Brian Williamson is an incredible man whose life is so full of events and achievements that it’s hard to find a place to begin telling about him. Brian has been running companies at Board level for the last 39 years. As a professional businessman and award-winning entrepreneur he is always on a learning journey, learning about himself and learning from others. His philosophy is grounded on stakeholder engagement. Making any company with which he is involved part of that stakeholder’s dream.
Brian’s life as an entrepreneur has been a rollercoaster of fantastic highs and unbelievable lows. In 1996 he almost lost everything including his own house and that of his parents. He believes he is audaciously aspirational and encourages all he works with to be the same and be bold.
During our conversation for the Genius Leadership Podcast, one of the topics that we discussed was the calculation of and behaviour with risks.
When I asked Brian what he would suggest to the audience when it comes to dealing with risks, he started with his own approach and experience. He himself often relies on his guts when making a risky decision. You might be surprised that an accomplished entrepreneur relies on his gut, but Brian says that gut is a database of one’s previous experiences. Not all of our memories and learnings can be retrieved analytically – some of them are stored on a more instinctual level.
Brian brought up the example of the business that he and his colleagues started just after the last recession, in 2009, which took on in the basement, and he managed to build a safety net just in case something goes wrong. Whenthey sold this business a few years ago, all that “safety net” money was still in the bank. So, although they didn’t need that safety net, they still built it just in case something would go south. It’s like if you’re crossing the grand Canyon on a tightrope and you’ve got a safety net, you just hope you don’t need to use it. But because you didn’t use it doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t have been there. Because it was there perhaps you’ve viewed your walk slightly differently. When you risk most of the time it’s not just your own risk, but it involves other people, their families and well-being. So you have to take that all into account and then move on.
So some of the advice Brian gave was:
- Look for someone who is further on the path you are going and see what they can help you with. People have different experiences in the different paths, so depending on your path, you really just want to find someone that’s going where you’re going. Ask as many people as you can about what they’ve learned. It’s far better to learn from them than through your own trials and errors.
- Never do things alone because quite often, when we are leaders, we feel like all of the stakes are dependent on our decisions and all the responsibilities are on us. There is always someone who’s done that before and is better at that already because they have more experience. And it’s so important to tap into that all the time. Ask for pieces of advice and discuss the situations you are going through.
- Give to others what you can give and ask for what they can give you. Make it look like you or they are giving a gift. There’s a lot of positivity in that.
If you are interested in learning about how lowering the work time affected Brian’s productivity and hear his practical tips on how to ask yourself what the problem that you’re a solution to, you can listen to the whole podcast episode here.
Stay tuned and be genius!