Panel with Ashley Friedlein Guild Founder Part II

What is your super power?

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Second part of the panel with Ashley, Discussing Super Powers and Super Weaknesses.


Charles T:          I'm back with Ashley Friedlein, who is the founder of Guild, and former founder of E-Consultancy. Ashley, thanks for covering off your story and who you are, and the grafting you've done in the past. I guess your music empire never took shape, but it was a good story.

Charles T:          I guess I wanted to hear a couple things about your journey as an entrepreneur. What are some of the things that you've overcome. What are the biggest challenges that you've overcome as an entrepreneur, just for others to hear about that?

Ashley F:           I mean, there's so many. I don't think I've necessarily overcome anything that anyone else hasn't. But there's the simple things. Finding the money, finding ... Actually, that's the somewhat easier part. Finding and keeping good talent I think is hard. Early on in the journey, you're also selling a vision or a dream, which you've got to take people on. That's staff, that's customers and prospects and things. That can be quite hard. You've got to have that energy, and keep having that energy. Keep believing in that vision and dream, even through the inevitable tough times.

Ashley F:           Then you get curve balls. The times where you almost run out of money. The times where I got phoned up by Google and threatened to be sued, just from trying to sell the business. In this moment, when your blood runs cold. I think entrepreneurs know that.

Ashley F:           Then also, just juggling being an entrepreneur with your family life, or your personal life, is hard. Because you've got lots of responsibilities. You've got lots of things on your mind. Trying to do justice to all those things at the same time I think is hard.

Charles T:          Okay, cool. I guess people like to hear about the pain. You know? I think it's helpful for people to hear it. I guess, what advice would you give to ... This is your second, I guess they say rodeo, if you will. This isn't your first rodeo, which is a terrible analogy. But what advice would you say to first time entrepreneurs, and maybe even second time, in your case?

Ashley F:           Don't do it. It's crazy.

Charles T:          Don't do it.

Ashley F:           I mean, I think the thing is, it is a pretty brutal thing. I don't know whether it's like, obviously I haven't given birth. But you know, that is incredibly painful, but people do do it a second or third time. Somehow they forget what it was like. Maybe it's like that with businesses and things.

Ashley F:           But I think that it is really hard. Anyone, I've written two books. But sometimes you meet people and they say, "I've got an idea for a book". Or I meet people and they go, "I've got an idea for a business". I think, "Yeah, so what? Everyone's got ideas". Unless you do it, and I'm not going to make you do it. Unless you feel compelled to do it, then you're not an entrepreneur, really. Just having ideas is easy.

Ashley F:           I find that it's by some weird compulsion that makes people do it. Either you can or you can't. It is this debate around whether entrepreneurs can be made rather than born. I certainly think you can learn a lot of the skills, and you can be a successful entrepreneur by learning things. But I still think there's a lot of nature rather than nurture in it as well.

Charles T:          Yeah, maybe. Maybe it's personality type. Maybe it's a possession. You're possessed by this thing, and you can't control it. Right? That's I guess what happens.

Ashley F:           Yeah. I think as well, I mean I ... For Jeff Bezos. His Regret Minimization Framework. But anyway, this idea he said. That when he was deciding whether he should leave his well paid Wall Street job to set up Amazon, that he imagined being an 80 year old and looking back on his life, and thinking, "Would I regret not doing this?". Then that became.

Ashley F:           I quiet like that way of thinking. "I know this is going to be hard. It's going to be difficult. But if I look back on my life, if I make it to being old, would I regret not doing this?". Usually the answer is, "Yes, definitely".

Charles T:          Yeah. I think that's kind of what drove me too. I think, "Now, do I regret doing it?". That's a different -

Ashley F:           Everyday.

Charles T:          Just to end on this, I think it's great to talk about the journey. Then, what would you say is your superpower? Do you have a superpower? Maybe it's your memory? That you forget how hard it is.

Ashley F:           Yeah, that's a good question. I think having good judgment. I know that's a pretty broad thing. But there's a whole series of decisions you're making all the time. Sometimes even having the judgment to know what is a big decision and what is a small decision is quite a hard thing to know in the moment.

Ashley F:           Obviously as an entrepreneur or as a CEO or as a leader, you're making decisions all the time. Sometimes you have to think, "No, this I'm going to sit on for a while", and it miraculously goes away. Or you've got a really big and bad thing. A lot of that's about judgment. That's a very hard and quite a nuanced thing, and I think quite hard to learn as well.

Ashley F:           But on the whole, touch wood, I think that I have good judgment, and have so far been quite good and seeing the future. Or at least seeing to me what seemed to be bleedingly obvious. But which other people see as visionary.

Charles T:          Right, okay. Yeah, interesting. I think that's a good segue to Guild, which we definitely want to talk about. Every superhero, let's say you're a superhero, has a super weakness. Do you have one of those?

Ashley F:           I don't know. I've never ... I think again, because almost the power and the weakness is being, I think I'm quiet good at most things but I'm not necessarily super good at any one thing. I mean, creative vision, seeing the future maybe. There are certain things I've felt I'm weak at, which I've had to learn. Which is about not being good sometimes always at explaining to people my vision, or stuff that's in my head.

Ashley F:           Not being tough enough on getting rid of people quicker. As in, I've in the past I think been guilty of keeping people for too long. Which has been damaging for the business and other people around it. Because I felt bad or whatever. So I think I've gotten tougher on that. But that's something I've had to learn. Areas like that. Things I've had to learn and get better at.

Charles T:          Yeah, and that's not a bad thing. That's something you learn and you just, after a while I guess you just know when things need to move on. That makes a lot of sense. Okay, great. Well next one, we'll talk about Guild. Thanks, Ashley, for this part two of the journey. Great, thanks.

Charles Thiede

CEO & Co-Founder, Zapnito Ltd.

My background is in technology, professional services and digital media. I co-founded Zapnito due to a number of related observations from my time in these sectors: 1) the social web is creating a huge amount of noise 2) expertise that brands have built up over decades is being drowned out and hidden from those that need it 3) these brands are therefore losing their audience to often undeserving and unhelpful sources, and 4) people are finding it harder to access the expertise that they truly value. I therefore decided to create Zapnito, a white-label platform to help trusted brands reclaim their audiences via expert-driven knowledge networks.