Season 3 Episode 10 "Beyond the Bootcamp" is now available. Listen now.
May 26, 2022

Running your own race, understanding your business model and making smart guesses with Hattie Willis

Hattie Willis, founder of the entrepreneurship education company, Guessworks, shares her biggest learnings from the world of venture building and corporate innovation

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#013 - Designing involves innovating. However, innovation requires a lot of guesswork. Making intentional guesses requires the right mindset, techniques and courage. In this episode, Hattie Willis, founder of the entrepreneurship education company, Guessworks, shares her biggest learnings from the world of venture building and corporate innovation. Hattie unlayers the real drivers that help changemakers innovate - exposing yourself to the right amount of risk and understanding not just designs, products and technologies, but also business models.

In this episode:

  • Pick your own race that gives you energy
  • Have your own authentic story to tell
  • Be aware of where you get your energy from
  • Hattie's top learnings from founders
  • Look after your mental health as a founder
  • Get an accountability partner
  • And much more


Business Model You Book

The School of Life

Secret Leaders Podcast by Dan Murray-Serter

Not My First Guess Podcast


Hattie Willis on LinkedIn

Show credits

Illustrations by Isa Vicente

Music by Brad Porter

Episode edited by Niall Mackay


[00:00:00] Hattie Willis: It's easy to get caught in this trap of getting excited about the technology, getting excited about the user experience, getting excited about what we're going to code, but until you understand really the business model that you want behind it, you're not really maximising innovation.

[00:00:14] Nirish Shakya: That's Hattie Willis, founder of the entrepreneurship education company, Guessworks. In this episode, Hattie shares her biggest learnings from the world of venture building and corporate innovation. You see, as designers and technologists, we tend to spend a lot of time and energy on building great products, but Hattie argues that if we want to be more impactful and sustainable changemakers, we also need to work on understanding where we get our energies from, and also how the business we work for makes money. Keep listening to hear Hattie's story on how she learned to run her own race, tell her own authentic story whilst helping entrepreneurs and organizations innovate faster.

[00:00:51] Shivaun: This is the Design Feeling Podcast with your host Nirish Shakya. 

[00:01:05] Nirish Shakya: Hi, my name is Nirish Shakya and I'm a designer, educator, and the host of the Design Feeling podcast, a show about the human behind the human centred designer. On this podcast, my expert guests, and I go deeper than the craft of design and into things that make us better designers and problem solvers, things such as self-awareness, creative confidence and meaning. Are you ready? Let's jump in. 

Hattie Willis, welcome to Design Feeling. 

[00:01:36] Hattie Willis: Thank you so much for having me happy to be here.

[00:01:38] Nirish Shakya: So how do you, you have been in venture building and entrepreneurship for quite a number of years. But I'd love to know more about how you got started. Tell us a bit about how you got into venture building and what you do now. 

[00:01:54] Hattie Willis: Yeah, so I got started in the worlds of startups, really young of still at university. And I met what would become a founder I'd work with a lot of times while I was running a bar and a university, he walked in and pitched his app asked for us to be a vendor and I was running the bar and it just didn't the margins didn't make sense for us, so we didn't join. But what we actually ended up doing was I got hired as a social media manager off the back of of that conversation. Actually she, let me do that again. I'll tell the truth. It's even funny. 

[00:02:26] Nirish Shakya: You've just lied 

[00:02:27] Hattie Willis: I know I gave the short story. I'll give the long story. Cause it's actually very entertaining.

Yeah. So whilst at university, essentially I was running a bar and in walked in one day I found over startup, they were doing a gifting and they wanted us to be a vendor that the margins didn't restack up because we were an incredibly cheap bar for the city. so we turned them down. I then turned up in my bar a few days later to find the same founder, handing out cards for free pints to my customers in my bar and knowing we weren't a vendor.

I was pretty unhappy about it to say the least. So I think kindly and gently, I'm sure he'd say differently asked him to leave. And actually what came out of that was an email exchange where he apologized and actually offered to bring us in custom by running an event in the bar where he would give away free drinks, but for our, or actually our bar and they would get customers for the app.

And while we were running the event, I was promoting on social media. And I definitely didn't know really much about social media beyond being a user. At that point, I was learning as I went for the bar job. But he thought I was doing liked it and offered me a job. And actually I ended up chasing that job for a few months.

It the elusive offer didn't immediately happen. I really wanted that. I was really excited about the idea of working in this startup. And I still remember where I was on Oxford high street when I got the email to say, yeah, let's do it. Let's go for it. And I remember thinking, oh no, I have to work out how to actually do social media, having not really got any experience, not really know what I was doing, a tool.

So it was a total baptism of fire, but I totally fell in love with it mainly because. Even though I was super young, was still in university, which they were aware of. They gave me so much power to try stuff and to get it wrong, to make a load of mistakes and to test any idea I had with real customers straight away.

And that was addictive, utterly addictive. 

[00:04:23] Nirish Shakya: How was it addictive to you? 

[00:04:25] Hattie Willis: I just think that there's something about, we all have ideas all of the time, but when you start to see how quickly you can actually test them, then you don't want to stop because you feel like so many more parts open up and you feel like it doesn't matter.

If this one idea I have is shot down, I can try anything else. And yeah, fell in love with the startup space, ended up working in another kind of four startups in various roles, editing I could do learned a ton was often in teams that were really small. So often the founders of myself.

And so got to see. In on a lot, I wouldn't otherwise have experienced. And when I came to leave university, I'd already worked with multiple startups. One of which was an entrepreneurship education startup. There were teaching in ecosystems like Estonia and in universities Kings college, UCL, Oxford I again, just fell in love with something different, which was this idea that the world that I'd been exposed to totally by accident was a world that we could invite others into, that we could teach the skills of entrepreneurship and we could help people have a better chance of succeeding. And at the time I had an idea which was awful. Oh my gosh, I'm so glad it. 

[00:05:34] Nirish Shakya: Yeah. 

[00:05:35] Hattie Willis: Really fundamentally flawed, but I reached out to the guys who running the entrepreneurship education company. One in particular, who's been a mentor for me for years. I've followed him now to four startups and said, I can't afford any of the training that you guys give. It's super expensive, but I know that there's a ton I need to know before starting a startup that would make it less risky and I'd love to learn. Is there any way I can trade you free marketing work for me, free copywriting, whatever you want in return for coming to these sessions. And so I blagged my way into some training.

And years later came back to that. When I realized that actually, that wasn't something I had a deep love for. I love training people, myself. I love sharing the skills, the knowledge. So I became a trainer. I did that for a number of years. I was head of training Rainmaking companies to work for, which involves designing programs as well and designing curriculum, and then created a digital learning platform, wants to scale what we were doing.

So it took all of our workshops online and and loved it, but missed the itch of starting my own things as well. I wanted to get back in that space of not just coaching and training, but actually doing. And so went into venture building, coming up with slightly scary new ideas, testing them at an early stage and then raising investment for them.

So that's all up to guesswork. So I suppose,

[00:07:01] Nirish Shakya: I think you mentioned like the happy accident you had that actually took you down this path. If that accident happened, hadn't happened. What did you have in 

[00:07:14] Hattie Willis: Yeah, I think I would've gone into some sort of marketing grad scheme was the kind of other thing I was looking at grad schemes were something everyone was doing and I thought that was a path maybe I should be taking, but I was getting less and less excited by it. The more and more I applied to it.

And I think in part, because involved going into a big organization, I was starting to see. That I would just be a very small cog. And, I hope not just my ego couldn't handle it, but, I love being able to try new things very quickly. And as I said if I have an idea, I want to see if it works.

And so it was becoming a little worried about what would it mean to join a big company at a graduate level? And actually, I know I've learned a ton. I have friends who've gone through grad schemes who learned a huge amount. I've taught people, who've gone through grad schemes are amazing, but I think it probably wasn't the right fit for me.

So I got incredibly lucky. And it's something I'm very passionate about today. I'm aware that, huge amount of privilege went into me having that opportunity. I was at an Oxford college, which I got into with a huge amount of help and support and coaching from my private school, which I was lucky to get into with a scholarship.

That's a huge stack of privilege. Nevermind out on top, all the other privileges, we know, inform that, that decision of getting into Oxford and much more likely to get in because I'm white, I'm private school educated how much you wish that weren't the case. And so I'm very keen that the world of entrepreneurship is more open to people who don't have that invite someone they meet and that it feels more inclusive and more welcoming, which at the moment, I think there are some who were making huge strides on, but it's still a challenge.

[00:08:57] Nirish Shakya: I'm actually really fascinated about, how you had that self-awareness and the field of vision, which I liked finished university. Because when I finished university, I thought my, pathway was basically laid out for me in terms of all right, go look for a job, apply for a job, get a job, climb up the corporate ladder, but the way you approached it was like, Hey, I've got this.

Which is to, go into corporate in a mocking row, or I've got this other option, which might offer me a more, I don't know, create a freedom of thinking. How did you build that kind of self-awareness or that filled division? 

[00:09:33] Hattie Willis: I think it's easy to look back and add a ton of lenses on why did I think. It would have been easy to fall into a different role. I remember when I got offered a, I'd been working in startups, I knew I loved that space by the time I got off of my kind of full-time role was remaking, which was, really focusing in on corporate innovation.

And at the time I was looking at other opportunities. And I think, this role just came in first. And I remember asking my dad, what do you think I should do? And he said, it sounds to me like, I don't understand why you wouldn't take it. You're going to learn a ton and that's really what you need to know.

And he gave me a piece of advice that I just think is so impactful which was that career is, not a sprint is a marathon, which sounds pretty generic but really unpacking that. He asked me how are you supposed to know now what you want to do that's ridiculous to me is that the only way you're gonna learn is by trying something and finding out what you do and don't like about it, and then trying something else and moving on and on from that, which is actually quite an iterative approach.

I don't think he realized he was espousing lean startup, but for careers that he did. And it, and I, it helps that I'd worked with this founder a lot. So I really respected him. I knew I wanted to learn more from him. And I think, I credit a huge amount of my career with having. Been really lucky in that. One of the things that startups gives you is you're often really close to the founder or the CEO or someone really high up. So you do get to learn faster than you might otherwise because you're there when big decisions are made and your, if you're lucky, you're asked what you think about it and you can, make guesses yourself, might get tested along the way.

[00:11:13] Nirish Shakya: I love what your dad said around how, you don't know what you gonna, want to do in maybe next CEO a couple of years later. Cause that's so different to how my parents taught me in terms of, they gave me two options. Hey, nourish, do you want to be a doctor, an engineer?

And that's how it was a lot of these Asian ass hassles. Cause I was in a born in Nepal. But I guess looking back, that's just how things wet especially like back in those regions. So 

[00:11:41] Hattie Willis: my dad had a really interesting journey himself that he was drawing on. So he was a church of England vicar. So he actually he's changed careers a ton. So he wanted to be a lawyer then while studying law met my mom who introduced him to the Christian faith, evangelize him.

He became totally convinced by it and became a church of England vicar, which people would laugh a lot when they hear I'm a Vicar's daughter pro not what they expect. He's definitely not what you'd expect from a church in America. From there, he, then she went and moved into the charity sector.

So he stopped being a church of England priest. And then now he started his own business kind of running funerals. So he's moved grids so many times. I think he had an understanding that if for him. Hadn't been enough to find out what he wanted to do. And I think that's, again, something that's really lucky and you're right.

It's a generational thing. That's still, I think our generation maybe will be better placed to give our children is this idea that, you're not one thing you're not, your identity is not just the job you have or the role you have.

[00:12:40] Nirish Shakya: Definitely. Yeah. 

And one of the things that you're passionate about is learning from people who know better than you have in certain areas. And then if I feel like that's something that you've done really well in terms of surrounding yourself with really smart people, amazing founders and learning from them.

What are some of the things that you've learned, some of the top lessons you've learned from those people that you otherwise couldn't have.

learned? Just, being by yourself, 

[00:13:13] Hattie Willis: Oh, my gosh. I think everything I know is really sponged off other people. And that I've had to adapt to what works in me and my experience. Oh, there's so much, I actually don't even know where to start. And I had this mentor that introduced me to the worlds of lean startup and the idea that, our ideas do start as part of gap as a big part of gases. And it's our job as founders to test them humbly, rather than assuming we have the answer that was a totally different mindset than I'd ever come across before to be entrepreneurs or people who had a great idea. And they just executed it. Not people whose idea might change or where they actually might be ready to be wrong.

So that, that was huge for me as a mindset shift and ultimately led into all of the teaching and training I do today. So that was pretty pivotal. I think another actually really interesting. Moment of personal reflection came again, actually, while I was being trained to be a coach and facilitator and lead workshops which I was really lucky.

My company invested in bringing in, mentors for me. They invested in bringing in trainers for me. And one of them was a pitch coach and I love theater. I love acting. I'm pretty confident on a stage. I don't mind getting in front of people. In fact, probably it feeds my ego hugely and I adore it.

But what I was struggling with at the time hugely was my, my, my intro, my, my welcome, because I was really aware that I'd come from a different background to the people who I was maybe learning from. So the other workshop facilitators, I knew had a very different journey and I felt maybe more credibility.

And so when I was, sometimes I was told they had more credibility, as well. And so before I'd actually even started the workshop, the thing that was really tripping me up was how do I establish that I have a right to stand in front of you and I have something to share. And I think the biggest thing that this pitch coach, a guy called Stuart beauty, he's brilliant has a company called amplify, taught me was it was not around delivery.

Although he taught me a ton there, but it was around actually having your own authentic story that you feel comfortable with. And so rather than me trying to mirror or copy someone else's introductory speech, that just didn't, it wasn't true for me. So it felt really inauthentic or it felt really warped to try and make it true, starting from scratch and saying why am I here?

And what do I have to offer? And that really built my confidence to be able to say, no, actually I'm good at what I'm doing here. And I don't need to. I don't need to convince you by pretending to be someone else by having the same path that they had to get here. And that was huge for me.

And it, that was the first step. It took me a lot of steps to feel credible and confident. And I had a right to be in front of those workshops because I was coming from a really different background and I was really young to be doing it.

[00:16:04] Nirish Shakya: So you mentioned that having that courage to be authentic or having that authentic story that you're comfortable with um, an interest in that bit, like your comfortable with what did you mean by that? Are there parts in immuno story that you're not comfortable with? 

[00:16:19] Hattie Willis: I think it comes back to when you're saying what you think people want to hear rather than actually, what's your journey been? So now, regularly when I introduced myself as someone who got loaded into their first startup with the promise of free brownies and cocktails entirely true, and honestly, a huge draw and then just fell in love with this test and learn approach and ultimately got so excited.

They wanted to teach and share it with others. And that's all incredibly true to why I'm doing it as well as, my background in working in startups and my background in corporate innovation. But I think also, it's a challenge. One thing I've really battled with is what is imposter syndrome?

So genuinely, I think of imposter syndrome now. Certainly I used to think of it differently, but now I think of it as when you actually have a right to be somewhere you're there because of your own merits, you, or at least because you're as good as the next person who's there. And yet you still don't believe you, you feel that you're going to be out to, do you feel like a fraud?

You don't believe you deserve it 

[00:17:22] Nirish Shakya: wait. So what was your earlier belief about what impulse imposter syndrome was? 

[00:17:27] Hattie Willis: I think I thought w imposter syndrome was. That feeling you get when you're about to go on for me, in front of an audience and do a training or in front of a group and facilitate a workshop in that fear that they're going to ask a question. You don't know how to answer or ask a question that, that leads them to actually find you less credible, even though that's not the reason you're in 

[00:17:50] Nirish Shakya: so not having all the answers on the spot. 

[00:17:53] Hattie Willis: Yeah. So, So that, and also just, again, I think that fear of being outed for having a different background and way into it, it, wasn't a founder when I started teaching these skills and that feels like it's disingenuous. But I had worked really closely with these founders and, I'd learned a ton from them and actually my way into it, I think, and I hope and I've certainly had really nice feedback that I can add value in these workshops and trainings.

And when I was first starting out and I didn't have that confidence. And I hadn't yet had that feedback. I was always really worried that I was going to get chipped up by this outing,

[00:18:27] Nirish Shakya: And did that ever happen to you that did someone just. And, air quotes out at you. 

[00:18:33] Hattie Willis: no because actually when they talk to you, you can just answer honestly, and say, this is where I'm coming from. And actually if you're giving, good advice and I was really lucky again, that I'd been surrounded and taught by these incredible trainers. And so as well as what I'd picked up my own thinking, I had some of those to share with their permission, of course.

 you know, I was adding huge value from the start, even as I was growing my own. Style, which took a lot longer. So it never happens. But I think at the time I yeah, that, that was really, that was really hard to know whether that was I'm genuinely scared because I don't have the experience here, which isn't quite imposter syndrome.

That's really just being out of your comfort zone. And I genuinely don't believe that I have a right to be here even though actually I would say anyone with the same experience does and that's a challenge, to try and disentangle about,

[00:19:29] Nirish Shakya: And this being a Design Feeling podcast, how did that imposter syndrome feel in your body? 

[00:19:37] Hattie Willis: It's the thing that makes you a straight Tyson before you speak. It's the thing that, that makes you feel like you can't reach out to people. So it's a closing in, I guess, recently was having lunch with a friend, someone I used to work with and he's a coach as well. Unfortunately, because it means he's far too perceptive and I was talking about some clients I had in some work I was thinking of doing.

And I said, oh, I just don't want to oversell myself. I don't want to, I don't want to mislead, I don't want to oversell. And he said to me, it's really interesting. You, that, that phrase, that word has come up for you so many times in this conversation. And I don't think it's true for any of it and what you've missed, which I thought was really interesting.

He said, what you've missed is that people aren't necessarily. Buying your services because of the theory you teach or the experience you have, that's directly relevant to that business. But it's also about like the soft things, like who you are as a person, what you can draw out of people, how you make people feel when you're facilitating the energy you bring the wounds, all those things.

That, to me, I, wasn't thinking about,

[00:20:45] Nirish Shakya: And do you still feel like your proving yourself rather than just doing things? Just for the sake of. 

[00:20:51] Hattie Willis: I think there's, there's always a, drive to prove myself to myself. But I think it's become more about that as opposed to proving it to other people. I still get nervous, there'll be some moments when I'm doing something really new and I am nervous. But mostly, you know, if I'm running workshops and training and facilitating E I.

I know I do it well. And I don't say that from a hope, from an egotistical perspective, but just, actually that's something I'm really proud of. That is where my skills lie and I've had enough feedback to know it and I've seen the results. So I'm confident in that, but there are still huge spaces where I want to prove myself and that's ultimately, I think to me, rather than to other people now, which is a really helpful shift.

[00:21:32] Nirish Shakya: And how do you've worked with a lot of founders, entrepreneurs, venture builders. What are some of the key traits that you see there that you don't see in people who work in organizations as employees? 

[00:21:49] Hattie Willis: So one thing I would say is you can see organizational, you can. So I also have done a lot of corporate innovation work and I do really, and I've been wowed and awed by some of the individuals I've seen within corporations. But I guess the main thing that sets people apart who work in startups, the really big differences that they're willing to take on a lot more.

If you're doing, innovation within a corporate, typically corporates is still giving startup founders, very comfortable salaries. You're not incentivized by equity. And so you're pretty comfortable, right? The psychological safety is super high but founders in the wild have a hunger, both literal and metaphorical that they desperately want to make this thing work.

And also they need to make this thing work or they need to make something work. So they need to kill their idea if it's not going to be the big business that they're hoping for. Cause because ultimately this is what their success rests on. And so I think that urgency that risk appetite to, and also, I think founders in the wild, maybe it's a different kind of resilience to founders in corporations.

So if you're doing something with them, An established organization, you are going to have to be someone who is incredibly good at hearing the words. We've tried that before a lot, who is incredibly good at, stakeholder management, hearing those and winning people around and who is really good at navigating bureaucracy and pulling on personal capital to make something work.

So that's a huge skillset. But in the wild, it's a kind of a different kind of resilience. Cause you're running up against different kinds of blockers. You're probably moving faster, because you don't have those bureaucratic blockers. And so you've got to run up against a ton of challenges, much quicker.

You're going to want to keep that pace up and sometimes, you're slowed down by things outside your control. Yeah, there's a lot,

[00:23:39] Nirish Shakya: in my own experience, I've always considered myself to be an intra printer. Rather than an entrepreneur, like when I was working as an employee and I can relate to what you were saying earlier, in terms of the way I looked at risks and the way managed risks for me, I guess the risks were lower.

So even if it didn't work, I still have my paycheck coming in every month. I still have my day job. And what have I was doing as an intrepreneur was, it went beyond the bounds of my remit pretty much. How does that impact once mindset? Cause I know a lot,

of Faena designers who are listening to this, they are, intrepreneurs within an organization because they're trying to make that change.

They're like change makers. How does that impact their, the way they operate within an organization? 

[00:24:24] Hattie Willis: So I think the truth is has a really huge impact, particularly if you're trying to do something very disruptive. So if you're doing something that is a new business model, particularly, so you're trying to push forward, essentially, what could be a future path of your business to move into. And you're trying to do that within an established organization. You're trying to compete with startups in the wild. So people who have that hunger that I mentioned and don't have the bureaucratic loops to run through, then typically it's going to be really hard to do. And so one way around this is to be really brave and to see if you can convince your organization to change your renumeration structure.

So you're, renumerated on largely on that. With a very small salary, like a founder would pay themselves in the wild. But for individuals, normally that's going to be a really hard thing to convince your organization of, that's a structural shift. So one thing is you can kind of champion these big structural shifts that put you in the position to really drive that change.

I think the other end of the spectrum is a bit easier. So if you're trying to do optimization, trying to do digitization of existing processes, trying to improve existing products and services maybe with new features. Then often it's easier to push through those innovations because you're going to be rewarded for them in the existing structure, right. there might be ways that you can die ties or your bonus, for instance, to delivering that new thing. And that's a lot easier to do than tying your bonus to delivering a new venture, which is probably going to make a loss in the first three years. And corporates aren't used to looking at what does success look like at those early stages?

And, you know, are you successful if the, company fails all of those big questions. So I think if you're an individual, the first thing is. Be realistic about what you can achieve in your organization. And if you're seeing big structures that are stopping you genuinely stopping you from innovating, call those out. Because too often, I see people, individuals burning themselves out, trying to achieve innovation goals that they just actually can't achieve. That's not going to be possible within the organization because there's another block or somewhere else. And I don't believe that it's constructive for the organization either to burn out its employees in that way.

So I think you have to have two mindsets. One is the innovation in terms of what am I trying to achieve on this product service business model, a user experience, and then the other. And if you can deliver that then great. And if you're excited by that, and you can be really rated by that then brilliant.

But if there is something stopping you, then you also have to be innovative enough to challenge the system and to ask for a change in the system. And that is where it's much harder and where a lot of organizations see people become disenfranchised, frankly. Because it's very easy to get an employee.

Who's excited about an idea, excited about serving a customer in a new way, excited about being the founder of a new business that, that excitement won't necessarily carry them through all of the friction that trying to innovate in a corporate that doesn't have the structures in place we'll put on them.

And ultimately they tend to get frustrated and leave.

[00:27:34] Nirish Shakya: obviously This is an option for a lot of designers is to start their own venture. You've done that with your company guest works. How did you decide to become a founder and start a new company? 

[00:27:48] Hattie Willis: So I think it comes back to, what do I want to do next? And the truth is, gasworks is an entrepreneurship education company. So I'm coming back to something that I know gives me a huge amount of energy. I love sharing the skills of entrepreneurship. I love helping founders at, particularly at the early stages where they've got great ideas and they just need a bit of help with some frameworks to test it, get really excited by that.

So one was just the personal, where do I get my energy? And the second is, what do I want to do? And the truth is, probably it's still maybe founding things, new startup ideas of my own. And having a company like gasworks allows me to do that, it gives me the space to.

Learn from a ton of founders, myself, as well as teaching them is always a two way street. And also, allows me to, bootstrap and play with some startup ideas that, might otherwise need funding or, might require me to hold down a formal job to, to pay the mortgage while I explore.

So gasworks, does two things for me, gets me really excited about, the work I do and then gives me space to explore little side hustles that could grow into potentially, startups in their own. 

[00:28:58] Nirish Shakya: I love that question that you ask yourself, where do I get my energy? And that's something that I very seldom asked myself, cause I just thought to just a job she just needs to be done. But that seems to be something that helps you make your pace more sustainable. 

[00:29:15] Hattie Willis: Yeah. And I think it's something that I've, I keep coming back to. So I get my energy from a few things and some of those are missing right now, or less than, you can have on your, in a full-time job. So it's a compromise. But I know I get my energy from teaching and training and seeing other people basically, I love watching what people do with the skills that I can give them. Uh,

[00:29:36] Nirish Shakya: Did you realize that's where you get your energy from? Is that a proper methodical analysis of reflection you did or it's just how you feel in the moment or what is 

[00:29:47] Hattie Willis: So if you, a few years ago, when I first came a trainer I was a project manager project managing innovation projects for logical abrasions. And frankly, I. Really loved again, the exposure to the innovation. I loved watching and being a part of enabling those individuals on teams to become entrepreneurs.

But I realized that. Time and time again, when I saw where I got really excited, it was when I got to sit in on the workshops and where I thought the program had the highest impact. And I'm wanted to be a part of, was in those workshops, in those trainings, those coaching sessions. And so I essentially did a ton of work used a book called business model U which is, has some really good exercises in it.

Some of it's a little bit for me a little bit cheesy, but mostly some interesting exercises and actually funny story. If you ever want to get your boss to tell you how great you are, leave a book on your desk that basically says that looking for a career change. And I got the nicest message I've ever got out of the blue from my boss and suddenly realized my friend had left me this book on my desk.

But I actually ended up thinking, okay, I have an assumption, right? Which is. This is somewhere I see huge value being created. And my assumption is that actually I'd be good at helping create that value. I have that kind of slightly performance, gene within me. I love performing.

I get energy from it. I love interacting with people and I'm good at, I think I'm good at communicating. So I think I'm good at turning things that are concepts that other people may not understand and helping them make sense which I think a big components of teaching. And so I essentially pitched to my company at the time.

I think I'd be good at this. I think it'd be really valuable to the company to have another person who can do it, who isn't the CEO of the company a lot at that time, we had one of the partners doing huge amount of the workshops. It wasn't very scary. so I came with these assumptions, I'll be good at it.

I'll get energy from it. And the company will benefit. Can we test it together? And luckily for me, they bought into the pitch and and they, and it helped. I think that, someone else I knew had slightly primed them, that this ask was coming. So someone else who was slightly higher up in the organization than I was and said, I think we might lose her if we don't support her in this.

And I was incredibly lucky that they really did invest. And I feel very grateful to this day, the amount that they put in to making that happen. But ultimately it did pay off for the business, and became head of training and was able to design the programs. And then I, as I went, I learned a ton more about what gave me energy.

You know, I don't get a ton of energy from say, I love being on the delivery side, you guess works means I do spend more of my time on sales, but I'm never have to take myself off the delivery. I can always keep giving myself that energy add, but one thing I do now notice and, miss more is that though I'm interacting with people really constantly, running workshops, trainings sales calls, all sorts of interactions.

One thing I really miss is, I use it, I guess, works that the kind of model is uh, it's me. And then I use a network of coaches like yourself, who I've worked with at rainmaking and think are incredible what they do. And I've hired them as a head of training and I'd recommend them again now.

But so a lot of my time is actually spent solo still. And I miss the energy exchange that comes from just speaking to people with no goal, no agenda, nothing to get across, except, let's talk, let's brainstorm. Let's, let's just. Share what we've learned recently. And so one thing I'm having to look at at the moment is how do I get that energy exchange that learning that maybe isn't happening as deliberately as it used to.

And so actually one of the reasons I've started a new podcast is because it gives me a great excuse to speak to founders and just ask a ton of questions, just, you know, really learn about their businesses and all the things that will help me be about a founder and hopefully help others as well.

[00:33:44] Nirish Shakya: you mentioned there obviously the name of your company is guest works. 

[00:33:47] Hattie Willis: Hmm. 

[00:33:48] Nirish Shakya: And it is about helping entrepreneurs manage the guesses that they have to make until they get to that one. Guest, that's going to be impactful and profitable. How many guests is, what kind of guesses did you bake in your journey towards making a building guest works?

[00:34:07] Hattie Willis: I made a ton of guesses and actually I tested a lot before I quit my job and started it. So I wanted to know what the market was like for coaching and training. I'd moved into venture studio, so it wasn't as involved in actually selling those propositions at the time that I quit and launched guesswork.

So I spoke to just a ton of other trainers to learn about their experiences. How had COVID impacted them? What was the demand like? What was the demand for? And luckily again, I have that network from being head of trainings. It's very easy and quick to tap into. So a load of people. I had a, I ran the numbers and, what do I need to make to pay my bills?

So I set myself a target. I calculated roughly, sense check, how much would I need to sell in the first year to make this work? The numbers added up. So I don't need to go and get funding or anything like that. So actually the barriers to try was, super low. I was giving up my job.

I was giving up essentially equity in the startups. I'd founded in the studio because my grocery has a, so I probably won't see a return on those companies, but I was convinced enough that I needed to give myself the space to explore my own ideas that I could launch as a founder that I had to make this move.

And so then it quickly became, okay, I know there's a market for it. I know I can deliver this mock I've sold this before. So the risks and the guesses are much lower than starting something brand news. It was a case of, I just need to make the move. And even then it's hard. If you're in a good job that you like with people, you like, you're giving up a lot, but you just have to get excited about, the learning potential, is really what pushed me out the door.

[00:35:34] Nirish Shakya: I didn't do any of that. When I quit my job last year, I was just like all right, I'm just gonna. Just jump off a plane without a parachute and see what happens.

[00:35:45] Hattie Willis: Yeah.

[00:35:46] Nirish Shakya: So you're a lot more methodical than me. 

[00:35:47] Hattie Willis: that. I think also I think it comes back to, I wasn't running away from anything. I, I was running towards something and I was incredibly lucky. I'm still, closer than, or company I've actually done a ton of work for them since I left. And I really rate the people I rate what they're doing.

I think they're incredible. It just didn't quite fit my next step. And so actually that then becomes a. Hard to push yourself out the door. And I actually, when I quit, I said to the two co-founders of the business I was in, I actually think I just need to push myself out of the nest cause otherwise it's too comfortable.

It's too easy to stay. We're doing exciting things. The work is interesting. The people are awesome and I've got some potential to make some big money, but I've always got this question about she, what role do I want to play it? And this isn't quite the right role for me. And now I know that have to go. I can't stay.

[00:36:35] Nirish Shakya: Then is it about meeting that need you have of, constantly trying out new things. 

[00:36:41] Hattie Willis: I might, I do describe myself on my old bosses would definitely describe me as a bit of a goldfish. I love a goldfish. I love constantly changing what I'm working on. As one of the reasons I really like innovation projects, because actually your, even if you're teaching the same theory, the same content is always being applied differently.

And that's really exciting to me. But yeah, I always want to be testing myself in a new role. I want to know how good I am at sales. I want to know what I can do a marketing. I want to, learn all these different components as much as anything, because I might find something that I like who you don't know until you try, 

[00:37:14] Nirish Shakya: yeah. And one of the things that I'm always curious about is how do you know founders maintain they mental health when it comes to in a starting business in always being on the run in terms of like new things, new opportunities taking on new risks. How do you do that? How do you maintain your look after your mental health as a founder? 

[00:37:36] Hattie Willis: So I think some of it is just support outside, outside work. I'm incredibly lucky have an incredibly supportive partner who regularly, you know, when I'm doubting myself and I actually don't have anyone else in the business to say, how am I doing a great job? Then, he'll do it for me.

I've got my cheerleader there and that makes it just a massive difference. I think also, I'm lucky to have lots of friends who are founders, so I can speak to other people who get it. And, we give each other a huge amount of support and help each other.

Celebrate wins have a small, they feel actually we know how important it is to celebrate those small wins. I had a. A friend who's fundraising at the moment, and they've, they're doing a kind of rolling clothes and they've just got, the next couple of months salary in the bank.

And, she was like, it seems silly to celebrate this small thing. And I was like, no, that's huge. That's a big weight off your mind. We need to celebrate it. So having those people and then to me as well, it's about finding people to work with on different projects. I think, because I do need that.

I need that energy from other people. So whether it's finding co-founders to explore new ideas, whether it's, co-working with people, whether it's, when I'm working on bigger projects, I get to work with other coaches. So that, that ticks that box. But I think it's again about knowing what, and also knowing when you're lacking something and it's not actually about the work.

It's just about how. Taking place. And sometimes I do feel energized. And then I realize actually it's because I've spent two days with my head down and not spoken to anyone cause I'm working on, workshop slides or I'm working on proposals. And actually those things, I just miss people. So knowing what you need then helps you guess, 

[00:39:12] Nirish Shakya: and do you follow a certain ritual or practice to be aware of what's going on and. 

[00:39:20] Hattie Willis: I probably shared, but I'm terribly undisciplined nourish. You've tried to get me into meditating daily and given me some great hacks to too. And I've never managed to stick with it. I'm not one of those founders who comes with an incredibly inspirational list of, they get up and eat in the morning and when they exercise I'm incredibly unregimented and, probably need more structure for myself.

But I'm getting better. I think what I'm getting better at noticing is when I'm feeling, de-motivated like the ways that appears and then, getting better at knowing what would probably help counter is I probably need people like that level of extroverted.

[00:39:53] Nirish Shakya: I think, yeah, having that support network of people who get what you do seems to be the key here. It's not just having any people around you, but people who actually understand what you're trying to do and can afford that support that's relevant to what you're trying to do And where you want to get to.

[00:40:11] Hattie Willis: And I think the other thing is people who can coach you a bit. So I, for my, for my company, we literally teach soft skills. That doesn't mean unperfect applying them to myself and actually having people who can challenge you when your wheels spinning on something. And actually you just need to get out the door and stop worrying about it.

Not being high enough. Fidelity is really helpful. And I think sometimes when we are coaches or we are trainers, we imagine that we should be able to coach ourself. And I know coaches who can, and I'm incredibly impressed by them, but the truth is I'm not very good at being one of them. If I get myself into a wheel spin, I struggled to see the I'm.

I'm really overthinking it sometimes. 

And so having someone who can go having that accountability, and I've actually got a friend who we're working on quite different things. But we're having accountability meetings every two weeks where we set goals and say, okay, I now have to tell you are I am wellness.

And that's really helpful to me. Because it, it means I can't let things slide because other things come in and I shift priorities. I have to keep action things. I sell it. Action.

[00:41:18] Nirish Shakya: And are you both working on the similar kind of things or how did you start building the cadence of, meeting every. 

[00:41:24] Hattie Willis: Not at all. So she's she's looking at moving into the kind of she's trying to move into the film industry. She's looking at, exploring kind of creating her own mini-series at the moment, which is great fun, she'll launch hopefully via Instagram or tech talks, so super creative.

But actually I guess what we both identified is that when we were speaking and catching up we have some of the same patterns of failing to catch ourselves on what we'd coach someone else on quite easily. And so we can both offer that to each other as that's really useful just to have that practice.

And so that's why we set all let's do it every couple of weeks because two expense worked really well. As it's something I've seen, it's a good amount of time to get a lot done, so you can set quite big goals and really feel like you've made progress.

[00:42:08] Nirish Shakya: And how did you pick that particular friend? Amongst all the other friends to partner with that particular accountability, session 

[00:42:15] Hattie Willis: Like we'd both just needed it and I think it, it's not that it's not very deep. It's just, we both have a need for it. I respect her. I think she'll do a good job of keeping me accountable. And I know that, if I'm asking of her, I have to be able to bring it in return.

So it's it's not that it could have been anyone she's great. And she actually, she, she's a great coach herself. So to, I looked for that skillset. But I also have other people, she's not the only one. And I think that's really helpful as having multiple people who, I have someone who I co-work with, once every few weeks, depending on when we're both around and what we've got going on.

And normally in those coworking sessions, without having a structure, we will push each other to do something we've been talking about. Cause it will say how she you've been talking about that for a while. Why don't you just put up a landing page now in the next hour? And then it's hard to say no.

[00:43:03] Nirish Shakya: Yeah, I was, I'm interviewing one of my friends, Jason Mesut for one of these podcasts interviews. And one of the things that he mentioned is around sometimes we just need someone to hold up a mirror for us and just see ourselves because we don't have that mirror A lot of times. Because we're so caught up in our own thoughts that we can't see the thoughts clearly.

[00:43:22] Hattie Willis: A hundred percent. And I think, one of the traps I fell into certainly earlier, and it comes back to this I think, this insecurity that I had, this idea that I had to have all the answers or I'd be called out was the idea that I couldn't show my own fallacy. Like I'm coaching and training and, previously would have worried that by being on a podcast and talking how I struggled with my own motivation, sometimes how I struggled to keep my self accountable would mean, people feel, they can't trust me to keep them accountable, but actually having that empathy, that this is hard having that understanding of where we slip up, because I can actually.

I can relate. I think it makes me a better coach, not a worse one. But that takes for, for me that took a long time to understand and I guess to learn and for a long time I would watch other people in meetings who would, ask questions that I was thinking, and hadn't asked and think, oh, I'm so pleased you did that.

And I'm not thinking any less of them, but that keep not asking those questions myself. Cause I thought I had to appear like a fully understood everything and appear to always be on top of it. And I think I'm now learning that actually like a huge skill is just the humility to be able to be, not, I'm not great at it, but to be able to go, I need to ask you for help on this. Cause I'm, I don't know it or I'm struggling with it.

[00:44:39] Nirish Shakya: I recently attended a a workshop on emotional intelligence that was offered by the School of Life. And one of the things that they mentioned the course was

when you show your strengths to people, you impress them, but when you show your weaknesses, you connect with them. And I think that is so true in terms of people do seem fine to find it easier to connect with people who share similar, vulnerabilities and weaknesses, rather than, when you're speaking to people who only tend to show how great. 

[00:45:09] Hattie Willis: and I think it is so important if you're doing anything that involves coaching because you are a, having to be that mirror to other people. You're exposing them to their own insecurities, the things that maybe aren't going the way they want to. So if they can feel like you're not a kind of hostile, or you're not someone who sees themselves as above them like that, that just makes that process a lot less painful.

But you also, you just need that connection for them to keep opening up for them, to bring the vulnerability for them to tell you the truth about what's not working, what they're finding hard, which again, often, founders aren't used to leading with, they used to giving the sales pitch.

They used to saying, here's what we're really good at. And I think one of the strengths we have to have as coaches is to say and get people to tell us the truth right. Of, of what's not working as well as being able to look at our business model and Terrapin ourselves. We need to make founders feel that they can come to us and tell us the challenges that they're facing.

[00:46:02] Nirish Shakya: Speaking of business models, I remember one of your talks where you mentioned something like digital may be the enabler, but business models are the driver which I found really fascinating. 

[00:46:14] Hattie Willis: Absolutely stolen has no idea by the way, I teach it very regularly, but I have to credit someone else with a thinking. So that was a mentor Jordan Schlipf really hammer that home to me for years. But it's essentially this idea that. For a lot of the innovation that we see for a lot of startups that we really admire, we might think of the technology is exciting, new thing, but actually what's really driving the big innovation is the business model.

So an example Uber is powered by the fact that we will have these incredible phones in our pockets that have, GPS that they can allow us to book a taxi from anywhere. And, we can follow their path and anyone can sign up and track their hours and all of that. Needed us to be able to have these smartphones needed that technology advancement, that the big shift that Uber have driven is this business model, which is a marketplace business model, where they bring drivers and they bring riders and they match that supply.

And that wasn't a model that taxi companies were doing before. They'd just have their drivers in-house. And so, that's just one example. I'm not saying Uber is a perfect example of innovation, but it's when we all know. But there are examples of this everywhere. And if you look at, the rise of software as a service as a new business model, and you know how it wasn't necessarily not as a new business model, but as a technology enabled business model, we used to have if you wanted to use Adobe you'd buy a CD rom, and that would be a one-off purchase. Now, if you want to buy Adobe, because they can deliver it as a constant stream of updates to your computer, you pay a subscription fee and actually much better business model for Adobe.

you know, I really want to encourage people and I do this work when I speak with product teams and I speak with designers. It's easy to get caught in this trap of getting excited about the technology, getting excited about the user experience, getting excited about what we're going to code, but until you understand really the business model that you want behind it you're not really maximising innovation.

You're not really going as far as you should, or, certainly corporates need their Intel employees to do. And startups are all about already.

[00:48:19] Nirish Shakya: I can certainly resonate with that because I'm in a, throughout most of my career, I've been like so focused on digital first and tech fast that you tend to just not see what is around that. That's actually driving a lot of those decisions up the chain. 

[00:48:37] Hattie Willis: you know, Once you understand the business model, you know, which parts of the technology you need to focus on, right? Which parts of the design and the most critical

[00:48:44] Nirish Shakya: Absolutely. So what would be your advice for designers, product people? Change makers in organizations to start to be aware of more of those business models and go beyond the technology and the digital name enablers. 

[00:49:01] Hattie Willis:  I think one really great way is to look at startups that you love startups that inspire you and start to think about their business model. How have they make money? How do they reach people? How are they driving lock-in and retention?

What are they keeping in-house what are they partnering for? And how are they managing costs? How does it all work? And what's different about this to the way it was done before. And often that's actually quite an easy question. So the more you start asking it, the better you get at spotting it very quickly.

And then once you have that understanding if you're a designer or if you're a coder, have a look at how they've engineered their user experience to drive that business model. So you know, referrals, as we often see. Things like Snapchat is a good example. A huge driver of their growth was by having a genuinely viral product.

And what I mean by that is not something that goes crazy on social media, but something where every user brings more users more than one new user. And the way that Snapchat did that was I could go on and I could send you nourish a photo. And if you weren't on Snapchat, you'd get a text telling you how to photo from your friend Hattie, and you need to download this.

Now because virality is so key to their business model because they were trying, you only get the value out of these kinds of apps if your friends are on it, so you have to be able to attract your friends. What they did was really focused on early on, like how do we make that acquisition, that referral a really neat process.

That's where they had to invest, more heavily than say, marketing design for new ads. And so once you start to see the business model, start to unpack the product, look up where they're putting their effort, look at what they've really focused on making seamless. And you'll start to understand really why you need one.

You need to understand the business order to really make the best product. And, ultimately you need the best product to deliver that business model.

[00:50:56] Nirish Shakya: Absolutely. Hattie now having been through what you've been through and where you are now from your vantage point, if you had to start again, watch two things. What things would you do differently? 

[00:51:09] Hattie Willis: question. I think there were, I think there are moves I've made faster. So I think there are, I think I spent a little bit too long being a project manager in corporate innovation because I think I knew for a while that it wasn't giving me necessarily the growth through the role itself.

I was learning a ton from the people I was around. So that was incredible. But aren't you, I continue to have that run when I started running the workshops as well. And I already knew I was really excited by the workshops. Think for me knowing that my energy wasn't coming from the job, it was coming from, things that kind of happened a little bit around the job and that I wasn't learning as fast as I had been new when I started project managing, I learned a ton really quickly.

And so that was really powerful. But that learning was slowing. And so knowing both those things that I, I could have made that leap a bit earlier. But at the same time, maybe I wouldn't have had the investment from the company if I'd made it too soon. They hadn't been able to see what I could do and also, to think that I might leave if I didn't get it.

And I think, again, even with Guessworks I, there was a period where I wasn't asking myself. The question of, so what next what skills do I want next? Because I was learning a ton just from being around the people that I was around on the venture building team I was learning about new industries constantly, and it was really interesting.

But I think there was a point where again, what I was learning that was really interesting. Wasn't necessarily translating to the spaces and industries that I was starting to realize I'd like to play in. And I think once I had that realization of maybe the spaces I wanted to play again, I could've made that move quicker.

But I, I don't regret it because I still got a ton of learnings and got to work with awesome people.

[00:52:58] Nirish Shakya: Great. And what's the one common myth that you'd like to debunk, whether it's in innovation, entrepreneurship, startups, venture building, or just in life in general. 

[00:53:10] Hattie Willis: Yeah. I think I'd love. Potential entrepreneurs to not assume that it all sits in the idea. I think we put too much weight in the idea. So the idea that we have, or the thought that we have to wait until we have a perfect idea to launch a startup and that, that idea is then something we execute was debunked years and years ago by lean startup.

Eric Reese wrote a book on this, why essentially our ideas are just guesses and the faster we can test those guesses, the better will the better we'll execute. But it's still see a ton of people getting too attached to their ideas, feeling like, ultimately the idea is what will help them succeed.

And you see this with a lot of founders who have. For instance, they need to be in stealth mode. So they need to hide what their idea is. They can't tell anyone for some ideas that's actually true. And I can buy into the logic, but for most, the truth is if someone can pick up your idea and our execute you, they will.

Whether, you wait until launch or not to tell anyone. So I'd love people to put less focus on the idea, the solution, more focused on the problems. They're really excited about solving. Because then I think you've got much more room to innovate room to, really deliver something of value as well.

[00:54:27] Nirish Shakya: What you're saying is an idea is just a means to an end in terms of solving the problem. 

[00:54:33] Hattie Willis: Yeah, exactly. And the truth is if we really understand the problem, we probably understand there's a ton of ways it could be solved. And we hope our solution is the best, but we need the humility to understand that it may not be in, we're making a lot of assumptions in generating the idea.

And sometimes the risk is that as founders, these solutions come to us fully formed and we don't stop and unpack. What are all of the component assumptions within this from actually, have I really understood and found a need with a real customer segment through to actually tons of questions around feasibility or viability of the business model.

There's just so many compound assumptions in one idea. And I think if we don't treat it with that awareness and with that that reality check and that humidity ultimately We'll take too long to learn what we got wrong and we don't leave ourselves enough time to pivot or to do something differently.

[00:55:32] Nirish Shakya: Cool. So how do you imagine it's your last day on earth? And someone comes up to you with a very tiny piece of paper and a pen and ask you to write down your final message to humanity that will print in big letters and put it up on a big billboard for everyone to see. What would you write down on the tiny piece of paper? 

[00:55:57] Hattie Willis: gosh, I'm not sure. Not sure. I'd have the message. All of humanity needs to see now, 

[00:56:03] Nirish Shakya: entrepreneurs, innovators. 


[00:56:05] Hattie Willis: Yeah, otherwise my ego get far too big and nourish.

I think it would be, learning from people far smarter than me around really encouraging people to just try it, just test it to riff off Nikes or catchphrase, hopefully without being sued. But don't just do it, but like just try and test it. And hopefully you learn a ton as you go.

you know, One of my favorite quotes, again, stolen from another founder is learning his progress building stuff as an, and we get, I think sometimes a bit focused on output and launching that perfect thing and it holds us back from actually learning what we need to. So yeah, just try it, just test it and be open to being wrong.

Try and disprove yourself.

[00:56:49] Nirish Shakya: Great. I've certainly been guilty of focusing too much on the output rather than the process of learning and doing so. Yeah, some really wise words that are Hattie. If you had to pick one resource, that's really helped you in your career or your life. Can you think of that one resource that you might want to recommend? 

[00:57:07] Hattie Willis: one resource. Gosh, I love all resources. I can't put it down. I can tell you some of my favorites currently, maybe is an easier question than try to pin down to one. At the moment I'm loving learning from other podcasts. One of my favorite podcasts to learn from is a secret leaders by Dan Murray, Serta. He's a founder of Heights.

I'm learning a ton from them. I'm also a huge fan of just hunting around medium for articles by founders solving the problems that you have. There's probably someone who's written about it if you're struggling with it. So I think that's huge. And and I think the other thing is, use the tools at your disposal to create real communities.

And those will be really personal. I find LinkedIn an incredibly useful tool because actually there is a community on there of people who, I feel like really. Come forward and support when called on. And maybe it's a weird resource to list. But it's been one of the most useful things for me, honestly, is whenever I do something, whenever I have a question, being able to go on there and find the support for it and that community of people who, who want to help.

And, there are loads of communities for founders as well specifically so seek out other people who are sharing your problems and who might have found some ways to solve them, or at least to, you can have a very cathartic venting session with.

[00:58:31] Nirish Shakya: Nice. Thanks a lot for the Hattie. It's been a great learning session for me as well, like speaking to you over the past hour. Definitely, one of the things that took Todd was how your dad said can a career as a marathon, not as not a sprint and adding onto that you got to pick your own race. You can't, you can't, or shouldn't try to run all the races, but the pick the race that, that gives you energy that also lets you be your authentic self and tell the authentic story that you're comfortable with. Seems to be a key towards a more joyful and meaningful. Korea. And within that Korea your propensity to manage risks seems like it's gonna, it's the one thing that, a skill that you, we know we can all learn regardless of whether we are an entrepreneur or a founder working for ourselves or an entrepreneur or an employee working for a company.

And one of the ways you could potentially do that is to better understand how in, what kind of environment you're operating in, in what kind of environment your business operates in and going beyond just your knowledge of digital experiences and technology and how to build that perfectly, but also into what is the underlying driver in terms of the business model, that's driving all those product and design decision. That's something that I hadn't really paid much attention to as a, a designer as a, as even as a developer, when, as a developer, because of more, my focus was so much on just doing the work. And sometimes, you can be so frustrating to hear business, decision makers, not making decisions to build the things that you put so much time and money and energy into. And there is that underlying rationale for why that was the case with them times, which I didn't understand because I didn't understand the business model. 

[01:00:25] Hattie Willis: No, exactly. It allows us to generate a lot more ideas.

[01:00:29] Nirish Shakya: Exactly. And when you do this, there'll be lots of ups and downs. And having that support network seems to be a crucial part of, keeping that journey, that race, that marathon sustainable and support network with people, getting academy, people who get what you do and also help you celebrate small wins. Cause a lot of times here we are so focused on the doing the achieving. But once we achieve something, we just move on to the next thing without actually stopping to celebrate what we've achieved. I'm pretty guilty of 


[01:01:01] Hattie Willis: my partner called me out because I did that with gas books annual revenue target. I passed out. She really luckily very quickly in the first six months, for the year. And so I just upped the target straight away and carried on and my partner found out a few weeks later that. Done that. And he said, you haven't stopped to actually celebrate that. That happened. That's great. You passed your target. And I was like, oh yeah, I'm already now feeling like I'm not doing enough because I'm not high enough on the next target. So yeah, absolutely.

[01:01:31] Nirish Shakya: Yeah. Personally, I seem to be always chasing this vision of my ideal self and I never achieved that because I, when I achieve that ideal self has always moved, further beyond that it's the home, the kind of chasing that ideal self, where that actually appreciating who you are in the moment.

 And I think you're one of the key things is around not putting too much weight on the idea because an idea is just one of the many ways to solve problems. And if you put your focus on the problems that you're passionate about ideas will come and it will come. The more you take smart guesses.

So don't be afraid to take those smart guesses, test them learn from them, fail fast and get closer to those ideas. 

[01:02:15] Hattie Willis: Beautiful that nourish your law says, this is why we have you as a coach with GuessWorks as well. You're a, you couldn't understand their mentality more.

[01:02:26] Nirish Shakya: I'm good at taking what I learned from other people and then just replaying back to them. 

[01:02:31] Hattie Willis: Hey, I do think there's this role of we underplay it, but people are really good amplifiers and who are really good at gathering lots of different people's expertise and who actually able to understand that expertise, contextualize it and play it back in different ways. Not passing off as their own.

I think that's dangerous, you know, if we can be good amplifiers for that, I think that's a huge value.

[01:02:52] Nirish Shakya: So how do you, what's the next exciting thing in the horizon for you?

[01:02:58] Hattie Willis: So a launching new podcast Not My First Guess, which is for first-time founders. Primarily, although we welcome any entrepreneurs who are curious about learning from other founders and the goal really is to take those early stages of an idea and a unpack for founders. Who've been through that.

At different stages. If some are still early stage, some have exited, some have been acquired some of IPO code but really what gasses were they making and how did they test them? And then we're also bringing in some incredible experts again on everything from fundraising through to the skills that you need around running a business unit, pitch, coaching sales, and marketing growth to try and help founders understand what gases they're making and where maybe they should focus some efforts for really efficient returns while they're trying to move.

[01:03:50] Nirish Shakya: And how would you like people to find you online off of this? 

[01:03:53] Hattie Willis: Yeah. So I'm on LinkedIn, Hattie Willis. You can also follow the podcast on Twitter, on Instagram, Not My First Guess. Hopefully we'll see on there, it's going to be a community sharing lots of resources beyond just the podcast. So we'll, hopefully people will contribute as well and share their lessons learned, I guess is. And how they're testing them.

[01:04:15] Nirish Shakya: Great. Thank You so much for your time Hattie and we will see you again. 

[01:04:19] Hattie Willis: Thanks so much Nirish.

[01:04:20] Nirish Shakya: Thank you so much for joining us in this chat. If you're enjoying listening to the Design Feeling Podcast, please do consider leaving an honest review on Apple Podcasts. It'll help people decide whether they'd want to press the play button or not. And if you have any suggestions, ideas, or guests that you'd like to have on the show, please email me at and like always please share the podcast with a Design Thinking friend who needs a bit of Design Feeling in their lives. See you next time.