Steven Bartlett says he has found his “ikigai” in podcasting.
‘Ikigai’ is a Japanese concept meaning something that brings a sense of purpose, joy and reason for living.
For the uninitiated, Bartlett’s hit podcast is called ‘Diary of a CEO’ and it currently sits at number two on the UK’s podcast chart, just behind the annoyingly unbudgeable Joe Rogan Experience.
In his sleek, often sensationally promoted, conversations with a wild roster of guests, Bartlett prods them about how they found success and gleans happiness and well-being advice.
Recent interviewees include actress Jada Pinkett Smith, a yogi called Sadhguru and Bryan Johnson, the man on a mission to age backwards.
Bartlett, the self-proclaimed ‘happy, sexy, millionaire’ (going by the title of his 2021 book), also says his podcast is a major personal triumph.
He told City A.M.: “It’s quite a selfish pursuit in the sense that I’m sitting with people that I’m genuinely curious about and asking them questions that I’m trying to figure out for myself in my life, so it’s kind of like reading a book.
“I learn so much. My life gets subtly nudged in a better direction, whether that’s in my relationships or my business or my fitness, my health, whatever. So it feels like it’s a win-win for me.”Steven Bartlett, entrepreneur and host of hit podcast ‘Diary of a CEO’
“I learn so much. My life gets subtly nudged in a better direction, whether that’s in my relationships or my business or my fitness, my health, whatever. So it feels like it’s a win-win for me.”
Bartlett pins much of his success on managing to remain on the frontlines of the digital battle for eyeballs and relevance.
“I’m playing the game in the same way that every business owner is but I’ve built systems to keep me at the forefront of what’s happening and what’s changing,” he said.
But Bartlett saying he is playing the same game as ‘every business owner’ is a bit like influencer Molly Mae saying everyone has the same 24 hours in a day which, ironically, she said on Bartlett’s show.
Because, unlike most businesses, Bartlett has a team of “about 30” to help him stay on top of rapidly evolving digital shifts. For example, changes in elusive social media algorithms.
This team includes a ‘head of experimentation’ and an in-house data scientist whose full-time jobs are to “experiment with change” and “figure out the answer to that change”.
He said: “Our culture is one of extreme testing and extreme experimentation and extreme failure, because we believe the path to the correct answer is out failing your competition.
“So we measure it, we encourage it, we do everything to incentivise it.”
He understands, however, that small businesses are unlikely to have access to the extensive help he gets with his podcast.
Vodafone Business recently found that around 25 per cent of 1,000 small to medium enterprises (SMEs) surveyed said they lack digital knowledge and are unsure where to go for help.
According to the telecoms giant, 36 per cent of SMEs in the UK fear they could go out of business in the next two years thanks to a sleepy market and climbing inflation.
“Businesses need to stay at the forefront of change,” said Bartlett.
His next media exploit is a three-part documentary series in partnership with Vodafone, called Digital SOS, that follows him coaching small business owners in digitising their services to boost their profits.
Bartlett said the businesses he has met in the series find digitalisation “demoralising, intimidating, and kind of scary.”
The 31-year old founded his social media marketing company Social Chain in 2014 after dropping out of university after just one lecture. It was valued at €186m when it floated on the Dusseldorf Stock Exchange in 2019.
But earlier this year he faced criticism when rival social media company Brave Bison acquired his company for just under £8m.
Bartlett, however, has defended the valuation on social media, where he explained the company had sold many of the agencies it owned prior to the deal, which he said generated around £70m of Social Chain’s revenue.