Good Leaders Podcast Episode 1: Cemal Ezel - 'I'm a good leader, not a good manager'

What makes a good leader? At Pioneers Post, we’re interested in a specific kind of leader: those who are both trying to make a difference and doing business differently. 

Pioneers Post’s founding editor Tim West has been interviewing 'good leaders' from across the global impact space for the past 25 years and is fascinated in the journeys they've been on, what drives them, the highs and lows they've experienced in growing businesses that aim to do good and do well – and how they stay solvent, successful and sane through good times and bad.

In this new podcast, he meets some of the best and brightest of social enterprise, impact investing and mission-driven business for a series of candid conversations – expect to be surprised. First up: award-winning coffee entrepreneur Cemal Ezel.

Listen now:

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In this first episode, Tim West sits down with award-winning social entrepreneur Cemal Ezel. Ezel is the founder of social enterprise Change Please, a coffee brand that uses all of its profits to support people experiencing homelessness, giving them a living wage job, housing, training and the opportunity to move on to a successful life.

Ezel talks about Change Please's journey of growth, expanding internationally, and the lessons he learned along the way – including that doing good isn’t enough to attract customers, because they will always be looking for quality and convenience above all. 

He reveals his plan to moor a cruise ship on the Thames that will provide 460 bedrooms for people who are homeless in London, as well as access to health professionals, drug rehabilitation services, help on opening bank accounts, and a whole range of services with a “truly transformational” impact on people’s lives. Ezel is ambitious: four of these ships would provide enough accommodation for all people experiencing homelessness in the capital city.

You need to feel uncomfortable, otherwise, we're going to stay within our shell

But who is the man behind the serial social entrepreneur? Ezel confesses how his childhood and personal experiences have shaped what he does and why he does it, how he “pretty much cried” at a company meeting after the Covid-19 lockdown was announced, and the importance of being uncomfortable.

I'm a good leader, I'm just not a good manager

And we learn that he’s not… a good manager: “I'm a good leader, I'm just not a good manager… you look at the skillset that you need to be an entrepreneur, and then you look at the skillset you need to be a manager, or leader, or CEO – and they're all different in some regard.” So how does he go about being so successful? Listen to find out more.


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