It has been over 3 years since I last visited the University of the West of England — a place that takes my mind back to illuminating, yet humbling experiences each time I think about the days as an undergrad student. My accidental finding of my alumni card fuelled my curiosity of how “UWE” is doing? Somehow my mindless browsing of the university homepage and deep-rooted fascination for businesses compelled me to sign up for the latest event of the “Bristol Distinguished Address Series”.

And it definitely did not disappoint and I would like to share my #5 most valuable takeaways from the event, which featured Simon Belsham, CEO of notonthehighstreet.com

Lesson #1 “The purpose of life is having a life of purpose”

I thought this was a perfect introductory principle, since knowing one’s life purpose is the foundation for “living life to the fullest” (i.e. meaning, knowledge of what is important and unimportant, work with drive and passion and my favourite achieving success in your own terms) versus just existing.

Consider the following:

  • Clear purpose
  • Clear long-term goals
  • Clear short-term goals
  • Clear daily actions

Now, in contrast the opposite is also true:

  • Random, Blurry or Unknown purpose
  • Random plans and actions or even worse living someone else’s purpose and agenda

Lesson #2 “Be a Fruitloop in a World of Cheerios”

Yes, you are and can still be unique in a world where roughly 4 billion of the world’s population are connected and fighting for each other’s attention.

Who ever thought Amazon has monopolised whatever can be sold out there, then think again and check out notonthehighstreet.co.uk.

Lesson #3 “Success does not come in Straight Lines”

This is a truth that never gets old, since some of us (including myself) seem to forget about this principle when things get difficult or when we obsess too much about immediate tangible returns on our invested efforts.

By all means go ahead with your deliberate strategy, however have the flexibility and humility to see and adopt emerging strategies when they show up.

Lesson #4 “Change always brings Opportunity”

How many great companies emerged from the 2007 — 2008 Credit Crisis?

  • Airbnb
  • Groupon
  • Spotify
  • Tumblr

…just to name a few. Note that this is not a one-off phenomena as well; look when Hewlett Packard was founded.

Lesson #5 “Every Day is Day 1”

To think that we know it all when we have reached a certain level of scale or success, then we are wrong. The only constant is change, hence I will formally adopt this mindset and aim for continuous learning from everyone and not just from those that have been branded as a “success”.



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