First Customers episode 34 David CM Carter

34: How did David CM Carter, the world’s leading CEO mentor, find his own first customers?

In episode 34 of the First Customers podcast we have an inspiring conversation with David C.M. Carter, the world’s leading CEO mentor. David takes us through his entrepreneurial journey, starting from his first venture at age 14. He shares insights into mentoring CEOs, his bestselling book “Breakthrough,” and the experiences that shaped his career, like working for the BBC. Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or aspiring to be one, David’s wisdom is sure to inspire you.

Key Moments

  • [00:32] Introduction to David C.M. Carter and his work as a CEO mentor.
  • [02:10] David’s first entrepreneurial venture at age 14 near a golf course.
  • [04:20] Insights into mentoring CEOs and working with senior leaders.
  • [06:40] The inspiration behind David’s bestselling book “Breakthrough.”
  • [08:50] David’s experiences as “Mr. Flipside” for the BBC Worldwide Newspaper Review.

Show Links


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Show Transcript

Paris Vega (00:00.854)
Welcome to the First Customers podcast. Today we have David C.M. Carter with us. He’s the world’s leading CEO mentor. He’s worked with senior leaders from Anglo-American, BWC, Love Film, and Go Airlines. He’s also a bestselling author of a book called Breakthrough, and he’s formerly known as Mr. Flipside for the BBC Worldwide Newspaper Review. David, thank you so much for being here.

David Carter (00:28.214)
Thank you, Paris, so much for inviting me to join you.

Paris Vega (00:32.494)
Let’s get right into it. How’d you get your very first customers?

David Carter (00:38.398)
Gosh, well, I’m 64 years old and my first ever entrepreneurial venture was started when I was 14. So I’m not going to bore all of your audience with all of my startups, but maybe I can talk about that very first one and then another one and my current one. So when I was growing up in my early teens, I lived near a golf course.

Paris Vega (00:47.178)
Oh, wow.

David Carter (01:07.402)
You could earn really good money being a caddy, but I wasn’t quite old enough. So I used to walk around the golf course and watch what the other caddies did. And what I noticed was that all of the older players used to take terrible shank shots and their ball would end up in the long grass or the woods or whatever, and they just abandoned it and take another ball and put it down. And I thought, gosh, there must be hundreds of balls in the long grass and the woods that I can sell back to these very same people.

Paris Vega (01:37.321)
Ah, okay.

David Carter (01:37.354)
And so I went around with a plastic carrier bag and collected hundreds and hundreds of golf balls. I used to stand outside the caddy master shack and sell 10 balls for $10 or whatever it was. I can’t remember. Um, so that was how I got my very first customers for my first entrepreneurial job. Um, they paid $5 and I was selling them their own balls back to them for a dollar. So they were very happy. Um,

Paris Vega (01:55.93)
I’m going to go ahead and close the video.

David Carter (02:07.198)
I think probably another hopefully funny story is that in the mid 90s, it was my second entrepreneurial startup and I ended up floating the company on the stock exchange. I had a tectonic plate shift in my personal life and I ended up being a single parent of a seven-year-old and a three-year-old.

Paris Vega (02:24.494)

Paris Vega (02:34.9)
Oh wow.

David Carter (02:35.882)
And I decided that the children came first. So I resigned my job as the public company CEO. And in the previous 20 years, I’d had lots of experience in investment banking and two previous startups. And all of these people came out the woodwork saying, oh, can you help me decide whether to float my business or raise money or change my strategy or whatever. And…

David Carter (03:06.186)
Because I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do next that was child friendly, I thought, all right, well, I’ll take on a few of these people as clients to pay the bills whilst I’m busy finding what I’m going to do next. And after two years, my mother said to me, Oh, it’s going so well for you, isn’t it? And I said, well, it is going well, mom, but I’ve got no time to think about what I want to do next. And she said,

Paris Vega (03:30.298)
I’m sorry.

David Carter (03:34.39)
I thought this was what you were doing next. And in the car driving home after Sunday lunch and my parents with the kids fast asleep in the back of the car, I remember thinking, you know, I’m really good at this. I love doing it. It pays the bills and it makes a difference. And so unless I can find something wrong with this idea overnight, maybe this is what I’m doing next. And so I think the lesson I learned from that is

David Carter (04:02.91)
If you focus on doing something that you absolutely are passionate about and you love doing and you’re really good at it and it pays the bills and it makes a difference, uh, it will find you if you let it come to you. And oftentimes people reject that because they think, Oh, my parents wouldn’t like that. Or my friends wouldn’t like it. Or I’m not sure if I’m making enough money doing it, but I actually, I think that’s the best thing where you, you are who you’re

Paris Vega (04:13.347)

David Carter (04:31.614)
your best version of yourself. And then IntelliKey Academy, which is my most recent startup, we have two new customers, one of whom is a major department store chain in the UK. And we exhibited an event and exhibition and they came to our stand. And

Paris Vega (04:35.747)

David Carter (05:01.226)
The second customer was through a LinkedIn outbound marketing campaign where we’re working with a company who you really filter down exactly what you’re looking for. And they only contact people who fit that so every business I think requires a different approach. One, the last one’s been very technical. The second one was very organic, organic and the first one was opportunistic.

Paris Vega (05:27.87)
Yeah. Those are some great lessons with that second business that you mentioned. Is that what IntelliKey kind of grew from? Because it sounded like it was kind of a consulting. OK.

David Carter (05:43.33)
Very definitely. Very definitely. Excuse me. After 15 years. I built up what eventually became the world’s leading chief executive mentoring company and we had, you know, multinational clients all around the world and a cadre of top drawer mentors who had all been former CEOs themselves.

David Carter (06:09.318)
And at the end of 15 years, when it became the world’s leading CEO mentoring company, I was frustrated that we weren’t doing what we were doing with a small number of expensive fee paying clients and not making it available to everyone in their organization. And so after 15 years, I decided to move on and have a crack at figuring out how to scale it, democratize it. And that took four or five years where I carried on with my mentoring to pay the bills.

David Carter (06:40.522)
And IntelliKey is the legacy project, which has come out of five years in the wilderness, trying to crack the code and figure out how to do it. And, you know, one of the things I often say when I’m asked in an interview, well, what’s the secret of success for an entrepreneur like you? And I would say keeping going longer than the competition. Because if you’re really determined to get to the end,

David Carter (07:08.342)
and you know that what you’re doing is good and will work. You just gotta keep going longer than anybody else. Lots of people give up, even if they’ve got a better idea than you.

Paris Vega (07:18.018)
Yeah, that’s good.

David Carter (07:20.29)
But you’re absolutely right. At the end of the day, getting your first customer is important. And in the story of IntelliG, which is, you know, we created the business nearly three years ago. And so the first amount of money that we raised, we raised to build a prototype.

David Carter (07:46.438)
And even though it wasn’t a paying customer, it was really important. We had a bunch of really terrific brand names who would work with us with the prototype and give us all the feedback we needed in order to build the MVP. And so I’ve always thought that actually, even though they weren’t paying us any money, they were vital clients to get hold of, because the one thing we did ask them to agree was that if they liked it,

Paris Vega (08:00.288)

David Carter (08:15.982)
could we use their logo and their name in our marketing for the next group of people who would end up paying? And I’ve always joke, or not really joke, but I’ve had a curse of my career that I’ve always been involved in businesses that didn’t exist before I created them. And 90% of the time people said, oh, that’s too difficult, you know, I’d give up if I was you. And I thought, no, I’m sure if I persevere long enough, I can…

Paris Vega (08:21.164)

David Carter (08:44.43)
crack the code and figure out a way to do this. And so you do need, you know, to get early adopters. And even if there’s early adopters, the first half of dozen don’t pay you, but they try out your product or your service and they give you invaluable feedback. They are really important.

David Carter (09:04.638)
And then that enables you to then go on to some paying clients and say, Oh, well, we signed up this company and this company and this company. And they’re very happy to talk to you and give a reference and a testimonial. And, and so I’ve always believed that your first customer doesn’t have to pay you any money, but you know, you can’t do that for too long. Otherwise you can’t pay the team, but getting a few great brand names who give you a chance and they really benefit from what you’re doing and like it.

Paris Vega (09:26.68)

David Carter (09:33.31)
And eventually they become paying customers too. Um, but it enables you to go out and win other business.

Paris Vega (09:36.5)

Paris Vega (09:41.038)
So that brings up a pattern that we’ve been talking about a lot on this podcast. It seems like almost every episode, this same pattern comes up and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it and you’re already kind of talking about it, but it seems like a lot of the successful companies we’ve talked to have a similar behavior or strategy or tactic where they will focus in on a niche or their target.

Paris Vega (10:10.626)
potential audience, their potential customers, talk to them, get lots of feedback, and let that influence either, depending on where they’re at in the life cycle of their business, either let that influence what they’re actually building or what service they’re actually gonna offer based on that potential customer feedback, or just to validate their ideas. Like you’re saying, you had a prototype, and so you were kind of validating and maybe iterating based on that feedback. But just that basic principle of

Paris Vega (10:39.982)
defining who you’re going to serve and talking to them seems to be an extremely common pattern that I’m seeing where, you know, every once in a while, you might have some software developer who releases some app onto a, you know, app store, launches some website and they, you know, lightning strikes and they get some customers, they go viral or something like that, but it seems like the majority do something similar.

David Carter (11:02.166)
Yeah, and you know the chance of a lightning striking, you’re about one in 44 million, so.

Paris Vega (11:07.03)
Right, right, right. But it’s, but it seems like, um, maybe culturally in the world, people assume that’s more of what happens is people just make something and put it out there. And, you know, they have that lightning strike moment and they get lucky, but it, but what I’m seeing is, and this is the 34th episode of the podcast. We’ve had third or 34 interviews up to now, and it seems like that’s a more consistent.

Paris Vega (11:35.642)
solid strategy is defining your target customer and talking to them as much as possible and figuring out which problem that you really want to solve.

David Carter (11:45.326)
I think it’s not only what problem you want to solve, but how you are going about solving the problem that’s different to anybody else. And, you know, our business IntelliKey is a unique proposition. There’s nothing like it. We have absolutely zero direct competition. But that brings an additional and unusual problem.

Paris Vega (11:53.443)

David Carter (12:14.75)
because the way humans work is that they have a pigeonhole brain with boxes and they’re like, oh, you’re like LinkedIn. No, we’re not like LinkedIn. Oh, you’re like LinkedIn learning. No, we’re not like that at all. And eventually you have to get them to create a new unique pigeonhole for your business.

David Carter (12:39.074)
And they don’t like doing that because they want to be able to relate to something that they understand. And eventually they go, oh, actually, this is really cool. It’s really clever. And it’s I’ve never seen this before. And then of course, um, so you, the first thing you have to do is sell the concept or the new innovation, and then you have to sell your product or service. Um,

Paris Vega (12:59.17)
So that’s why it seems like it’s, it was especially important for you to have some recognizable brands associated. So at least you have some social proof to help reinforce that you’re not just some wild idea that nobody’s tested.

David Carter (13:07.926)

David Carter (13:12.378)
Yeah, so if you turn up to bank number two, and you can say, well, look, bank number one, love it. They’re like, Oh, really, do they? Okay, well, we’ll have a look at it. And I think that the other thing I was going to say is that, you know, if you look at what Facebook was like when it very first launched, before it was called Facebook, even hot or not, or WhatsApp or Microsoft or LinkedIn,

Paris Vega (13:17.742)

David Carter (13:41.958)
LinkedIn compared to 20 years ago when it launched is a completely different product. And so they started off getting proof of concept with one group of people. But other people said, oh, well, I don’t really like it because it doesn’t do this. But if 50% of the people who don’t like it because it doesn’t do this, you then build this. And then they come back to, oh, I like it now. And then they tell their friends. So.

Paris Vega (13:48.237)

David Carter (14:09.27)
I mean, I always say we’re actually launching a new product onto the market in the UK on the 1st of July, which we’d love some of your listeners to get involved with as well. Um, but we’re launching a new product called a company of character. And this is based on the IntelliKey methodology of the 54 character qualities that underpin the development of all skills. And.

David Carter (14:39.93)
The first phase of the intervention is called discover, where we will map the character qualities of all of your employees and how they see the company today and what they’d like the company to look like in a year’s time. And we can slice and dice the data by seniority, division, department, gender, age, length of service, all sorts of different. So

Paris Vega (15:08.193)

David Carter (15:08.85)
in a standard report for a company with 500 people, there’s 15 million data points. And when we show them an example of the report they’re going to get on their company, like this is the richest data set on our company we have ever seen. It’s unbelievable what you’ve created. Um, and so hopefully a few of your listeners might be interested in doing that and they can contact me later.

Paris Vega (15:14.914)

Paris Vega (15:36.898)
Yeah, for sure.

David Carter (15:39.282)
I’ve been saying to the team the last few weeks, as we’ve been designing the phase two rollout, the transform part of the program, it’s like, we can have a good idea of how we think this is going to work. And we’ve got to put a brochure together, which says here’s how it’s going to work and the why, what and how what we do. But when we get on the road and we hit reality and we get customer, oh, that won’t work in our company. Oh, why not? You know, or we need to do it this way.

David Carter (16:06.462)
And so you’ve constantly, if you’re really focused on product market fit, constantly evolving the product. Now, if you’ve got a thousand customers and only ones ever said, Oh, well, unless there’s a plugin API, we’re not going to buy it. Then you can kind of ignore that. But if 75% of them say, Oh, we don’t like this part of the product, or this doesn’t work for us for these reasons, then you’ve got to constantly evolve your offering to meet market needs.

Paris Vega (16:21.715)

David Carter (16:36.866)
I mean, I can’t think of one company that invented a car or a machine or computer in 2000 that’s still the same thing today and has never evolved because they’re like, oh, we got that right first time and we don’t need to evolve it at all. And so, and I think because of things like AI and

Paris Vega (16:54.955)

David Carter (17:02.914)
the advancement of other technologies and the speed of development of those new technologies. Everything changes so fast and how people want to engage with you and what they want to buy and what they wanted to do for them. You’ve got to be constantly iterating in a very agile way to meet customer needs. So anyone who thinks, oh, I’ve invented this and this should last for the next 10 years and no changes to it, you know, forget it, you’re going to need to change it every three months probably.

Paris Vega (17:14.134)

David Carter (17:34.81)
And actually customers in our business like the fact that you listen to them and you get their feedback and you iterate and you’re agile and you’re not set in stone. So winning new business all the time is about being listening to your customers, making adjustments and making them very happy. So they’re very happy to then give a testimony or a case study or a reference for another new company.

Paris Vega (18:03.418)
How long were you in the phase of showing a prototype, talking to customers before switching into pushing into kind of hard sales for paying customers?

David Carter (18:15.182)
Um, well, we’ve been on a slightly unusual journey. The prototype, we went out and got people to beta test and road test and give us feedback for about six months. Um, and towards the end of those six months, we started building the MVP. And that took about four months, five months. Um, and then we went out and got people to try the MVP. Um,

David Carter (18:43.602)
And again, some of those were free ones and some of them were paid for ones. Um, and then the MVP turned into the launch of the full app and the full product in late November last year. But again, because of COVID and the pandemic and all of the changes in training and remote working and everything else as well.

David Carter (19:12.234)
We had three potential channels and we just decided over Christmas and New Year recently that we were going to drop two of them because only one of them we knew we could guarantee success. So even though we’ve done some very successful customer trials in those other channels, we decided to focus on B2B enterprise only because first of all,

David Carter (19:42.03)
at the end of a sales pitch, and they were gagging to start working with us. And they said, Okay, well, the final question is, how much does this cost? And we were thinking of 100 pounds per person per year. Before we told them the pricing strategy, we said, well, tell us what you think it’s worth if we really generate the ROI that we’ve talked about. And they’re like, Oh, I think maybe we could stretch to 200 pounds per person. So

Paris Vega (19:57.05)

David Carter (20:08.546)
they were willing to pay twice what we were thinking of charging. Whereas the two other cohorts only valued it at about 25 to 50% of what we were thinking of charging. So, you can even have the same product, but different parts of the market will pay a different price for it. And so we’ve taken the view that B2B enterprise has got the greatest pain point with.

Paris Vega (20:13.209)

Paris Vega (20:19.681)

Paris Vega (20:30.33)

David Carter (20:36.546)
the lack of work-ready skills, the lack of soft skills, which is what our solution solves. And they will give it to a whole workforce. And over time, it will generate B2C interest because friends and family members and other colleagues will say, or even someone leaves the company, it’s like, oh, I missed my IntelliKey app, I think I’ll buy it for myself. And then over time, we can move into B2C over a period of time.

Paris Vega (21:06.05)
That’s interesting using that customer feedback period to help decide pricing. And I’ve seen other startups do that. Um, more recently, I think chat GPT was maybe the biggest public example where they started sending out surveys and kind of asking their, their users, what they would pay for the service after they’d gotten addicted to, to using it. Um, you said that that was like at the end of your sales process. So with your, your sales process.

Paris Vega (21:36.278)
Is that how you normally do it? You wait for the, you give as much value upfront or show the value. And then at the very end, start talking about price.

David Carter (21:45.602)
Um, we’ve now fixed the price that we’re going to market with. And we went to market with our full product and our full solution on the 13th of January this year. Um, but I think we only became confident in the pricing having done beta testing and all of the prototypes and MVP testing. So, um, there was a lot of work that went into the pricing. And we also again, had a look at. Not.

David Carter (22:14.762)
that we’ve got any direct competition, but what the buyer might spend their money on instead of us, even though it wasn’t a direct competitor. And so we wanted to make sure it was less expensive than what people might perceive to be competitive products, even though they would accept it wasn’t a genuine competitor.

Paris Vega (22:23.072)

Paris Vega (22:34.814)
Right. Okay. So we’ve talked about how you’ve gotten your first customers, how the business kind of came about. Could you describe a little bit more about what the business actually is and what, what the, that offering actually is?

David Carter (22:48.382)
Yes, thank you. Um, it doesn’t matter whether you’re in America, Canada, Europe, the Far East, the Middle East, India, China. I promise you, this is all around the world. There is a major costly global talent and skills, uh, crisis. Employers just cannot find employees with the right combination of technical skills and human skills.

David Carter (23:17.382)
And so many young people sadly leave college or university with a nice degree certificate, but they’ve got zero of the work-ready skills that employers want to need for them to have. And they annoyingly weren’t taught them at college or university. And everyone’s been talking for 10 years about the soft skills crisis, where in fact it’s not a soft skills crisis at all. There’s a domain that sits underneath soft skills, which is character.

Paris Vega (23:47.426)

David Carter (23:48.286)
And if I could just tell you a little bit about the word Entelechy. So Entelechy is a word that was coined by Aristotle two and a half thousand years ago. And he defined the Entelechy of a thing or a person as the ultimate version of that person with all of their potential fully actualized.

Paris Vega (23:54.603)

David Carter (24:15.338)
And so the IntelliKey of an acorn is an oak tree. The IntelliKey of a caterpillar is a butterfly. And the IntelliKey of Paris is the ultimate version of Paris with all of your potential fully actualized. And he also coined another phrase, which is that character determines destiny. And what he meant by that was that you end up in life wherever you end up as a direct function of your character.

Paris Vega (24:35.416)

David Carter (24:43.806)
And so what we’ve done is created a framework which has taken the soft skills that employers say are lacking in their applicants and their workforce. And I’ll give you an example in a second. And we’ve mapped those 77 essential soft skills with the 54 character qualities which underpin each of those soft skills. And so…

David Carter (25:10.086)
What would be a good example? A lot of employers say that their employees are not very good at time management.

David Carter (25:18.282)
And they send them off on a course for a day to learn how to be good at time management, they all get 10 out of 10 in the quiz at the end of the day. But then they don’t go back to the workplace and implement those skills that they’ve learned. And so they invest a lot of money and they don’t get a return on investment because whereas the person might have ended up with some knowledge about time management, they have actually haven’t applied it.

David Carter (25:43.646)
And so instead of assessing, like at the end of the course, what you’ve been taught, we assess what you’ve learned and applied. But in the case of time management, the six character qualities that underpin being good at time management are things like being accountable, responsible, disciplined, organized, efficient and reliable. And so what we help people do is learn to be accountable, disciplined, responsible, organized, efficient, reliable.

Paris Vega (25:52.378)

David Carter (26:12.758)
the six underpinning character qualities. So then they don’t need to go on a time management course. And they’ve actually got the skills to be good at time management. So we’re going at the domain underneath the soft skill.

Paris Vega (26:12.922)

Paris Vega (26:21.041)

Paris Vega (26:24.594)
Right. And that makes a lot of sense. But if I can push back so you can flesh out how this works, that seems like a really hard thing to do because just thinking about, you know, human development or whatever, it seems like so much is ingrained in those early childhood years about character and you know, what you’re taught and kind of your your base default behaviors and habits that you kind of fall back on. So I’m really curious if you can kind of shed some light on.

Paris Vega (26:53.314)
How in the world do you go about changing a grown adult’s character?

David Carter (26:58.154)
No, it’s a very good question. So our belief is that every baby born on the planet is born with the innate ability to be brilliant at all 54 of these character qualities. Every baby is born with the ability to be kind, wise, strategic, analytical, collaborative, calm, organized discipline, every baby is born with that ability. But unfortunately,

David Carter (27:27.642)
some of those things get knocked out of us through parenting or school or church or workplace or community. It doesn’t mean you don’t have the ability. It means that you’ve forgotten how to do it or were never trained or taught how to do it. Let me tell you a very quick story. A number of months ago, we had a new head of sales join us.

David Carter (27:52.738)
and everybody in the entire company works on a professional and a personal character quality for a month. And then you change them. And anyway, he decided to choose to be disciplined, professionally and kind personally. And he wanted to find out if he could learn to be more kind and he could learn to be more disciplined. And so with disciplined…

Paris Vega (28:20.462)
Solid choice.

David Carter (28:22.75)
He got the idea that he was going to stick his mobile phone in another room when he was busy making outbound sales calls and checking his emails and all the rest of it. And he reckoned at the end of a week that by not being distracted with his Slack pings and his WhatsApp pings and every other ping on his mobile phone, he actually had saved seven to eight hours in the first week of being focused on doing.

David Carter (28:51.618)
what he had to do. And so at the end of a week, he’d already figured out, well, I can be a lot more disciplined and get a lot more productivity if I just literally leave my phone in the kitchen. And he’s carried on doing that ever since. But I actually liked the personal story. He decided that he’d like to learn to be more kind. And so he asked his wife and his children, you know,

Paris Vega (28:52.995)

David Carter (29:18.678)
what they would like to see him do to be more kind. And his wife said things like, you know, we’ll take the garbage out on Tuesday night before the garbage men come on Wednesday morning and take the dog for a walk at the end of the day and whatever. And he figured out a few other things. And so one of the things he decided was to say, thank you and please for everything that everybody ever did. And he took the garbage out and he took the dog for a walk and he did loads of other things as well.

David Carter (29:48.766)
And at the end of a week, his wife said to him, this new company you’ve joined, what drugs have they given you? You’ve become a whole new, better person. It’s remarkable the change here. And so he just figured out, well, if I just carry on doing the simple things that I’ve done in a week, next week and the week after, and it kind of reminds me of a story when I was growing up. I had two younger sisters and I was in my mom and my dad.

David Carter (30:19.066)
And my mom said to me, well, I think when I was about 12, you just need to be more gentlemanly, David. And I remember thinking, oh gosh, how do I do that? I said, well, how do I do that? And she said, well, ask your father, he’s very gentlemanly. And so I asked my dad a few days later, how do I become more gentlemanly? And to paraphrase, he said, well, you fake it till you make it. Now, if you see a woman who’s got a

David Carter (30:45.494)
push chair that needs to put on the bus or the train or go up the stairs, you offered to do it for her, you open doors for people and whatever, whatever. And of course, if you do it and people say, Oh gosh, that’s very kind of you. Thank you very much. And you start to get the appreciation. After a few weeks, you don’t even think about it. You just see it and go and do it. And so whether it’s being more kind or more analytical or more disciplined or

David Carter (31:14.935)
It’s daily acts of evolution. It’s like, try it today and if it works today, do it again tomorrow, try another thing tomorrow as well and see if that works. And so it’s not like you go in and have a lobotomy and you come out half an hour later, a changed person, you’ve suddenly got all these, you’ve got to work on them and practice them and practice makes perfect over time. So fake it till you make it, keep going until you actually don’t think about it and people just say,

Paris Vega (31:17.985)

Paris Vega (31:30.625)

Paris Vega (31:38.831)

David Carter (31:41.926)
Oh my gosh, you know, and so one of the ones that I’ve been working on personally the last six months that came out of my 360 from the team was to be more open-minded. And it’s really interesting because if I had to score myself being open-minded, I’d score myself very highly. But I can see how in the context of work,

David Carter (32:11.514)
because I’m so positive and enthusiastic and certain about what we’re doing that I could sometimes not allow some of the other team members say, Oh, David, I’ve got an idea. Why don’t we try this? Or how about that idea? And it and and rather than take it as a coaching opportunity, perhaps I said, well, this is what I think. So let’s do that. And, and and now I’ve learned to shut up in meetings and let people talk and I’ve listened to and, and just by

Paris Vega (32:33.882)

David Carter (32:39.99)
being quiet and letting everyone else have their chance to speak and say their point of view. They’ve also said, oh, you’re so much more open minded than you were six months ago. So there’s no doubt about it, Paris, that in any one of these 54 character qualities, if you asked 10 of your friends and your colleagues and your family and friends who know you very well, okay, please do an IntelliKey.

Paris Vega (32:49.583)
Thank you.

David Carter (33:05.934)
character quality 360 on me. Tell me what you see as my strengths and tell me what you see as my growth opportunities. And if collectively two or three of them keep appearing and we think you need to be more this and more that and more the other, you’re like, okay, well, I can see the benefits to me of being those seven out of my 10 assessors have all given me the same feedback. So I’m going to give it a shot. If you tell your assessors, thank you very much for my feedback. You’ve given me this one, this one, and this one to work on.

David Carter (33:35.946)
and I’m gonna work on it. So please give me feedback, tools, tips, ideas, you know, as I go along. If you really do try it and give it your best shot and fake it till you make it, then even after a week or a fortnight, people are going, oh my gosh, what a difference in you. I’ve noticed such a difference. And so there isn’t one of them, I promise you, that even after a week, you can’t get amazing results. After a month.

David Carter (34:03.686)
sensational results and by years later it’s becomes just part of who you are. So you can learn to develop any one of them and the benefit to you and the impact that that one has is gigantic and if you work on half a dozen over a year it’s exponential.

Paris Vega (34:05.358)

Paris Vega (34:09.661)

Paris Vega (34:23.865)
That’s beautiful. I think I’ve already got a phrase that’s gonna stick with me from this podcast when you said daily acts of evolution. I think that’s a really good concept because it kind of shows that daily acts being an actual intentional choice that you have to make to do something different and then that evolution side of it in something you’re doing something that’s gonna change you. That’s powerful. So.

David Carter (34:49.11)
Well, that phrase, daily acts of evolution, I have to give full credit for that phrase to our head of brand, Theresa.

Paris Vega (34:56.83)
Okay. Good job.

David Carter (35:00.618)
And to be honest, I hated it when it first came out, but it absolutely is what it’s all about.

Paris Vega (35:05.551)
It’s yeah, it kind of paints the picture really well. So do you help people? Is that part of the process? You help the people in the program figure out how they can improve on these things?

David Carter (35:19.122)
Yes, so initially they do this 180 to figure out what how they see themselves and they get their 360 to find out how everybody else sees them. So now I can compare or here’s how I haven’t seen myself with how 10 of my peers see me Oh gosh, look at that interesting feedback. And then they’ll choose one or maybe two character qualities that everyone sees as a growth opportunity and maybe they do to, to work on and they’ll choose one major on it and a minor and then when they

Paris Vega (35:28.577)

Paris Vega (35:34.946)

David Carter (35:47.95)
got the results, but what we provide them with is a personalized learning journey to take them from where they are today to where they want to get to through an app with an AI built in.

Paris Vega (35:48.31)

Paris Vega (35:58.286)
This seems like such a powerful, oh, through an app. Okay. Okay. Awesome. It seems like such a powerful needed thing in a lot of levels of society. Um, I know that, you know, you can only serve so many markets at a time and it makes a lot of sense going B2B like you did. Okay.

David Carter (36:17.302)
Well, let me tell you why it makes so much sense because I don’t think anyone would disagree that the world is in a pretty shockingly terrible state these days. From wars in Ukraine and Russia to food shortages and inflation and energy crisis. I mean, the world is pretty screwed up at the moment. And a lot of people living in fear about their futures.

David Carter (36:44.558)
And going back to Aristotle and character determines destiny. The only way that we can solve all these problems is for the whole of humanity to raise their consciousness. And the only way we can do that is for people to unleash and develop their character. So one of the biggest drivers for us as a company is making the world a better place and making a difference in the world by helping people become their Antelope, their ultimate version of themselves through developing their character.

Paris Vega (36:44.794)

David Carter (37:14.646)
That’s how we’re gonna help the world become a better place.

Paris Vega (37:14.967)

Paris Vega (37:19.522)
That’s powerful. Um, yeah, I think that really does touch on the source of most problems in the world, like with all the corruption that gets more and more obvious because of social media and information being so easily accessed to where we can just see. You know, leaders getting caught in all these corrupt situations. It, you know, it seems like you hear it’s easier to get access to those type of stories now for the general public. And it just shows such a lack of character.

Paris Vega (37:47.846)
especially in politics and things. So are there plans to like have a version maybe for schools, like for example we’re a homeschooling family, we homeschool our kids. I could see a version of what you’re talking about being an amazing piece of curriculum that homeschoolers, public schools, any kind of school could use for students.

David Carter (38:11.274)
Well, of course, you’d be disappointed if I didn’t tell you that our long term vision over the next 10 years is complete global domination. And we do in the longer term and the medium term have plans to bring this and introduce it to schools and colleges and young people. We only really launched this year. So our B2B enterprise business will get us to.

Paris Vega (38:22.558)

Paris Vega (38:30.786)

David Carter (38:39.842)
profitability in cash positive, in a cash flow. At the moment, what we’re doing is we’re giving 1% of our revenues, not our profits, our revenues to a charity called the Association for Character Education. And this organization works in primary schools and middle schools and works with the teachers and the pupils to develop their character. And this organization, which is a charity,

David Carter (39:09.786)
has had the most amazing outstanding results. All of their schools within two years get that Ofsted rating from the educational review body. And so the way we’re helping young people and young children develop their characters supporting this charity initially. But there are two Antelope.

David Carter (39:37.818)
apps in the app store. One is the full app that you have to pay for with a whole full learning journey and everything. But there is another freemium app, which basically is the 54 character qualities that you can look through them all and say which one you’re good at, not so good at, and you need to improve, and there’s some reflective questions. And so lots of families that are friends of mine and the team.

David Carter (40:07.03)
they work with their kids and say, right, well, let’s choose a character quality of the week.

Paris Vega (40:12.078)

David Carter (40:13.43)
And so when you come home from school tonight, let’s talk about acts of kindness that you’ve witnessed in the school, or not where someone should have been kind. And let’s talk about kindness and the benefits of being kind. Okay, well now next week, let’s talk about being confident or courageous or adaptable or resilient. And so we’ve actually created a really simple little game for families to put the word on the fridge.

David Carter (40:43.138)
talk about it over breakfast, talk about it over supper, and to introduce character to young people at a very early age. And, you know, we do have plans to go into universities next year, and we’re hopefully gonna work with a big successful American university who wants to become a university of character. Because if you leave college or university,

David Carter (41:11.842)
with your degree certificate, you’re one of 500 people applying for a job with an identical CV to everybody else. If you attach our product feature signature, which says, oh, and by the way, I’ve already got a badge in these 12 character qualities. So if you hire me, you get someone who’s confident, adaptable, collaborative, reliable, efficient, organized, and I’ve got a badge in it and a qualification in it.

Paris Vega (41:20.523)

David Carter (41:39.262)
you’re going to go literally straight to the top of the interview pile. And so we want to bring in students next year. And so over the long term, yes, we will go from primary school to, you know, the other end of the spectrum.

Paris Vega (41:43.415)

Paris Vega (41:55.414)
Yeah. So how do you verify progress? Is that like interviews or something like that? Like how is it? Because you know for the badges or the certifications to mean something, you know, it kind of needs to know that there’s some kind of auditing or you know some kind of verification.

David Carter (42:08.952)

David Carter (42:12.734)
Yes, so, it’s a very good question. Thank you for asking. So let’s say you’ve decided to work on being more adaptable or whatever it is. And you go on the learning journey and you explore things and you try them out and course correct and after a couple of months you’re like, hey, I’ve nailed this and then people start saying to you, wow, I noticed this in that meeting this morning. Well done. You really nailed that.

Paris Vega (42:23.894)

David Carter (42:40.682)
And so now you’ve started to collect some third party validated evidence. So the assessment for whether you get a badge or not has got five parts. The first four parts are, have you understood the journey you’ve been on and what have you done in able to develop that new capability and how can you guarantee that you’ve learned how to make it part of your lifelong learning toolkit? And the fifth part is what third party validated evidence have you collected?

David Carter (43:09.83)
from the people who told you six months ago you weren’t very good at this and now they’re telling you you’re really good at it. That’s the assessment that they have to go through. So it really does include third-party validated evidence that you’ve now made that shift in your behavior.

Paris Vega (43:26.574)
That’s awesome. Well, David, this has been amazing. We’re already coming up on the time we got to cut off. So let’s end it right here. And is there maybe a one minute pitch that we have room for here to where you can just speak directly to, let’s say a thousand of your target audiences listening right now. What’s that short pitch on why they should use this product?

David Carter (43:55.475)
Well, on the basis that your audience are nearly all entrepreneurs and they’ve got startups and early stage businesses or scale up businesses. I would say to you that if you strive to become a company of character, you will end up getting more out of your workforce than you ever dreamed was possible. They will stay with you, continue with you.

David Carter (44:18.75)
Work hard for you. You optimize your performance, your profitability, your productivity. And so contact me if you’re interested in becoming a company of character, and we can put you through the initial discover phase to find out where you are today and where you want to get to. And then if you like the results of that, then we can put you on the transform program. It’s like…

David Carter (44:43.874)
$200 per person per year for the full program and it’s only $50 for the Discover program so it’s next to nothing. You’ll get more data and insights on your people and where you are today and what you need to do to help develop their potential and become their Intelligy. The best way to contact me is probably via LinkedIn. I’m the only David C.M. Carter on LinkedIn.

Paris Vega (44:50.528)

David Carter (45:11.662)
That’s David CM Carter and obviously it’s IntelliKey. Follow us, follow IntelliKey Academy on LinkedIn too. You’ll get loads of, you know, every day we’re posting new news and updates and customer testimonials and all those sorts of things. But if anyone’s interested in becoming a company of character, you will outperform your peers, your competitors, you’ll have more successful recruitment outcomes, retention and development outcomes, and you will drive a more…

David Carter (45:40.942)
profitable, productive, purposeful business.

Paris Vega (45:46.466)
Well, David, thank you so much for being here today. And maybe above all, thanks for making a company that’s like fundamentally looking to change the world, I think, uh, and make it a better place by, by changing behavior and adding a layer of much needed character, uh, in a modern world. So thank you very much.

David Carter (46:07.942)
I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity for our conversation and to reach your audience. So thank you very much for inviting me to be on your show. I really enjoyed the conversation.

Paris Vega (46:20.066)
See everybody next time. Later.


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