In July Andy and I went along to a Entrepreneur’s Circle (EC) Celebrity Masterclass, hosted by Nigel Botterill and featuring the enigmatic Levi Roots. What a character and so many lessons learned! I wanted to share some of them in the hope that some will resonate with you, your life and your business.
I’m always looking for the ‘take aways’ that we can use and apply. Here are some of mine (in no particular priority or order):
- Wherever you are now . . . if it’s not what you truly want, you can change it.
However bad things get, they can get better . . . especially if you do what you need to do.Tony Robbins talks about ‘the past does not equal the future’ (unless you let it!). Same message.
Levi shared an amazing story or his misspent youth, doing time in prison, going back later to that same cell and stepping into it as a very different man. And getting the keys to Brixton. It’s definitely a rags to riches story and zero to hero. Loved that he told us ‘you can google it, it’s all there’. He grabbed the reins of his life and made changes.
- Find ways to make things happen.
This is very much about attitude and asking yourself the right questions. Who can help? What can/could I do? How will I . . . ? When . . . etc. So, stop blaming everyone else for your circumstances and create your own future.
- Get a mentor or coach.
Then use them! Listen to them – even when you don’t like what they say. Levi still speaks to his early mentor Nadia (I’m guessing the spelling of her name) Jones – even though she pushed him to ‘go networking’ when he didn’t want to. More of that later . . .
- Loved his take on ‘you need to want it’ (whatever ‘it’ might be for you). Why? Because otherwise you won’t show up for your mentor. You won’t listen. You won’t do. And there WILL be times when you will be challenged and you won’t want to do the work, the activities, the ‘stuff’ you need to. (Back to his networking story – see 3, and later!)
- Do the work you need to do.
You’ll often know what it is you need to be doing. If you don’t and you have a mentor, trust them. Follow their advice. He told a powerful story about not wanting to go networking, not wanting to pay for exhibition space to promote Reggae Reggae Sauce. He was tired, fed up and resented having to pay to get into an exhibition to go and sell his wares. Nadia told him to ‘go networking.’ She knew he needed to get his message out and make connections. You never know which connections are going to be the right ones. He went networking and had someone approach him and ask him to consider going on ‘Dragons Den’. He initially fobbed her off, confusing it with ‘I’m a Celebrity’ and put her card in his pocket and it was one of his children who saw the opportunity and explained it. The rest is history. So, do the work and listen to others when you can’t see it for yourself (there will be plenty of those times. See no. 3.)
- There will be disappointments.
People will let you down. He spoke passionately about feeling the love of his community, encouraging him, in the early days. The support of his family, cooking, bottling, labelling and sending him off with his backpack, checking it was empty when he came home.He talked about long standing friendships – one of which turned sour when a long-standing friend claimed it was his recipe, not Levi’s (Levi’s grandmother’s). That ended with Levi being totally vindicated in court but he’s sad that it cost him a friendship. He also talked about ‘not feeling the love’ from some others too. This has been tough for a man with a lot of love in him.
- Be you, be authentic.
This reminds me of a favourite quote from Judy Garland ‘Always be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else.’ His style is to sing his message ‘Put some music in the sauce for me . . . ‘ and play his guitar. It’s unique. It’s memorable. Music and food are his two passions and he found a way to combine them. So, when his kids said ‘don’t take the guitar to Dragons Den dad – it’s not how business is done’, he ignored them. He couldn’t separate the music from the sauce. The guitar was his prop. A resource to tell his story and share his message. It attracted people. What are your passions? How can you combine them in your business? People are inspired by passion, not ‘rote’ scripts. Bring your message to ilfe in your own unique way.Peter Jones bought into Levi Roots more than sauce in a bottle.
And as Levi puts it ‘I became a multi-millionaire by trying to prove my kids wrong!’ ;-)
- Sometimes you need to think differently, see what you’re missing.
This is where Levi showed huge appreciation for his two mentors and coaches – Nadia and then Peter Jones. Here’s a summary of some of the reasons he gives thanks and appreciation to them:* a mentor will help, support, encourage you.
* they’ll lift you up when you’re down and don’t want to go on.
* they’ll help get you back on track, point you in the right direction (even if you don’t like it!)
* they’ll be honest with you (sometimes when you’re missing things or not being honest with yourself about what needs to be done)
* a good mentor/coach will definitely think differently. They’ve often gone through the same/similar experiences and pushed through them.
* they’ll help you think differently/bigger – **GREAT STORY!!! (scroll down)
- Remember your values
Your values are often with you from an early age, you may forget them, you may not have clarified them but they are integral to who you are. Levi may have gone off the rails for a while but he came back to his values, got clear on them and is now happy to be ‘a good Rasta Man’. He’s proud to look after his children, his family and others. He told us about creating his Rastaraunts (great name!) and employing people who’ve gone through charity apprenticeships and the satisfaction that gives him. He loves taking his mom and his auntie on holiday in style too.
- Business is business and personal is personal
In the early days of Reggae Reggae Sauce it was a real cottage industry with all of the family involved in creating batches of sauce, singing as they stirred the cooking pot, putting their love, heart and soul into the sauce. Now it’s grown to a huge brand he’s learned to run things on a more commercial footing. Don’t mess it up by giving jobs to people you want to help (family/friends), make sure they are the right fit for the job/work.
To demonstrate how a mentor/coach can take you further, faster, he shared the story of Peter Jones saying he would speak to some friends to get bigger distribution for Reggae Reggae Sauce.
He called up Sainsburys and got them a meeting. Levi sat in the meeting hearing that Sainsburys would ‘trial it’.
Levi’s thinking was ‘I hope they don’t want more than 65 bottles . . . we all worked flat out as a family to make that!’
When they asked for it to go in 607 stores and wanted 750,000 bottles Levi’s internal self talk was unprintable. But Peter knew the way. While Levi was thinking ‘we’ll have to build factories, train people’, Peter understood licensing and found factories to make the sauce under licence.
So, at the start – Levi had one sauce and the family made it. Now, 10 years later, working with his ‘Dragon’, Peter Jones, ‘we have over 50 products, 10 licensees. I don’t own any factories. The most powerful thing is the brand. I have 2 products with Birds Eye. We use top companies to fulfil our vision. I now have my Rastaraunt! ‘.
A thoroughly likeable man, a man who has faced so many trials and tribulations and his personality shines right through. He is now a multi-millionaire, sharing his story with schools and businesses, sharing the message that you can change your circumstances. And he’s doing it all while now sharing an office with Peter Jones and having 10 licencees and just one employee – his PA. Now that’s the power of leverage.
Inspiring, with lots of lessons for all of us.
Want to hear/watch the song? https://youtu.be/bdjxMMdWucY