An alternative vision on how to run an ethical Supermarket
In this episode of the Mid Life Entrepreneurs podcast, we meet Ruth Anslow, who quit her corporate job to take on the UK Supermarkets and change how they treat their suppliers and to give customers a healthier and more ethical choice of products.
I was inspired by Ruth’s conviction and persistence at achieving her goals, and I hope you are too.
Watch the full-length interview with Ruth Anslow of HISBE - 38 mins
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Kevin H. Boyd:
Midlife Entrepreneurs Podcast Number 14.
Speaker 1: (00:00)
Ruth Anslow: (00:05)
other than just making money. So we started talking about coffee and I think I coined the phrase I just said, oh, that’s just coffee, how it should be. So you know, you buy your coffee and most of the money goes to the people that grow it and um, isn’t that how it should be?
Kevin Boyd: (00:21)
Today’s show is brought to you by audible. Audible is offering you dear listener, a free audio book with a 30 day trial membership. Just go to audible trial.com forward slash mid life. The link is in the show notes so you can get started listening today to an audio book that will help you turn your entrepreneurial ideas into reality.
Kevin Boyd: (00:49)
Hello, fellow midlife entrepreneurs. This is Kevin Boyd, business coach, entrepreneur, and all round psychology nerd bringing you interviews with people on the same entrepreneurial journey as yourself, hoping to inspire you to change your thinking, take action, and bring your vision to the world.
Kevin Boyd: (01:08)
In this episode of the Midlife Entrepreneurs podcast, we meet Ruth Anslow who quit her corporate job to take on the UK supermarkets and change how they treat their suppliers and to give customers a healthier and more ethical choice of products. I was inspired by Ruth’s conviction and persistence at achieving her goals. And I hope you are too.
Kevin Boyd: (01:30)
It’s Season three, episode three of the Midlife Entrepreneurs podcast. And today we’re with uh, Ruth Anslow who is the founder of his HISBE, um, how it should be [inaudible], which is a supermarket that is trying to revolutionize and change the way supermarkets work. So welcome to the show.
Ruth Anslow: (01:51)
Ruth Anslow: (01:52)
So I’m curious, how did this whole idea come about?
Ruth Anslow: (01:55)
I suppose we got pissed off with Tesco. Um, so I mean I had a, it, you know, back in 2010 I am, I was on a certain path in my life, a certain professional path and I got fed up with it and needed a change and had an opportunity to think about what I really wanted to do at the same time that my sister did. So we started thinking about what mattered to us and have this idea that you could do business for good as well as make money and that would like to create something new together. And food was a natural thing for us to go to. And we started thinking about, um, the products that we buy in the supermarket and what we’re contributing to when we buy those products.
Kevin Boyd: (02:38)
Take me back to that moment when you where you where you what. You sitting around the kitchen table and how did, how did the idea come up?
Ruth Anslow: (02:45)
Well, it bubbled up over time because I had um, had a bit of an epiphany moment. I, I uh, I was living out in Barcelona on an ex pat contract with a big company and suddenly realized one day I wasn’t very happy and I’d done all the things should’ve done but it wasn’t working anymore. And I am started looking around for inspiration of what I could do next and got really inspired by Anita Roddick. and Daniel Pink and some of the other stuff that was being written at the time and decided that, that I wanted to create a business for good. At the same time that my sister decided she was fed up with her job, she was, um, working with, um, underprivileged kids and, and quite mentally drained from that job and moving to Brighton. And she, um, started selling coffee on a market stall. So she looked around for a brand that she liked and found a brand in Manchester that was set up by a group of Ethiopian guys.
Ruth Anslow: (03:42)
Ethiopia delivers some of the best coffee beans of the world they make. So these guys had created this social enterprise. We’re importing coffee from a cooperative in Ethiopia where all their mates were and using the proceeds to send their kids to school here and then the build a life in Manchester. So we had our first introduction to sort of a social enterprise, a business that was doing something other than just making money. So we started talking about coffee and uh, I think I coined the phrase, I just said, oh, that’s just coffee. How it should be. So you know, you buy your coffee and most of the money goes to the people that grow it. And isn’t that how it should be? So we started thinking about what if you had, what if all the products are like that and what’s out there in the moment. You know what exists now and the coffee trades very exploitative. And when you start looking at it, you, you get to see that. And, and that was the beginning of the conversations really. That was back in 2009 and, and we moved to Brighton a year later to start the business.
Kevin Boyd: (04:39)
That’s interesting because you’re right, when you, when you buy a product in the supermarket, you have this kind of simple idea that, you know, the coffee beans I am buying, you know, some of that and go to the supermarket. Some of that to maybe the company, the name on the logo, but the rest of it go to the farmer. But that’s
Ruth Anslow: (04:54)
no, I mean most supermart I mean, uh, when you spend a pound in a big supermarket, you know, between nine and 10p goes to the supplier and most of it goes into advertising back to you or into, into profits. And when you spend a pound in his fee, um, 68p goes to the supplier. So when you do that, it changes everything because you’re suddenly giving the suppliers what they need to create great food. And that’s why foods become bad because the quality of what suppliers may have been degraded has been degraded over time. Um, and they’ve been squeezed more and more over time.
Kevin Boyd: (05:28)
So I suppose they’ve had to degrade the food to just make a profit.
Ruth Anslow: (05:30)
Exactly. And then you get, you know, the proliferation of, um, really cheap badly made food, you know, highly processed food that’s full of fat and sugar is brilliant for supermarkets cause it’s highly profitable and it’s brilliant for suppliers of big brands cause it’s highly profitable. So that’s what’s on the shelves because that’s what they want to sell us.
Kevin Boyd: (05:52)
Wow. It seems so simple the way you think. Oh, that’s how this all came about,
Ruth Anslow: (05:55)
but when we started looking into it, we’re like, oh, there’s this and there’s this and this is a real problem. You know, you’ve got, um, the degradation of the food. You’ve got exploitation of suppliers in this country and all over the world. You’ve got exploitation of animals and you know, really horrendous factory farming conditions. You’ve got supermarkets squeezing small, um, sm, smaller shops out of towns and taking over town centers. And there’s all of these sorts of side effects of the way supermarkets do business. And we were like, well, it’s just the way they do business. They’re really good at that. That’s what they do. But maybe there’s another way.
Kevin Boyd: (06:34)
What intrigues me, you know, this is the entrepreneurial spark, which I always love. It’s like for most people they would just say they’d be resentful of it and complain about it to their friends. But you actually went out and did something about it.
Ruth Anslow: (06:45)
Kevin Boyd: (06:46)
What do you think it was different for you that made you say, well, I’m actually going to take action.
Ruth Anslow: (06:51)
I think that I was, I was really lacking a sense of purpose. So I recognized I was at a point in my life where I recognized I was working really hard cause that’s how I’d wired myself to work really hard and that something was lacking and it was a sense of meaning and purpose, um, through through work. And I was looking for that. So I looked to what I care about. And when you care about something, you follow it. So I just logic, I just followed what I cared about and it’s brought me here. I shot an Arrow and just followed the Arrow and the Arrow was, I mean at first we weren’t going to necessarily open a supermarket. We were just going to create products that challenged the thinking. And it was about a year into our thinking that Amy said, Oh shit, we need to open a supermarket. And I went, oh right, yes we do. It’s the only way it’s going to shake things up.
Kevin Boyd: (07:39)
How did you feel in that moment when you had that
Ruth Anslow: (07:41)
Really scared! It’s very daunting. Yeah. And it felt personal because we’d grown up, you know, and we didn’t have any money when we were growing up and we ate frozen food out to Bejams. I don’t know, you know, people won’t know Bejams, but it used to be before Iceland you went to Bejams and it’s all just re it’s just frozen food. So we’d, we’d not grown up with much of a food culture or understanding of what food was. And the more we looked into it, the more important we realized it was to eat well. And that, if the kids all ate well, um, then they could fulfill their potential.
Kevin Boyd: (08:16)
So is that frozen food less nutritious than fresh food?
Ruth Anslow: (08:20)
Well, a lot of the overprocess stuff falls into that category. So if you’re eating fresh veggies and stuff that are frozen, they’re actually really fresh cause they’re generally frozen at the point of picking. But we weren’t, we were eating pizzas and chicken pies and stuff like that. And you know, years later when I used to negotiate with Tesco and I’d be working, I was working for a big food and a non-food brands. And, uh, I would negotiate with supermarkets and I was waiting for my buyer one day, um, in the lobby and he was late. He was always, that’s what they do. But he was really happy when he turned up and I was already surprised. I said, well, what’s happened? And he said, Oh, um, I’ve just come out of a really inspiring meeting. Ruth. And I said, what? And he said, oh, we’ve just figured out how to save the company.
Ruth Anslow: (09:09)
Tesco millions of pounds. We found out that the chicken and the chicken pies is just too good. And it turns out that the silly old farmer was using grade-A chicken in new the economy, chicken pies. So they changed his whole supply chain and made him move to a lower grade chicken. The price of the customer stays the same. Um, he gets less money in Tesco, makes more profit. And that’s what I mean by engineering the goodness out of food because suddenly you’ve got a product that isn’t great chicken and it’s not real eggs and it’s not real butter because it’s cheaper to find alternatives. And throughout the 90s, there was category management projects in chicken pies and pizzas and all sorts of products. And quiches to engineer those good things out of food cause it made them cheaper and made them more profitable.
Kevin Boyd: (09:58)
It’s extraordinary the way that you know that people sat down and planned that it’s like you can, I suppose the question that comes up, there’s surely somebody in the room went, well hold on guys, is this a good idea?
Ruth Anslow: (10:09)
They’re doing their job. They’re following their remit. It’s like the guys who create, um, you know, the guys in the big chemical companies like Monsanto who creates seeds that terminate themselves after a year. So after one season, the seed kills itself. And that is, that’s a feat of engineering because seeds by nature, literally by nature, uh, gave every year and go on and multiply and you get more seeds. But you know, they’ve created a system where the, the, the, the seed self terminates and the buyer has, so the farmer has to buy them again. So that’s the same, that’s the same mindset. They’re thinking business, they’re not thinking food. And that’s what we’re up against. It’s normal. It’s normal. So we’re trying to shine a light on that and say there’s another way.
Kevin Boyd: (10:56)
Great. Well, I’m glad there are people like you out there doing that because you know, what’s that lovely line that says that, uh, history is written by unreasonable people. Yeah. That’s you’re being unreasonable and saying, well, you know what? I think people should actually have good food and the farmers should keep some of the money
Ruth Anslow: (11:13)
On progress, relies on reasonable people. Yeah. So yeah, we, but really our shop is, is championing all those unreasonable people. Because our shop is just a place where you go and you find all the brands doing great things. So, um, we sort of bring on, bring them all together, everyone from the porridge lady to, you know, the person who’s making brownies to the people making real bread. They’re all doing it how it should be and we put it in one place and make it accessible to people. So they’re the champion. We’re championing the champions, um, the unreasonable people that are all over the world through the industry.
Kevin Boyd: (11:48)
So what motivates you every day to keep going with this? Cause I can only imagine how tough it must be because the system is so against you in many ways.
Ruth Anslow: (11:58)
I mentioned it because I duck out the system. So, um, I think there are two ways to create change. One’s from inside the system, uh, or you step outside the system and you create something new and you grow that and then it, um, supersedes the old system. So that’s what I, what I love is the idea of creating something new from scratch and finding the people that want to help you do that. Um, so yeah, I don’t feel drained and pulled down by the old system because I’m creating a new way that’s working
Kevin Boyd: (12:31)
it reminds me of the Malcolm Gladwell book. David and Goliath kind of points this out that actually all big systems are brought down by the little guy because they’re more nimble, they’re more flexible. Yeah. Um, and of course it all systems are going to become, there’s a saying that says it’s too big to fail, but actually in truth is too big to succeed. Yeah. Cause when they get really big, they become, as you say, people saying they’re trying to figure it out. Okay.
Ruth Anslow: (12:54)
I mean Tesco started with one store. Yeah. You know, and Sainsburys, started, they all started with one store and that’s what we’re doing. But we will, you know, we will be a national chain and you know, retail is like that. You know, you’ve always got retails and brands tend to have a 30 to 40 year cycle. Yeah. Yeah. So I think in, you know, certainly in the next 10 years, I believe that we will see one of the big supermarkets fail as a supermarket and turn into something else or get bought by the others because it’s just, they’re all the same and they’re oversaturated and they’re all doing the same thing.
Kevin Boyd: (13:27)
Let’s just imagine, say five years from now you get that phone call from one of those big supermarkets saying, I love what you’re doing. Um, we want to buy you.
Ruth Anslow: (13:36)
Oh, but it depends who it is. I mean, we wouldn’t sell to Tesco or Sainsbury’s or one of the big brands because of the antithesis of what we are doing. And they wouldn’t do it genuinely. But if it was a partnership with someone like M&S, it could be different. Okay. But I think that that’s not, that’s not the route we see. The route we see is rather that we replicate and as so copied by independent supermarkets, big supermarkets are like that. The things that we do become normal. So we want every Waitrose, every M&S to copy you want them to copy things that we’re doing, but they won’t copy it genuinely and get it all perfect. But if they start to copy some of the things we do and do it well, then it will change the food system. And if we open enough stores and we, we also help in independents. We help people who want to set up their own stores or food brands, we coach and support them to do it. So the idea is to sort of proliferate the good practices in the food industry by helping the people that are also wants to challenge the big supermarkets.
Kevin Boyd: (14:41)
So you would kind of disrupt her of like, here’s a new model. And then your, your, your through propaganda. You’re spreading it to the masses.
Ruth Anslow: (14:49)
Yeah. We’re spreading it through other people caring about what we do. And I mean, you know, the call will be something like, um, supermarket X, Tesco is selling or pulling out of all of its stores in this region. Um, and the opportunity with them before us to buy those stores and to move into those stores and get those premises going. So really we are getting our brand and our positioning and our everything we do right and our, the impact that we have. Right. We’re ready for those moments when we have opportunities to expand.
Kevin Boyd: (15:23)
Wow. Well Great. Yes. I know. I wish you were on my street corner and I could just,
Ruth Anslow: (15:27)
Kevin Boyd: (15:30)
So when do you think of the word successful? Who’s the first person who comes to mind?
Ruth Anslow: (15:36)
The first person that comes to mind actually is Anita Roddick. She’s someone that represents to me, someone who was completely true to themselves, who innovated and created something new, made no apology about her ambition, and um, created something unique that still has an influence today and combined business and her passion. You know, she strongly believed that the values of love and ethics was not incompatible with the idea of doing business. So to me, she’s successful because she did all that and she followed her own path, but then I, you know, she became a multimillionaires . So I don’t just think that people who make the money as successful I see, you know, my friends who are following their paths, that they might not have the same ambition that I’ve gotten business, but they have their family and they’ve created homes and they are making everything fit around the values and the goals that they have. They’re successful because they’re true to themselves. So I suppose that’s what success is to me. That you are true to what you want to do and you are creating yourself as you go through life and not just following something else that you think he should do.
Kevin Boyd: (16:53)
And of course, a Anita Roderick, uh, formed the Body Shop here in Brighton.
Ruth Anslow: (16:57)
So yeah, she’s my hero. And, um, you know, we, we got to meet, um, Gordon, her husband, um, and his right hand man, Peter and, um, they became mentors to us. So that was full circle because Gordon actually gave us some money towards opening the first store, the pilot store, and was really, uh, into what we were doing. So that was a, that was a dream for us to meet him and get to hear stories about Anita. And we also, um, work with the brand team that did the early body shop work. They cut their teeth and did all the early work on the body shop and now they’re working with us. So yeah, that’s, that’s cool.
Kevin Boyd: (17:39)
So it’s quite, it’s quite a lineage you’re coming from in a way that spirit,
Ruth Anslow: (17:44)
things like that happen to you think, yeah, this is what I’m supposed to be doing.
Kevin Boyd: (17:47)
And you know, there’s nothing, there’s nothing more powerful or dangerous in the world than an idea, you know, once an idea gets out, it changes things.
Ruth Anslow: (17:55)
Yeah, that’s right. True. Yeah, absolutely.
Kevin Boyd: (17:58)
Uh, if you could only impact one piece of wisdom to the world, what would it be?
Ruth Anslow: (18:03)
It would be don’t live on autopilot. Interrupt that because we’re all living on autopilot as a product of the seeds that were sown when we were little, little things that happened to us when we were little until we interrupt it and we see that there’s another way.
Kevin Boyd: (18:23)
And what’s a good way of interrupting do you think?
Ruth Anslow: (18:25)
Um, I think people are interrupted by being exposed to a new idea. So when you say how powerful ideas are, that’s what comes to mind. Somebody imparts an idea to them that makes them think, oh, I’m on autopilot and some people are interrupted by trauma. Something bad happens in their lives and it becomes, um, unsupportable it becomes untenable and they have to do something to change in order to survive. So I think that that kind of interruption can happen out of something going wrong or being exposed to new ideas.
Kevin Boyd: (19:04)
I think it’s interesting. I’ve been studying a lot about trauma over the years and one of the things I’m really starting to understand about it is that what trauma is is we all have a model of the world that we carry around in our heads. You know, this is how the world is and trauma is when you get huge interrupt in that new information that comes rapidly in one moment and says, actually the world isn’t exactly how you thought. There’s this whole other thing and we call it a trauma. And the reason that it is very difficult for us because the brain has to do a massive amount of rewiring. It’s like, Oh, I’ve got to taking this huge amount of new information. So trauma you know it’s, we talked about PTSD and all of that, but actually a lot of it is just like. It’s actually a natural part of developing that. We will have periods in our life and suddenly huge new bits of information come in and it’s really how we flow with it. Whether we’re able to ride that wave or you know, we stumble and fall and that’s kind of where trauma becomes a problem when you don’t integrate into you.
Ruth Anslow: (20:04)
yeah, yeah. But also if it happens when you’re young, you can internalize it and it can end up um, becoming neurological. Then you do cut and wired for trauma and then you become sort of preoccupied with survival rather than, anything else.
Kevin Boyd: (20:22)
It is how is how it’s processed. So again, with children, you’re right that children need an adult to help them process it cause they can’t, it’s too much information. And if so, if they’ve got some sympathetic adult who’s able to say, Oh yeah, that was scary or that was, you know, whatever, and the child is able to go make sense of it, then they can integrate it. Which is why you can have, you know, several people who went through the same difficult experience and some are fine with that [inaudible] but others aren’t. And that’s what they’re starting to understand about trauma. And that’s just how, how, what opportunities we have to process it, you know, which has children we need. We need good adults around us. Yeah. And some people have that and unfortunately lots of people don’t. Yeah.
Kevin Boyd: (21:03)
So what do you think is your top entrepreneurial skill then as I allowed you to, I mean it’s, what, 10 years you’ve been on this journey and creating this supermarket. I’m wondering if you’ve got familiar, like there’s a, there’s a skill set that you’re using each time.
Ruth Anslow: (21:19)
I think the one is just sheer resilience. Resilience. I won’t stop. You know, I have a vision to transform the food industry and I will just always pursue that. And I think that resilience and persistence seems to be a big hallmark of ultimate success and where you want to get to. So I do it every day. Um, and I don’t stop when things go wrong. Um, I’m also, I’m able to imagine, I’m able to imagine a better way. And I’ve realized that a lot of people aren’t. So a lot of the sort of how it is and how it should be or how it could be. A lot of people get so caught up in how it is they can’t imagine it being any other way. But things are only that way. They don’t, I mean supermarkets aren’t how they are because some immutable law of the universe made them that way. They just, Tesco said we’re going to do it like this and then people keep it that way. So I don’t have, I don’t have a problem imagining that whole system being replaced by something else. But other people really do have a problem imagining. Yeah. new things happening. And I think that’s probably one of my biggest assets that I can not just imagine those happening, but I expect it to happen.
Kevin Boyd: (22:35)
That’s interesting that because you know, the only constant in life really is change, but we all resist change. Yeah. Because it, again, it requires us to re rewire some parts of our brain and that takes a lot of efforts.
Ruth Anslow: (22:48)
Well, yeah, I love change and my sister loves change. So we embrace it, welcome it and see where it takes us. We don’t fight it. So I think that that is probably a characteristic that makes us a little bit different. Um, and um, we have no trouble imagining big things happening.
Kevin Boyd: (23:10)
Well, you know, the, they say the number one, uh, driver of the universe is entropy, which is basically decay, you know, we, we as a species work very, very hard to try and prevent the K. Yeah. But it will, it will happen. I mean, yeah, just noticing walking up my street today. Like how all these weeds were growing out of the pavement? I thought you just can’t stop nature. It was like, even though this is concrete, it’s found a tiny, tiny little crack and it’s money, isn’t it? Right. So, you know, a few hundred years down the line, they will, this will be covered in greenery.
Ruth Anslow: (23:41)
We are decaying right now the way breathing in our body decaying ourselves as well as feeding them.
Kevin Boyd: (23:47)
During this interview, you have decayed by at least half an hour. Yeah. I’ll need to pint. I’ll need a Pint later.
Kevin Boyd: (23:53)
Sorry about that!
Kevin Boyd: (23:56)
What is something you believe that other people think is insane?
Ruth Anslow: (24:01)
Oh my God. How deep do we want to go?
Kevin Boyd: (24:05)
As deep as you want to go,
Ruth Anslow: (24:07)
Well, something I believe that other people is insane. I believe that we are just vessels for ideas. So I believe that the idea of his HISBE is out there in the ether channeling itself through me and my sister. Wow. I think that we are receptors for things that go on and that it’s already created and with a vessel for the creation. I think we are vessels of creation. So that’s something that a lot of people would think. It’s insane that I [inaudible] in.
Kevin Boyd: (24:36)
the idea has a life outside of you?
Ruth Anslow: (24:38)
The idea is formed and looking for the right vessel. Yeah. And we’re the things that have happened to us and the road that we’ve taken and the ridiculous amounts of coincidences and things like meeting Gordon Roddick like you know, working with at the brand team that worked on the Body Shop. So many things. Point to that. And moments of grace and moments of inspiration is the entry point for ideas, moments of grace and inspiration. Yes. So when ideas come, where do they come from? I think they come from this, I think they are using us as vessels.
Kevin Boyd: (25:16)
Reminds me of that quote by Goethe, it says, you know, um, once you commit to something, providence delivers opportunities which would not otherwise have arisen. And I think it’s that isn’t it? Once this is the t the hardest thing of being an entrepreneur is committing to the idea. Yeah. Especially when you have no resources, no, no feedback at all. Whether the idea is any good. Yeah. And you have to, as you say, be persistent with it. Commit to it. Yeah. And just keep going with that.
Ruth Anslow: (25:42)
Um, be prepared for it to change you. So if I’m going to set out a vision that I’m going to create a business and a brand that transforms the food industry over 30 years, that’s a massive vision. I can’t expect that I’m prepared, enabled and ready to do that. So if I’m shooting that, arrow, the world is going to have to shape me to be ready when I get there. So I’m going to have to shed old behaviors, old beliefs, old thoughts, and old wiring. That means I can’t meet that vision. And I’ve changed so much over the last 10 years or so as Amy and Jack or other m director, we’ve all changed in service of the vision. So what came first? The vision requires us to be the vessels that it needs us to be, to make it happen.
Kevin Boyd: (26:29)
And also that that almost makes it worthwhile.
Speaker 5: (26:32)
Yeah, exactly. It’s a journey. Yeah.
Kevin Boyd: (26:35)
It, I know it’s an overused term that, you know, we’re going on a journey, but it does, the act of creating something changes you as well. So that’s why doing it, even if you know, like that saying, you know, write a book, it doesn’t matter if nobody else reads it, it will change you just for the fact you wrote a book.
Ruth Anslow: (26:51)
Exactly. It’s just for the sheer bloody buzz of it. Now, what else am I going to do? Oh, you know, I want, so when I’m on my deathbed, yeah. Oh, I want several things to be happening. But what are the things I want to be happening is go, is to be, to go, I gave it a really good go and whether we’ve got 10 shops or 5,000 yeah, I followed a path and a vision and I saw where it took me.
Kevin Boyd: (27:11)
Yes. I mean I think of, they say that on people’s deathbeds the thing that they regret most is not what they did that failed, but what they didn’t do. And
Ruth Anslow: (27:22)
yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s it. It’s sort of tied up in that idea that just committing my life to something, you know, that’s what I’m interested in.
Kevin Boyd: (27:31)
Yes. I mean I’m a big fan of Jordan Peterson, the Canadian psychologist. Who I know is very controversial in some circles, but he’s written this book, the 12 rules of life. And one of the rules is you want to find meaning in your life, lift a heavy weight. I mean do something difficult. Yeah. Cause you know, ironically that gives you a sense of purpose and meaning if you, if you want a hard life, take the easy route. Yeah. Because, yeah, actually quite painful. Taking the easy route all the time.
Ruth Anslow: (27:57)
And it’s fascinating. I mean that’s, this is what separates us from dogs, cats, cows, animals is that we can create our lives, we can create a life with meaning if we choose to. And I think that’s the meaning of life. It’s like if you can create anything. Why wouldn’t you pick something? How however, big or small, whether it’s, it might be converting your village green into a sports field, you know, it might, it could be, if you can create anything. And that’s what sets it separates us from just being animals.
Kevin Boyd: (28:29)
So I agree. I mean I think that one of the things that we have is this ability to turn failure into success. And I’m just curious with that in your own life, like how, how, how has failure been for you and your life, you know, how have you learned from failure?
Ruth Anslow: (28:44)
Yeah, so an important one. I think failure is part of the journey and, and the transformation. So, I mean, you know, several years ago we had our heart set on a second shop in St James’s Street and it all went horribly wrong over a period of nine or 10 months. And, um, the sense of failure for luck falling through, we couldn’t convince the landlord to take us on. Um, despite raising money and proving the model works and other things, he basically wanted to wait for a Starbucks. He wants to wait for a big brand to come along, which is what happened. And now I go past there on the Bus, it’s a bloody Starbucks. But the, the, the sense of losing that store and we got that call to say, no, this is definitely not happening. You are not getting this. We were so sure that we were, cause that’s how we are, that the, the, the, the sense of failure was quite crushing and it was followed by several tough decisions.
Ruth Anslow: (29:35)
So as a result we’d, you know, we’d, we were overstretched financially and we had to, um, you know, the four of us who work in the central team had to go back on the shop floor and do shifts again. Um, and that was quite, you know, having worked so hard to get off the shop floor on work on expunction, that was really tough. So the shop fell through, the money was really tight. We had to go back to investors and explained it at all, gone wrong. Um, and we ended up going what felt like going back to the beginning. But of course it wasn’t much at the beginning cause we’d learned all these lessons about how to do different next time. And, um, I now realize that if we had got that particular second store, it wouldn’t have worked. We weren’t actually ready, but I don’t, I only know that now
Kevin Boyd: (30:22)
There’s a lovely quote by Mel Gibson. He says, um, you know, certain lessons in life you’ve got to pay to learn is, think of it as school fees. You, you know, like that to pay just to learn a particular lesson. Some are more expensive than others, but, but that is how we all learn, you know? Yeah. Wow. And so what topic would you speak about if you were asked to give a ted talk on something outside of your main area of expertise? So what’s your passion outside of work?
Ruth Anslow: (30:50)
Health and growth? Personal growth. I don’t feel qualified to give a talk on it. I can only share my stories on it and what’s coming to me personally. Whereas I do feel qualified to talk about that the world of supermarkets and transforming the food industry. But yeah, I’m slowly learning more about, uh, what it means to be human and um, health and growth. That to me is fascinating. I don’t know if I could explain it in a fascinating way to anyone else though. But yeah,
Kevin Boyd: (31:24)
You know, it’s interesting what you said. That the thing is I’m not qualified and it’s like we have that in our culture. It’s like, well if someone has a PhD or a degree or a Masters in their subject, they obviously know it. Whereas people who’ve just lived life and learned along the way, we’d say they’re not qualified, which is quite interesting isn’t it? Yeah. But it’s an interesting question. Can you teach, you know how to create a business from nothing? You can go and do an MBA and then all of this stuff. But the people I know that are very successful haven’t done all that of that academic training. They’ve just gone and done it and they learned, you know, learned in the field basically on the shop floor. Um, which I’m a bigger fan of, I think. So what is the best or most worthwhile investment of money or time that you’ve ever made?
Ruth Anslow: (32:10)
Going on holiday and switching off! Actually, because I take on too much and I juggle a lot and my brain gets full and then I can’t live properly. So my best use of money is actually been investing in mice time for me, time is more precious than anything, isn’t it? So you recover time when you spend it wisely.
Kevin Boyd: (32:39)
Yes. It’s one of the few things that money can’t buy you.
Ruth Anslow: (32:42)
Yeah. In some ways. Is that please. So, you know, I find to slow down and stop and invest in time and recuperation has been my best use of money.
Kevin Boyd: (32:57)
So if you had a gigantic billboard that someone gave you that everybody was going to pass by today. Yeah. And you can put any message you liked on it, what would you put on it?
Ruth Anslow: (33:08)
Well, I see this is where I risk sounding like a, you know, cheesy Memes on Facebook, but you know, choose to be how happiness is a choice and something that would make people interrupt their own thinking and realize that it’s just stories in their head. Um, [inaudible] to thine own self be true, which is, uh, that old quote, Shakespeare thing that’s important to me. Um, and I can’t think of anything clever.
Kevin Boyd: (33:41)
Yes, Shakespeare is pretty clever. Um, like that you quoted Shakespeare and you think it was not clever.
Kevin Boyd: (33:54)
So here’s a question I always love, which is, um, what advice would you give your 25 year old self?
Ruth Anslow: (34:01)
I would say it’s all going to be okay. It’s all gonna be okay. And, um, everything that you’re doing is enough because for a long, long time, I didn’t think that I was enough. I could ever do enough. I could ever be enough. I could ever, that nothing was enough. And every, it is enough just to be who be on this planet and be being, um, and. Yeah. I’d say hang on in that keep going on. You are enough. You are enough. Yeah. Wow.
Kevin Boyd: (34:39)
Have you changed your mind about in the last few years and why?
Ruth Anslow: (34:43)
I’ve changed my mind. These aren’t work things.
Kevin Boyd: (34:48)
That’s all right.
Ruth Anslow: (34:49)
Is that all right? Yeah. Um, so the first thing that comes to my mind is addiction. I have come to understand the nature of addiction, depression, anxiety and other things that people suffer from in a different way. Um, because I’ve been looking at the impact and affect of childhood circumstances and childhood trauma on people’s development. And I’ve come to understand that these things are symptoms rather than the symptoms of things, things that happen. So my perception of other people has changed quite a lot with my perception of people in suffering has changed quite a lot. And I think my compassion has grown as a result. But yeah, my, yeah, quite narrow views on the suffering of some people has changed a lot.
Kevin Boyd: (35:43)
Yeah. That’s interesting. Cause we do, we tend to criminalize addiction. Yeah. You know, without looking at where it comes from. Yeah. And uh, actually I saw a post I think on Facebook from, Oh, what’s his name, the comedian.
Ruth Anslow: (35:57)
Kevin Boyd: (35:57)
Ruth Anslow: (35:58)
I like his stuff.
Kevin Boyd: (35:59)
and he posted a lot of stuff. Yeah. A very interesting little cartoon, you know, basically, you know, the blaming the drugs and what have you followed the person’s criminality and he said, but never mentioning the trauma and you know, the poor parenting and all the things that will actually have led them to that. place.
Ruth Anslow: (36:14)
Yes. That case, it’s compulsive compulsive behavior of any kind is a symptom rather than something that someone is just choosing to do cause that they are being naughty. Yeah. And um, I, yeah, I think that that’s what I changed my mind about the most over the last few years is that people going through that and kind of thing.
Kevin Boyd: (36:36)
Great. Well thank you very much for today. I hope everybody goes and checks out HISBE. Yeah. How it should be, and hopefully one day there will be one in your local area. That would be great.
Ruth Anslow: (36:47)
That’d be amazing.
Kevin Boyd: (36:48)
Yeah. Then we know that all this works, uh, great. Okay.
Kevin Boyd: (36:53)
Today’s show was brought to you by Audible.
Kevin Boyd: (36:57)
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