Thomas Smallwood Joins Us On The Steve Jobs Inspired Join Up Dots Podcast
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Introducing Thomas Smallwood
Thomas Smallwood is our guest today, on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots free podcast interview.
He is a man with an amazing story of taking life by the scruff of the neck and turning full circle to where he wanted to be.
As he says “After failing to get much of an education I set up an online business, selling books.
This fuelled my passion for all things literary but the business failed.
In order to pay the mortgage I started work stacking supermarket shelves at night. During the day I made a career plan to turn things around.
In late 2004 I joined the still relatively young online gambling industry, working in a call centre. 5 years later I co-founded a company (which I subsequently sold) and went on to manage operations in the UK, Central and Eastern Europe. From 2013 to 2016 I was CEO of SKS365 Group.
I am now a full time consultant, investor & advisor in one or two startups and, more importantly, I am embarking on a career as a writer, writing about mountains and the outdoors. In other words I am following my passion.”
How The Dots Joined Up For Thomas
And this is what makes him the perfect guest for a show like Join Up Dots, as in late 2016 he quit the rat race to redesign his life in a way that was more satisfying, interesting and adventurous both in his personal and professional life.
He didn’t know how to accomplish the large and vague objective of “living better”, although he knew it meant being more entrepreneurial and spending more time outdoors!
So he embarked on a career writing about mountains, adventure and his journey of redesigning his life and through his website the Armchair mountaineer he is showing all of us how to take control of our lives.
So is it as simple as making a firm decision to do something, even if you haven’t got all the dots lined up and doing it?
Or did he plan everything out so he could make this the life that he has always wanted, and is so inspiring to the rest of us?
Well let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr Thomas Smallwood.
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Thomas Smallwood such as:
How he managed to get the plan in place to be able to transition his life to where he wanted it to be, even if it meant doing stuff that wast part of the plan.
Why it is so important to overcome the fear of reaching out to people who are ahead of you in their dream building (ensuring always that you provide value first)
Why Thomas believes that you should rarely start anything that you want to make money as a first goal, instead work on the passion and see where it takes you.
How no matter where you are in your journey of transition you will be hit by periods of doubt and lack of self confidence. Surround yourself with positive people to hep you through the bad times.
How To Connect With Thomas Smallwood
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here – enjoy
Full Transcription Of Thomas Smallwood Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK, David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:25]
Yes, hello there. Good morning, everybody across the world. Good morning to another episode of Join Up Dots. And this is one of those shows that’s kind of joining up the dots of this show because back on episode 88, we had a guest who has become a big friend of the show called to doubt first lady to go out both sides of Everest I seem to remember. And through following her intently, I discovered this guy and I saw his story and I pulled myself he’s somebody that we’ve got to get on Join Up Dots. We he’s got a he’s got a journey and a half and not only is he got a journey and a half, he’s still on it today and these is quite simply a man with an amazing story. uptaken life by the scruff of the neck and turning full circle to where he wanted to be, as he says after failing to get much of an education, I set up an online business selling books and this fueled my passion but all things literary, but their business bowed in order to pay the mortgage. I started working stacking supermarket shelves at night and during the day I made a career plan to turn things around. Now in late 2004, I joined the still relatively young online gambling industry working in a call centre. Five years later, I co founded a company which I subsequently sold, and went on to manage operations in the UK, Central and Eastern Europe and from 2013 to 2016. I was CEO of SK s 365 group. I’m now a full time consultant, investor and advisor in one or two startups and more importantly, I’m embarking on a career as a writer writing about mountains and the outdoors. In other words, I’m following my passion. And this is what makes him the perfect guest for a show like Join Up Dots says in late 2016, he quit the rat race to redesign his life in a way that was more satisfying Interesting and adventurous both to his personal and professional life. He didn’t know how to accomplish the large and vague objective of living better, although he knew it meant being more entrepreneurial and spending more time outdoors. So he embarked on a career writing about mountains adventure and his journey of redesigning his life. And through his website, the armchair mountaineer, he showing all of us how to take control of our lives. So is it as simple as making a firm decision to do something even if you haven’t got all the dots lined up and doing it? Or did he plan everything out? So he could make this big life but he’s always wanted, and it’s been so inspiring to the rest of us. Well, let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr. Thomas Smallwood. Good morning, Tom. How are you sir?
Thomas Smallwood [2:48]
Good morning, David. Very good. Thank you.
David Ralph [2:50]
It is lovely to have an Englishman on I didn’t realise how much I miss English people when I’m surrounded by them. I try to keep away from them but in podcasting land It just hits me. He hits me It goes deep into my heart. But I’ve got a connection with you, sir.
Thomas Smallwood [3:06]
It’s good. Well, it’s good to know. I think I think we all kind of, we all have a feeling about our own fellow countrymen and women. It’s always a double edged sword, isn’t it? When we’re not there we miss when we’re amongst them if we want to run away.
David Ralph [3:20]
It is. It is strange, but you can you can run away anyway. And one of the things that I love and I’m going to get straight to the chase was when I connected with you, you said, Oh, when do you want to do the interview? Because I’m quite free with my time and I thought, there’s not many people that can save that there’s not many people that can just say, Yeah, when do you want to do it that does that still excite you, but you could actually be sitting on the sofa watching Netflix in your underpants at moment.
Thomas Smallwood [3:46]
It does. I’m not just to be clear, because I’m fully focused on you. But it does. Yeah, but that also in itself is a double edged sword but there is that there is a certain amount of freedom that that you get from working in Way, which which is attractive. It does of course, require an enormous amount of discipline which is imposed on you when you work in an office environment. So it has its challenges but yeah so I mean the upside is obviously is obviously bigger I wouldn’t be doing it
David Ralph [4:18]
yesterday I woke up and I basically work all the time because I love it and my wife’s been saying to me You need a break you’ve just been working all the time like well it’s not work it’s not work it’s like a kind of a hobby fun passion thing i’d you know, if I wasn’t doing this I’d be doing it anyway. So I might as well do it. Just let me do it wife and I’ve been watching that BBC programme and this goes across the world because you can find it on Netflix but if you haven’t watched line of duty, you’re missing something and so I was watching line of duty and but night before I got to three quarters away for an episode and I was started dropping off so I thought I’d finish it tomorrow morning. So while everyone was whizzing off to work, commuting, I got the kids off to school and I thought I just finished off The last half hour of line of duty 10 hours later, I was still sitting in the same spot. I hadn’t got up for the entire day, I was just a Netflix Heaven, allowing my body to rest. And I still can’t get over that. I can’t get over that even though I put all the effort into getting to that point. It seems to me that the simple things in life are becoming more important to me more than the financial aspect and I think you would be somebody that would say the same.
Thomas Smallwood [5:26]
Yeah, unquestionably I mean, unquestionably. So yeah, I think what I’ve what I’ve kind of done. I mean, they’ve been a few few times in my life when I’m in a sort of reinvented myself, that’s maybe a bit of a grand way of saying it, but the most recent one, which is Yeah, so last year, I sort of assessed my life. And, again, I make it sound like some sort of clear code of decision, but it wasn’t quite like that. And I sort of read but I reached the point when I wanted to make some changes. I wasn’t happy with the format of the working life and the working environment. I was in. And so I sort of eventually got to the point where I said to myself, well, you know, hang on a minute, what is it you actually want to do? What do you enjoy? And I was in a position to be able to sort of do that in a financial position to say, Listen, I’m giving myself 2017 to change the way I live my life.
David Ralph [6:21]
Thomas, if what happened, if it didn’t work out too fast? Would you then go back to working for somebody or use? Because once you get to him, he can’t go back?
Thomas Smallwood [6:32]
Yeah, sorry to interrupt. You’ll make it sound as if I had a great plan there. But what happens? I don’t know, David, honestly, I haven’t thought that far ahead. I just said, I’m going to give myself the time to make it work. And then if it doesn’t work, you know, needs must. So when when humans get to a point, they make a decision to do something else. So yeah, I suppose in the back of my mind, there is that concern that if I don’t find all the alternative streams of income from from various projects, and that I want to This year, then there’s going to have to be some sort of compensation at the end of 2017. Again, internal conversation with myself, where I make that decision, do I keep ploughing ahead on this? Or do I go back to try and get back into the world of let’s say the the nine to five, which invariably becomes the seven to seven. But yeah, that’s a conversation which will have to happen, or may have to happen. I hope it doesn’t. But it is a possibility. It won’t happen tomorrow. Because I tell you why. Because you will know I’m quite confident it won’t, because I’m not thinking too much about it.
David Ralph [7:33]
Yeah, but you couldn’t go back. There’s no way on Earth. Now at nine o’clock in the morning sitting at a desk. You get your work done by 10 and you got to sit there till five you just couldn’t do it. You’d lost about six weeks and then you’d have to quit. I think once you burn those bridges, you had the time freedom and that’s what we’re going to be talking about today because it is one of those things that is so vitally important for people to understand that there are different ways of operating we don’t actually have to go To the desk now, there’s some people that love going to a desk and just doing the work and then coming home, which is great. But I think there is a big movement now of people that wanting their cake and eat it. And once you’ve been chomping on that cake, you just want more cake. I think I think you and me we’re in a position now but he’s all or nothing.
Thomas Smallwood [8:20]
Yes, I think you’re probably right. And I think you’re right. Also when you say that there are more people wanting this. And I think it’s worth pointing out that I think companies and organisations are going to have to gear up for this and the expectations of, of their employees increasingly, to actually probably build some of that flexibility into into the regular, let’s say working environment
David Ralph [8:43]
is I actually was given this is one of the reasons I’ve ended up where I am now I was given a certain amount of flexibility. But when I actually had that taken away from me, I had a manager who said, Yeah, you can work where you want, you can do what you want, everything’s great. And then a new manager came in and said, No, I want you at your desk at Nine o’clock. And I just went on not having this group. So I’m just going to sort of do my own thing. And it just meant that you couldn’t go back. But the problem was, you get that feeling. But how do you transition from there to paying the bills? That is the first step, isn’t it? And we’re going to talk about that now. Because I think there’s three stages to your journey. Number one, there’s the competence bit of actually doing it. Ben, I think there’s the bit about paying bills and just, you know, earning enough to keep the lights on. And then there’s the dream life. And I think so many people think that they can transition really to the dream life straightaway.
Thomas Smallwood [9:36]
Yeah, that’s, that’s certainly isn’t the case. And in order to kind of sort of answer these points, I’ll wind back a bit if I can, and, and if I, as I mentioned before, I’ve gone through a couple of stages in my life before where things where I’ve sort of had to sort of reinvent myself or at least sit down and say, you know, how would you want to live the rest of your life And the first one was when I dropped out of university with no qualifications. And the second time was, as you as you alluded to, or as you mentioned, in the in the kind of preamble there was when I found myself at age 29, stacking supermarket shelves. And then, most recently, now and each time
it’s been a really difficult process to actually make that change. So this, this relates to what you were just talking about now building up the confidence to make these changes. It is not something that is, at least for me, innate and easy to do. All these kind of major decisions come at, let’s say, the 11th hour just before breaking point, just to be clear, I’m not some superhuman who’s really, you know, got everything sorted and everything planned. But I do obviously have the ability to make these changes when it’s time. And I’m not entirely sure where that comes from, because I’ve always battled with the self confidence. Issues all my life and I continue to do so now. So I think the confidence to make these kind of life changing decisions is something which I don’t know whether you can learn it, it comes from circumstance, I think, at least in my case, I can say it comes from circumstance, it comes from the point where you you reach a point where you just think, Well, you know, I’m really not happy, I need to change something. And then it happens. In all honesty, it probably should have been a bit before and I think about my own decision now to kind of quit the rat race and change the way I live. I should have done it six months before I did, because I left a job that I wasn’t, you know, particularly kind of happy in and what I should have done is is changed things then. But I didn’t I dive straight into another job thinking, Oh, this was wiped me out. And of course, it absolutely didn’t. So yes, the confidence to do this is a big thing. But don’t just, it’s not something that you should sort of think, oh, I don’t have the confidence to do that. Therefore, I can’t do it because I’m that person as well. The confidence comes from a number of things. And one of them, I’m sorry to say is getting close to breaking point.
David Ralph [12:07]
I agree with you, I agree with you totally. And I didn’t want to jump in there because, you know, it’s difficult doing a show like Join Up Dots. It’s gonna sound very positive, very motivational because nobody wants to listen to a miserable host going, oh, I’ve had a really terrible day to day. And funnily enough, I’ve mentioned this a few times, but back on episode 300, or something, I was having a really bad time of it. And I was close to breaking point and I recorded an episode basically saying to the world, guys, it’s going crap and threw it out. And the feedback that I got from people, it was amazing. It was like a tsunami of people wanting realism and not having, you know, everything’s great. Everything’s brilliant, the kind of Facebook show lights, the highlights that we talked about. But the breaking point, I do think that is gold in every breaking point, because when I look back and I join up the dots, I can see that wouldn’t have got to the good stuff without those breaking points, I would have got to kind of diluted version of what I’m achieving and receiving Now, does that make sense to you?
Thomas Smallwood [13:11]
Now, unquestionably, because when I kind of just sort of thinking about coming in speaking to you, I started to look back and it’s not something I’ve done in this in this sort of detail. And of course, you know, yeah, you do start to join the dots. And I’ve seen a sort of a pattern. So unquestionably, so yeah. Now,
David Ralph [13:32]
you’ve got this idea of transitioning and reinventing your life and a lot of people go, Wow, it’s not easy. I’ve got a mortgage. I’ve got a daughter, I’ve got a wife. You can’t do it at my age. Now you you’ve done it. But did you have the big deep conversation with your wife? Did she understand why you wanted to do it? Would she have preferred you to go out and be the nine to five to seven to seven husband?
Thomas Smallwood [13:58]
That is a very good question. Yes, of course I had the conversation with my wife would she have preferred I mean, I think, you know, what she wants is for me to be happy and us as a family unit to be happy and healthy. So she has been very understanding of it. And in this particular incarnation, let’s say of my reinvention, I got myself into a financial position where I was able to do this and say, Listen, 2017 is a year where the mortgage is covered for that year. So you know, we can go ahead and I can try and make these changes. It is obviously a consideration in the going back to the first kind of time when I when I was 29. And I found myself have business having failed and everything sort of not really going very well and I was working nights stacking shelves in a supermarket. And then during the day, I was still trying to tie up the loose ends of the business that was failing that Was that his sense was much harder because financially I couldn’t make ends meet. I couldn’t pay the mortgage. But you know, again, it comes to the point where at some point you have to take take that plunge. So, I mean, going one way, is is essentially heading for a complete dead end. So you have to try something else. Now, I kept the reason I kept stacking shelves in a supermarket was not because I enjoyed it, it was just because I had to pay the mortgage. So, people I think, and I surprised myself, but I think everyone would surprise themselves at how much you’re willing to put up with, in order to sort of do what you have to do to make your life go on to if you want if, in a sense to change the direction of your life. So I started I started looking for things that I would enjoy doing and that’s the one thing I’ve been able to do sort of consistently when I’ve needed to, is to sit down and have a moment of clarity And say, What do you actually like? And what skills do you have?
David Ralph [16:04]
But let’s play some words now. And then we’re going to delve into the the transition and what you’re actually doing. So here’s Jim Carrey.
Jim Carrey [16:12]
My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [16:37]
Now that plays perfectly to yourself. So you sat down and thought, What do I actually want to do? What do I enjoy? Now you came up with an answer, which is obviously right for you. But when I first looked at it, I thought, really, how does this work you write about mountains and that that was a stretch of my imagination of how you can convert that into a monetizable business. How did you do it?
Thomas Smallwood [17:05]
Right? Well, how I got to it firstly is by sitting myself down really and saying, What What did you enjoy doing when you were young and had no money? First question because if it’s something I really enjoy doing when I have no money, then surely that’s something immediately puts me in a comfortable position, I can get happiness from doing something that doesn’t involve, I don’t know, flying helicopters or anything like that. I’ve, when I was younger, I used to climb and I used to spend a lot of time in the mountains, and I’m really, really enjoyed being outdoors. And I sort of neglected that over the last sort of 10 or 15 years as as work and a professional life took over. So that was a decision I said, you know what I want to get back to that I want to spend more time doing that. Secondly, I’ve enjoyed, always enjoyed or for a long time enjoyed writing and, and literature and it’s something again, which over the 10 years 15 to 30 years, I’ve neglected. So I said, Well, I’m going to sit down and start writing a blog. And that evolved into into the site, I didn’t have a clear plan, saying I’m going to set up a site that in two years is going to be a big resource for people who enjoy, you know, mountains and getting outdoors. They didn’t start like that. That’s how it came to the actual website. And I didn’t even think of monetizing it at the beginning. I literally just thought I’m going to do something I enjoy.
David Ralph [18:25]
So one of the things that I looked at Tom and I thought, yeah, this is this is spot on, and it’s really sort of honest as well was on your blog somewhere. He was talking about how many times you had to change your social media kind of blurb where you’ve been redesigning yourself and each time you’ve looked at it, it’s not quite right to what I’m doing now is it’s not really saying what what I’m all about. Did that surprise you? Did you think that you was just going to sort of get the thing out there and it was gonna be as it is not that he’s had to go through many different sort of changes.
Thomas Smallwood [19:00]
Yeah, it did surprise me. And it didn’t surprise me because I had a plan, it just sort of just sort of crept up on me. It’s not that it’s not that it was a, you know, oh, this isn’t what I intended to do. But I suppose I started this. So I started this website and this new life quite kind of naively, in a sense, thinking, I’m just going to do that because I enjoy it. Now, what happened was that I then set up social media accounts like Twitter and Instagram and the likes that go along with it. And, and I sort of set them up in a to be sort of related to where I was then. But then things changed because I started also from, from a work perspective, doing some different projects and things like that. So I became a different person. And we’re just talking about the last sort of five months in a sense. The website also changed because it started out as me thinking, I’m just going to write on this. And then I moved to a situation where I thought, Well, you know what, I’ve done my work. Research, I think in two years in within sort of two years, I can monetize this by making a, you know, a decent resource for people as well.
David Ralph [20:09]
But how do you find your clients? So because it’s all white saying, I’m gonna write a blog, but number one, having the people trust you so many people who read a blog and didn’t just read it. So how did you actually monetize it? Well, I started connecting with you.
Thomas Smallwood [20:24]
Let’s let’s be clear, this, I’m not monetizing it. At the moment. I’m in the in the phase where I’m building it up. My expectation is to monetize it in two years, I’ve been working in online industries and so on for quite some time. So I’m fairly aware of how things work. My intention is to monetize that in two years. It is not the sole thing that I focused on, because I’ve worked I’m working on a number of different businesses and I I’m sort of, if you like, it’s not really a scattergun approach, but I’m working on a few different avenues hoping that all these different interesting things which I’m happy to go into will provide me some income rather than one main sort of draining office job if you like.
David Ralph [21:09]
And these all tie into point media where you’ve got a series of other ventures and have a fully realised because there’s no getting away from it. online businesses are great because you can connect across the world and they are transportable if you want them to be, but in many ways, they are bloody hard to get going. They really aren’t until you’ve got some kind of profile, you’ve got some marketing strategy. So was it a trial and error process that got you to the point where you had these different benches?
Thomas Smallwood [21:41]
No, it was a sort of decision at the beginning of the year to start trying to do some things with some people I know some some things on my own, but some also with some very capable people that I know and to start cooperating in A few online ventures if you like, one of the main things that I’ve launched relatively recently is this nearshore outsourcing business because I worked for a long time in Serbia and worked with developers on it and business process outsourcing in Serbia, and so it’s an area in which I have many kind of connections and a certain skill set and experience or so I decided to set up a company which would hook up UK, European and US companies looking to outsource their it with let’s say, what we call a nearshore. Outsourcing which benefits from being probably a bit more reliable and a bit easier to communicate than, than some of the ones in in Asia, for example. And I did that just based because I thought, well, you know, what can I do? I sat down and said I need to find some, some income streams as well and I don’t need it to make money right now. But I need to start putting the You know, the plan in place to make this happen. And this is one of the things I thought of. And you know, I’d started doing this for a customer that was looking for customer support someone who got in touch with me sorry to ask for looking for a customer support department because they knew that I had some experience of that kind of outsourcing. And it’s sort of, you know, that was the germ of the idea. And I thought, well, hang on, I’m going to just hook this guy up with the people he needs. And it’s the kind of job where I can introduce them, and I do a certain amount of management, but there isn’t actually a lot of time involved. So that’s sort of how that was born. And then there are other projects that I’m working on with some very sort of capable people and friends of mine, where we’ve just sort of sat down and said, Hey, should we do this? And, you know, we’ve just sort of said, I mean, one of them for as an example, is an augmented reality mobile application, about which I know nothing. But you know, one, one of the guys had the idea To do this and we sat down, well, how can we do it? And then we just sort of said, Okay, let’s do it. So do
David Ralph [24:05]
you know that people toasted to jump in? Do you need people around? You can? Can people do their own? Or do they need a some kind of team?
Thomas Smallwood [24:16]
Well never say never. I can speak from my own personal experience. And that is to say that I benefit greatly from having positive people around me.
David Ralph [24:29]
And how do you find these people because I’ve had a couple of people that I’ve worked with, and to be honest, I’ve turned out to be mentored. And just, it’s just been a very bad time. And I realised looking back on it, it was because I wasn’t going out looking for them. They were coming to me as such. And so how do you find the right people, especially in the online world, because it’s not like you can sit there having a few drinks with them down the pub, getting a real flavour of what they’re about more often than not the people where our work Are we in Australia and you’re in the United Kingdom? And there’s a sort of breach of trust that you’ve got to build up leap of faith, you could say, how have you managed to do that? Find the right people?
Thomas Smallwood [25:12]
Yeah, it’s not easy. I think I’m fortunate because there’ll be one or two people that I’ve worked with in the past that I’ve always sort of had a good relationship with. And I’ve been able to sort of say, hey, let’s meet up and see what they’re doing. And it’s been the right moment for them also. And that’s been a great advantage. So I think the kind of relationships you build up in any sort of walk of life, don’t underestimate them. And don’t don’t think that everything has to start from from from scratch. I think I think it’s really important to think about all the people you’ve met, and maybe there’s someone out there that you can reach out to and just have a chat and I think one of the and something may come from it. one really important thing is to speak to people. It’s just to communicate because if you keep an eye No, you know, people talk about I like networking, and so on and so forth. And I suppose it is. But if you keep in touch and you speak to people, opportunities, just sort of arrive. I mean, you can, I’m not saying you can’t just, let’s say reach out to the sort of, you know, Richard Branson and say, Hey, should we do something together? because realistically, that’s not gonna happen, but communicate with people be interested in what other capable people in a field that interests you do, and talk to them because you know, what, they’re probably quite happy to talk to you put yourself in their shoes for the moment, if someone contacts you and says, you know, I’d like your opinion on this, or I really like this that you wrote, and so on and so forth. You’d be you’d be sort of flattered and interested. So I think, I think it’s fair to say that just sort of try communicating with people in a similar field.
David Ralph [26:49]
About that’s a big leap of faith as well, isn’t it because people at the beginning will think, well, I’ve got nothing to offer these people. You know, well, why is that they’re gonna be busy. They don’t want to be bothered by me. But what you’re saying is absolutely true. And as long as you go with value first, you’re not asking anything, you’re just looking to build up a relationship with these people. As we said at the beginning, Kathy was on the show back on 88. She’s been great. She’s been absolutely brilliant. And we still connect every now and again, you know, and she puts guests forward for the show and stuff. I don’t think either of us have asked for anything from the other person. It’s just sort of naturally grown, and I sort of value her very, very much.
Thomas Smallwood [27:28]
Yeah, I agree. I think she’s an amazing person, really, I have a huge amount of respect for and not not, obviously, you know, mountains being a passion of mine, that there’s that whole aspect of it. She’s climbed Everest and so on. But it’s not just that, I mean, just beyond that. I agree. And, and I think many, many people are like that there’s a big, there’s a big sort of barrier in people’s minds, and it’s exactly the same in mind. I have to force myself to do these things. But it is worth doing. It is worth it. Getting in touch with people it is worth trying to communicate people, as you rightly say, don’t just contact people and ask for something. Contact people with with some sort of positive communication comment on something they’ve done know about them before as well don’t just send a speculative email to someone. But if someone reaches out to me, someone, someone sent me a message the other day, just simply some little thing asking for some information on some walk I’d done, you know, and I mean, it’s so it’s an absolute pleasure to reply to that, why wouldn’t it be? And I think I think you cannot overstate how important it is to if you identify some sort of field that you’re interested in working in, then you need to be talking to people in that field. Now, I agree with you,
David Ralph [28:47]
I totally agree with you. And it’s one of those things that I’m not brilliant at to be honest. I’m very isolated in many ways, and I have to force myself to actually build these connections because I liked him. People face to face and that’s the big breach that I’ve had to cross in the online environment. Being aware of actually, the real value of the relationships is more often than not the people that you aren’t meeting face to face. And you know,
Thomas Smallwood [29:12]
the thing the thing David, sorry to interrupt me but I think I think it’s important to think about meeting people face to face is that when you do meet someone face to face you’re forced to talk when you meet someone virtually online or you want to there’s actually no reason to speak. So it is it is a huge barrier one thing that I’ve done in the past to get over this fear because I have it as much as anyone and I’m sort of think Oh no, I’m bothering this person. They don’t why would they want to speak to me I’m nobody bla bla bla. One of the things I’ve done little exercise that I’ve done in the past in my life to get over my this issue, but also issues of self confidence is occasionally say to myself, right this week, I’m going to do something every day that makes me feel really uncomfortable. And that could be anything that could be just sort of approaching a stranger and talking to someone which I mean, particularly for US English, you know, it’s an extraordinary thing to do is put your head down and walk by. That’s a very good exercise to do.
David Ralph [30:12]
Now, before we sort of move on to the sort of the transitional part of your life where you actually made these big decision, what was it about mountains because, you know, we live in the United Kingdom, and we haven’t got a mountain love nor money, really. I’ve driven through the Alps. Very, very impressive, but what was it about yourself, but when Yeah, I’m really I really want to do something with mountains.
Thomas Smallwood [30:37]
So I’m half Italian. My mother is Italian and and she’s from the borders of a region called Valdosta. And another region called Piemonte, north, Western Italy, and it’s a really mountainous region. And so every year of my life, we went on holiday there as kids. I think almost without fail our summer holiday was staying with grandparents there. And I think it’s a sort of brainwashing from that, from that early stage, really just being sort of surrounded. And they were my summer playground, in a sense when I was when I was a kid. And they were the backdrop to it anyway, we weren’t actually allowed to go off into the mountains as kids, but they were the kind of backdrop to it. And then, when I was about six, Dean, I started sort of getting more interested in the outdoors. And in and in spending time in in the mountains and because I sort of was thinking towards my 18th birthday, when I was allowed was going to be free and I started imagining myself going off, climbing, climbing in the outs and, and so that’s kind of how it developed. There was one one Matt one person actually if I can call out one name is one person there’s a guy called Chris Townsend, who’s a very, very well known and highly respected writer in the in the outlet Industry if you want to call it that, and he’s one guy read an article that he wrote when I was 16 years old, and he written an article about a long walk he did in the Yukon in North America. And that was a catalyst because it just sort of ignited my imagination. And then yeah, subsequently, I used to sort of go, you know, summer holidays, walking holidays, climbing holidays.
David Ralph [32:23]
And it sort of just became, became a part of me, and I’ve always absolutely loved being outdoors is strange, Tom, isn’t it when when you hear that you loved it as a kid, and you love it now, and why we don’t think to ourselves. I love this. I’m going to try to work in that environment somehow Why you didn’t go right. Okay. I love being outdoors. But we don’t do what I love. And this might be a shock to you. I love broadcasting. I love being on the microphone. I love presenting to people. And for years, I was a sales manager and I was A customer service manager when I was a public speaker, which started leading me towards where I am now. And I think to myself, why the hell didn’t I realise in the early days, and especially this goes out for parents, if you see your kids and they actually have got some kind of talent and passion to do something, really try to say to them, just create your own line, try to do something that is great. It’s gonna be hard. It’s gonna be difficult, but if you fancy being, but I’ve got a 12 year old daughter, who is just mad on dancing, and acting, and drama, and all her friends are saying, Oh, you should take physics, you should take this and we’re saying, well, what’s the point in doing that you hate it, just do what you like and then try to work it out afterwards. But we don’t do we term so when you were sort of shopping, fitting ups shelves in supermarkets, that must have been so far away from your core essence your core pleasure zone, but you still did it. You still did it? Because you Be willing to push through to get to where you wanted to be.
Thomas Smallwood [34:03]
That’s right. And yeah, I couldn’t put it better myself. I think I did even at that time, think to myself, Oh, I wonder if I could do something outdoors. And and I did some mountain leadership training with the idea of maybe becoming, you know, like a mountain leader and working in that sort of adventure tourism sort of sector. Yeah. But I I didn’t have enough money to finish that training. And also, in the back of my mind, I think there was this massive doubt saying, well, that’s not that’s not that’s not real. Oh, is it? You can’t do that. Don’t ask me why? Because I absolutely loved it. And I can’t rationalise it. But I suppose it may be now much more than it was then. But it probably wasn’t really looked upon by generally as a sort of an avenue. That one went down professionally.
You know, so yeah, I from a working perspective, I ignored
David Ralph [35:01]
I’ve got a global hit show, I’ve got one of the biggest shows out there. It’s doing great across the world. And I still even though I’ve created it, all my effort has gone into putting it where it is, there’s still a part of me that thinks this isn’t work, you know, and it’s been bloody hard work. It really has. But it’s still a part of me now, because it’s gotten to that point where 90% of its enjoyable. I have a kind of guilt, but I’m not working for a living. I’m enjoying myself that there’s so many years of programming that we have to break through to get to where we want to be. It’s no wonder that people sort of give up Really?
Thomas Smallwood [35:39]
You’re absolutely right. You’re absolutely right. And there is a i think i think you’re right when you say there is a sort of a sense of guilt as well because so many people when you talk about work, there’s a kind of shrug of the shoulders or it’s a subject around which we like to complain that I think it just sort of is kind of hard coded if you like and if you If you sort of break out and say, You know what, I’m just trying to do something that makes me happy, then people do sort of start looking at you strangely.
David Ralph [36:08]
Beer is certainly strange. But I’m gonna play some words now of a guy who literally led his whole life to a point where happiness was part of it. It wasn’t about the creation as such, it was about how he felt Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs [36:22]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path, and that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [36:57]
I was words I kind of tattooed on your arms. Somehow aren’t my if anybody is living by those words each you?
Thomas Smallwood [37:05]
Yeah, yeah, you’re absolutely right. And I think one of the I think the key thing said there is it really is the fact that you can’t join the dots from from the beginning. It’s when you look back. And never truer than now when I look back and and finally sort of see a pattern, whether that will sort of continue to play out, I don’t know. But it’s, it’s certainly very true.
David Ralph [37:31]
And when you look back on your life, well, we always call it the Big Dot story. But when did it really come together for you, and yet you’re still working towards it, but that personal belief that you can make it happen, make it so.
Thomas Smallwood [37:47]
On and off, I’ve always had it but I suppose it really happened sometime in the last 10 years when when I started being a bit more serious. For financially, if I’m brutally honest, that was one of the kind of keys when I saw you know, actually I can I can actually do things and make money out of it, but it remains and will remain forever probably a sort of a hurdle in as far as all the time I have to stop myself and remind myself until you can do this because it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, what level you reach in life, you have doubts. So there are all there’s no watershed where it suddenly Are you know, I’m now I’ve gained confidence and I know I can do anything I want. You have moments of clarity like that when you think you know things are going well you suddenly think oh, wow, I can do anything I want. But you know, two days later, there’s the there’s the doubt sort of creeps in and you have to give yourself another talking to so easy, the I there is no watershed moment.
David Ralph [38:56]
But there is a kind of maybe not a watershed, but there’s a couple A water bucket somewhere isn’t there because you know that there are moments that you can literally look back on. I remember it was a manager that came into my office and I alluded to her earlier. And when she said, No, you can’t have the freedom that was given to me, I look back on it and think that was my big dot. That was the moment when I thought, No, I can’t have this. I can’t have somebody controlling my life. I’m only on this planet once I’ve got to do something about it. But the years, you know, I posted, I really did coast. And I’d sit there with a pint going, Oh, I’m going to do this. I’m going to do that. And I was very big in motivational speeches about what people should do with their life. And let’s go crazy. And let’s be bold, but I wasn’t doing any of it myself. I was just coasting through life. So I think we do have these little dots that lead up to something remarkable. There. It’s undeniable. You got to do something about it.
Thomas Smallwood [39:50]
Yeah, and I think in my case, it’s a question of necessity, and that necessity can be financial or most recently in excess of medical You know, needing to get into into a place where I was just happier and enjoying things more. So yeah, you’re right, though there are those points I’ve had, I’ve had more than one. And they’ve, you know, they’ve sort of been different, but all bait all sort of based on necessity where I just think we, you know, at this point, and I don’t know how you measure that, but at this point, I have to do something.
David Ralph [40:23]
Now, just before we bring it to the end with the Sermon on the Mount, when we’re going to send you back in time, I’m just looking at your website, and there’s a lovely picture of you. And it says, and your daughter, the armchair mountaineer, and the reluctant mountain here is your daughter being dragged around places where actually she’d rather just be on our tablet playing with our mates in the garden because it’s, it’s like if you grew up in the 70s in the United Kingdom, you was always being taken to some stately home or Castle by your mom and dad, because it was the thing to do. Yeah, you can’t spend all your time on holiday praying in the poll. She really reluctant Or does she love
Thomas Smallwood [41:00]
it? No, she is really reluctant. She’s not the sort of person who wants to be playing on a tablet or anything. She’s She’s very happy playing and she’s happy sort of running around in the garden and so on and so forth. But the mere mere mention of the word mountain has her sort of yawning and telling me quite how boring I am. But what this is one of the reasons that this month in June I’m doing this 30 days, 30 days wild challenge, which is from the same challenge set up from the wildlife trusts here in the UK, to get outdoors every day and do something wild in June and I’m sort of dragging her along because i’ve you know, told her that we both of us have blogging together, if you like, and this is my my one reason why one of the reasons I’ve done that to drag her out. She is very much reluctant though, that I suppose you know, each to their own.
David Ralph [41:47]
Yeah, absolutely. And if we can’t talk to our children in some way, well, what’s the point in having him really tough?
Thomas Smallwood [41:53]
If you can’t force them to do things they don’t want? Yeah, absolutely. That goes slightly against what we said before, but
David Ralph [41:59]
yeah, No, but I’m speaking from the heart. My my son just lays and he’s experts all the time. And the other day my daughter was dancing at a school fete. And we said, You’ve got to come, I don’t want to come, it’s boring. It’s only an hour and a half, you’ve got to come and face on him just because we’ve dragged into some school fight. That’s what you’re gonna do parental pressure. Well, this is the part of the show that we’ve been building up to the week or the Sermon on the mic when we’re going to send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back in time and speak to the young Tom, what age would you choose and what advice would you give? Well, we’re going to find out because we’re going to play the theme. And when it fades you up. This is the Sermon on the mic.
Unknown Speaker [42:42]
We go with the best bit of the show.
Thomas Smallwood [42:59]
make choices Based on what you like, and what you think you’re good at, recognise who you are and what you want. I don’t think you can go into anything saying I’m going to make loads of money. I think you need to go into it thinking you’re going to do something that you really genuinely want to do. Be yourself. Stop being a chameleon. Decide what you like, and be that person. Don’t be afraid to fail. But even more importantly, don’t be afraid to succeed. Get involved in things prepared, be prepared to make mistakes, and to learn from them. And if you’re having trouble with anxiety and self confidence, put yourself in the shoes of those that you interact with. What are they thinking, what are they feeling? We’re all the same, and no one is going to judge you negatively for trying. Right Stuff.
David Ralph [43:47]
Some what’s the number one best way that our audience can connect with you.
Thomas Smallwood [43:52]
Number one best way probably is on Twitter because I spend a bit of time on there and you can find me the My Twitter handle is at a C mountaineer.
David Ralph [44:04]
We will have all the links on the show notes. Tom, thank you so much for spending time with us today, joining up those dots. And please come back again when you have more dots to join up, because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our paths is the best way to build our futures. Tom, thank you so much.
Thomas Smallwood [44:20]
Thanks so much, David. It’s been a pleasure.
David Ralph [44:25]
Yes, Thomas Smallwood, Tom Smallwood, who’s in the mountaineering kind of metaphor. He’s already climbed the first peak, and then he’s going again, he’s transitioned himself to a point that financially he could make a bold decision to go for his dream. And now he’s working towards that. And the key thing to everything guys was, he wasn’t, it wasn’t all eggs in one basket time, it wasn’t that I’ve got to create something that’s gonna make an squillion pounder second. It was I’m gonna create something that does a little bit of this and a little bit of that and then something else. And that’s how it kind of works. Randy, can somebody create something that just changes your life, but by keep on moving forward, opportunities will occur, relationships are built and conversations are made that can take you in many different directions at the beginning, you can’t see where it’s going, you’re just climbing up that first mountain, but you get to it. And you look around and you think, oh, there’s another mountain to climb, and you go again, and little by little, you pass all your competition because you are working towards something, and you end up either on the top mountain or your own personal mountain, and you’re looking around and life is good. And Thomas will totally nalia absolutely convinced a bit because he’s doing things the right way. He’s setting himself out on a timeframe. And if it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. But there’s there’s pressure to achieve what he wants. And I think that’s where it all comes together. When you can do something what you want on a daily basis, you put more effort into it, and you’re willing to just push through the breaking points, but don’t times. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Join Up Dots one of my personal favourites. If you are interested in the lady that we’ve been talking to, or talking about Caprio down you can jump back onto Episode 88 of Join Up Dots and, and listen to one of the early ones. But until next time, see you again Cheers.
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you or wants to become. So he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life. Head over to Join Up dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots.