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In the Spotlight: Ben Campbell, The Self Made Theory

- February 8, 2020 6 MIN READ

Ben Campbell, founder of The Self Made Theory, steps into the Spotlight.

We ask the tough questions of Ben Campbell, The Self Made Theory

You’ve got a free half hour during your work day. What do you do?

I actually review my Task List (big fan of Wunderlist, moving towards Microsoft ToDo). I’m an avid list person – I think I have more things on my list than anyone I know. It helps me focus on what really needs to get done, while never missing anything important in both my personal and business life.

Who, or what, is your biggest inspiration?

Jesus. He was an innovator who loved people, and an amazing example of leadership, love, empathy, respect, trust and how to treat people. He sacrificed himself for what he believed in.

When did you know you wanted to start your own business?

It’s always been an ambition, but when I was being paid well and learning a lot in a corporate role, it never seemed the right time. I had an opportunity to take a redundancy package from an employer, and even though it would have been more financially sound to stay with my employer, my wife asked, “If money was no object, what would you do?”. So, I took the money and here I am, running my own business.

And loving it. And making money!

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learnt this year?

That I can actually do it! Many people have told me over the years that I should be running my own show, but I just thought they were being nice – imagine my surprise that it’s been a success!

What’s the best bit of feedback you’ve ever had?

An out of the blue recommendation from a colleague. It moved me.

“Ben is a big picture thinker who leverages his breadth of experience in both professional and personal domains enacting a coaching style approach to securing new opportunities and dealing with challenges/issues. Ben’s approach, strongly based on his values, is quite unique within our business and I have particularly enjoyed both working with him and also connecting on a personal level.

Ben is personable and exhibits excellent communication skills (both written and verbal) allowing him to connect with all kinds of people and inspire them to put forward their best effort. His approach and style have supported attainment and exceeding of company business objectives but more importantly for me, Ben has delivered for our business ‘the right way’ focused on physical and mental wellbeing of his staff”.

What’s your proudest moment?

I think landing my first, paying client. That’s always a watershed moment.

What’s your number one way to wind down?

I love cycling. It helps me clear my head, drive some endorphins through my brain and all the other physical benefits. Harvard Business Review outlines that studies indicate that your mental firepower is directly linked to your physical regimen. Exercise brings improved concentration, sharper memory, faster learning, prolonged mental stamina, enhanced creativity, lower stress.

What’s your favourite film and album?

Film: The Blindside. An amazing, true story of how you can change someone’s life (plus, I’m a massive American Football fan)

Album: Beatles, Blue Album. Timeless.

What’s the smartest bit of marketing you’ve ever done?

The Self Made Theory Podcast. It’s a lot of work to do properly, and it wasn’t intended to be a lead-generation source, but it’s turned out to be a good return on investment. Plus, it’s fun!

What’s the one resource you’d never be without?

My desire to make a difference. It’s the one thing that has been the drive of all my learning, all my success and all my personal passions.

What’s the most obscure business request you’ve ever had?

I had a client who wanted to have our Executive Coaching sessions while we cycled together (we still do!). I have now turned this into a business, Self Made Cycling, where I combine Business & Executive Coaching while on the move. Some exciting developments coming, including overseas strategy tours etc.


What or who has the most grounding influence on you?

My wife.

Smart, funny, honest, supportive, creative (and gorgeous). She knows how to communicate well when my innovations and ideas have gone to ‘ridiculous’ level.

What’s the biggest challenge you face at work?

Trying to keep a lid on all my creative, entrepreneurial ideas.

What’s the best thing about being a soloist? And the worst thing?

Best: Success is up to me.
Worst: Success is up to me.

What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?

When you have your foot ‘flat to the floor’ all the time, driving yourself as hard as you can all the time, you will never have anything ‘extra’ to give when something amazing comes along.

Always keep some in reserve. You never know when you might need it.

Where and when do you have your best ideas?

When I’m on my bike, listening to Podcasts (BTW, I use bone conducting headphones, which sends the sound through your cheekbones, leaving your ears free to hear the traffic. Very cool).

What website do you visit every day?

www.cnn.com.  Always keen to know what’s happening in the world today.

What talent do you most wish you possessed?

Photographic memory. My memory is good, but how great would it be to retain everything you hear, read and learn?

What would your mum say is your greatest strength? And weakness?

She’s sitting right next to me on the plane as I fill in these questions (we’ve just taken her to Bali for her 70th birthday). Word for word, Mum says:

Strength: My energy and positivity
Weakness: My obstinance

What’s one thing about you few people know?

I love a good practical joke. A recent one saw me connect a mouse to the docking station of a staff member’s laptop without them knowing (I had the mouse on my desk). When they were at their desk, I would move the mouse, oh so slightly – causing them to be bewildered (and eventually frustrated) at what was going on. After about a week, I heard him say he was going to rebuild his laptop over the weekend to get rid of the problem. I had to confess!

What is the one regret you do not want to have in this lifetime?

To leave this earth not having made a difference in people’s lives.

What inspires you most about your work?

The ability to help someone else achieve greatness!

What do you wear to work?

Mostly, I’m a jeans, shirt and jacket kind-of-guy. Occasionally a suit if I need to. One day, I will run a business where I can wear shorts and t-shirt to work.

What do you love most about running your own business?

I love setting the direction of where I want the business to go. My last role, before starting my business, was in a very large corporate. It’s tough in large organisations to be able to totally set the direction you believe you need to go with your team, as you are tied somewhat to the strategy of the CEO (whether you believe in it or not).

And now comes the plug!

What is your business name?

The Self Made Theory.

Why? We often hear successful entrepreneurs referred to as ‘Self Made’. But, when you understand their story, you will find that behind them are great mentors, great staff and great co-founders who helped them achieve greatness.

The notion that someone is ‘Self Made’, is really just a ‘Theory’.

What do you do? Who for? And how does it benefit them?

Every company I meet, from start-up to corporate, has a business challenge (or multiple challenges) they can’t solve for themselves. It might be people, culture, leadership, growth, sales, profitability – sometimes they are not able to define the problem and then there are some who don’t realise they have a problem at all.

I’ve founded a company called The Self Made Theory to bring my unique skillset (ability to see not just the detail but beyond the trees) which I’ve acquired through senior leadership roles in Sales, Leadership, Technology / Operations, Finance, People & Culture in organisations from start-ups through to large corporates. I combine this with formal training (MBA, Certified Organisational Coach) to help companies and executives (using methodologies such as exec or group coaching, mentoring or traditional consulting/workshops) to ‘Innovate, Overcome & Prosper’.

I also founded a business podcast, also titled The Self Made Theory where I interview founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs and other leaders about their business and their journey.

And where can we find out more about you?

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