Practical Bravery: TOM FAIREY



The worst of hustle culture is a toxic, mentally straining, alpha-bullshit race in which carnage is left in a trail behind the winner. Whatever winning is.

The best of it is in the drive to continually innovate and to respond to need. It’s not that strategic, but it gets things done and it moves things on. Sometimes that is exactly the energy needed to start something.

My question to people in businesses and charities listening to this – what can you do to harness more of the best of it, when you’re driving forward impact, whilst avoiding the negative behaviours?

In this episode Richard Freeman meets serial entrepreneur, angel investor, host of the ‘Back Yourself’ podcast and CEO of Stakester, TOM FAIREY.

Key quotes:

“I think we need to change our mindset from a survival mindset last year, to a growth mindset.”

“I have basically two things that I’m good at: I’m a good judge of talent and I’m a good motivator. I’m addicted to people who I think are under-nourished in their career and that tends to be where my investments go.”

“Everyone I grew up with around me was a teacher, and they had this sense of reward.”

“I’d probably make more money as a podcast host than I would as a rugby club owner.”

“I had this physical goal last year, I wanted to run 15k in an hour. It doesn’t make me an elite runner but it is a challenge, and it is hard, and I did achieve it. I got to the end of it and I was like, uh alright, and I stopped running. Just stopped running last year. And actually I got a lot of joy from running. But the goal was frustrating for me. Setting goals is a frustrating behaviour.”

“I don’t actually believe in building goals, I believe in building habits. I think the problem with goals are, as soon as you hit them you’re not satisfied. When you build a habit, you start to learn about it as you go. Building habits leads to excellence and greater outcomes than you would’ve had initially if you’d just set yourself a goal.”

“There’s a lot of rubbish people out there, I’m not going to lie.”

“If I retired tomorrow and left the startup world, my hope is that no-one would feel the impact, they’d just carry on. And that’s not because I’m insignificant, it’s because I’ve done a good enough job of preparing people to do their jobs independently.”

“It sounds so obvious but people forget about it all the time: communicate for your audience. Stop talking where your audience isn’t.”

“I like hustle culture. I’d use the analogy of an athlete. Do you think anyone said to Kobe Bryant, when he was turning up in the gym at 4am before he went training, they said aw mate, you’re working too hard, you’re just training too hard. It’s bollocks, no-one’s saying to him afterwards, you’re practising too much, you’re getting too good at this. No-one says that. But the thing is, that’s his choice. No-one’s going to tell a musician how often they can play, that’s their choice. But for some reason we have a problem with people doing it in business and we have to tell people how much they can work. Fuck you. If I want to work from 5am til 10pm that’s my choice. And if I want the outcomes that I’m trying to achieve, I have to. And it may not be great for my work life balance, but it’s my choice. It’s not hustle culture, it’s hustle choice.”

“F*ckin’ high-five.”

This episode was recorded in January 2023

Interviewer: Richard Freeman for always possible

Editor: CJ Thorpe-Tracey for Lo Fi Arts


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