Brad Burton interview

Meet the UK’s New Kingpin of Motivational-Speaking: Brad Burton

Brad Burton opens up about his primary motivation, blueprint for success, and plans for the future.

Brad Burton is a British entrepreneur and motivational speaker who founded 4Networking Limited, an international business networking company.

In the past decade, he released four books, including ‘Get Off Your Arse’, ‘Get Off Your Arse Too’, ‘Life. Business. Just Got Easier’, and ‘Now What?’ – respectively.

As a result of his successes as a motivating force behind some of the most prominent organisations in the UK, Burton has received media attention on The Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, and BBC2 to name a few.

In 2019, Burton made it to #43 in our list of ‘100 Most Influential British Entrepreneurs 2019’.

I caught up with him over email, and here’s what he had to say…

1) What does being an entrepreneur mean to you?

The freedom to make the daft decisions that you probably couldn’t make if you were employed. And the great thing about that, is that it’s only a daft idea if it doesn’t work.

My three biggest business successes have all been daft ideas. They worked!

2) Please summarise your life in 3 words.

Break. The. Rules. Always.

3) Is location important for an international business networking group?

With danger of sounding like a Brexit politician, what’s more important is the people.

4) How have you gone about inspiring so many people? And what would you recommend to our readers for good networking?

Before you change the world, you have to change yourself.

The first person that I had to motivate was me. I’d done four years on benefits, left school with no qualifications, delivered pizzas at 31.

Something had to change. And that change, was me.

Now at 46, I am older, wiser and more motivated than ever before.

My primary motivation isn’t to make more money, ironically. It’s to make a positive difference. I truly believe in my mission.

5) What’s your top 3 success tips for people in business?

Be you. Because we spend so much time pretending to be something we are not, in order to fit in, that we lose our secret weapon and our uniqueness.

Never underestimate anyone. Never overestimate anyone. Treat everyone the same. With respect. Because it’s not just the person you’re talking to, it’s all the people they know.

There is a reason that racehorses wear blinkers. They don’t care about the competition, they run their own race. You should do the same.

6) Who would you say is an influential entrepreneur to you?

Ian Dickson, my business coach – Former European Business Coach of the year. He has been massively influential; grounding me with business knowledge, giving me advanced and expert principles so that I can interpret them into simpler Brad terms.

Croz, the mindset master, 70-year-old grizzled entrepreneur. His ability to see a way through the most difficult of situations is enviable.

Terry Cooper, the chairman of 4n, former MD of a PLC. He recognises what to say to me to press my buttons in a positive benign manner to succeed.

7) How do you set yourself apart from the competition?

How many motivational speakers do you know that have clients including Bentley, JCB, Costa, Snap On tools and Screwfix that look like a drug dealer? I’m not by the way… anymore.

8) What are some of your top achievements?

Creating a business from absolutely nothing. No investment.

A business that I was told would never work. That was 14 years ago. How wrong they were!

Now, here’s the interesting thing. Statistically, 94% of businesses fail within the first decade – for a lad with no qualifications, no MBA, no investment, and “no chance” I’ve done ok.

Writing 4 business books and getting them all in Waterstones. Once again, I was told, “I would never get them in there” by an industry “expert”.

Speaking for the biggest brands in the UK – a working-class lad from Manchester, and yet my principles are helping global brands change the way they think about business, because people try to make it more complicated than it is and when I speak to these teams,  I end up reigniting their ‘SEE’: Sales, Energy and Enthusiasm. And as I say, SEE, this stuff does work. 

9) If you could put a percentage on the satisfaction in your life from 0% to 100%, what would it be and why?

99% – genuinely. I do not know anyone as content as me.

I know hundreds of entrepreneurs who have made more money than me, but I do not know any business owner who is as happy or as content as me.

Would me working really hard in order to earn more money, to massively enhance my wealth, increase that score? And actually, is it really worth pushing for an extra 1%. For me? No.

I am so content and happy, which is what we all wish for.

10) In retrospect, what lessons did you learn when trying to get your business off the ground and how did you overcome challenges?

Recognising that not everyone does what they say they are going to do, and actually, in life and in business, it’s a surprisingly rare trait.

How I overcome this? I became my own cavalry and relied on myself, until such a time when I could kiss lots of frogs and if they don’t work, next. If they did work,  great. 

11) Why do people need to pay attention to solving local, national, and global problems?

People need to pay attention to solving their own problems before trying to solving the worlds.

I’ll give you an example of this. I would give me last pound to a Big Issue salesman [a newspaper most-commonly sold by homeless people in the UK], previously. And then I’d have nothing left for myself.

Then I realised something. The more influence, the more power, the more clout, the more money that I had, the more people I could help.

This fundamentally changed the way I think about challenges and problems.

But as individuals, if we all do our positive best, then by default the world changes. But whilst you have got a single problem in your own life, why are you trying to solve other people’s problems? 

As per my previous answer, I am content and happy. Therefore I am in a positive to help people become happy and content. If I wasn’t, how could I help others? It would be counter-intuitive to the solution.

12) How does your public speaking process work from initial planning to execution?

You can’t skip the steps. The more of a back catalogue of stories that you have, the easier it is to present.

So, an example of such, I’ve spoken over 2000 times in public. I’ve got it wrong, probably 50 times during that. Mostly upfront, I got it wrong.

So, the best way to learn how not to die on stage is to die on stage. However for so many, once you’ve died terribly, you really don’t want to do it again and I think that’s the difference.

So in terms of my message, we have a PowerPoint deck of over 400 slides, each of which has a story which is seeped in motivation and inspiration, we work with the client to find their problems and challenges and we create a start, middle and end to hit all of those points. 

13) What book do you ask everyone in your team to read?

Now What?’. By Brad Burton.

It is a book that will change your life. Because the only time we ever ask that question Now What? is when the shit is hitting the fan. And let me just float this. People under stress don’t make great decisions. So on that basis, when you’re stressed you shouldn’t make any decisions.

Now What? is about preparing you for what to do when you’re not stressed so that you know when things start unravelling, you’ve already made the decision whilst in a state of mind that was clear and a head full of clarity.

It’s a life and game-changer. 

14) What are some of your aims for the next ten years?

To not die. Joking. But listen, my absolute goal is to help other people be as happy and content and rounded as I believe I am.

Disclaimer: The content on this page are those of the interviewee and are for entertainment and informational purposes only. It should not be taken as advice, including for investments or anything else.

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