Welcome! I’m Patrick Ache and I this is the very first episode of FoundersMettle.com. Every Monday and Thursday I will be sharing interviews with resilient Founders, who have started inspiring organisations. Each interview will capture the mind-set and tools that allowed these Founders to start and build inspiring organisations.
Excited? Well let me give you some more information on my interview flow and about myself.
Each episode will start with a brief introduction of the selected Founder, we then proceed by going back to the beginning and asking our Founder what inspired them to start their journey as founders.
We then move onto asking our Founder what was the greatest challenge they faced in building their organisation. We drill down into the details of this incident to extract valuable learnings around what caused this challenge and how it was overcome.
Then, we ask our Founders to describe their organisation’s activities today and their role, if any, in its continuing activities. Some Founders have moved on and in such cases we ask how they handled succession planning.
The next segment is the highlight of the interview: a semi-structured segment called The Crucible, where we put the Founders on the spot and ask them 2 to 3 hard-hitting questions aimed at seeking valuable insights into what anyone who wants to create their own organisation should know.
Some of the questions include:
- Why you? What made you feel you could found a successful organisation?
- Why this? What made you sure there was a need for this type of organisation?
- Why then? Why did you start then and not later/earlier?
- What factor was the most crucial in growing your organisation?
- What was your biggest failure to date and what did you learn from it?
- What resource was most important in growing your organisation? Capital, People? And how did you ensure you got the right resources in place?
We end the interview with one of two questions, either:
- ‘Knowing what you know now, what would you tell your younger self?’ – is a powerful way to end the interview, with nuggets of wisdom provided by the Founder applicable not only to their younger selves but also to anyone thinking of starting something; or
- ‘What 3 attributes words have been and will be most important for their journey as founders’ – provides valuable insight into the attributes it takes to start and then build an organisation.
Having described the show, I think it’s important for you to get some context as to why I started it. For a number of years now, I have been an avid reader and listener (through audible) of self-help books. I was inspired in particular by stories of inspiring entrepreneurs and how they made it. There was something so inspiring about their stories of braving the odds and building businesses.
As I moved to an outer suburb, I spent more and more time in traffic and used this additional time to listen to more audio books, rather than radio or music. I preferred listening to something focused to my interests as well as being inspiring and educational. However, audio-books tended to be long (usually over 3 hours) so it took me several trips to finish one, by which time I would often have forgotten what I had listened to previously. I thus found myself looking for a shorter more-easily-digestible format that still provided inspirational content around my passion for building organisations. This is where I discovered podcasts such as John Lee Dumas EntrepreneurOnFire.
However, I realised that the podcasts that I listened to rarely featured interviews with people I could relate to. Most interviewees were American and their stories reflected how they had made it from America (although many of their businesses were international in scope). I wanted to listen to success stories from people who I could relate to; people who were from Africa and/or had built organisations in Africa.
So it was from this that FoundersMettle.com was born. I decided to create a platform that would inspire people, who were passionate about making a difference in Africa.
My goal is to grow this platform into the premier source for inspirational Africa focused business content, that will inspire others in and off this continent to build and grow awesome organisations.
Having described the show and the inspiration for it,I will end by providing my background. My name is Patrick Ache and I was born and raised in Africa. Yes Africa is not a country, but I have lived in so many parts of this beautiful continent (from Cameroon, through the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Nigeria, Ghana, Sudan, Tanzania, Burundi, Ethiopia, South Africa) that I consider myself an African first and foremost.
After graduating from high school at 18, I spent 5 years in the U.K. studying law at the Universities of Kent and Warwick. Why law? Well I love to argue and felt I could do worse than follow in my father’s footsteps, who had studied law on the way to a career in the United Nations.
At 23 and with two degrees, I was tired of studying, had no immediate job prospects and was unsure of my next steps. I had a flash of inspiration that led me to China, a country whose culture I’d always admired and with growing ties to the African continent. After spending 2 beautiful years in China, teaching English, studying Chinese and doing an internship for a French Oil company, I left with Chinese Language proficiency and awesome memories.
Now 25 and thinking I was going to go back to the U.K. and get some work experience in a developed economy, I went back to visit my family, who were living in Tanzania at the time, and by good fortune I sat and passed an interview for a position at a law firm in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (Bujumbura, Burundi), where I spent almost 6 years. I loved Tanzania and many aspects of the job; such as working with intelligent people and arguing (!) but preferred work that involved meeting with people than drafting endless documents sat in an office. Even then I realized I wanted to build something that lasted beyond me, but wasn’t sure what. In fact I was still thinking I would open up my own law firm.
At 30 I had the opportunity to work at another top African law firm in Johannesburg, South Africa. Although I learnt a hell of lot in this new role, it involved much more sitting in an office and less interpersonal (and more impersonal) work advising big corporates rather than individuals. The niggling feeling that I was not making best use of my attributes erupted into full blown conviction.
At 33 and none the wiser on what to do, I embarked on an MBA. Fortunately the MBA, in addition to the usual technical courses, was also was very strong on softer courses aimed at giving students tools to assess oneself. This was one of the most valuable aspects of the entire two year programme, in addition to bringing me in contact with an amazing network of ambitious, intelligent and successful people.
Shortly after turning 35, an MBA in hand, I quit my law firm and founded my consultancy focused on owner-managed businesses shortly after, with the knowledge that this would allow me to pursue my passion for imaginative problem solving while making a difference in individuals’ lives.
In the few months after opening my consultancy I realised that something was missing. My passion, having co-founded an Entrepreneurship Club at my business school, had always been to inspire as well as advise career professionals like myself, to start their entrepreneurial journey. I was inspired by audio-books and podcasts I realised that I could create a podcast around people who had founded organisations in Africa, to inspire career professionals in turn.
To end off, I want to thank you for joining me for this episode and hopefully many more episodes to come. I continue to be inspired by my interviewees and by you my listeners in your determination to make your dreams a reality. If you feel you have benefited from this and future episodes, please feel free to rate and review the show as well as show your appreciation by contributing any sum of your choosing via the Paypal link below.