The Virgin Podcast

The Virgin Podcast

United Kingdom

Great guests, strong opinions and fascinating talk on all things Virgin - from business to pleasure. Screw it, let's chew on it. Dominic Frisby is host. Don't forget to subscribe. More on Dominic here:


Oliver James - Nurture not nature  

Psychologist, Oliver James, has been all over the news this week with his new book, Not In Our Genes - so we got him on the show. Are you a nature person? Or nurture? Oliver argues that our genes play such a small part in who we are they are almost irrelevant. It’s all about experience. Oliver has won numerous awards for his broadcasting, including a BAFTA for Network 7, and for his books, which include: Affluenza, The Selfish Capitalist, How Not To Fuck Them Up and Office Politics: How to Thrive in a World of Lying, Backstabbing and Dirty Tricks. Get ready to find out why you are like you are …

Ian Martin - Epic Space  

Ian Martin is one of the writers behind the BBC’s BAFTA-winning The Thick Of It, for which he was originally hired as a swearing consultant. He’s also one of the co-writers on HBO’s even-more-awards-winning, Veep. And for many, many years he’s written a column for the Architect’s Journal. As part of our series on workspaces, we invited Ian onto the show to discuss some of the building work that’s been going on in London. Unsurprisingly, he's not a fan. “You look at the London skyline and you ask yourself, what’s that building for?”, he says shaking his head. “The Shard, the Gherkin, these stupid buildings with stupid names! The Shard is a stalagmite for arseholes.”

Vinay Gupta - The future of virtual reality  

I was speaking at the Names Not Numbers conference a few weeks ago and on the bill with me was Vinay Gupta. When I heard him speak, I knew I had to get him on the show. Vinay works with Ethereum and Consensus, two of the pioneer companies in blockchain tech. He’s also expert in virtual reality as well as – get this – a state failure specialist. As far Blockchain is concerned, "2016 is the year of the prototype", he says. "Apps that use blockchain tech by 2017 will be as commonplace as email." What is really going to hit hard this year is virtual reality. The enormous investments that have been made will finally hit the markets this year. "Christmas 2016 is going to be the virtual reality Christmas. Everybody is going to end up with VR gear."

Paul Hannam - Lessons from Groundhog Day  

The 1993 Bill Murray film, Groundhog Day, is, for all the comedy, considered one of the most spiritual movies ever made – a parable about good karma and change. Today’s guest, Paul Hannam, explains how we can use the wisdom of that film to take control of our lives and break out of our daily grinds, our own Groundhog Days. "Every day when we wake up we can improve the quality of our day," he says. "We can create a magnificent day or a terrible day." He goes on: "The happiest people I’ve met are the people who live in the present and who are absorbed in what they are doing... and they live congruently with their values. At home, at work - they don’t pretend to be anyone else". Paul Hannam’s The Wisdom of Groundhog Day: How to improve your life one day at a time is published by Yellow Kite.

Nathan Elstub – Making ideas happen  

"There are two points in your life when you can take risks. At the beginning of your career and a long way down the line when you've got enough security behind you." So says my guest this week, former venture capitalist, Nathan Elstub, who is now CIO of innovation charity, Nesta. Nesta’s mission is "to help people and organizations bring great ideas to life". I travelled down to Goldsmith’s University to meet him. "The opportunities for people coming out of college to do things are so much better than they were 25 or 30 years. I’d encourage anybody that has a great idea for a business to dive in…"

April Chandler - From care system to entrepreneur  

“50% of people who grow up in the care system end up in prison.” April Chandler hasn’t seen her parents since she was four. She was passed from foster parent to foster parent, then from care home to care home, until she went on the run at the age of 14 and began living rough. In this week’s Virgin Podcast, April talks publicly for the first time about her experiences growing up in the care system and on the streets. It is an inspiring interview. April is now a successful health and wellness entrepreneur, living with her three children on a farm in France.

Inside the Church of Fail  

This week on the Virgin Podcast we attend the Church of Fail. This is the invention of consultant and improv expert, Matt Matheson. We discuss the importance of failure, the surprisingly positive effects of admitting your failure publicly and our weird inability to accept praise. We hear some of the failures of those who attend the Church of Fail – and get their reactions afterwards. And we hear from Virgin Unite about its initiative to be more open in the workplace about failure – could gatherings like this soon be more commonplace at work? Read more from our Embracing failure series here:

Mark Dawson - Writers as entrepreneurs  

"When people say to me I’d love to be a writer, well, fine, write." So says my guest on the Virgin Podcast this week, Mark Dawson. Mark is a self-publishing impresario, one of writing’s recent success stories. In 2010 he was not a practising writer. Last year he wrote over a million words and had over a million downloads. He got to this level while working full-time. “No one said writing is going to be easy, but it’s never been easier," he declares. "I’m convinced someone has written the next great British novel some time in the last five or six years," he says. "But no one will ever read it because they’re not prepared to push that book. It will never surface on Amazon. It will be sunk down in all those millions of books." To be a writer today, you have to also be an entrepreneur.

Dan Kieran - The business of books  

"Books," says entrepreneur Dan Kieran, "are the ultimate delivery mechanism for ideas in human history." Dan went from being a best-selling author to cleaning basements in Bognor to being the CEO of an award-winning publisher. His journey, about which he is disarmingly honest, is quite an inspiring one. His company, Unbound, which brings crowdfunding to publishing, was set up in reaction to the disruption the internet has caused publishing, to address the dismal financial plight of the writer. "You can’t learn to be an entrepreneur at university," he says. "The hunger, the bloody-mindedness, the vision … you don’t find that in spreadsheets. You find that in who you are. Running a business is the greatest self-improvement exercise you can ever go on. Every weakness you have will be put under a microscope. You either deal with it or you crack." This is the first of two programmes about the business of books.

Julia Hobsbawm - How to network  

We are talking networking in today’s programme. With me to discuss this much-derided art is the world’s first Professor of Networking, Julia Hobsbawm, OBE. “Think about networks and networking as social health,” she advises, “just as we think about what we put in our bodies and do with our bodies as physical health.” Julia is the founder of Editorial Intelligence and the Names Not Numbers conferences. As Julia says, “Networking has a bad name. Most people hate it.” Perhaps this programme will change your views.

Rikke Rosenlund - Borrow My Doggy  

In the first Virgin Podcast of 2016, I meet Rikke Rosenlund, one of the founders of the amazing website, Borrow My Doggy. The site, which now has 300,000 users, has improved so many lives in all sorts of unexpected ways. New friendships have been forged. Kids, who would not previously be drawn from their screens, have become active and responsive; people who were overweight have got fit and healthy; people who were depressed have grown happy. I met a neighbour through the site and she is now engaged to one of my closest friends! Rikke shares some of these amazing stories with us, as well as her story and the story of her young company, Borrow My Doggy.

Tom Hodgkinson - Doing nothing in 2016  

For this week’s special New Year’s show we travelled to Notting Hill to meet Tom Hodgkinson, founder of the Idler. We managed to lure him away from his books and got him talking. We talked about our new year resolutions, we talked entrepreneurs and we talked failure. “You have to fail all the time,” he says. “Anyone successful will say they mainly feel like a failure. As a punter, you don’t see their failures, all the things that haven’t worked, because you only see the successes. Even Paul McCartney – the most successful person in the world, as far as I’m concerned - feels like a failure. If Beatles don’t feel successful, then no one does".

Ronald Hutton - The Christmas Professor  

Professor Ronald Hutton, one of the foremost authorities on Christmas, joins us today with all sorts of amazing facts about the origins of Christmas. He also tells us how we should go about celebrating it according the pagan traditions of the midwinter festival. “Make merry, eat, drink, bring in decorations, light up the house, invite in friends, sing, dance, pay for an entertainment, give to the poor and to other good charities and be prepared to have a great deal of fun … celebrate new life, the return of light, the strengthening of the sun and the hope of the year to come." It doesn't seem like much has changed. Merry Christmas!

James Watt - BrewDog  

"Ignore advice. If you’re going to make mistakes, make your own mistakes. There’s nothing worse than making somebody else’s mistakes." So says James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog, the Scottish brewer that went from a thirty grand loan in 2007 to become a £300m pound company today. James tells us the BrewDog story and the lessons learned. "Don’t be scared to take any risk," he says. "The most risky thing you can do is not take any risk at all. If you're never going to take a risk, you’re never going to do anything that stands out." James is the author of Business For Punks.

Tim Flannery - The fight against climate change  

This week I meet with Professor Tim Flannery to talk about some of the imaginative technologies being developed to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere - kelp and concrete to combat climate change. Tim has written over 30 books, he’s a palaeontologist, a mammalogist, an environmentalist, a global warming activist and, in 2007, was Australian of the Year. His latest book is Atmosphere Of Hope. "Innovation, government regulation, growing industries quickly - a whole series of things has to happen. Even in the best-case scenario we’re still going to be facing dangerous climate change."

Rohan Silva - Inside Second Home  

Today the Virgin Podcast is reporting to you from London’s coolest workplace, Second Home in Shoreditch. And I’m speaking to the boss, co-founder Rohan Silva. We hear the Second Home story, we discuss the impact the environment in which we live and work can have on our lives and we put the boot into London’s failing property market. "Poor planning laws and cynical developers are a toxic combination," says Rohan. "The cartel of housebuilders is the only group who benefits from the system as it is today. We have to brave enough to fight that … to trust in the distributed intelligence of million of people."

Jaques Panis - A man who knows his Shinola  

Jacques Panis, president of Shinola, the company that went against the grain and opened a watch factory in Detroit, is my guest this week. Jacques describes the burgeoning scene in Detroit, a city moving on from what he calls ‘ruin porn’, and he tells us the Shinola story. “Never take no for an answer,” he says. “If you’re running into a brick walls, head in the opposite direction, make for the end of wall, change your approach.” If you like the show, please share it with a friend and, please, rate and review us.

Brené Brown - Failure, shame and Rising Strong  

We have a treat for you this week as I welcome best-selling author and speaker, Brené Brown – who gave the fourth most watched Ted Talk of all time - to the show to talk about her new book, Rising Strong. "The world is full of cheap seats," she says about snipers and keyboard warriors. "People who will never walk down into the arena floor and put themselves out there." "If we are to succeed," she says, "We must fail." And she describes joy as, "the most vulnerable emotion we enjoy. We have convinced ourselves that if we lean into it, we will get sucker punched by tragedy." If you like the show, please rate and review it on iTunes and share it with friends.

Richard Reed - Starting up  

Today’s show is full of inspiring stories for anyone trying to build a business. Richard Reed tells the amazing story of his company Innocent drinks. It began with a hangover and ended with a $500m payout. Richard is Deputy Chair of the Remain Campaign and, in the second part of the show, he tells me why, in ‘the most important election of our lifetime’, we should vote to remain in the EU.

Johanna Basford - Ink evangelist  

This week Dom is joined on the show by one of the pioneers of a new genre of books, one that is taking the publishing world by storm – the amazing phenomenon that is colouring-in books. Ink evangelist Johanna Basford’s first book, Secret Garden, has been translated into 50 different languages and, earlier this year in China, sold over 3 million copies in less than 3 months. Today she tells me her story, her methods and all about her latest book, Lost Ocean.

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