Paul Spiers founded the New P&L Institute which is dedicated to amplifying entrepreneurial results. After achieving success, and losing a business and then having another business implode, Paul decided that there had to be something he was missing. After some serious introspection, he made a series of life-changing decisions that have led him to experience more joy, fulfilment, and results than ever before. In this episode, Susan and Paul discuss the entrepreneurial reality check, how to torch excuses, and dive into why entrepreneurs fail.
— Paul Spiers
Topics covered in the interview
Making a transition
Idea versus dream
Common excuses to not launch a business
When to dig in and when to let go
Nature and nurture
Consistency and discipline
Paul Spiers’ Bio
Founder of The New P&L – Brand Purpose Institute & Host of The New P&L – Principles & Leadership in Business podcast series, Paul is a consultant, speaker and author on topics and trends around Principles & Leadership, Commercial Creativity and innovation.
Paul believes in ‘The New P&L’ for business. One that is focused as much on ‘Principles & Leadership’ as it is on ‘Profit & Loss’: as if a business’s Principles are right and aligned with its purpose, and its Leadership has clarity of vision and is focused and empathetic, then it will be in profit and not in loss in many ways.
After a career as senior executive in the creative, marketing, business strategy and reputation management sectors; a life-changing series of events led Paul to re-evaluate where he was heading professionally and the core principles and leadership characteristics that underpin business today. As a result, in 2019 he launched ‘The New P&L’ podcast series and The New P&L Brand Purpose Institute.
Paul challenges his podcast guests and corporate clients to think deeply and strategically on the issues and opportunities around principles and leadership in business and how they, as leaders, can work towards building more principled, productive, collaborative and successful businesses – those with great, inspirational leaders and passionate, motivated teams.
Follow Paul Spiers
Susan Sly 00:01
Well, hello everyone, I hope you're having an incredible day. I want to give a shout out and love to New Zealand who's now in the top five of our listening audiences. UK, of course, is holding strong at number three, Canada, US, Australia, New Zealand and the UK. So way to go, and we're now in 121 countries. And if you are ready for the raw ans real talk about entrepreneurship, then today's show is just for you. My guest is an expert in, let's call them the new principles of leadership. He mentors entrepreneurs, he has spoken at some of the most significant events really assisting people with this journey of self awareness. And let me read you just a little bit about him. He's the host of the new P&L Principles and Leadership in business podcast series, which I have listened to, and the founder of the new P&L Institute and Applied Creative Thinking Consultancy Amplifier group. He's a speaker, presenter, and panel moderator on topics and trends around principles and leadership in business, as well as the growing field of commercial creativity. And we're going to jump in talking about his journey. But my guest today is the one and only Paul Spiers. So Paul, welcome. Thank you very much, Susan. Glad to be here. So Paul, let me ask you, how did you make the decision to transition from this corporate senior executive to someone who said, That's not what I want to do anymore? I want to spend my time really empowering others. Because there are a lot of people who listen to the show, who are, they have a job, they want to make that transition, they just don't know how. How did it happen for you?
Paul Spiers 01:48
I think there's a big difference between having an idea and having a dream. And recognizing that your passion and your purpose exists within that idea or that dream. Because I think when you first start as an entrepreneur, you've got a lot of excitement about a new venture. But there's a huge amount of hard work and determination and persistence, and reality checks that need to feed into that entrepreneurial venture. So when I first went, and I've been an entrepreneur off and on for for most of my adult life. I've run agencies, set up agencies, much like yourself, held some senior roles in other agencies as well. But I keep coming back to the desire to create my own life, my own destiny. And I think that's really the determining factor behind me becoming an entrepreneur, and a persistent entrepreneur, as I like to call myself, because you, there's nothing better than in life than controlling your life and taking hold of your life. And entrepreneurship gives you that opportunity. Now with that opportunity comes responsibility. And it's not all an easy ride, as I suggest. But if it's up to you, and you're able to control it, and there's nothing better in your life than to be able to steer the ship in that regard. So that's why I took the jump from the corporate ship to the entrepreneur, dinghy, and pedal very, very hard at the beginning to get that to keep it afloat. But it's a wonderful experience. It's absolutely enthralling and inspiring. But it does come with a lot of hard work.
Susan Sly 03:26
What advice would you give to someone listening right now who's saying, you know what, Paul, I'm exhausted. I'm burned out. I want to start something. I think one more day, as an employee, I'm going to lose my mind. What advice would you give to them?
Paul Spiers 03:45
I don't believe in the "burn your bridges and start something new." I think there's a reality to life today. Particularly if you're in the corporate world, that you should start that cliched side hustle, but do something towards that entrepreneurial dream or venture every day. Make it your discipline, see yourself time every day to start moving towards them. Now some of those things could be expanding your curiosity, looking at how you think about your proposition more creatively. What are the markets you want to move into? What are the realities of the product, your service you're trying to sell? How difficult is it? How easy is it? But whatever those things are, do something slowly towards that move. I think in terms of the self awareness to sort of weave it into this point. Also, though, at the same time and almost in contradiction to what I've just said, make sure you're not making an excuse for why you're not launching that entrepreneurial venture as well. Whatever your challenges in life, that shouldn't prohibit you moving forward. And my, or the new P&L, my venture now, came out of a very challenging period of my life, but I had to move it forward. And it was small steps at the start. But you must make sure that you're self critical enough in a positive sense and self aware enough to make sure that you're not putting artificial barriers in your mind in terms of starting that entrepreneurial venture, whatever their challenge happens to be in life.
Susan Sly 05:19
I love what you said that, make sure you're not making an excuse. Right? What would you say, and I want to, I want to get into the challenges that helped you birth the new P&L. I want to ask you this first. When you say, make sure you're not making an excuse, what are some of the common excuses that you see people make in terms of, I'm an employee, I want to start a business. But I am making excuses. Because I think for those watching and listening, if they're, you know, maybe they're going, Oh, my gosh, I think he's talking to me right now. So what are some of those excuses?
Paul Spiers 06:06
Time is the biggest excuse isn't, it? I haven't got the time. I haven't got the time, I haven't had the inclination, I'm too busy at my current job. But we find time for all of the things or many of the things we love in life. And if you are passionate about this, your entrepreneurial venture, your entrepreneurial dream, then you will find the time and if you can't find the time, then I would suggest, it's probably that thing in your mind, that dream or that goal that you believe you have for your entrepreneurial success, probably isn't the dream or goal you need for your entrepreneurial success. Because if you can't find the time, then there's something in you, either it's instinct, intuition, there are third laziness, but something in there is saying to you, this probably isn't for me. And that's the number one inhibitor I think, to entrepreneurial success, or to the potential of entrepreneurial success, is someone saying I don't have the time, but must make the time and I say to someone the other day, the entrepreneurial journey is like, trying to open a tin can with a pen. It's probably technically possible. But functionally stupid. If you haven't got the patience, the determination, the persistence, to stick at opening that tin with a pen, you'll have to excuse my Kiwi accent, probably people understand, what I'm saying with it, that if you don't have the persistence to open the tin with a pen, then that dream probably isn't strong enough for you.
Susan Sly 07:42
Well, I resonate with that statement, technically functional, but operationally stupid. I think, I think it needs to be a T shirt. I really. Did you ever have that excuse? Because people listening might say, well, Paul sounds so certain. Did you ever have excuses?
Paul Spiers 08:04
Yeah, absolutely. And there are still days now as I'm sure you find where you've got to give yourself a good talking to just because you've leapt into it. Someone said to me to the other day, your entrepreneurial journey, you can have the best day and the worst day in the same day. And I think that's absolutely true. And I still give myself a good talking to you know, when things are tougher than they should be or perhaps you feel they need to be is another argument that they are exactly where they need to be. But this is what you need to learn for today. And I'm a full advocate of that as well. But I've had entrepreneurial failures in the past. I set up a surf wear clothing brand because I was so passionate about surfing. And it was, I recognize in hindsight, a midlife crisis. But only marginally better than buying a Ferrari, I think. But I set it up. I loved surfing, but I wasn't, I wasn't ingrained and embedded enough in the surfing culture. So I didn't understand. I knew how to surf. What I didn't understand is how to run a surf business. And that failed. And it was a great concept in a great brand. But I recognized quite soon into the journey that the passion that I had for surfing was not replicated in the passion I had for the business. And that's a quite a clear distinction as well. I think you may have a passion for certain industries, certain products certain area. But whether you've got a passion to have a business and that area is quite another thing, I think. How do you know
Susan Sly 09:39
the difference between it's time to quit or let go of a business or it's time to dig in? Because I, a few months ago, I was speaking to a friend of mine who, he's built many successful businesses. Then during the recession he lost many businesses. And he said to me, Susan, sometimes you have to stay where it's hard. So I'm curious, losing the surf business, and I lost a business in 2000, I lost a health club. How do you know when it's time to say, Hmm, maybe I should, this is not the right thing for me right now, versus I need to dig in, I need to learn. Because there are people who get burned out, there are people who get exhausted, but they're really, if they could step back and just stay in the game for a few more weeks, they'd have that next breakthrough. How
Susan Sly do you know the difference?
Paul Spiers 10:35
I think if I had the absolute answer to that, I'd be calling you from my gym, not my lounge? I think it's a very difficult question to answer. I think my view on it is, again, it comes back to self awareness. But part of that self awareness is understanding what the purpose is for you and their business. And whether you are with you and that purpose are instinctively tied together with whether that business is part of you, or whether it is a business that is separate to you. And I guess another question to ask yourself as part of that analysis, is, with the pain of not being in their business be greater than the pain and staying in it? And I think if you, and it's very difficult to do, but I think if you can step outside and say, Well, what would I be doing if I wasn't running this business? Where would I have to take employment? What would I be doing? And will that make life easier, not financially in the short term, but easier, in my mind, easier in my settlement with the passion that I have for life, or despite how hard it is, is actually the pain less for me to stay in the business? Because my purpose and my belief in myself are intimately entwined. And this business is part of me, not part of an industry. And I think that's, there is no line upon which you put one leg either side and you think, Well, I know it or I don't. You've got to go with your intuition and instincts. But that's the question I would be asking myself. Is the pain leaving greater than the pain of staying? Is your business part of you or is a part of something else?
Susan Sly 12:20
There are a lot of people who stay and they're in pain, but they're not quitters. And sometimes quitting can be really healthy. And sometimes it's it's done for the wrong reasons. You started, you mentioned the new P&L out of a place of challenge. Do you want to talk about that challenge?
Paul Spiers 12:45
Yeah, I can I can talk about a broad overview of it. I had my own agency, my own marketing agency, successful. I had a series of, I guess, unethical actions inflicted upon me in the agency, which took the agency and myself to its knees. At that time being a marketeer, you always find creativity and adversity. And the new P&L came to me as a concept at that point that, there has to be something more to business than profit and loss. It's got to be about principles and purpose, there's got to be a new P&L principles of leadership. So that idea set with me for a little while for a few years while I rebuild things and got my life back on track, if you like. And then somewhere in the back of the dusty confines of my brain a couple of years ago, the idea of the new P&L and the podcast came togethe. I thought I'd dip my toe in the water to see whether it would resonate with an audience, resonate with guests. And it just seemed to explode and take off. And, you know, I think is equally as important as recognizing that great ideas and creativity come from adversity is, and I gave a keynote on this yesterday, is the power of ensuring that if an idea is not right for right now, that you don't let go of that idea, that you hold on to it, you curate it, you revisit it, because life isn't static. Life is organic, and your life context changes and your viewpoint changes and the people that can influence that idea change. And so because that idea didn't work 2,3,4 years ago, or the idea didn't seem to fit, you've got to keep coming back. You've got to be fair to the idea is what I say. You've got to keep coming back to that idea. It wants to come to life, and it wants to be shaped. But sometimes you don't have the right hands to shape it at that time.
Susan Sly 14:48
And it must have been, must have been challenging, and I've had that experience myself something you've worked day in, day out. You have a team of people, it's your business. It's your brand, it's become part of your identity, and to have, you know, to have so many things happen at a time that causes others to question you. When I, when I lost my business, it was actually written about on the front page of our local newspaper, in addition to my divorce and so, that's why I always look at the tabloids and say, Yeah, okay, there's a real story behind there and this isn't it. But to go through publicly losing a business is, is really, really tough. And then to pick oneself back up and say, Okay, now I'm going to start another business. How did you do that mentally? Because a lot of people wouldn't have. And so that puts you in some rarefied air. Most people, when something happens to a business, they say, Okay, I'm done. I'm not doing this anymore. I'm going back into the work world. But how did you mentally pick yourself back up?
Paul Spiers 16:05
I think it's a little bit of nature and nurture. I think my mother is an extraordinarily strong woman. And she raised seven kids and raised them very well. And it was a very tough environment. And I think she, she gave us a lot of inner strength. So I think there's a, there's a nurture bit there, where you have seen adversity, and you've seen how strong your mother is, and you just learn, you know, from that. And I think there's a little bit of nature. I just think there's something in me like there's something in you, something in many entrepreneurs that we don't necessarily fit the mold. We don't always see adversity. We may see adversity as a negative in the moment, we don't see it as a defining moment of our lives. It's something to build on and build from. And, as I said, with a new P&L, finding that creative spark in the middle of that adversity, and I think that is something that's quite beautiful about entrepreneurs. You hear of great successes, followed by tremendous failure. And then two years later, they're back in tremendous success again, and there's, I don't think there's a gene for it. I think it's a combination of nature and nurture, and experience and the wonderful support you have around you and the determination you have. But there is something that makes you just get up and you've got to believe in a better tomorrow, don't you? You have to believe in a better tomorrow. There isn't any alternative to that. And we often have so many negative narratives in our heads. And I often think sometimes as entrepreneurs we succeed in spite of ourselves. And what if we could consistently turn that negative narrative positive? Imagine how amazing we would be, and things would be if that narrative that we scratch in the back of our heads all the time, if there was a consistently positive narrative. So I just think you've got to believe consistently that tomorrow will be better.
Susan Sly 18:14
It's that unbridled optimism, but without the naivete. Now you strike me, Paul, as someone who's done a tremendous amount of work on your mindset. So what, for people watching and listening, what- do you have books you would recommend? Or have there been mentors? Or what has helped you shift your mindset to this point? Because you really are remarkable. To the surf business, to the agency, but to pick yourself up and say, No, I'm going to go forward. And I'm going to spend my career adding value to people's lives. So what have been some of the tools for you to hone your mindset?
Paul Spiers 18:58
I think, I mean, I could recommend books, and I could recommend personal development experts and everything else. But I, I think too often we lean on those external supports. And I think most of us, I would hope all of us actually have what we need already inside of us. What it is, to get it out is consistency and discipline, is applying yourself to those affirmations or the gratitudes every day, you know, recognizing what you do have rather than what you don't. And I'm really, got a real thing at the moment. And I'm doing a lot of writing about it that the pandemic has been terrible in many, many ways. Many businesses have been strained. Many people have lost their lives. Many families have been disrupted in so many ways, but I do also think there are many people out there who have found a resilience through the last 12 months that they probably didn't think they had and they found a strength of character. And an ability and resilience that probably wasn't recognized because they were never put in that position. And I would like to think that we can find that well, that we have individually created of resilience over the last 12 months, and utilize it as we come out over the next 12 months, and put it into our lives and put it into our business because we are so much stronger than we give ourselves credit for. And that's where that negative narrative creeps in and says, you failed, or you won't be able to achieve this or you won't be able to do this. But look at what we've all just got through. And we are resilient individuals and we continually rise again. We just have to focus daily on the discipline that recognizes that resilience and recognizes that gratitude and that self belief. The consistency that is the key. There's no point reading a book, a self help book, or otherwise, if you're not going to apply that day after day after day, because like training sessions in business, two weeks after no one's really applying the training, because there's no mechanism to continually deliver it. So that it relies on us. It's our responsibility as individuals to be disciplined and consistent about the what we tell ourselves, why we tell ourselves that and how we deliver that an action. Beautiful. I love what you said, we
Susan Sly 21:24
all have it within us and we're stronger than we give ourselves credit for. I had a friend Jerry, and I was at his house in Dallas, and he had a library, it had 4000 books. And I said, Have you read all of these books? And he was very successful. He said, Susan, what I do is I read a book, and then I'll take a concept and I'll apply the concept but I'll put down the book. And I felt that was so valuable. Because when, to your point, you can have the best collection of books, you can listen to Paul's show, this show. You can you know, I know there are people who listen every single week. But if you're not applying it, you don't have the consistency and the discipline, you're not going to get the results. Speaking of consistency, and discipline, I asked all of my guests this and people love to know, walk us through your day.
Paul Spiers 22:20
I get up, I get up at five. But I don't get up at five because I believe in the entrepreneurial mentor of 5am and all that sort of thing. I don't really subscribe to that entrepreneurial mantra. I just get up early because I enjoy it. I usually get, I start with my breathing. Wim. Hof, who you may be familiar with. Deep breathing, that has been, actually that's been a revelation for me in the last 12 months. I started that roughly 12 months ago, the deep breathing, the cold showers, the holding of the breath. That has been a forced 20 minutes of introspection and meditation that aside from all of the health benefits that it delivers, has really forced me to just start my day by thinking inward rather than picking up social media and picking up your phone and checking who's like your LinkedIn or whatever it happens to be. So I start with that five to seven, I will read or or go for a walk or that's my favorite part of the day because no one's emailing, no one's ringing, the sun during the summer is shining, and you can sit out the back and have a coffee and think. And I think you've got to start your day with starting with yourself. The minute you start your day by engaging in some other way, giving up control through your mobile phone or whatever it happens to be. I think you set the tone for the day. You start the day by controlling yourself and believing in yourself and setting the tone for the day by yourself. I think over time, it's remarkable what shift that makes and how you approach your day and how you approach the people and the challenges you have in your day. When you start your day by picking up a mobile phone, you relinquish control as soon as you wake up and I'm not anti technology but I'm a firm believer that it must work for us not the other way around.
Susan Sly 24:21
That's beautiful. And my cousin is a huge subscriber to Wim Hof as well. And he's released 50 pounds. And I'm so proud of him. Stephen shout out to Stephen. And like you, I do not look at my phone for the first several hours of the day. I wake up early as a choice. Or sometimes my daughter's cat will wake me up. This morning I was up 4am. But those the sacred moments of the day are so huge. And on Sundays, I call them souled out Sundays, s-o-u-l-e-d. And I don't look at my mobile phone. I don't look at, you know anything.. And I have great friends who honor the Sabbath and they're multimillionaires. Many times over, they don't look at technology from Friday night to Saturday afternoon. And I think that we weren't designed as humans to be seven days a week to be all the time and when we need something, it owns us, to your point, which I love. Final question, tell everyone about the new P&L. And I want everyone to check out, the thing I love about your show, is like these short sound bites. It's a little, a wee bit addictive, right? It's like, one after the other. But tell everyone about your work now and how they can connect with you, Paul? Absolutely.
Paul Spiers 25:51
So the new P&L, Principles Leadership in business podcast series, available on all major platforms. I mean, we're focused on exactly what the name suggests, discussing with guests and discussing topics around principled leadership in business and how that should look in the future. What more self awareness should look like a leadership, more courageous or audacious leadership should look like, resilient leadership. And a big thing I think, for the future is also what more creative leadership looks like. How do we weave creativity across a business? So creative thinking, rather than just sitting in the marketing or the design department, whatever it happens to be. How do we remain curious? How do we join dots in different ways? How do we seek the future of our business and find ourselves in the process? And we have two shows each week. We interview the sort of the deep discussion, which is the Wednesday interview. And then we have the new P&L To The Point on Friday, where we take some of the topics from that discussion and break them down and I analyze them a little bit. And I think the key point really, for us is that we, we do a huge amount of research in advance, because we want to get right to the root of some of these really important topics, because I think there are so many things in business that, as you suggested earlier, entrepreneurs really want to understand and they need to understand and we have so much information out there, we're almost a wash with information but bereft of knowledge at the moment. And so our ambition is to try and just give, play our own small role and giving a little bit more knowledge to our audience.
Susan Sly 27:32
Beautiful. Well, I would love for everyone to connect with you. And you can visit www.principlesandleadership.com I want to add a "the" there so just ignore what I said. Or on Instagram, it's @principlesandleadership, which you and I will connect too there. Twitter, TheNewPandL. And so, Paul, thank
Susan Sly 27:57
you so much.
Paul Spiers 27:58
Thank you, Susan. It's been a real pleasure to meet you.
Susan Sly 28:01
And thank you. And if anyone is watching on YouTube, drop a comment below because you know, it's me, not my EA, it's me who's responding to all of your comments. If you've got a comment for Paul, let him know or tag him on Instagram in your story. Let, you know if you're, you know, take a snapshot of us, and do whatever you do, but we would love that shout out. So with that, this has been another episode of the Susan Sly project and I look forward to seeing you next time.