Robert AshtonDriven by a strong sense of social justice, Robert works with charities, schools, housing associations and corporates. His project work ranges from sometimes sordid streets to often surreal meetings with Government Ministers. He makes it his business to understand and his mission to change the way we see the world. Robert’s core skill is entrepreneurship. He takes his audience on a journey of exploration. He introduces uncomfortable truths with sensitivity and compassion. He enthuses, empowers and entertains, illustrating sometimes grim realities with humour and hope. In tough economic times he highlights opportunities audiences will believe they can achieve. Robert challenges perceptions and offers fresh new perspectives. He advises Government, is a Guardian online columnist and blogs for Civil Society. His 12 books have been translated into 18 languages and sell in 86 countries. Locally, Robert is a Vice Patron of Norfolk Community Foundation, an organisation he helped establish and Chairs Human Library UK CIC, a new organisation that challenges prejudice in a unique and individual way. Motivating, inspiring, hard hitting and moving, Robert Ashton knows you don’t need to cross oceans alone or climb mountains to change the world. You need to be braver and confront what’s happening right now in our own cities. www.robertashton.co.uk Follow Robert on Twitter: @robertashton1
Q: What do you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?
A: That it’s OK to be you. In other words, you succeed by being different, not by trying to be like everybody else. It took me years to accept that I simply should not even try to do the things I find difficult and focus on my strengths. Now I find people hire me because I am different, see the world differently and above all else, am very comfortable being me
Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
A: It won’t grow any bigger if you keep measuring it! No, seriously, it really is so easy to over-monitor. You constantly measure the business performance indicators that are easy to measure, and lose sight of the bigger picture. Whatever you do, be it working for yourself or within the largest organisation, a clear vision is vital. You know what you want to achieve and trust yourself to do it. Not tie yourself down with micro-management
Q: What is the most underrated skill in business?
A: That’s easy: plagiarisms. It’s within our nature to go out and reinvent the wheel. Far better to start with someone else’s wheel and make it spin faster for you. There really is no such thing as unique. Start with what works elsewhere then make it your own. You only need to be different enough to get noticed