Ditch the messiah complex and get some kip

In a candid discussion at the launch of his new book Liam Black told aspiring social entrepreneurs how he learned to deal with anxiety and ditch "the messiah complex".

The Social Entrepreneur's A to Z offers advice, tips and anecdotes based on Black's own journey through the world of social enterprise and social investment. During the second day of Good Deals 2014 in London, Black spoke about some of the key themes in the book – anxiety, ego and personal reflection.

"Anxiety comes with the territory, inevitably, because if you're trying to do something genuinely new that nobody's done before and you're trying to address complex social or environmental issues – and you're trying to create a viable, profitable enterprise at the same time – you are going to be lying awake worrying about that," he said.

It is how you learn to manage this anxiety that is key because "sacrificing yourself, your health, your relationships and friendships for the cause is not only bad for you it is it is also very counterproductive. Get plenty of sleep", Black told the audience.

"We want social enterprises to model the change we want to see in the world and in business. We have to look at ourselves as leaders. Stressed out, tired leaders aren't very good. They are terrrible role models."

Liam is one of the most outspoken and well respected figures from the social business sector having worked for and led organisations such as The FRC Group – a furniture, recycling and waste management social enterprise – and Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurant, which aims to support and develop unemployed youth while serving top quality dishes.

His new book includes a foreword by Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus. On Social Enterprise Day in the UK last week Yunus said: "All human beings have an enormous sense of creative power if you allow them the opportunity to unleash that creativity – all human beings are entrepreneurs.

"We give the wrong message to young people – that they will become a job seeker – so I am trying to form an alternative direction in which the young people say we are not job seekers, we are job creators. Entrepreneurs will be the one’s who will change the world."

Being an entrepreneur does not mean that you have to go it alone however. Black said: "My model of leadership was too often 'believe in me and everything will be all right' and I think that is very strong in the social entrepreneur world. 

"Whilst it is absolutely true that there are some individuals who are extraordinarily talented...the idea that any business is created and sustained by one superhero person is just a lie. I would like to see a lot more awards for teams. If you want one superpower make it the ability to create world class teams," he concluded.


Liam's Black's Social Entrepreneur's A-Z is available to order online for just £15.00 here.

Photo credit: Nik Voigt, Matter&Co