An Interview With Fraser Doherty
How did the corporate speaking begin?
For the past five or six years, I have been invited to share my story at all kinds of events. When SuperJam launched nationally in Waitrose a few years ago, I got a huge amount of publicity – on BBC Breakfast, GMTV and This Morning, which kicked off my career as a speaker.
Which event has been your favourite and why?
It’s hard to pick a favourite – I’ve been lucky enough to get to speak all over China, Japan and Korea to promote the launch of translated versions of my book SuperBusiness. My story was even made into a drama on the biggest Japanese TV show, which was pretty surreal to say the least. My character played by a small Indian boy!
Why do you love being a speaker?
For me, it’s really exciting to be able to visit and learn about completely different industries and cultures. I also love being challenged to speak about particular topics that I care about – like social enterprise, marketing and Generation Y.
If you could speak at any event, past or future, what would it be?
I would have loved to visit my old primary school and speak to the younger me. There are so many mistakes I have made and lessons that I have learned that I could save myself a lot of sleepless nights. I’d tell him that everything takes longer than you think, that it’s OK to start small and that the most important thing in life is that you find something you love – if you can get up every day and look forward to the day ahead, that’s success.
Who would you most like to share a platform with?
I love speaking at events where the other speakers are doing completely different things to me, it really inspires me to know what people manage to achieve with their lives. I’ve met Buddhist Lamas, billionaires, activists, anarchists, Olympic athletes, famous fashion designers and all kinds of other people. For me, just getting to meet these other speakers and hear their stories is the greatest thing about what I do.
What do you do to ensure your presentation has a lasting impact?
Humans communicate in stories and so the best way to get any message across is just with a story. In my case, I share the story of how I turned my Gran’s jam recipe into a multi-million pound company. But, rather than trying to pretend I’m an expert, I just share the lessons I learned along the way and let people take from it what they want. Everyone’s interpretation of a story is personal to them.
What can a typical corporate audience learn from your experiences?
My story shows not only that it is possible to grow something huge from a tiny idea, but also that it is possible to completely reinvent the most everyday of products. You don’t get much more unremarkable than jam. And so a lot of large corporates enjoy the message that, no matter what they sell and no matter how commoditized it is, it’s possible for them to do something different, maybe even something remarkable. I also think for many companies it is interesting to hear the perspective of a 24-year-old, in terms of what I believe my generation wants from products and from the places they work.
What’s your favourite way to spend a Sunday?
I am a massive traveller – I actually don’t have a home at all, I travel 100% of the time. I’ve been lucky enough to get to visit about a quarter of the countries in the world, going to a new city basically every week. I love spending my Sundays exploring whatever city I’m in. My philosophy is that it’s important to do at least one thing every day that makes you feel alive and that life is too short to walk down the same street twice.
What personal ambition must you fulfill before you die?
For me, so long as all of this is fun, I’ll feel I did the right thing with my life. I want to be able to prove that it is possible to build a commercially successful company while staying true to what you believe in, being fair to people and doing good along the way. I’m hugely ambitious for the charity work that SuperJam does. We’ve already run hundreds of free tea parties for lonely elderly people, inviting many thousands of people for tea and scones, and my plan is to let anyone volunteer via www.superjamteaparties.com to set up a party in a care home, hospital or community center where they live.
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