S1. E32. Liam Black

Liam Black has a long history of leading social enterprises (including Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen), and is now ‘Chief Encouragement Officer’ and mentor to many (website, Twitter, LinkedIn).

In his own career, Liam has made many jumps into the unknown, which became the main theme of our conversation.

His view is if you are clear about the work you want to be doing, then taking the jump gives others the chance to recognise what you’re trying to do and to offer you help (including, maybe, a job).

Also that “if you do things with good intention, with enough advice from the right people, you can always come back from whatever mistake you make”. Putting it another way, in the long-term it is better to try than not.

Liam’s book is “How to Lead with Purpose: Lessons in life and work from the gloves-off mentor”. Buy it here.



Furniture Resource Centre is now known as the FRC Group have a “social mission to reduce and ultimately end furniture poverty”.

Book: There’s No Business Like Social Business: How to Be Socially Enterprising (with Jeremy Nicholls).

Background on Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen here.

?What If! consultancy.

Wavelength executive education business.

Together All is “a safe, online community where people support each other anonymously to improve mental health and wellbeing”.

The Conduit is “a new workspace for changemakers in the heart of London”.

The ICAEW Corporate Responsibility Advisory Group is now called the Sustainability Committee.

Friar Tom Cullinan

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Soren Kierkegaard

The iron law of megaprojects: over budget, over time, under benefit. — Bent Flyvberg


0:50 – Q1. What are you doing now? And how did you get there?
8:27 – BONUS QUESTION: Is there a way you can tell in advance that you’re ready to make that jump? is how can you have the confidence to jump? How did you get there?
15:47 – BONUS QUESTION: To make the leap, you are saying you need the direction and guide rails but not lots of constraining details?
17:58 – BONUS QUESTION: One of the recommendations in the book is to have alignment between your platform and your purpose. What do you man by ‘platform’?
26:00 – Q2. What is the future you are trying to create, and why?
33:00 – Q3. What are your priorities for the next few years, and why?
35:17 – Q4. If someone was inspired to follow those priorities, what should they do next?
40:11 – Q5. If your younger self was starting their career now, what advice would you give them?
41:18 – Q6. Who would you nominate to answer these questions, because you admire their approach?
42:25 – Q7. Is there anything else important you feel you have to say?


-“I made the sort of little mission statement I set for myself, when I left my company five years ago was to only do interesting and useful work in the world with people I like and respect.”

-“I think as long as in my life, when I’ve been clear about, okay, this is the sort of work I want to be doing, whether that’s, I want to have a job, that’s I’m where I’m CEO, where it has big impact, and I can have a platform where the world can, we can make some real big difference in the world, or whether it’s now I want to have this shape of my life, I think long as you’re clear enough about where you want to get to, I think that you need that.”

-‘Have a great believer in actually, you know, if you move if you jump, if you take that step, even if you’re uncertain about it, good, good stuff will happen. People can see people who can’t see you, before you take that next step can suddenly see you.”

-[As you make your way up a corporate hierarchy] “you trade your courage for cash. you don’t say what you think, what you really think. And you and you play the game. And the whole system is designed like that…I’ve got friends like that I’ve got, I’ve seen loads of them in business, and they create the cage in their own head. Yeah, I, you know, I can’t I can’t leave, but you can’t leave this half a million pound a year job.”

-“The book that I that I’ve written began life actually as a book aimed at men like me, old farts in organisations that need to reset and move out of the way or find another way of being inside the organisation that genuinely encourages innovation and change and genuine diversity.”

-“I think they should act. I think that one of the things I see a lot we’ve touched on this is waiting for the perfect answer before moving. And I think I think these get into the mindset of being happy in some uncertainty, I would really recommend to anyone that rather than sitting alone, trying to nap through it on your own, go and sit with, go and sit with some get a mentor, go and sit with someone in your life that can help you ask the right questions about the future that you’ll want. And when when you’re sure enough, it worked out the money you’ve worked out. All of those sorts of things jump.”

-David comments: [Rather than being embarrassed by saying ‘the universe sees you’] “I say that there’s more in the world than we can understand or write down. In a sort of enlightenment thinking that we default to calling that woowoo or magic, but it’s also that there’s a mystery to life, because it can’t all be codified. And so by making a commitment acting in the world, you give everybody else a chance to join in with you, which they wouldn’t otherwise have.”

-“If you do things with good intention, with enough advice from the right people, you can always come back from whatever mistake you make, it’s unlikely that you’re going to do something that’s going to route and to, you know, don’t take what other people think about you as being particularly important.”


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