Full transcript of London Real host Brian Rose’s TEDx Talk: Why I Left Millions in Banking to Inspire Millions Online at TEDxClapham Conference. This event occurred on January 17, 2015 in London.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: why-i-left-millions-in-banking-to-inspire-millions-online-by-brian-rose-at-tedxclapham
My story begins like all great stories do. And that is with Sir Richard Branson.
I was staying at his private chalet in the Swiss Alps in a small town called Verbier. And this place comes complete with an ice rink spa, indoor pool and an outdoor Jacuzzi. And I was there with 40 of my clients and colleagues celebrating a great year in the banking industry. We were all from the city of London financial center, and we were sitting back having our après-ski drinks after having a long day on the slopes. And the fireplace was roaring and the jacuzzi was steaming. And you can feel the buzz of the evening as we were trying to figure out what restaurant to go to, what club to hit afterwards.
And I realized that I finally had everything I have been working my entire life for — what my parents had wanted, what my university had promised me, and what I knew would finally make me happy. And that quite frankly was money and a successful career. And I went to pour myself a glass of champagne and I got a text from a buddy in London. And he said, “How’s the ski?” And so I looked around at all these people and out through the window I remember the pine trees and the snow coming down right around sunset, and I paused. And I wrote back, “I’ve never been surrounded by so many people and felt so alone.”
And three months later, I walked into the office of my managing director and I resigned from my position of 10 years. I didn’t want to do that work anymore. And I had no job, no prospects and was absolutely terrified about what would come next.
Little did I know that three years later, I would be one degree of separation from the most powerful man in the world. Now I’m not sure if you know this gentleman. But his name is Neil deGrasse Tyson. He is an astrophysicist, you might know him as the host of the show Cosmos and right here I’d just finished a one-on-one interview with him, we just spent an hour together and we had a meeting of the minds. It was a fantastic time and one of the highlights of my life.
And I tweeted this picture out, and a few days later, I was checking his Twitter feed to see if he retweeted, and Neil trumped me by posting this picture. And here’s Neil in the White House taking what I believe is the very first selfie with the President of the United States.
So how did this happen? Well, nine months after I resigned, I was walking through the West End of London on a sunny afternoon with my martial arts instructor. And we were having this engrossing conversation about life, women and money, which as you know are the three great cornerstones of any good male conversation.
And after an hour I turned to him and said, “That was amazing. People would like to listen to that. Let’s broadcast ourselves”, because I grow tired and jaded with television and the mainstream media. Every story was sensationalized, every comment was boiled down into a convenient sound bites. And every headline was either totally depressing or completely irrelevant. And I thought let’s do something different.
So I went home that night and I built London Real Studios. And here it is Day-1 Episode-1 Ground Zero. And quite frankly, I’m still surprised when my guests actually show up here. And I would love to tell you that after 200 episodes and speaking to members of Parliament and Hollywood actors and CEOs of billion-dollar corporations that it was that simple, that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and that if you build it, then they will come.
But if I came here today to tell you that, I would be lying. Because the truth is when you go to make change, you encounter this overwhelming force that the author Steven Pressfield calls resistance. And resistance manifests itself in many ways and is directly proportional to the magnitude of the change you are trying to make. And trust me, it comes from everywhere.
When I first started, I asked all of my friends and family for support. This would be my new mission in life. Every waking hour of every day I would be working on the show. I had since long left behind any concept of paid employment.
And so six months later, we had 25 episodes finished and I woke up one morning and logged onto Facebook to check our numbers. And I’m not sure if you remember but back then they had just introduced a new feature called a Page and you could set up for your business or your nonprofit. And it asked me: See, how many of your friends have liked your page? I thought fantastic.
Now back then, I didn’t have a lot of friends. Only about a hundred on Facebook. And so I thought, well let’s do this, let’s take a look. 20. 20 of my friends had liked my Page. And all they had to do was click a button on a social network that they probably were on every single day. And at first this made me angry. Does that make me a prima donna and I definitely punched something and then I calmed down. And I thought to myself: maybe this is normal, because when you go to create change, your peer group almost by definition isn’t going to help you, because change frightens us. And it reminds us subconsciously of what we’re not doing.
So while a lot of your peer group, they like you, some of them like you just the way you are and not necessarily any better. And this is natural and this is your first test and you can pass it. But you must go forward alone, because you’re looking for that new group of people, I like to call them your new tribe and you have to go and find the people that want to hear this new message. And it’s these same people that are going to make you accountable to the new person that you want to become.
And so I say if your friends and family think you’re crazy, then you’re doing something right. So go and find your new tribe. But the most powerful form of resistance comes from you. Because we fear discovering that we are more than we think we are. So the next time you’re scared of something, remind yourself that this is a good sign. And I know it’s the most counterintuitive concept to us as humans, because fear protects us but fear prevents us from growing. And so I always tell myself: go to where the fear is. And it’s been the story of my journey.
When I first started broadcasting myself, I was terrified of what all of those bankers in that Swiss chalet would think of me. “Oh, look at Brian, he’s on YouTube. Isn’t that cute? Sad, pathetic. Most of those people thought I was crazy. Some of them still think I am. And some of them are right.
I wake up every day scared of running this business that has no clear revenue model, whatsoever. And I’m even scared standing here today speaking to all of you — something I wouldn’t have done even six months ago. But in retrospect, each one of these decisions was the correct one. Well, maybe except for this talk.
But there’s an even sneakier form of resistance. How many of you like to research things? Read a book about it perhaps. Maybe google it, build a spreadsheet. Well, I am an MIT-trained mechanical engineer. So you know loves me a good spreadsheet. I will spreadsheet the grocery list. But I’m here to tell you that 95% of research is procrastination in disguise, aka fear. And I did this too.
When I first started, I had a lot of questions — what microphones to use, which cameras? How do you live stream video? This is back in 2011, not a lot of information out there. So I emailed the one guy who I knew would help me. And that’s Mr. Joe Rogan. He is a stand-up comedian and commentator for the UFC, which is the global cage fighting organization. And he hosts one of the top 10 podcasts in the world: My inspiration for London Real. And Joe gave me the best advice I’ve ever received. He completely ignored me. No email, no hints, no tips, no mentoring. And I could have quit, but instead he gave me the chance to earn all of this.
So research it once and take action or as my guest Dan Peña, the $50 billion man likes to say, “Perfection is paralysis. Make some mistakes and learn from them”. So don’t google it. Don’t listen to another podcast. Well, maybe one. Just do it.
About a year later, I got a message from Joe Rogan. And he invited me to come to Los Angeles to be on his show. And this was a big moment for me for a lot of reasons. But the most important one is that now I wasn’t meeting Joe as a fan, I was meeting him as a peer. And so I flew to California and I went on his show and it was three hours long. And it was broadcast live to hundreds of thousands of people. And at the end, on a whim, I said, “To anyone listening around the world, if you like my story, then I challenge you to start your own City Real”.
And that was it. I didn’t think much of it. I flew back to London. And when I got back a few weeks later, they started coming in. First one from Melbourne in Australia. Then I got an email from two guys in Dublin, Ireland and then from Los Angeles, and then from Winnipeg in Canada. And pretty soon we have Midwest Real and Vancouver Real and Helsinki Real.
And so I took a lesson from Joe. I made them earn it. I completely ignored them. But what was happening here, I had set out to present people and ideas that were changing the world. I wanted to create a new form of media. I wanted to give people all of the information and let them make their own decisions. But that’s not what was happening here. People were tuning in to watch me evolve. They saw my guests make me improve myself. And they saw me forming this new tribe and those people were making me accountable every single day. And they wanted to go on their own journey.
And so I had to ask: How do we know when we’ve created change? And it’s a simple but brutal question, because that’s where change gets thrown around a lot these days but how do we know when we’ve actually made it? Is it when someone hears your message or is it when they take action? And so it’s not what each one of you decides that you want to broadcast to the world that’s going to make a difference. It’s the new person that you’re going to become that’s going to make the real change. It’s not about information, it’s about inspiration.
The late Professor Randy Pausch when given a diagnosis of terminal cancer decided to give one last lecture. And in that he said, “The brick walls are there for a reason. They’re not there to keep us out. They are there to show us how badly we want it”.
And I would add: that when people see you break through those brick walls and come out the other side, then they will stand up and go and find their own brick walls and blast through those and create an entire future generation that will go and do the same.
Thank you very much.