Wednesday, February 29, 2012 | Posted by: Fiona Cullinan
Categories: Business advice, Retail sector | Tags: business, CEO, insight, advice, interview, leadership, Elevate magazine, stress, Will King, King of Shaves, entrepreneur,
He went from redundancy in 1993 to razor-sharp entrepreneur after developing a shaving oil in his kitchen and founding the King of Shaves company. CEO Will King talks to Nick Huber about his pivotal career moment, leadership style, stress tactics and his next big ambition.
MY FIRST PAID JOB… was as an instructor at the National Sailing Centre in the mid-1980s. I needed to make sure everyone was enjoying themselves and everyone was safe. It was during my gap year before polytechnic.
MY BEST BOSS… was probably Annie Swift who, at the time, was Group Advertising Manager for Haymarket [the business-to- business magazine publisher]. I learnt the importance of Always Be Closing and Keep It Simple, Stupid. Annie also taught me the importance of pinpointing consumers’ desires and putting in 200 calls a day. She told me she thought I’d go far.
A PIVOTAL CAREER MOMENT FOR ME… was when I was headhunted from Haymarket for a conference events company in the early 1990s. Recession hit the UK and I was made redundant. I was quite happy in the job and then suddenly I took a decision to start my own business and make a product that could scale up.
THESE DAYS… I have a great sales and marketing team for day-to-day operations. I work on intellectual property, product design, engineering and research. I also design patents for products that will be on the shelves between 2013 and 2015. I’m very dialled into social media. I run a TweetDeck app and look for comments about King of Shaves. I also do the usual CEO stuff, although I try to get out of the office a lot.
THE PART OF BUSINESS I ENJOY MOST… is designing a product that will be game-changing in our space. The King of Shaves is only one of three high-performance razors in the world. I enjoy [planning] how we will come up with a razor that’s better than the best a man can get.
AS A LEADER I TRY TO BE… a little bit unconventional and a little bit maverick – with a lower ‘I learnt the importance of pinpointing consumers’ desires and putting in 200 calls a day’ case ‘m’. There is a need to ‘delegreat’, which is delegating to great people. It’s the closest you get to cloning yourself.
IN THE PAST YEAR I’VE LEARNED… to expect the unexpected. I encourage my team to embrace change as a constant. The economic outlook in the UK will be tougher for probably 10 to 20 years.
IF I COULD TELL MY YOUNGER SELF ONE THING… I would just say, ‘Believe in yourself’. Sometimes I have been swayed by other people. I don’t have many regrets, however.
I COPE WITH STRESS BY… sailing. The best thing is when you are sailing and there is quite a breeze but you can still keep on top of it. Building a good management team can help shoulder some of the stress for you. Anyway, there’s more to life and the world than work and shaving.
IN ANOTHER LIFE… I would have studied ship science and yacht design. I would have been working in the marine industry. In fact, I now have a ship in early-stage development (www.batyacht.com), which I hope to launch in 2016/2017.
MY APPROACH TO PEOPLE… is to treat people as I like to be treated, which is why a lot of people stay at my company for a long time. We are quite a cool place to work.
MY UNFULFILLED AMBITIONS ARE… Mainly personal ones. Right now, I want to watch my 12-year-old son grow up and do what he wants to do.
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