Go to the bottom of the Show Notes for cavnessHR affiliates and resources
The cavnessHR Podcast can be found at the following places or you can just type in cavnessHR on the respective app.
Google Play: https://cavnesshr.co/0f296
Pocket Casts: https://pca.st/f2NA
Social Media links for Peter Below!!
Psychometric tool survey: https://peterpease.typeform.com/to/lg6A4g
Below is Peter’s book recommendations:
“The Mom Test” by Rob Fitzpatrick
Click on the link below to purchase the books from Amazon.
Free psychometric report if you complete the psychometric tool survey at https://peterpease.typeform.com/to/lg6A4g It takes about 10-15 minutes to complete. It's not in a massive amount of depth. But it'll give you scores on the key metrics about how you compare with other founders around the world on things like your confidence levels, things like your hope, optimism and courage. You'll get a workbook on how to develop your psychological capital that will go hand-in-hand with those test results. If you want to take the test, go on to my website, which is peterpease.com, and there's a tab on that called “Research” – just click on the tab and there'll be a link for the test.
Jason: Hello, and welcome to the cavnessHR Podcast. I’m your host, Jason Cavness. Our guest today is Peter Pease. Peter, are you ready great today?
Peter: I am.
Jason: Peter is a UK entrepreneur who has created multiple businesses since graduating in Psychology in 1987. He took one business from startup to RPO and sold his last one in 2011, and still going strong. They're all in the people business to business services things like L&D, HR, recruitment, vocational education. He has been responsible for the development of more than 40,000 learners and his business has helped up to more than 100,000 job seekers. He now works as a part-time professor at Newcastle Business School in the northeast of England. He has currently undertaken research as part of a PhD, looking at the psychological journey of business founders. He is developing a psychometric tool based on a global sample of business founders and is looking for people to take the trial version test. If you take the test, you'll get a free report showing how your psychological capital compares with other founders around the world and a workbook on how to develop it. Peter, that's a pretty important undertaking, I think.
Peter: Yeah, well, it's been quite big. I've worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs over the years, and I was one myself. I've kind of worked with people who have been an awful lot more successful than me. I’ve worked with people who have failed at the first hurdle. I kind of think that the biggest difference between success and failure in business is actually psychological. It comes down to what goes on in people’s heads. You can have the best product in the world, or the best service. But if you haven't got the skills to make it happen. Or you lose preservation or you lose interest then you haven’t got hope. So my research – and do interrupt and ask me questions. (I can talk forever on it) My research is kind of looking at those bits of our psychology that you can do something about. Your intelligence, your number ability and your verbal reasoning, they’re pretty fixed. As are your main character things by the time you're an adult. If you're an introvert or an extravert, that'll only change a little bit over time. But things like your confidence, your resilience, your courage, your hope and your optimism. Those things you can do something about. I'm really interested in finding out more about entrepreneurs and how they go through that psychological rollercoaster of setting up a business. Some people get put off by failure, some people get spurred on by it. It's just trying to understand that difference so I can help people be the best they can be.
Jason: Peter, why did you think it was important for you to develop a tool like this?
Peter: The reason I'm working as a part-time professor is I work with startup students on a business startup degree that we run. We have teams of people who spent 3 years setting up and running businesses. It's the major part of their degree – and to do that. I needed to research something. I needed to do a PhD because, in the UK, if you're an academic, you have to do research. I kind of thought, “what’s something that would be most useful to these people?” There are a number of tests out there that will test whether or not you could be an entrepreneur. I took one that, a couple of years ago, was on Facebook, and it told me that no way should I think about becoming an entrepreneur. That was having spent 25 years being reasonably successful doing it. So I'm not interested in measuring whether you could be, because I think anybody could be an entrepreneur if they want to be. But it's about developing something so that you as somebody running your business can actually say, “how do I do something about developing my confidence, what are my measures?” There's a lot of stuff around what’s sometimes called metacognition. Which is about being aware of your own mental state. So the idea of this tool – and it'll take another couple of years to get properly developed. Is something that you could take every once in a while and you could kind of say, “oh, yeah, those things that have happened in the last month or two have actually really knocked my resilience, what can I do to build that up.”
Jason: Peter, has there been any surprises so far from the results you’ve seen?
Peter: Yeah, that's a really good question because I'm just in the process of analyzing the results. So the model I'm using is one that's being developed in organizations. So it's been developed with employees. But nobody's ever really looked at it properly within entrepreneurs. So what we're kind of finding is that the surprising things are that resilience doesn't appear to be as important to entrepreneurial success as I kind of thought it would be. Bear in mind these are really initial. I've got my data, I've got several hundred thousand data points I'm in the process of analysing. So that's kind of one thing – we thought it’d be the more resilient entrepreneurs would kind of be doing a lot better than ones who scored lower on resilience. We found there isn't much of relationship there. What we have found is that the things that are really important are what we talk about that is agency. It's part of this construct called hope. So agency is about your belief in your ability to be able to act on what you want to do. It's kind of like you're feeling empowered to do what you need to do. The other thing we found is really important is having goals. But also having a kind of problem-solving approach to the way you set those goals. So it's not just about having clear goals. But it’s about coming up with multiple pathways for how you might achieve those goals. They seem to be the things that are kind of most important. The other one is, which is interesting to me, is that – we looked at courage. So the fear of failure is a big thing talked about in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship research. What we found is that fear of failure isn't that much of a predictor of success. Now, our sample of the people we're looking at are typically people who have already set up and are running their businesses. So I'm kind of interested in the future because I wonder if that fear of failure might actually be something that stops people starting a business.
Jason: Peter, from what countries has your samples come from?
Peter: It's come from, basically, countries where English is the first or official language. So I decided not to translate the scale into multiple languages because there's a lot of evidence that, when you translate psychometrics from one language into another. The actual structure of the psychometric changes. So we've obviously got a lot of people from the United States, from the United Kingdom, Canada, some of the African countries who have English as the official language. India because although English isn't many people's first language, it is the official language, and places like Hong Kong. Those are the only ones I can remember off the top of my head.
Jason: I bet it’d be interesting to see how the countries compare to each other, like how the United States compares to African countries. So I think that’d be very interesting to see in the future.
Peter: I think that's going to be a slightly later stage in the analysis.
Jason: So, Peter, can you tell us why there's not enough discussion on the mental health of founders?
Peter: Oh, God, that's a really brilliant question. That is something that I'm just getting into the edges of looking at the moment. Is there a particular reason why you ask that question?
Jason: No, not particularly.
Peter: No? Okay. So a founder, that I’ve got to know reasonably well. Who set up a digital business a few years ago. Who raised a lot of money, and he and his team ended up finishing the business because it just wasn't going anywhere. Which kind of happens – and he suffered really bad, clinically diagnosed anxiety as a result of that. He set up a business that is kind of looking at the mental health of founders. I'm just starting to look at some of the research on the theories about this. We have a lot of people who set up businesses who struggle with failure when they go wrong, or struggle with the stresses of running a business. There is a certain amount of evidence – I don't have the US stats on this. But, certainly, within Europe, the business failure and suicide is quite highly linked. So it is incredibly important. I think my other thing, that I don't think anybody else has starting to think about. But I think some founders actually use business creation as a coping mechanism. So I think if you have deep, underlying sort of mental health issues. Maybe things that have happened in childhood that you’re struggling to deal with, becoming a workaholic is one coping mechanism for dealing with that. Setting up your own business is the best way I can think of becoming a workaholic.
Jason: I have to agree with that statement, pretty much.
Peter: Without over-sharing about myself. I think I had a really difficult time after our IPO because I lost control of the business I’d set up and I had to leave and set up another business. That really sort of kicked me. I set up another business and that was okay, I got stuck into that. We sold that in 2011 and, when we sold that, I was kind of really lost. It was like this thing that kind of kept me going psychologically. My crutch was no longer there. So I'm definitely one of those people who used the business as a way of dealing with some pretty deep and dark stuff that was there underlying everything else.
Jason: Peter, why do you think that some people are more likely to start a business and take the risk of starting a business while others want to stay far away from it?
Peter: Good question. I think there are two reasons why people start businesses if you kind of look at the global statistics on that. So we have what are called necessity entrepreneurs. So many people set up businesses because they've lost a job or it's the only way they can get income. So if you look at some of the refugee camps around the world. You actually have quite high levels of entrepreneurial behaviour going on in those because that's kind of the only way people can get by. It’s the only way they can survive. That's not what we tend to in the UK and in the US. We kind of see the entrepreneur as this heroic type of person who's going out there to become the next Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates. A lot of people do it because they think they're going to make an awful lot of money or be very successful or they’re particularly passionate about something. So what makes the difference is some people do it because they've got no choice. Some people do it because they want to; the ones who do it as a sort of career choice. I think, that they, quite often, are doing it for a whole sort of variety of different reasons. I think that what happens is that many more people want to set up a business and never get around to doing it. I think, in the UK, the statistics are something like two-thirds of people would like to set up and run their own business at some point in their life and only something like 14 or 15% of people get around to doing it. I think that what happens is that when the motivation gets to a certain level, or the courage gets to a certain level, then people will take the lead. Does that answer your question?
Jason: Yes, yes it does. Peter, can you talk about a time you were successful in the past and what you learned from this success and what we can learn from this?
Peter: Yeah, okay. It's interesting because success and failure are quite difficult things. I'm going to talk about something which is probably not a typical business success. But my children are 26 and 23 years old. When my daughter was 3 years old and I was running a business and I was working very hard at it. I managed to create that business in such a way that we had a building attached to our house. I had about 12 people working in the business at that stage. I could work as hard as you have to work when you're setting up a business. But each day, when it came to sort of coming back from school, when it got to tea time. I was able to have tea with my children 3/4/5 o'clock, be there for bath time and then I could go back to the office and work. So I think that, somehow, I managed to get a work-life balance 20 odd years ago. Way before people were talking about work-life balance. I'm really proud of that because I think a lot of entrepreneurs sacrifice their relationships with their children because the business kind of takes over.
Jason: I would say that's definitely a great success on your part. Peter, next, talk about a time you failed in the past, what you learned from this failure, and what we can learn.
Peter: Okay. So where do I start. I met somebody many years ago who set up a really successful business – he employed thousands of people – and I said to him, “so, why have you been so successful?” He thought about it and he said, “well, on balance, I think I've probably made marginally more good decisions than bad decisions along the way.” So I've made loads of bad decisions. I think, probably the worst was during the IPO with my business because I did it for the wrong reasons, I did it for hubris. I did it because I was flattered and I thought I could make a huge amount of money by doing it. What happened was that yes, we got the business invested in. But I lost something that had the values that I'd sort of lived by for the 20 odd years that I'd been running it for. So I think it's about doing something that kind of was about other people's agenda. I had a perfectly good business that was actually doing some really, really good work.
Jason: Peter, can you talk about someone who’s helped you in the past and how they helped you?
Peter: Yeah, okay. I’ve had loads of mentors over the years and they've kind of been wonderful. But, actually, the person who has probably been the most important to what I've managed to do has actually been my mother. Because, from a very, very early age, and even now – she's in her 80's now. She kind of believes in absolutely everything that I am doing. So even when things have looked really bleak. She has always been the person who kind of tells me that I can get through it and I can do it. So that kind of a conditional love, that level of belief in me and my ability and in what I'm doing. I don't think anything could ever touch that.
Jason: Yes, you're right about that. Peter, can you tell us something about yourself that most you don't know? Of course your close friends, family, know this but most people who see you day-to-day don’t know this about you.
Peter: Yeah, okay. I kind of wondered a bit about this – I have two fingers. So I’ve had an operation when I was a few months old and they basically unjoined the fingers. But something went wrong with that (I'm not quite sure what) and they grew back together. So I have two fingers that are joined together. I could never have been a concert pianist even if I had wanted to be.
Jason: Hmm, interesting. Peter, I understand you have a book to recommend to our listeners.
Peter: I read this book only a couple of years ago and it's a book that I guess a lot of people in the States will know. But it's a book called The Mom Test, if you come across it?
Jason: No, I haven’t.
Peter: By a guy called Fitzpatrick. It's the easiest book you could read. It’ll take you no more than a couple of hours to read. It's basically a book for startup entrepreneurs and it's based on the idea that most people, when they're setting up a business. The people they go and talk to are their family and their friends. They will say, “I'm setting up this business, do you think it's a good idea?” Nobody wants to hurt our feelings, so they will tend to say, “yeah, that's a great idea.” So, it’s “the mom test” because we ask our mum, “what do you think of my idea?” The worst person, for me, also giving the answer I gave the previous question to ask about my business ideas. Would be my mother because she would tell me that that was brilliant and that's not going to do me any good at all. The book is about, not just the fact that your mother or your friends will kind of tell you what you want to hear. Most people will tell you what you want to hear. So it's a book about how you can ask questions about your business in a way that people are going to tell you the truth because most people will not tell you the truth. They'll tell you a version of the truth that they kind of think is what you want to hear.
Jason: Peter, I understand you have something for our listeners today.
Peter: Yes. As I mentioned at the front and you very kindly mentioned in your introduction, I'm doing this research. I've got several hundred people who’ve completed the survey so far – I'm looking for more people to do it. It’s still in a kind of beta form. It takes about 10-15 minutes to complete; if you complete it, you will get a free psychometric report. It's not in a massive amount of depth but it'll give you scores on the key metrics about how you compare with other founders around the world on things like your confidence levels, things like your hope, optimism and courage, and you'll get a workbook on how to develop your psychological capital that will go hand-in-hand with those test results. If you want to take the test, go on to my website, which is peterpease.com, and there's a tab on that called “Research” – just click on the tab and there'll be a link for the test.
Jason: Peter, can you share your social media links for the listeners so they can reach you and get in contact with you?
Peter: Yeah. Do you want me to email those to you?
Jason: Yes. And to our listeners, we’ll have all the links in our show notes with the book recommendation and all Peter’s social media links. Peter, we’ve come to the end of our talk. Do you have any advice or wisdom that you’d like to pass along to our listeners? Either on startups or founders or whatever else you want to pass on.
Peter: Yeah, I've got two pieces of advice which are both slightly flippant. One is: don't let a psychopath invest in your business. And the other is: don't buy cheap trash bags.
Jason: That's great advice, on both accounts.
Peter: Thanks very much.
Jason: So, Peter, thanks for your time with us today you gave us a lot of value, we appreciate your time, I know you’re a busy person.
Peter: It's been a real, real pleasure. I'd love to find out more about you and your business and what it does because it sounds similar to something that I kind of played around with probably 15 years ago here in the UK.
Jason: Yes. And to our listeners, thank you for your time as well, and remember to be great every day.
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