Yo! It's An Audience With Simon Woodroffe | Motivation

08 April 2016


So, if you've been following me recently you'll know that I have been really struggling with my MH recently. But I know my triggers, I know the signs and I know how to get the help I need when I need it, so don't worry about me. And right now I am okay, I had a great day out with my baguettes yesterday and a few days ago I walked almost 10 miles for no particular reason.

At the Scottish Tourism Alliance conference, the final speaker was Simon Woodroffe - the founder of Yo! Company. Tbh, I expected a lot of talk about what makes Yo! Sushi so great... But what I got was something far greater, and something I really wanted to share with you guys, regardless of how I got through these posts. Turns out, that aside from owning Yo! Sushi, Yotel and Yo! Homes, he is also a motivational speaker. And that is exactly what I have been needing.

Flying into the Future | easyJet

I didn't take many notes on his talk because I spent most of my time mesmerised by his stage presence and the words he was saying.

Yo! Sushi was founded two years after easyJet, on January 22nd 1997. He said that he only really opened it simply because he wanted to see what it looked like. He was asked briefly about the marketing around the concept and he said "throw away the marketing and spend the money doing something different."

Then his motivational speaking came into play, he mentioned about the comfort zone we're all in - and the difference between what makes us who we are and what is holding us back, and that if we stay out the comfort zone long enough then, like the ripples when you drop a stone in the water, the ripples get bigger, and our comfort zone enlarges. He said that to really push yourself then "there needs to be some grit in the oyster" - there needs to be come spark within you that pushes you to want to achieve.

He talked a bit about his past, and careers he had, and the promise he made when he was younger that he was going to become very rich. He talked about the school system we all go through; exam, exam, exam, and how he was probably lucky to leave school early because it meant he still had a, not child-like but an idealistic view on the world - that he wasn't corrupted by the constant examinations. He could do what he wanted and still find the happiness within it. "I could see brands like bands", he said when referring to his past as a stage designer. "I'm not a gap in the market person" - but he could do something creatively different. Kinda like Yo! Homes where he briefly mentioned them and then said "wow! This is amazing!" after he got to see the first prototypes. (Honestly guys, they do look incredible!)

Now. Picture the scene. You are a student sitting in a Tourism conference, filled with like 100 or so professionals, all of whom have pretty high up jobs. These people are experts in their respective fields, these people know marketing. These people are listening to a successful company founder for his expertise. Stephen Jardine then asks Woodroffe about the market research he did before opening Yo! Sushi. A great question, I'm rather intrigued, myself. I have an idea for a company I might create. I also would love to go into marketing. So I found it hilarious when he answered:

"No research! I really like sushi!".

He has literally become my inspiration. But that's not to say he did no research at all. He began to doubt himself, but he said after 3 months of research into the concept he had, a new voice suddenly took over in his head that said "you are going to be very, very rich." He was also talking about what his dad used to say to him when you are in a conversation;

"Always wait until the silence ends" - this is something I'm trying really hard to adopt myself. And I've taken it a stage further. I have decided that this is transferable. If you deal with a mental health disorder then you'll probably understand what I mean when I talk about the "dips", they are basically periods where it seems that out of nowhere, you will take a turn. You will suddenly get depressed, or you'll be really on edge or whatever, even though you've gone through X amounts of days/weeks/months where you've been totally fine. Think of the "silence" as a dip. We know from going through them at they always end, and when you come out of them, you're happy again. Always wait until the silence ends. We can get through this, and we can fight against it. Keep strong.

"The secret to life, the universe and everything is to find what you're good at". There is no point in going for that high paid job you have no interest in, because you won't be happy. You should always follow your ambitions, no matter how they appear to others. It may seem like going for it won't earn you much money, but when you think about it, you probably have at least one person in that field that you look up to - and they are doing pretty well. Find something you're good at - and you will be successful, but more importantly, you will be happy.

Yo! Sushi

He began discussing the concept behind Yo! Sushi more; robots serving drinks and great food. He said that most of the time you are told to keep your mouth closed when you have a good idea, but in actuality; "the way to make things happen is to talk to people" (*cough* COLLABORATION IS KEY. DO YOU GET THE RUNNING THEME, YET!? *cough*) He said that "if you can change the playing field well, people will be interested", that you should "put a flag up and say 'this is interesting and exciting!'". Then went on to mention that you should "get the right people to do the right thing and empower them to do it their way".

From this point on, I pretty much only took down quotes that I really liked.

Referring to passing his company on to the responsibility of a director whom he trusts; "it's the same as having children. You let them grow up and let them go". But that his company wasn't always bringing in the money as soon as it was opened, he was starting to believe that maybe his great idea wasn't that great... Until the money came in and word of mouth spread. He mentioned that the first time he made a deal, and he saw all the money in his bank account, he stared at it in amusement, then stated "I can tell you today if someone says money doesn't make you happy, they're lying."

Yo! Homes

There were a few other ideas and concepts flying around his head when it came to Yo! Home but in the end he was just wanting to "try and give to everybody what rich people have, and to do that using innovation" and the idea of Yo! Homes came to life. The idea; "take one, small space. Walk in, it's an empty room, but press a button and it becomes anything" - the first homes should be up for sale in Manchester next year.

Basically, there will be a fake floor with a sunken sitting room, the bed will be about 3m square that lives in the ceiling and then covers up the space of the sitting room. They should cost around £150,000 on average each.


He said that digital isn't really his thing. but that you shouldn't tell people how good something is - you let them make that realisation themselves. He started laughing about how in Boston there will be a Yo! Sushi and a Yotel next to each other, but then said "they're not controlled by mr big. I'm not mr big." (stating that just because these two companies are next to each other and that he is the founder for them both, they are more like cousins. They are not the same and shouldn't be thought of as being the same)

I didn't really talk much about Yotel in this post, but basically what it is, is a capsule hotel, again taking inspiration form Japan. I haven't stayed in one, but much like the easyJet app I might try and book myself into one so that I can let you know about my experience.

"When you're in the deep end and swimming, there's nowhere left to go" - when you take that plunge into the unknown, you have to keep going. You have to see it through. you can either give up and let yourself sink, or you can push yourself to continue, and be successful.

I hope you enjoyed this post, my next in this series will be me reflections on the conference and will be up on Tuesday

Until next time, be excellent to each other.

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