Alex Dunsdon’s 7 tips for finding your niche
Alex Dunsdon makes what is incredibly difficult in business seem rather easy and straightforward.
Simply reading Dunsdon’s resume alone could fill an entire podcast. In just the last few years he’s been an LP at Potential Climate Ventures, a partner at SAATCHiNVEST, a director at Creative X, an investor at Citymapper, a board observer at Farewill, and an investor at Pollen.
That experience has built massively interconnected networks of talented figures, entrepreneurs, and highly creative and interesting people.
“I’m lucky enough to spend my time helping them be as good as they can be,” he told me on a recent episode of the Back Yourself Show, “pulling them up the ladder to do incredible things in the world,”
The marvel of Dundson’s skills is that he’s operating in the entrepreneurship space, which is fraught with failure — failure that can stalk even the most gifted and talented figures.
There’s a secret to promoting that success, though.
Very few people stop to ponder what it is they really think about the world.
According to Dunsdon, people emerge to the world “pre-baked” — that is, they are born with a conscious and imperative drive that will guide them through their lives. But they spend most of their lives taking on other people’s expectations and thoughts about the world. It’s not until later in life that they return to their core and understand what it is they want in the world. It’s personal psychology, yes, but it can aptly be applied to business, too.
“It is incredible, when you start doing that, how you can knock people into a different orbit,” he said.
Dunsdon early on realized his strength, and instead of treating it as a curiosity used it as a basis to found hugely successful businesses. His strength, of course, is those connections, and being massively helpful to people at critical points in their journey. The Bakery became a business network of startups. SAATCHiNVEST became a business network of entrepreneurs. And so on.
Dunsdon’s journey is unique, but so is his ability to understand how he has succeeded and how other people can succeed, too:
- Things are not linear, and planning can be extraordinarily difficult. “There is no single journey that is up and to the right,” he said.
- Meet as many people as you can. Those people will open doors for you that would otherwise stay good and locked. “I try to meet interesting, cool, good people,” he told me.
- Build connections and fit them together. “By increasing your surface area of connection and serendipity, interesting things just happen,” he said.
- Build flexibility into your life, and be on the lookout for opportunities that will produce chance providence. “I optimize for two things: serendipity and optionality,” he said.
- Not knowing what you are really doing can be a blessing. “If I had known what I was actually doing I would have never done it,” he told me. “There is a lot to be said for blind optimism and naivete.”
- Do things you didn’t know you could do. “Overcoming fear is a fundamental part of the human experience,” he said.
- Double down on your strengths. Figure out what you are really good at. Dunsdon was good at people, figuring out their strengths, and supporting people.
Self-awareness figures strongly into Dunsdon’s ethos, and he firmly believes in its ability to guide people, relationships and, of course, business decisions.
“The single biggest thing that will make a better world is if each person became more self-aware,” he told me near the end of our conversation. That means understanding who you are, how you react to things, how you can build, and eliminating self-destructive behaviors like anger and frustration that drain your resources and energy.
Knowing yourself sounds like a line from a self-help book, but for Alex Dunsdon, it’s made the difference between being an average entrepreneur and an exceptional one. By knowing himself, Dunsdon was able to capitalise on his greatest strength — building connections — and translate that to an incredibly successful career in starting businesses and supporting outstanding ventures.
You can watch the entire podcast by clicking here.