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Steve Bartlett is founder & CEO of Social Chain, the UK’s largest Influencer Marketing agency, and one of the most talked about companies of 2015.

At just 23 years old, Steve Bartlett employs a team of more than fifty young creatives and is recognised as one of the most powerful influencers on Social Media.

Steve won the Growing Business Awards ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2014’

Founded his first internet company at only 18 years old, and exited at 21

Steve has founded two chart topping apps, is a guest writer for the Huffington Post, a business consultant for companies including Bebo, and an advocate for entrepreneurship, which has seen him appear on BBC newsnight and travel across the UK to speak at universities.

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  • At this age I started to notice my approach to things was different from my peers
  • You can ask people for things, and ask people to help and there’s nothing to lose in doing so
  • I’ve always been someone who was able to lead my peers
  • There’s nothing inside me that stops me from having an idea and making it happen
  • At some point I realised, I was betting on everything everyone was telling me being wrong about what you need to do in life to be successful  
  • Everyone told me you need to get good grades, but I was never going to get good grades because I didn’t come to class
  • I have to bet that I’m good enough to be all these things I want to be without grades
  • I have to bet on all these things that people have told me aren’t necessarily true
  • I’ve never really cared about anyone outside of me telling me that what I felt I wanted to do I shouldn’t be doing
  • I went through total poverty where I was shoplifting pizzas
  • Plan B acts as a distraction a lot of the time
  • It never even crossed my mind what if it doesn’t work
  • We built the agency on the demands we were facing rather than planning it all out
  • If you’re going to innovate in any sector you need to start with the most fundamental understanding and then build up from there – as opposed to building on top of pre-existing models of how other people have done things
  • Social Chain was profitable from day one
  • We didn’t build of conventional wisdom or how things had been done before, we just brought a solution to the problems we were having
  • The reality is when I was up at 3.00am working, everyone else was asleep and luck didn’t find them
  • This thing with luck, you do get fortunate but you have to put yourself out there in the world to get fortunate
  • Entrepreneurship fundamentally is an expression of creativity
  • One of our core missions is to continually be determined to reimagine conventional wisdom
  • We’re all about disruption and challenging conventional wisdom
  • At the end of the day the only thing that will have the biggest impact on the bottom line is when people feel like their freedoms are being violated
  • If you take care of your people they will take care of your customers
  • It’s something that’s so deeply within me, this idea of just not accepting conventional wisdom
  • We want to be known as the most disruptive, impactful and innovative group of people in the country and in the world
  • Being at the bottom and trying is much better than being average and settled
  • A lot of people won’t try to get to the top through fear of what the bottom is like, and the bottom isn’t that bad.

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Links & People

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Time Stamped Notes

  • 00:04:15 – On Steve’s first business, running events and making £15k at the age of 17
  • 00:07:45 – On thinking differently
  • 00:09:03 – On the importance of just asking for stuff
  • 00:10:56 – On the values instilled what Steve was growing up
  • 00:11:11 – On internal locus of control
  • 00:17:35 – On the influence of siblings
  • 00:20:31 – On completely rejecting what school, people and society told Steve he needed to do to be successful
  • 00:27:13 – Setting up WallPark, and going through TOTAL poverty (shoplifting pizzas)
  • 00:31:44 – Getting WallPark off the ground with investment
  • 00:35:29 – Reasoning from first principles
  • 00:37:35 – on leaving his own company and setting becoming a global consultant for companies like Bebo
  • 00:42:08 – On the foundation of social chain
  • 00:46:44 – How Social Chain makes money
  • 00:50:43 – First recruits for Social Chain
  • 00:51:44 – Turning down £300k investment
  • 00:52:44 – Getting $2m investment from Sky Germany
  • 00:53:54 – On making your own luck
  • 00:55:58 – Creativity, entrepreneurship and challenging conventional wisdom
  • 01:02:06 – Creating the unique Social Chain company culture
  • 01:06:32 – On what Steve has had to rebel against to get to where he is
  • 01:11:51 – On hiring and firing
  • 01:14:56 – Biggest personal flaw
  • 01:15:56 – Success secrets and single most important decision Steve’s ever made
The Rebel Wrap Up Round

If you could go back to any point in your life, and have 1 hour with your past self; what moment would it be and what would you tell yourself?

01:19:32 It would be one of those moments when I was at one of the lowest lows, when I got really defeated – and give myself a whisper in the hear and say it’s all going to work out. One of those moments where it felt like there was just no way forward, and I’d tell myself you’re going to get past this.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received, who gave it to you and how has it positively affected your career?

01:20:50 Happiness is a choice. You can decide to be happy. Life exists inside your head. In your head it can be hell or it can be heaven, and that really is your choice.

Who is the most disruptive, rebellious or revolutionary entrepreneur of the last 2 years?

01:22:52 Manoj Bhargava – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manoj_Bhargava

What is the one generally agreed upon rule or conventional piece of wisdom, that you disagree with?

01:23:00 That you have to go to University to be successful

If you could change one law what would it be?

01:23:26 Something to do with passports. I would like to live in a world where anyone can go everywhere.

What’s your definition of entrepreneurship?

01:24:02 Someone who has felt something, or felt the need for something, or seen a gap in the market or an opportunity and has built a solution to that problem from scratch. It’s not going to start up events and chatting. ‘Entrepreneur’ is a verb it’s a doing word, you’ve done something or you’re doing something, you’re not just talking about it.

What advice would you give to anyone listening to this who wants to become a creator entrepreneur?

01:24:34 Do less worrying, less planning, less thinking. If you believe in something, you believe you’ve got the solution to it (even if you’re wrong), go find out quickly and make sure you have fun along the way. Make sure you’re passionate about it, you’re going to need that passion. You’re going to go through some horrible times where you’re going to be fuelled by nothing other than that passion.

Who do you nominate to be a guest on the RebelHead Entrepreneurs podcast?

01:25:12 Shaan Puri (CEO of Blab). One word to describe would be Curious.

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About The Author

Matt Cheney
Executive Producer

Matt has been in the media industry for 11 years, specialising in audio post production. Matt has created Emmy award-winning music features, BAFTA nominated animations and acclaimed festival documentaries. Max & Matts’ paths merged in 2015 to produce the REBELHEAD podcast; publishing the successful series, telling stories of today’s most disruptive and rebellious entrepreneurs. Matt is currently Head of Audio at Vice Media UK and currently partner in two growing audio production companies. As part of the REBELHEAD Production team; he is ambitiously road-mapping the rise of REBELHEAD via new media and emerging technologies.

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