Today’s Guest Ian Finch
Ian Finch is CEO of Mando, a digital agency focused on engineering positive change in organisations through specialist product development teams. Ian is also a husband and dad, mental health advocate, a big fan of outdoor pursuits and a yoga devotee.
- Mando is a digital agency that focuses on technology and
change. They offer services such as managed services, professional services,
and consultancy services. They have a few programs of work every year with a
relatively small customer base.
- In their first year, the company picked up a one-page website and some brochureware. They landed their first competitive pitch with Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and delivered a successful project. This led to more work with bigger brands, including Sony and Final Fantasy. The company then developed their own technology and partnered with other companies to create an e-learning system which then opened the door to working with even bigger clients who were looking for a combination of experience design, best-of-breed technology, and systems support.
- In the early 2000s, after the dot com bubble burst, the company decided to focus on design and problem solving instead of just media and games. They also changed their sales strategy from trying to sell anything to treating sales more like project management and facilitation. Recently, they have been focusing on becoming more vertical in terms of market proposition and building intellectual property.
- In his forties, Ian realizes that less is more. He says he has four rooms in his life: emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual. He tries to do something mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally every day to stay balanced.
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Matt Edmundson: Welcome to Push to Be More with me, your host, Matt Edmundson. This is a brand new podcast, a show that talks about the stuff that makes life work. And to help me do just that, right here at the launch, I thought of no one better than the right Reverend Ian Finch, uh, to get on the podcast with me. Uh, my good friend Ian from Mando about how to create a sustainable future for your company.
Uh, how when you are better, everything is better, and we're gonna be talking about his desire to be better today than he was yesterday. I'm loving this music, by the way. Oh yes. Uh, the show notes and transcript from my conversation with Ian are available on our website. pushtobemore.com. Uh, on our website you can also sign up for our Newsletter and each week we will email you these links from the show, uh, the transcripts, all that kind of good stuff.
Automagically direct your inbox totally free. Totally amazing. So make sure you go to pushtobemore.com. Now this episode is brought to you by Aurion Media, which helps entrepreneurs and business leaders set up and run their own successful podcast. Oh, yes. Uh, you know what I have found running my own podcast to be really rewarding.
This is actually my third Ian, uh, no, fourth, let me count right, my fourth podcast. Podcasting opens doors to amazing people like nothing else I've ever seen. And I've built networks, made friends, and I've had a platform to champion my customers, my team, and my suppliers. And I think just about every entrepreneurial business leader honestly should have a podcast just because of a huge impact it's had on my own businesses.
And of course that sounds great in theory. Let me start that sentence again. Uh, but in reality, there is the whole problem of setting up distribution, getting the tech right, knowing what the right podcast strategy is, having really funky theme tunes like our one and all that sort of good stuff.
So you see, I love talking to people. Yeah, but not all the other stuff. So Aurion Media takes it off my plate. I do what I'm good at, and they brilliantly take care of the rest. So if you're wondering, if podcasting is a good marketing strategy for you, your business, then do connect with them. aurionmedia.com.
That's A U R I O N media.com. And we will of course link to them on the podcast website@ pushbemore.com as well. So all of that said, let's talk about you Ian. Ian is the CEO of Mando agency. CEO's a very posh title, isn't it? Uh, Mando focuses on engineering positive change in organizations through specialist product development teams.
Ian is also a husband, a dad, a mental health advocate, a big fan of outdoor pursuits and a yoga devotee and it's probably fair to say Finch a big, uh, Liverpool football club fan as well.
Ian Finch: Indeed.
Matt Edmundson: Welcome to the show.
Ian Finch: It's good to be here and, and three podcasts in. I think you're ready for TV, like you've got the X-factor voice.
I'm excited. I'm ready for the judges. I'm loving it. This is, yeah.
Matt Edmundson: Yeah. It's brilliant, isn't it? I used to, um, I used to have on my LinkedIn bio that, um, I was a frustrated, uh, frustrated radio 2 DJ wannabe, so I started podcasting instead..
Ian Finch: Oh, well, gee, I think you're well past radio 2. I think you're on the, yeah, the music awards, you know, we got, we got Eurovision coming to Liverpool actually we have pretty soon. I think, you know, you just need a handful of more at ease to go viral and
Matt Edmundson: that would be awesome, wouldn't it? Yeah, yeah. Uh, so yeah, if you're listening, uh, to this, um, Mr. Eurovision song contest people, uh, then both Ian and I will quite happily host together.
It'd be quite good fun. Yeah. Yeah. No, it's awesome. Uh, thank you for your kind words by the way. You are way too kind. It's just very kind of you. Uh, I've got a really good friend of mine called Tony, actually. He tells me that I've good. He always tells me I've got a good face for radio. So it's just.
Ian Finch: Yeah. Wait, what?
Matt Edmundson: So here we are, number one, episode number one. Thank you for being the Guinea pig, uh, and being on the very first show back. Yes. Great, man. Now we've done podcasts together before we've got, I've got an e-commerce podcast. You've been on that and I thought actually this one's aimed a bit wider, a bit more at sort of leaders and entrepreneurs and stuff.
And I thought you'd be great to talk about this. So let's start off, uh, I said, uh, you know, you are the CEO of Mando. Just tell us a little about, uh, tell us a little bit about Mando Agency and what it does.
Ian Finch: So, yeah, sure. Mando's a digital agency, uh, but we are a very technology centric and perhaps more like an IT consultancy.
And so it's very much managed services, professional services, consultancy services, in that digital change space. So we will run your digital estate, uh, optimize it, evolve it, bring in new technologies, do systems integration. So we only have a few programs of work every year in a relatively lightweight customer base.
Just we do a lot for, for those customers, like hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of mandates a year for each of those customers. So it's, yeah, it's very much in that, that, um, strategic consultancy and, and engineering kind of place.
Matt Edmundson: And it's fair to say, I mean, that all sounds. , if I'm honest with you, from my point of view, sounds really impressive.
It sounds a bit nightmarish when you're doing that much for your client, right? Um, in one sense. But it's, um, see I'm from eCommerce. You don't do that much for clients. You take their money and you ship. Right? Uh, but so it's very different in some respects to what you guys are doing. And, um, I know you've had really long term successful client relationships cuz you, you guys do that super well, right?
And you care for people really well. But it's fair to say that on your journey you didn't always start out as you are right now. I mean, you know, the early days were not like what they are. Is that fair enough?
Ian Finch: Yeah, absolutely. We, we've been going a long time. I'm 25 years in, um, uh, as of as of September actually.
Um, uh, and in the early days, like, like any startup, you, you get work really where you can, um, particularly when you're, you're 21 , figuring out what's going on in life as well. So there wasn't, there wasn't this big strategic plan, you know, if I, if I did a startup tomorrow, I'd do it very differently, have a lot more focus.
But, um, but yeah, we learned our, we learned our trade. I mean we set up Pre Google, um, pre Amazon I think, and, and so in fact would've been, yeah. Um, so the web and digital was, was a wild respiratory, everyone was just kind of figuring out as it went along. And so it's very large trial and error, um, and very design centric.
Um, very few rules in those, in those days. It really was kind of, let's experiment, see what happens. Um, some ways I miss those days cuz, you know, the creativity had a bit more space to breathe. Whereas what, what comes with the evolution of, of the web and people's expectations is within that experience space, the need for familiarity.
Uh, and therefore intuition comes sort of for much more people just want things to work in the same way that makes sense. You know if you're using your, your tv, it's really annoying that the apple fast forward isn't as good as Netflix as why just theirs is good just copy that, you know, and, and so yeah. I don't want it to be an experimental fast forward with different types of like, um, button combinations.
I just want it to be like, that works. And so the challenge is keeping that familiarity and making sure in our world that, you know, ultimately we want things to be better, faster, and cheaper for our clients, which means things are easier, more intuitive and user friendly and, and, and just easy to click and say yes to for their clients.
Yeah. Uh, and so there's very prescribed prescribable perhaps is more accurate route to make things so much more simple from a user's perspective. But that's simple is a critical bit. Cause it's very easy to be simplistic. It's actually quite difficult to be simple. It's actually very complicated to make things simple.
Cause you've gotta do so much in the back end. So that's why we're in that space, uh, in the engineering because it's all well and good go. It should be like this. My job's done as a person. It's done the diagram again. And then there's like 2000 man days or person days of, of development to actually configure all assistance to allow that very simple click to happen.
Matt Edmundson: Yeah, no fair play. So it's, it's you've, you've, I mean you do some great stuff now at Mando, you've obviously started 25 years ago, so congratulations by the way on your 25th. Yeah, that's quite impressive. Um, you started out by getting work wherever you could. Uh, and it's fair to say now you've got some fairly well known and significant clients. I don't know if you can mention who they are, I don't wanna mention.
Ian Finch: Yeah, sure. So the clients, I mean, we're really proud of the client base and so JCB mm-hmm. are a great customer. Relative, recent, over the last year or so, but we we're getting really well down, doing some great stuff. Um, we keep British Red Cross ticking over.
Mm-hmm , uh, making sure they can get their donations and performing. Um, really proud of work. We doing utilities, you know, and so running electricity North West or SSE or UU and um, a load of other three letter acronyms that I could count, you know, when storm season happens. Yeah. People wanna know when they're gonna get electric back, you know, and, and they need to be on their mobile cuz there's no web connections.
So making sites performance, scalable, mobile friendly, easy to use. You know, we're very much in that space where we support vulnerable customers and that's really close to our heart in what we do. Um, and so our work with, um, CAP, for example, Christians Against Poverty, um, I mean, that ticks a lot of boxes on a kind of heart level that they, we are helping them address a more sizable market than they can currently address and work with them to transform their business without going into too much detail.
But their target market is the most vulnerable in society. and we're getting out of major poverty. But what's wonderful about Cap particularly is that we don't just fix the fact that you've stumbled into 2000% interest, horrible loan shark scenario. Yeah, yeah. There might be other issues where you got there in the first place.
And so it's this holistic view and so when you can help an organization that will benefit society will transform. You know, and that's probably an extreme example, but we work for university superannuation scheme, the biggest pension fund in the country and they've got 450,000 pensioners who have paid their dues Yeah.
And are worried about a recession. And, and so, and we create a system where, where they can get time information, they can model what their pension's gonna look like year or two from now. And so, yeah, really proud of work. I'm really proud of the clients that we work with.
Matt Edmundson: That's awesome, man. But I, do you remember then, um, I mean, there's some pretty big clients.
You didn't obviously start off, uh, working with the British Red Cross. Right. So I'm guessing that there was sort of step, what was, what was the turning point? Do you remember your sort of first major client where you thought, goodness me, we're stepping out into a zone here?
Ian Finch: Yeah, it's probably two or three examples was more that really big ones that come to mind.
Um, we're about just, just coming up to the end of our first year and we'd picked up like a one page website here and a bit of a brochureware there. And I did a logo and so on. And then we, we did our first competitive pitch for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, um, when it first opened. And we bust a gut to deliver it.
I remember doing three all nighters in a row before the 6:00 AM deadline when Cliff Richard came in on breakfast news and BBC and click go and into Next Floor three. And that popped the website on national television like, and it worked , you know, like matchstick's pricking up your eyes and the IT manager faints and we were like, okay, good.
That was a step change deal because you know, contextually that was 20% of our revenue that year. Wow. And it all came in the end when we were, I hadn't been paid for three months. Yeah. I remember, you know, I dunno, anyone is old enough to relate to this, but, um, they gave all the assets on the zip disk and we like Oh wow.
Got a zip drive. Oh wow. So we had to buy a zip drive to get the assets, you know, it was so hand to mouth. Um, but that was our first competitive pitch. It was also a big brand. So we PR'd the hell out of it. Every time there was a pitch of Roy Castle's trumpet, there's me and Matt, my business partner, go, Hey, we did the website.
Um, the, and because that was visible, um, that actually got us know, not just by potential clients with potential staff. And it was a direct consequence seeing that. But we then, uh, came to contact with our current director who, who then worked with us the next few years. Um, around that time as well. We got emergency television.
And again, people need to be old for this, but remember Brookside? Yeah. S um, well we did that in, in we did flash, if anyone remembers that. Plug into browsers and got an interactive bath denomination for it. And then we were set because on a new technology, there was experiential with award-winning that had national coverage.
Then the floodgates start to open. But that then got into contact with Sony, who were a neighbor at the time, who, um, we did a very minor website, I think Panza Tank Elite, that well known game, uh, 23 years ago. Um, but because of that, we got, we then got into the gaming world of all the product managers knew each other, and we ended up doing Final Fantasy website.
And we did stuff street fighter, and we had a whole era. We did loads of metering games. And so I think the key learning really is you one unlock in a vertical where you just catch your imagination, can, can transform your business. And we, we went from, I think we had, well, yeah. Two staff. By the time, um, Roy Castle went live, we had three to two.
Then by the time we had Brookside live, it was 10. By the time we'd done a metering games, we were 30 and the whole thing happened in kind of three years. Yeah. Then the dotcom battle burst and, and we kind of just ticked over for a bit. I think the other, the other step change came having just kept the lights on during a difficult time, kind of post the recession just in digital.
We developed our technology and we work in other agencies and we were doing the back end and we kind of had this more balance, train design and uh, and architecture. And then the next step change deal occurred when we did a, um, uh, an e-learning system. And three things happened. One, it was a tour de force in terms of visuals.
It was complete state of the art. It was not form based learning. It was this immersive, almost gamification entertainment. Um, and all those phrases that came out afterwards. Crucially though, we, we partnered with other technology and, uh, the diagnostic engine that sat behind all the learning, we actually had another, uh, company produce.
Yeah. And we saw ah, right. Amazing experience design with best of breed technology, there's a win. Yeah. Um, and actually in, in the agency space, we then, Quite soon after ditched our own technology and started working with bigger systems. Okay. And with bigger systems came bigger clients because the client didn't want Mando at the time, 30 odd people in Liverpool's CMS that had a hundred clients.
They wanted to go to market and go, we want X or Y or Z platform. And then that, cuz that's safe and it's Microsoft backed. And um, and so, but a client that wants that kind of safety with that kind of budget has budget for other things as well. And it took us away from some of the smaller work and we got into this kind of, More business critical.
Yeah. Uh, engineering space. And, and it was that turning point of partnering with technology, but then opened the floodgates to work with United Utilities, which we still do 14 years later. Um, Vodafone Jones Lang Lasalle, Bentley, and, and, um, talk till it was just all the brands came from a result of working that technology and it took us up a level.
Um, and that core learning continues to this day. You know, you have best of breed tech with great visual design experience and uh, but then you need the systems. And so in our world, people who can do the tech in the systems are massive 50,000 person offshores or systems integrators. Design maybe is a bit lacking and the team's a bit disparate cause they're all over the world.
Yeah. And the people, uh, are integrating quite boutique don't typically have the processes to be able to cope with the support element. And so we think, well, there's a unique point of differentiation for us that within a certain mid-market boundary, the fact that on shore we can keep systems running with bulletproof iso itil driven processes, you know, everyone who's working on your account and it's gonna be experientially and strategically driven.
That that kind of, um, key principles all under one roof is really compelling because it, it makes it better, faster, cheaper, and you got, and you can really grow with a customer at a period of time and the customers really appreciate that.
Matt Edmundson: No, and that's obviously what you guys have done very well over the last few years, right. And what you continue to do well in. But I'm, I mean, I know you Ian, so I know the answer to this question. Uh, but it's, um, I mean, that journey is exciting as it sounds. It's fair to say, has not been all sunshine and rainbows has it. It's there's, there's been a, there's been a few trips along the way, a few challenges.
Um, so we call this podcast push to be more. Right. So question to you then is where have you learned or where have you had to push and that's had a big massive impact on you, sort of challenges you've had to overcome?
Ian Finch: Yeah. Well, well two, I think two or three come to mind. Firstly, I mentioned it before when the.com bubble burst.
Yeah. Um, it was followed quickly by 9/11 and, uh, five months earlier we'd raised half a million and moved into 9,000 square foot of office space. Cuz we are utterly convinced we're gonna be a hundred staff within a year. Wow. Which then didn't happen. Wow. So it's like, you know, I think Pivot is a fully overused word in 2022, but man, the Pivot we're like, right, okay.
In Clerk and well alone in London, 5,000 people got made redundant and they all went, oh, what's the most interesting stuff? Media and games. What were we doing? Media and games tens of miles away in Liverpool. Um, we are staring into an empty office, it was never gonna be filled. Okay, now what are we gonna do.
So, um, you know, that's when we, we really doubled down on the technical partner side of things to, to ad agencies. And, and the spend went from digital to ad agency. Um, cuz it was tried and trusted from a strategic perspective, but they didn't know how to do the tech. And so we're like, well let's concentrate on that and, you know, just study the shit.
We need some new markets cuz there's media and games isn't gonna do it. Sublet the space, you know, all those kind of things. Um, you know, which we did. Mm-hmm. , which we did and then, but we're not as close for customers. And then the customers, which we had, you know, with a great respect. If I did one 20 page accountant website, I did 50, then white with a blue logo with differentiation point of personal professional service and excellence is our value. Yeah.
You know, we turn lights, we turn the lights on. I remember going, coming back and saying business at time. I'm so bored. I'm so bored working. And I think our staff are, because working on projects we don't like, for money we can't afford to live on. Um, for, for, for people we don't typically get on with work, we don't believe in.
And this is, this is, you know, I'm still in my twenties. This is, this is too No , you know, a business partner thought. Yeah, I feel the same way. Actually. We're stuck in a rut. And um, so we had this real kind of moment like, right, okay, it was three or four years ago. Shake it off, man. Let's just get that, that spirit bow, what is it we love?
It was, it was the design and it was a problem solving. And, and, and let's get in charge of it again. That's, um, you know, really go for what we want or forget it. Yeah. Um, go big or go home, you might call it. And, um, and, um, by getting that kind of gritty about it, People who were with you were loving it. Yeah.
And people that had died inside themselves were like, nah, I'm done. You know, and actually, and we shrunk by a third in the next six months. Um, but we did only kind of lose one person. Practically. The rest kind of moved on. It was just from a sheer shape of us getting the grip of the business again. Yeah.
Um, uh, and the last person to move was, was a salesperson, which is an interesting choice when you're shrinking to get rid of sales. But actually we needed to change a strategy. And so I actually took over sales, uh, and, and, and the key principle was get the people with a problem in front of the people who have an ability to solve problems or the people who need to work with the people who do the work.
And so I'm gonna treat sales more like project management and facilitation. Yeah. Rather than in eCommerce, pedalling, anything. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, and, and that to treat that really, really worked and it kind of changed the way we looked at business development. Uh, as we solved problems. We're consultants, we don't sell, we don't business develop, and then these guys build, we're consultants.
And I still say that now, and we're still doing training on it now because it's one of those kind of never ending journeys of just becoming more and more consultative. But that, that was a real change that happened then. The next one I mentioned before where we started partnering with technology, uh, and then coming back or to more the present day was probably two key things that happened.
One is we weren't quite vertical in terms of our market proposition, particularly around regulate industries, and we do really well. Um, When we are serving a known customer base, making it optimal for that customer base and reducing the cost to serve those customers.
Mm-hmm. which is very much pretty ICT consultancy, cost reduction kind of side of what we do ultimately, or you know, we have much more stringent metrics than this. But ultimately, if you came down to it, we increase customer satisfaction, we reduce the cost of service to customers. That's uniform across the customer base is the most baseline metrics.
And being really clear about that proposition helps your qualification, helps your bids, it gets you a homogeneity within your types of customers you work with. It allows you to build intellectual property, uh, and just build that competence. Um, and then, and then probably the last real pertinent thing is, um, we will still have a kind of good quarter, not so good quarter or a great year and an okay year and getting off that, I wouldn't call it a rollercoaster, maybe a sine wave. Um, or, or, and going, how, how can we get that consistent growth?
And that's very difficult in our space and I think generally in consultancy space. Um, because when you are project orientated, yeah, because you put this big pitch together, you win the project, and you do the project and then everyone has oh, kind of feeling and then can last a few months no matter what.
So you always get this drop. And yeah, you can put support agreement in place, but really changing our marketing. Uh, and our, our value proposition and our internal training as well, it's quite seismic overhaul of the agency to become much more aligned to customers that want to go on a journey and continuously improve and continually invest in their platform, their digital estate, and be, become ever more digital first.
That's when you can really build momentum, really get under the skin of organization. Yeah. And, and be able to project further out what your revenue forecasts are. Mm-hmm. , you know, this year for the first time in 25, I know what we're gonna do by March year end of Yeah. I know 60% of what we're gonna do the following March and that, that's a paradigm shift for us in terms of history.
Matt Edmundson: Right. So it's fair, I mean there's a lot there, right? I mean there's , there's a lot of learning, uh, and a lot of challenges that you've faced and that you've worked through and some of them you've mentioned, and now you're sort of faced with the sort of this paradigm shift, um, originally we were gonna call this podcast when we get retainers or Die Trying or something like that.
we've subsequently changed, changed the title, so is that, um, is that sort of, it's almost like your sort of, you stripped the business back to these fundamental basics of when you were up in the, in that sort of little office on London Road, right?
Ian Finch: Yeah. So yeah, we've evolved considerably and you know, in terms of that particular initiative, Yeah.
You know, you have to, you have to have listened to a 50 cent album to even get the reference in fairness, Get Rich or Die trying, but get Retainers or Die trying. Um, so it didn't translate that well. People looking at a white middle aged, uh, IT guy game, okay, we're thinking a different name, but you get my drift, you know, we are going to do this Come hella High Walk.
We're not gonna play around with it. Um, and one of the things that I, I have learned slowly, slowly, too slowly is sometimes, um, change is so big and so fundamental, you know, not, not everyone's gonna come with you and Okay, that has to be okay. Yeah. Uh, and if you do it right, it can be a really empowering experience.
You know, I, I once had an exit interview with someone that went, I really, really see clearly where you're going, and I don't want any of it. So it's time to leave. I'm like, That's the best exit interview ever cuz it means, I've been really clear. It means you've been really intentional and we can just shake each other's hand and wish each other well.
You know? So I was really proud of that because like we communicated this really well. This has not just been a slow deterioration, you know, we're going, we're going here for these reasons and here's what was gonna happen. It's what it means for everyone. And people go, brilliant people go, not for me. You know?
I think that's great. You know, that's remarkable. Really. Yeah. Yeah. And , it hasn't always been like that, but Yeah. Really, you know, so what's one of earning points there is you just cannot over-communicate. Yeah. Stuff, you know? And so often you think I've, I've emailed about it, I've done a company standup, I've sent, uh, I've put a blog out on the company internet.
I've talked to all the key people. And then someone goes, oh, we're doing that now. And you're just like, what? You know, you know, I could just, I could just, just let my shoulders slump and just cry over my cup of tea. No one understands me.
Or I could go, this is the job. You know, I may feel like I've done a song in dance and an email and an expressive mime about it and a video and, and, and talked to everybody individually at the water cooler about how, and they still don't get it.
And actually it happens so often and happens so repeatedly over history. And we work with customers who are brilliant and left arm doesn't know what the right arm's doing. And you go, this is like a human issue. Yeah. So I could probably give myself a break. I could probably be a bit more gracious to everyone else.
And go, we just go again. Yeah. We just go again. You know? And in terms of, I think where you are coming from in this, in this podcast series is I don't think there's any greater real headline than we go again. Yeah. , we get No,
Matt Edmundson: it's true, right? We get up. We dust ourselves down and we, we keep going, right?
Ian Finch: Yeah. And because some stuff's worked really well, some stuff's worked a bit and could be optimized. Some stuff's just a nightmare. Which case you go, he got the light bulb wrong a thousand times before he got it right. And he didn't stop. But at the, so the stuff you can own around strategy and we tried something that didn't work and that's okay.
Mm-hmm. you know, learning there is fail forward and fail fast. Yeah. Just don't keep failing, you know? Yeah. Doing it once and it works fine, tweak it, do it twice and didn't work, do it three times. It's like, are you kidding me? We just, we just learn this now and tweak and it doesn't always need to be a wholesale change, it needs to be a tweak.
And even that needs explaining because I think the vast majority of humans live in an either or world. We do this or we do that. Right. But in business transformation and change in digital specifically, we do this and we do that. So let's live in an and world, not in an either or world. And, and everything's just a micro adjustment.
It's hilarious when people want to flick to an agile delivery methodology, um, rather than an old school waterfall methodology. And you go, well, let's do agile. Let's spec it to death before we start because we wanna get agile right. No, missed the point, missed the point. Let's start and iterate as we go along and have a cadence where we go wherever it is every two weeks, right?
Here's where we are, what did we learn, what we gonna do next, right? Here's where we are. And you know, and, and, but that takes time and training because I think from the schooling system up where you just get it right, have some incompetence, do the thing. Yeah. Get marked for it. Okay, now go into next assessment.
But in the real world, you go try and fail. Try and fail. Try and fail the creative process. Is endlessly trying and failing. You write a song, it's like that chorus doesn't work, that Chorus doesn't work, that now the chorus works. But you don't stop trying and it's not like you've done a completely different song. Even if it ends up differently. You've iterated your way there.
Matt Edmundson: It's interesting is life. Yeah. It's interesting you say that cuz I think one of the things that um, you do well when you're a kid is you fail well, just think about a kid learning to walk, they fail well, they don't even think about it. There's no, there's no ego involved, there's no, you know, there's no self-esteem issues when they fall over.
There might be slight frustration, but they figure it out. And I think one thing that school does is it teaches you to fail badly. Uh, and we, we carry that through. Right? And one of the things I've noticed with entrepreneurs like yourself is your ability to take failure almost within your stride and not worry about it and just, and just relentlessly keep going which I think, um, is peculiar in a lot of ways to entrepreneurs and leaders.
Ian Finch: I think you're right. I think you're absolutely right. Uh, and it's, we, we did some, some training about 20 months ago. Um, we got some sales training in and then Covid here and we turned the sales training into comms training more generally.
Mm-hmm. , uh, how to use a screen, you know, you know how to set an agenda but finish it five minutes before the hour. Cuz you've no doubt got another video call, that starts at the hour. And really, really basic stuff like that. But then when you actually get into the concept of agenda setting and you get a bit further into it, you go, well I can set an agenda.
But the word agenda that plays out in multiple different ways. And actually people are coming to that agenda with an agenda. Yeah. And their agenda could be driven by an argument at breakfast with their spouse or some other trigger. Um, but maybe agendas maybe a harsh word, but it. It led to us going, people don't contribute in these meetings cuz they're scared to look bad.
Why are they scared to look bad. Cause it's part of failure. People are scared to fail. Well, why are they scared to fail? I don't think we've got a culture. Think we embrace failure. You can say it in, but if people don't feel it, I'm like, oh, okay. Well let's do a session on handling failure. And it's really interesting what you say about the entrepreneur thing, because I was on that session like the rest of the people in business.
I was like, with the greatest respect. Yeah i know, yeah i know, well of course. Yeah I know yeah I know and there's 50 people going, oh, it's life changing. Oh, I feel someone. Yeah. And I'm like, oh. Oh, okay. Yeah, right.
I've got some learning to do here because I live in this permanent place of failure. Iterate. Failure, iterate, success, iterate a bit more.
Now it's a failure and everything I do is public. Every failure I make 50 people going, yeah, you failed on. Well done boss. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, because, because entrepreneurs fail in public. Because you know, particularly when you've got staff, you don't end up doing the work. Other people doing similar decisions you make about a direction in business.
Other people are doing it, but it's still you who's failed to deliver to that client. Um, or, or the culture's not word. Or we get staff feedback and it's like, oh, you think that, oh, you won't be needing this anymore. And, um, but you can't take, you just have to go. All feedback is valuable. All feedback is meant well, unless it's not, in which case, let's put in a bit of discernment in.
But your assumption is it's meant well for the May I ask for it, I get it back huh, you have to see failure. You have to see a challenge and, and, and your failings. And when you run a business where you see all the bits you hate about your character played out culturally as well as a good bits as well. You know?
And there's no hiding, right? There's no hiding. No. And it's most exhilarating and terrifying experience probably outside of your kids grow up where the same thing happens, um, the, uh, you just live in this world of constantly failing publicly. Yeah, yeah. And accepting responsibility for it. And then you forget that most people don't. Yeah.
Most people learn at school how to be great at generic stuff. GCSEs then focus a little bit more a levels and focus a bit more at university. Then do a job that matches a university training and then get really good at a job. So we live in a place where actually failure is getting eliminated all the time.
And then the nutty founder, entrepreneur comes, I go, Hey, let's experiment. Let's try something, you know, and, um, freaks everybody out. Yeah. Not strictly true. Cause you know, I'm not like, let's have experimental code practices that maybe aren't as secure as others. No. You know, let's, let's learn the basics, but can we optimize that?
Do we need to build ourselves? Could we partner with technology? And you're constantly nibbling around the edges to try and, um, and it's your job to go. Can we do that quicker? Yeah. Really? Is that actually true. Yeah, I've found it. You know, like the classic thing, I've just searched on Google for 30 seconds and I found this and you've done it for 30 years, but what about this?
Now I hate you. But then the case are like, oh yeah, you're right. I didn't see that. And you're like, you didn't see it because you're utterly brilliant at what you do. And actually I saw it because I'm completely ignorant of what you do, and therefore I'm not as close minded. And so I've learned to the older I get the more stupid questions I ask. Yeah, that's true. The more forgive me.
Matt Edmundson: And they're intentional. Yeah. Yeah.
Ian Finch: Because the better you get without people stretching you, the closer the blinkers are because you go in deeper. And I think part the joy and part of the job, but also the part that you've really gotta handle culturally is constantly going, is this something else?
Is it something else? Is it something else? Have we thought about? Have we thought about? Without winding everyone else up and dismissing what their value is and so constantly trying to get that tension Yeah. Between best practice and is there more? Mm.
Matt Edmundson: Well, there's a lot there, right? And I, I couldn't agree more.
I think it's, it's a really sort of fascinating, uh, traits that business leaders have this constant drive and have you ever read the book, um, Black Box Thinking?
Ian Finch: I have not, no.
Matt Edmundson: So this is a book I think everybody should read, is aBlack Box Thinking by a guy called Matthew, I can't even remember his name.
Matthew Syed, I think it is. And he, he, in the book, he talks about how to deal with failure and he contrasts, the US medical industry, which cannot abide the word failure because it means lawsuit with the airline industry, which goes failure black box. That means learning some things so we don't crash in, you know, again, right?
Yeah. And he contrasts these, these two things and it's fascinating and very insightful. So highly recommend.
Ian Finch: Okay. No, I'll definitely read that.
Matt Edmundson: Yeah. Yeah. Check it out. So what, business aside, cause business sounds like fun and full on, and a pain in the arse all at the same time, which is probably the testimony of most business leaders, right?
Ian Finch: All of the above. Yeah. But it, I think particularly in digital, it's, you know, it's 25, well no it's not, is it? It's 30 to 35 years old since the nonlinear hyperlink got created. Um, which compared to architecture, which is several thousands year old, there's a few more standards, you know? And so while that makes it challenging, it also means every day is different. And it's exciting, you know, and we can evolve further, but the human issues don't, don't change. Um, but yeah, it's a challenge, which I'm sure the next question be, how do you handle that in the rest of life as well?
Matt Edmundson: Well, we could, we could go that route. I, yeah. What do you do to sort of stay on top? What do you do to charge your batteries? What do you do to be, um, the push to be more, it's that kind of what fills your tank kind of thing. I'm curious to know how you, how you recharge Finch.
Ian Finch: Yeah. Um, that's been a very topical part of my life over the last, um, couple of years. Uh, because I think the older you get, um, maybe it's me.
I think it's more generic though, you know, the, uh, Things just start hurting in your forties. I think particularly if you've worked in IT like this, you know, getting more and more stress and you know, coming over a desk and you tell home screeners, you getting tight and um, I think you end up carrying stuff and adrenaline and energy, maybe in my case, nervous energy in your twenties and thirties carries you through.
Um, and I remember getting a bit of advice years ago going, well, I saw well and good, but once you are doing 25 hours work in every 24 hour period, where's that go? Yeah. You know, you can't just keep doing more. And I think there's periods in life, I think particularly in your twenties where you're just accumulating knowledge and actually you're not as good because you haven't done it before.
And so things take longer. And then, you know, your thirties, you start getting a better sense where you're in any forties you realize. Actually less is way more. And I've actually allowed myself to see, part of my job is thinking clearly and ridiculously with a benefit of hindsight. For years I thought that, well, the job is doing.
Yeah. And you know, I'm thinking frankly while driving and getting Dictaphone notes, reading on the toilet, you know, dictaphoning on a toilet cause that's when the ideas come. Thinking on holidays. And then, and actually I've allowed myself to spend some of my working day thinking. Part of that is cuz I trust myself more, my thinking's good.
There's some competence. Part of it's a natural part of, you know, I don't do the work anymore. I delegate manage lead direct. Um, so I think creating space to thinking's important and, um, It needs to be a bit more holistic than that, you know? And so some of the work I did kind of really condensed life down into, into what we call four rooms.
Uh, and so there's the emotional room. Yeah, the, the physical room, the um, uh, the mental room and, and the spiritual room. And actually really dwelling on where am I at in those four paradigms was really interesting. So mentally, I'm continually challenged. I'm always firing and actually I'm always learning something new.
So I'm probably pretty good place mentally. I make good decisions and my job is making decisions I'm well practiced. Physically, I was a bit binge and perch and my weight can shift by a couple of stones very easily based on biscuits.
Matt Edmundson: Sorry, just to, just to say if you are listening outside of the UK, a stone is a lot. It's like, what?
Ian Finch: What is it? Is it like seven or eight kilograms? Yeah. Something like that, isn't it? Yeah, yeah, yeah. My weight can shift by 15 kilograms quite easily in a matter of months. And so why is that? Um, my emotional room, I realized, and now I think this perhaps comes from a lot of stuff we talked about, um, professionally, it's always been about what's next?
How can we improve what's next? How can we improve? Oh, that was disappointing. Shake off disappointment. How can we improve? How can we improve? And that has an effect maybe on this chicken egg, I've been trained professionally cause I've always had to lead people for 25 years. Am I that way? Inclined Anyway.
Yeah. A bit anxiously driven. Who knows? Bit both probably. But what happened emotionally is for me, uh, That room is only happy. There's, there's yellow balls, there's smiley faces on everywhere in that room, and there's no sadness there. Mm-hmm. . And that's not healthy. Yeah. Because basically I realize I, I suppressed anything negative, any disappointment, and just concentrate what's next and Yeah.
Um, which then leaves for a spiritual room without was described as what's your relationship to yourself? I'm like, I don't know. Yeah. Uh, and so in the last 18 months particularly, I've really gone, I need to check in more actually. And, you know, I allow myself to be sad, allow myself to be disappointed, and allow myself to acknowledge for other people their actions of I've allowed to hurt me.
And, but we need to talk about it. You know, you didn't do this, but neither, I'm gonna own it all. We need to talk about it. Um, but it all starts with, with checking in. And then again, you need space to do that. And so for me, The way I do that is get in nature. So a walk each day. Sometimes I listen to a podcast or, or read or listen to a book.
I'm much better listening to books. I am reading them. Yeah. Um, try and do yoga four, five times a week. I do some kind of physical activity. I love, yeah, hiking, make, try and try and do something mentally, physically, and check in emotionally and spiritually on a daily basis. And it's funny, you know, since doing that, I sleep more, I work less and I'm adding more value and I'm more productive on a daily basis.
Which man, if I could have really grasped that in your twenties, how different would life be? Could you imagine? Could you imagine meeting. Yourself 20 years in ahead of time and go, no, seriously, do this. And you were not so black and white and so eager during your twenties, you'd actually listen to start with you know,
Matt Edmundson: I was gonna say your, you'd meet your 20. If, if I met my 20 year old self, my 20 year old self would not listen to my 40 year old self, be like, get behind me Satan, what's wrong with you. Do you know what I mean? It'd be that kind response.
Ian Finch: You old, tired man. Is this what you've become? You just talked about home furnishings. Why have you talked about furnishings? You garden? What?
Matt Edmundson: So do you feel right? Would this sort of, um, new approach where you are creating space, you're creating space to think and to be, and to check in, do you feel a sense of guilt because you are not doing.
Ian Finch: Yes. Yes.
Matt Edmundson: And so how do you deal with that?
Ian Finch: Um, so guilt needs to be investigated because, you know, where is, where is it coming from?
What is making me have to be the first in and the last to leave? What, what is making? Because some of it's personal responsibility and trying to lead from the front and do the right thing, but I think I realize there's other stuff driving it. Um, you know, and for me I was like, I just pathologically have to fix everything.
And then you won and take personal responsibility for everything. Taking a step back and talk to a few people. That's not normal. So where does that come from? Well, actually this kind of nervous energy, this guilt. It's just always there. It's like, I've got this thing, I just need to do better and strive and why do I have to fix everything and everyone, why can't I, cause actually what that does in business or life generally is it creates learned helplessness because people don't have to answer their own problems or self-regulate because FInch's doing it for them the whole time.
It's not helpful. Why? You know? And so you go really deep and you go, alright, there's maybe a few childhood experiences that that meant, this is how I felt loved. This is what, this is what behavior was rewarded or what, what felt like it worked. And um, you know, and I talked about suppression earlier and like you actually, you know, most things get nailed quite early on.
You realize even with brilliant parents and their great home life and everything else, it's just certain things between your personality and your environment. And so I think being aware and being intentional, Is huge. And then when you are aware, uh, uh, going, okay, why does this feel more urgent to me than anyone else?
Mm Oh, because we have no money to pay it away just next week. Okay, fine. That's a normal level of urgency. But actually no, there's something driving this and actually the, the big shift to me was I was always gonna feel guilty working less unless I shifted to a value based mindset rather than a pounds per square inch of effort, per second mindset.
You know, and actually really tracking the value I bring to a conversation by planning it for 10 more minutes rather than winging it. Cause I've been doing something else for 10 minutes. Yeah. And, and experimenting, really testing the trading volume forward to go and, What if I didn't have to work harder, longer, and more intensive than anyone else?
What if I could trust myself that the value I bring is actually better now than it was then, and actually particularly with a comms lens, I mean, that was the next phase really is like, I know the values good, but I'm not landing this. Yeah. And so actually I need to take more time to land it. So being a bit more considered and just losing some of that kind of entrepreneurial energy, you know, what got you here won't get you there.
You, you do have to operate and iterate. And I think that that tipping point of being less driven, maybe less guilt driven, where that my, my sense of delivered value or even perhaps value of myself comes some effort more to, to insight and direction and setting other people up for success. It and. You know, and, and there's other things, like it doesn't all help when you pay people better and there's bonuses and everything else.
Cause some of that goes away. So there's practical things as well. But I think it, it's much more on a kind of personal level of, of giving yourself a break and trusting and then, and seeing the value you given and that, that's, that's been massive.
Matt Edmundson: That sounds like quite a journey. I mean, you know, heck of a journey, uh, that, that you've, that you've, uh, been on there.
And so thinking forward a little bit, if I think about the more section, you know, push to be more, it's like, so you've sort of, you've, grown, you've 25 years, you've had all these challenges you've learned over the last 18 months maybe to create space, to think and how to deal with the guilt and how to give people, you know, the space to shine and you bring your value. So what does that mean for the future? What are you hoping to see more of grow into, uh, over the next few years?
Ian Finch: Yeah. So for, we're on a journey, um, which this, this whole year, 2022 was about some stuff we changed about our commercial model to be, um, add more value to customers also protect ourselves bit more and get, get more of an even key over our revenue and our year on new growth.
Um, this whole year's been about proving it out and so far it's been really successful. You know, revenues are, profits are best year, so far, so good. Um, we want to test that it's not just another good year followed by a fallow here. Yeah. And the ultimate test will be doing that going into a recession. So probably next year is gonna be more of the same.
Yeah. Um, uh, in terms of, you know, our internal phrases. Prove it. Prove it again, uh, whether it needs to be proved for a full year or whether. First quarter in Expon year. We've got the whole year now, in which case we go, it's worked. Um, but then the idea is that once we've proved the commercial model, we'll scale the commercial model and our specialisms as is. Just try and, you know, throw some, throw some time, resource energy, some money, and a bit more ambition and a bit more drive to kind of grow the top line once we are certain that the bottom line is gonna remain like a consistent margin.
Yeah. Um, once we've scaled it, sorry, scaled it, um, yeah. Scaled it, which we expect to be organic, even if there's some investment to do that. Um, then the journey after that would be to scale us, because I think what we've really kind of proved that what we do is vital, it works. People love it, we're serving them well.
We scale the business. Then the next phase would be scale us. And that would be where we, uh, would look to acquire some new competencies to do a, a broader or complimentary set. So, and there'll be, there'll be decisions to make, you know? Yeah. Right now we are, we are growing organically a data and insight, uh, team.
Um, when we scale it, it might be quicker to just buy a data and insight team, bring them in mm-hmm.. Um, and that, that would kind of lend itself to the scale us world. Um, or it could be that there's a mix and match the data, like grows and UX grows, but actually we've got this huge commerce opportunity, um, while we, we nod to that and we, we do my accounts and, and, and e-business.
Pure play. B2C commerce is not necessarily part of our remit currently, but is part of our tech and is part, increasingly part of our digital estates for our clients. And so let's buy a commerce outfit and then we'll get their clients, we'll get their competency, and then instead of having to grow organically over a couple of years, we, we can jump forward.
It's, it's like a first a hundred days integration job rather than two years. So yeah, prove it, scale it, scale us. Um, that, that's, and to do that in terms of coming back to the core of this, this chat is I need space to, to flip from, I mean, you introduced me as CEO. I'm still doing quite a bit of MD really.
But that be, that that real shift to pure strategic level is happening. But I'm still newed and bits. But we get to a place where we're, we're growing at scale and I'm, I'm growing a team that can cope with scale, like a growth officer and so on. And particularly when it comes to an acquisition journey, which might involve partners and finals, I need to focus on that.
So, and that needs space and time and Yeah. You know, and meeting quite a lot of people. And so it's actually quite business critical. But, but I do keep creating that space. Um, and so I'm feeling really confident in a minute, but all the hallmarks are there that we get the system right and setting people up for success. So that will continue.
Matt Edmundson: Fantastic. That sounds great, doesn't it? And it's one of those things where, You know, when your business works really well, when you are not involved in the detail, that that's a really good thing. But it's also if you're, if you're marginally insecure, it's gonna be a really, really painful thing to deal with.
Right? And so, um, that's really cool, man, and, uh, I hope that sort of all pays off. So let me ask you, uh, one of my final questions, right? As you know, this show is sponsored by Aurion Media, which specializes in helping folks like your could self set and run their own podcast. So I want you to do an imaginary exercise for me.
You've got your own podcast, uh, finchschats.com. Uh, and out of, out of the people who have the
Ian Finch: Right Reverend finch's chats.
Matt Edmundson: Yeah. The right reverend Finch's chats, out of the people who have impacted your life, right? Uh, whether it's family, friends, authors, movie star, I don't know, who are your sort of top guests that you would like? I really wanna get you on the show and say thank you. Who would they be and why?
Ian Finch: Oh, Oh wow. Okay. Um, so Steve Bart, that might have already done all of his bless, but uh, you know, in terms of, I think in, in over recent 18 months, I'd love to talk to Eckhart Tolle who's the author of, um, the Power of Now and he's very much about being in, in the present moment. Uh, um, when you're in a present moment, you have to be incredibly aware to be that.
Um, because most of us flick from the past to the future. And, uh, when you're in a present moment, that's when you can really engage with someone else, see their true self, be completely aware of anything that's going on in you. Um, but his story's fascinating in that, you know, fairly dysfunctional growing up period.
And then he ended up in a place that was quite suicidal and he had a moment ago, I don't think it needs to be like this. And actually took himself off of grid and I think went and studied in Buddhist monasteries and so on. But you know, I don't mean he's a Buddhist, he's just, for me, he's a far a mindfulness and, uh, but that journey and understanding his experience and his unlocks with people, I'd be quite fascinated with that.
And, you know, and I'm particularly interested, but that has nothing to do with technology because that's actually my thing in that, and I think it said this in the last time we met, is that for, this is the first time in human history where technology's not the limitation. People are mm-hmm, uh, technology can do anything you want it to do within reason now.
Yeah. Um, but changing people is constantly the process of digging and digging and digging. What's driving that way, you know, and I've hopefully been quite honest about, You know, being aware of myself, but you're constantly, what's the agenda? What's the agenda? What's really making them ask that question?
Um, you know, I have a values violation when it's really clear when a client or potential client should I say, uh, wants to look good rather than be good. Yeah. Um, you know, and I have like a massive reaction to that. But then part of that is like, why am I judging them like that, you know, they might be in a political context where you can't afford to think of anything but looking good because that's, you know, and they're fighting their own battles.
And actually maybe I could bring some more grace into it situation. What can I learn from this? And, and, but technology business leaders, no one in my recent experience is, is quite unlocked that nature of awareness and being totally aware of what's going on and when someone's being conscious or not, and how you are responding to it. For Eckhart Tolle, you'd just be fascinating to talk to him.
Matt Edmundson: Yeah, well, when he comes on as a guest to your podcast, I will definitely listen to the episode. Absolutely, mate, you've been an absolute legend. If people wanna reach out to you, if people wanna get hold of you, um, we, we said earlier, didn't we, that Mando Engineers positive change, so people need help with IT systems.
If you're in agency, who wants to do some kind of strategic partnership with you guys, I know you do that, um, on the IT side.
Ian Finch: Yeah. No partnership's really, really key. Yeah. We often work with, uh, typically we're with people who are maybe in a consultancy space or, or that front end brand space, but they need a, a technology partner that, that gets it, that can work, handing love of them who's on shore.
You know, we can work in partnership. And so yeah, that, that's a massive outcome as well, is people that are going for digital change and, and need some support, not just in technical side, but kind of translating that to allowing marketing and IT to play nicely together.
Matt Edmundson: Sounds ideal, sounds lucky. Uh, how do people reach you then, if they, if they wanna engage with such activities?
Ian Finch: So you can contact me via our website, www.mando.agency, or indeed email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matt Edmundson: Very good. Are you on LinkedIn?
Ian Finch: I am, uh, and, uh, I can't actually remember my, I think it's Ian David Finch on LinkedIn, so I think, how dare it. But Ian Finch had already gone but you can search Ian Finch, Mando, and LinkedIn and you'll, you know, I answer those twice a day as well.
Matt Edmundson: Oh, do you? I'm still trying to get into that daily habit of doing LinkedIn. Uh, I'm not very good, uh. It's just one of those things. So we will obviously, uh, link to Ian at Mando and to his LinkedIn in the show notes.
Ian Finch: So, oh, sorry, Matt. There's one other thing actually, I do a lot more of my kind of mindfulness and kind of outdoor pursuits kind of stuff on Instagram as well, so people can find me in on Instagram too.
Matt Edmundson: Well, you do some reels as well, right?
Ian Finch: Yeah. Occasions I was inspired by you. I was like, yeah, I haven't quite got the kind of like the, uh, the statements and the insight bits, but they're, they're coming. But yeah, I like, I'm liking putting together my travel reels they’re good fun.
Matt Edmundson: And I'm very envious when you get up in the hills. I keep me into calling you and saying, next time you go give me a call, you bugger.
Ian Finch: I'll, I'll give you a shout.
Matt Edmundson: Yeah, yeah. Let me know, let me know. Well, thanks for coming on, bud. Honestly, I love doing podcasts with you. You're an absolute legend. Always enjoy the conversation. So thank you very, very much. Thank you.
So we will obviously link to Ian's info in the show notes, which you can get for free along with the transcript at pushtobemore.com. Uh, and if you'll subscribe to the email, uh, then that will also go straight to your inbox. What a great conversation. What an absolute great conversation. Again, a big shout out to today's sponsor Aurion media. If you are wondering if Podcasting is a good marketing strategy for your business, do connect with them.
aurionmedia.com. That's A U R I O N media.com and we will of course link to them on our podcast website to pushtobemore.com. So head over to either, it's totally fine. You'll find them. Uh, be sure to follow push to be more podcasts wherever you get your podcast from. Because this is just the beginning and what a beginning it was.
Fantastic conversation to launch the show. We've got lots of conversations lined up with some incredible people, and I definitely don't want you to miss any of them. And in case no one has told you yet today, let me do it now. You are awesome. Absolutely. Uh, it's just a burden we all have to bear.
Finch has to bear it. I have to bear it. You've gotta bear it too. Push to be more is produced by Aurion media. You can find, uh, our entire archive of episodes, uh, on your favorite podcast app, which currently is one. Uh, but as the podcast grows, uh, they will all be on there. The team that makes this show possible is Sadaf Beynon, Josh Catchpole, Estella Robin and Tim Johnson.
Our theme music is by Josh Edmundson, and as I mentioned, if you'd like to read the transcript and show notes head over to Push To Be More, where you can also sign up for our newsletter. So that's it from me. That's it from Ian. Thank you so much for joining us. Have a fantastic week wherever you are.
I'll see you next time. Bye for now.