get back on an even keel. So I know it’s boring and I know you get to a point. I will just wind up in a car. Nobody has seen me. Please stay safe. And please do what they’re scientists to do. Until next time, thank you so much for everybody who listens and see again by
Thank you to David Ralph and “Join Up Dots” for use of these materials under their copyright.