May 13, 2024

Steven Bartlett tells Chris Evans why we should ‘lean in’ to bizarre behaviour

  • News
  • Radio

Steven Bartlett joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with cinch to talk about his new book, The Diary of a CEO: The 33 Laws of Business and Life.

The new book from the Dragons’ Den star comes out tomorrow (31st August) and includes highlights such as ‘You must sweat the small stuff’ and ‘You must be an inconsistent leader’. Regarding another point that he raises in the book, ‘You must lean in to bizarre behaviour’, Steven told Chris: “The world is changing at an ever-increasing rate.”

He explained: “What I’ve noticed over time, and when I looked at some of the stats from Ray Kurzweil – he’s one of the world’s leading futurists – is the rate of change in the world is only accelerating. He predicts that if you’re ten today, by the time you’re 60, you’ll experience a year’s change in 11 days. In the 21st Century we’ll experience 20,000 years of change. 

“So, if you’re a kid, or if you’re trying to give advice to your kid, what do you say to them? What book is going to stand the test of that accelerating change? What we need is a different attitude towards change, which is what I call ‘leaning in’. 

Steven, who is the host of Europe’s No.1 podcast, The Diary Of A CEO, continued: “In my life, across one decade now, there’s been two tectonic shifts. The first for me was social media, and I built a business in that industry because I leant in. When it sounded confusing and strange, and there was pessimism, I leant in and built a company there. 

“We don’t lean in because of dissonance, this psychological feeling of friction, when something new conflicts with what we know about the world or our identity. So what we tend to do to resolve that dissonance, that cognitive friction, is to lean out and dismiss the thing. So you hear AI coming, and because of the friction that will cause you, instead of just holding the dissonance, which is holding two conflicting ideas, the human brain has to dismiss the thing causing the friction.

“The issue with that is, when innovation comes, it always creates dissonance. And we’re seeing that now with AI. We saw it with the internet. I remember watching the videos of people trying to explain the internet, the pessimism and the dismissal of it. We saw it when the iPhone was created and the CEO of Microsoft laughed on air, and said, ‘a £500, £600 mobile phone? They have no chance’. 

He added: “He’s no longer at Microsoft.”

In 2020, Steven was included in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. Speaking more about the idea of leaning in, he told Chris: “In the last two years, I’ve experienced a huge amount of dissonance when this thing called blockchain technology came out, people selling these monkey pictures on the internet for six figures. What I did, because of principles, not because of how I felt, was I leant in. And that led to a company called thirdweb, we raised $31 million. The company has 50 employees in San Francisco, it’s valued at hundreds of millions of dollars in our last investment raise. And because I lent into that dissonance, that feeling that something bizarre was happening, I was able to build companies. That’s what we should be telling our kids, it’s a mindset towards change we’ll need for the 21st and 22nd century, when change is going to be at lightning speed.”

During his chat with Chris, Steven also spoke about why he put a £13,000 blue slide in his office before he had even bought any desks, and about why Richard Branson doing “absurd things” was good for Virgin. Read more here.