Blog: John Richardson – 1,000 Hours to Transform Your Business or Life.

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This live blog was written by Adam Tinworth at Like Minds, Exeter 2012.

John Richardson – “Fulfilling Childhood Dreams – 1,000 Hours to Transform a Business or Life”

How did he go from a guy who likes sitting on the sofa and drinking in the pub to where he is now? He and his business partner went from successful businessmen at 28 to near-bankrupts at 29.

It was humiliating to sit in a meeting with creditors, waiting to hear if they would be made bankrupt. They weren’t but they lost everything. They had to explain the failures to family and friends. They scraped enough money together to found a fish and chip shop. And they started building the model of a perfect fish and chip shop. The original shop? It won awards. And they sold it for 50% more than you would an equivalent business, because of the model around it. They did a variety of other business after that – restaurants, gardens centres and bars – all using the basic model they used for the fish and chip shop.

Then, at 37, he decided he wanted to get good at golf. In the 80s. he’d dreamt of being Seve Ballesteros, but he’d never put the effort in. People told him that he’d need three years to achieve this. He hit 70,000 balls, watched videos, read books, listening to audio… and, with three days ago, he broke par. He’d been blogging about it, and he’d been picked up the golfing magazines and TV. So he went on to write a book. The agent talked about 100k advance – and he had 88 rejections.

With another agent, he eventually got it published – but it was almost a completely different book, and that took him a year of learning how to write a good book.  And he did this while running another business. The next year became a crusade to get it promoted. With some hustle and use of emerging networks like Twitter, Facebook et al, he got it to number one in gold books in Amazon. And he span that into traditional PR. Then it got to number 13 in Amazon – generally. And now it’s being made into a film.

Three years of hard week leads to a film that’s about to go into production. That’s how he got there: those discrete years of work put him in the top 1% of each skill set. How do you do that?

You need a strong “towards” goal. Most people get to the end of the year exactly the same as they were at the beginning of it. And most people think incrementally – we’ll do one or two small changes. Don’t do that. Map out the entire new concept for your life or business. Put a new future there.

You also need a strong “away from” goal. We’re more motivated by getting away from the unpleasant. The humiliation of business failure was big motivator for him.

And underlying all of this is belief. If you don’t have the belief, none of this matters.

Then: guard your associations. Be very, very careful who you hang out with. Avoid the negative people. Research shows that what the people you associate with do has a huge impact on what you do.

Accurate thinking – look at where you are with brutal honesty.

Pay the price: What you do will impact on your body, your family, your friends and your spare time. Accept that it’s not going to last for ever, but there will be pain.

In a recession, everyone is feeling pretty flat. If you get into the top 1% everything changes. People want to work with or for you. If you could do one thing for a thousand hours, that would make a difference – will you commit to it?

About the author

Founded Like Minds in 2009. Andrew is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor. He founded design agency Icon in 1983 (sold to AGI Media) and Eyetoeye, one of the first digital agencies in the UK, in 1994. He advises start-ups and digital agencies on business development and is an Evaluated Consultant for Finpro, the export arm of the Embassy of Finland. He was elected a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts in 2000.