What I learnt from the Monzo Inspire Event

Last Thursday I was lucky enough to attend the inspire event at Monzo’s head office near London’s Silicon Roundabout.

The event speakers were:

  1. Tom Blomfield CEO – Monzo
  2. Juliana Zarate Co-Founder and CEO –  Mucho!
  3. Tom Freeman – Learning and Development Manager – Headspace


Monzo

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Monzo is a bank which challenges the idea of a traditional bank because it is available at your fingertips. They are completely digital which provides their users with the ultimate customer experience by avoiding the queues and long waiting times you would get in a traditional bank. This is because they have no physical stores and operate through their smartphone app. Users are given a prepaid card which is linked to the app, so when the  card is used the app is updated.  So customers get spending notifications immediately, can add notes or receipts to their transactions and are provided with a real time budget analysis that allows them to see where all their hard-earned cash is being spent.  Another major perk of joining  is, there are no transaction fees even when abroad, something major banks do not offer. All these perks combined is why Monzo has over 370,000 users and rising.

Headspace

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Before I divulge into talking about the Headspace App I have to talk about their meditation and mindfulness expert co-founder Andy Puddicombe.

“Andy is doing for meditation what Jamie Oliver has done for food” – New York Times

Andy cut his sport science degree to become a Buddhist monk for 10 years. After completing his monastic commitment he returned to the UK with the goal of teaching mediation and mindfulness to as many people as possible. He met co-founder Rich Pierson in 2009 who needed help in dealing with the stress of the advertising world and Headspace was born. Headspace was originally established as an events company in 2010 teaching politicians, athletes, business leaders and others about mindfulness and meditation. It evolved into the app we see today  because attendees wanted to practice what they learnt at home. The app has guided meditations, animations, articles and videos.

Mucho!

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Mucho! is an iOS app which removes all the complexities from cooking as it recommends recipes, products & shopping lists that are tailored to each user, it is essentially a personal stylist for your tastebuds. Mucho! hand-picks recipes to suit a customer’s needs whether it be allergy, vegan, budget or they want a lot of cheese, they have already done the nutritional research for their food so the customer doesn’t have to. Mucho! also has partnered up with retailers to allow customers to get their food delivered.

Why work for a start-up?

Start ups can be very exciting if you believe in the company’s mission and can be very rewarding too as you will get a lot of job responsibility because it is a small team so all your hard work can be connected to you.  You also get the unique experience of working with innovative minds and can receive some great company benefits including:

  1. Company shares
  2. Free gym membership
  3. Daily meditation time

The main disadvantage of working at a start up is that could fail and it probably won’t be as luxurious as a normal corporate job in the beginning.

How do you change your an idea into business? 

Once you have your idea you have to figure out the ways in which it will work through testing and researching. You may face criticism and skepticism from friends, family and firms  but you need to  be determined to turn your idea into a reality. Your competitors may view your product as a toy but that’s okay because you might have the last laugh, think of Blockbuster VS Netflix.

Paul Graham Essays, The Innovator’s Dilemma (Management of Innovation and Change)The Innovators Dilemma and The Innovator’s Dilemma (Management of Innovation and Change) The Lean Start Up were all recommended for reading. Since attending I have read three of Paul Graham’s essays, How to do what you love, How to get start up ideas and Write like you talk.

How do you stay motivated? 

I asked this question to all three speakers. To stay motivated you need to find your mission. What drives you? What makes you get up in the morning? What is your passion? What are your strengths? What are your weakness? What issues do you want to solve and how will your strengths and weaknesses help you?

A great starting point for this is: “Start with Why”  Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action The Global Bestseller and Ted Talk by Simon Sinek. I also watch Gary Vanyerchuck videos for inspiration and blunt answers.

How can you manage your time better?

Decide the top 4 things you’re passionate about then complete them. Ensure that you are not wasting your time on futile things which are not helping you move forward because you’re only fooling yourself. Read books and articles related to your passions so they can help you on your journey.

What have I learnt about entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurs have a natural curiosity which sets them apart from others. They are continuously trying new things, willing to test out ideas and step out of their comfort zone. This leads them to finding a gap in the market which needs to be filled by their product.  For example Jennifer wanted to travel more outside her hometown in Columbia, her travelling led her to create “Become Colombia Ltda”  which allowed discounts for young people to explore the city they lived in, they also partnered with large tour wholesalers to provide clients with flights hotels and other adventures similar to Groupon.  None of this would have happened if she was not curious.

Another thing I have learnt is success does not happen overnight, both Co-Founders had been working hard for years and had previous businesses/start-ups which they then sold.

You have two choices in life, take the opportunities available to you or make opportunities for yourself. 

If you are offered the opportunity to try new things take them and if you cannot find opportunities reach out and create some of your own. 5 years ago Tom F.  became a graduate intern at Headspace after emailing them because he liked the company and was interested in meditation, he was also able to show his creativity by creating an online CV slideshow.  Now he’s the Learning Development Manager at Headspace, held 7 different position and has relocated from London to Santa Monica with the company. Tom B. was not allowed to play video games when he was younger so he started messing around with html and building websites. This skill lead him to creating a website for his local estate agent when he was in secondary school and Co-Founding 3 start-ups including Monzo  and Go Cardless.

How do you attract customers in an established and over-saturated market?

To attract customers you have to communicate a mission that resonates with people. Speaking with enthusiasm and passion is so vital, from the event I could tell that all speakers believed and loved their products which made me want to find out more about each company and write this post.

Monzo is able to attract customers through their mission of creating a better bank and create an intelligent hub where customers can view their entire financial life. This was reinforced by their innovative approach, transparency, open dialogue with users and zero transaction fees. Headspace is able to attract customers due to their mission of improving the health and happiness of the world and their calming user interface. Mucho! is able to attract customers because they want to take away the complexities of cooking without taking away the nutrition. Mucho! knows everyone is extremely busy but they want to make cooking nutritious food easier for all their customers hence why their personalized recipes have been so successful.

How do you get yourself out there?:

  1. Research
  2. Ask for advice for people who have done it before you
  3. Social media
  4. Word of mouth
  5. Get a Mentor
  6. Ask people to test your product (after you’ve patented it, unless you trust them)
  7. Partnerships with known brands who align with your mission. Headspace partnered with Twinings because tea is associated with relaxations and Virgin Atlantic to try and stop people from being scared of flying

 

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Procrastination: The only action that doesn’t involve an action 

Procrastination is a thief of time and quality. When you procrastinate you rob yourself of the chance to produce things to the highest standard and give yourself a greater chance of failure.

Avoiding doing a task doesn’t mean it will go away, it just gives you more stress and less time to do it. A lot of people, myself included procrastinate to the point where they’re disappointed at the time (hours, days, months sometimes even years) they’ve wasted because they avoided a task by putting other things & people first. Avoid doing this because you’ll only blame yourself when things aren’t done and you lament over the lost.

How to stop procrastinating:

  • Make to-do lists and set deadlines
  • Remind yourself this task will not go away
  • Put your phone on flight mode and delete apps from your phone (I do this when I have a ton of stuff to do and I genuinely don’t want to speak to anyone)
  • Remember time is of the essence and there is no time better than now to start doing things. Life never stops there’s always something else being thrown at you
  • What will the consequences be if this task is not completed.
  • Do things in small steps because big tasks are overwhelming.
  • Tell people what you have to do, it will make you more accountable because others will know and pester you if you have not finished.
  • I like to finish the harder tasks first or at least early on as this makes me feel productive. This minimizes my stress levels so that if I do end up procrastinating, I will only have a small chunk left.

 

 

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If you don’t compare, you don’t compete, so don’t compare.

Constantly comparing yourself to others is unhealthy at all ages. I say all ages because remember how it made you feel as a child when your parents compared you to your best friend who was very smart or your well behaved cousin or one of your friends who they thought was an angel but you knew otherwise… Yeah? It’s still unhealthy now as it was back then but this time you’re doing it to yourself.

When you compare yourself to others,  you start pointing out your flaws,  all the things you haven’t done compared to them and how much “better” other people are  compared to you which is very destructive behaviour.

Comparison is the death of joy – Theodore Roosevelt

Continuous comparisons can make you forget the good things you have in your life, this leads to: envy, low self-confidence, resentment and general unhappiness. None of these feelings have helped anyone achieve anything but it’s been happening since the beginning of time. Due to the rise of social media, we think we see every aspect of people’s lives, in reality, we really don’t as social media is a faux representation of life. Remember, people only show you the good parts of their lives so you shouldn’t compare yourself or feel bad  for not having what they  have. You don’t see the struggles they’ve had, all the times they have wanted to give up and what they did to get there. You only see what they want you to see The same way you compare yourself to others, is probably the same way someone is comparing themselves to you; see how crazy that sounds? So instead of comparing, you should focus on yourself  and turn those negative feelings into motivation to do better for yourself.

Why I stopped comparing myself to others:
As time has gone on, I have learnt to focus on me and not compare my journey to anyone else because it is futile and stops me from celebrating the most important person in my life, myself.  I know Rome wasn’t built in a day and my time will come as long as I work hard and focus.  Great things take time and no one has achieved success overnight (unless they’ve won the EuroMillions but then again that’s luck not an achievement) so I keep working on myself.  For example  if I decided to compare myself with other bloggers or even Youtubers who get loads of traffic on their websites and have thousands of followers, getting 1000 views per day etc then my 1000 views in my last post  would feel meaningless, it would turn into something negative and I would be upset that I wasn’t at their ‘level.’

Regardless of how things look on social media and in everyday life, no one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes and  has their down-days which I don’t see. Over the years I have become more appreciative of myself and grateful for what I have which has helped me want to celebrate me more because if you can’t celebrate yourself who is going to celebrate you? Lastly I find inspiration from looking at others instead of being jealous because jealousy has never helped anyone achieve anything ever. So what’s the point of me wasting my time?

As I said in the title,  If you don’t compare, you don’t compete, so don’t compare. Sometimes we’re our harshest critics, this can limit our perception of ourselves and makes us put others on an undeserved pedestal which is why comparisons are so detrimental. So stop comparing and focus on the most important person in your life, yourself. 

 

 Photo taken by me in Miami, Florida – September 2016.