#29. Superhuman work ethic: how to leverage ambition and competitiveness to boost your entrepreneurial drive

Season 3: ‘Mindset of the disruptive entrepreneur’, Episode 4

Success in business is almost impossible to achieve without working seriously hard. In this episode a business psychologist, a start up guru, and a tech founder share what it takes to maximise ‘entreprenuruial drive’.

Guest Bios:

Stephanie Thompson is business psychologist & the founder of Insight Matters https://www.linkedin.com/in/insightinitiatives/

Rachael Neumann is the founder of Flying Fix Ventures and is a board member of StartupAus https://www.linkedin.com/in/rachaelneumann/

Jonty Hirsowitz is the cofounder of Deferit https://www.linkedin.com/company/deferit/

Chris Brycki is the CEO and founder of Stockspot.com https://www.linkedin.com/company/stockspot/

What to listen out for:

2.48 Elon Musk’s all consuming drive

7.12 Elon Musk FUN fact

11.15 The components of drive

12.33 how to increase your drive

13.13 The important role your thyroid gland plays

15.11 What is Ambition

24.18 What Rachael Neumann looks for in a founder

26.04 The origin story of Deferit

38.08 Darren and a squash ball

42.23 Chris Brycki’s journey to success

50.42 The four key learnings from this episode

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Transcript
Darren Moffatt:

Hi there and welcome to the nerds of business podcast. My name is Darren Moffatt. I'm a director at Webbuzz, the growth marketing agency. And I'm your host. It's great to have you with us for episode four of our series on the mindset of the disruptive entrepreneur. If you're the kind of person who's struggles with motivation, then this episode will definitely help you. However, if you're already pretty motivated, but you're looking for an edge in business or in life, then I think what you're about to hear, you'll find really quite fascinating. Before we delve into the psychology of elite entrepreneurs to set the scene, we start today's show with a few mystery quotes from the worlds of art, literature and history. Here's the first one.

Quote:

Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.

Darren Moffatt:

That's the famous horror writer and author Stephen King. He's published dozens of titles, sold millions of books around the world and had his stories made into countless films. So, he knows a thing or two about work ethic. See if you can guess who said these words?

Quote:

I attribute my success to this. I never took or gave an excuse.

Darren Moffatt:iding care to soldiers in the:Quote:

If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.

Darren Moffatt:

Those words are from the famous Renaissance artist. Michelangelo. What's interesting about this quote is the admission that hard work is far from glamorous, in his eyes, there's no mystery at all to what people have regarded for centuries as sublime creations touched by the hand of God. Of course, he's being modest, but if there's one modern day figure who regularly captures the public's imagination in a similar way, it's the entrepreneur, who's the focus of our opening story. As you're about to hear, although he too is famous for wondrous creations that seemingly spring from the future, much of his achievement is actually the rather mundane product of long and sustained toil.

Music:

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Darren Moffatt:The year is:Darren Moffatt:In:Darren Moffatt:In:Music:

[inaudible].

Darren Moffatt:

Now, many of you would be vaguely familiar with the Elon Musk story, but even I was surprised by the sheer scale of his output. It's hard to believe, but there were plenty of achievements that I had to leave off the summary you just heard, there simply wasn't enough space. And here's a fun fact. He's even the inspiration for the Ironman character in the Marvel movies when it comes to why he works so hard, I think it's best to hear it in his own words.

Quote:

Work like, hell, I mean, you just have to put in 80-to-100-hour weeks every week. This improves the odds of success. If other people are putting in 40-hour work weeks and you're putting in 100-hour work weeks, then even if you're doing the same thing, you know, that you will achieve in four months, what it takes them a year to achieve.

Darren Moffatt:

That seems like a very logical approach to the arithmetic of productivity. The harder you work, the more output you can deliver and the sooner you achieve your goals, right? But in the case of Elon Musk and indeed all elite entrepreneurs, is that all that's really going on here? What role does ego play? How strong is the need to prove you’re the smartest richest and even the most historic amongst your peer group? I was struck by how early his incredible drive began to manifest itself. He was just 11 or so when he shipped his first product and banked his first profit, where does that come from? And can it be learned and developed? If you're running a company or about to launch a start-up, what can you do to maximize your output and achieve superhuman feats of endurance that will leave your competitors for dead?

Quote:

[inaudible]

Background Chatter:

I love data. I love the things you can do with data. You need to have systems. You need to have structure. You're going to get chopped to pieces. Enthusiasm is unstoppable. We got to a point where we were like, we need another lever. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and richer than you.

Darren Moffatt:

This is nerd of business. We'll start the show in a minute, but first I word from our sponsor. Hi everyone, It's your host, Darren here with a special announcement. We've launched a new website for the show @nerdsofbusiness.com. You can find all the episodes, transcriptions and information on our guests at this new address. So come and take a look @nerdierbusiness.com. And while you're there, sign up to our newsletter for early access to unreleased content and special offers that we'll be releasing real soon. It's the best place to totally nerd out.

Darren Moffatt:

So, the title of today's episode and the problem we're trying to solve is superhuman work ethic. How to leverage ambition and competitiveness to boost your entrepreneurial drive. It's a massive show today, and we've got some amazing guests to get you inspired. Up soon, you’ll hear from a business psychologist, a senior leader in the start-up world and the founder of a tech platform disrupting financial services with a new take on the buy now pay later model. But first here's a, just a quick reminder that if you're enjoying nerds of business to, please hit the subscribe button on your podcast player. It means you'll automatically receive each new episode every fortnight, and it makes it easier for us to stay in touch.

Darren Moffatt:

Stephanie Thompson is a qualified psychologist and business coach based in Sydney, Australia with over 25 years’ experience helping executive leaders and entrepreneurs to optimize their mindset and performance. She's the founder of her practice insight matters. And she's regularly in the media appearing on the , ABC, channel nine, the financial review and more so we're very lucky to have her as our technical expert for this series on entrepreneurial mindset. I began by asking her to deconstruct the psychological components of drive, and she goes on to reveal some strategies that leaders can use to maximize their own performance in this regard.

Stephanie Thompson:

Actually, there are a lot of components of drive they're quite varied as well. So, there are some biochemical drives. So, things like neurotransmitters like dopamine. So, dopamine is the reward neurotransmitter that makes us want to, um, try and to attain a goal, uh, physical energy, mental energy, uh, hormones, even like testosterone, of course, is classic. And also, thyroid hormone can affect motivation. Then there are some intangible and more sort of psychogenic, uh, factors like a sense of purpose or even fear can function as a motivation, not the best one to have, but it can function and traits like enthusiasm or competitiveness or even diligence.

Darren Moffatt:

Well, ok so it's really very multifaceted. I mean, it's, um, I think you, you've probably reeled off nearly a dozen sort of components there. I mean, obviously some of those are, uh, innate or to do with the way the body is wired, but when it comes to those, the perhaps the latter set that you just outlined there, like enthusiasm and, and so on, can these be learned? What can entrepreneurs do within their power to increase their drive?

Stephanie Thompson:

Well, exercise is one thing. So, then that's a nice practical thing that gets the whole machinery wearing. Um, that's a very good option, enthusiasm somewhat. Yes, you can learn to think more positively and speak and, um, feel more positive about things. That's quite a big one, actually. So, there's even a whole field around the learning of optimism. Um, that's worth considering. Eating well, moving well, keeping an eye on physical health too. So, things like thyroid hormone.

Darren Moffatt:

Can you, can you explain what thyroid hormone is? So, um, I know, I know broadly the thyroid is a gland or it's an organ. But what does it do and why is it important when it comes to drive and energy?

Stephanie Thompson:

It's a master gland and it has a lot to do with metabolism and the sense of energy in the body. There are other factors that drive the production of energy, but thyroid hormone has a big role in that and a lot of impact as well on mental health. So, when you're, when you have the right amount of thyroid hormone, it seems to support dopamine, at least subjectively that's. It seems to be that way. And it creates a natural energy and motivation. Whereas if thyroid hormone is too low, which can happen in some conditions, you can feel a little bit cold, a little bit tired, a little bit subdued, not so chipper.

Darren Moffatt:

Wow. So the take out there for listeners is that of course the mindset, the mental stuff, is really important and much of it can be learned or improved upon, but there is such, it seems to me, there is such a significant physical component to this, the physicality of business people and entrepreneurs, particularly when it comes to this drive and energy seems to be super important.

Stephanie Thompson:

It is super important. Yes. I think, I do think a lot of it is innate, I think that the dopamine and testosterone seem to be key innate drivers and that people are just always that way , very driven or not, but there are other variables too. Yes.

Darren Moffatt:

Okay. And on a related question, you know, the topic of ambition, that's obviously something that's been studied and written about for the ages. You know, even Shakespeare was writing about ambition. Um, don't wanna get too, uh, too nerdy for people, but, you know, what's the clinical definition. If I can put it that way of ambition and how does this kind of fold into the drive.

Stephanie Thompson:

Ambition really is a goal motivation. So, what that goal is, is open to in preference, but it's wanting to reach great Heights in some way. Again, there are various sources. So quite a lot of it is actually cultural, in that, in our capitalist, Western urban culture, this wanting to get somewhere, do something, achievement, the measurement of achievement, and that concept of what gets measured gets done or what's valued gets done. Um, I think that's a big factor. It's, there's also a mysterious aspect to it in a way some have it, some don't, it can also vary across a lifetime. Like I noticed in some executives, they get to a certain level and ambition falls away, as you might expect, really, it's getting to the top of the mountain and saying, well, I've arrived actually. So, ambition doesn't play much of a role in my reason for getting out of bed every morning now.

Darren Moffatt:

That's understandable. I mean, and so when you said before that it's a goal motivation, you know, do you find in your experience talking with your clients that ambition tends to work better when it's focused on an external factor or when it's focused on something within.

Stephanie Thompson:

That's an interesting question. I don't know that it would be more effective one over the other. They're both valid. So yes, there's a tangible, external goal. We could think of something classic, like winning, uh, getting into the metal rankings at the Olympics, real tangible goal or something more personal that might be even ego driven. So, to be somebody in inverted commas, so having a job title, um, being a bit narcissistic or just legacy or creative ambition. So, I want to make something have an impact on an industry or an issue . All valid.

Darren Moffatt:

Stephanie will return later in the show with some fascinating insights into how competitiveness and passion play into entrepreneurial drive. So, we know what drive is, but why is it so important in a founder? And how do investors validate this in the entrepreneurs that pitch them for investment? Rachel Neumann is the founder of flying Fox ventures, an early-stage venture firm for angel investors based in Melbourne Australia. Prior to that, she was the managing director of eventbrite for Australia and New Zealand and the head of start-ups at Amazon web services, where she worked with literally thousands of entrepreneurs. She's also served as the chair of start-up Aus, Australia's national start-up advocacy and lobbying group. So, she's a highly respected leader in the start-up ecosystem, who knows what it takes to be a disruptive entrepreneur, have a listen to what Rachel has to say on the topic of entrepreneurial drive.

Rachael Neumann:

I want to say that it's, I'm going to preface this cause it's not, it's not important for everyone. It's just important. If you want to be a VC backed company who has expectations of certain growth trajectory over time and returns. And so, I just want to give a shout out to all of the founders out there who don't want to have big global businesses, who don't want to, you know, do triple, triple, double, double, double growth rates who don't want to be global. That is totally cool. And I love and respect your work. It's just not the type of company that I'm going to invest in, but high five to you. Um, and so I want to make sure that we know that when I'm talking about these expectations of ambition and growth, I'm talking very specifically about a venture backed type of company. Yes.

Rachael Neumann:

Um, because there are so many ways to do this world, right? So, I think that for a venture backed company, um, and this goes back to our portfolio conversation. So, in a portfolio in an early stage, at least half of those companies, statistically are going to die in the half that lives, you only have a few that will give you maybe a one to three X return, even fewer that will give you a three to five X return. And then you need one or two companies to do a big return that does all the work, all the work for those who died and those that gave you bigger returns. And so, what that means is that every company you invest in needs to have a shot at being that one or two percenters that are going to return the fund. And you never know which ones in the fund are going to do that or in the portfolio.

Rachael Neumann:

And so that is why I'm looking for really ambitious founders taking on big problems in large and growing spaces, because I need each one to have the potential, to be a big returner, to make up for the fact that many of my investments, even though I love them all dearly, and right now none of them are dead, but statistics tells us that some of them will die. So, for me, you know, Australia got a bad rap about this. So, I know over the last, I mean, I've been in Australia for more than 10 years. And over the last 10 years, there's been a lot of harsh people saying that, you know, Australian founders aren't as ambitious or there's tall poppy syndrome. I Actually don't see that. Um, I think that ambition and talent sure is equally distributed, but access to opportunities to exercise that ambition has not been.

Rachael Neumann:

And then also a really important tipping point it just wasn't as socially acceptable to go on this founder journey. And I'm so pleased to see how every year or every week, that's just getting better and better. Um, and, uh, I'm seeing talent come from the traditional sectors, um, and rushing into being entrepreneurs. So that's, that's awesome. Um, ambition, and this is where I'm involved with start mate, which is, uh, an accelerator here in Australia, um, and start mate calls themselves, you know, the most ambitious accelerator. And I think that the one thing, I mean, it's, they tell her it does many good things, but one of the great things that they do is they help to level up founder's ambition. So, you, they come into the program being very ambitious and 12 weeks later, they 10X that ambition. And I think that that's just what you need to do.

Rachael Neumann:

You need to set your sights on something so big, um, cause that's, that's what everyone can tap into. If your ambition is small and it's more of a tactical goal to my earlier comment, it's hard to get all of the team to get excited about that, to wake up every morning and eat the s*** that you might have to eat that day, to execute against it. If you're working towards something small, but if you're all bought in to something big and meaningful, right, everyone is thinking about meaning and impact. That's what gets people out of bed, not what is the report I need to run today, or what's the product feature I need to ship. It's all about impact and meaning. And so, if you can set that ambition so that everyone can tap into that higher purpose, you know, that's how you're going to keep folks, you're going to attract talent to your team. You're going to attract break customers and you're going to keep, uh, folks coming back for more. So that's where ambition is important. One from an investor perspective, that's where returns come from and two that's how you build the right team and mindset in order to achieve it.

Darren Moffatt:

And from an investor perspective, um, how do you validate that in a founder? So, you know, um, you know, smart founders ]will present, you know, they'll, they'll, they'll present well, you know, they'll tell you what they think you want to hear, but how do you validate that, that deep sense of ambition and drive in a founder? You must have a system.

Rachael Neumann:

Yeah, well, it's past experience. So past experience as the best predictor of future. Um, and so, you know, one of our founders, for example, he and his brother where immigrants came to this country, not speaking the language, having no money, had to hustle like crazy just to, you know, get to school every day. Um, and what they have been able to do in their business, which is Anika has been pretty phenomenal. And so, you know, you look at past adversity and you see how these people have, uh, fared in the face of adversity. Um, I also look for, you know, not everyone needs to come from humble beginnings or challenges, but you look at, do they have a track record of excellence? Yes. So, no matter what they were given, if they were, you know, raised in Sydney in the Eastern suburbs and went to private school, how do they maximize every inch of that privilege they were given? And so, I look for track records of excellence or track records of, um, you know, wanting more pushing, you know, pushing the envelope

Rachael Neumann:

I was just gonna say, so I ask a lot of questions, not like, how would you deal with this? But like, tell me about a time when you did.

Darren Moffatt:

It's a lot of conversations. Yeah,

Rachael Neumann:

Absolutely. And in that first conversation, when you meet a founder, it's a 30-minute call usually, and I'm spending about 15 minutes getting to know the problem, the product, the space. And then the other 15 minutes is us getting to know each other. I want to deeply understand who they are as a person. What motivates them, what brought them to this moment? That's always the first question I ask. I say, I know about you, I've looked at you at LinkedIn. Tell me like what brought you to this moment? And that's where I want to see that journey. And then likewise, I want them to get to know me. It's a two-way street and, uh, they need to want to work with me, feel like they have chemistry. Um, and I, I know that often the power dynamic is disproportionate. And I want to make sure that, you know, they grill me as much as I grill them.

Darren Moffatt:in Sydney, Australia back in:Jonty Hirsowitz:

Uh, so it actually came about, um, the idea started percolating in from, um, I was actually looking to potentially do a prop tech start-up. So, something completely different. And via the conversations of that start-up, I started noticing people were saying, um, especially property owners, that they were like, the worst thing for them was paying, um, the outgoings on property and that there was no way to budget for them. And at the same time be NPL was generally well. And so, the cog started kind of like ticking, um, in that regard. And then Matthew's my co-founder. And I, we decided to take a surfing trip. He's an avid surfer, got me into surfing and we took a surfing trip down to WA. And on that trip, I clearly remember it was in Margaret River, we were sitting on the beach, and we were basically talking, he said to me that he had, I think it was like a car rego and something else,

Jonty Hirsowitz:

and I had an electricity bill and we had just paid for the trip, and we talked about how we both dipped into our credit cards to pay for it. Um, and at, at that point of time, I can't remember who said it, but one of us said, well, if this is an experience, like both of us are experiencing and we both work in finance and paid fairly well, and we've had to dip into a credit card and we know most people don't want credit cards anymore and are starting to like move away from them. What does the average person do and how does the average person budget? And so when we came back to Sydney, basically we came up with the idea of, okay, what happens if we could transpose the payment method from buy now, pay later, which people really like, but transpose it into this new category for bills, which we now call bill now pay later, which is quite similar, but how could we transpose it and would people want to use it? And that was the thesis we started to run with. So, it really came from that, from that discussion. And potentially even from that previous experience where the idea was kind of percolating a bit

Darren Moffatt:at surfing trip, which was in:Jonty Hirsowitz:

I think I've dramatically improved. I, um, so back then, not so good, but yeah, I surf for about three, four times a week now. That's pretty Serious. Yeah. I'm hooked. It's probably one of the, this is like, my mind is very active and I'm always thinking about the business and what we can be doing and all of that. And I find even, you know, it's probably one of the things I want to work on is sometimes you have in discussions with people you're at a dinner and you thinking about work, or it's in your brain and you're not fully present. I find surfing is probably the only thing I do when I'm sitting on the board on the water where I'm not thinking about work. So, for me, it's also a bit of a meditative break from, from everything, but it's, yeah, I think it's one of the greatest sports, um, out there I've played a few, but none have had that effect on me as surfing has.

Darren Moffatt:

And, um, what about the shark’s question? I know we're taking a very, sort of weird and wonderful digression here for a minute, but do you ever sort of, you know, worry about the sharky water, what might be out there, or it doesn't bother you?

Jonty Hirsowitz:shark attacks there since the:Darren Moffatt:

Well, it's a metaphor, you know, you're out there with the sharks in the water. I'm sure you're mixing with some sharks in the business world. I just used a very bad pun. And now I'd like to turn to what I call the mindset of the disruptor. Um, if you will. So, uh, you know, you're, you're sitting at the top of a very fast-growing start-up. You're clearly disrupting, a giant, you know, the collective, uh, banking industry of Australia. Um, that's fascinating in of itself. What personality traits do you find yourself drawing on most, uh, so far in the different journey?

Jonty Hirsowitz:

Like in terms of personality traits, I'd say the hardest part of doing a start-up is obviously it comes with different challenges, and it comes at different stages. So, when you launch in the hardest part is like actually saying, is there like, am I solving a problem here? Can I even get customers? And you are faced with so much uncertainty at that point, there's a lot of self-doubt that you have to like, kind of stick to your guns and also you chat to people, and they say, oh, you won’t get any customers, or it won’t work? So, there's that element in the first part. And then once you've established, like, hey, we can actually get customers, we got product market fit. We're in scale-up phase. It comes with all different sorts of challenges of making sure you have enough infrastructure. People support actually sustain that growth.

Jonty Hirsowitz:

I think the one thing I've kind of, um, and Matt's got a very different skillset sets me, but personally I can speak for myself. The one thing I've really relied upon was coming from that sort of traditional, um, traditional corporate sphere where it's not really a nine to five job. Like when I used to work in Lloyd used to on average, I'd think I'd finish it on a good night at 10 or 11 at night. It's weird. I didn't really enjoy doing that. And I always used to complain about it, but it changes your behaviour. And what it's done is like, and it's not something like to like be proud of, but what it's done is it's given me the ability when we've been in really tough situations to basically be able to sit down for, you know, 18 hours a day and go in for five hours, sleep and fix the problem with Matt and have that kind of conviction and that ability to work under that pressure. So, for me, it's really just the ability to kind of like nut down. And when we have a problem, just say, we are not going into bed until we fix it.

Darren Moffatt:

So, it's, it's, um, thanks for sharing that. That's a really incredible insight. So, it's really a mix of endurance and perseverance. You would say probably some really key traits for you that have really pushed you through some, some tough spots so far.

Jonty Hirsowitz:

Yeah. And I, and I think it’s a tricky thing because sometimes when you're doing something, having perseverance bad thing. Like if you're trying to solve something and like there's no product market fit and you just being super perseverant which like that's, that was always my biggest fear. Are you pushing something that like, maybe just shouldn't be pushing? It's like, there's no solution for it. And it's not a product that people want, but once you get the conviction that like you solving something, people want to help him people and you see traction that perseverance and ability to work hard on, on what you're trying to solve is really important. And having the passion to want to be able to do that as well

Darren Moffatt:

And, and passion. That's a, that's a great thing. Let's talk about that for a minute. So, um, your vision, which you articulated right at the top of the, uh, the chat was to really, uh, help people, help consumers solve this bill problem. Yeah. And so how do you use the passion for that to not only sort of articulate the vision and, you know, sort of really drive the mission across the team, but to actually get the brand, create a brand that has a real vibe and presents as a lived experience for the customer?

Jonty Hirsowitz:

Well, I think, it's a two-fold thing. So, on Matt's side, um, and it's going back to what I was originally talking about. His whole thing was he didn't want to do the business unless it could help people. So that vision, that's been really important. So, it's, it's formed our DNA. When we, whenever we hire new people, it always gets covered, and it attracts a certain type of person. So, a lot of people we hire they'll come to us and say, we really want to work for you because you are actually helping people. So, number one, it brings like-minded people, but number two creates this kind of social cause within the organization where we have this culture where we actually feel like we helping people get through some tough times when they ordinarily wouldn't have, and that's very powerful. Um, and then in terms of just like how passion can kind of feel it, I guess for us, because we don't really like, ultimately, we like, we, we both come from a financial background, but we'd never really done the sort of business before the constant learning new things,

Jonty Hirsowitz:

And the fact like we both genuinely interested in, um, you know, bill payment rails, the way you operate a loan book, the way, like the way the tech platform works, the way, how do you onboard marketing? Like we've learnt a ton about marketing and how to market to customers. We've had no experience before that constant learning that constant of like, how do we get more people? How do we get more bills? How do we help more people that really drives us? It's something Matt and myself, like, we love it, right? So, we love learning new things, learning new skills. I learned probably five, six new things every day, constantly challenging yourself. And it's the combination. And so, it's, it's learning new things that passion, you have to be, you have to be genuinely feeling it otherwise, I think you do want to kind of give it up at a certain point. And then the second element is it's great to have it because if you have it, its infectious people pick up on it and it attracts a certain kind of people or like people to work with you, which is great as well.

Darren Moffatt:

Yeah. Um, absolutely. And he's a bit of a nature versus nurture question. I mean, do you think disruptors are born that or can they evolve, and which applies to you?

Jonty Hirsowitz:

Oh, that's a tough one Darren. And I think, I think ultimately, look, there's an element of luck involved and in terms of way where you come from as well. So certain types, like if you come from a very disadvantaged background, I think it's really hard to, depending on the product or problem you're trying to solve. And there have people that have done it. And those are the stories everyone hears about and it's kind of champions, um, it's much harder. And then on a probability basis, your chances of succeeding are much lower, but it is possible. So I definitely think you can come, you can come from an, like an environment where probably you weren't nurtured and do it, but ultimately when you come in, when, you know, if you grow up in a capital city compared to a regional place, or, you know, just all these external factors that a lot of people can't control, I think it has a huge influence in their ability to, to succeed.

Jonty Hirsowitz:

I do think though, if you have, like, if you can overcome that or even if you come from, you know, a city environment you've, you've gone and you've done a good job, you've, you've kind of come from that background. You don't really need to be like, I always used to think, like I never thought like, um, if you spoke to me 10 years ago, I never thought, with Matt, we would have the capability to do what we've done. So, I think like you don't have to come from the background fully. Um, and so it doesn't have to be like, you know, fully, um, nurtured if I can, if I can say that, but like, yeah, there is an element of like, you do need certain undercurrents I think, to succeed.

Darren Moffatt:

Well. And I would say to your point earlier about, uh, the learning, I mean, you guys are clearly, there's a, there's a term you're probably familiar with it, the infinite learner. So, uh, it seems like you guys are probably your bang that sort of description, the real enjoyment, uh, and desire to kind of continually learn more is obviously what it seems to me is that it really helped you on propel you on that journey of, of progression. As business psychologist, Stephanie Thompson mentioned earlier, competitiveness is a key input into motivation and drive. I wanted to explore this in more detail. So, I shared with her a rather strange anecdote from my own early days as an entrepreneur involving a squash ball of all things. I think you'll enjoy Stephanie's response to this. And she goes on to share some fascinating observations on the role of competition and passion. Stephanie, um, you know, a lot of people are driven by a sense of competition.

Darren Moffatt:

Um, you know, I remember when I started my first business, um, going back a few years ago now to G myself up for the launch of that business, I would come and play a game of squash by myself and pretend that the, my main competitor was the squash ball. Um, and I, I found that now that you might find that disturbing, but I found that, strange admittedly. Right. Um, but I, I found that to be a really good motivator, you know, it was I, and I now looking back at it, learning stuff from you in this chat now, when I think about it, that actually combines a couple of different things at the one time I'm doing exercise, I'm, I've got that physiology going. I'm really focused on that sort of, short-term sort of goal of hitting the ball, but I'm also projecting out in terms of a sense of, um, competition and visualization. So, um, my question to you is knowing how important that is for entrepreneurs, where does that sense of competitiveness come from, uh, in a person, you know, is that, is it, is it sort of, again, is this something more learned, you know, in childhood and adolescence, or is it sort of ingrained?

Stephanie Thompson:

Some of it will appear ingrained. It can come from childhood, sibling rivalry is classic, in that all young animals, including humans are well, maybe not all, but most young animals are programmed to compete with each other, for resources from the parents. So, they do that unless that behaviour is contained and managed quite carefully by the parents. So, some of it is innate. There are gender differences on this one, actually it's one of the competitiveness is one of the few traits that have genuine, quite substantial gender differences on the majority of traits that we have stereotypes about. The true differences are really quite small, but competitiveness, there is a difference where males do tend to be much more. So, um, at least the overtness of it, I suspect that competitiveness in males is just more demonstrative than in females, a little bit wilier perhaps more subtle. Um, and there is a cultural factor there as well in that competitive behaviour is encouraged in some cultures, stereotype being the US and less so in other cultures. So, parts of Asia would not look so well upon overt competitive behaviour.

Darren Moffatt:

And do you think that, um, a strong competitive streak is necessary for that drive, um, to become a successful disruptive entrepreneur

Stephanie Thompson:

Necessary? No. Okay. I think it’s; it can be very powerful when it's present, but there are so many other sources of drive that I would not suggest that it's a requirement by any means. In fact, sometimes it could even get in the way, a win at any cost kind of motivation could backfire ultimately.

Darren Moffatt:

And how does passion play into drive?

Stephanie Thompson:

Um, it's a popular word, isn't it a popular concept? Passion. I put it under the heading of enthusiasm though. It's more of a targeted enthusiasm, so a particular field or a topic, and it can also exist in quiet personalities. This is something that's occurring to me as we chat in that we think of some of these behaviours as being somehow obvious on the surface, but you can have very passionate driven people who have a quiet interpersonal style.

Darren Moffatt:

The importance of competitiveness to the mindset of disruptive entrepreneurs was backed up by another entrepreneur I spoke with for this series. Chris Brycki is the founder and CEO of share investing platform, stock spot.com based in Sydney, Australia, they've got $400 million under management and they're scaling fast.

Chris Brycki:

I think I read or heard early on in my sort of journey of setting up the business that like on day one as an entrepreneur, you're the only one with the vision and the idea. And so, you can’t expect everyone else to kind of understand it or see the vision and it is really your job to bring on other people into the journey. And so, I remember taking that to heart and, and therefore never really feeling too bad when people kind of disagreed or said it wasn't possible or said it was a waste of time because I said, well, that's great. I mean, that, that means I'm onto something that, you know, that no one else has already thought or no one else's thought is worth doing. Um, and it's, you know, it didn't reduce my motivation actually increased my motivation. And I think maybe that's a characteristic that's probably similar for a lot of entrepreneurs, as well as you need to accept that you're going to get a lot of no’s and, um, you know, look for learnings rather than look for the disappointments of nos.

Chris Brycki:

Um, because yeah, there's going to be a lot of doors that get shut in your face and a lot of paths that get blocked and you've got to have the resilience to, you know, keep on fossicking for the next door that can open for you and, and never give up. And yeah, that, I mean, that's another, I guess thing that I was always instilled to me as a kid. I mean, we did a lot of sports as kids and yeah, definitely growing up that they're not giving up mentality was something that was drilled into us.

Darren Moffatt:

Well, I can see that. Yeah. It's, it's pretty evident already. Uh, and, and so, um, that's what you've just touched on. There is something

Chris Brycki:

That's I would say is probably how most people describe it Darren

Darren Moffatt:

Well, what you just touched on there as well, I think is really, uh, interesting, um, where you, you were doing a lot of sport as a, as a child, right? So, you know, turning our attention away from, thank you for that. It was just so many good insights on the different traits that you've used so far in your journey, but obviously another aspect, another aspect of all this is, um, what you could broadly term as drive, you know, like nothing like what you've built at stock spot is built without a lot of drive, right? So, you know, you really got to keep pushing the whole time. You've gotta be prepared to work your ass off basically. And sometimes it'll be easier, not a bit more chill than other times, but there's a lot of drive in this. Now drive can come in different ways or from different sources. You mentioned sport. So, what I'm interested now, Chris is about the source of your drive. Now, is it, is it from a sense of ambition, right. To create something substantial. Or is it more from a sense of competition which might come from doing a lot of sport when you're earlier? Have you thought about that?

Chris Brycki:

Uh, yeah, it's a good question. I mean, for me, it's not really, it doesn't, I mean, I'm a competitive person, I would say very openly, but I don't actually think the passion for starting a business came from the competitive side for me. I mean, one, I just, you know, for me it seemed like a big opportunity, but really, I thought it was a way to kind of, um, address a wrong, basically that was happening. So, I, I mean, I, I've always felt very strongly about doing the right thing for the little guy and the person that's getting kind of ripped off. And, you know, whenever I've seen people get ripped off, whether it's friends or family members, it always makes me really p***** off. Like I always go into bat for the person that's getting ripped off because I always get annoyed when someone in society who knows more and, you know, has that extra information, like uses it in a way that like abuses that extra knowledge and so

Darren Moffatt:

Very purpose led, would it be fair to say you're very purpose led?

Chris Brycki:

Yeah. So that's how I describe it I mean, for me, the business was very kind of purpose driven. I just thought, you know, not only was it a purpose I was passionate about, but it had, you know, the, there was enormous ramification. So, you know, you can have purpose about something, but even if you get it right, it can have very little impact. I thought, you know, I have a lot of passion for something and there's a clear purpose. And actually, if you can get it right, the impact is enormous on actual people's lives. And that's actually, what's great to see now is when client’s kind of call up and, you know, we see them on live chat or email or calling us saying, you know, thank you. Like this has really had a great impact on my life. I've, you know, I've changed how I've been investing from this old way where this was happening to this, or I'm taking a lot less risk or I'm able to sleep better at night.

Chris Brycki:

Like hearing those stories are what makes me really excited because, um, you know, what I'm hearing is like, you know, you've helped solve this problem that I didn't realize it was a problem, or I didn't realize there was a solution to, so, um, yeah, for me, I mean, it's a combination of, you need to have that passion, for me, that passion is largely driven by purpose, but then I guess what keeps me going is like the resilience and the competitive nature, because like, uh, the purpose is so strong for me that, um, I can commit to keep on getting over those hurdles that keep on getting put in our way.

Darren Moffatt:

And what's your favourite sport? Do you, uh, do you play any sport these days?

Chris Brycki:

I mean, I was in the unfortunate position in my family, so I'm one of five kids where I was probably of the five, the least talented, but I come from a pretty sporty family. So as the oldest of the five as well, I felt like I was always helping to train the other kids, but they always quickly became better than me at the sports, whether it was, um, so we did a lot of tennis as kids and soccer were probably our two main sports. Um, but, my two sisters became fantastic tennis, tennis players, you know, played over in the U S one, played the Aussie open juniors. You know, my brothers became great basketball and soccer players. Um, I think the only thing I can potentially say, I'm, I'm up there within the family with these days is table tennis, table tennis, because as a start-up, we obviously have a table tennis table in our office, and I get a bit of practice.

Darren Moffatt:

Well, I've got to say it sounds, uh, sounds like a very high achieving family. Um, uh, I think if I, if I came to lunch at your place on Sunday, I'd sort of break out in a sweat. Uh, you know, it's what, what's the conversation like around the dinner table? It must be, uh, it must be fairly intense. Yeah.

Chris Brycki:

Physically break out in the sweats because you'd already be challenged to a game of table tennis, you would probably be going for a run around the yard. So, um, no, I mean, uh, as a family, I guess there's a lot of families that kind of follow sport and watch sport. I guess our family was different in that we never, ever we're really big fans of sporting teams. Like my memories of kid as a kid was never going to watch teams, you know, watch rugby league or AFL. Although we did sometimes do that. It was really just playing a lot of sport we were playing and playing all the time.

Darren Moffatt:

And that leaves its mark. Doesn't it, you know, if you're competing, you know, you've got a big family, it's four siblings, uh, with you as well, you know, they, the intra family competition and that stuff that’s wiring your brain in a certain way and, you know, without even knowing it. And, and, um, obviously we're talking about you as an example, but, um, I mean, in a, in a more, in a wider sense, you know, as children develop, it's the environment that they live in and that they grow in, it's what they, they live and breathe every day. That leaves its mark, uh, in my view anyway.

Chris Brycki:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, yeah. Interests, sibling rivalry definitely, uh, leads to yeah. A desire not to be the bottom of bottom rung when it comes to the family ladder. So yeah.

Darren Moffatt:

You know, you're the CEO of an investing platform with $400 million under management. I think it's turned out. Okay, Chris, I think, I think, I think you've won. You've Won!

Chris Brycki:

The other lesson I learned from doing a lot of sport is there's no such thing as winning because each game is just one of a series of many games. And so, I think that's something I remember as a kid, I used to take it very seriously when you lost a game of soccer or lost a game of tennis. But when I, yeah, I think it took a bit of maturity to kind of realize that each individual game is meaningless in life. Like it's a combination of all those games and what you learned from it that matters.

Darren Moffatt:

So, the problem we set out to solve in this episode was how to leverage ambition and competitiveness to boost your entrepreneurial drive. Our mindset expert, Stephanie Thompson revealed the psychological theory behind drive and our start-up grew, Rachel Neumann, explained why this is so important in a founder. And we've also heard some fascinating, real-life stories from our entrepreneur, guests, Jonty Hirsowitz of deferit and Chris Brycki from stock spot. I hope their wisdom and insight have given your ideas to crack the code to growth in your own business. For me, there are four key learnings that we can all take from this episode. Number one, there's a strong physical component to entrepreneurial drive. As Stephanie explained, dopamine hormones, exercise, and even thyroid are all factors that feed into motivation and activity. So, if you're naturally a more sedentary person, you may need to change up your routine and get more physical.

Darren Moffatt:

If you want more drive. Number two, leverage your purpose. I loved what Chris from stock spot had to say on this for him. There was a strong ethical component that drove him to launch the business. Redressing a wrong on behalf of consumers was and remains a key motivator. Number three, use passion to drive growth. This has been a big source of the drive for Jonty and the team at Deferit and has helped them solve problems, push through the pain barrier and ultimately to become number one in their niche. As we heard in the Elon Musk story at the top of the episode, a strong drive can propel you further and faster than you ever imagined. And in the case of musk even as outsiders, we can see clear evidence of many of the traits we've heard our guests talk about today. He's passionate. He's goal driven.

Darren Moffatt:

He has incredible physical endurance and he's purpose led. He states as his mission for space x, to maintain the light of consciousness to make sure it continues into the future. Now decoded that means he's purpose is literally to preserve the ongoing viability of the human species. That's a pretty bold vision. He's also hyper competitive. When Jeff Bezos recently tweeted about Amazon's success, Musk responded with a silver metal emoji to rub his face in the fact that Musk has the larger fortune. Now that might strike you as childish or petty, but his Twitter fans loved it, of course, and presumably, so do the legions of investors in Tesla and space X who benefit from this competitive streak. It might be unrealistic for the mere mortals amongst us to aim for the superhuman feats that we observe in elite entrepreneurs. But one thing is certain, there is not merely correlation between hard work and success.

Darren Moffatt:

There is causation too. If you're ambitious for your business, your team, or for yourself, you need to find the right mix of motivators that can inspire you to work harder for longer. Whilst there's more than one way to the top. The road is almost always paved in blood, sweat and tears. We’re coming to the end, but before we go, it's time for our regular segment nerd superpower, where a guest has to share one attribute or skill that gives them the edge in their market. Let's find out who our super nerd is today. So, Jonty, we now come to another recurring segment, uh, here at nerds of business called.

Quote:

Nerd Superpower.

Darren Moffatt:

So, nerd superpower. Uh, you, uh, today, our bill now pay later nerd. Um, what's uh, if you had to sort of break it down, you're obviously a person with a lot of good experience, a wide skillset, uh, and, uh, and very much a thirst for learning. If you had to sort of pinpoint one superpower, um, that's really been key to getting to getting you to where you are today. What would it be?

Jonty Hirsowitz:

Uh, that's a good one. I, again, I think we've actually maybe even covered it. Um, I'd say my one suit, like I'll always meet people. Like I'll never, like, you can never say, um, when you meet, like you meet other people, like you always meet people that are clever than you or see the world in a much better fashion or have better ideas. Um, the one superpower I think I do have is I think my ability to certainly focus and put the yards in, um, I've, I've always found that being able to our work people, or competition, um, and that's kind of been my superpower. Um, maybe it's more a grunt force type of thing, but definitely like if I need to put the guns down and go for it, like I like I can, I can sit at a desk for a very, very long time without leaving. So, I think that I would have to say that's my superpower, probably a lame one, but anyway.

Darren Moffatt:

So goodbye. But I'm kind of, I'm a little concerned about your staff Jonty. I mean, like what a what's the work environment there at Deferit? I mean, when they, when the staff see, you come into the office, sit down at the desk, is it like, oh, oh my God, he's in for a long one today. I'm going to have to stay back as well.

Jonty Hirsowitz:

Not really. So, what I do is, um, firstly, because we are very conscious of culture. So, the first thing is I, my schedule now is I go to bed quite early and I'm up very, very early. So, what I generally do is if I'm in the office, I'll leave at about 5:30pm,just so I can set the example for most people. And then when I get home, I'll have dinner or whatever. And then I log back in and I finish my work, so I do to leave the office. I don't sit in the office and try and create that environment. Which just, something very prominent working as a lawyer, but basically the environment we work under, and we still work hard. There are people that will have to work late on certain nights is it's all about like you basically you're an owner. And so, if you need to get something done, it's up to you to execute on it. But equally, if you don't have anything to do then, and you can go home early, go home early.

Darren Moffatt:

So, thanks for listening to episode 29 of the nerds of business podcast. If you've enjoyed it, please leave a review on apple, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. It helps us climb up the ranks and become more visible to other people, just like you. Remember, we want to help as many entrepreneurs and businesses as possible. If you've got a question or some feedback, we'd love to hear from you, you can engage with us at our website, nerdsofbusiness.com, that’s nerdsofbusiness.com. So, feel free to reach out and say hello. I want to thank all of our guests and the team at Webbuzz for helping me put this show together. We'll be back in two weeks with our next episode, which is on when entrepreneurs go bad, negative and destructive behaviours that ruin people and kill companies until then. I'm your host, Darren Moffatt. And I look forward to nerding out with you next time. Bye for now.

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