FROM BEGINNING TO BRAND W/ NEIL RANKIN
First I want to start off by saying a massive thank you to you all for your incredible feedback about the first 'from beginning to brand' instalment with Anna Coroneo. If you missed it, please check it out here and as a bit of a background, over the past year, I've had the absolute pleasure to meet many inspirational, hard-working and dedicated entrepreneurs and I want to use my platform to showcase some of these people and their work in the hopes that if any of you are looking to chase your passion, you have some insiders knowledge and experience.
Speaking of which, I introduce Neil Rankin; author, head chef and all round great guy. You may have spotted Neil on Great British Menu or stumbled across his cookbook Low and Slow in your local bookshop but if you don't know anything about Neil, I'm more than happy to give you some insight. Now based in London, the Edinburgh-born foodie, who retrained as a chef a decade ago, seeks to clear up some confusion surrounding the subject of cooking meat through his book and also his Soho & City based restaurants, Temper. I'm sure the majority of you have had barbecue food of some sort before, but not to the standard of Temper. Basically, vegetarians and vegans, best you don't click that link unless you're prepared for a bit of disappointment on your part, but for the rest of us - everything looks and sounds insanely delicious.
I was lucky enough to cook along with Neil last year at a cookery class with Crock-Pot. He had specially created some recipes for us to recreate and despite my initial hesitation about the chicken congee - a savoury porridge didn't sound like my kinda thing - it was mouth-wateringly good with some really bold flavours. Ever since, I've kept an eye on Neil's Instagram for foodie inspiration and so when I decided to create this interview series, I knew I'd love to have him on-board and lucky for me, he agreed!
1. What was your first ever business idea and did it come to fruition?
I started a 'make your own sandwich and salad' franchise from Australia when I was 24 and we had 7 UK stores before I was done.
2. Do you have any unexpected sources of inspiration?
Lots. I've worked in a huge variety of places. One of the things I learned early on was not to limit myself to a single industry. In order to understand my customers I needed to be more aware of who they were.
3. What has been your most satisfying moment in your career thus far?
Opening the first Temper is pretty hard to beat. That's a life long dream come true.
4. What would you tell your teenage self if you could go back in time?
I'd tell him to worry less about exam results and more about being educated. Read more books, learn another language, use school as a tool rather that it using you as a commodity. I say this but I know he'd just tell me to fuck off.
5. Excluding yours, what business, organisation or entrepreneur do you admire the most?
I think the Hawksmoor boys have done really well. Not only are the restaurants great its how they deal with their staff that really impresses me. It's easy to get lost in success and forget that your staff are an important part of that. They don't for a second and that's what makes a good business in my view!
6. What did you learn from the worst boss you ever had?
To respect my staff. To give them a career and something to aim for rather than just a pay packet. I've had loads of carry bosses. I've learned most of the good things I do from them.
7. When you’re having a stressful day, what’s your ultimate comfort food?
A dry martini.
8. Is there anything you wish you had known before you pursued your passion?
That failure wasn't something to be afraid of and that you can learn anything you want at anytime of your life.
9. When things become overwhelming, what do you do to unwind?
Boxing. An hour on a heavy bag and I'm usually pretty centred again.
10. Name one song that makes you feel super pumped and motivated.
Because I'm Me by The Avalanches.
11. Are there any missed opportunities that you wish you had leveraged?
Loads, every day but I try not and think abut them. What's the point.
12. If you could give one piece of advice to someone chasing their passion, what would it be?
Don't work in one industry. It's makes you far to one dimensional and take as much from every job you do even if its not for you.
13. How would your perfect day end?
See question 7!
14. Have you had to make any sacrifices in your personal life in order to become a successful entrepreneur?
Loads. I gave it 10 years of my life in my 30's. I dropped my wages to almost nothing, lost my lifestyle, gave up my social life completely, completely ruined my body and health and only went on holiday once in 10 years (my honeymoon). I also lost my wife through it. I wouldn't recommend anything as extreme but I'm trying to make up for it now.
15. If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?
For being someone who did okay without having to sacrifice others to get there.
A massive thanks to Neil for being involved! Stay tuned for the next instalment!