Episode 30 - Karina Brown and Jim Stichbury - GroHappy

Karina Jim GroHappy





“It never felt like as much of a dramatic risk as people think. In the early days we knew that if it really goes wrong we can go back and we won’t have lost that much, in fact we will have gained a whole load of new skills that we wouldn’t have developed otherwise. Making the decision was hard, but once we’d made the decision it wasn’t as scarey as we’d anticipated.”

Today’s guests are Karina Brown and Jim Stichbury.s Co founders of GroHappy.

GroHappy is a B2B software business that helps companies to give their employees the career development that they crave.

GroHappy's tools and technologies help employees to get clear on their career aspirations, have better conversations about it and discover recommended steps (from podcasts, to courses, to events) to move towards their goals.

I was introduced to Karina in the very early days of GroHappy and I have had the privilege of watching as Karina and Jim take GroHappy from an idea that they worked on in evenings and weekends to a successful, investor backed, tech start up with a growing professional services client base.

I had a great time speaking with Karina and Jim and we cover some really interesting topics in this conversation including:

How Karina and Jim came up with the idea of GroHappy and how they managed the earlier phase of the business to turn it from a side project in to their full time focus.

Karina and Jim’s top tips for prioritisation and productivity when growing a start up.

The importance of advisors when growing an early stage start up and how Karina and Jim identified their gaps and then found advisors to fill them.

The lessons from their recent funding round and their advice for those looking to do the same.

Any much much more!

If you are planning on starting your own business, you have an idea that you’d like to give a go but aren’t sure how to do it or you want to learn how to apply successful start-up principles in your own Consulting career then this episode is a must listen!

You can find out more about Karina and Jim on their LinkedIn

Karina – https://www.linkedin.com/in/karinabrown01

Jim – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamesstichbury

If you want to find out more about GroHappy you can check out their website -  http://www.grohappy.co.uk

Specific things we discuss in the show:

Zero to one by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters - http://amzn.eu/d/4aIRRuT

Harry Gaskell - https://www.linkedin.com/in/harry-gaskell-ab94271/?originalSubdomain=uk  

London and partners growth programme - https://business.london/business-growth-programme  

The Design Sprint by Google - http://www.gv.com/sprint/  

The Agile Manifesto - http://agilemanifesto.org/  

Deep Work by Cal Newport - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0349411905/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_O0JUBbCPADQ23  

The Alliance by Reid Hoffman - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1625275773/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_E1JUBb8938SZ6  

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0571339794/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_J3JUBbFFGRDQ2  

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1784703931/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_-3JUBb3VKXC34   

Exponential Organisations by Salim Ismail et al - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1626814236/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_C4JUBb48HC81D   

Reinventing Organisations by Frederic Laloux - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/2960133501/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_m5JUBb86N2TZ4   

The Lean Start Up by Eric Ries - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0670921602/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_65JUBbT0ND3J1  

What we talk about:

00:04:00 - Karina and Jim’s background and how they got to where they are today.

00:05:51 - How the idea for GroHappy came about and how Karina and Jim decided to turn it in to a business.

00:08:09 - The questions Karina and Jim asked themselves and each other before launching the business.

00:10:19 - Karina and Jim’s advice for how to have honest and open conversations with your manager/career advisor.

00:12:39 - How Karina and Jim made the move from full time Management Consultants to full time entrepreneurs.

00:15:01 - The common fears that people have when thinking about starting their own business and how to overcome them.

00:19:07 - How Karina and Jim have successfully grown GroHappy and the pivot they took to achieve that success.

00:25:41 - How Karina and Jim identified the senior advisors they wanted and how they persuaded them to come on board.

00:30:48 - The strategic and operational techniques and tools that have helped Karina and Jim to grow their business so rapidly.

00:37:16 - Karina and Jim’s book recommendations on productivity, prioritisation and working effectively when growing a start up.

00:39:40 - The importance of taking time to unplug when growing a business and Karina and Jim’s approaches for this.

00:43:07 - The “outside of work” challenges that come from growing a start up, how Karina and Jim have managed these and their advice for others thinking of doing the same.

00:50:02 - GroHappy’s successful fundraising round and Karina and Jim’s advice for others looking to raise investment for their business.

00:56:28 - Karina and Jim’s book recommendations.

01:00:20 - Karina and Jim’s closing advice for you whether you’re just starting out in Consulting, In the middle grades or approaching Partner level.

01:04:45 - How to get in touch with Karina and Jim.

Episode 29 - Finding Mentors To Accelerate Your Career






Today’s episode was prompted by my recent interview with Andrew Denton from Alfa Systems where we discuss the importance of Mentoring.

Mentorship, advice and guidance from senior colleagues and other successful people has been a huge part of my career development and this podcast wouldn’t exist without it.

I’m a big believer in the power of mentorship and as Tony Robbins says “If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you'll achieve the same results.”

Identifying, reaching out to and learning from Mentors is something that I’ve received lots of questions about so I wanted to do a short episode to share my advice for those of you looking to find and learn from mentors, both inside and outside of your firm.

I hope you find this episode useful. If there’s any other topics that you’d like me to do an episode on just drop me an email Nick@climbinconsulting.com

Episode 28 - Andrew Denton - Alfa Systems






“A lot of being a good mentor is listening and getting people to back themselves…if you tell somebody how good they are, that means a lot, and if you tell them to back themselves, someone who may not have gone for that opportunity or taken that role on, maybe they now do, and that makes a big difference.”

Today’s guest is Andrew Denton. Andrew is Chief Executive Officer of Alfa Systems, the leading international asset finance and leasing software company. Having joined the company in 1995 he successfully worked his way up, becoming a member of the Board in 2003 as Sales and Marketing Director. He was made Chief Operating Officer in 2010 and became CEO in September 2016.

In addition to his role at Alfa He is also Director and joint founder of the Leasing Foundation, an organisation that supports the leasing and asset finance industry through charitable activities, research and development.

Andrew was recommended to me by two close friends of mine as someone I must get on the podcast and he certainly didn’t disappoint. The advice and insights he shares throughout this interview are fantastic and I had a great time interviewing him.

We cover so much ground in this conversation including:

Andrew’s path to CEO and his advice to those looking to do the same.

The importance of developing sales skills regardless of your role if you’re looking to climb in your company.

What he learnt from Alfa’s IPO and his advice to others who may be considering doing the same.

The importance of finding and building relationships with Mentors to help you accelerate your career.

As my first guest from a listed software and services business it was great to get his unique perspective on the market and advice for others looking to emulate his and Alfa’s success.

You can find out more about Andrew and connect with him through his LinkedIn profile - https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewwdenton/

You can find out more about Alfa Systems at https://www.alfasystems.com  

Specific Things We Discuss:

The blokes guide to pregnancy by Jon Smith  - http://amzn.eu/d/9OF2V2d

The sixty minute father by Rob Parsons - http://amzn.eu/d/girxojz

The Jersey: The All Blacks: The Secrets Behind the World's Most Successful Team by Peter Bills - http://amzn.eu/d/iFCvidm

The Real McCaw: Richie McCaw: The Autobiography by Richie McCaw - http://amzn.eu/d/gBs2iG3

Numis - https://www.numiscorp.com/x/default.html

Barclays - https://www.investmentbank.barclays.com/

Tulchan - http://www.tulchangroup.com/

Whitecase - https://www.whitecase.com/

Alfa’s Non Executive Directors  - https://investors.alfasystems.com/media/board-of-directors

Tim Cook - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Cook

Bill Mcdermott - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_McDermott

Nile Rodgers - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nile_Rodgers

Madonna - https://www.madonna.com/

Bill Gates - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Gates

The Gates Foundation - https://www.gatesfoundation.org/

TED interview with Elon Musk - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQtMqdYgFH0

Flipboard - https://flipboard.com/

You can find out more about Andrew on his Linkedin page - https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewwdenton/

You can find out more about Alfa at https://www.alfasystems.com/eu/   

What we talk about:

00:02:30 – Andrew’s background and how he got to where he is today.

00:05:02 – Andrew’s path to CEO and his unusual advice to others looking to do the same.

00:10:05 – How to make the most of ‘dead end’ career moves and how you should learn from every experience. 

00:13:12 – The questions Andrew asked himself when considering the step up to COO and then CEO.

00:16:16 – The common misconceptions have about being CEO.

00:20:40 – The importance of sale skills if you want to climb in your career.

00:30:16 – Andrew’s book and resource recommendations when it comes to fatherhood and leadership.

00:33:21 – Why you should be looking to learn from and emulate those outside the Consulting industry as well as within.

00:34:54 – How Andrew’s kept his own knowledge and understanding of the industry fresh whilst being in the same business for 23 years.

00:38:31 – Andrew’s key learnings from the Alfa Systems IPO and his advice to other looking to do the same.

00:46:09 – Andrew’s advice on mentoring, why you need them and his dream mentors.

00:49:50 – How Andrew and the Alfa management team have built a culture that has sustained for such a long period of time.

00:55:47 – The common questions that Andrew gets from his mentees and his answers to them.

00:59:29 – Andrew’s advice for finding and working with a mentor.

01:06:00 Andrew’s additional book recommendations and his other go to resources for news and insights.

01:09:11 - Andrew’s closing advice for you whether you’re just starting out in Consulting, In the middle grades or approaching Partner level.

01:11:00 - How to get in touch with Andrew.


Episode 27 - Tony Restell - Top-Consultant & Social Hire

Tony Restell Top Consultant.png





“It comes down to listening to the market. Whether you’re starting up a new business or in a business and trying to stay current, it’s all about listening to the people in your market and what their challenges and needs are.”

Today’s guest is Tony Restell. Tony is co-founder of Top-Consultant, the industry’s leading career website, and founder of Social-Hire, a social media marketing agency that counts many consulting firms amongst its client base and helps Partners in those firms to generate client leads for their practices.

If you work in the UK Consulting industry then you will know Top-Consultant. It is a site that everyone I know in the industry uses, me included. In my case, Top-Consultant has led me to apply for roles that have turned in to friendships with some of the people who have appeared on this podcast.

 In a world where businesses are being disrupted and challenged almost every day I’ve always admired how Top-Consultant has been able to keep such a dominant market position for so long and Tony was kind enough to share his secrets for this in today’s interview.

 We cover so much ground in this conversation including:

How Top-Consultant started and the unusual tactics Tony used to grow the business in its early days.

 How Top-Consultant grew over the years and how Tony and his co-founder were able to stay receptive to changing industry demands to keep their offering front and centre in the market.

 Tony’s advice for other entrepreneurs or those thinking of launching their own business, in tech, consulting or any other field.

And the importance of understanding and leveraging social media like LinkedIn when it comes to building your career or your business.

Tony shares so much great advice in this episode and it was fantastic to speak with someone whose business has been such an important part of the Consulting Industry for so long.

If you’re considering launching your own business or want to understand how you can grow your current business then this episode is a must listen.

You can find out more about Tony on his Linkedin page - https://www.linkedin.com/in/tonyrestell/

You can find out more about Top-Consultant at http://www.top-consultant.com   

You can find out more about Social Hire at https://www.social-hire.com/

 Specific things we discuss in this show:

 Roland Berger - https://www.rolandberger.com   

Top-Consultant ‘Art of Selling’ training course - http://events.top-consultant.com/uk/careerconference/423/The-Art-Of-Selling-Consulting-Services/

 The 4 hour work week by Tim Ferriss – http://amzn.eu/d/5QUWzpd  

 Dot Com Secrets by Russell Brunson - http://amzn.eu/d/ilGFqsU

 What we talk about:

00:02:40 - Tony’s background and how he got to where he is today.

00:04:04 - How Tony met his co-founder in Top-Consultant.

00:06:26 - How Tony decided to leave his Consulting job to start Top-Consultant and the steps he put in place to ensure he could do so.

00:08:58 - How Tony and his Co-Founder developed their understanding of the recruitment industry when starting Top-Consulting and how they identified the market need for their business.

00:12:52 - How Top-Consultant overcame the challenge of being the first in the industry doing what they were doing and how the they grew the business in the early days.

00:19:32 - How Top-Consultant defended its position in the market against copy cat businesses looking to emulate their success.

00:21:17 - How Top-Consultant grew from an online job board in to a careers business with multiple offerings.

00:27:28 - The common challenges Consultants have when it comes to sales and how to overcome them.

00:33:59 - The impact LinkedIn has had when it comes to sales and marketing in Consulting.

00:37:20 - The common blockers that stop Consultants embracing social media like LinkedIn for business.

00:40:40 - How Tony built his massive LinkedIn Network.

00:43:58 - Tony’s advice on how you can use Social Media to help find your next role.

00:51:55 - How Top-Consultant has been able to stay relevant and keep its dominant market position for such a long time and what you can learn from their success.

00:55:29 - The importance of listening and how to assess the market demand for your product.

00:58:48 - The common traits Tony sees in successful entrepreneurs he works with.

01:07:15 - What you should consider when developing your ‘minimum viable product’ for the Consulting industry.

01:13:02 - What Tony would do differently if he was building Top-Consultant today.

01:16:17 - Tony’s book recommendations…these won’t be what you’re expecting!

01:21:30 - Tony’s closing advice for you whether you’re just starting out in Consulting, In the middle grades or approaching Partner level.

01:29:30- How to get in touch with Tony.