When it comes to Digital Transformation, the talk of Millennials is never far away. So when I got the chance to talk to Jack Parsons at his office in London in February 2017, it was a great opportunity for me to find out a bit more about one of the world’s hottest young digital entrepreneurs.
Continued from part 1….
Simon – You have lots of Twitter followers. How did you do it?
Jack P – Organic growth. I only ever speak about three meaningful things – young people, the start-up world and me – and when I speak about me it’s about the good the bad and ugly. I’m on the biggest journey and Twitter is great for people to come in and out of the journey at one given time.
Simon – Do you save valuable information?
Jack – Content is rich. It’s not about uploading ten pieces of content a day, which by the way was the mistake i made early on. It’s about uploading 1, 2 or 3 pieces that’s meaningful and purposeful. Tell a story, speak your mind.
Simon – When did you start this process of social media and going on to help people?
Jack – About one and a half months ago and when I started I had 300 Twitter followers. It goes up to nearly 3,500 new followers monthly now which is great for reach.
Simon– How many do you have now?
Jack – Now 31,000 followers. Last photo I put out on Linkedin, the one with the office space – it’s had 2,000 people like it, 460,000 people had viewed it – one photo. I probably get between 300 to 600 followers a week at the minute on Linkedin and 100 Retweets a day on average on Twitter. That’s all organic and we have not started with the paid search yet!
Simon – How many requests do you get for interviews at the moment?
Jack – I get about 3 / 4 a week, podcast, radio, speaking and all sorts. You know what it’s not about the interviews – For me, it’s about how many young people come to me for advice, learn from that advice then goes and gives that advice to another young person!
Simon – Do they come to the office?
Jack – I have had video interviews sent in. I had a cake sent in saying on the note “I am a young person hire me with a telephone number on it…Had people message me on Twitter, Snapshot – look at me, this is what I can do. I would like to work for you. I get about 70 people a day asking for advice to become an Entrepreneur under the age of 24.
Simon – In terms of having so many people to respond to – how do you do that? Do you have a team to help?
Jack – I have a young but ambitious team but I do all my messaging personally. The only thing I do not do personally – Once I have engaged with a person I will normally pass them on to my personal assistant and she will book it in and manage my diary. As you can see I have 250 meetings and bookings in the next three months a lot of coffee’s and tea’s to spread the message to help young people., that’s how that works. All my social media is in real time, live and is run by me at the same time as trying to grow the business. How do I respond to everyone? I sit in bed or on the train – that’s when I respond.
Simon – It’s really important to have that personal touch.
Jack – How long did it take me to come back to you? About 15 hours? I try to come back within 24 hours, you can learn from everyone to speak to!
Simon – That’s excellent. I was surprised that you were willing to see me.
Jack – I even come back to people trying to sell to me. I say “keep it up – I am not interested but thank you.” It’s so important because you just don’t know how you can help that person or they can help you. It’s very true don’t judge a book by it’s cover.
Simon – Yes – it’s good manners. There’s not a lot of that around nowadays.
Jack – There isn’t. I am now working with an agency in learning how I manage it in terms of how I can keep track of it because I want to message everyone and the numbers are going to grow. This scares me. When you get your network to a certain level, how is this controllable? That’s where I might have to change my rules. I may have to come back in a week instead of 24 hours. I want to try and come back to everyone even if I have to spend 30% of my time doing it. because you know what? that is the most engaging bit of R&D you’ll ever do. It’s meaningful. You can learn as well. “You know what, I did not know that – tell me more” For example you can ask “What are flying drones? sell this to me, how do they work?”
Simon – I can identify with that because I get the same sort of things. I am at 8200 LinkedIn followers now, connection requests every day, getting invites to seminars, people wanting to do business with me, wanting me to sell something on their behalf, people wanting to have lunch or coffee. It’s quite interesting; it’s all to do with social media and because I have written a few articles!
Jack – Well done, I love what you’re doing!
Simon – Thanks!
Simon – That says a lot about you as a person and a lot about your company product. I like to think I am a similar person as well in terms of I am pretty successful at what I do, but I always make time for the person in the street.
Jack – Remember where you came from and where you can go back.
Simon – You do have a lot of wisdom. You are a great role model for the kids to have. It helps to have someone who can think like this – it’s great. I think people skills are really important and you have that in abundance.
Jack – People skills, know the ins and outs of the young millennial minds. Know who’s doing good and who’s not. Social media – I know where every social button is and with a single button I Can draw on exactly the same on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin. I know what they’re bringing out behind the scenes because I do my research and I’m passionate about helping the future and if you said to me what does success look like, I want to be a successful multimillion / multibillion entrepreneur. My purpose here – one purpose – I want to be able to support and help someone, a young person on the journey, communicate with them and for them to understand me without speaking their language. That is my passion. If I can engage someone through some means even if it’s from picture content, if I can engage with someone that doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Spanish and they read a piece of my content or they’ve seen me somewhere or I’ve influenced them in a way, that’s meaningful – that is what success looks like to me. And that’s what I’m all about.
Simon – I look forward to seeing that. I know you can make it big and you will one day. I can see it. Tell me about Yourfeed. What’s the concept behind it?
Jack – Everyone on Linkedin is a runner, they can run down the street. A young person goes on Linkedin and they see these fantastic runners, so they will showcase themselves as a runner when actually they’re good at swimming. 75% of Linkedin users are over 35 years old averaging to 42. That’s daunting. It should be called “Experienced” not LinkedIn. With this in mind, along with the disconnect between education and industry and new ways of interacting that the young people are picking up, they need a place to showcase their abilities, skill and their minds etc because you’ve got Tom down the road who’s a kick-ass developer and because he’s never had Facebook on his CV, Google will never look at him. They won’t hire him because he’s 23 even though he can run rings around people more experienced. So it’s showcasing people’s passion, showcasing a young person (Millennials) purpose so we can 1) upskill them, 2) make their life better 3) make the world a better place. People have got to be happy, got to be doing something they’re happy about. Yourfeed is a social network site showcasing ambition and skill over experience regardless of age for people to get meaningful work in a clever way. But not just meaningful work but meaningful opportunity or meaningful education. So it’s a lot more than a job site and a lot more than getting the first opportunity, it’s people entering the workplace, it’s young people that are underemployed. What do we mean by underemployed? So many are. I believe you Simon were underemployed where you were working. You can see you’ve got the people skills, you’ve got the drive! You’ve got the drive to interview me here after work when you could be at home having your dinner!
Jack – And that’s at your age.
Simon – I’m many years older than your target market. Yes 🙂
Jack – And there’s so many underemployed. This you can quote if the Mayor of London listens, We do not have a skills shortage in London or in the UK. Everyone especially Industry, are looking at the wrong places to find the skills.
Simon –Where do you think they should be looking?
Jack – People’s personality, people’s skillset. What are people doing personally?
So for example, you have a person called Sam and Sam’s been to University, and then gets himself into Barclays Bank. Sam comes to me and says
“Jack, I’m in Barclays bank, been there for 4 years and am 24, been promoted twice and only had 1 day off. I can’t get a job in Graphic Designing”
“Why do you want a job in Graphic Designing Sam?
“Oh I’m passionate about it, the 3D element and the explosion of creativity.”
“Show me your work Sam”
“You can’t get a job in Graphic Design because you’ve not got Graphic Design on your CV. You’ve not got the experience.”
So Sam goes home on a Friday night and weekends and he draws, learns and masters, all off his own back…
That’s purposeful. I’d hire someone like that over someone experienced.
Simon – What you are saying is that the CV is a thing of the past?
Jack – You must have seen my blog.
Simon – no.
Jack – That’s exactly the title of my blog.
Simon – Really! Not seen it. I have a story today. I’m currently working in a company, got a IT service desk behind me and they’re trying to hire someone at the moment. Looking through all these CVs they’re getting these guys in thinking that they’re brilliant and they’re NOT. And that’s what happens with a CV. It’s very flat, it’s lifeless, they are just words. You cannot tell anything about a person on a CV. So I’m assuming that YourFeed will allow you to find out something more about a person, whether they have passion, whether they are customer facing etc which is something you can’t bring to life on a piece of paper.
Jack – It is going to be real live, real life scenarios and support, right now! It’s like what you said, the CV does not bring the personality forward – two points to this 1) neither does that certificate in education and 2) with the resource that young people have got at their hands to date, I can get my CV written by a professional for a fee.
Simon – I think that is what has happened. Technology has moved on. Recruitment hasn’t.
Jack – This is what I’m saying with LinkedIn! Everyone making out that they are a runner. So a company wants to hire a runner. You connect and say you’re not good at running, you’re a swimmer. The employer or recruiter will ask – What are you doing here? I’m not asking for a swimmer! and that is the scenario and that is education and that is the mindset we’re putting in young peoples’ minds, millennials’ minds. This is in need of change. NOW.
Simon – You’ve hit something right on the head here and I‘ve been challenging the recruitment industry myself on LinkedIn. I’ve been saying “Recruiters, you are not providing, you’re not hitting the nail on the head, not giving people what they want. Is it your fault or someone else’s fault?” I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault actually. I think they’re relying on a piece of paper to filter someone out and that just does not work in this day and age because there’s too much information out there – people can game it. Anyone can write a CV and make it look like the best professional in any industry!
Jack – Yes
Simon – Exactly – and they would get that interview! And that’s not right.
Jack – So for your kids, you can write their CV for them. They get an interview. And that’s where we lose the meaningful purposeful bit of content. That’s why companies can’t find someone because they are targeting them all the same. Now don’t get me wrong the older generation I still believe needs a CV…
Simon – Why do you think that is the case, rather than a video?
Jack – They’ve got something to show. They’ve got experience and in 2017 they still need a CV. But first, I will be tackling an area I’ve entitled the “The Young Millennial Market.” Once I have tackled the Young Millennial Market, I will do everything in my power to help the older generation get into modern times even further. It’s not just a generational thing – it’s the current situation of the world. Who knows, we may have flying cars in 10 years, then we have to train everyone with driving licenses to drive in the air and how will that work? I think at the same time there’s educational help like on YouTube. There’s a lot of help to educate the parents.
Simon – Absolutely. I see it all the time. I’m fortunate that I grew up with technology. My Dad was a Computer Programmer. I grew up in the 80s, when the first personal/home computers came onto the market. Obviously I’m in my 40s now and I realise I am an exception.
Jack – Yes you are.
Simon – It was always acceptable for me to be on a computer. I’d come home from school and be on it for hours afterwards playing games.
Jack – I will defer that. I was taught the old school way; work hard, get a paper round at age 12. I was out at 6 am getting a paper round. I think that we both, you’ve been brought up with the manners and obviously plugging in the new technology. Now I was bought up all ready for technology but with putting the old manners in place. So there’s a flipside.
Simon – Who are your influencers?
Jack – I was influenced by only one person – Lord Alan Sugar. I loved his meaningful straight talking, his image for hard grafting, his “pick myself back up and run with it” business acumen. And you know what. I met him.
Simon – Recently?
Jack – Recently. And he no longer became an influence to me.
Simon – Why?
Jack – He did not know how to use digital social media. He called it “Linked D bl—y thing”.
“It’s called Linkedin” I said
“I don’t care. Is your Nan using it?
“No” I said
So I had an engagement with him, it was disconnected and it upset me.
Simon – I think he must be a bit of a difficult character to engage.
Jack – And he’s not gotten himself into modern times and I think that’s rude because the way I got in contact with him I used his old school methods and I went to him to talk about how he was as a young entrepreneur, how I could learn about his business. But it was like he didn’t care! I It was like he didn’t want to give back! Regardless of how much money you’ve got, it is good to give back. Some people are too money focused.
Simon – It’s the opposite of what you stand for.
Jack – Yes it is the opposite of what I stand for! Which is a shame. Do I have influencers at the moment? I don’t but I will find one as there are loads of people out there. Sometimes you win sometimes you lose. Some people are not made out to be.
Simon – Where does your drive and passion come from?
Jack – Drive and passion comes from having to do a lot myself. I didn’t get anything for free when I was growing up. I had many things already but if I wanted a PlayStation I had to earn it. I had to do something like the washing up, the dishes.
Simon – So your parents are into the mindset that you have to earn everything basically. You have got to work hard.
Jack – Attitude. I learnt how to iron at the age of 10 because you know what? What about if Mum and Dad were not around and went on holiday? Learn how to do it now. Just learn! You can actually do it yourself. So it’s actually being put into situation and developing a mindset where hard work will be the education. You will win. Hard work no matter what. Keep running, you do not know where that rainbow is, might be far or near, maybe closer than you think. Hard work, determination, get up and go and give back. I have a business policy where everything has to be fair. I have an open door policy. Yes, I do have my own office but you can share a desk with me, just come in.
Simon – How many people have you got in your company?
Jack – In the company we have 14 and 7 directors and 7 non execs. So about 21 in total.
Simon – So your funding comes from various sources?
Jack – Funding comes from only Private Equity. We do not have a penny in loans. I still run and own the majority of the business. Yes, I do have a co-founder. I do have two Vice Presidents in place but I have not had to get one loan and I have no debt under my name whatsoever and….we have got up to 8 million pounds in equity.
Simon – Thanks Jack. It has been a pleasure to talk to you. I wish the best of luck to you and your team, going forward.
Jack – Thanks for coming in to see me Simon.
Simon – I can’t leave here without one of those trademark selfies. Can we?
Jack – Of course…let’s go back to the reception – we can take it there!
Credits: Special thanks to my Uncle, Michael Chan for helping with the transcripting, Sonia Garcia for helping to choose the photos for the article and of course Jack Parsons himself for his time.