DREW MICHAEL — AGORA GURU: QUICK FIRE INTERVIEW

27 FEBRUARY, 2017

Every month, I will posting an interview with a Founder — words of wisdom, honesty & inspiration. Always the same questions….

What Did you Want to Be When you Grew Up?

My earliest memory was wanting to be a naval aviator — yes think top gun. But was promptly told that my legs were to long and they would be chopped off if i ever ejected. So then went down the army scholarship route and that took care of any aspirations as a youngster. The irony was I ended up facing more danger on the ground in afghan than I would have done in any plane! I did also do some work experience in a law firm, but needless to say 2 days was enough to put me off for life.

Who is Your Inspiration?

My mother has been a huge figure in my life. My father died suddenly when I was 7 and my bro 5, and left my mum with 1m of debt and a motorfactor business which in 1990 couldn’t be further from a women’s workplace and one which she certainly knew nothing about. Not to mention 1m of debt in 1990. My mum fought for 15 years, cleared the debt, sent us to private school, took us on amazing holidays and sold the business before founding and then selling a second. Nights at the dinner table were often dominated with business related discussion, and her fight and the freedom being a business owner gave her clearly impacted on me from a young age. Time then spent in the business as a teen sowed the seed. She now runs wine trips all over the world, and indulges in a passion for no profit which is great.

What’s Been Your Hardest Lesson?

I picked up an injury in the army during an arduous course as a result of being under prepared and simply doing to much distractive and unnecessary stuff in my life. I failed the course, and it was the first thing I had ever really failed at having nailed school and uni. It was a mental and physical blow, and left me despairing for the best part of 6 months. It taught me that if you don’t get your head sorted and in the game, you are destined to fail irrelevant of fitness and personal physical ability. The old adage of proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance rings true. It also showed me that you must always speak up for who you are, your values and your personality. Whatever the short term impact of doing so, eventually things will right themselves.

What/where/who is your Escape?

Rather simply my escape from London life has always been retreating back to Oxfordshire, and life on the Thames with old school friends and family. The short drive means its very accessible, and there has always been a physical sensation of the weight lifting as I hit the Hammersmith fly over with some James Bay belting out. More recently skiing, which i was late to, has really helped, and does feel like time in the mountains touches the soul.

Who is Your Favourite Pixar Movie Character?

Dory — i carried a huge Dory teddy around xmas shopping for my little godson and so its an obvious choice.

If you could be an Olympian, who would you be?

Andy Murray — there is something about the way before him Henman was never really a champ, and that he came from nowhere to somewhere very quickly without much character or hype. He has shrugged off criticism and just grafted hard, in a sport that is intensely isolationist in regard to pressure and performance. Also living in Henley and having rowed before I know the training sucks balls, so Redgrave slips well down the list.

What’s your Secret to Success?

Hard work and self belief. Even though I doubt regularly, I have this sense of purpose and awareness of opportunity that ensures i never stop, and keeps me pushing on and on in the belief that I will achieve my goals. I try and generate as much energy as possible, and remember someone once telling me that my father’s greatest attribute was making anyone and everyone feel special about themselves. I like to think that I share this attribute and can invoke in people a sense of belief and purpose and awareness of the opportunity that they never perviously had. In doing so it generates good favour in return and a form of inertia that I believe will be rewarded in the future.

What would you Desert Island Disc be?

James Bay — some absolute feel good belters and some make you miserable as hell love songs.

What is your life’s Luxury?

food and drink — this may be cheating but I love indulging in food and drink and this is a luxury given what I see when in africa.

Who is the Founder you Aspire to Be?

Initially I thought Nick Jones as what he has achieved is epic, but then at the same time I actually feel he and his brand have failed to fully capitalise on what they have achieved from an infrastructure perspective. I feel they have fallen fowl to internal arrogance and a level of BS that is totally uncool with me. Oddly Bernie Ecclestone springs to mind as it would be a hell of a lot of fun to create and dominate a sporting spectacle as he has done, and create the huge opportunity he has for so many associated businesses. Clearly he is also far from perfect.

After more thought I looked at this question differently, and rather than put a name to it thought of the type of founder I wish to be. This is then easier, partly because I don’t have a huge knowledge of startups and there respective founders, and partly because who knows what really makes people tick. For me I often think of financial success as merely a step towards being able to execute various sustainable energy and society wide improvement projects I have in mind in the developed and developing world. I have also hope to build a business in which I can incorporate a number of friends, and create a lifestyle spent with them and their families. After all, I personally experienced how much fun a true family business can deliver and believe that there is far more to just big numbers and large offices.

Summarised into one simple aspiration — I would like to be known as a founder who is fearless in pursuing ideas, awakens a similar feeling in others, and achieves what many have written off as simply not possible.

Originally published at agoraworld.one.

A consultancy with community and wellbeing at its heart.