February 3, 2020
What do you consider to be the greatest feat in business and why?
The World Wide Web has to be the product that most moved our species forwards and that all future generations will depend upon. Interestingly – despite having created more enterprise value than any other product in history – it was given away for free, and the act of not commercialising it was the feat that made it so species-changing. Today I, and almost every business owner I know, stand on the shoulders of the person who created and gifted it: Tim Berners-Lee.
What is the greatest physical feat you’ve witnessed by an individual and why?
I’ve seen my wife give birth twice. I was pretty terrified both times. She seemed more composed than I was. Having studied engineering and spent a little time in the oil sector, I know how difficult it is to build something that works properly. Show me something more outstanding in the physical world than giving birth.
What about by a group or team?
I recently read Endurance, the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men and their struggle to reach safety after their ship was crushed by ice. What that group had to endure every day, simply to survive is astonishing. Surprisingly, I found myself laughing out loud at some of the techniques and activities they made for themselves to keep their mental health in a far better state than their physical.
Which demonstration of intelligence/mental strength has most impressed you?
Our organisation maps human cognition and we have one of the world’s largest cognitive datasets, which is growing exponentially as we scale our business across education institutions and large employers. What impresses me is how there is no ‘typical’ level of intelligence across the population. The range of, and significance of, the cognitive biases we can evidence outlines how different one person’s intelligence is to another, even when you would otherwise think these two people are on a par. What is actual real intelligence is figuring out what you’re unusually good at processing and becoming an expert at it.
Which act of generosity has inspired you the most and why?
Our business has offices in both Newcastle and London and I’ve spent a lot of time between the two. The amount of personal time people in the North East give away to help someone in their shoes many years ago altruistically is unusual. The entrepreneur community in the region is incredibly generous with time and advice. I think this generosity is one of the main strengths of the region – and it’s unique to us. Chris Quickfall is an entrepreneur who has successfully built a number of companies within the education sector. In 2017, Chris saw the opportunity to create an online digital platform that could identify learners with hidden learning needs such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, Asperger’s and memory problems