Riddle me This…James Harford-Tyrer
Up close and personal with Up close and personal with James Harford-Tyrer, Founder & CEO of Cudoni
If you knew then what you know now……….would you still do it?
Absolutely. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday.” I am very much a believer that we are shaped by our decisions and subsequent experiences, so why change that and be someone else?
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Look after yourself – physically, mentally, socially and spiritually. When you are deeply passionate about building something great, it is incredibly easy to neglect everything else around you. Although there is no real concept of work-life balance for entrepreneurs, it’s still important to connect with other people and stimulate your mind. After all, building a business is a marathon, not a sprint, and if you don’t care for yourself you will inevitably run out of steam at some point. You are your own biggest investment. I’m still working on taking that advice, but I’m getting there (slowly!).
What’s the weirdest rumour you’ve ever heard about yourself?
I am not sure I have ever heard one!
What was your biggest break?
I think myself and Cudoni have been immensely fortuitous to have met, and now work with, Matt Cooper. Matt is the Founder of Capital One and Chairman of Octopus Investments, and recently became Chairman of Cudoni. Matt has seen and done it all in life and in business, so is the perfect mentor for somebody like myself who is still at an early stage of my career.
Do you consider yourself lucky?
I guess it depends on the context. When it comes to general life, then yes, massively. I am fortunate to have my health, opportunities aplenty, and a great circle of family and friends who support me in all my endeavours.
Regarding career and success in wider interests, I believe that the harder you work at something, the more opportunities there are to get lucky. Sometimes things work out in your favour, and other times they simply don’t, but you don’t win the raffle if you haven’t bought a ticket!
What’s most important in your life?
Probably the most cliché answer in the book, but my family. Running a business can be incredibly challenging, and there are so many moving parts and so much change all the time. It’s nice to have a constant in your life.
My brother is still a teenager, so it’s good to push yourself to be the best role model that you can be both inside and outside of work, and that focus, and direction is so important in achieving your wider goals and happiness. Family is definitely the most important thing in keeping you grounded and balanced.
What brands do you admire?
In an era where everything is becoming increasingly automated, I love hearing about brands that (selectively) buck the trend. My favourite brand is probably Zappos – they had an incredible journey through to being acquired by Amazon. I find their approach to customer service fascinating. Their focus is always to get the customer on the phone, despite the fact they only make five per cent of their sales that way, as they believe that they can more effectively build lifetime value by creating a positive emotional lasting memory through authentic human-to-human interaction.
There are a couple of great stories in the media about their philosophy – one of their representatives had a ten-hour call with a customer, and another sent flowers to a customer who failed to return their shoes on time because of a death in the family.
Do you have a guilty pleasure – if so what is it?
Deliveroo, Uber and most other on-demand apps on my phone. I blame late nights in the office!
Describe your personal sense of style.
I switch between dark suits (never a tie unless it’s compulsory…) and smart casual – trousers, shirt and jumper. I love a pea coat or a Burberry trench in Autumn.