You’d think that by now you’ve heard it all. How many more ‘success’ clichés can there be? Perhaps you’ve even tried numerous tactics that float around the ‘gram in the form of 30 second GaryVee style clips (which by the way do genuinely work, and he’s mastered an unforgiving work ethic) but not everyone can work 18 hour days, not everyone can apply such tactics to their day to day life so easily and in some instances, you’re just too broken and too hurt from previous experiences that you start to lack belief as to whether this is possible at all.

If the above applies to you, the very first thing you should do before reading further is put aside all your fears, give yourself some mental freedom to believe that success is within an arm’s length – I say this why? Because it really is if you want it to be. I may not fit all the stereotypes of success from an external appearance level, but I’ve seen enough and tried enough to know that a large part of what you achieve is based on the way you set up your mind at the very beginning.

Last week I had a meeting with Facebook. Sorry, not just with Facebook, at Facebook. The headquarters, the ones with the funky pool tables with a big ‘Like’ symbol printed on the canvas and lots of happy people bouncing around doing the best work of their lives.

Better yet, I was invited there by one of their senior team members.

I won’t delve into the entire story right now, that’s for another day, but it’s a recent milestone of mine that I’m extremely proud of. There are thousands of new ideas being created daily and especially nowadays, everybody thinks they have a start-up idea. It’s very easy to fence yourself into that mindset when getting started but as I worked on Feedsauce, I forced a mindset upon myself where I firmly believed everything I wanted to achieve was within arm’s length.

So what are these keys to success? How do I really start making the change that will determine the outcome of my efforts?

Let me walk you through a few principles that I swear by and that have never let me down.

Be Curious

I don’t know enough about human psychology to understand how much of this trait is down to nature versus nurture, but I do believe some level of deep thinking can be developed.

I absolutely love this quote from Elon Musk which touches on his way of thinking, also known as ‘First Principle Analysis:’

“I think it’s important to reason from first principles rather than by analogy. The normal way we conduct our lives is we reason by analogy. [With analogy] we are doing this because it’s like something else that was done, or it is like what other people are doing. [With first principles] you boil things down to the most fundamental truths…and then reason up from there.”

Even Steve Jobs touches on a similar concept in a famous video you can watch in full in your own time: Steve Jobs’s Philosophy on YouTube. Jobs refers to the idea that as we grow up, we’re forced into these fences and boundaries of life (i.e. stable income, work/life balance, having a family) yet we’re not often taught to think differently and challenge the norms.

Challenging the norms is incredibly important and going one step further, believing that you can actually have an impact is crucial.

Fun Fact: I have 3 Blue Peter badges that I was awarded when I was younger, say ages between 10-13. I would participate in challenges and competitions and even came second place out of 7,000 entries in a Grange Hill competition. I was a nerd, still am. But, I share this to highlight how I’ve always wanted to challenge ideas and participate in thinking differently.

Fast forward to when I was 17 and deciding whether to go University or not, my ‘curious’ mind wouldn’t let me fall into that norm. Not that I don’t believe University is beneficial, it just didn’t support my idea of doing something different. I didn’t just want to be another statistic, another 1 of 100,000 students graduating in a specific topic and then scrambling towards any given job opportunity that had this degree on its application requirement list.

I believed I could set the standard, be my own wave. I believed then and still do that it’s your internal skill set, personality, grit and work ethic that will determine how far you go. In order to constantly sharpen those attributes, I had to explore many avenues and ideas, thus requiring me to be incredibly curious and questioning everything.

I question things for fun sometimes. For instance, most Friday mornings I don’t go to the office. Instead, I have breakfast at a random location, put my Airpods in but don’t actually play anything (it’s just easier to earwig conversations when you have headphones in). I sit there and watch the customer service around me so that I can improve my customer service at Feedsauce. If there’s a business meeting taking place, I watch behaviour more than listening to the conversation as I’m just fascinated with the ‘act’ people put on when trying to make money.

All of these curiosities in one morning, eh! But it works for me, and I really think it’s helped me develop a mindset where I don’t accept ‘this is this because it is’ and instead I encourage my team to ask ‘Why not?’ or ‘How can it be better?’ – consider that I used the word ‘better’ and not ‘different.’ Different doesn’t imply a positive change in the outcome, however better does. Better forces you into an optimistic, positive outlook and by way of thought progression, you’ll think differently anyway.

Be Persistent

For those of you who enjoyed my previous article about how marriage changed me, your eyes will light up to know that I ended up getting to know Shaz in the first place due to my relentless persistence. No, I didn’t stalk her lol, but I did type my own phone number into her phone and then call it so I’d have her number (cheeky trick, worked though). Oh yeah, and it took 5 years from then to put a ring on her finger, talk about sweatin’ a brother.

I also developed a now 4 year friendship with L.A. based Actor & Entertainer, Quincy (Pictured with me above) based off being persistent. I initially e-mailed him by trying multiple other potential e-mail addresses and then finally one hit and he actually responded to me. From there, he set me up with his management team and I made it a mission to work so hard that they wouldn’t be able to keep up – and that’s what happened. I started designing a website for him and sending so much work and interations over that the most streamline way of communicating would have been through Quincy himself, and the rest was history. Since then, he attended my wedding, invited me out to Miami and L.A. right through to collaborating with Feedsauce on his recent merchandise launch.

A similar approach applies when you work on your ideas or anything you believe in for that matter. You have to be relentlessly persistent, meaning extremely high levels of output at a consistent rate for a lengthy period of time.

There’s a trait of being erratic that I try to gage from a candidate when they send in a job application. It’s a bad trait. Normally, a person like this is the kind that sets up a new Facebook page every couple of months for a new idea or passion, thinks they have the solution to a problem and will tell you all day about it but has no efforts nor proof of execution to display. I’m normally able to understand this by asking them a few questions:

  1. What’s your favourite hobby? Follow up question: How long have you been doing that for?
  2. Have you ever been in a scenario where the odds were against you and you prevailed?
  3. Tell me about a fundamental principle or moral that you guard closely.

I love the last question because it goes one of two ways – either we end up in a deep philosophical conversation surrounding that principle or the candidate can’t think of anything and just says something cliche with no reasoning to follow up.

The answer that impressed me most was when a candidate responded ‘Finding the truth.’

I remember asking ‘Why those choices of words?’ Why not ‘Searching for the truth’ or just ‘The Truth.’

This careful choice of words displayed a characteristic of being persistent, it also implies that ‘searching’ for the truth was part of the equation anyway at inception level, however finding it is the ultimate principle. Anybody can start something, regardless of whether its right or wrong, but executing that idea against a journey and curiosity to discover the truth is the real win. By the way, the truth can represent a metaphor for ‘product-market fit’ or ‘customer satisfaction’ for instance, but the mindset behind it is what rings true and I strongly abide by.

Look for Patterns

It’s important not to confuse this principle with the idea of thinking differently, they’re two completely different ideologies.

Recognising patterns and being able to execute against them is vital for success in any capacity but especially beneficial when it comes to marketing or sales. You’ll find that marketing relies heavily on pattern recognition because you’re trying to answer a simple question every time:

How can I target the most specific audience, using the most optimum form of media via the most used platform amongst that audience, at any given time?

The quickest way to answer this question is to look for patterns. Patterns in behaviour, habits, websites visited, people followed, companies interacted with, language consistencies, travel destinations etc…

Learning how your users think and behave will give you the greatest probable outcome for success when it comes to marketing. A great way to begin searching for these audiences is to use Facebook’s Ad Platform. If you haven’t already, you can sign up for free by visiting

The reason I love this tool so much is that you can literally input audience behaviours and really specify your demographic to get an understanding of how niche your targeting is. Low and behold, the inputs you use are going to depend on how deep your understanding of patterns is amongst your core audience.

I learnt a lot of this in the early days of Facebook’s Ad Platform and getting a firm understanding of these principles really allowed me to help other brands develop online, hence setting up my marketing agency, Flavr.

Blame Yourself, Constantly

I’ve witnessed many peers of mine and even friends struggle to get past a certain hurdle in life because their natural response to adversity is to blame others. Not that I’m ‘Mr Wise Guy’ by any means, but I can confidently testify that nobody has made a successful life for themselves blaming others when things don’t go as planned.

One of the pre-requisites of embarking on an entrepreneurial journey is failure. You’re going to lose many times, some big, some small. You’re not always going to get the outcome you want and the closest people around you will even count you out.

Guess what the best approach to all of the above is? Blame yourself, take responsibility and move forward.

Life is all about perspective and how you see things; more importantly how you see yourself. An attitude of self-blame can sound harsh, I appreciate that, but the reality is that trying to gain any form of real success is harsh, it’s a painful journey that requires you to build yourself up only to break yourself down again, to know that you might have 100 wins but the 1 failure can’t be overlooked by ego or pride.

Every time something goes against you, you should apply this thought process:

Identify the issue.

What happened in the first place? Get to know the facts without any bias.

Could this have been avoided?

In most cases, there’s a sensical approach to having avoided an issue. Hindsight is beautiful, isn’t it? But you have to think practical. Understand what measures could have been in place to have avoided this.

Innovate your way out of a hole.

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon speaks about this a lot and recognises innovating his way out of problems as a key principle of success. However, in order to do so you take responsibility for the issue at hand and then apply optimism and creative thinking to weave yourself out of it.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

If communication isn’t on the top of your agenda when embarking on a mission, consider the mission aborted. Most of the time, your decision to create a new business or start something new is your decision meaning that the people around you may not have the same awareness of risk-reward as you do.

Therefore, their pain will be greater and many a time this is the people closest to you, for instance, your spouse, your children, your parents and even your employees.

I haven’t seen communication being valued enough in start-ups and I don’t know whether it’s an ego thing or they just don’t know how to but it’s the root cause of many inevitable problems. Purely on an operational level, if you’re unable to communicate effectively, you’ll never be on top of your organisation and disorientation will occur where different groups of people have different ideas on where the company should be heading.

You need to have a clear focus on where things to be heading and you need to be able to articulate that effectively to your team inside your organisation and also to your team outside your organisation (i.e. your family).

I’ve had discussions with other entrepreneurs who see communication as a weakness and feel they don’t need to discuss their overall vision and direction with their wife let’s say because she won’t understand the context. First of all, someone not understanding context is the primary foundation of communication. Context!

Secondly, it’s not about diving into the semantics of your business, that’s beside the point. The lesson here is to at the very least keep everyone well in tune with how things are going, perhaps your stress levels or maybe you’re losing hope and could do with a shoulder at times.

The power of communication is beyond the words in my vocabulary but I stand by it and constantly communicate to those around me whether it’s on a day to day work level or a personal level. I’ve found that in doing so it’s improved my relationships tenfold and in fact helped others support me more as they get to understand me and my actions in greater context.